Monday, September 30, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Sharing

Sharing sandwiches is never easy, I don't care how old you are. 

I think I might be giving birth to the second coming of Jimmy John; all I want to eat are sandwiches. Like any craving, these tend to strike at extremely inconvenient or inappropriate times, like midnight, while at church, or at 9:30 this morning. Monday is a girl-only morning; Super K. and Super P. are safely at school, so Super Toddler and I run errands because running errands with 1 child, when you have 3, amounts to a vacation. We had picked up my prenatal vitamins, gotten gas, recycled the cans, and scored an awesome deal on cat food, saving nearly 15 dollars with some clever couponing via me. I think it was this last one that made me lose my mind and go into Whole Foods.

Now, I do NOT shop at Whole Foods generally. The fact that I am thrilled about my cat food couponing should tell you why. But once, about a year ago, Awkward Dad (who doesn't share my love of the frugal) bought me a sandwich from Whole Foods. It was an amazing sandwich. Like a truly transcendent experience of fancy bread, freshly sliced roast beef, aged cheddar, heirloom tomato, and handmade mayo. I can't get this sandwich out of my head this morning. I try to talk myself out of it. I try to eat a cheese stick. I try to focus on waiting for lunch. I try to eat a graham cracker. I try to count all the money I would be saving if I didn't buy the amazingly good Whole Foods sandwich of the gods. I try to eat some raisins. I give up slightly and try other sandwich options, but, by this point, it is 10:15 and no one is open. Even McDonald's is still serving breakfast and I don't want breakfast or McDonald's. I want a sandwich. I want a sandwich. I want a sandwich.

I want a sandwich.

No, the baby wants a sandwich.

This is what I tell myself to justify walking into Whole Foods and paying $6.50 for a teeny, tiny, albeit utterly glorious looking, sandwich. I go with the turkey and provolone this time. I convince myself that I am heeding the baby's wishes. That the baby needs this overpriced turkey and provolone sandwich on artisan bread with butter lettuce and a perfectly ripe tomato in order to grow properly and achieve whatever fetus milestone he/she is working on this week. This soothes my price guilt slightly; that I am sacrificing my balanced checkbook for the sake of this growing life. And not because I am hungry and this sandwich should be in a sandwich museum; it is that beautiful.

Super Toddler and I return to the car and, since we are now 30 minutes early to pick up Super Preschooler, I settle in to enjoy my hard-won sandwich. However, the growing baby inside me doesn't appear to be the only member of the Awkward family to want a sandwich. Super Toddler calmly opens her palm and waves her little fingers in an "alright, hand it over" gesture that I really really want to ignore. I don't want to share my sandwich with her. I want to eat every last bite of this gorgeous and startlingly expensive creation by myself. Isn't it enough that I have what amount to a parasite in me that is going to take all the nutrients from this feast and leave my hips with all the fat and carbs? Isn't it enough that my children take all my sleep, money, worry, time, energy, focus, and love? Does she really have to take my sandwich too? I can't remember a meal I have eaten in the past 5 years that I wasn't sharing with someone, be they inside or outside of my body. Do I really have to share this with her?

Well, I think you all know the answer to this, Readers. I gave her half the sandwich. Half of a beautiful, lovingly constructed, delicious sandwich that she proceeded to dismantle, as she ate the meat, threw the tomato at me, gave the bread to some birds outside, and wiped the lettuce and any lingering mayo on the window. It hurt to watch, so I tired not to. I, instead, tried to focus on the lovely half-sandwich that I now had. I ate it and it was gone far too quickly, leaving me tons of time to focus on the important things; 1.) That encouraging sharing in my children through my own example might be difficult but ultimately worth it to shape generous, thoughtful, and harmonious human beings who will better the world with their mere presence. 2.) What I am going to eat for lunch? 3.) Can I wait until Super Toddler's nap time to eat lunch or is it too gross to eat in the bathroom while telling them all that Mommy just needs a little "private time?"

Like saying no to this face is ever really an option. 
I don't think so. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Park Helicopter Moms

Consider it your only warning. 

If one more park helicopter mom finds my child by the monkey bars and starts shouting: "Whose child is this? Is this your child?" while frantically looking around but mostly looking in my direction because it is pretty damn obvious whose child it is and most of this is for effect and to prove what a superior mother she is (consciously or not), the gloves are coming off. I am gonna calmly walk over to her, tell Super Whoever to go play by the swings, and ask to see her mom credentials. If they check out, this is what I am going to say:

Yes, she is mine, and I can tell you her movements in intimate detail from the moment we arrived here until the moment when she was supposedly lost and then found by you. What is wrong with you? Are you that bored that you have to follow your child around the park, whilst monitoring all the rest of the children for errant mothers. Do you not know that you are a mom? Do you not know that the park is full of moms? Moms that want to be friends with you. Moms that want to help you relax and enjoy this village that could be helping you raise your child. You don't have to do it all; let us help you. Join us. We are impressed by your natural abilities and want you on our team, not fighting against us. You have untapped  gossip abilities that rival the Enquirer, and we have all just witnessed your stunning ability to passively aggressively judge people in public. Come and use these skills for good for once. Come and gossip with us by the bench. Utilize your mom skills; you follow in the proud tradition of a billion multitaskers. You can tie shoes, open bananas, and nurse babies all at once. You can scan the park for kidnappers and flashers while wiping a runny nose, changing a diaper, and telling us this juicy tidbit you heard about Perfect Mom. For goodness sake, you are a MOM. You have radar. You have the reflexes of a cat. You have the peripheral vision of James Bond. Use your natural skills. Stop thinking little Helicopter Toddler has to be 2 feet from you at any given moment. Think about what you are doing to his park cred. He doesn't want to be the only toddler who can't slide down the slide solo. He wants to fall down occasionally. He wants to try the ladder himself. He wants a scab or 2 to improve his chances of looking tough. He doesn't want his mom shadowing his every move. He is much more capable than you give him credit for, but he is never going to know this if you never let him test his capabilities. Think of him, and stop trailing him all over the place. Sit down. Relax. Land the helicopter and just let your mom skills do the heavy lifting. YOU ARE A MOM; ACT LIKE IT!

Thank you. Now, what was this juicy thing you heard about Perfect Mom?

As if I am not going to turn into an Olympic sprinter 
the second real danger breathes near her.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the 1 and 1/2 Trimester

Hey Baby, I get that you are barely 5 months along here, but let's work on the counting, eh? 

I am starting my 5th month of pregnancy and Baby Center has informed me that I am supposed to not be nauseous, have boundless energy, and shine with the glow of Mother Earth herself. I wish someone would inform this baby of that because he/she still thinks we are in Trimester 1.....

I am still getting sick about once a day. While some of my energy has returned, it lasts only long enough to get me to 4pm, the first hour of the 3-hour soul-sucking Awkward extravaganza known as the "witching hour(s)." (Post coming on that one.) I am not big enough to fit into pregnancy clothes, but I am too fat for my own clothes, which means I am wearing Awkward Dad's shirts and not buttoning my pants. My "bump" is looking more like a slight beer belly, and I think this kid is stashing pieces of herself/himself in my thighs, face, and upper arms. I have yet to feel those glorious little flutters and kicks; I have a feeling that I have another night owl on my hands and I am just too tired at night to stay awake to feel them. Or I am too fat, which is more likely the case. The only shine going on here is more sweaty than glowy. Overall, this pregnancy is moving at a snail's pace and we are about halfway through. Honestly, I could handle all of it with my approximation of grace, if it wasn't for having to deal with anyone else.

Folks who know I am pregnant like to greet me with "Wow, Erin. You don't look pregnant at all!" I get that this is supposed to be complimentary but for someone whose pants are held together with a hair-tie, it falls a little short of the mark. Try telling me I am glowing instead.

Folks who don't know that I am pregnant greet the news like I am pranking them. "Really? You are pregnant? You don't look pregnant." I understand that People magazine and US Weekly have informed us that pregnant woman are supposed to look like Jessica Alba in a slinky dress with a perfectly formed "bump," but I wasn't air-brushed this morning so please excuse my non-pregnant-looking pregnancy which appears to offend your eyes. And what man invented the word "bump" to describe a growing baby? Who wants to be told that they have a "bump" anywhere on their body because I sure don't. Conjures up teenage acne issues for me.

If my children are around for my pregnancy revelation to folks,  I usually get the pointed stare across my present progeny and the added "Oh, you are so brave. Two was plenty for me." The subtext here is shoutingly loud; "Greedy woman! Don't you have enough children?!" "Are you insane?!" "Wow. You must be Catholic. Or Amish in disguise. Or maybe on a reality show. Where are the cameras?"

Awkward Dad is pleased but totally freaked out and won't stop talking about college funds.

Super Kindergartener is totally chill, but I think he is under the impression that I am always pregnant anyway. A sibling every other year of your life will do that to a person.

Super Preschooler has his own "Girlfriend Baby" to worry about and can't be bothered with me and my problems.

Super Toddler has connected in her mind that I am growing a sibling for her, but she isn't altogether sure about where this new playmate is housed. Therefore, she thinks that any "bump" on my body contains a baby. My boobs, like any pregnant woman's boobs are extremely tender right now and not really up to her near daily "knocks" to "say hi to bebe." I have taken to crossing my arms around her just in case.

My point is.....well, I am not really sure. Honestly, I just wanted to complain for a post. I guess my point, if I had a point, would be that if I could gestate this child alone in a miraculously self-cleaning house with daily meal deliveries while watching endless Netflix and lounging on my couch for the next 5 months, I would probably feel like I have hit Trimester 2. And the lottery.

And I would sure as shooting be glowing like embodiment of Mother Earth herself and not resemble a total crab who just wants this to be over already:

This is the face I have taken to making to anyone who declares that I am
"so brave." 

I don't love being pregnant. That is no secret. My pregnancies aren't terribly hard or else I doubt I would have had 3 and 1/2 of them so far. However, they are certainly full of little challenges and they are certainly way too long and way too boring. But within all that tedium, every once in awhile I remember why we are doing this; I look into the future to some seemingly far away day in late February when I will meet the newest little Super Baby. I will count all his/her little toes and fingers. I will name him/her some yet-undecided amazing alias and coo it as Super Baby falls asleep in my arms for the first time. I will look up into Awkward Dad's relaxed and happy face, as he tenderly watches our new baby, for the moment, totally unconcerned with college funds. And I will smile. The same private, secret, contented smile that millions of parents the world over have smiled when they ponder their coming child. It isn't much, but it has been enough to get me through 1 and 1/2 Trimesters. And it will get me through 1 and 1/2 more. 

 And Super Preschooler's smile here is definitely more than enough. 
It is stunning. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Fears

Like being a parent isn't scary enough. 

We all have fears. Well, almost all of us, but more on that in a minute. I, personally, am terrified of clowns. Awkward Dad isn't fond of roller coasters and, like most doctors, has a debilitating fear of germs. Super Kindergartener, my little over-thinker, is afraid of many things and sometimes I think it might be easier to name what he isn't afraid of. But along with a clown fear that he comes by honestly, he is afraid of thunderstorms, going too fast in the car, Darth Maul, the Halloween aisle at Target, that if you eat a cherry pit a cherry tree will grow in your stomach, horses, lions, spiders, monsters (unless Pixar had anything to do with their creation), vampires, werewolves, regular wolves, being alone, the boss level in Plants vs. Zombies, and the dark. Super Preschooler keeps things simple by just being afraid of heights. Which leads us to this one:

   She might be a tad nervous they will run out of food, but scared? 

Super Toddler is afraid of.....nothing. Not a thing. We haven't found one thing that she doesn't run toward. The girl laughs at clowns (shudder), delights in speed, did somersaults around age 1, kissed a horse on the cheek the first chance she got, dances in thunderstorms, waved to Darth Maul the first time he showed up, and is actually going as Darth Vader for Halloween. She can't go to sleep if there are lights on and I am pretty sure the child has inadvertently swallowed enough cherry pits to have her own orchard. I am convinced she could join the circus tomorrow; she is completely fearless.

I have never had a fearless child before, so this leads to some interesting developments. Like this one:

Yep; one-handed.

The horse at the grocery store has been an Awkward Family nemesis for a long time. Super Kindergartener isn't a fan due to his horse fear, and Super Preschooler isn't interested because it is too high. I have gotten so used to speeding by this fellow, least he give Super Kindergartener the evil eye, that I wasn't even sure what Super Toddler wanted when she started urgently pointing at him today. I thought maybe she wanted to rent a movie at the Red Box. Nope, turns out that she wanted to ride the grocery store horse. I almost didn't know what to do and almost said no out of instinct.

At 1 penny, the horse is a bit of a bargain, plus Wednesday is one of our girl-only mornings, so there would be no screaming and/or whining brothers in the background to distract from the equine excellence taking place. All told, I probably spent 5 cents and 10 minutes of my life to witness fearlessness in action. Totally worth it.

That said, if she wants to meet some clowns, she is on her own.

Hi-yo, Silver! Away! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Imaginary Friends

Last night, after a particularly rough day, I walked into the kitchen to find the children eating yogurt on the kitchen floor, sans spoons. When I asked them about this, Super Preschooler laughed and said, "Oh, it's OK. Invisible Grandma said we could." I just sighed and stepped over them. I can't fight Invisible Grandma, Readers. Basically, imaginary friends have taken over my home and I have no idea what to do about it.

I never had a consistent imaginary friend. Oh sure, when I was acting out one of my award-winning (I have had my Oscar speech all ready since age 6) pretend plays, I would recruit some extras from the imaginary friend actor's guild, but as soon as the story was over, they all went home. They certainly didn't hang around long enough for me to catch their names. In fact, most of my knowledge of imaginary friends comes from Drop Dead Fred and Moone Boy. Both good, you should take a peek!

Super Kingergartener, who is like me in more ways than I would like to admit, is the same way I am. He'll bring in hordes of soldiers to help him with some pesky dragons or call upon a gaggle of princesses to host an epic ball, but at the end of the day, everyone goes home and he is perfectly fine with that. Maybe it is because he has so many real friends; the child is a serious social butterfly. That wasn't exactly the case with me, or Awkward Dad for that matter, who also didn't have any imaginary friends. I think the 2 of us were so awkward that even the imaginary friends didn't want to hang with us, but whatever the reason, no one in this house had any experience with imaginary friends until Super Preschooler started introducing us to his.

This is totally unfair of me, but I never expected this from Super Preschooler. After a jump in the deep-end introduction to parenting with unconventional and highly unique Super Kindergartener, Super Preschooler seemed so gosh-darn normal. He is the little boy to end little boys; a mop-topped angelic urchin who would be right at home in Our Gang. He is mischievous, and he is strong. He loves cars, trains, and legos. He could barely talk when he started quoting Star Wars. He was the first of our children to make a pretend gun with his fingers. He is semi-wild and the definition of confidence. He has a grin a mile wide. He fits the prototype of All-American Boy down to his love of dirt and bugs:

We are really lucky he didn't decide to eat any. 

Not knowing much about imaginary friends myself, I always assumed they were the companions of loners, misfits, and children who the spirit-world decided to use as vessels. This misconception brought on some serious worry; was my cheerful, completely well-adjusted, darling little boy about to serve as a portal to the netherworld? Or more importantly, is he unhappy? Is he lonely? Does he need more real friends? Maybe I didn't enroll him in enough classes. Maybe I don't spend enough time with him. Is his diet lacking in protein? Is he getting enough sleep? Should I put him in therapy? I was at a loss as to what to do. And when I am at a loss as to what to do with one of my kids, I usually just ask them what to do. I have found that this saves a lot of time and worry. Super Preschooler was more than happy to introduce me to his growing family of imaginary friends: 

His first imaginary friend to make an appearance was Invisible Grandpa. Invisible Grandpa is just that; an invisible version of my father. No one can see him except Super Preschooler and, on occasion, Super Kindergartener. Super Preschooler has a very close relationship with real Grandpa, so this imaginary friend came as no great surprise. We just figured that he was missing Grandpa and wanted to spend more time with him. Nothing seemed amiss until Invisible Grandpa starting acting in very un-real-Grandpa ways. My father is witty and wonderful, but he is rather sedate and dignified. He is certainly no prankster. Invisible Grandpa likes to encourage all manner of tom-foolery, including, but not limited to: ransacking the cabinets, stealing underwear from Mommy's closet and wearing it as hats and/or skirts, drawing on the walls, attempting to write the alphabet on the bathroom mirror in toothpaste, breaking the printer to find the people that live inside it, throwing ice, sticking crayons in Daddy's guitar, trying to get Super Cat to fly, and last, but not least, riding the ceiling fans. In fact, it was an attempt at the last one that got Super Preschooler his latest goose egg. It also seems to be Invisible Grandpa's favorite thing to do. He often just hangs out on the living room ceiling fan and laughs. At least, that is what I am told.

Invisible Grandma (who is an invisible version of my mother) first made her appearance about a month after Invisible Grandpa moved in. At first, she seemed to show up and yell at Invisible Grandpa for his antics before leaving, which sounds pretty true to life actually. But before long, she was hanging out, mostly in the kitchen, where she encourages clandestine snacking and playing in the sink. Invisible Grandma is much less likely to be involved in dangerous antics, but she always seems to show up right before dinner to help the children ruin their appetite. Which again, isn't too far from something that real Grandma might do.

"Girlfriend Baby" showed up one day during a rousing game of house that Super Preschooler was conducting with some fairies and Star Wars characters. Awkward Dad and I eavesdropped on this one for awhile because anytime your 3-year-old is pretending to have a girlfriend who has a baby, you might want to take a listen. Turns out that Girlfriend Baby is an actual, or rather imaginary, baby that likes to ride around on Super Preschooler's back, when she isn't sitting next to him or perching on his knee. She is roughly the size of an action figure and he likes to pretend to kiss her on the head. He says that she loves him very much and he takes care of her. Her real name is the same name as his actual little sister, which is incredibly confusing, so he refers to her as Girlfriend Baby, so we know who he is talking about. I actually got to hold her for awhile yesterday, while he was getting some books from the bedroom. She was remarkably well-behaved for a 2-inch-tall invisible baby.

Finder Stick is an anomaly, as far as imaginary friends go. I can actually see him. He is a stick that Super Preschooler found on a walk one day. He used to have a leaf attached to him, but it fell off and all of Super Preschooler's attempts to reattach it haven't worked so far. He keeps the leaf in the hopes that someday he can render Finder Stick whole once more, but Finder Stick seems to be doing OK leafless. Finder Stick is called Finder Stick because he supposedly finds things; he often guides our way home from the store or from church. Apparently, he can find his way anywhere, according to Super Preschooler. Anywhere in the world. He also can turn into a car, a gun, a truck, a plane, and a helicopter. I, naturally, have not witnessed any of these transformations, but Super Preschooler assures me that they are amazing to behold. All I have really witnessed Finder Stick do is hang out by the front door. Super Preschooler says he is there to "guard the house" but admits that Finder Sticks spends a lot of time napping.

Finder Stick likes to hug almost as much as he likes to nap. 

I don't know who is going to show up next, but I don't think that they are here to drag Super Preschooler to the other side. And I don't think Super Preschooler is lonely or sad or working stuff out. Well, maybe he is working stuff out, but if he wants to do that with some naughty Grandparents, a baby, and a geographically-advanced stick, well, there is nothing wrong with that.  And if Super Preschooler wants to defy all my expectations and be an all-American little boy and creative and amazing and mind-blowingly unique with a huge dash of fabulous, well, there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong at all.

Super Toddler is pretty fond of Finder Stick herself. 
I am waiting for her first imaginary friend to show up; 
probably be a rock or something.
Anything she can throw....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Open Gym

I really want to love Open Gym. Lord knows that, as each Super has endured their tenure as Super Toddler, they have fully adored Open Gym. Transitions to gymnastics classes have not gone well, but this weekly hour of "let's run around and fall on mats" seems to suit them just fine. Orderly Super Kindergartener always liked bouncing sedately down the long trampoline. Less orderly Super Preschooler always liked hurling himself head-first into the pit with soft foam blocks. Daredevil Super Toddler is still figuring it out, but mostly she likes to sit on various things, whether or not they are intended for sitting, and pretend the inclined ramps are slides and get mad at them when she doesn't go down very fast.

There are many reasons to love Open Gym. It's open year round; making it a great indoor alternative for the super cold or super hot days. It's close to our house. It's only $5 and if you go 10 times, you get a free time. But most importantly, it fits perfectly within the time that Super Preschooler is at Preschool, thus allowing me to just focus my attention on 1 child as she bobs and weaves all over the cavernous gymnasium. It is pretty much the ideal activity for Monday morning, and yet I do NOT love Open Gym.

I blame it on the rules. I never really liked rules and there are a ton here. Clearly, there are posted rules for any child partaking in Open Gym and those are pretty obvious:

1. No shoes.
2. No food and drink.
3. One child on the trampoline at a time.
4. Higher level balance beams are off-limits.
5. Always be within arms-reach of your child at all times.

Now, I have no major issues with these rules. They are reasonable. They are sound and doable, with the exception of #5. Have you ever tried to stay within arms-reach of a toddler? Unless you are a Olympic sprinter, that one is a little hard, but I get the premise behind it. No, I don't have issues with the posted rules. I have issues with the unspoken rules that seem to govern happenings here at Open Gym. They aren't posted, but they are equally clear:

1. If you are a Mom, please come dressed in skinny jeans or skin-tight yoga pants, a clinging, attractive top, your best infinity scarf, and adorable socks. Make-up, jewelry, and iPhone are a must. That you have the body to wear such things goes without saying, and please make sure to give haughty looks, with barely concealed contempt, to the moms who did not show up in the required uniform.

2. If you are a Dad, it is like the park. No sartorial rules for you. You are a Dad; the fact that you are on an outing with your child is going to cause torrents of praise and admiration from the surrounding moms. You can do no wrong. Go ahead and wear that "Beer is the Answer, what was the Question?" t-shirt and a pair of Jorts. Revel in your Dadness.

3. If you are a pregnant Mom, please show up only if you are Hollywood pregnant, with a huge baby bump and a tiny everything else. Awkward-looking pregnant moms in huge sweatshirts, who seem to be only growing children in their thighs and face are not welcome and will be pointedly stared at or ignored altogether in the hopes that they go away and never come back.

4. Do NOT talk to anyone that you didn't come with, even if your child has been playing with another woman's child and it is starting to get weird that the two of you are just standing there and she is giving you hopeful looks every few seconds. Just stare at her stonily. She looks awkward anyway.

5. If your child is in any way sorta talented in gymnastics or even aware of gymnastics at all, make sure to force her to do "tables," "somersaults," and "handstands" in the middle of the gym. Loudly shout out all the gymnastics terms you know and act fake-modest when other parents congratulate you on your child's skill. This, and the pink and sparkled unitard you shoved her into, will ably prepare the both of you for Tokyo 2020.

6. When encountering toddlers of average size make sure to loudly announce to your, clearly large for her age, toddler to "watch the baby!" and "look out for the smaller girl next to you" and "be nice to that little girl, she is smaller than you and doesn't know how to act yet." Continue to do this even after the small toddler's mother assures you that your children are the same age and the small toddler does indeed know how to act.

7. If you have any background in gymnastics, by all means, show it off by doing tricks on the trampoline with your child. You don't look like you are desperately trying to attract attention at all. You haven't lost it one bit.

8. Take tons of pictures of your child and act highly annoyed if other children walk into the frame. Who cares that they are all under the age of 4, they should know how important it is for you and your darling toddler to make memories together.

9. Monopolize the trampoline (or rings or any other popular apparatus) and pay no attention to the line of children waiting for it. If questioned on this matter, smile and say, "Oh, Perfect Toddler is just so good at it, let's give him a little longer, shall we?" Sharing is overrated.

10. If a toddler's mother is clearly within sight of her child (and actually blocked from said child by you and your child's hoggy ways with the balance beam), but not the required "arms-length" distance from her, make sure to fake lunge every time that toddler looks like she might fall. Take large intakes of gaspy breath and do everything possible to make said mother feel guilty and negligent. Except actually move and let her near her child, of course.

11. Loudly announce everything your child is doing in a clear, slightly sing-song voice. For example, "Oh, Little Toddler, are you climbing the ramp?" "Are you playing with the Hula-Hoop?" "Are you going to bounce?" "Are you going to adorably and perfectly spin in the center of the room and knock over 3 other kids?" "Are you gonna try to bite that little girl?" "Are you standing there, looking around?" "Are you picking your nose and wiping it on the mat?" This is not annoying to other moms in the least and totally shows your superior involvement and focus on your child.

12. Stay on your iPhone most of the time you are there. Naturally.

Readers, I want to love the Open Gym. I really really do, but I am having trouble following all the rules! But, I will try again next week because it makes Super Toddler happy:

Let's be real here: I would probably walk through parts of hell for that smile.
And Open Gym is certainly in the running for one of the outer circles.....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Self-Esteem

Dear Readers,

I don't know how to say this in a way that isn't awkward, so I am just gonna go for it: 

I am fine. 

Really, I am totally OK. Sometimes I get comments or people talk to me about my blog (OK, like 4 people and my mom, but it happens!), and I get the impression they are worried about me. That I am over here drowning in a sea of self-loathing and bad-mom guilt. That I need to constantly be told that I am a good mom. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing people tell me I am a good mom or a good anything for that matter. Except a good cook. Then I know you are lying or have lost your sense of taste and we should get you to the hospital right away! I digress, but the fact of the matter is that I really do know that I am a good mom. I really am. I am just awkward. 

And here is the thing about awkward; I like awkward. I have no intention of changing that about me anytime soon. Here is me at like age 2:

Rocking mismatched prints and loving on a cat. 
I did the same thing earlier today. 

At age 12, singing something with my cousin. 
No, I do not know where I acquired such a fabulous shirt.
Yes, it was scanned crocked. Adds to the awkward. 

Here I am last week,
awkwardly shoving my daughter into a horse's face. 

I have a long history of being awkward. I am good at it; it's my superpower. And like all superpowers, it has a downside. Think about it; being telepathic means you are gonna hear some messed-up stuff. Sucks to be invisible when you want to take photos of yourself, right? Super strength and you are replacing a lotta stuff you accidentally broke. Nothing is awesome all the time and that holds true with awkwardness. Sometimes you are 13 years old and not popular and all the other girls are mean. Sometimes you are 35 years old and not popular and all the other moms are mean. Sometimes it can be lonely to be awkward. Sometimes I say the wrong thing and people don't understand and don't want to be my friend. Sometimes I trip and hurt my knee. Sometimes I try to be funny and it falls flat. Which sucks. But the thing is, that is only sometimes. 

Most of the time, I am awkward and funny and real and kind and charming and fun to be around. I know this. But come on; who wants to read a bunch of blog posts with me saying, "well, you all know that I am awkward and funny and real and kind and charming and fun?" No one. That is who. 

I want to relate. I want to share. I want to write stories. I want to tell you about this absolutely loony mom in Super Preschooler's class. Because I know you get it, and I know you will think it is funny. And who doesn't like to laugh? OK, well, I guess some people, but they are not right in the head. Let's just admit that straight off. And now, yes, I know that am self-deprecating in my humor; some of that is probably a self-esteem issue I should deal with, but mostly I think self-deprecating humor is funny. Because it is funny. People who walk around thinking (and saying) they are awesome and fabulous and everyone should be like them are not funny. They are jerks. And yes, I know that not everything has to be funny. But a lotta things are and laughing is good for you. I think more things should be funny. And I especially think that raising kids should be funny. Because it naturally is; a horde of tiny and delightfully weird people, who think the height of hilarity is to spin in a circle and fall down, are going to run your life hereafter. Come on! That is a laugh riot, and we want to waste it worrying about bedtimes and potty training and when so and so walked and which mom makes the best spinach-laced brownies? Well, I don't. 

Here is the other thing about awkward; you are awkward. Yes, you. We are all awkward, with the exception of Perfect Mom, who actually is awkward, at night, in her room, when no one is looking. Which sounds dirty and I totally didn't intend it that way. But it came out that way BECAUSE I AM AWKWARD.

And it is OK. It's more than OK. It is pretty freaking awesome. 

Come be awkward with me. It's fun. And I have brownies over here with no spinach in them. Just saying. 

I love you all,
Awkward Mom 

Yum! Just taste that awkward lack of spinach. 
Again, sounds dirty. Sorry, not intended. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. New Playgroups

Ladies, I am 35-years-old, 3 and 1/2 kids in, and totally over this sh....I mean, squash. 

I just learned 4 new recipes for organic squash. And when I say learned, I mean overheard and promptly forgot because I was having a nice daydream involving Chris O'Dowd. He was saying things to me in his dreamy Irish accent that I guess don't belong in a parenting blog.....Why was I around organic squash? Oh, I wasn't. I was just at a new playgroup. In Ann Arbor.

My friend Excellent Mom invited me along on a stroll through some gardens with a playgroup she was trying out, and I wanted to kinda lurk around the edges and hang out with her. Sadly, the coordinator of said playgroup was a real go-getter, with name-tags and everything, so I got dragged in, out of my comfortable lurk. I am pretty sure that Excellent Mom and I were the only ones with more than 1 kid each, and I am quite sure that ours were the only ones there who have ever experienced refined sugar. It went as you might expect, and we broke off to gossip and take our own stroll in short order. Totally worked out.

I have tried many a playgroup in my time and, besides one that Magna Mom just created with me and 2 other gals so we could eat and watch anime, they don't seem to work out so hot for me. All elbows and awkward pauses and me feeling like a giant loser mom. These days I mostly try to avoid them because things like this happen:

Perfect Mom: Hey, does Super Toddler say mine a lot? Perfect Toddler seems to be going through a very possessive phase.

Me: Good lord, sometimes I think she might be one of the seagulls from Finding Nemo!

Perfect Mom: Is that yes or no? We don't allow TV in our house.

Me: Oh. (deep cleansing breath) Well, yes, she is rather possessive at this stage. I think it is quite normal for a 22 month old child to be possessive; it might be a way for her to assert herself or test limits. Your son is attempting to understand the world around him and his position in it. Given that toddlers have very little control over what happens to them, it stands to reason that they would want to establish some kind of dominance in any available situation, even if it is just about a toy.

Perfect Mom: Yes, that is what I thought.

Me: Oh, it looks like my friend is going down that trail over there. Nice meeting you and thank you for that squash recipe.

Who the squash hasn't seen Finding Nemo?!?!?!?!?!

This is the current Awkward playgroup. 
We are accepting new members. 
Basic Pixar knowledge will be required. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Terrible Twos

The Terrible Twos need to get a clock; they are about 2 months early.....

About a year ago, I wrote a post about my concern that Super Toddler (then Super Baby and not quite a year old) was rapidly becoming the friend character in a romantic comedy. You know, the friend of the beautiful ingenue. The one who doesn't get a boy, or if she does, their courting either takes place completely off-screen or in the last 5 minute wrap-up at the end of the movie. The second string one who is either fat, has glasses, or is a flamboyantly gay man. The friend character, you know. Well, my feelings about her being a friend character (which I have no actual problem with, mind you. We all know that the friend characters steal the movie and are really the only ones you remember afterward.) were based on her markedly passive infancy. Super Toddler was a dream baby. Kind, sweet, handing over toys to anyone who demanded them from her. Peaceful, gentle, sleeping through the night at 6 weeks. She was the baby to end all babies; seriously, I was thinking of sticking her in the manger during the Christmas pageant, she was that good.

Well, the transition from baby to toddler is a sneaky one. While Super Kindergartener and Super Preschooler are clearly identified by their school status, Super Toddler began the slow process toward toddlerhood shortly after I wrote my friend character post; she started to walk. That is what toddlers are named for, after all, their burgeoning ability to toddle around. So, the long process of leaving babyhood begins with 1 shaky little step, and it is still going on. Grandmas in the store still want to cuddle her. Big kids at the park scream to "watch out for the baby" as they race past her. She is still the youngest in the house, out of utero, that is, and thus, apt to be cooed at, forgiven for dumping all the toys on the floor, and encouraged to "give Mommy big kisses!" It is a slow gradual process that has allowed me to watch her full toddlerness unfold and dream about her eventual fully-bloomed personality.

Our super hero family has some firm archetypes. Super Kindergartener is a straight-up team leader. If we were the X-men, he would be the strong and steady Cyclops. In the Avengers, he is our rock solid Captain America. If you prefer a DC reference, he is a clear Superman, down to his all-American farm-boy looks and shy smile. In Star Wars, he is our Luke, from his shaggy blond hairdo to his tendency to whine.

Now, Super Preschooler is a bit more fun-loving and likes to fill the comedic, slightly roguish, side-character role. He doesn't mind being in the background because it gives him more time to goof off. Of our X-men, he is the mighty but witty Beast. Avengers? Full-on Iron Man; down to his luck with the ladies. Ladies love Super Preschooler. In DC, he is the generous and slightly silly Green Arrow. And in Star Wars, he is Han Solo; watch the boy grin, you need no further proof.

Now, over the past year, I have watched Super Toddler and I have pondered; will she be like Nightcrawler, the peaceful and charming teleporter? Susan Storm, with her maternal manner and incredible self-control? Will she be the silent but deadly Black Widow? The powerful, earth-loving Storm? Maybe she'll grow a couple feet and turn into Chewbacca. Turns out that Super Toddler has much higher aspirations.

Today, as I drag her, kicking and screaming, out of the Target, only to lose my grip on her when one of her particularly well-aimed kicks connects and she goes running and laughing into the parking lot, it dawns on me. As I trail this force of nature through a maze of carts and cars that she disregards with glee, I finally figure her out.

She is the Hulk.

She is Wolverine.

She is Batman.

And I am pretty sure she intends to be Darth Vader someday.  

Super Toddler isn't entirely sure she wanted to be part of a Superhero team. In fact, I am not altogether sure she even wants to be a hero. There is a X-men character named Sebastian Shaw, who favors cravats and runs a secret organization called the Hellfire Club. He isn't very nice. Well, anyway, his mutation is that he absorbs energy and then turns it into super human strength that he, naturally, hurls at whomever he doesn't like. I have a feeling Super Toddler spent the first year and a half of her life absorbing energy and is now releasing it, a la Sebastian Shaw. If she established a Hellfire club tomorrow, I would not be terribly surprised.

If this is all too nerdy for you, here is all you need to know; Baby Girl's terrible twos have arrived. With a vengeance.

You may think that I am overwhelmed and horrified by this. Well, yes, perhaps a little overwhelmed, but I actually love it. She is the feistiest, boldest, most amazing person I have ever met. She has no fear. She takes no prisoners. She flies into every situation with passion and enthusiasm, even if she has no idea what she is doing. Sometimes while I am driving, I worry about getting into an accident because I let my eyes linger on the rearview mirror a bit too long; you see, I can see her back there in her seat, hurling her shoes to the floor and leaning toward the window so her hair will whip around her face while she shouts the ABCs to the wind. She is flawless. I could watch her race around the living room for hours; her walk is beautiful and her run is even better. I seriously have no idea how I lived 33 years of my life without her.

Even Super Villains have rare moments of reflection. 
You know, to plot their next foray into world domination. 

I get to spend 2 mornings a week just with Super Toddler now that Super Preschooler is in preschool. These girl-only mornings are quickly becoming hilarious, harrowing, and the highlights of my week. Monday, we go grocery shopping. We are all business and out of there in 20 minutes. We get to the car, and, as I strap her into her carseat, Super Toddler begins urgently waving at the bags and shouting. Her language skills are enthusiastic but mostly undecipherable. These bags contain, in no particular order, apples, a loaf of bread, a box of Cheez-its, animal crackers, cheese sticks, a can of cream of mushroom soup, oranges, and raisins. I offer her an apple, which she fastballs 2 parking spaces over and under a car, like the pint-sized Randy Johnson she is. I show her the raisins, which she waves off like they are an annoying fly. I open a cheese stick, but she sticks it in my mouth instead. No to the Cheez-its and the animal crackers, and people are starting to stare. I try an orange, only for it to go the way of the apple. I sigh and hand her the can of soup, maybe she just wants a toy to play with. She sets it next to her and gestures to the remaining bread. 
Really? I hand her a slice of bread, and she takes a bite. Contented, the Carb Queen plucks the cheese stick back out of my mouth and nestles it in the corner of her mouth like a tiny Groucho Marx, before grinning (like a tiny Groucho Marx), hefting the can of mushroom soup in her left hand, and hurling what appears to be a knuckle ball all the way into the street. The Hulk, I tell you. 

If and when Super Toddler plays the friend character in your romantic comedy, she is warning you now, she will be going full-on Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids. But before that, she has her eye on the Michelle Rodriguez part from The Fast and the Furious.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. C-sections

It's boring around here; let's go poke some crunchy moms. 

I was at a park with Super Kindergartener, way back in the day when he was 8 months old. I was trying to join a new playgroup and I was chatting with a woman near the swings. She was pretty crunchy and I was cool with that. Most of what prevents me from forging into crunchiness myself is my laziness. I love the earth, but the true joy in tilling it still eludes me. But I was happily chatting with this crunchy mom until her crunchiness took a turn I wasn't expecting. You see, we started swapping birth stories. It is a natural (teehee, natural birth pun!) progression in mom conversation, so I wasn't worried. I happily told her about my recent experience with rock-star-late Super K. (10 days!), my drama with induction, struggle with labor, and eventual C-section. I was about to launch into how dreamy his infancy was, with all-night sleep at 6-weeks, when she threw me a mega-curve ball. "I'm so sorry. Have you adequately mourned your C-section, Erin?" I just kinda stared at her. She asked me again, "You haven't, have you? It's OK. But you really should if you want to move on in your motherhood journey. You are still a real mom even though you haven't really experienced birth." I declared that Super Baby had a need to go down a slide and booked it out of there as fast as I could.

I have had 2 C-sections. Neither was particularly pleasant or experiences that I would volunteer to undertake on a slow Saturday night, but since they resulted in this:

And this:

I am not inclined to complain. Nor do I feel that I have anything to mourn.

Super Toddler chose to come to us via Vbac, and while that was certainly a different experience, it was full of its own struggles and unpleasantness. And for the sake of completeness, here:

Now, some of this is just me, but I don't particularly enjoy the being pregnant or the birth parts of getting a baby. I just want the baby and I will go through what I have to go through in order to do that. And despite what my ultra-crunchy near-friend thought that day in the park, I have experienced birth. Everyone who has had a child has experienced birth in the singular and unique way that child chose to come into the world. Everyone who has experienced welcoming a child into the world or their lives has experienced birth.

Because that is the single most important lesson of birth; it isn't yours. You can make all the birth plans you want but at the end of the day, it is their arrival. This baby inside you is coming and she intends to make an entrance. It is a pretty important lesson in parenting; you are not in charge. You are a protector, a guide, and someone to make sure they gain the skills they need to survive life. But they are not little clones of you; they are going to forge their own paths. Starting with how and when they exit your body.

Now, before you come sit me down and force me to watch the Business of Being of Born, I am totally supportive of birthing rights and a myriad of ways to have your baby. Home births, hospital births; do whatever works for you and your coming baby. Use as little or as much medical involvement as you want; I will defend to the death your right to do so because you are my sisters in womanhood. (Told you I was secretly crunchy.) No, my concern here is how we treat one another. Let's be real; not many women decide to have a C-section because it looks fun. We do it because we are concerned about the health and safety of our children. Treating a woman who has experienced a C-section (and who probably doesn't need any of your help in feeling guilty) like she hasn't truly experienced birth or has something to mourn is insulting and it is cruel. It is also inaccurate, unnecessary, and many other adjectives that mean just-don't-do-it that I am too lazy to think of right now.

Swapping birth stories is a mainstay of motherhood. Millions of woman before us have engaged in the time-honored tradition of telling and retelling those magical stories of meeting our children for the first time. It should be a fun, positive experience that binds us together as mothers. My favorite story of my own birth is when my mother laughs and talks about how my father nearly fainted and how the nurses were more concerned with him. Or when my father still calls me Blizzard Baby on my birthday and recalls that awful and yet wonderful day during the Blizzard of 1978 when I decided to make my appearance. I can still see the sleet that was raining sideways out the window as I waited (and waited) for Super K. to show up. I can still remember Awkward Dad merrily announcing that Super Preschooler was "a boy!" I can still feel Super Toddler when they put her on my chest and I could feel her fuzzy hair on my cheek; marveling that this tiny little girl was mine to kiss and hold. I really don't see what there is to mourn here.

Birth is an exciting and thrilling part of our children's lives, but it is merely the first of amazing and fabulous feats that they will accomplish. We are mothers, not birthers. If you are birth-story swapping with a mom and she mentions a C-section, don't tell her you are sorry or that she has anything to mourn. If you do, you are being another B-word entirely. Just don't; you are better than that.

Did I join the playgroup? No, I did not join that playgroup. But I moved to Ann Arbor, so I kinda feel like I did. Kidding! Crunchy moms, you know I love you! 

Awkward Mom vs. Preschool

It might not be my first rodeo, but that bull still looks pretty rough....

Now, I'm not nervous like I was nervous dropping Super Kindergartener off. That was a new place, with loads and loads of experienced moms, most of whom are a great deal more familiar with real school than I am. (I am 1 week in and I still Mr. Mom school drop-off.) This is something else entirely. This is preschool. Preschool is something I am familiar with; the newly minted Super Kindergartener was Super Preschooler for 2 solid years, in this very room. So no, I am not Kindergarten-level nervous, but I am still very much me. And Super Preschooler and Super Toddler are very much them; one sticks playdough in the other's hair the second we get here, both of them are a bit territorial about the trains, and inside voice, please apparently means shout as loud as you can.  Thank goodness I have been through this before because I hear very little of the welcome talk. Which is just as well, it gives me time to size up my fellow preschool parents.

There are 6 of them; Late Mom is late and not here yet, Helicopter Mom is already crying into Helicopter Dad's shoulder, Healthy Mom (she is in short shorts, running shoes, a sports bra, and little else) is on her phone, the Au Pair is looking slightly freaked out, Normal Mom is chatting with her Mom, who is busting with Grandma pride and taking about a million pictures, and the sweet parents of the other Super Preschooler (Theirs and mine share a name. An actual name, not an alias; which is nutty for a class of 7 kids, but what you gonna do? At least their son is lovely and does the name proud.) are being their sweet selves and smile at me occasionally. Their oldest is in Kindergarten with Super K., so we already have a bond. It is an interesting group and the only red flags (only half-raised on the mast, mind) are Helicopter Mom and Healthy Mom. Helicopter Moms are usually very nice; they just have serious boundary issues, generally only with their children, but some branch out. It is worth keeping an eye on it. Healthy Mom gives me pause, but I might just be jealous. I wasn't able to button my pants this morning and they are currently held together with a hair tie.

During the pottying part of the welcome talk, I have to confess in front of the group that Super Preschooler is only sorta potty trained and sporting a pull-up. It appears he is the only one not fully potty trained. This earns me some pity from the Sweet Parents and Normal Mom. The Au Pair is staring at a spot on the wall above her charge's head, and Helicopter Mom is still crying. Late Mom continues to be late, and Normal Grandma is replacing the batteries in her camera. Healthy Mom looks slightly horrified with me, but I shake it off. I refuse to get worked up about pee.

Now food. Food, I will get worked up about. As the veteran in the room (imagine that!), I am encouraged to bring snack to the next class. I am totally fine with that, I can do food. I can do food in my sleep. The teacher informs me that there are no allergies in this class, so go crazy. I intend to. The teacher is distracted by the arrival of Late Mom, and that is when Healthy Mom comes over to me and the following happens:

Healthy Mom: Oh, you are bringing snack on Wednesday?

Me: Yep!

Healthy Mom: OK, well, Healthy Preschooler follows a particular diet.

Me: Oh, the teacher says that no one has an allergy. Is that wrong?

Healthy Mom: No, no. Nothing like that. But she is a vegetarian.

Me: Oh, OK. I don't usually bring meat anyway. I was thinking of a fruit and some crackers.

Healthy Mom: Right. But you are aware that marshmallows and jello and certain fruit snacks contain gelatin, right?

Me: ummmm...sure. Wasn't thinking of bringing any of those.

Healthy Mom: And I wouldn't want her to have any gelatin by mistake, you see.

Me: Yep, got it. I was thinking of fruit and some crackers. Sometimes I bring cheese, but she isn't a vegan, right?

Healthy Mom: She isn't a vegan.

Me: Well, that must make things easier for you. I would find it really tricky with no dairy in my house. (not to mention hellish, but I keep that to myself.)

Healthy Mom: Her father would like her to be vegan. We are in discussion about it.

Me: Oh, well. Lentils can be nice.

Healthy Mom: ..... (smiles vaguely and walks away)

Readers, I am serious. Lentils can be nice. I said it. I don't know what it was; her perfect tall self looming over me or her strangely formal way of talking, but I full on verbal-vomited on her shoes. Lentils can be nice. 

I make my exit shortly after that. I snatch Super Toddler out of the dress-up corner and toss the hammer she is holding onto the workbench in one smooth move, while snaking behind Super Preschooler so he can't see me leave. (I may be awkward with vegetarian moms, but somethings I rock at. Like deceiving my children, apparently.) I wink at the teacher and all but run out the door. I don't look back, but the tears come anyway. I manage to keep them from flowing until all the way to the car and after strapping Super Toddler in her car seat. I settle into the driver's seat and just cry for awhile.

I don't bawl like I did when I dropped off Super Kindergartener and I don't lose it like Helicopter Mom is doing in the car to the left of me. I just turn on the car radio, cue my 70s folk CD to John Denver, and let it come. Soft steady tears that I think I may have been inwardly crying since Super Preschooler was born.

You see, Super K. is basically me as a child; needy, emotional, and wildly loyal. He wants friends and contact all the time: he hates being alone, especially at night. He has complicated feelings about pretty much everything, lots of fears (including a clown phobia that I totally get), and more neuroses than a Woody Allen movie. It is like looking in a mirror. Leaving him in that Kindergarten room was horrifying because I knew exactly what he was feeling. How scared and nervous and utterly alone he felt for those 5 minutes between my leaving and him making his first friend.

But Super Preschooler is who I want to be. As a child. As an adult. As a person. Super Preschooler is absolutely in the moment and he usually thinks it is pretty great. His emotions are huge and as fast as a roller-coaster; he bears no one a grudge but his left hook is lightening fast. He'll punch ya and then help ya up. His hugs are equally fast. Super Toddler plays alone for hours; join him if you want to, he will pass you some legos with a smile the size of Texas but he won't seek you out. He is completely self-contained and appears to float through life in a gorgeous multi-colored bubble. Nothing bothers him; nothing pops his bubble.

Can you understand why I have inwardly wept for this child his whole life? I am abundantly aware that I can't keep him. That I don't possess him. The first day I met and held that otherworldly fairy creature with the wild hair; I knew he is not really of this world. I knew our time would be so wonderful but oh too brief. He will spend his childhood tolerating my interference but he is totally set. He could probably go to college tomorrow; this preschool step is, frankly, unnecessary, but he humors us. I have a feeling he humors us in most things. He didn't need me to sneak out of the room behind him. He doesn't really need much. All Super Preschooler ever needs is someone to reach the higher of his Star Wars toys and the occasional band-aid. And I am sure he could charm those out of someone else if he needed to. No, I didn't sneak out of that room for his sake. I did it because if I had seen his wise and twinkling eyes while I was leaving and if his beautiful mile-wide smile had landed on me for one second more in that little preschool room, I would be the mess that Helicopter Mom is right now. As it is, the searing image I have of his angelic explosion of blond hair is enough to make me change the CD to some AC/DC just to make it out of the parking lot and over to the store. It is raining today, but that isn't why I am having trouble seeing out the windshield.

Awkward Mom got in and out of Aldi in 20 minutes this morning; shopping with 1 child is a revelation! When she returned to pick up Super Preschooler, she found Helicopter Mom peeking in the windows of the school room. She guiltily looked up and admitted she had been there for 15 minutes and felt like a stalker. Awkward Mom shared her umbrella, said all the right things, and lent her shoulder to Helicopter Mom for a little more crying. Yes, I think it is abundantly clear that Healthy Mom is the one to watch this year....

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Begindergarten/Kindergarten

Half of this battle is merely spelling frustration. 

Super Kindergartener started Kindergarten today. The school he is at is under the misconception that he is in something called Begindergarten because Awkward Dad and I chose to enroll him in Half-Day Kindergarten. This is the last time I will refer to Begindergarten because, frankly, I am getting tired of typing it out and having spell check scream at me in red wavy lines. Yes, I have a million worries and thoughts about him being in half-day school while the rest of his friends are in full-day school, but I have mostly come to terms with the fact that I am doing the best I can for my child and his needs. He is a smart cookie and I think he will ultimately conquer his academic career with aplomb regardless of how much time he spends there his first year. No, Super K. is fine. Like most parenting battles, this one is about me and my own insecurities about fitting in with the other moms. Do they know something that I don't? Did they get a memo that I didn't get about the benefits of full-time Kindergarten? Are they all talking about me and my lazy decision to not deal with packing lunches? Of course not. They are all doing the best they can for their children and their needs. But I am not named Awkward Mom for nothing; this insecurity battle will rage on in various forms for awhile yet. I am cool with that. What I am not cool with is Begindergarten, so henceforth, Super K. will simply be in Kindergarten. Makes me, and spell check, feel better.

But on to today's battle; the first day drop off! Any of you who have had children go to school know what this is like. Heck, those of you who have gone to school yourselves know what this is like. This odd mixture of excitement and panic, as children mill about in slightly stiff new clothes while trying to maintain their balance in backpacks, laden with brand-new school supplies, lovingly organized like they will never be again. Parents stand around nervously, trying not to cry or laugh too loudly, so they constantly rearrange zippers and smooth down cowlicks in an attempt to stay busy but mostly to just touch their children one more time before they disappear behind those doors for the rest of the day. Kindergarten through 8th grade are present at Super K.'s school, so we get to watch the massive variety of parental reaction; from the Kindergarten Moms tearfully hanging on to their babies to the Middle School Moms who barely slow down the cars, before kicking their kids out and peeling away in a cloud of gleeful laughter.

One of the benefits of Beginer....I mean, Half-Day Kindergarten, is that he doesn't get picked up at the door. I have to bring him to his classroom every day. I am not entirely sure if this is going to stay a benefit as the year drags on and I have to drag the other Supers in with me, but today, with the other Supers at home with Awkward Dad and my emotions running high, it is a clear benefit. We wade through gossiping moms and pigtailed little girls, as we make our way to the front door. Then, we are bumped from behind by a 6th grade girl trying to maintain her backpacked balance on her bike. It doesn't go so well for a group of middle school boys, as she passes us and plows into them. Frankly, I am more worried about her. That isn't going to be easy to live down. We step over that social status crushing scene and serpentine our way through the parents taking pictures on the steps. Finally, we are through the doors, but there is more wading and picture avoiding to do, as we make our way to the far end of the basement hallway. I don't mind. I am trying to drag this out as long as possible. In his infuriating manner, Super K. gives nothing away but calmly and benignly looks around him. He could be quietly freaking out or casing the joint; I can't tell.

We arrive at his classroom way before I am ready. We are pros, having attending the orientation yesterday, so we know exactly where to stash his backpack, hang his sweat-top, and place his snack. I hand in his folder, stuffed with all the paperwork I filled out last night, to his teacher, whose name I remember today. I pronounce it clearly and correctly, as I mention that I also included the photo of Super K. she requested for a future art project. She beams and says "Well, someone read the introduction letter!" I am shamefully pleased by this and the look of panic it causes the helicopter mom that I already don't like. I back away and let go of Super K.'s hand. I feel the tears pop into my eyes as his little fingers slip out of mine, so I busy myself smoothing down the little bag that hangs off the back of his chair. I run my now empty fingers over the bag and trace his name; the official adult version of his name, proudly lettered in big and bold permanent marker. He is officially in Kindergarten now. I hold back the tears and look up to watch him approach a little boy who is building a tower in the middle of the rug.

Super K.: Hey.

Potential Friend: Hey.

Super K.: Whatcha doing?

Potential Friend: Building a tower, wanna help?

Super K.: Sure.

And with that, he is gone. He is safe and sound in his Kindergarten class and I am superfluous. I know it, so I don't delay any longer. I bravely rip off the band-aid. I smile at the teacher, and I walk through the doorway and into the hallway. I don't look back. Because that's the secret, isn't it? Never look back.

Never look back. At least, until you are at home and can safely bawl your eyes out while blogging, that is. 

Super Kindergartener! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Awkward Mom and Awkward Dad

Today is Awkward Dad's Birthday. To celebrate this momentous event, he took the entire week off. We are off to have awkward adventures! See ya when we slow down enough to write some of it down! 
Enjoy a taste:

The shenanigans are a'foot. Back soon with some stories! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Dumb Lists on Facebook

Sass phasers set to kill.

If I see one more "20 things to teach your son" or "73 things to teach your daughter" or "23284 ways to waste brain cells reading this dumb banal list of crap" pop up on my Facebook newsfeed, I am going to hurl a brick through my computer screen. OK. Not really. Because I need that computer screen to look at pictures of cats. Maybe I should find whichever friend of mine posted it and hurl a brick through their computer screen. Or better yet, whoever decided to write this mess. Yes, that sounds good.

Are my pregnancy hormones acting up? Why do you ask? Do I sound a little angrier than usual, Readers? Maybe I am. The thing is, I thought we settled this when I wrote my post about those ridiculous "rules for dating my daughter" posts that were popping up everywhere. And now we have stuff like this:

"2. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship,so don't take something away from her that you can't give back.
9. Treat women kindly.Forever is a long time to live alone and it's even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts.
12. A woman can do everything that you can do.This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3 A.M. Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.
16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea.
19. Please choose your spouse wisely.My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren.
20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you."

There are 20 of these, most of them about your son's future wife. #2 seems to be saying "don't rape anyone" and #12 seems a little rude, like "don't be a sexist." Why are you assuming that your son is a potential sexist rapist? And why do you have to like his future spouse? (which might not be a woman, by the way. It is 2013.) Maybe he doesn't want to marry at all. Maybe he and his future wife/husband don't want to have kids. Your list sounds a little selfish to me. The 20 things to teach your daughter (which I am too angry to go look at right now) all have to do with not wearing booty shorts and picking a man who isn't a jerk. So, again, all about sex and her future heterosexual spouse.

No one who I have seen post this has a child over 10. Why are you thinking about these things? I am trying to figure out potty training and making food other than Mac and Cheese for dinner. Ugh! I am so mad about this that the font in this post has changed 3 times and I don't even care to fix it. (My OCD kicked in and I did go back and fix it; your eyes work just fine.)

Here is my 5 things you need to teach your child, who is under the age of 10 and should not be thinking about sex and marriage and making you grandkids. 20 is too many things for anyone to remember anyway.

1. Don't pick your nose in public. If you do it in private (like everyone does and says they don't), just make sure to dispose of the boogers properly. Don't eat.

2. Be kind to all people. It's the right thing to do, plus no one likes a jerk.

3. Learn how to share. There are 7 billion people in the world and we need this stuff to last.

4. Look both ways before crossing the street. Even a one-way street. Sometimes adults do dumb things when they get in cars.


I am buying some bricks. You know who you are. Stop it.

Bonus thing: Hug animals daily, if possible.