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. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Playdate

Nothing like a 6-year-old to make you question your worth as a mother, housekeeper, cook, and person. 

Let's play everyone's least favorite game; What Will Super Kindergartener's Rude Friend Say Next? Obviously, there are no rules to this game.

1. Wow! Your house is really small.
2. The guest should get to pick first!
3. What's wrong with that cat?
4. I don't like Mac and Cheese.
5. I only like cheese pizza.
6 Can you pick off the sausage? I don't want to touch them.
7. My mom says no candy except after dinner.
8. My mom says no toys at the table.
9. My house is cleaner than yours.
10. My mom says no light sabers or gun toys.
11. Your sister is annoying.
12. Your sister has a lot of dress-up.
13. You can't wear a dress! You are a boy!
14. But boys don't play princesses!
15. Let's play Star Wars instead. I'll be Darth Maul.

Well, clearly I lost that game. How about we play everyone's favorite game instead: How Will Super Kindergartener Respond to his Rude Friend?

1. Not really; wait until you see my room!
2. OK.
3. Super Cat is really really brave and has many adventures. That's way he sleeps a lot now.
4. Oh, I do. You can have something else, if you want.
5. Just give your sausages to Super Toddler, she loves 'em.
6. Sure, give it here.
7. Well, if we are good, we get one after lunch. You should be good.
8. Yeah, that isn't a rule here.
9. OK.
10. That sucks. What are you gonna do if zombies come to your house? (I swear to you he said this; it was awesome.)
11. Sometimes. But sometimes she is fun.
12. Oh, most of that is mine.
13. That's silly. Princesses wear dresses and I am playing princesses.
14. Some boys do. I do. But you don't have to if you don't want to though; that's OK. We can play Star Wars instead, if you want.
15. Sure! I wanna be Luke.

Nothing like your own 5-year-old to remind you that you are doing just fine. 

The boy is inhuman; I don't know how he does it. 
Totally cool, totally at ease, totally himself.
He is 5.
What kind of self-confident giant of social interaction is he going to be at 25?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Halloween

What is truly scary is that for weeks I will be finding more random sticky patches around here than usual. 

Awkward Grandma loves Halloween. Like LOVES it. Here is a quote from a letter my father sent me while I was in college; "Your mother is decorating with her usual subtlety: the 5-foot bat really adds something to the front hall." Halloween is smack-dab in her favorite time of year, and my mother never under-does anything, let alone the time of year she loves the most. We are talking wall to wall cobwebs, 7-foot-tall singing Frankenstein Monsters, bushes burning with red lights like they are guarding the gates of hell, pumpkins galore, enough tootsie-pop ghosts to intimate the Ghostbusters, and, naturally, 5-foot front hall bats. I have never known a quiet Halloween; in fact, I don't really think that is a thing.

I inherited my mom's sense of the overdo. Super Kindergardener got the dress-up gene. Super Preschooler got her festive glee. And Super Toddler got Awkward Grandma's fearlessness. (Seriously. My mom told me that she laughed the whole way through the Exorcist.) Add into this mix Awkward Dad's sense of unabashed and unashamed fun, and you have one very powerful Halloween.

Since my mom loves Halloween so much, we pretty much celebrate all month. Halloween itself is a delightful cap on the end, but the true fun for her (and esp. Super K.) is the decorating and dress-up selecting. Super K. (who also inherited his grandmother's love of matching and a tendency toward bossiness...oh, let's rather call it born leadership abilities) decided early in October that the theme this year was going to be Star Wars. He decided to be Luke Skywalker. He declared that Super Preschooler was going to be Obi Wan Kenobi. Super P. is pretty easy going, so he said sure. He had one caveat and that was that he was going to be old Obi Wan, not young Obi Wan. He still has not explained this, but Super P. likes his secrets. Super K. was going to make Super Toddler dress as Leia, but his friend Awesome K. decided to go as Leia, and while 2 Leias would have been fine, Super Toddler's natural talents lie in a different direction:

Namely, on the dark side. 

I, or rather Super Fetus, went as the Death Star, and Awkward Dad told everyone to use their imagination and pretend he was Chewie. The man has been working a lot, so we let it slide. My costume was no great shakes either; a gray shirt, with the words "That's no Moon" written on it, so I am not in a position to throw stones anyway.

Now, Halloween itself, while a blast and truly fun, was very rainy. It rained all day, and I am not talking about a little drizzle or some gray clouds. No, this was rain, all the way. And since we have a leak right by our front door, even the poor person handing out candy (who was me) got wet. In the house! Whatever. 12 sugared-up kids and their tolerant parents had a fun time. At least, I did and everyone else is too polite to say otherwise. I am calling it a win.

But the true win? That was the weekend before when we got to go to Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village. Just look at the way they spell Halloween! You know right there that it is gonna be cool. And it was. Plus, the queen of Halloween herself, Awkward Grandma, was there with us!

What? You don't own a casual cobweb cape?

I could wax poetical for a very long time about how much fun we had, but you all have other ways to kill time on the internet, so I will focus down to the fact that Super Toddler was very appropriately dressed:

The child forged ahead, cape a'flapping, the entire night; undaunted by any and all manner of ghoul. She would march up to elaborately-dressed guides, set on enormous platforms in the middle of the path, looking even tinier than she already is and shout Happy Halloween up at them, fearless and gleeful. She figured out the trick-or-treating aspect rather quickly for her first go and soon had a bucket brimming with treats. She laughed at the actor reciting the Tell-Tale Heart. She barreled through teenage blockages in the path with the contempt they deserve. She waved to witches and gabbed with goblins. And she was the only one to watch the Headless Horseman race around after Ichabod, as her brothers huddled at my sides and hid. In fact, before she was captured, I think she was on her way over the fence to push Headless off that beautiful horse of his so she could climb on. She a sight to behold, as she crunched over the umber carpet of fallen leaves, weaving in and out of the swirling smoke machine wisps, in the magical October dusk that Awkward Grandma loves so much. I am just elated that her grandmother was there to see how much Super Toddler takes after her.

I'm not exactly saying that my mother and my daughter have the combined spunk, nerve, and sheer bull-headiness to take on the entire galaxy and become the most powerful sith lords in existence. 
I am just saying that if the cape fits........