Sunday, July 27, 2014
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Dear Other Mom-
Look, I know that this is confusing. We are colleagues in a world that prefers competitors. Peers, with nothing in common but our parenthood, and the paths there have been as unique as we are. We are all making this up as we go along, but we are terrified that anyone actually find that out. So, we do what we have been taught to do by years of school and work; we fake it until we make it. That's fine. That's not the problem. The problem is that the same rules don't apply here. Maybe you don't know you are doing this. Maybe gunning for the best in the room is what you have always done, and it has served you well. You were/are top of your class and were/are CEO at your work. That is truly wonderful, but, again, those rules don't apply here. There is no prize for coming in first at moming. No A+ report cards, no endless raises, no golden watches, no huge bonuses. Well, there are bonuses, but nothing you can put in your 401K. Now, I can't stop you from trying to win the mom game, I am just trying to alert you to the fact that you can't. You will exhaust yourself, and for what? Maybe your child will be president. Maybe he'll be a famous actor. Maybe she'll be president of the World Bank. That's nice and all, but those will be their accomplishments. You will have helped, but in the end, those achievements aren't yours and they aren't necessarily going to win you medals anyway. Do your thing, but please don't aim for treasures that aren't there and maybe are made of gilt anyway.
Furthermore, while some of us throw ourselves into long distance marathons that can't be won, some of us chose to pull that nasty trick of tripping the other runners; taking the focus off our own uncertainty and self-doubt by throwing the focus on someone else's all-to-obvious struggle and worry. Stop doing that. It's rude. Again, maybe this is how you survived school and work, but there is nothing to survive here. We are all in this together. Laughing at the new mom at the park and shaking your head in disbelief because she "hasn't heard of sleep training" will gain you nothing. Sure, the mob mentality may take over and you'll get some laughs, but don't be fooled. Those moms are going to play their cards close next time you are around. No one likes a bully, even if we are scared of them. And friends are what you need the most right now.
Mom bullys can be subtle or outrageous. Be neither. Don't brag about your child's 99% for height. Don't compare milestones. Don't openly gape when someone decides to bottle feed or breast feed. Sleep train or cosleep. Allow dressup at the park or sanitize the sand toys. We all have our roads to walk and you don't know the rocks and ruts that mom has to deal with. You could ask her though. Odds are good that not many people truly ask her how her day is going and stay to hear the answer.
Ask a mom her child's name, not the age. Ask if she has read anything good lately or if she likes Game of Thrones. Maybe she is more a Dowtown Abby fan. That's cool; variety is the spice of life. And make no assumptions about how that other mom decides to feed or clothe or discipline her children; it won't be the same as you, that is one assumption that you can safely make. Realize that she has other interests besides her role as a mother, and if she, or you, do not, that is something you might want to get on. I don't care if she wants to talk endlessly about potty training, try to get her on something else; it will benefit you both to come up for a little air. And the air is fine; you now have about 2 billion coworkers and potential friends. 2 billion women in the world who are doing what you are doing; trying to get these children to adulthood with as little damage as possible. You know what would help with that? Some friends.
Let's be friends. Let's talk about books and hobbies and being a woman and mother in 2014. Let's support each other and the unique ways that we decide to do this whole parenting thing. And please, please, please, tell me a joke. I want to laugh. I want to have fun. I want to embrace this wild, slightly crazy, very busy part of my life, and having friends around me would really help. I don't know what I am doing. I am full-on faking it, and I know you are too. It's okay because, get this; our bosses don't care that we are faking it! All they want is some kisses and an underdog push on the swing. Wanna do that together? We can talk about Guardians of the Galaxy or the Fault in our Stars; I'm flexible.
I oughta be flexible; I'm a mom.
Friday, July 18, 2014
I am gleeful as I locate my volunteer card; Erin, Monday-Friday, Nursery. And no fat folder full of in-chargey things like attendance sheets and allergy notes attached to it. I'm free! I'm free! I just get to hang out with babies and toddlers all day, building lego towers and changing a few diapers, while some other woman runs things and handles the herculean task of dealing with 12 teenage girls who squeal for no reason, gossip non-stop about people you don't know, and look at you pityingly if you don't know who Iggy Azalea is. (I don't want them to look pityingly at you, Readers. Take the link. Memorize it. You'll look all hip and now.) Don't get me wrong, these girls are wonderful volunteers who know their way around some toddlers and make working in the nursery a full-on breeze compared to actually teaching 3rd graders about Moses. I love them, I just don't want to be in charge of them for a week.
And I'm not! I giggle to myself as the meeting starts. I merrily take the Moses quiz and get 8 out of 10 correct. (Who knows which tribe Moses was from? I'm not a theology scholar, people.) I can name all 10 plagues though, so those 12 years of Catholic school weren't a total waste, although I am pretty sure I learned all I know about Moses from the 10 Commandments every Easter. I listen to the rules about peanuts and where to find the first aid kit. I barely doddle during the tips of how to engage with children. I chat with the ladies at my table. I even stand up when "veterans of previous VBSs" are asked to. All is good. Until....
(There is always an until in my world.....)
Until the VBS coordinator says "Would all the nursery volunteers come up here afterward, please?" Hmmm...that's odd. I was hoping to dash out early and hit the library before going home to the bedtime/zoo hour. Well, I am sure it is nothing. I bid farewell to my table-mates and head on up to the front. All 12 teenage volunteers are huddled near the front. Oh, looks like we have 1 boy this year; neat. It will be nice to have someone my height around. I stand next to him and the two of us stare into the middle backs of the Amazons that ring the VBS coordinator. I can sort see her; she comes into focus between shoulder blades as the girls giggle and lean into whispers. The coordinator's face shifts from delighted to confused to slightly panicked over the coarse of a few seconds, until she finally says, "Aren't any of you adults?"
I pause maybe 2 seconds before raising my hand. (It's a long two seconds and I contemplate running out the door for most of it.) She doesn't see me, so I have to wave my hand around and announce "I'm an adult!" like I am trying to get picked on the Price is Right. The teenagers part as momentously as the Red Sea and I am face to face with our VBS coordinator and my fate.
"Oh, Erin! Didn't see you back there. Well, I am glad you are here. The other adult volunteers didn't seem to show up. I don't suppose you would mind running the nursery again."
"Oh no, not at all. I wouldn't mind at all. Delighted to do it."
"Great! Here's the folder! See you on Monday!"
The teenagers close in with questions about confirmation hours, how many babies there will be this year, what's the dress-code, are phones allowed. I let the noise rush over my head, and, for a moment, I feel just as desperate as Pharaoh's drowning army. Until.....
Until I remind myself that I tangle with Perfect Mom daily. I don't seem to need sleep anymore. I have birthed four children. I don't have radioactive blood; I can change a diaper while the child is still buckled in her carseat and my husband is driving 70 down the highway. What's radioactive blood when you can do that? I am amazing. I am strong. I am flexible. I am Awkward Mom and I am a gosh-darn superhero.
So bring it on, VBS. I can handle your gossip teenagers and stranger-danger toddlers. Your really ugly yellow shirt. Making small talk at the picnic. Your weird summer school smells and subsisting on graham crackers and juice boxes all week. Your Christian rock music CD on a loop. Trying not to laugh at the 15-year-old with the Santa beard pretending to be Moses. The crafts. The holy coloring books. The hundreds of children. Trying not to look bored when my fellow volunteers want to talk about bible verses. I have got this. I've got this. I have so totally got this.
She totally does not have this, Readers. Pray for her. Pray super hard.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Super Kindergartener: You don't need that, Mom.
Me: (Fighting tears) You mean because I am beautiful anyway.
Super K.: No. Because shorts under a dress is a terrible look. It looks bunchy and messes up the way the dress looks.
Me: (Deciding not to explore that the shorts are not really shorts, because how much does a 6-year-old need to know about shape-wear? None, that's how much.) Are you telling me that I am messing up the line of the dress?
Super K.: Is that how the dress looks on your body?
Me: Yeah, pretty much.
Super K.: Then, yes. Don't mess with the line of the dress. Hey, that rhymes! Super P., come here and hear my cool rhyme!
I have a BFA in costume design. I have not used this degree in about 15 years. OK, that isn't quite true. I use it once a year, when I watch the Oscars with my mother. And then this happens:
Me: Well, I guess peplums are in this year.
Awkward Grandma: Oh, is that what that is. Did I tell you how great Captain Philips was?
Me: Why do they insist on tulle? Year after year....
Awkward Grandma: I really hope Captain Philips wins, it was my favorite.
Me: That's a bold choice. Tangerine is a hard color to pull off with a deep tan.
Awkward Grandma: You know who was bold? The actors in Captain Philips.
We may have slightly different interests come Oscar time.......
I do not use my design skills. My life changed. My interests shifted. I started having babies. I got busy. So, I just assumed that part of my life was over. Or a weird dream. But then comes Super K. and now I know exactly where all those design skills went. They somehow crossed the uterine wall and landed right in that little whirling brain who has designed all the looks in this post.
The reason I was wearing the sorta-Spanx was because we were celebrating Super Baby's baptism this past Sunday and I didn't seem to think that the generous cut of the skirt, the box-pleats, or the fact that I was holding a baby in front of me for most of it was enough to hide the evidence of 4 pregnancies. Anywho, Super K. was an angel, but church can be long for even angels. (I am sure there is something about that in the Bible. Or maybe that was on Supernatural.....) He's getting bored toward the end, so he starts studying the box-pleats on my dress. I can see his gears turning down there, as he gently strokes the side of the skirt, looking for the origin of this shift in fabric and pondering how he can recreate it on his favorite princess dress.
I certainly enjoyed pretend play and dress-up as a child, but I didn't have anywhere near the skills he has. Those that I do have came later. He seems to have been born with his.
But what he prefers above all else is when someone will dress up with him. Luckily, he has siblings quite happy to model his inventive looks:
So, every once in awhile, I make Super K. really really happy and I play dress-up with him:
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
1. Perpetual Pinterest Fails.
2. Always going to the zoo when the animals are at their randiest; causing you to start incoherent explanations of "special zebra hugs" that some smart-aleck kid, probably your own, will correct with, "She means sex."
3. Accidentally doing the snorty laugh when meeting new colleagues of your spouse.
4. Bra shopping with 2-year-olds.
5. Most culinary adventures looking like this:
6. Fanny-packs. (not the ultra-ironic hipster ones)
7. Practicing the pronunciation of quinoa over and over in your head before that playdate at Crunchy Mom's house.
8. That Legos sometimes fall out of the folds of your clothes.
9. Creating Christmas Cards.
11. Constantly getting locked out of your own house and having to slip into whatever pretend play is going on just to get the children to pay attention to your plight; "No, I will not go to Watto's shop to buy parts for your ship! Open the door!!" being rather memorable.
12. Getting caught eating a quick car-donut before the Mommy and Me class.
13. Having Perfect Mom point out that sprinkles, from your car-donut, are on your cheek. She'll do this at the beginning of Circle Time from across the rug, just so everyone is paying attention.
14. When Perfect Mom refers to your parenting approach as "free range." Crunchy Mom might mean that as a compliment, but I don't think that is what is going on here.
15. When Perfect Mom calls your outfit "brave."
16. Pretty much all interactions with Perfect Mom.
17. Getting yelled at by the garbage man for putting the cans the wrong way.
18. Getting yelled at again by the garbage man when you are fixing the cans and your son tries to climb into the garbage truck.
19. That one time you called it "Downtown Abbey."
20. Trying to tell a queen that she should behave like a princess. (This is not only awkward, it doesn't work. Ever.)
Monday, July 7, 2014
(I told her that you would prefer chocolate, but that one never listens.)
1. Ill-fitting jorts.
2. The decision to create jorts for the children out of old jeans because it seems easier than doing laundry.
3. Conversations about the infant trifecta at baby showers. Come on, let the woman go through labor first.
4. Any birth and labor stories outside of a baby shower.
5. When you are sitting in your car at the school pickup and you think that mom is coming over to talk to you so you roll down the window, but she keeps walking to talk to the mom in the car behind you.
6. Lace beach-coverups.
7. Vacuuming playdough off the dining room table when the FedEx man shows up at the screen door.
8. Forgetting the no-peanut rule with your Halloween candy contribution.
9. Not having any cash when your neighbor sets up a lemonade stand.
10. Trying to tie a jaunty scarf for a fall trip to the park and choking oneself.
11. Matching your baby to the couch.
12. When the baby learns to roll and gets tangled in the vacuum cord that you forgot to wind up.
13. 4-year-olds who tell the visiting nurse how to play Plants vs. Zombies.
14. Anyone who wears leggings like they are actual pants.
15. That moment when you know the park helicopter mom is looking all over the park for you and hovering near your child, who is scaling the slide, and you step behind a tree.
16. Any first meeting with a new playgroup.
17. Playgroups that require nametags.
18. Accidentally running into that one playgroup (the one you joined out of peer pressure, secretly hate, and haven't been to in months) at the park and them thinking you have returned.
19. Most playgroups in general.
20. Not having any idea what to say to moms who wipe down your toys with sanitizing wipes before giving them to their children.
21. Melted freezie-pops that somehow made it under the couch.
22. Getting Jesus and St. Francis confused while monitoring the church nursery.
23. Sears photo shoots
24. Mother's Day cards that indicate your child thinks you are 1000 years old.
25. That third day in a row of Mac and Cheese.
26. Being asked to bring the jello to a party. (and no, I don't mean shots.)
27. Leaving that diaper so long that your oldest takes it into his head to spray the baby with Fabreze.
28. Deciding to host a party in July and then remembering that you don't have central air.
29. Wearing the holey socks to open gym.
30. Answering rude park moms requests of "how old?" with your own age.
31. Doing #30 in months.
32. Letting your children hold a revival, or maybe an informercial, on your bed.
33. Going to the pool in the rain; what they heck, we're wet anyway.
34. Making X-men references to moms at the park who have no idea what you are talking about.
35. Not making #34 any better by saying "Oh, well, it's kinda like in Star Trek....."
36. Any decision that results in a trip to an arcade.
37. The realization that you aren't even breaking a sweat yet. Your entire life could be on this list.
38. Having Perfect Mom point out the spit-up on your shirt that, judging from the dried consistency, has been there all day.
39. Having to go in the ball pit because every threat you have tried isn't working.
40. Having to explain the nerd reference on your baby's onesie. At church.
41. Setting your party's beer cooler up in the Radio Flyer.
42. Getting ready to leave and forgetting something. Every. Single. Time.
43. Children that drink the holy water in front of the priest.
44. Getting out of a weird discussion with a mega crunchy mom in the produce section of Whole Foods about nanoparticles by asking her if those are anything like midichlorians.
45. Slamming every fun summer thing into that last week of August in a total panic.
46. Wearing a skirt only to have your son announce that "it's weird to actually see your legs."
47. Walking into glass doors.
48. Thinking that a cough was really a sneeze and blessing the cougher.
49. Getting caught eating candy on the sly in the pantry.
50. That pretty much all photos of your family look like this:
Check out Awkward Mom's Facebook page, Readers! Maybe even give it a like. Only 2 more to go and then she'll gift you with 50 more awkward things. (I told her that might be more of a deterrent, but, seriously, that one never listens.)
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Oh, and did I mention that the team you start with isn't always the team you end up with? Yeah, enjoy those shakeups:
No, that wasn't sarcastic. Seriously enjoy them. They are a ton of fun!
So, Readers, who are you sidekicking for? Remember that aunting and uncleing count and teams made up completely of Kryptos are some of the strongest teams around. Merry Sidekicking!
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Here's my point (finally): I think I have a lot of cool stuff to say and I think I have found a cool way to say it, so I try to get folks to read it. I know you guys read it and I LOVE you from here to the moon. But I am human and greedy and very very aware of all the other mommy bloggers out there. The ones with the fancy layouts and the professional looking pictures and seemingly endless page views and I start to wonder "why not me? what am I doing wrong?" So I try. I send my stuff to this magazine and that web site and this guest blogger spot and that one and the Huffington Post, but so far nothing has happened and that should be okay because this stuff takes time, and I might be doing it wrong anyway, but I am impatient. And before you know it, I look like old green blob up there.
Here's my point (my real one): I have been a writer for a long time. I have 12 started novels, numerous short stories, poems aplenty, and more moody journals than a goth Emily Dickinson with a crush, but my best writing comes from 4 very unique little inspirations:
This blog is for them. They inspire it. They create it with their adventures and lust for life. I just follow them around like a bemused and way-out-of-my-depth Dr. Watson. (Don't tell me that you really needed that link, Readers. Please, just don't.) I keep a journal for each of my children. A journal that I intend to give them when they leave for college or Europe or, in Super Toddler's case, to headline her first national tour. A journal that they will toss in a closet or at the bottom of a box somewhere in their hurry to run off with their friends. A journal they might use to prop up a broken window or straighten out a garage-sale table in their first apartment. A journal that will grow dusty and old and mysterious. A journal that they will hopefully not throw away in the purge that follows their first big heart-break. A journal they will open one day when they decide I am not just some old woman who loved them because I had to but a whole and complete person they are curious about. They will crack open those dusty, probably moldy, books, a moth will fly out, and scare their pants off. But then they will sit down and read. And read. And read. And have to pee but hold it just to read. Because what they they will find is abridged versions of what you read here every week, with a permanent markered link to this website on the back cover, a huge smiley face, and the words "I love you, awkwardly." And they'll finally go to the bathroom on their way to their computer/phone/micro-chip that lives in their heads. They'll settle in and they'll read some more. And they won't be able to stop because they will be reading about themselves, in all their glory and with all their magic. Four humans who changed the world forever. They'll smile. Or cry. Or laugh. Or all of it. And they will know that they are so so very loved. And then they'll probably have to pee again.
And if that is the result of all my writing, well, that is enough. It's more than enough. And so am I.
"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." -Benjamin Franklin
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Me: I feel funny. Not haha, but weird. Like all foggy and out of it. Do you think I am dying? Use your doctor skills and tell me!
Awkward Dad: Yeah, let's slow down a little. Was Super Baby up last night?
Awkward Dad: Have you ever stopped to think that you might be tired?
Awkward Dad: Yes, that normal feeling people get when they don't sleep much.
Me: I guess I just figure that I am always tired.
Awkward Dad: Erin, maybe it is time to stop having kids if you can't even tell you are tired anymore.
Me: Are you kidding? It's time to have more! I think complete immunity to being tired might be my superpower.
Awkward Dad: The thing is you are still tired. You just don't know it. I think your actual superpower is incessant immunity to reality.
Me: *Blank, slightly glazed, look*
Awkward Dad: But you know what, you are still totally super, Honey!
Me: Thanks! Wait.....