Dear All Moms, Except that One.

Dear All Moms, Except that One: That mom doesn’t know you and her opinion of you does not matter.

Sweet mercy, was no one listening?

I don’t need to defend why I might be surfing on my phone, or otherwise engaged in my life– you know, the one I didn’t forfeit with my fertility–because I don’t answer to her. Plus, sanctimommy’s post was clearly calling out iphone moms in the park, and I have a nexus.

Plus while she was busy cataloging all the precious childhood moments I missed with my disregard, her precious was choking a little girl on the slide.

Isn’t it always that way?

Now, I have no interest in defending my facebook updating, internet surfing, kindle book reading, or– sometimes when I’m messing with paper– book writing.

But I couldn’t help myself. Pictures. Funnies.

My Smartphone brings all the Bitches

What Happens to College Dropouts

Moms, when did we all turn into Stuart Smalley?

“Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit people like me!”

Y’all, SNL intended that Stuart Smalley’s incessant need for Daily Affirmation be a joke.

Yet whenever I turn on the internet (aka Facebook as it delivers most of my important information, and yes, I am painfully embarrassed about this) these viral articles, some of which moved me to tears of appreciation*, sound a lot like a Daily Affirmation.

*Being told by some ubiquitous stranger that I’m an amazing mom after a day that has ended with any one (or all) of us slamming doors and screaming feels… nice.

“That’s just stinkin’ thinkin!”

Trend: Mothers declaring themselves as non-compete in this pinworthy (seriously folks, the non-words rebranding into verbs? Too much) world.

Um, Duh? Look, I like pinterest; I thought a visual bulletin board to be an amazing concept for organizing the obscurity on the internet. I don’t like that it turned into a popularity contest.

BUT, not liking the hostile takeover of my bookmarking site, and spending more than 4 minutes typing out why I don’t like it are different.

Ain’t nobody got time for that shit.

“Compare and despair.”

Too many moms spending too much time comparing themselves, worrying if they measure up.

Yes. And simultaneously, no.

I compare the mother I am today with the mother of two years ago and… dude, what a screw up she was.

The mother I am right now wouldn’t exist without those mistakes that still, even now, I keep stored in a clear glass specimen jar– a la 9th grade biology.

Obviously I can’t quit my mom-job and I don’t want to. Wanting a vacation isn’t quitting.

But I will, without an ounce of apology, declare the day null and count continued lung function as a measurable parenting success.

However when those unprovoked mini-breaks (illness and pregnancy count as provoked) morph into a recognizable slack-assness habit?

A quiet whisper with the mothering equivalent of “you know that whole pizza wasn’t 200 calories” is the absolutely right voice for the moment.

Mom bloggers reassure us that our concerns are unfounded, which go viral (of course) because, dammit, that’s what we all want to hear. Whether it’s true or not.

Check it out, not only am I sometimes the antithesis of awesome, sometimes I’m SO not-awesome that a group hug affirming how fantastic I am in my not-awesomeness perpetuates fraud.

I consider my personal parenting style a fluctuation between too-awesome-for-this-sauce and skirting the edge of benign negligence.

My kids absolutely need both– and every point in between.

Awesome mom smiles while singing Everyone was Kung Fu Farting, complete with mouth-farting noises.

Benign negligence mom pretends not to see them digging a lake in the backyard.

However, I’ve been rolling around in my derision of my personal favorite– but that one will have to wait until Monday.

“I’m in a shame spiral.”

Franklin Graham Fixes Bosnian Children with Shoe Boxes

Franklin Graham, dilute progeny of Billy Graham and head dude of Samaritan’s Purse,  fixes Bosnian Children with his Operation Christmas Child. Otherwise known as, shoe boxes filled with miracles. My kindergartner brought this very religious book home from his his public school library. I might have shrieked at him, poor kid.

Deep breaths, censorship is bad, no wonder he was in such a foul mood yesterday, mumbling about being depressed and stuff.

Then I read it. Next I searched out the gritty details about these boxes– because I’ve yet to meet a Christian organization that giveth without some strings. Like the Christianity agreement that these kids get before getting their gift. Scroll to the end, I’ll wait. Doesn’t it feel, I don’t know, wrong, to hand a refugee child a book that basically tells them their lives are filled with blood and terror because they don’t pray to the JC. Take away the orphaned refugee part and your still left with the bright, shiny magical thinking of  children. American children believe a giant bunny delivers eggs and that a fairy collects teeth in exchange for cash. The kids, they are easy to fool with their hopefulness.

Franklin Graham

Just to summarize this uplifting holiday tale, a mother lives with her two kids, 9 and 3, in the cellar of a bombed out building.The 9 year old forages for food in the streets at night, while hop-scotching his way past flying bullets. He sleeps on a chair. His 3 year old sister used to have a doll, but she lost it in the street while running from sniper fire.

The above text is not hyperbole, but actually the text of this feel-good children’s story.

Where is the Dad? you ask.

What a great question, I’m glad you mentioned it. The family assumes Dad is still alive, but since he’s in jail they just can’t be sure. The fear for Dad’s safety makes Mondays really suck. No worries though– part of the end-story miracle includes busloads of prisoners being delivered back home just in time to receive their own shoe box.

In the meantime, poor mom has certainly been forced into prostitution to make some sort of cash, but Graham leaves those details out; the only real miracle in this shoe box of craptastic.

Thanks to this stupid book, I spent a long chunk of my evening trying to explain the Bosnian war’s traumatic effect on women and children (and the busloads of male prisoners) to a 6 year old. You’d be correct in your assumption that it is difficult to find an age-appropriate way to describe the trauma of a family torn apart by raging war.

My distaste for Franklin Graham continues to grow. In fact, I’d call Franklin Graham a giant douchebag, but that insults the occasional usefulness of a good douche. Perhaps a simple charlatan.

It’s not like FG’s raking in the boxes of cash being the CEO of this charitable organization.

Beyond my personal feelings about Mini Graham Cracker, will I always knee jerk about the religious stuff available in public, government-supported schools?

Duh.

Hey, at least my state doesn’t sneak religion (Christianity only, please) into schools through sponsored legislation. Aw, dammit; never-mind.

The Bosnian sniper fire book did provide a brilliant segue into Zach’s next question about black history month and “how exactly were they able to purchase, um, people? And why only the brown-skinned people? And, while we’re at it, why didn’t they pay them for doing the work?”

Technically because the bible told ’em it was their right to do so, but that’s hard to pack into a 6-year old’s brain box. Maybe I should draw a little information booklet.

Being a Mom Makes me do Weird Things

As I held the teeny-tiny toes to a fishing lure frog, my fingers gummy with super glue, I knew I had something for Andrea’s You Know you’re a Mom When link up.

Behold, the inspiration. One squishy frog that brought such joy to the youngest Small Person that I felt my cynical heart peek out from the ashed remains of my hope for humanity. Elliot is, with a select few things, very easy to please.

Elliot and Frogly (not misspelled) cavorted together in their bath. Elliot told Frogly all about the blanket house they would build together. I listened to Elliot explain the safety rules betwixt Frog and Dog.

And then…

Frogly’s puny little toes fell off. At bedtime. An over-tired 4 year old’s bedtime.

Ah, the evening trifecta arrives just in time to relight the flames.

Being a Mom

How do I know I’m a mom? Because I doctored up Frogly’s foot with super-glue, that’s how. And, as I wrestled with tape reinforcements (a cast, right?), JB checked the tackle box, finding duplicate Frogly.

We all live another day.

But wait– there’s more. Z has been rereading all of his “How to Train Your Dragon” books, in between which we’ve have long conversations about mythology, historical timelines, and evolution. When he asked, “Mom, can you…uh… make me a picture of everything important since, like, the dinosaurs?”

I assumed google was gonna hook me up. One free infographic on history from dinosaurs until now … what? No FREE INFOGRAPHIC? Cue microsoft word, insert tables, copy row, and carpal-tunnel-inducing cut and paste.

No worries– there WILL be a free infographic. Eventually.

But I did find out how to make him a viking helmet out of a t-shirt, duck tape, and some tin foil.

So. Many. Jokes.
viking

Apparently this one has heard all the jokes. He was not a fan of viking helmet good times.

unfortunate

He did put on the Toothless tail though.

toothless

Sidebar: Go back up to the picture of viking Zach. Look down and right. See where I still haven’t rehung the doors on the armoire-turned-food-pantry (from January 2012) in my kitchen? Bah-ha-ha… I love me.

Finally, the coup de grâce— the tee-pee. Now, before y’all start throwing jokes, I’d like to point out a few things.

    1) Post-photo trim work gave it a more conical shape. Look at it again, two days– MAX– before a glimpse of that thing at dusk triggered life-long ghost nightmares.
    2) Children chose and sorted the sticks. Well, one of them did; Elliot excavated a lake.
    3) Children dug the holes–in Carolina red clay.
    4) Children sawed most of the tiny side branches. Meticulously and slowly with a dull box saw.

teepee

Alright, I used the jig saw for some of the large stuff, but c’mon!

Of course, now I want to build a yurt.

I’m also linking up to Blogher’s February NaBloPoMo, because, well, I wrote a post. 😀
NaBloPoMo February 2013

Sticky. The New Modge Podge. The Unsung Decorative Texture.

Watch how quickly I can rock this thought out.

Sticky. The left behind of whatever substances making contact with the Small People. I wipe, wash, and scrub, but that shit never goes away. Part of me suspects (hopes) that what’s left behind is not grossness, but what happens to wood after 6 years of wiping. Of course, that doesn’t explain the sink now does it.

Could I use the remnants of morning oatmeal as a replacement for modge podge? Furthermore, they are 4 and 6– why the daily pile of oatmeal on the table?

Or perhaps a use as the Unsung Decorative Texture: if I embrace Sticky’s presence in my home will it be become less disgusting to peel my bare thighs off a dining room chair?

Could I combine these two realities into a living social art experiment? Where I modge podge our life onto, well, the surfaces of our life?

Can you imagine the layers upon layers of fundraising documents, announcements, credit card offers, art work, and take out napkins? That almost sounds really cool, yeah?

I understand, and accept, that my future life won’t be full of glamorous intrigue. Alright, no bullshit, I can’t really blame that on kids.

But still.

Of all the little moments of parenting that common sense forced me to anticipate, and that years of parenting finally made me accept (the 12 steps, if you will), the constant assault on my person from the sticky residue still manages to surprise me.

Why is Exercising at Home so Hard?

I started trying to exercise at home 3 months post-partum with Elliot. A replicable correlation existed between his screaming and the first televised frame including a pony-tail/sports-bra wearing person.

Since I agreed with his peevish irritation at these women–- and their functioning pelvic floors-– I was quick to turn them off in favor potato chip. Or 50.

I considered joining a gym, with childcare. But they are expensive and none of them send a limo to my house forcing me to actually go. Exercising at home is so hard– but going somewhere else to do it is harder. For me.

Then I started running. And I ran. A lot.

Then I didn’t run for a long time.

And I won’t run in the dark, or on the treadmill.
Or in a box, with a fox– wait, I got mixed up with Dr. Suess again.

A) Refusing to run at night while still B) wanting to run should logically result in C) waking up earlier.

Logic– she be a bitch. Attempts at molding myself into a cheerful, alarm-clock setting, morning person continue to be completely unsuccessful.

Wait– you are a morning person; 2 AM is the morning. Technically, yes– but unhelpful for my purposes as I’m certain that most of those running at 2 AM are being chased.

All of the above frippery merely to announce that I queued a bunch of fitness/dance/yoga videos on youtube so I could torture Elliot workout in the afternoon.

I’ve asked Elliot to join me– especially with the kick-boxing– to which he responds by gently suggesting that I’ve lost my damn mind.

Peeved Elliot

He and I– we’ve got a thing.

Thus, imagine my surprise, when during the belly dancing portion (don’t judge– have you seen the curves on traditional belly-dancers? Obviously these are my people), E sat up from his self-imposed couch prison, cocked an eyebrow, and said,

“wow, mom. You can really shake your butt!”

I’ve decided that he’s complimenting my superior dance moves, rather than commenting on the jiggle in my wiggle. But I sneaked cauliflower into his lasagna as revenge, just in case.

Good Mothers own the TARDIS Tent

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to have funnier blog titles. Between why parenting is a like a glade plugin and why a owning the TARDIS tent makes me a good mother? Nailed it.

A recent conversation with my oldest child.

Z: “Mom, I’m going to invent a time machine, that way I never have to go to school”.

Me: “You’ll need to know a lot about physics, which you learn in school, to map all of those wormholes.”

Z, without missing a beat: “yeah, but they don’t teach science in kindergarten, so I’ll just go ahead and skip to high school. It’s really for the best.”

I’m fielding this shit at 8:32 in the morning– the exact moment when everyone should be dressed and smoothly transitioning from the house to the car.

Instead I’m screaming “you’re still not wearing pants! at a kid trying to invent time travel so he can skip school.

In kindergarten.

I love the vivid imagination of my kids, partly because it’s something the three of us share, but mostly because Entertainment by Daydream inches closer to extinction with every technological advance. Without clinical boredom, there aren’t any daydreams; and one cannot transcend into clinical boredom with an electronic device.

Of course I need to take my own advice; y’all are missing my point. That point being that I’m supportive mother, dammit.

I’m also a Doctor Who newbie. In fact, I’m only 5 episodes into the 9th incarnation and my own fantasy about being Christopher Eccleston’s companion.

Cough. Sigh.

I guess my parents didn’t watch The Doctor when I was a kid? Too busy populating my nightmares with the brain-eating eels from the Wrath of Khan, I suppose.

It was easter, and I was seven. Thanks, Dad.

Thankfully (and deliberately) I’ve filled my life with fellow geeks and playing their facebook statuses backward plants subliminal Doctor suggestions.

Which is why the TARDIS will exist in my home. I’m not committed to the where yet, as JB quickly (and unfairly) vetoed my plan for a TARDIS-shaped bed.

I planned to just build it anyway, because, really, THAT’S WHO I AM.

But then someone showed me this TARDIS tent. . . And I thought about the symbology of TARDIS and how I can’t even pee without one of them asking me a question through the door.

All I have to do is convince them that I’m NOT HERE when inside the TARDIS. Which will make my oldest child even more determined to solve the time travel problem– since he’s all about how awesome I am.

His understandable attachment to me (remember, I’m in a parallel universe) can only encourage his love of science, eventually leading to him winning the nobel prize for his work in physics.

This, friends, is how buying myself a TARDIS tent makes me a good and supportive mother

All of you? You’re welcome.

Why Parenting is like Having Too Many Glade Plugins

Parenting is like a having too many Glade Plugins?

DISCLAIMER: I really don’t use glade plugins anymore, but I do buy a wide variety of essential oils that get plugged into an outlet diffuser (which looks suspiciously similar to the glade plugin doohickey). I suspect my next big conspiracy theory will involve Dick Cheney owning my organic oil company, and secretly updating the recipe to chemically-altered fossil fuels that only smell like peppermint. muhaha!

But back to parenting and glade plugins. Let me guess your first two questions:

1) Aren’t you a little too much of a hippie to use glade plug ins, Stephanie?

Yes, of course I am! Why in the hell would I pay money to pollute my indoor air? I can go outside and get polluted air for FREE. Beyond that, the plastic pouch full of chemical-laden, noxious fumes that Glade calls perfume gives me migraines.

2) Ah, I see; your statement parenting is like too many glade plugins is an analogy.
So. You’ve lost your mind?

No! Well, maybe, but not about this.

Once upon a time, like 6 years ago, I had a friend who loved glade plugins. To the tune of at least one plugin per room, often differing in scent.

You’re still not really grasping the horror, are you?

Here- walk in my mind for a minute.

Take a long-haired dog and add water. Roll dog in swamp mud, some other dog’s poop, then throw the dog at a terrified skunk.

Then spray the dog with seven different bottles of perfume, and at least 5 different aerosol bathroom sprays. Febreeze the poor thing JUST IN CASE.

You can't out-stink a dog and a skunk.

You can’t out-stink a dog and a skunk.

That was her house– except she DIDN’T HAVE A DOG.

But she couldn’t smell any of the suffocating lingering perfume/stank anymore. The nose adjusts, you see.

It’s the same phenomenon that allows me to forget that my hall bathroom probably reeks of urine. Don’t judge me; I hit the bowl every time. And I totally threw that in here in case you ever come over and pee in the bathroom. IT’S NOT ME.

So, you see, parenting is like your nose. It just sort of . . . adjusts. As your children age, you are paying attention, but not rea–

Forgive me, this is just easier: you can no longer smell what the Rock is cooking.

This isn’t always a bad thing, as it also means that your little Dumplin’ has clawed his way off the 40x magnification of the parental microscope.

But I digress–
In the middle of a typical– mind-numbing, time-sucking, soul-leaching– day as I strive toward the trend of positive (must-be-over-valium-ed) parenting I realized that I had gotten used to their scent.

That I had gotten used to their reactions, their talents, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Somehow I had stopped being impressed by all of those things; I was failing to notice the scented perfume of their youthfulness. Other people– friends, teachers, and family– can still smell them.

So instead of opening a window for some fresh air, I kept (metaphorically) trying to cover up the rottenness of their discontent.

I pushed Zach to be a better 2nd grader.

Which is fine, except he’s in kindergarten.

I pushed Elliot. I fully expected the LOUD that has been his normal since rocking it Placenta Style would transition seamlessly to an appreciation for quiet.

Guess what happens when you push kids too hard? They fucking push back. Then everyone stands around shoving and poking at each other, until finally calling Game Over because YOU are the ADULT, dammit!

Ha. Adult. Whatever.

Like a house with too many glade plug-ins, the fumes from all those expectations were masking the stink. Problem solved.

Actions are the First Tragedy in Life

“Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless. . .” Oscar Wilde.

Tomorrow I have to sit down with my 6 year old and have a conversation about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday. I have to find a way to explain an unexplainable situation in a way that will give him the tools to push aside what other children may speak of on Monday. My first instinct was to assume he would remain naively ignorant of what happened… Then I thought about what that means in a classroom full of Other People’s Children.

No, what he hears first needs to come from home. But before I can sit down and do my very best impression of Mr. Rogers, I need to unload the most pressing of my bitter little pills.

First off, let me offer the same platitudes, to express my horror at what I assume it must feel like for the people most directly affected by the nonsensical event. For no matter how much my mother’s heart weeps for those stranger’s children, no matter how full my eyes became as I watched my innocent child run to me after school I cannot know.

And, oh, how absurdly grateful I am not to know. But I grieve with these people, these parents.

I understand– and own– my grieving process. First, I place myself into the shoes of the unknown stranger, mentally acting out my worst what-if scenarios. Then, because it’s hard to sustain that level of grief when it’s not IN YOUR FACE, I seek the news, and visually feed my horror on 24-hour loop.

9/11, oh the lessons you taught me about myself.

Then I get angry at everyone; feeling frustrated at how, even while the community of Newtown hug, the community of America begins to bicker.

GUN CONTROL! ARM THE TEACHERS! INCREASE SCHOOL SECURITY– BULLET PROOF WALLS! MORE COPS! MORE GOD! LESS GOD! BAN VIDEO GAMES!

What needs to happen to protect our children? That list is long and dirty– and not all of it surrounds school security and gun control. What this latest event proves to me– we are a country on the precipice of falling victim to our own seething contempt and virulent anger.

Bitter #1: Reporting Rumor as Fact, aka– Being a Fucktard

We all know what happened… oh wait, we don’t.
What we know, for fact, is that a total of 28 people (included the shooter and his mother) are dead; 20 children and 6 adults.

We know that a barely-man entered an elementary school and shot these people.

The rest of the facts?
Pay close attention to the words— may, perhaps, seemed like– because they are everywhere.

The shooter may have had a personality disorder;
the shooter may have been autistic;
the shooter seemed like a loner.
The family seemed nice; the mother was a good housekeeper, an involved parent.

Assumptions, not facts, and as such should never be originating with any sort of journalistic agency.

Yes, I want information– factual information.

The swiftness with which social media spreads rumors and e-publishing prints them? Damn.

Bitter Pill #2: Stereotyping Fear Words go BUZZ

The shooter was quiet, thin, pale; he was one of those goth-types.

As a unit, all of America gives a sympathetic nod since obviously all psychotic breaks begin with the quiet, thin, pale, goth kids.

Ah– the human need to systematically categorize people into neat boxes, ensuring that the stereotype can be quickly retrieved from its mental file folder.

Now I should be stuck between the fear of shy, thin, pale nerdy kids, and the fear of the black, hooded sweatshirt teenagers.

My point being that mental illness cannot be determined by a clothing size, or skin color.

Not all stereotypes are representative, as proven by such handsome, tan personable men like Ted Bundy.

Bitter Pill #3: Slaughters to be Blamed on the Separation of Church and State
Mike Huckabee shakes his head sadly and tells all of us that we should just sort of get used to being shot and killed thanks to the removal of public prayer. Why would God save these innocent children when we’ve stopped prayer in schools.

/facepalm/

Too much bitter, not enough energy. In short, would someone please explain the disconnect between the logic of “guns don’t kill people” and “non-theism kills us all”. Why do guns and god get a blame-free ride for they situations with which they are involved?

Huckabee, you are a douche-bag.

Bitter #4: GUN CONTROL! YOU CAN’T TAKE MY GUNS
If this could ever be a thoughtful, intelligent conversation among adults…

It’s ironic to me how these conversations keep getting pushed to the side because so many people are…what? Maybe afraid of pissing off people with guns?

But just a teeny-tiny bit of tact when discussing gun ownership rights when standing over the body-bags filled with dead children. For fuck’s sake, people.

Oh– and let’s just skip arming teachers, and give them to the 5 year olds at kindergarten registration.

Bitter Pill #4: Suffering from Mental Illness versus Evil is Among Us!

JB and I disagree on the standard for which we judge the state of being evil. I believe that all who massacre have a mental illness, but not all with mental illness will massacre.

JB thinks that people can be evil without being mentally ill.

Struggling with the idea that someone can be evil enough to mow down a classroom of kindergartners without being delusional in some way…too much for me to handle.

Note the use of the word suffer, mental illness in any capacity– not fun.

I just can’t imagine what happens in the life and mind of a 20 year old that ends with the answer of guns in an elementary school.

Wait– I can imagine the types of horrors that may occur in the life of a child– any one of which might preclude a psychotic break. Across the world children, even those in affluent neighborhoods, suffer unspeakable atrocities. Child abuse– whether physical, sexual, or emotional– knows no socioeconomic or racial barrier. And child abuse among children with developmental delays occurs at a rate almost twice (1.68) of non-delayed child. So whether this barely-man was developmentally delayed, abused, mentally ill– who knows? The most recent friend the media could find to interview had not spoken with Lanza since middle school.

We all ignore, thus condone, that reactive violence when funding for social welfare and mental health programs disappear. Cutting those funded programs in favor of providing guns for war tells each one of our children that bullets are the universal solution to all problems.

After all, children mimic what they see over what they are told.

I don’t know what, if anything, traumatic occurred in Adam Lanza’s life.

I feel part of the blame for our country’s failing systems– a place where children are killed by a barely-man.