Thursday, June 27, 2013

Crouching Frog, Hidden Tiger Mom

So many milestones in this parenting gig: baby's first smile, the first steps, the first time she gets herself dressed. And then there's one milestone that isn't on most development charts but means so much to me: baby's first JAZZ HANDS!
Super serious jazz hands at that.
I came to dancing too late to be any good. At best I am a "nice mover" who can fool people into thinking my performance is, like, real actual dancing. But dancing is my favorite thing. FAVORITE. There is something most amazing about this utterly non-verbal communication through movement, to me. My head is filled every second of every day with words. My work is mostly moving words in different directions. In my downtime I like to read other people's words. Dancing? NO WORDS. But you can still make someone laugh, or cry, get chills, or fall into awe.

(I am not similarly into mime. Just wanted to clear that up.)

Little A. had her very first dance recital this Saturday. It was a classy affair, with real costumes and real lights in a real big theater and all that. I was expecting to tear up, or flat-out sob, at the sight of my first born \onstage in her wee ballet slippers and tights and stay-put hair-do. I got all of the moisture out of the way at the dress rehearsal. And I am such a sap that I weep at the high-school aged kids dancing too, because they are SO GOOD and they work SO HARD and their parents must be SO PROUD and UGH SO MANY TEARS. That was not a surprise. Giving birth rewired my brain. I never used to cry, period. It was just not my thing. Now I am that person who can never wear mascara or if I do I have to spend a great deal of time looking at the ceiling so my ready tears won't turn me into Alice Cooper. So yeah, tears, no big shocker.

What WAS a surprise was during the week before the recital, I went all Tiger Mom on my poor kid. Let's try it one more time! I heard myself say, over protest and groans. It's so much MORE fun and beautiful if you do the choreography the way Miss Elizabeth taught you! I heard myself say, as she flung herself around in her pre-bedtime sillies. If you want to just dance around you can do that here at home, not at the classes that cost a lot of money! I heard myself say, as she and her sister started to booty-shake every time I turned the music on.

Geez! Chill the fuck out, lady! She is 4, no one is expecting perfection, you're going to take all the fun out of it! 

Yes, you're right. But also? There is a part of me that wishes my parents had pushed me a bit more, who had not let me quit everything the moment it started getting hard. I was (am) willful and stubborn and might have made their lives miserable, but now I am sure I would appreciate mastery of...well...anything. (And as I remember it, I made their lives miserable anyway. I was not a delightful teen.) As I am a half-decent dancer, so am I half-decent at: painting, clarinet, Spanish, etc., etc. The "Dabbler" patch in Girl Scouts was my jam. But dabbling is ultimately dissatisfying. I don't want to teach my girls to dabble. But when do these lessons start? Is 4 too young? (Is almost 40 too old?)

Then the night before the recital, Little A. got sick. Really sick. She had a fever, couldn't eat her supper, and just laid there on the couch like a sad little lump. I was afraid it was strep throat and she would miss her recital and be even more sad and mad and we'd have a miserable weekend. But Saturday morning she woke up, stretched, and said I feel a LOT better! Is it recital day today? I said It sure is! and she said YAY FINALLY! and counted down the minutes until she could get on stage. She seemed a bit nervous before dress rehearsal. She didn't want to talk or hug, unusual for my little barnacle. But then when it was showtime, she did her little routine the best she'd ever done. She found her mark, sang along, hit most of the moves at the right time and didn't smile but claimed that she had fun. And her friends and fans brought her flowers and she was bursting with pride and when is my next recital mama? Can we put these flowers in vase in my room??

And I am tearing up writing about it. GODDAMN YOU HORMONES. So, anyway. I am not so worried that I will smother her enjoyment, not anymore. Because she is going to love what she loves. And I am going to love watching her do it. And I am going to love pushing her to be her very best, even if she doesn't always love it, until she is better than me at everything and I go broke getting her the best teachers. She can use the money she makes from winning the EGOT to put me in the finest nursing home.

CROWDSOURCE PARENTING TIME: What do you guys think? Do you push your kids or just let them be? Is it a personality thing? And, p.s., how on earth do you find the time to do the things YOU need to do to be a more chilled out parent, in general?

xoxo, A

p.p.s. Dress rehearsal video! Little A. is the little froggy closest to the camera.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ding dong, DOMA's dead


While there are still many, many things in this world that royally blow and cause me to question my selfish desire to bring babies into being, well, this makes me happy.

One afternoon Little A. was hanging with me on the couch while I was looking at the Facebook. An old high school friend of mine had put up some wedding photos and I said OH, look at my friend Melissa and her wife! They are both the brides! Don't they look like princesses? Little A. pondered a moment and then said, Yes! But...where's the boy? So we had a quick discussion about how some girls marry girls, and some boys marry boys, and some girls marry boys, and it's all good, because LOVE.

And she just accepted it and moved on, looking for the next hilarious kitty video in my newsfeed.

Even better? I bet I won't even have to have this discussion with Baby G., because same-sex marriage will just be an everyday thing when the idea of marriage enters her consciousness. So, Supreme Court, thanks for making my parenting easier. And thanks for making the world just the tiniest bit better for my girls.

xoxo, A

p.s. Texas, you're ok today too.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Single and Ready to Ming...errnevermindkthaxbai!

In a fit of busting through to the new-normal let's just GO so very typical me-ness, I set up an online dating profile. While no stranger to online dating, having gone through a year or so of it when single in Brooklyn...well, now, yeah, it's different. Of course it is. But really. So so very different.

Back in my day--imagine this said with my one arthritis-crooked finger pointed just past your head, and a wistful look in my crow's-footed eye--a likely fella would look at your profile, read it (the whole thing, tl;dr didn't exist in those days), write a charming email, and await your equally charming reply. I had a rule of three - if I was not asked on a date within 3 exchanges, on to the next candidate! and I had some great dates, and some not-so-great-but-pretty-good-stories-dates, and overall it was a fun supplement to meeting people organically (drunk), while out with friends (drunk), at your local pub (drunk).

Well, now, our society's taste for instant gratification means that dudes can 1. See when I am logged onto said dating site, 2. See when I have looked at their profile 3. Instant message me through the dating site.

Argh. This pretty much removes all the pen-pal charm from the process, and makes it into this high-intensity speed dating style crapshoot. I've had fellows try to guilt me into replying to their (boring) emails by pointing out that I had looked at their profile - the equivalent to a creepo dude continuing to hit on you because you walked past his chair on the way to the bathroom. One guy kept insisting don't be shy! chat! c'mon! during the 30 seconds I was online at 11 pm one Wednesday. ELEVEN PM. Anyone with half a brain knows a mom is not going to be up for witty repartee at 11 pm on a weeknight. And then for his stunning death-blow, he sent me a frowny-face emoticon to close our non-correspondence. WHAT A FROWNY FACE I CAN'T EVEN.

That being said I have had some genuinely nice interactions and one super hilarious chat session, and have been asked on a few dates by guys I would actually consider dating! I'm a wicked catch, yessah!

Here in my neck of the woods, eligible bachelors way, way outnumber awesome single ladies, by a lot. This is very different from NYC, where the rare single man (who was not totally insane, narcissistic, immature, or just plain weird) was a jewel fought over by dozens of single ladies who would totally cut a bitch to get on that. Just like searching for an apartment or a job, competition was fierce, and fearsome. Most of the girls had Brazilians and great jobs and at least two degrees and were size less-than-zero. I did more than ok, under the circumstances, but it got tiring, being one of way too many boxes of cereal under the shockingly toddler-like male gaze of the average NYC bachelor. Here, the dudes are like hey you have teeth and hair and stuff I will totally date you! Which is slightly overwhelming, especially when I notice their profiles claim they neither have nor want children or are only interested in the younger demographic.

Not to mention, now there are dudes like "pee4urbutt" and "dominantwhore" out there. WHAT PEE4URBUTT I CANT EVEN.

Not to mention, I have two kids, and how do you date with kids? Is there a book on this? Like a really detailed book that explains how to do handle the logistics? Is it gross to go on dates while your ex is with the kids? Is that the only way it's done? Ideally I want to meet another single parent, and preemptive, pre-sleep ruminating about coordinating schedules and visitation and babysitters and bringing a stranger into my kid-upheaved house gives me the serious shpilkes.

So yeah, in conclusion, I am hanging up my dating shoes (that never even got out of the house) for a while. The flesh is willing but the mind, is weak. Or something. I'll keep my profile alive in theory, in case someone truly irresistible comes along, but for now, this mama's off the market.


Just kidding. 

The end. (For now.)


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Trix are for Kids

The baby has been waking up at 5:30 am this week. This is, indisputably, way too early. She stands up leans against the corner of her crib like a bored softball coach against a dugout and says "Maaaaaama. MaaaaaaaMAAAAaaaa-aa-aa. Maaaaaamuuuuuuuuh? MAAAAAAAMAAAAAAAAAAAA!" until her sister also wakes and rescues her from her cage and they both tumble onto my bed and we have nice cuddles while I attempt to shake off the cobwebs from the previous night's late-night* escapades.**

THIS morning was no different. The girls rolled on me and gently squabbled while I closed my eyes and pretended that this method of rest was just as refreshing as that actual hour of sleep that I was missing. I mean, at least we are all still horizontal. About 40 minutes of this and everyone's tummies sound a call to action and the getting-dressed hullabaloo begins. Little A. goes into her room to choose her latest fashion-forward stripes/prints/stripes leggings-under-shorts-under-dress combo. She's into layers, for realsies. She proudly shows me her outfit (halleluiah but it is nice when they can finally dress themselves) and asks if she can pick out MY outfit for the day while I am getting my contacts in and etc in the bathroom. I let her do this sometimes, and then work around the fact that she usually picks two exercise t-shirts, a push-up bra, and a fancy skirt. I said, sure thing, just make sure you get me some underpants and socks, ok? And she said yaaaay and brought the baby into my room. I continued brushing my teeth and washing my face.

Moments later, Little A. gleefully runs back to the bathroom, waving something purple in the air. MAMA LOOKIT WHAT I FOUND IT HAS A RABBIT ON IT LOOK HOW DO I TURN IT ON WHAT IS IT DO I TURN IT ON LIKE THIS?? My heart dropped and I made a sound like aaugguhhhgghherrfff. Of course. My lovely firstborn stood in front of me, waving around my lovely first vibrator. I squeaked out, hey that's mama's can we put it back where we found it actually no let me have it.

She gave it up easily but not without several dozen questions. Most of which I answered with mmmmmhmmm or by repeating, yeah it's for massaging but then she latched onto that idea and said but I love massages too can I try it pleeeease? Pleeease? Pleeeease??? So I just went straight for the power play and said, no it is only for Mama, when you get big you can maybe buy one with your own money. And so she asked how much it cost and maybe she had enough in her piggy bank and....

All of the above took place in the 15 seconds it took for us to get back to my bedroom. Where I discovered...even worse...

The baby. With my OTHER vibrator (both are from a long-ago time, when boyfriends gave me sex toys for Christmas. For my last two Christmases, my boyfriend got me nonstick pans. Oh, but how life changes.). She was waving the smaller, but also purple, device in the air shouting OPEH-IT! OPEH-IT! Which is her way of asking either to open or turn on or otherwise do the thing that whatever thing she is holding is supposed to do that she can't figure out how to do. I said as calmly as I could, no, Mama can't opeh-it right now. Let's put these right away in this super high drawer and never mention this to anyone especially not your teacher ok! 

And predictably as soon as I wrested the toy away from the baby she opened her mouth and howled.   I had to think of a way to distract her real quick. Fortunately there was a screwdriver up on the bureau as well, so I handed that to her. One of those small ones. Not too sharp.

How many more questionable parenting decisions can one make before 7 am, you would be completely justified in asking yourself, dear reader. I will say that at least THIS morning, there were none more. I quickly dressed myself and we went downstairs for a peaceful, healthy, and blessedly normal breakfast. But just to be safe, I checked everyone for rogue unmentionables. Lord knows I am not up for Pastor Brian seeing any more of my private collection.

And with that! I wish you a happy humpday.

xoxox, A 

*11 pm
**watching Parks and Rec while avoiding weird guys' emails on OKCupid

Friday, June 7, 2013

Written on the Body

The day after I asked Tim to move out, I couldn't speak. I was literally rendered speechless; for almost two weeks I was queen of whispers. The girls though it was hilarious (and it actually is good for parenting, when you can't raise your voice, we discovered).

My voice is back, mostly, but my car-singing ability seems to be permanently compromised. Dammit.

While we were on vacation, I lifted Baby G up and out of the bed and felt my neck go "click." For the rest of the trip, right-side-looks required my entire torso to come along for the ride. Extra bonus good times: watching the girls in the pool, airplane travel, Baby G sleeping on me on the bus.

Yoga has always been my go-to modus-exerciseus (and I require a lot of exercise, like a puppy), but now I want to run. I want to run and run and run and run. Or do hard things that have kicking and burpees and stuff like that. And then I want to eat an entire pizza and immediately go to sleep. One drawback of solo-parenting is there is no one else to do the chores.  Or, more accurately, no one else to point to/commiserate with when the chores don't get done. The girls are too small to run to the grocery store to get toilet paper, or to fold their own laundry. Pro-tip: these things have to be done ALL THE TIME. Like EVERY DAY. Phew.

We lost a friend this weekend to cancer, and another admired acquaintance is terminally ill. This certainly puts all my woes into perspective but does nothing to diminish my flashes of rage (at my situation, sometimes, sure, but mostly at the general not-fairness of the universe on behalf of those lovely men and my beautiful daughters). I can feel the rage-ball, hot and heavy, resting somewhere around my solar plexus, ready to burst out Alien-style at the slightest provocation. The only victim thus far have been my sunglasses (thrown to the ground in a kid/paint/mess related tantrum).

I am turning 40 this year, and have to think about these things: mammograms, skin checks, genetic testing for the cancer gene.

On Wednesday a dear friend invited me to join her footsoak/massage birthday gathering. I felt nervous for feeling pleasurable sensations, afraid of relaxing and relinquishing the tight hold I have on my body and emotions for these last weeks. I sank into my chair and closed my eyes and hoped I would not spontaneously start sobbing or farting or whatever. I didn't, it was lovely.

Both girls have been having lots of trouble getting to sleep at night. Little A. is afraid of shadows. She has come into my room almost every night asking "please love me up until light-time" or "can you cuddle on me until morning" and of course I can't say no but then she has also wet my bed twice and there is a limit to the number of times I can turn the mattress. 

I close my eyes and imagine myself in room, on a bed, in the magic hour light, with clean sheets and curtains softly blowing in the breeze. Someone very handsome is waiting just out of sight. I close my eyes and imagine myself floating up to my ears, in a lake, under the stars, alone. My girls are sleeping peacefully in a room together somewhere very nearby.

I lace up my sneakers and run and run and run. I get in my car and sit at my desk. I go home and tend to everyone and watch TV and go to bed. I can feel our next phase just right there. Let's please just get there, already.

xoxo, A