I’ve posted a new story on Intersect. Take a look!
Thank Goodness for Bad Boyfriends
I’ve posted a new story on Intersect. Take a look!
It was 3:10 a.m. when Kris finally made it home.
I was awake. I’d been up most of the night. Not waiting for him- I knew it was going to be a long one for him. No, I was responding to the cries of sick kids.
20 minutes after we both piled into bed, Scarlett was up again. At 5:00 they were both screaming. By 6:00 we’d given up on soothing them back to sleep, and just gotten up. Kris went to bed for a quick nap, and I grabbed a shower while Verna watched the kids.
Around 8:00 I woke Kris up, “Happy Launch Day” He rubbed his tired face and headed for the shower.
As tired as I am, I am also excited. Kris has been working on this application for more than two years. I have been one of the beta users for months. There is content up there that I have been longing to share! The reason I have not been blogging: okay, mostly its because I’ve been busy with the kids. However, I have been doing some writing lately. You just haven’t been able to see it. Until now.
And so, fair readers (if any of you remain, after such a long silence) I give you Intersect.
Go to Find People, and type my name. You’ll find the storys that I’ve been hiding there.
I realized this morning that raising small children is just like being in a zombie movie. They pursue you relentlessly all day and all night, and if you think you’ve given them the slip, it’s only because they’ve smuggled their breakfast into the living room so they could mash it into the carpet.
Instead of saying, “Brains, brains, brains” they say:
“You be Sully, I’ll be Mike”
“You be Diego, I’ll be Dora”
“You be the Mommy, I’ll be the baby”
“You be the pirate, I’ll be the parrot”
Which amounts to the same thing.
A few months ago, I wrote this:
What a shock, to look in the mirror. How did this happen? I don’t feel fat- I can still feel my skinny self inside all this puffy stuff. Why do all the Parenting magazines imply that you will get fit from chasing children? These babies made me fat! It’s as if my body wants to make sure I’m never tempted to eat the children. As if I’d know how to cook them.
One evening, after hours of shopping, Teresa and I left the mall with nothing but eye shadow and foundation. “Makeup always fits!” we cheered, though it had been a disheartening experience.
Today, I feel like a ninja.
At my last visit to the scale at the gym I’d lost 26 pounds. When I walk, I feel that ache in my backside that tells me I’ve had a good workout, and it makes me feel buff, even though I can see in the mirror that I still have a long way to go.
Two weeks ago I opened a bin marked ‘Skinny Clothes’ and put on a skirt. It fit perfectly. These were the big skinny clothes- from after Scarlett was born- not my skinny skinny clothes, but it felt like a triumph. A major triumph.
I just feel so thankful for this body.
My husband likes to talk to me about the bizarre resistance to health care reform. I squirm when it’s on the news, because it makes me so mad.
Sarah Palin and her “death panel” hooey, nutjobs breaking up town hall meetings rudely shouting others down with their racist and uninformed outbursts..
To me, it’s so patently obvious that a better health care system, one that INCLUDES a public option, is in all our best interests. Are you really going to tell me you think some people shouldn’t get health care?
But the thing that makes me feel hopeless, is that so many people are falling for it.
Can’t you see that it’s all propaganda, sent through the talk shows straight from the insurance companies, who don’t want the competition?
Here, read for yourself. On CNN.com
Part One: Michael Jackson’s Mother
Walking the dog on a rainy morning, I am listening to adult music for a change. As I turn the corner Michael Jackson begins to sing, “She’s Out of my Life”.
Jackson’s clear young voice rings with sincerity, and as I sing along I picture the beautiful young man he once was. I can’t help imagining how I would feel if one of my kids created something so beautiful. A lump rises in my throat.
I think about things like this often, now that I’m a parent. Once, while watching this video of some high school students in a talent show, I actually got a tear in my eye, imagining myself in the audience watching Scarlett with her friends.
I wonder how Jackson’s parents feel now. Are they devastated by the turns thier son’s life has taken? Or are they too crazy themselves to realize their son has flipped his lid? If they do recognize his situation, how do they deal with thier own powerlessness to save him?
That’s one of the benefits of parenthood. This supersonic empathy, this expanded feeling of connectedness with mothers everywhere; even my own. With people, in general.
It’s also one of the curses. It tears my heart even to see a tired child crying in the grocery store. I can forget about watching the news.
Part Two: Shock and Awe
When I was pregnant with Scarlett I was amazed that every single person in the world had gotten here by coming through some woman’s body. I lived in New York City then, and I walked sidewalks teeming with people. It seemed impossible that so many women had signed up for this duty. Now that I’m raising two kids, my awe has grown expotentially.
Now, when I see a news story about somebody hit by a bus or killed in Iraq I am stunned by the magnitude of the loss. Somebody changed that boy’s diapers, taught him to eat solid foods, rocked him in a steamy bathroom at 4 a.m. when he had croup. Somebody helped that girl with her homework, joined the PTA instead of the country club, saved for her college education. Every single person walking the Earth represents a tremendous investment; worry, lost sleep, skipped movie nights, ruined waistlines, and depleted bank accounts are only some of the sacrifices somebody made for each and every one of us.
Part Three: Secret Parent Handshake
On Facebook tonight I watched a video of a friend’s new baby son. His first child. When forming my congratulations, I couldn’t help wanting to welcome him to to the club, to make some clever predicitions about how his life is going to change. I wanted to repeat the same cliched-sounding things other parents had said to me when Scarlett was born. How tired those things would sound to a new parent; someone with all his ideals intact, and all of his experience still ahead of him.
Why is there no secret parent handshake?
In the end, I wrote the only thing any new parent really wants to hear.
“What a beautiful little boy. Congratulations.”
What I thought was,
“What a beautiful hard journey you’ve started. I look forward to meeting the new you in a year or two.”
Part Four: Even George W. Bush is Somebody’s Baby
When we set out to have kids, I knew that parenthood was going to be hard work for me. I believed that, like every other leap of faith that I have taken, raising these kids would change me in ways I could never predict. That I would be a better person for having done it.
Look how much has changed already.
“Have fun at work, babe.”
The door closes with a hollow sound. I linger there, allowing myself a moment of despair. Then I straighten my back, lock the door, and put on my game face.
Snatching a banana on my way through the kitchen, I find Scarlett on the couch in the living room. Wagging the banana before her eyes, I sing,
“Eating a banana will make you toot!”
“Silly Mommy!” Scarlett turns to me with a smile. She takes the banana, and I am off to check on Owen.
The mornings are the hardest. From the moment I open my eyes (generally around 6:00, when Owen wakes up) I feel like I’m running in a relay race. Except I’m the only runner on the team.
And coming into the back stretch, it’s Patti. Patti is moving well, changing that baby, getting him dressed, and there he goes into the bouncer as Patti moves toward the closet. It looks like she’s going to get herself dressed- but wait, there’s Scarlett waking up. She’s calling her mom, she’s standing in her crib.
And here’s the handoff, Patti pulls a diaper out of a basket. She reaches out with the diaper and hands off to.. Patti!
It takes all of my concentration to dash from child to child to dog to dishes, to keep everyone fed, rested, exercised, educated, dressed, and entertained.
Occasionally, I think about the things I need for myself. A workout, a haircut. Time to write. Sleep. But with all the plates I’ve got in the air, it’s easy to let those things slip to the back of my mind- to forget about them long enough to get through another day.
The kids are sleeping, and my husband is playing Fable. I am choosing to ignore the laundry.
Is this free time? I can’t remember what it feels like.
I want to use my time to write, I miss writing so.
What to write?
Perhaps my blog isn’t the place for tonight. This is a place where I work through my thoughts.
I haven’t had time to form thoughts outside of “What will we feed Scarlett for dinner?” or “children’s museum or aquarium today?” in weeks.
I miss my mind.
“I can’t sit with my super big poop.”
“Holy Moly, that IS a super big poop, baby”
“Can you eat it?”
I love my kids. It’s being a parent that killed me.
The kids were in bed at 8:30, and by 9:00 I have walked the dog, tidied the kitchen, and showered. No matter how deeply deprived I am of sleep, to pass an entire day without doing one thing for myself seems like a colossal failure.
And so I paused on my way to bed to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and to type this entry.
Ding dong the witch is dead
the wicked witch
the wicked witch
ding dong the wicked witch is dead!
Today I feel like singing. Like something magical has happened, and the world will never be the same. To me, this wasn’t just a Presidential election, it was a moment in which Americans defined ourselves.
And, even though I think it’s better than great that we’ve elected our first black President, there’s a different aspect to this election that is just as magical for me.
For the past eight years I have watched my country fall under the sway of an evil witch doctor- an administration that used fear mongering to keep the population in line. The Bush administration appealed to the lowest parts of us- greed, fear, racism and hate to gain acceptance for thier illegal war, their tax cuts for the rich, their attacks on social services, their neglect of the poor, their rape of the environment.
In this election, Americans could have chosen more of the same. The McCain campaign was bathed in lies (Obama is an Arab terrorist about to raise your taxes and turn the country socialist!), racism, and fear mongering. The Obama campaign was all about accepting responsibility for the realities of our situation, and working together to solve them. It was about coming together and patching up the cracks that these past years have opened up in our sense of community, in our faith in government, and in our sense of personal empowerment.
On Tuesday, we chose to throw a bucket of water on that old witch.
On Tuesday, we stood together to turn this country in a new direction.
On Tuesday, we turned back into the America I’d always thought I lived in.
On Tuesday, I regained my lost faith in America.
My mother recently comented on my blog that she didn’t like either Obama or McCain, but that McCain seemed like the lesser of two evils. It struck me that, at the start of this campaign, I felt exactly the opposite.
I have liked Obama since I first saw him speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. His optimism and eloquence brought me to tears. Of course I wanted him to win. But at the time, I associated John McCain with his battle with President Bush over torture (McCain was against it), and the McCain/Feingold campaing refinance act. McCain was a real war hero (not a deserter, like the current President) and seemed like a pretty respectable, moderate, sensible fellow.
I figured that no matter who wins, we’ll be better off than we have been over the last 8 years.
Then I started learning more. I read his platform, which isn’t much different from George W. Bush’s platform. Then I watched the debates.
These raised concerns that I had been harboring for the past few years.
McCain and Bush were famous enemies eight years ago, when they vied for the Republican Presidential nomination. Bush played some extremely nasty tricks on McCain in 2000, including spreading a rumor that implied that “McCain’s adopted Bangladeshi-born daughter was an African-American child he fathered out of wedlock.” (wikipedia) After such treatment, I couldn’t understand what I was seeing when McCain started suddenly spouting Bush’s talking points midway through the second term. Next, we saw him meeting with crackpots he had previously denounced and hugging Bush at press events…
At the time I thought he was just cynical. Embracing the enemy so that he could be on the winning side. It was degrading and I lost respect for him, but I guess I thought the ‘real’ McCain still lurked somewhere under the fake smile. Now I’m not so sure.
After 8 disastrous years, George W Bush and all of his policies are widely despised. His approval rating is in the dump. Presidential scholars are predicting he’ll be ranked among the worst U.S. Presidents in history, if not THE worst. Every politician in the country is running on a platform of change, and nobody is seeking Bush’s endorsement. It seems to me that this climate is ideal for allowing the ‘real’ McCain to finally shine through.
Instead..he’s stumping those awful Bush-era tax cuts for the rich- wanting to add another 100 billion, then make the whole package permanent. He’s using the Bush debate tactics, repeating the same tired talking points, whether they address the question or not. (If I never hear the word ‘earmarks’ again…) Repeating fear-mongering attacks against his opponent again and again, even after those attacks have been clearly rebutted. (Obama is not going to raise taxes on you and me, only on the rich, no matter how many times McCain claims that we’re all going to pay higher taxes)
Worse, he’s answering straight questions with baloney answers like, “I know how to get Osama Bin Laden, I know where he is and I know how to get him, and I’ll get him.” What?? If he knows where Bin Laden is and he’s not telling, what kind of patriot is he? Stop talking, John, you’re embarrassing yourself.
The change in McCain from 8 years ago is so striking, and so apparently real, that I can only suppose that he’s a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.
Even if he is mentally unbalanced, his latest shenannigans are unforgivable. This business of insinuating Obama is sympathetic to terrorists, and painting him as some kind of foreigner who is dangerous to America isn’t just dirty politics, it’s dangerous. The McCain campaign is purposely inciting racism and hatred. Supporters at recent rallies have been heard shouting threats against Obama, and actually stating that they think he’s an Arab.
Outside of these rallies, McCain states that he likes and respects Barack Obama, and that Obama is a good American. Apparently he thinks that stirring up an angry mob of racists is a fair and reasonable political strategy, nothing personal.
I think he’s putting a good man in danger in the hope of winning a few votes.
I can’t even piece together the words for how I feel about this vile and reckless ‘strategy’. Pandering to the white sheet crowd? For VOTES?
Shame on you, McCain.
When I sat down to watch the vice-presidential debate, I admit I was hoping to see Sarah Palin say something stupid. I’d seen the clips of her Couric interviews after the fact, but I wanted to see it happen live, in context. I wanted to think my own thoughts about it before hearing the pundits chew it over.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, when she didn’t say anything that was actually laughable. I knew that she’d been training for this debate, and that there were few landmines for her to step into. She had her notecards, and the moderators are not allowed to ask follow-up questions (such as, ‘Specifically, can you name some publications that you read?’). I wasn’t surprised to see that she employed the same tactics that the Bush administration has been using for years- if you don’t like the question, just ignore it and repeat one of your canned talking points.
When asked what her personal Achilles’ Heel, or major flaw was, she answered that she and John McCain were both mavericks and they were just what this country needs. It reminded me of the time George W Bush couldn’t think of a single mistake he’d ever made.
For the same question, Biden listed several flaws, and admitted that he is unlikely to change. I liked it, but that was one rare moment of pleasure in that debate. If Palin wasn’t going to entertain me with screw-ups, then I had hoped Biden would thrill me with his excellence. Instead, he spent much of the debate trying to out blue-collar her.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important for our leaders to be able to relate to our issues. I’m tired of being told how tax breaks for the rich are going to make my life better. But I would rather see a qualified candidate tell me how his new health plan is going to help me out, and explain why, than watch them compete over who’s from the smallest town. If they’re good at their jobs, I don’t care where they’re from.
I expect my leaders to be smarter and more educated than I am. It’s embarassing to see them dropping folksy truisms (I’m talking about you, Joe Six-Pack) instead of giving substantive answers to these serious questions.
Even more embarrassing is that so many Americans eat that stuff up.
I heard on NPR that the McCain/Palin campaign has targeted a district in Maine because it’s woodsy, they have moose there, and snowmobiling is popular. Because Palin and her husband are snowmobilers, they expect to take that district.
Since when did duck hunting, snow mobiling, or any other hobby make you qualified to be president? And yet it seems to work. The local snowmobiling association (30,000 members strong) has endorsed McCain/Palin.
This does not make me proud to be an American.
I’ve got chocolate syrup on my ice cream and I’m wearing my comfy sweats. It’s debate night! I’m blogging live, while I watch the debate, which I pre-recorded earlier tonight.
Barack Obama is yummy.
Kris says, “young people will connect with him”. I say, “I’d like to connect with him!” He’s handsome, his voice is like butterscotch, and he has poise. Did I mention he has a nice voice?
Okay, the serious stuff. I’ve always had a soft spot for The Maverick, I thought he was earnestly trying to do some good in the days before he rolled over and started pushing the Bush agenda. My impression of him now:
Not Honest: He’s using the same tactics as his evil predecessors, he repeats himself constantly. Bend the question into an excuse to repeat the talking points. Or one of his dusty old war stories. His language is vague and he constantly inserts trite little comfort words.
Boring: I have a hard time sticking with him.
Condescending: One phrase he keeps repeating: “I don’t think Senator Obama understands…” He is smirking in a way that reminds me of George W Bush in the Kerry debates. It’s reptilian, and it’s revolting.
Clumsy speaker: On what we learned from this Iraq war… “you can’t have a failed policy that causes you to almost lose a war.” well… duh. He mispronounced Ahmadinejad, he misspoke about the Palestinian government. He stutteres. He doesn’t address Obama directly, no matter how hard the facilitator tries to make him do it. He seems threatened.
Impressions on Obama:
Thoughtful: He’s raised several issues- healthcare crisis and it’s impact on the average people. The need to get off foreign oil, the need to make our colleges affordable so our people can compete in science and math, on our country’s need to rebuild critical infrastructure to support future growth in the economy.. he is not just trotting out catch-phrases.
Poised: Obama is very clear and cool, he communicates his ideas very clearly without the huff and bluster that we’ve been watching from these Republicans for the last 8 years.
Too Polite: I want to see him kick some butt. Twice already he’s had McCain against the ropes and he didn’t go for the throat. (He briefly mentioned McCain’s “fundamentals of the economy are sound” gaffe, but seemed a bit uncomfortable embarassing the old guy. He didn’t press the point home.) C’mon man, we need this. I need this. I’d give anything for the opportunity to pin one of these guys down and slap the lips off him. You have to do this for us. Take one for the people on Main street.
At the end of the debate, Obama strode across the stage to shake McCain’s hand and I heard him say, “Good job, John.” McCain took his hand, but didn’t quite meet his eye. For me, this was the whole debate. McCain seemed cowed. He seemed to be striking out with the sort of panicked desperation of the geeky kid about to get a wedgie in the locker room.
Barack, my friend. Why didn’t you give him that wedgie?
I’ve started watching old episodes of Sex and the City during Scarlett’s naps. At first I was just looking for something short and light to entertain me while I eat, but I quickly got hooked. It’s not the characters, which are almost caricatures. It’s not the plot, which is basically the same thing every week. It’s not the dialogue or the music. It’s Manhattan.
The subtext of the show is a love affair with the city, and like the ex-girlfriend who still phones in the night, I’m not over it. I enjoy tormenting myself with nostalgia, dreaming about how great things used to be. As I watch Carrie stroll down the cobbled sidewalk in Tribecca on the arm of some faceless date, I think to myself, “she would not walk on the cobbles in those heels! They should have put the man on that side.” Oh, Manhattan, I know you like she’ll never know you.
Ah, the night life. The freedom to say to your companion, “See you later, I’ll get a cab.” and ditch them on any street corner… The shopping. The food. The stinking, crowded subways. Chinatown. I see now that I never appreciated you as I should have when we were together.
It’s all so familiar, but, as with many old loves, the distance makes it so much more exciting. I imagine how it would welcome me back into it’s noisy embrace. I could go tomorrow.
Then the baby kicks and I look down at my straining maternity blouse, stained with Scarlett’s breakfast. I remember that I left that old love because, for now, we’re not right for each other. I am too tired for night life, too poor for shopping, and too overwhelmed by parenthood to keep up with the blistering pace of life there.
Still. It comforts me. When I’m ready, I’ll be back.
Scarlett’s eyes flutter and close. Her tiny pout parts, and I feel her body relax in my arms. I stay put for several minutes watching her sleep, my heart bursting. Usually I’m happy to tuck her into bed and get on with my life, but tonight I can’t get enough of her.
These are the days when I chase my freedom. When every missed nap or late bedtime is a frustration.
Today we played at Carkeek park, where she went down the salmon-shaped slide two dozen times. She’s learning to steer herself and stay upright, no longer catching a foot on the way down and tipping sideways. There was a large barbecue going on at the nearby firepit area- a high school graduation party.
I didn’t have to look to know that none of these teens had brought her mother to the party.
Tonight she would happily stay nestled against me all night.
These days are numbered.
It is the night time when I feel the sense of dread.
When I’m listening with one ear to the baby monitor, but I can’t quite fall asleep because it’s there.. waiting to detonate.
When she keeps me up hour after hour, and I start to think those circular thoughts, “I can’t stand it! Let me go! Somebody get this baby off of my tit!”
Or when I’m sick. When I get up and cry while I rock her, desperate from misery and exhaustion.
There are nights when I fear that I have made a terrible mistake.
That I am not cut out to be a parent.
“If you were the worst mother in the world,” Kris once tried to console me, “Scarlett would not be the happy, glowing child that she is.”
I do worry that I will fail her- every day I find new ways to develop my self doubt. Shouldn’t she be better sleep trained by now? Will I ever wean? How will I know when to potty train? How will I know HOW to potty train?
But I have resources to deal with that fear. I read, I talk to other mothers, and I consult with my sage nanny, Serah.
What I really fear is that I’m not strong enough to survive this experience.
“It’s really annoying, when you’re trying to fight one person, and someone else is punching you in the head”
~My slightly battered husband, describing his mugging which happened earlier tonight.
Shame on each and every one of you chickenshit commuters who stood and watched Kris struggle with two muggers without lifting a finger to help.
“I try not to watch Food Network while I’m on the treadmill.”
Before going on to describe Paula Dean making Turducken