Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why they should sell booze at the Magic Kingdom

I was startled (we all were, really) by a woman's shrill reprimand: "You put your mouth on it! Don't tell me you didn't put your mouth on it! You did!" I turned (as did everyone else, really) to see a mother disdainfully holding a red frozen fruit bar and looking accusingly at a pre-teen-ish age girl. I didn't really understand why she was so mad, so I kept watching in hopes I'd figure it out: was the kid sick and therefore banned from sharing any of the rest of the family's popsicle snacks? Was this mother one of those germaphobes who did not like sharing food with her own children? I must not have been the only bystander trying to figure out what had caused the woman's reaction, because she looked up suddenly and noticed that everyone (and I do mean everyone) around her was staring, and she apologized (almost as loudly) a half-ass apology: "Sorry. Sorry, everyone. Sorry." As she and her apparently sneaky, popsicle-licking daughter resumed walking passed us, another woman who I assumed was the aunt came over and put her arm around the kid. The mother (now no longer shrilly shrieking, at least) silently lifted the arm off her daughter's shoulders, and spat out: "Why don't you go up there and walk with your Uncle Timmy?" To this, a man one could only assume was Uncle Timmy, turned around and came over to his niece, throwing an arm around the kid's neck and loudly proclaiming: "C'mon, kid, this is the happiest place on earth! Let's go be happy!" and he skipped away with her, chuckling.

The next morning, I was ripping sugar packets open and dumping way too many into my coffee, when I noticed (how could I not?) a toddler wearing "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" pajamas having a complete and total meltdown while his mother was trying to pull him up to standing. The kid was doing that thing toddlers do: letting his bones go all Jell-O, his face scrunched up, his eyes shut tight, wailing (even louder than the mom in paragraph one, above) incoherently. I stirred my coffee and watched as the mom attempted to shut him up and pull him up to standing. When neither of these two were accomplished, she let him go (I suspect if she could have bounced him painfully onto the ground like a basketball, she would have), tossed her arms up in the air, and stepped back over to the register a couple feet away where she had been trying to pay for her $10 Mickey-shaped waffle. The kid remained writhing and wriggling and wailing on the food court's shiny tile floor, while other guests walked around him with their coffee cups and breakfast trays. I didn't stick around long enough to see how the mother managed to drag him and her breakfast tray back over to wherever, but I did silently hope that she was washing that cute little pajama in hot water before putting it back on the kid for bed.

Then there was the dad who, in the middle of a crowded area, grabbed his son's face as if his fingers were tweezers and the kid's face was a nasty embedded splinter. He nearly put his forehead right up to his kid's, and shouted in one of those gruff, manly, camo-wearing type voices: "Get. Outta. My. Face. I've. Had. E. Nuff."

Those are some of the scenes I witnessed this weekend at Walt Disney World.

And, as a parent, I totally get it.

I'm not saying that I approve of any of these parental reactions.
I'm not saying that I would have done or said the same things with the same level of ferocity and impatience.
All I'm saying is that I might have.

There really, truly is something magical about Disney. I've said it before. As someone who has grown up four hours away, I'm one of those people who has been so many times, she's lost count. I realize that to some, this is cause for great envy, while for others, this is cause for great, wrinkly-nosed disdain. But I love Disney. I love everything about it (except the summertime and the long lines). I love the way they pay attention to every detail, how even the soaps in the hotel and the signs in the public restrooms have Mickey shapes. I love how they are constantly trying to outdo themselves. I love how everyone who works there is required to smile and be cheerful and somehow, they never seem to be faking it. I love the looks on my kids' faces when the fireworks display begins and Tinkerbell "flies" along the night sky out of Cinderella's castle window and off into wherever that nearly invisible zipline ends. I love the Caribbean pirates chanting their "Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me." I love the giggles a photo op with Winnie the Pooh and Goofy elicit from my little boys. And I love, love, love the fully-grown adults who happily and casually walk around wearing Mouse ears and coordinated t-shirts. Disney, you see, is full of whimsy.

And I love me some whimsy.

But those of us who have been there with small (and even not-so-small) children know that just like Disney World can bring out the best in parents, it can inevitably bring out the worst.

We were lucky on this trip: the boys behaved--for the most part--beautifully. But there was no way we were going to walk around passing any kind of judgment on the parents described above. Cause God knows (or, in this case, should I say 'Walt knows'?) that we are always just one tantrum away from being the crazy parents screaming shrilly about a popsicle while crushing our kid's face for dramatic emphasis.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hangovers and Parenting Don't Mix: Throwback Thursday

I love Halloween. Every year, I try to party like a rock star in an outfit that is usually just my own sassy interpretation of a costume (an excuse to wear something I could never get away with in real life and probably have no business wearing at my age anyway). Perhaps this love for Halloween comes from my childhood: I was rarely allowed to go trick or treating, because, according to my parents, my neighborhood was just not kid-friendly. The one year I do remember going (I was a chubby, kindergarten-age Superwoman, complete with one of those plastic face masks with the elastic on the back of the head), my parents said it was too dangerous to go after dark, so they made my sister take me like at four in the afternoon, and every time someone opened a door, they remarked "Already?" or "Wow, you're early!" So I guess one could overanalyze that it's one of those childhood-repression-rebellion-psychology situations. But the simple truth is that for someone who can be pretty Type A, Halloween allows me the freedom to throw caution (and oftentimes, good taste) to the wind and go all out. Body glitter? Check. 50-Shades-themed handcuffs? Check. Black lipstick? Check. Halloween is just frickin' Fun. So since this is the first year in a while that Hubby and I are not doing anything sassy and scary on Halloween weekend, I thought it'd be a perfect repost for my second Throwback Thursday.
*(I'm not surprised to see how different the boys look in these pics--so tiny and adorable!--but seriously, how is it possible that a mere four years can make such a damned difference in the adults' faces?!?)

Hangovers and Parenting Don't Mix
Posted originally here on November 1, 2009 
Being hungover is bad.
Being hungover while tending to two small children is really, really bad. But as my friend (who is a bit of a smart-ass) likes to say: "You play, you pay."
And oh, did we play...
We played so much, in fact, that this morning while everyone was enjoying a greasy diner breakfast on South Beach, I was lying down in the booth, asleep.
Now, I know it sounds like I overdid it last night. But I didn't. Really. It's true. Ask around. Even my friends and husband (who are always brutally honest) said they were surprised by how bad I felt today. In fact, my drink of choice (white wine as opposed to the oh-so-much-more-appropriate-at-a-club Grey Goose) was selected simply based on its non-hangover effects.
But after I had to run to the bathroom to puke my life away the moment I got home today instead of greeting my children (who, by the way, did not seem in the least bit slighted as they continued to run around with their visiting cousins), I had to admit I was hungover...bad
After much pondering, I came to the realization: it is not just hangovers and parenting that don't mix. It's partying and parenting.
You go into the party situation with a low immune system. You're tired. You're sleep-deprived. You're chronically stressed. The sad, sad truth is I just can't hang like I used to.
It is rare that I am able to stay up past 9:30 most nights. Last night? We left the house at 9:30, and then we still had to check into a hotel, get dressed up, and go to the club. (I admit, when we walked into the hotel room, a part of me wished we were just sleeping all night.) This was all after a day of activities: soccer game at 8:30 sharp, breakfast out with the whole family, jack-o-lantern carving, and a round of trick-or-treating...
Not to mention that this was also after a week of 2 more pediatrician visits and 2 sleepless nights filled with fever checks, coughing fits, and nebulizer treatments. (Yes people, my recent laundry list of household ailments has grown longer.) Add to this one nearly empty stomach, and it explains how a few glasses of wine and a few hours of dancing did me in.
So you see, it wasn't the alcohol that gave me the hangover.
It was the parenting.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Exhaustion: How am I supposed to write when my brain is fried?

Image from James Harris Gallery

So I've decided to participate in Just Write Tuesdays, although I'm thinking I might lose my audience if I am in the same frame of mind each Tuesday that I am tonight. The concept is you Just Write (duh, right?) without trying to over-analyze or edit yourself too much. It's pretty open: I can describe what I'm experiencing around me, a recent situation, whatever...but it should be pretty fresh (or at least recent) and "free."

Considering I'm feeling pretty wiped out right now, I'm not sure this is going to go off so well.

You know those days when you just feel Done? You're like, you can't go any further. You can't clean up one more dirty dish. You can't put away one more piece of clean laundry. You can't contribute one more thing of any value to this earth in this moment? Yep, that's me. Right now.

I know...lucky you.

My day has been a whirlwind of the usual day-to-day stuff: students and children and meetings and grading and my pants don't fit and don't forget to buy bread and I don't feel like making a salad for tomorrow's lunch. And all day, I've wanted to come back Here. To write. To feel like I did Something Important. Something that makes me feel good, just because it's all mine.

But then Life happens.

Your kid develops a fever two days before you are leaving for a trip.
You have a major blow out with a major friend.
You realize that damned salad still has to be made or those damn pants will still refuse to fit.

And then you wonder: how the hell am I going to put anything Out There when you have nothing left?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When you don't want your kid to be just like you: Throwback Thursday

So I feel like I've been at this blogging thing now long enough that I've earned the right to re-post every once in a while. Recently, I was surprised when I went back through my old posts and reread some of my old stuff. Some of it is good. Good enough that it surprised me (as in: I wrote that sentence?!?). Some of it is barely okay (as in: Wow, I was really reaching with that post!). But all of it was a cool skip down memory lane...

I started this blog, initially, to talk about being a new mother. Writing has been my passion since forever. And I've always been an over-thinker. So when I was struggling (and I do mean: struggling) with new motherhood, I felt stifled in more ways than one. This blog became my outlet. It was a way to get out the words and phrases that were dancing around in my head. And it was a way to get out the frustrations and the fears that were banging up against my brain. So it's incredibly amusing (sometimes in that bittersweet way that only parents can fully appreciate) to go back and revisit some of my old crazy (and even the semi-normal) posts.

So I've decided that for a little bit, I will have my own Throwback Thursdays. (Disclaimer necessary here: I would love to say that I came up with that on my own, but Hubby has told me that I am required to give him the credit that is due. So here it is: He came up with the term and the day of the week I should use for my reposts. It was not my idea. It's not super original, I know, since I've already seen it all over the place out there in the internet world, but really, what is original these days? And in his defense, his internet time is limited to this blog, travel stuff, and probably porn so it was super original and clever for him. And honestly, I am super grateful because I probably would have wasted so many days trying to come up with The-Perfect-Catchy-But-Not-Too-Forced-Label for my reposts, that this post would still just be an idea in my head, with notations on my phone's notes app, for at least several more weeks.)

I picked today's repost as a shout-out to one of my blogging idols (she's probably gonna think I'm really weird for calling her that), Kitch Witch. I admire her so much that even Hubby knows her just by "Kitch," which is the pet name I have for her that she doesn't know about and is going to make me seem even weirder to her. Last night, I read one of her posts, and it haunted me all night long and into today. Because it was so well-written, it was so her writing style, and I could so relate to the pain she expressed as a mom about something that may seem like a minor thing to others. Her whole focus was on how she didn't want her daughter to be like her, in a very specific, particular way, and so I sorta dedicate this post to her and her Hummingbird, cause although my post is nowhere nearly as well written or as poignant as hers, it is a similar, shared fear.

"You take after your Mommy." Is this a good thing?
posted originally here on September 21, 2009
It can be heartbreaking when you realize your child takes after you...has inherited your worst traits, the ones you have to work every damn day to repress.

I think for the most part, people would describe me as bold, adventurous, a bit in-your-face. All of that is, in fact, true. But I've said it before: I'm really just a big chicken. I'm scared. A lot. Often. I get anxious about things. I worry. I fret. I over-analyze. When I want to try something new, I think about all the things that could go wrong.

And then I do it anyway.

See? There is the repression. It can be exhausting, spending so much of your time trying to go against your nature (or, possibly, nurture, since my parents spent most of my childhood trying to protect me from the world and most of my adult life trying to protect me from myself).

I don't want my child to grow up like this. I don't want him to have to live life, often, afraid or worried or anxious. I want him to be like his Dad: balls to the wall (as he'd say...sorry), no worries, just get out there and do it. All of it. Any of it.

But as Ben is growing up, I am realizing more and more that he is more and more like me. And I hate that. I hate that he thinks before he leaps (literally). I hate that he worries about being the slowest on his soccer team. I hate that he absolutely refused--the fear evident on his little face--to go down the slides at his own birthday party.

Over the last few days he has developed a new anxiety: peeing in his underwear. Mind you, this kid has been potty trained for a year or so. He has been sleeping through the night with no issues for months. Now, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he is obsessing over going to the bathroom...constantly. (Yes, we took him to the doctor.) We have tried both ends of the spectrum: from paying close attention and discussing it to all-out nonchalance and ignoring. But last night, after almost an hour of constant trips to the bathroom, we had to step in. We tried to explain he was "empty." We tried to be soothing. We tried to be intimidating. In the end, we had to give him an ultimatum ("choice" as we, parents, call it): either you go to bed now as is, or you go to bed with pull-ups on. He went to bed...after several minutes of a full-blown panic attack. To see his little face so out of control, so frightened by his own anxieties...it was heartbreaking...and remarkably familiar.

"He takes after you, Liz."

I hear it often.

He is stubborn, strong-willed, verbal, and a thinker. He loves the spotlight, likes to make people laugh, and can negotiate you into thinking it was your idea. He likes order, routine, and rules. And when he has an idea he likes, good luck trying to change it.

It can be hard to see yourself in your child. It's like yet another reminder, everyday, of how important it is to be brave. Bold. Free. Because now that I'm a mom, I don't just want that for myself. I want it for him, too.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's always a bad sign when I think bangs are a good idea

Source: The Makeover Guy 

I'm very attached to my hair. I do almost nothing with it each day, but it sorta behaves, most days. Once I learned (at about 12 years old) that brushing it was a bad idea, it has given me very little drama (unlike, say, my butt and my thighs).

I own about 100 eye shadow colors. When I am getting ready for a night out on the town, I take about 30 minutes to apply my make-up and consider it a very critical element of outfit. I plan it out and think it through: do I want a smoky eye and a nude lip or a hot pink lip and a subtle eye? Or do I want a pin-up girl style eyeliner for the night, or is that too expected along with my dress? I can do just about anybody's make-up.

Hair, on the other hand? I can only do my own...just barely.

That's why I love it so much. That's why I'm so attached to it. Because it demands so little from me. It doesn't make me go to the gym every morning at 5:00 am for a boot camp class that makes me wanna throw up and then all I have to show for it is that if I flex my thigh really hard and I squint a little and I've had absolutely no sodium for the week then maybe I have a little muscle definition and almost no cellulite. My hair, with little to no effort, usually looks pretty good. To me, anyways. My hair is sorta part of My Thing (so much so that it's already been featured in this blog here and here). It's always been blond, it's always been wavy, and it's usually been long. It's more Drew Barrymore in one of those paparazzi pictures where she's in cargo pants and flip flops than it is Blake Lively. I don't like to change it very much. I'm less hesitant to go out and get a tattoo than I am to change my hairstyle.

I remember once, at a book club meeting, the topic came up about shaving our heads for a friend going through chemo. (The main character had been battling cancer in the book, and her 3 best friends surprised her with shaved heads.) Both of my book club members declared, with absolute certainty, that they would absolutely, most definitely shave their heads to show their support. I, on the other hand, declared, with absolute certainty, that I would not. They were aghast. They were shocked. They were indignant. And then I reminded one of them that she had shaved her hair once "just for fun," and reminded the other one that she could care less about her short little cropped do. Then, I asked them: "Would you gain 50 pounds in support of a friend going through an illness?" They were aghast. They were shocked. They were stumbling: Uh, well, ah, ahem, uh, no. I, on the other hand, had no problems with that. (Note: When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and learned that she'd lose her trademark mane of freakishly long Sofia Vergara-like hair, she immediately made me promise that I would not do anything crazy like shave my head for her, because really, what good would that do, and she would be really, really pissed if I did that. Thanks, Sis.)

So now, that I have been longing for bangs, maybe even considering another shorter crop, I know something's up.

I'm restless.

When I want to make a change to my hair, when I keep thinking about it, when I actually consider just going to the salon and spontaneously telling my girl to "do something," I know that it's usually a sign of Something Else.

I get like this sometimes. Always have. It's in my nature. My head is always going, and I get bored easily. I need stuff. Not stuff like buying stuff, but stuff like doing stuff. And I haven't done stuff in a long time. Life's been busy since back-to-school, and I've been doing all the things I have to do: being a good teacher, wife, and Mommy, waking up when it's still dark to go to the gym, packing healthy lunches for everyone, following our new budget, checking homework, monitoring bedtimes...

So I know, when I started thinking bangs were a good idea...bangs that would require me to blow-dry after every shower, style each day, pin back while working out, change my beachy no-fuss look...that something must be up in my head. Now I just have to figure out what it is. And really, if I don't, what's the worst thing that's gonna happen? It'll grow back, right? Right?!?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Project Underblog's 31Days31Voices: Sometimes I Don't Like My Kid

Today I am honored (once again) to be the featured blogger at Project: Underblog, in celebration of 31 Days 31 Voices. After checking my post here, snoop around and read all the other wonderful voices being featured this month.

I chose to share a post that has obviously struck a chord with many readers out there, since I am still getting comments on it even now, a couple of years later. Apparently, lots of moms out there Google the phrase: I don't like my kid. That, apparently, is how they find me.

It was a post that, back then, was difficult for me to write, because I was still sorta new to this whole motherhood thing, and I wasn't sure if my son's behavior was my own fault. And, even more worrisome, I wasn't sure if it was normal to not like my own kid.

Fast forward to today, and not only have I learned that it is absolutely completely normal to not always like your own kid (sometimes you absolutely can't stand your own kid...that's normal, too), but I've also learned that it's not my fault...that parenting is not always an if-then sort of thing.

I've had so many women contact me via email and through comments to thank me for writing that post...to tell me that, because of my honesty, they felt better, relieved, understood, and not alone.

That, for me, was the main reason I started blogging back then: I needed to express what I was going through as a mother, and I needed to be honest. I couldn't take the Motherhood-is-all-rainbows-and-teddy-bears-and-warm-fuzzies. Sometimes it is. Most of the times, it's not. And I needed to talk about it. So go check it out. Read it for the first time, or, if you've been following me for a while, read it again. And while you're doing that, I'll be playing with my oldest son, Ben, who, luckily, today I like a whole damn lot. (But tomorrow might be another story...)

Monday, October 7, 2013

A letter to my pissy self

Dear You,

What the hell is wrong with you? You do know that no one wants to be around someone like this, right? What happened to all that talk about energy and optimism and choosing to be happy? What happened to the Buddhist books you read and the inspiring quotes you put up? I mean, seriously, what the F is wrong with you today?

Many years ago, you learned the Yiddish word "farbissina." That's a sourpuss, thank you very much. A bitter, frown-y, generally pissy person.

And that has been you...all day long today.

If it had just been today, then maybe that wouldn't be enough cause for a letter to oneself. But there were all those days last week, too.

And think about it: if you don't like being around yourself, what the hell can you expect from everyone around you?

Yes, work sucks right now.
Yes, you're tired.
Yes, school-age, homework-ridden children have now brought a whole new slant into the day-to-day.
Yes, the house has been in complete disarray for weeks now.
Yes, your foot is in a boot every night (and not the sexy over-the-knee Stuart Weitzmans you covet) due to your damned plantar fasciitis.
Yes, you find it harder and harder to have quality time with Hubby.
Yes, you want to write, write, write, but you can't seem to find the energy, energy, energy.

But so fuckin' what?

Get a grip.

Cause really, life is good.

Cancer is no longer the main topic of discussion when you talk to your sister.
Your children are healthy.
Your husband actually wants to have quality time with you.
And every day when you go to work and you are generally pissed off about the state of public education, you get to vent and laugh and eat lunch with your Friends.

Remember that article you read? The one about the couple battling breast cancer and how all they wanted was to have a normal day, to make coffee in the morning, and make lunches, and go to work, and deal with the everyday nonsense of nothing? Remember how much that impacted you?

Remember it.

And stop whining about the bullshit realities of everyday.
Choose to be happy.
Dance and sing.
And you know that little post-it note you put up on your laptop at work? The one that says: "You are responsible for the energy you bring to this place"?
Apply it.

Now have a good day.

(Really) Sincerely,