Monday, November 28, 2011

Horrible Bosses

I'd like to say that we didn't watch television this past week, but that would be a blatant lie and not nearly as interesting.  We'll get back to that.

One of  my friends from high school posed an interesting question to me last week on the book of face.  She said that at a recent social gathering a few people had asked her what she did.  She responded that she stays home with her daughter and apparently received a few eye rolls.  Now, this particular high school friend(who played a mean saxophone if I recall) is an attorney as well as a mom.  Her husband suggested that she lead with attorney and then say that she's staying home with her daughter right now.

Okay, really people?  Does staying at home with your child really necessitate an eye roll?  Uh-oh, here comes my rant...

I realized when she posed this that I often lead with the fact that I am an attorney but that I'm currently staying home with my children.  For whose benefit am I providing this information?   Is it me?  Am I ashamed of my status of homemaker (and I make a mean home)?  Do I lead with my credentials because I think raising children isn't a legitimate job?  I'm not sure what I think, but this is definitely a subconscious/self-conscious thing that I do. 

The bottom line is that staying home with your children is a job.  It's a big, tiring, smelly, sticky(at times), thankless, wage-less job.  Think about it this way:  when your boss yells at you, does he ever get mad enough to vomit?  Do you have to change your co-workers' diapers?  Do all of your colleagues speak a foreign language for which there is no translation?  Do they demand things of you all day in said foreign language?  Do you spend literally all day every day with them?     

Sidebar:  I am not discounting or dismissing the real stress that any job can cause.  Whatever you do, I'm sure you get stressed.  This is merely my comparison of my current job to my previous employment experiences.

Back to my rant.  If you answered "no" to any of the above, then let me tell you, I'd trade jobs with you for at least an hour every day.  Unless you work for my former boss.  I'm pretty sure at least one of the above applies to him. 

So if motherhood and raising children is this difficult then why do I feel the need to qualify my responses to "what do you do?" with an addendum that lists my work experience and how many letters follow my name?  The only possible answer can be, "it's not you, it's me."  It's me that while I stand with diaper bag on shoulder and sippy cup in hand at story time, feels the need to say:  "I'm actually an attorney and an adjunct professor.  I choose to stay home with my children."  It's not like anyone has ever responded with: "Oh, well since you said that I won't decide immediately that you are _____."  (Insert anything here, i.e. uneducated, traditionalist, controlled, backwards, etc, I could keep going.)  I guess this is what I'm afraid of.  

The funny thing is that I don't think those things about my friends who also stay home with their children.  I admire most of them.  They're a bunch of crafty, creative, caring, intelligent, ambitious women who decided to stay home with their kids.  I actually have an in-law that is a rocket scientist...yeah, like a real rocket scientist.  She works from home, too.  Does she have these same issues?  Does she say I'm a mom and a rocket scientist?  Do rocket scientists actually call themselves that?  These are the pressing issues of my day. 

The more I blog, the more I realize that I may be, in fact, a lunatic.  Oh I could claim that I don't care what other people think about me, my children, my parenting, etc.  But I do.  Sometimes more than others but honestly, I usually care enough to have those after-the-fact conversations with myself in the car where I say something really clever in response to that bitchy remark.  Beyond that though, I guess I'm not losing sleep (well, no more sleep than you lose when you have a baby who thinks you're an all-night buffet).

I'm challenging myself from this point forward to tell only half of the truth when asked what I do.  The truth is that I am an attorney and adjunct professor.  I'm also a mom and proud of it.  If that's not good enough for the people asking, well they can politely dismiss themselves from my presence.  Until then, I'll save my teething, temper tantrum and diaper stories for someone who cares or can at least relate.

So...TV...yeah, this past week wasn't so great for the non-TV viewing.  Claire has been sick for a few weeks and I decided that she needed a true day of rest.  I set her up on her tiny Sesame Street couch with Sprout, her blanket, her doll and a sippy of milk.  What do you know, she got bored with it.  Well, until Caillou came on then I don't think she even breathed for 20 minutes.  I've also discovered that the little one (little as in age, she's actually quite a chunk of baby cuteness) is just as enthralled by television.  Great, let's start 'em young.  I have to say though, that Sprout is the lesser of all the television evils out there.  I watched a bit of Nickelodeon this weekend and thought surely I'd taken some sort of hallucinogen.  Scary. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Giraffes and Hippos and Babies, Oh My!

Last week in the House of Hayes was very exciting, indeed.  We had visitors, we ate turkey, we learned what a giraffe says...

So Claire has this peg puzzle with six little animals on it:  a tiger, a lion, a zebra, a giraffe, a hippo and a sheep.  Now, if you say, "Sheep?  Why is there a sheep in a puzzle with exotic animals?"  My answer to you is who knows?  But, I found this puzzle in the dollar bins at Target.  I guess you get what you pay for?  In this case, a barnyard/exotic animal mix.  Reminds me of the Exotic Animal Paradise outside of Springfield...shudder.

Anyway, Claire loves this puzzle.  She likes to grab the lion and tiger and growl like said animals.  It's just about the cutest thing in the world.  She also says, "Baa!" for the sheep and we're working on "Nay!" for the zebra.  Here's where we run into trouble.  What in the world does a giraffe say?  I went on a mission to find out.  Okay, it was more like I asked my mom while we were on the phone and she googled, but it felt a lot more dramatic than it sounds.  It turns out that giraffes say nothing.  Well, nothing that we can hear at least.  I call bullshit.  Apparently baby giraffes make noises.  Of course they do.  I'm sure they cry and scream bloody murder every time someone puts them in their bouncer, too...

Back to the grown-up giraffes.  I'm sure they make some noise.  I've decided they say "Giraffe!  Giraffe!" like this SNL bit.  Claire isn't so convinced.  Maybe they just glare at each other like my sister and I when our parents are being ridiculous at dinner and we have that eye brow conversation that says, "Can you believe these people produced us?"  "No, dude, they're so lame."  "Will you pass the wine?"  "Yes, and here's the gravy, your potatoes look naked."  If you aren't having these conversations with your sibling, I'm sorry.

Whatever, if giraffes have decided to be mute I guess I'll accept it.  But then we come to Mr. Hippo.  Other than being hungry, hungry, what the hell does this guy say?  Claire has decided the hippo moos.  Okay, I'll bite.  Maybe a hippo does moo.  Here's another hippo inquiry, do they really produce pink milk?  I've never had the occasion to milk a hippo so I have no idea and while HyVee carries a lot of organic and otherwise fancy-shmancy things, sadly I've never found hippo milk.  If it is pink, I hope it's also strawberry flavored because how pissed would you be if you grabbed the pink milk only to discover it's not strawberry?  I'll tell you, you'd be very pissed.

So after Claire and I answered all of the important questions of the universe, see above, we moved on to general play, reading and the like.  Claire, I have discovered, likes her baby sister a lot, I mean a lot.  This has lead me to label her as an "Aggressive Lover of Babies."  This is an upgrade from her previous label of "Aggressive Lover of Cats."  Unfortunately for Miss Baby, she can't flee Claire's attacks, I mean hugs, like the cat.  These love session usually start with a greeting of, "Hi, B!" and continue until Zora has been squished, kissed, hugged and otherwise loved into a fit of what I would like to think is reciprocal love that she is so far unable to express.  I'm pretty sure she's just really angry, though. 

Ah and we reach the purported subject of this blog, TV.  Last week I let Claire watch Thomas and Friends so that I could clip her nails before my family arrived.  It worked like a charm.  She stood perfectly still, mouth agape, while I clipped and filed her nails.  We also had a bit of TV here and there while my family was visiting over the weekend.  Nothing kid-oriented, mostly Travel, Food and football.  We had the first of a series of Thanksgiving feasts so there was an apparent need for football.  Thankfully all pertinent teams won their games so there wasn't an uprising or anything and watching Kansas get beaten to pulp was a glorious Thanksgiving miracle.

This week should be interesting because it's a holiday and we're traveling to visit Rob's family.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Go eat too much turkey and pass out on your couch on the person sitting next to you. 


Monday, November 14, 2011

Kitchenware and Candybars

Week 2 was about as uneventful as Week 1.  Except for several injuries and revelations (not the four horseman kind, the you-can-use-twice-as-much-peanut-butter-in-these-cookies kind).

I went super homemaker on that ass and whipped up not only the best pulled pork to ever be crock-potted, but I baked!  I baked a mess of peanut butter cookies for Rob's officemates for Veterans' Day, as most of them are vets.  Apparently, I cannot read directions anymore because I've been really messing up some recipes lately.  This time it was putting way too much peanut butter in the cookies.  Well, my subconscious loves peanut butter and knows better than the "cooks" at because these cookies were delicious.  I also had a few Milk Duds lying about just begging to be baked into a peanut butter cookie.  I am a cookie genius. 

This week Christmas came early for Claire in the form of her first kitchen playset.  Okay, if any of you are getting all "You shouldn't enforce gender roles and stereotyping," on me, refer to my first post and get the f off my blog.  If Claire had been Clarence he/she would still have gotten said kitchen playset.  Pretending is fun and a very important part of development, so get off my back.  Besides, Claire makes a mean plastic skillet of sticker bacon and eggs.  I'm sure it's laden with BPA or something.

Back to the kitchen set.  Whilst putting together this thing I nearly severed an artery and died.  Okay, so it was more like I stabbed myself in the thumb while screwing the faucet together.  Then, today I kicked the edge of Miss Baby's bouncer so hard I broke my toe (Rob says it's not broken, but unless he's got x-ray eyes, I'm saying broken).  Parenting can be hazardous to your health!  Oh, I should mention that I didn't kick it on purpose.  It's tan colored and blends in with virtually every flooring surface we have.  I swear I'm not kicking babies.

Which brings me to a point I want to make (in the most round-about way possible) this week on behalf of moms, dads, whomever.  Sometimes my children drive me crazy, like literally, they give me anxiety attacks.  Sometimes I want to kill them, not literally.  These times, however, don't make me love them any less or be any less grateful for my beautiful daughters.  It's the same way with my husband, whom I want to kill daily.  He's a great dad and an awesome husband, but sometimes when I get up in the morning and I can trace his steps through the house based on the cabinets he's left open...well, let's just say I have furiously typed many an angry text message.

Can we all just be honest with ourselves for a minute and acknowledge that having kids is freaking hard?  No one is really that good at it, but we all try our hardest.  I'm tired of parents who claim that each and every moment of their life is rainbows and sunshine.  This can be the most aggravating, tiring, trying job on the planet but it's also the best and most rewarding.  Let's just congratulate ourselves on the small stuff like getting out of pjs before 5 p.m. and stop with the "My child knew_____ before she was 2." (Insert ABCs, numbers to 100, Latin, cold fusion science, etc)

There's a Drew Carey quote that goes, "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."  For us parents, we meet at story time, and we don't hate our job per se, but it's not for the faint of heart or the tender of toes.  I'll admit it, sometimes I'm not a fan of this job.  Okay, stop gasping and read on:  that doesn't mean I don't love my children, my husband or my life.  I love them more than I ever thought I could love anything.  Sometimes, though, momma needs a break. *and end sad story and violin music*  What?  You've never locked yourself in the bathroom for a fleeting moment of peace?  Liar. 

Oh yeah, TV.  Rob decided that we should watch the 6:00 news last week.  This is a sneaky way for him to get to watch some Sportscenter.  I acquiesced only because I realized that I have no idea what is going on out there.  Of course the first day we have it on there is a meteor-earth near miss.  I cried and hugged my babies like the crazy person I am.  Maybe the news isn't such a good idea.  On to Week 3! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 1 and an open apology...

Well, we've made it through one whole week without television.  Sort of.  It turns out that my husband is, in fact, a sucker.  Claire knew this far before I did.  I'll get back to that after a few rants and at least one tangent.

Last week we did the usual things: Claire went to Bear Care (daycare for those of you not familiar with raising a Claire Bear); Zora ate and slept; Rob worked and I cooked, cleaned, taught, advised, etc.  Friday, Claire, Miss Z and I hit the local library's story hour.  It's actually only a half hour, but that's not very catchy.  It was great.  Claire seemed to have fun.  Zora fell asleep in the front carrier thingie.  I was amused by the grown adults singing along with the children's songs, but of course I was singing, too.

When the stories and singing ceased we all headed out into the library's children's area.  I guess libraries have changed because I remember them being places where children were supposed to quietly select a Clifford book and move along.  In this library there is an entire area devoted to children being anything but quiet.  While Claire was playing with the other children one of the moms actually complimented me on how well behaved she was.  I nearly choked.  My child?  Another mother joined in with the complimenting.  What is this?  Why are you people lying to me? 

Sidebar:  I'm used to the park moms.  They're a really special brand of bitch.  Sorry for the language and label, but they are.  They only hand out snarky, jabby "compliments."  Things like, "Wow, isn't she cute when she goes all catatonic on you like that."  "She must never get lost, yelling so loudly like that."  These comments make me want to say things like, "She's probably tired because she's been curing cancer all morning...Doesn't your son do that?  Well, I'm sure he will some day."  "Yes, her opera instructor often compliments her on her vocal range and volume."  These are competimoms as one blogger labeled them.  They will ruin your day.  Most of the time these moms won't even look our direction, which is fine by me.  They stand around in their yoga pants (the mom uniform, I have mine on currently) clutching their Starbucks, completely ignoring their child who just threw sand at my child, and talk about vacations or some shit.  I try to block them out.  They are everything bad you remember about high school, but with several children and nicer stroller than you would ever spend money on.

Back to the library moms.  These moms were really nice!  They even encouraged us to come back next week.  They were not only paying attention to their own child, but mine, too.  I heart these moms.  Then, up walks green glass dad.  If you read my mid-week post from last week you're familiar with this guy.  I don't know why it surprised me to see him there.  Of course he's at story hour.  He's like the perfect parent in his hipster glasses and camel blazer (the dad uniform...hipster dad uniform).  So Green Glass and I got to talking.  He was super nice, too.  This library is a parallel universe or something where parents are supportive and friendly.  I'm not used to this.  His precious 27 month old daughter dances over with an alphabet book and identifies every.single.letter.  Yep, there's those damn periods again.  Instead of being all self-congratulating about the fact that his child is clearly quite intelligent, he offered a few tips for how she got that way.  Most importantly, he never once said, "Oh, your child doesn't do that?"

This whole exchange got me thinking about what has soured me on the whole playdate business.  I started to wonder if I had ever taken that competimom tone with any of my friends.  So here's the open apology part.  If at any point I have said the words, "Is he/she doing ______ yet?" or "Just wait until he/she does ____." I am sorry.  These may be the most annoying phrases ever spoken by a parent.  I heard the first one a lot when I was pregnant.  It completely devalues whatever you're experiencing at the time and implies you basically don't know what you're talking about.   So, if I have uttered these words to you or something similar, I sincerely apologize.  What can I say?  Parenting can make you an asshole, or a bigger asshole if you were already one.  My sister told me this is what happens when you take ambitious women, remove their career and insert children.  Who knows. 

Oh yeah, so back to TV.  That's what this blog is about.  Saturday Claire not only got to stay up way past her bedtime, but she ate too much cake.  This equation apparently equals inconsolable child at 2:00 a.m. in our family.  Awesome.  I love having snot smeared on me in the middle of the night by my screaming toddler while simultaneously feeding a ravenous baby. (She's like a freaking vampire people, or a super cute, cuddly tape worm.  I don't know.  I've never encountered either.)  Since I can only play super mom for so long, eventually I handed Claire off to Daddy.  What does he do?  He flips on Sprout.  What was on, you ask: Caillou.  Of course it's Caillou, it's always Caillou.  The good news is that Claire fell asleep shortly thereafter.  I guess the bad news is that she watched TV?  Seeing as how her brain didn't rot and fall out, I'm calling this one even.  Yep, a sucker is born everyday, they say.  Apparently toddlers have sucker-radar.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A mid-week post...don't get used to this

First, I wanted to direct you all to my friend Sarah's blog, La Casa di Frigerio.  She asked me to write a guest post about imperfect parenting.  Being an expert on the topic, I was obliged to do so.  Warning:  my post is about my breastfeeding failures.  So if the words boob, nipple or breast bother you then don't read the post but do check out the rest of her blog.  She's super smart and witty as hell.  I often have to grab my thesaurus when we talk or I just nod like I know what she's saying.

Second, I had to share my experience from the park: 

Today, because it's still 70 degrees outside for some bizarre reason, I took the girls to the park.  There is a lovely park here that is full of mature trees and encircles a lake.  It has paved walking trails and several separate play structures.  We like to park the car and walk the trail loop hitting both playgrounds and hopefully wearing out a certain little girl. 

I don't often go by myself with an infant and a very brave 20 month old, but sometimes I'm stupid brave enough.  Today was such a day.  When I arrived at the first playground there was a father arriving as well with his very cute little girl in an extremely complex looking child carrier/backpack thingie.  We exchanged the usual pleasantries, "how old is she?"  "She's adorable." etc.  Then as I am attempting to feed Claire her snack I note that this daddy has pulled out his green glass water bottle and one of those clearly-purchased-from-the-organic-section containers of dried fruit.  I looked down at my Sonic bag of cheddar bites, ranch, apples and styrofoam cup of high fructose corn syrup(for me, not Claire) and got all sorts of self-conscious. 

At that moment, and right on cue, my child refuses to eat the apples Sonic had so lovingly sliced and bagged for her and insists on having a cheddar bite.  Shit.  I mean, really?  It's not just that it's cheese, it's fried cheese.  So I say to Claire as I hand her a half piece of lard dipped in lard and fried in lard, *nervous laugh* "don't tell daddy!"  Okay, so if you know my husband you probably know that while he does care what the girls eat, he would likely deem cheddar bites an appropriate meal.  I said meal, not snack.  He once fed Claire tator-tots as dinner.  This was my way of implying that we don't usually eat cheddar bites, eh-hem, cough cough.  Like, this is a one time thing, I swear, man I don't even know.  I'm sure he didn't even notice.  I all but threw the bites on the ground while shouting, "How dare those Sonic employees give us cheddar bites!  Don't they know we only eat local, organic foods?  Whew, that was close!"

Moral of the story, I am absolutely out of  my mind and the world is judging me for it.  Okay, maybe just the first part.