Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Air Tantrum Control

Okay, okay, I know I'm a few days late.  If you didn't notice, it was Christmas this past weekend.  Chaos ensued. 

So, my sister lives in Texas these days.  We decided we would all gather at her house to celebrate over the weekend.  It was me, my husband, my parents, my children, my sister, her husband, their daughter and his mother.  That's a full house, people. 

We should've known it was going to be crazy just based on Thursday morning's little trip to the airport.  We flew this year because both girls are under 2 and free as a lap child.  I love the word free, so of course we took advantage of this.  At any rate, we woke up at 4:30 a.m. to head off to the airport.  As we drove my husband did such things as contemplate stopping for a "sody."  Yep, not a soda, a "so-dee."  Where did I find this guy?  Anyway, he also repeatedly asked why we had to be at the airport an hour before our flight.  I have now had this conversation with him at least 6 times.  Once for every time we have flown together.  These comments will send me into a full-blown panic attack at 5 a.m. 

When we arrived to the airport he discovered why we need to get there early.  Apparently everyone in St. Louis was flying out of Lambert International at 6 a.m., too.  They were actually all in front of us in line for security.  As I panicked and my children squirmed, my husband did something that nearly made my head explode:  he cut in line. 

If you know me, or my sister for that matter, you know we are habitual rule followers (heavy on the bitch).  So cutting in line for security is unheard of and certainly never done.  Now, I must add that he asked if we could cut because our flight was boarding and the gate agents were making last calls.  The couple he asked were kind and polite and let us right in and then we barreled forward, through security, and ran (barefoot) to our terminal.  We made it, whew!  The flight wasn't full so Claire got to sit in a seat.  She was thrilled. 

So here's my weekly tangent: Kids on planes.  When I didn't have kids I loathed those tiny frequent fliers.  I thought the fact that they got to have special boarding was ridiculous.  I glared at their parents (if I was a character in a Stephanie Meyers book I would have glowered).  If so much as a peep escaped their lips I whipped my head around to give the offender that look that says, "really?  Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" 

Now that I have two darlings of my own, I feared this plane ride of judgment.  When we piled onto the plane with babies, blankets, shoes, and coats in hand, drivers licenses clinched in our teeth, I saw the looks.  They said, "oh no..."  I didn't blame those passengers for their stares.  We must have looked like a hot mess.  We quickly found a row and got situated.  Claire sat between us and I whipped out a brand-new Thomas & Friends magnadoodle with attached book thingie that I had gotten just for the trip. 

Claire was more well-behaved than most of the adults on that plane.  Certainly better than the hens clucking behind me about how much they'd spent on Christmas.  Gross.  Miss Baby, she was a different story.  She wasn't a fan of the ride.  I wandered the aisle with her once and got a few eye rolls.  Had I identified these eye-rollers earlier I would've hit them with my carry-on as I lumbered past.  However, after about 5 minutes we hit turbulence that could only be described as dirt road mixed with rolling hills and she was out like a light. 

My fears assuaged, I tried to relax and enjoy the rest of the flight. So here's the Full House moment of this blog (you know where they bring up that music and then DJ learns some life lesson).  Don't hate on parents flying with their kids.  They're freaking out about their kid annoying you more than you could ever freak out about their kid annoying you.  They're desperately trying to entertain their child(ren), drink their ginger ale, and keep everyone's toys off that disgusting floor.  If there were an airline that just flew families around, trust me, people would take advantage of it.  No one wants to be glared at just for boarding a plane.  No one wants the child they adore more than anything on earth to be the subject of hateful glares.  What we(I'm speaking for all parents) do want is our child to sit in their seat, be quiet, drink their juice, and appreciate that they don't have to be the car for 10 hours just to see their auntie.  I rode in that car many times.  It's not fun.  It doesn't have air conditioning.  It does have a granny with coffee habit, a tiny bladder and a fondness for Double Mint gum.  Come on, you didn't like those rides either as a child.  No one develops a liking for a road trip until they develop a drinking habit first and a need to make a pilgrimage to some spring break locale.  So give us a break.  We're trying to keep the wailing and crying to a minimum...and the kids happy, too.  Ba-da-ba ching. 

Claire watched way too much TV this past week.  It was super-rough.  Between packing, traveling and being with family there was a TV on everywhere we turned.  I did discover, thanks to the TV, that my child is a fancy dancer when it comes to Dance Central.  She can bust a serious move, certainly better than her father (who was beaten by a 5 year badly.  Maybe 78k to 7k.  Sad showing, Rob.)  I didn't marry him for his dance skills, clearly. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Posting on Post-Partum

I feel compelled to discuss something this week that probably affects more women than you know.  Women who seem perfectly content and happy.  I want to talk about post-partum depression. 

I think I've read about a handful of celebrities that have suffered in silence from this but it seems like no one talks about when they're going through it.  I want to change that.  So here goes...

Hi, my name is Jesse and I think I have post-partum depression.  No, I've not been to a doctor and received an official diagnosis but Dr. Google seems to think this is what's going on...along with a possible brain aneurysm and a few types of cancer and maybe an enlarged prostate.   

I used to think that this wasn't such a real thing.  I'm sure a lot of people think it should be better titled "Can't Get Your Shit Together Disease."  Let me be the first to tell you that this is serious stuff and so beyond not being able to get your shit together. 

I have had several friends who have shared with me that they suffered from PPD after the birth(s) of their child(ren).  It occurs to me now that they never talked to me about it at the time.  Or maybe they did, but I didn't realize what they were experiencing because I had never experienced it myself. 

Here's the thing:  if you see me on the street, at the store, at story time, etc, you won't notice it.  I'm pretty good at putting on a big smile or at least a sarcastic grin and dealing.  But everyone has their breaking point.  Apparently I hit mine this past weekend.

My poor husband arrived home to find me in a wreck on the floor (now I see where Claire gets her skillz).  He demanded that I pack my things and go have a mommy weekend to recharge.  That sounded awful.  What?  Really?  A weekend away to rest and relax sounds terrible?  I'll tell you why:  I already feel pretty isolated and lonely (no sad music please) out here in Where-ever-the-f-this-is where we live.  I didn't want to leave my babies(the very babies that were driving me crazy) for even an hour.  I just wanted to sleep. 

My precious baby, now 4 months, is extremely attached to me.  I mean that literally.  She nurses  Oh, and did I mention all.night.long.too.  If she wasn't so damn cute I'd think she wanted me dead.  Her incredibly chubby cheeks are where she keeps her super powers.  You can't deny those cheeks.  Sleep deprivation like this has been likened to torture.  Like actual torture, not like "OMG, they didn't have my color at the nail salon so instead of a pedicure in Linkin Park After Dark, I had to get Midnight in Moscow."  Although I'm sure that would be tough. 

So, instead of leaving all weekend I took two morning naps, I went shopping(which may have been crazier than the craziest I've ever been), I had lunch with a friend and her sons, I shopped some more and then I went to a movie.  It was amazing.  Did you know it takes less than a minute to get out of your car when you don't have a stroller and a toddler to herd? 

The weirdest thing happened while I was running amuck in the wilds of CoMo.  I missed my children.  I wondered what they were doing.  I couldn't wait to get home, but I took my time and savored the minutes as they ticked away as this may not happen again for a while.

When I got home I couldn't wait to hug those little girls.  And I did hug them, until they no longer wanted to be hugged.  I have koala-type children (huggy, not fur-covered and Australian) so that's pretty significant. 

Long story, well, I guess long, I am still in the midst of this whole PPD thing.  It's rough at times.  I hope my hormones will fix all this when they finally even out.  All of this wouldn't be so bad if I didn't desperately love my children and want more for them than I ever had (and that's saying a lot).  If I didn't care about them I wouldn't try to hide it when I need to just have a good cry, the ugly kind.  You know the ugly cry.  If I didn't care about them I would just switch on the TV, grab a box of bon-bons and eat myself into a chocolate-induced coma.  That's what stay-at-homes do, right?  Ha. If you think that, I invite you to blow it out your ass.

Television is an evil mistress in this house.  Claire still gets to have the TV on for an hour a day so that I can feed her partner in crime.  This week the worst thing ever came on Sprout.  A Caillou Christmas movie.  Sprout has decided it's war apparently and is offering this movie in a 6-hour marathon format on Christmas Day. Alright, Sprout.  I'll see your marathon and I'll raise you a house full of Nanas, Aunties, Uncles, and cousins who will distract Claire from anything even resembling a balding, Canadian, whine-bag of a cartoon.  Check and mate.  Honestly, though, the Caillou movie isn't any worse than the Rudolph movie from my childhood.  Man, that thing's disturbing.  Happy Holidays to you all! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tackling Princesses...not literally

I'm just going to go ahead and start this week with a disclaimer:  this week's topic might piss you off.  You might not agree with what I'm saying, but please read until the end.  Through my jumbled prose, I'm trying to make a point.  I hope you'll stick around (and around and around) to read it.

Okay, so as I was driving home from a lovely birthday party on Saturday night, Happy Bday Jules, I saw something that made me stop and think.(Well, okay, I was already stopped because the light was red).  There were five ladies crossing a street in cocktail dresses.  Not a one of them had on a coat and most of them looked like they were actually missing both the top and bottom halves of their dress.  First, put on a damn coat.  It's 20 degrees out.

Sidebar:  I, too, have worn a tiny dress.  Granted, that was what the kids refer to as "back in the day."  Keep reading.  I always wore a coat though.  Don't these bars have coat checks anymore?  Geez.

So these ladies in their "clothes" got me thinking about the Barbie epidemic.  Uh-oh, here's where somebody might get pissed.  Look, I played with Barbie.  I had the Corvette.  I had Ken in his white suit with purple flower in the lapel.  I had Hawaiian Barbie, whose arms were straight so she could do the back stroke, I assume.  I also had piles of clothes and shoes.  One of these shoes led to the demise of my water bed...strong little suckers. 

My Barbies are not the Barbies of today, however.  Today's Barbies bare their mid-drift freely, cheer-lead in a skirt with a thong bloomer, and have pillow talk with Ken...I shit you not.  Check out this little piece of 'splainin' you'll have to do should you venture into the Barbie aisle with a child who can read.  "What's pillow talk, mom?"  "I don't even have the energy to tell you right now."  (This conversation actually took place between my friend and her son.  This is real life, people.)  Okay, granted Pillow Talk Barbie is a collectable.  But does that make it okay?  I understand that most people aren't buying a $54.00 Barbie for their child to play tea party with.  But these Barbies are sitting there on the shelf beckoning your child to have that tantrum when you say no. 

Which brings me to the princess epidemic.  Again, don't get pissed, just keep reading.  I wanted to buy my niece some fun dress-up items for Christmas.  My sister is a doctor, so I thought, perfect, I'll get her a doctor set.  When I looked in the dress-up sections of two major stores the only thing I could find was princess crap...and it was crap...very poorly made, etc.  One doctor set I found was pink.  Really?  Why is this the only thing that little girls can dress-up as?  Why if my daughter wants to play pretend does she have to be a princess?  Why can't she be anything else?  Finally, in the "educational" section of the store I found a doctor dress-up set.  It was also with the boy stuff.  Go %*&# yourself Toys-r-Us.

Here's the thing:  I want Claire and Zora to be whatever they want to be.  I love them and will support their dreams as much as I can.  But judging by today's toy stores, the only thing they can be is a princess.  To me, they are so much more.  I want them to be strong, independent, intelligent, kind ladies.  I'm not saying that they couldn't be all of these things and a princess, but I feel like with princesses comes fitting into some mold of what is beautiful.  So here comes Barbie back in the mix.  You cannot deny that she has a freakish body.  If this is the standard  by which my girls will be judging themselves, they will fail every time.

So let me share with you a little tale of body image and what it can do to a girl.  For whatever reason, when I was young I started worrying about being fat.  Blame whomever you like, Barbie, TV, no one, etc.  I have even read my old diary entries from the age of 9 and I say things like, "I am so fat.  If I could just lose weight I'd be so much happier."  This breaks the 32 year old me's heart for the 9 year old me.  Later, in high school, I developed a very nasty eating disorder or two. Ultimately, I battled both bulimia and anorexia for a decade.  These diseases and my battle with body image took away a lot of my childhood I have come to realize.  I wish I could go back in time and shake the 9 year old me(not hard, just a good jostle).  Fat, skinny, whatever, I was a kid.  I should've been enjoying every last second of it.     

Now I see girls who look like they're dressing for their prom and they're headed to elementary school.  Can't kids just be kids?  Do they have to be princesses?  Can't make-up be for fun play, not everyday wear for little girls?  I'm going to steal back Claire and Zora's childhood before it's even close to being threatened.  Oh, sure they'll get to have Barbies eventually and yes, they'll get to be princesses, but only when they can request these things.  Until then, we'll talk about doctors(shout out Dr. Auntie), astronauts, rocket scientists(shout out Auntie Elizabeth), nurses(shout out Mimi), judges and teachers(shout out Kaki).  Because, for my girls, seeing as how we're not royalty, the only way they can become a real princess is by marrying a prince.  I want their goals and aspirations to involve things other than seeking men's hands in marriage...don't even get me started on boys...I'm not ready for that one by a long shot.

So 'round and 'round we went and here's my point:  life is hard, childhood should be the simple part, devoid of unrealistic expectations.  Unrealistic expectations like looking like Barbie or actually becoming a princess.  Of course, I guess I should include astronaut in there with the unrealistic expectations since NASA will be the stuff of history books by the time Claire and Zora are writing essays on what they want to be.  (Tear, sniff)

TV, TV, right...well, it seems TV has crept back into our lives.  I have decided that Claire may view less than one hour of TV a day so that I can have that time to feed this ravenous child of mine and get her to nap without loving sisters climbing all over us trying to "help."  I don't know if this means I've lost this battle or that we've reached a compromise, but it's not over, not by a long shot.  I plan to re-up my anti-TV crusade after the holidays.  Hopefully then this baby will be eating from a bottle and giving me a break.  Fingers crossed.

P.S.  If you let your child have Barbies and dress up like a princess every day, that's great.  I'm sure they love every second of it and it's fun for you, too.  Understand that my views are based on my own experiences.  As I said from the first post to this blog, I'm not a fan of judgey moms and I'm trying to not be one of them.      

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Arm Your Babies!

Ah the holidays are here.  In our house that means we've argued at least once about whether or not to put the Christmas lights on the house.  Maybe this year my husband will get them actually on the house rather than lying in the front yard like last year.  I'll hold my breath.

So, whilst trolling Ye Olde Book o'Face last week I discovered what could be the most disturbing/guilt-inducing/amazing product of all baby-time.

But first, an aside regarding Facebook.  I am one of those people that "likes" everyone's posts.  I will comment on your pictures and posts.  I will click on your YouTube videos and weblinks.  You know why? Because this is how I stay connected to the world outside of this house.  Sometimes Facebook is my only interaction with an adult other than my husband all day(s).  Sad?  Not really.  This isn't a complaint, it's an explanation.  As I have mentioned before, I like my kids and I like staying home with them.  However, I also like the grown-folks of this world.  So the next time you feel the need to tease or criticize someone for their constant Facebook-ing, stop and think about it and don't be an asshole.

Okay, so back to my trolling.  I get the Healthy Child, Healthy World newsfeed because I have "liked" their page.  Most of the time I do actually like their content.  They tend to post helpful information about baby/child related things.  They even broke the arsenic apple juice story weeks before Dr. Oz and his studio full of horny middle-aged women dying to wear that white coat, stand next to him, and drool inappropriately, even thought about toxic juice.  This week though, they really caught my attention but not in a good way.

I saw this.  This little company is trying to save the world, one radiation-free fetus at a time.  The product that ended up on Healthy Child's Facebook wall was this "Belly Armor."  You read that right, armor.  This device/blanket/piece of lead? will allegedly keep your in-womb baby safe from all of the radiation that is just floating around us at any given moment waiting to dart through your belly and get your unborn child.  Holy shit.  I didn't have this for either of my pregnancies.  I must have inadvertently exposed my children to radiation all over the place.  But it only covers the front.  What about all of that sneaky radiation that gets you from behind?  What about the kind that swoops in from the top?  Okay, all kidding and snark aside, I recognize that there are many schools of thought on this whole radiation issue.  Some people are truly concerned, some more dismissive.  I am sure that if there were a baby in my tummy right now it would be offended by the laptop perched so rudely...on my lap.  I'm sure my cellphone is giving me brain cancer and ear cancer or the like.  If you read the studies, they say radiation is everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!!!!  It's like squirrels but more evil and less fuzzy. 

Belly Armor may have its heart(lead heart) in the right place but for me this feels like another way to play on parents' insecurities and guilt.  Look, Belly Armor, and every company like you:  I am one of those parents that tries to have my kids eat organic, avoid BPA at any cost, wear sunscreen, not kick animals and generally be healthy.  I need for you to stop putting more bullshit out there for me to worry about.  I have enough to freak out about without your radiation-avoiding fannypack. I am trying to raise smart, kind, well-adjusted future members of society.  Honestly, if you want to tell me something causes cancer, can't it be Barbie?  She is just awful these days.  I mean who rides a bike in a mini-skirt with pink thigh-high fishnets and no panties?  (It's Barbie, p.s.) 

My clever friend Michelle offered to film the infomercial: "Looking for a way to ensure your second child doesn't also come out with a tail?"  I think this would be a really popular least as popular as Carve Abs in Bed.  Who knows maybe as popular as the Magic Bullet one with the chain-smoking, drunk neighbor.

Well, if said infomercial was available for viewing, alas, Claire would not be allowed to watch it.  We are still aspiring to be TV-free...but just like last week, I succumbed to the stress/irritation of screaming child/ren and switched on the tube.  We'll call this past week "The Week Mommy Gave Up."  That pretty much describes how the past seven days went.  Oh well, we'll get back on the wagon.  After all, as with trying to kick any habit, one bad week shouldn't make you give up all together.  One episode of Caillou here and there won't ruin Claire, she'll just say "oat" instead of "out."(Because he's Canadian, get it?)  Seriously.