Drive like you have to poop

Swim like someone just pooped

Shower like you're in prison

Drink like you're stuck in a conversation 
between all people who know each other from like a long time ago 
all talking about people you don't know 
so you have nothing to do with your mouth or hands 
except smile vacantly 
and fucking skull that manhattan 
and then order another one, stat

Run like it's a really bad hallucination

Type like the hero of a 90's hacker thriller

Love like you're stoned 
and you just found out your friend also loved JTT in middle school

Laugh like your kid just whacked your husband 
in the nuts with a wiffle ball bat

Eat like a toddler
on a good day 
when that toddler is hungry
and you've managed to cook the exact thing that toddler wants
so he consumes the meal with his entire body
dancing in the chair
rubbing it in his hair
making all kinds of delicious yum yum sounds
and demanding more
through cheeks stuffed round with macaroni
(because it's always macaroni)

We are cheap.

I mean, super cheap when it comes to our kid's toys. We typically buy toys at consignment stores or the Goodwill. My favorite place to buy books for Chicken is a website called Better World Books, which sells most used children's books for under $4 and donates a book for every book you buy.

My stance is that you shouldn't have nice things if you're still shitting yourself and/or eating soup with your hands.

Plus, he doesn't care. At 2.5, he hasn't quite reached the level of brand awareness that will necessitate a discussion about why he doesn't have a train table like little Jimmy, or a brand-new Jeep roadster like Michelle.

Here's a universal truth. Toddlers love all new things, no matter how much they cost, for the exact same 45 minutes when you first roll them out. And after that, whether you spent 25 cents or 200 bucks on that toy, that shit is going to get old. He's gonna be all, "ew, that? OVER IT!" (snap snap snap.)

So when it comes to toys, Ryan and I like to play a game called How Little Can We Spend On Our Child's Toys While Still Giving Him Things He Is Really Going To Love And Maybe Even Learn Something From While Playing With Them. The title needs work, I know.

Thankfully, we send him to an amazing day care that has the same philosophy. Every morning when I drop Chicken off, I see another fabulous recycled toy:

A stacking toy made of velcro hair curlers and a paper towel roll holder.
A cardboard box that has been retaped and is about to be covered with paint and then have cars and trucks driven through that paint. 
Styrofoam packing blocks being stabbed to death with pipe cleaners.

Children know when we've handed them a sanitized version of the real deal. They want the real deal. You might hand your kid an Elmo phone so he can "be like mommy" but your kid's like "Ha, that's cute. Now hand over the iPhone." Ain't nobody buying that shit. It would be like watching your dad drink scotch out of a nice, heavy-bottomed glass while sipping your root beer out of a dixie cup.

After watching Chicken and his friends play happily with these around-the-housey, definitely NOT TOY toys, I am more convinced than ever that I should be buying Chicken's toys from Ace hardware and the Goodwill.

What's so great about not-toy toys? I'll lay it out for you:

1. You're showing your children that you believe they are capable of drinking scotch out of a real glass, so to speak.

2. They are cheap.

3. They are more environmentally responsible, since you're recycling goods rather than feeding the demand for new goods.

4. Your parent friends will think you're amazing.

5. They are fun.

Here are Chick's Picks, Top 5 Not-Toy Toys:

1. Phone.
Like the one your babysitter used to use to call for Pizza Hut delivery.
Like the one your first boyfriend ever called you on.
Like the one mounted on the wall in Roseanne's kitchen.
A phone. I bought one today for $2.99. Stocking stuffer!





2. Dress-up kit.

The Goodwill is a treasure trove of wacky toddler dress-up gear. Think scarves, chunky beaded jewelry, hats, fun sunglasses, vests... actually, you know what?



Just buy everything Johnny Depp would wear on a red carpet plus butterfly wings and a fireman helmet.

3. Camera.



One that used film. Bonus points if you find one with a satisfyingly clicking winding wheel.


4. Jars, Boxes, and Lids

Baby food, cosmetic, decorative boxes. Put together a box'o'boxes so he can match up lids to vessels. Melissa and Doug can suck it, y'all.

5. Typewriter, Keyboard, Laptop



These are a little pricier/harder to find at Goodwill, but honestly, are still so much cheaper, hardier, and easier to maintain than a Leapfrog or iPad.


Happy thrifting, you guys.

Xoxo
First, you must accept that none of your pre-baby cocktail dresses will fit you.

Get okay with it.

If you need to try a few of them on in order to get there, okay, fine, try a few of them on. Have a shot of something strong and woodsy nearby and don't cry - you might feel like a fat lady who is trying way too hard to wear a tiny sparkle dress, but you don't look nearly as bad as you think you do, and I've got your back.

Take another shot. We're gonna get through this.

Second, and I cannot emphasize this enough:

Be.
Sofia.
Vergara.




It's all about tits, hair, and shoes. 

If you want to fake an accent be my guest, but you might not want to go as big as she does. WE GET IT, SoVerge.

Let's go item by item.

1. Tits.

If you're postpartum, everything is a little bigger than it used to be. Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with being bigger than you used to be. I'm not even going to say "you're still beautiful," because to say that would only insinuate that at some point there was a thought out there that you're not beautiful and that is malarkey. (I'd usually say batshit fucking nutballs, but I thought I'd skew more conservative for this post. Wait, yeah, no, one of my list items is Tits. You right.)

You just have to change your inner monologue a little bit. Instead of thinking, "ugh, this dress would look amazing on Keira Knightley but I look like a melted snowman," think, "Sophia Vergara would never wear this. I need something with more FIYAH."

You've got a nice little rack of lamb, sister. Work it. Not so much as to garner infamous Sophia Loren side-eye, but put on an underwire bra and grab something that dips a little lower. Nobody will think you're slutty. Unless you look slutty. That's a judgment call for you. Pro-tip: the more you reveal on top, the more you have to engage in erudite banter about goings-on in the third world and the Senate. Just FYI.

2. Hair.

More is more and bigger is bigger.

If you're feeling insecure about the raw materials, then it's time for good grooming to step up to the plate. Bust out the curling iron and tease your shit UP, girl. Buy a bumpit next time you're at Bed Bath and Beyond.

And while we're talking about grooming, Do whatever you have to do to make you feel like you've paid attention to your body in a positive way, to show others that you're aware of your body, that you appreciate your own form, and you are adorning it accordingly. In short, I say YES, throw on some more mascara! SURE, add 37 bangle bracelets to the mix! I AM!

3. Shoes

Heels are better, as long as you can walk. If you're unsure or feeling wobbly, don your wedges or boots or whichever pair of shoes makes you walk all sassy-like. Mmm hmmm. Like that. Girl, you gonna break somethin!

If you're feeling frumpy, wear sexy shoes. If you're feeling dumpy, add height. It's just science.



Okay, that's it.

I have to go finish curling my hair and find a slutty top to wear. (I've been reading The Economist while I breastfeed, so I'm good to go.)


Before you have the baby it's like

He's going to sleep in the corner in our room
But it's going to be fine
Actually it's going to be amazing
So cute
I was on Pinterest
and I found all these small-space pics for nursery inspiration
and my small-space nursery is going to be cool and small 
and CURATED like an amazing village boutique, like this:


Except it'll be in our room so it'll be more like THIS:



 Oh my god that giant giraffe is amazeballs.
I have to find a bunting on Etsy.


And then you make your little corner
It's not as cute as the Pinterest ones
because
you know
Pinterest
But you're happy with it
It's neat and has bins
And a small crib that locks in between the bureau and the wall
Just so
Just right
Snug as a bug
Besides, it's temporary
The baby is going to move into Chicken's room so soon
So fast
He'll probably only sleep here for a few months
So he really doesn't need his own bunting

And then the baby arrives
And the shitstorm makes landfall
Right in your sweet little corner



YEAH. 
That's Buster's hobo corner
Draped in fabric like we're the Swiss Family Goddamned Robinson
Seeking shelter under a torn topsail
Nope
Just assholes who bought ineffective blackout shades
That have to be supplemented with bedsheets and swaddle blankets
That we threw up at, oh, about 20 seconds after sunrise
When the baby woke up
Ready to rock and roll
Nice one, Katie
That window treatment totally looks
Curated


Also, we never hang our clothes in the closet
Until about 45 seconds before guests arrive
If then
Sometimes we just close the door
Usually we just close the door
Because the diaper pail is usually pretty full
Really full
There's usually one dirty diaper sitting on the table
Three dirty diapers
 And the room definitely smells like
Milk
That has been pooped out of a baby
So
Poop
The room
Smells
Like poop.

truth bomb
Here is a list of Tumblrs to which I would say NO, thank you very much:

Faces You Make in Exercise Class

What You Really Look Like During Your Nap When You Think Look Like a Sleeping Disney Princess

Orphans

Yes, We Saw You Picking Your Nose in Your Car

Moms Yelling at Their Kids in Public

Dolls, Clowns, and Creepy Lullabies: All Things You Want to Experience Immediately Before Bedtime

Lonely Zoo Animals

People Eating Ice Cream Straight Out of the Carton 

Rats Hanging Out By Places You Go






I feel like I nailed this title.

Bad news though. I don't have a story about 5 chickens walking into a bar.

I have 5 stories about my Chicken.
Not walking into a bar.
Because that would be illegal.
Because he's a minor.
I know.

At least 2 happy hour dates have been ruined - RUINED - by this nanny state's ridiculous overregulation of babies in bars. I will see you in CANADA, butt heads.

So there are no bars in these stories.

Perhaps I should have gone with another title:

It Was Amazing. But Maybe You Had to Be There.

When You Look At Him... You Can Tell He's Working Things Out (a la the velociraptor from Jurassic Park)

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum Play Date, Actually 5 Funny Things Happened In The Last Two Days While We Were On the Way to Various Locations to Engage in Myriad Activities, Actually Way More Than 5 Funny Things Happened In The Last Two Days But These 5 Make The Best Stories Because They Involve Things Chicken Said While We Were On the Way to Various Locations to Engage in Myriad Activities.

You be the judge. Here are 5 Chicken stories, all of which happened in the last 48 hours. Enjoy.



Story Time Part 1: Wait... is That Water?

(Bedtime. Reading a story called "Little Frog" in which a little frog goes exploring.)

Me: Little Frog went under the tall brown bullrushes...
Chicken: Mm hmm.
Me: And around the glistening blue pond...
Chicken: Mm... I'm sorry. Mommy? That's water.
Me: Yes, that's right. It's water.
Chicken: Mm hmm.
Me: In the pond.
Chicken: I'm sorry, Mommy. That's water.
Me: Yes, I know it's water. It's water in the pond.
Chicken: I'm sorry. Mommy. That's water.
Me: YES. YES, I KNOW it's water.
Chicken: Mm hmm.
Me: The water is in the pond. Like there's water in your cup, or water in the bath, in this story the water is in the pond. OK?
Chicken: Mm hmm... but Mommy, that's water.

Story Time Part 2: That's Why You Don't Fall Asleep on the Bus to Sesame Street, Kid

(Bedtime. Reading a story called "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late." On the last page, the Pigeon has fallen asleep. Her mouth is open and she is snoring.)

Me: Look at that Pigeon. What's she doing?
Chicken: (chuckles) Sittin' down.
Me: Is she awake?
Chicken: (sees the snore drawn on the page) (gasps) MY GOD!
Me: What?
Chicken: Z's flyin in her mouth!

___


Now That's What I Call a Good Surprise. 

(Mid-morning. Chicken is in his pajamas, in a box fort, sitting atop a giant nest of every single food toy he could carry to the fort and dump on the ground.)

Chicken: (from inside the box) Mommmmmyyyyyyyy! I gotta good surprise!
Me: You have a good surprise, huh?
Chicken: I gotta good surprise. It's NOT poop.
Me: Oh?
Chicken: It's poop.

___


My Hero

(In the car on the way home from school.)

Me: How was your day, babe?
Chicken: Good.
Me: What did you do at school?
Chicken: O-pokey.
Me: You did the hokey pokey?
Chicken: Yeah.
Me: With Teacher Sandy?
Chicken: (smiles) Yeah.
Me: What else did you do?
Chicken: Fire alarm went off.
Me: Really?
Chicken: Yeah. Fire alarm went off.
Me: Was it loud?
Chicken: Yeah.
Me: Was it scary?
Chicken: Yeah. Fire alarm went off... but it's ok, it's ok, it's ok. 
Me: That's right. It's ok. It's a scary, big noise, but it's ok now. What did you do when the alarm went off?
Chicken: Save you.
Me: (burst into tears)

___


But Mommy Keeps Hers Locked in a Secret Box in her Heart

(The curse of the double nap is the double, simultaneous wakeup. Such was the case on this day, when Buster woke up in his crib crying, and Chicken woke up in his crib crying WITHIN TEN SECONDS OF EACH OTHER. I made the choice to start with Chicken. I went into his room, picked him up, and started to change his diaper.)

Chicken: (crying) want my Mommy!
Me: I know, baby. Look, Mommy's right here changing your diaper.
Chicken: want my Mommy!
Me: Yes, darling, I know. Let me finish your diaper, ok?
Chicken: (pauses for a second, hears Buster) Buster cryin?
Me: Yeah, Buster's crying.
Chicken: Chicken cryin. Buster cryin. (sigh) Everybody cryin.

___


Feelings Part 1: Someone Had a Quad-Shot Latte This Morning

(Morning. Chicken stands in his play kitchen "cooking eggs." He throws the plastic easter eggs on the ground after cracking them open in his frying pan.)

Chicken: I'm in a great mood.
Me: Yeah! You are in a great mood. I can see that. You're smiling and happy, working hard on making some eggs.
Chicken: Yeah. I'm awesome.
Me: You sure are.
Chicken: (whirls around, throws arms up in the air) I'M AWESOME!

Feelings Part 2: You and Me Both, Pal.

(Morning. Chicken sits in his high chair, screaming and crying. There is a plate of scrambled eggs that I cut into circles using a cookie cutter, a piece of circle toast with cream cheese and jam, and a cold cup of fresh milk on the tray.)

Me: You don't want to eat your circle breakfast?
Chicken: I caaaaaaan't. I just caaaaaaan't.
Me: Okay, can I do anything to help you? Do you want me to feed you like a baby?
Chicken: (wails) Noooooooo!
Me: (walk away from the table to finish packing his lunch and stop feeding the insane fire of his upsetting breakfast with my stupid good intentions.)
Chicken: (cries for another minute or so, then stops.) I'm havin' a hard time.
Me: You're right, baby. It seems like you are having a hard time this morning.
Chicken: Yeah. I need candy.



Happy Hump Day Everybody!

The whole Monday thing
 - Wah wah Mondays are the worst -
I don't put stock there...

... usually. BUT
today feels like a Monday.
A Mon-fucking-day.

Brushing our teeth feels
less wholesome when the water
looks like faucet poop.

Water discolor
is common when firemen use
hydrants to put out house fires.

Like, thanks? But also, 
not thanks? My water's yucky.
You're so rude, fireman.

Brown water upside:
No laundry, dishes, shower.
Guess I have to blog.

Front door won't open.
That is not a metaphor. 
Front. Door. Won't. Open.

Our house is a slum.
Except for the stainless fridge,
roof, heat, and wifi.

Chick wants a burger.
I cook a fucking burger.
Guess what happens next.

Chicken asks for cheese.
I give him some fucking cheese. 
Guess what happens next.

Chicken wants crackers.
NO. You can't have more crackers.
You shit crackers. Truth.

Sobbing, crackerless,
Chicken runs in circles, yells
"I'M RUNNING RIGHT NOW!"

Chicken runs into
the door. Because all this day
needed was some blood.

At least nobody
has shit running up their backs
or down their legs. Yet. 

For the love of God,
where's the emergency pie?
Did I stutter? PIE.

Mom guilt.

It's a big old ape on my back, and on the backs of a lot of moms I know.

As we end our days and put our kids down to sleep, we cannot help but think about all of the fun places we didn't go, the meals we didn't cook, the stories we didn't read with enough patience or funny voices. We think about all the ways we were not enough. Good enough, efficient enough, fun enough, kind enough, patient enough, crafty enough, selfless enough, present enough.

Most of the time that feels like a curse, a flogging. I'm always coming up short.

But there's another way to look at mom guilt.

We are giving a shit.

We are actively reaching, every day, to be better.

We are the owners of superhuman hearts, beating ceaselessly in our tired mortal bodies, continuing to work long after we should just be all worn out.

Why not have out-of-this-world aspirations for the kind of parent you want to be, for the experiences you want to share with your kids?

If we went to bed happy every night, feeling like it was good enough to just keep them alive, maybe we weren't reaching high enough.

Hemingway always stopped writing before he was out of things to say. That way, he'd wake up the next morning and have at least a little something to start with. I feel like that should be us.

Not riddled with guilt, but propelled by the pursuit of excellence.

Not bogged down in regrets, but lifted up by our potential.

Not punishing yourself for making cereal for dinner, but proud of your decision to spend cooking time doing something the fuck else, and looking forward to sitting down at the table tomorrow with, I don't know, soup.

I'm not saying we should validate a sense of failure. Cereal for dinner isn't a failure. It is what it is, and starving kids in Africa yadda yadda yadda.

I'm saying we should accept what happened today - some was great, some could have been greater. And go to bed knowing that at the very least your superhuman heart wanted to do more, and tomorrow it will still want to be better, and the wanting is half the battle.

Every toddler I know loves food. Throw a plastic drumstick or some velcro-together sandwich parts at him and he'll play happily for hours. (The first time.) (After that, who can say, but I can promise you that if your kid is anything like my Chicken, there will never be another first time. Not ever. Ever. It will go from 60 minutes to 45 seconds and then he'll be all "MOMMY BLOW BALLOONS!" for the next two hours.)

With Christmas upon us, I thought I'd share some of Chicken's most favorite food toys. He has others, but I'll tell you, these are the ones we return to again and again.




Learning Resources Farmers Market Color Sorting Set - $23.77 on Amazon as of today

Pros: Well-made fruits and veggies that include your basics (apple, banana, tomato) and a few more advanced veggies (eggplant, plum, pumpkin) so you can show off your kid's impressive food vocabulary at the store, even if in your heart you know he won't eat any of that shit. It's BPA-free and you get these 5 "bushel baskets" that are just plastic tubs but DUDE, how many ways can your kid use a plastic tub??? We use them in the sandbox, bath tub, play kitchen, real kitchen. They hold rocks, sticks, legos, dinosaurs, crayons, pipe cleaners. I mean, it's a TUB. Totally worth it.

Cons: If you're predisposed to OCD, it can be a little eye-twitch-inducing to lose one of the fruits or veggies... we haven't seen our carrot, corn, or grapes in months. C'est la vie. I just try not to think about it.



Melissa & Doug Cutting Food - $17.43 on Amazon

Pros: WOOD, and is there anything white people like better than wood toys? NOPE. Chicken loves cutting these pieces up and putting them back together. Great for fine motor development, plus you can teach your kid how to make "ratatouille" and that shit is totes adorbs.

Cons: Same deal with losing one of the pieces. It can happen and if you're anal it can send you into an alcoholic rage or a fugue state. But, you know, that's on you, so...

(Incidentally, M&D, savvy toymakers that they are, has an entire line of play food sets, from grilling kebabs to sushi, stir fry to burgers to pizza party.)


Fisher-Price Servin' Surprises Tea Party Set - $34.97 on Amazon

Full disclosure - we don't own this set. Duckie, Chicken's bestie, owns this set. And it is hot property, let me tell you. This tea set has taken their friendship past point break all the way to point go-for-the-eyes. It's the little cakes that really get them riled up.

But (spoiler alert!) you know the best part? The surprise that Fisher-Price is serving up?


The teapot actually pours tea! And by "pours tea" we mean it shoots out a piece of hard plastic that I cannot help but associate with a dog boner. Sorry.

But Chicken loves it. Duckie loves it. I have it on good authority that every kid - boy or girl - who plays with Duckie loves it.


KidKraft Vintage Kitchen - White - $128.49 on Amazon

Best. Ever. Let me tell you, this thing is hardy. It took Ryan and his brother half a day to put it together, but it's pretty near-indestructible. At least, Chicken hasn't been able to take it down after a full year of crazed beatings.

And to be completely superficial, it's on the smaller side, and it's stylish. It's so much less cheesy than those fat, rounded yellow and red plastic kitchens.

The only con to this one is that it's really hard to close the fridge door without making a loud sound. We got quite stern with Chicken about not slamming the door for awhile until one night I was cleaning up and I closed the door and it really sounded like I slammed it too. Then I felt pretty bad.

I mean, I'm reaching pretty hard for a con here. I love this kitchen.



And looking ahead, I'm pretty sure Santa is bringing him this little number:



Melissa & Doug Triple - Layer Party Cake - $15.99 on Amazon

Chicken is obsessed with fire, velcro, and birthday cakes. So this seems like a pretty solid win. I'll let you know how it goes on December 26.


Full Disclosure: One of the ways that I monetize this blog is through an Amazon Associates account, so I include links to these product pages on Amazon. Amazon does not pay me to recommend products. I post links to these toys because Chicken likes them, and yes, I probably bought them on Amazon. Shop wherever you want. 
In the last month, the following things have happened:

- Buster has smiled and laughed after meeting my eye across the room.

- Chicken reached out and held Buster's hand as we sat together in an armchair. "I'm holdin' on," he said.

- Who could forget this little gem?

- We weathered Chicken's nap strike and Buster's 4-month sleep regression, and successfully moved Buster to a crib from a rock'n'play.

- My husband came home from a hunting weekend, tired but healthy and safe.
I have been blessed beyond measure with a beautiful, bright, hilarious, loving family. They make me so, so happy.

Confession:
My happiest moment in recent memory?
I was alone.
I was running on a cool, sunny Sunday. The air was cold in my throat and I felt my body working, performing the simple task of propelling itself through space and time with no distraction.
I had Big Boi and Britney Spears on my playlist and I didn't have to keep my mind or my eyes on any other living creature. 

I can't help but feel both confused and guilty. My family is what makes me happiest. Yet my most happy time was when I had successfully broken away from them.

What does that make me? Deluded? Brainwashed? Ambivalent about my irreversible life choices?

I don't know.

Every day I have two thoughts running through my mind at the exact same speed, side-by-side.

The first: I am so madly in love with my family. Nothing has ever made me this happy. Nothing has ever given my life such meaning. I must do this well. 

The second: Get me the fuck out of here. How soon can I go somewhere and leave these people behind?

I recently read I Don't Care What You Think: 5 Reasons I Don't Want Kids. After my initial defensive response of "why are you being so mean to me?" I had that same neck-and-neck thought-race.

I’m not interested in tearing my body apart for the so-called “miracle of life,” which is really just a euphemism for “sex I will be paying for during the next 18 to 25 years of my life.”

First thought: You're right. You are so, so right. Pregnancy can be horrible, head-to-toe, inside and out. It's incredibly invasive and destructive, being colonized by a selfish being that's dead-set on sucking down all of your body's resources. The swollen feet, shortness of breath, inevitable hoo-ha damage of varying degrees, giant boobs that start to head south - these are all the stereotypes of pregnancy and childbirth because they are true. And it sucks.

Second thought: My body made a person. When I say I was pregnant, what I mean is that my body took two cells, and made four, and then made billions, out of energy and blood and matter, that grew together into a complex system encased in a perfect, soft little body. 

My body spat out a creature that was fucking turn-key ready, totally complete, perfectly designed to exist in a world that it met for the first time after it had already been completed. There are some things more miraculous than the perkiness of one's rack.

I do not want children because I value my freedom too much.

First thought: You're right. You are so, so right. To have children means you give up the freedom to hop on the next flight to Cabo, the liberty to stay out late and see where the night takes you, the tetherlessness of people you see riding their bikes on Saturday afternoon during nap time. You give up the driver's seat of your days and nights, because that glorious creature that your body created from scratch, it has needs and does not yet know the definition of "convenience."

Second thought: The thing is, to paraphrase "When Harry Met Sally..." we never did hop the next plane to Cabo, and we very rarely stayed out late to see where the night took us. We don't even have bikes. When I make the list of what I gave up to have children, that list looks a lot like imaginary adventures, things I wanted to do but had no concrete plans of achieving anytime soon. 

Before I had children, Ryan and I had two work schedules and budgets and limited vacation time - it's not like we were fucking living like island-hopping Italian playboys and then all of a sudden a baby turned us into cockney-speaking, stone-stair-scrubbing joyless drones. 

...babies are watermelon sized aliens that are only good at five things, and I use the word good very loosely because sometimes they even struggle with these things: eating, pooping, peeing, crying and the worst, staring. It’s just rude.

First thought: You're right. You are so, so right. They're sea sponges. They grew for the better part of a year, sleeping upside-down in a slimy hot tub. And now that they're out, they don't necessarily seem like they should be. Floppy, cranky, needy, crusty, curled-up... yes, they are weird as hell and totally foreign.

Second thought: But then they learn how to smile. Then they learn how to call for you, say "I love you," laugh at your funny faces, reach for your hand.  They grow senses of humor and empathy. They grow first reckless and then cautious, which is its own life cycle that totally breaks your heart and leaves you both devastated and proud. They get good at lots of amazing things. And you get to be there to watch it all happen. It's like a full season of "The Voice," only it's "The Life," and you're Adam Levine except less of a douche.

If there were a hell, mine would be daycare. Taking care of snotty-nosed, whining, messy kids all day just sounds awful. Doing that as a mother on a daily basis sounds worse.

First thought: You're right. You're so, so right. That is hell. HELL. And some days my life is HELL. Every day, at some point, both my children are crying and I think this is a house of screaming  and I am fucking this up terribly  and I wish my mom were here so I could leave and how early is too early for hard alcohol and I'm so sad. 

Second thought: They're really only snotty-nosed for a few months out of the year. The whining thing, well, I'm told they grow out of it, and messy... well... yeah, but I'm messy too, so I'm not about to throw stones, unless it's on the floor of my bathroom where they will sit, not-swept-up, until about four minutes before someone is due to arrive at our house for dinner, and then I'll be like who the fuck threw these stones on the floor and left them here jesus we are all such slobs. 

There are a few minutes out of every day that feel like the worst few minutes of my life, no exaggeration. But then the kids start dancing to Ke$ha or ask for cereal with an adorable speech impediment, or bring tissues to a friend who is sad. They are unbelievably trying. They are endlessly fascinating. Every day it's awful but every day it's wonderful too.

Just watch the news; is it really worth bringing a child into a world like that? 

First thought: You're right. You are so, so right. I don't know a single parent who hasn't stayed up late fearing the worst, able to see all too clearly what Michael Chabon calls the invisible river of peril through which your children must pass every day. Car crashes, poisoned baby food, Ebola, kidnappings, school shootings, fuuuuuck I can feel my chest getting tight just thinking about this. 

Elizabeth Stone is oft-quoted as saying, Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Yeah, momentous is one word for it. Fucking masochistic is another word. This world is sharp and scary and I am afraid every single day, terrified every day. How can one mama keep her child safe, safe and sound, unfazed, unscarred, un-maimed in a world that doesn't give a flying fuck if he lives or dies?

Second thought: From Finding Nemo:

Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

It's unbearable to consider a tragedy hitting my family. 
It's more unbearable to consider not having my family in the first place.
 
The world is the world, and I'll control what I can, but at the end of the day the most important question I can ask myself is this:

Nobody gets out alive. Am I willing to worry about something that is definitely going to happen, for all the precious days and moments I have with the people I love? Am I going to spend my whole road trip worrying about when I'll run out of gas? 

I think I'm going to roll down the window, turn up the Big Boi and Britney, and smile.

The author has a lot of great reasons for not wanting to have kids. I agree with every single one of them. And if the author somehow strays into reading this blog post, I want to reassure her: I would never presume to tell you that you'll change your mind, or make some kind of statement about whether or not I approve of your choice. You can have kids or not, and I really don't care. 

So while I agree with every single one of her reasons for not having kids, the problem is, I went and got myself knocked up (twice) and now I can't help but disagree with every single one of them too. 

What does that make me? 

Deluded?

Confused? 

Stuck? 

Ambivalent about my irreversible life choices?

It makes me a mom. An honest mom.

It makes me want to go for a run.

And come home.
I was out of butter so I had to make my banana pancakes with greek yogurt.

Sometimes when I unlock my Subaru Outback with my little button thingy, I have to hit the unlock button like four times before it unlocks. Seriously, Subaru? How many years of my life am I going to waste trying to unlock you with the little button thingy? I can't even add it up it will be so depressing.

My iPad/HBO Go was like, "you want to pick a movie to watch in the middle of the day while you eat banana pancakes? Well I'm going to make you watch a spinning wheel for like TWO MINUTES before I give you exactly what you want."

It's too sunny.

I said just a splash of soy. JUST. A SPLASH. OF SOY. This tastes like a dollop to me.

Do you have any first world problems to contribute to this list of TOTALLY LEGITIMATE complaints about how unbearable our lives have become under Chairman Obama?

Leave a comment!
Me: I really want to learn how to do the Single Ladies dance.
Ryan: OK, well, show me what you already know.

(I'll just let your imagination take over here)

Ryan: (collapses on floor laughing) You look like you're ice skating for the first time!
Me: I'm going to blog that you said that.
Ryan: It was just when you were flapping your arms like you were about to fall over and you were saying "I've never ice skated before!"
Me: OK, well, I did not say that Ryan.

(tries again)

Ryan: Oh, that was better!
Me: Thanks. I'm still going to blog about what you said before though.


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to put your 5-month-old baby to sleep.

At approximately 0700 in the evening (and yes I know that you're supposed to do the 24-hour clock in military time but I'm fucking tired and this post is a joke so cut me some slack k thanks) change the  baby's diaper.

Hold him lovingly as you feed him warm milk from your breast, then wrap him tightly in a soft blanket that smells faintly of lavender.

Turn on the little machine that makes whooshy-ocean sounds and turn down the lights.

Hold the warm, full, snuggly, darling babe in your arms and rock him, side to side, up and down, back and forth, dealer's choice.

Sing a little song. He's partial to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," but again, pick your poison.

Lay him gently in his crib and croon, "good night sweet angel, sweet dreams, sleep tight." Turn off the lights, and leave the room.

He should definitely just fall asleep at this point.

PS - If he doesn't fall asleep on his own, you may need to sit on the floor next to his crib in a bathrobe, reciting the Jabberwocky poem over and over again in your NPR voice, while playing Plants vs. Zombies on your phone.

PPS - ... for one hour and twenty minutes.

PPPS - The leftover Halloween candy is in a bag on top of the fridge.
I loved the Berenstain Bears growing up. Who didn't? My all-time favorites, were, in no particular order:

1. The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room

Who could forget the miraculous, HGTV-style before-and-after glory of Papa Bear's peg board and toy chest, transforming the cubs' cobwebbed shithole into an IKEA catalogue page?

2. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear

I feel you, Sister Bear. I too taped together yards and yards of pages for my Christmas list. But yo, wtf is Giggly Goo? 

3. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food

Choco-Chums, Sweetsie Cola, Yum-Puffs and Sugar Balls! These are, btw, all nicknames that I have given to various boyfriends.

Yes, I now see that the Berenstain Bears are a little sanctimonious, a little too pat, a little eye-rollingly saccharine at times. But you know, I still have a spot in my heart for this pious, ursine foursome.

So imagine my delight when I discovered a copy of Too Much Junk Food at the consignment store for $1.50. Score!

I got it home and sat down to read it to Chicken, with yes, I'll admit it, a whole brimming buttload of zeal. I couldn't wait to see that page where Dr. Grizzly shows the cubs what a bear's body looks like on the inside.

Fuck, you guys.

This book has NOT aged well.

Let me just give you the play-by-play, as it reads to my adult brain.

One day Mama Bear notices that her kids are getting chubbier.



So she rips their food out of their hands and makes a snarky joke about how they're growing from side-to-side as much as up-and-down.


HAHA! GOOD ONE MAMA BEAR! That will definitely not puncture Sister Bear's fragile self-esteem and haunt her for years to come every time a barista asks if she wants a brownie with that skinny sugar-free vanilla latte. "Oh, no thanks, haha, I don't want to grow side-to-side as much as up-and-down!" jokes a now-30-year-old Sister Bear who just can't understand why she hates herself.

Then Papa Bear comes in and is like, "your mother is absolutely right about you kids making poor choices. BTW, where's my junk food?" and Mama proceeds to make this face for the next four pages.



BLAH BLAH BLAH I don't eat sweets because nothing is more delicious than being better than you


BLAH BLAH BLAH Watch as I sew up the pants you busted with your fat ass, Papa Bear


BLAH BLAH Try this, it's called "water."
(which, btw, is actually exactly what she says on this page.)

Then Mama Bear takes the family to the grocery store and makes another insufferable "I'm better than all of you" face, while the three little pigs make pervy yum-yum faces at a display of snacks, betraying their weak wills and disgusting appetites, and their pathetic weakness for salty, sweet, fizzy treats that are fucking designed to be delicious and addictive.



Then Mama Bear runs into Dr. Grizzly, who's like "Wow, you're buying bananas? I'm buying bananas! You're such a good person, Mama Bear!" and she's like "THANK YOU for noticing and yes I am, but check out those fat-asses who are definitely not shoplifting that candy over there." Mama Bear has definitely not alienated her family with her snarky jokes and judgment. They are definitely not sneaking around and hiding from her because they feel ashamed for wanting candy, which, as I've already said, has been made fucking tasty as hell through the miracle of science. And turning candy into a forbidden temptation will definitely not make it irresistible. The Bible taught me that.



This page is still awesome.


The family sits through an informative lecture about the body and nutrition. The cubs say "Wow!!!" like fourteen times. Dr. Grizzly makes sure to pinch Papa Bear's fat real quick to make sure he knows what a useless piece of shit he is.



HAHA! Good one, Dr. Grizzly! No, pinch him harder so that he knows what shame is, so he cries and wails and his children laugh at his humiliation. HAHAHA!

Oh, also, exercise! 



Oooooh no, not you Mama Bear. You don't need to exercise. You just kind of stand on the sidelines with your pocketbook. You don't participate. You just supervise. You're better than that. You're better than them.

Of course, everyone is happier and healthier at the end of the story, thanks to Mama Bear and her nuts, raisins, carrot sticks and apple slices.

But then Mama Bear makes this face.


OHMYGOD I WANT TO SLAP HER
or just eat a whole chocolate cheesecake in front of her

I support good food and exercise. Just today, I was like, "Chicken, you have to finish your Nutella toast before you can have more disco fries."

Seriously, I care about eating good food and keeping your body healthy. It makes me proud when my son asks for berries or cheese or snap peas for a snack.

But I hate how this book doesn't acknowledge that treats should have a place, too. The total abstinence from any indulgence is not only joyless, it's completely impractical. I'm not just saying this because we're 1 week off of Halloween. Kids are going to have sweets and treats from time to time. This book sets up an unrealistic standard for growing cubs, and their mamas and papas.

I hate how Papa Bear is all Sitcom Dad, fat and clueless and a big target, wide-open for spiteful jokes.

I hate that the book doesn't address how Mama's jokey-comments and side-eyes are vicious and hurtful, how she's scoring points off her family and that isn't what families do.

I also hate, hate, hate how Mama Bear is

a) immune to temptation
b) mean and cruelly taunting in her treatment of her family
c) all I-told-you-so-y
d) right. aaaaaalways right.

I think moms, and women in general, do feel pressure to be right, always right, and immune to temptation, and merciless in recognizing and mowing down unpalatable habits in their children. Mama Bear is just a little too on-the-nose for what's expected of moms - be good, be right, be firm, be in control at all times, and remember, you didn't come here to make friends. You came here to serve your kids raisins.

Mama Bear, your tale of Junk Food redemption is coming off the shelf.

In fact, it already has. I let Chicken hold onto it so he could read it during nap time yesterday. When I went in to wake him up...



I hear you, Chicken. Loud and clear.