Other person: Wait... what are you drinking?

Me: Water.

Other person: Really.

Me: ... ... ... I'm pregnant!

Other person: Again?

Me: ... ... ... Yep! We just found out!

Other person: Yikes!
___

Let me slow your heart rate down and just start by saying that NO, I'm not pregnant again.

This is a post about the time I was starting to tell people that I was pregnant with Buster.

Yes, that exchange was a real conversation I had.

With a friend.

A friend who is also a mom.

When I started to tell people that I was knocked up with Buster, I expected my friends to bubble over with the same fizzy joy as they did when I told them I was preggo with Chicken. And many of my friends did.

But I was really appalled at how often people responded with, I don't know, boredom. Boredom with a dash of disdain. I was so excited, flushed, telling people way too early. Just like with Chicken, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.

Only with Chicken, when I told friends, they squealed and laughed. They jumped up and down. They brought me little baby socks at work. They cried.  The thing I remember hearing most was, "OHMYGOD THIS IS THE BEST NEWS!" With Buster, the thing I remember hearing most was some variation on, "uh oh, now you're screwed." Close second: "you're trying for a girl, aren't you?"

That's not the thing to say, you guys.

Not just one person, but numerous people responded to my sweet, hot bun in the oven with an attitude that stank of "Bread? Meh."

It pissed me off, the way it pissed me off when those 5-year-old girls ran away from my Chicken on the playground one Saturday after he walked up to them and said, "hi guys! Hi! Wanta play?"

It embarrassed me. I felt so fat and foolish, so silly to have been looking forward to telling my friends. Like I shouldn't have blow-dried my hair.

But more than anything else, it really, really, really hurt my feelings. A lot. Even now, over a year after all these conversations happened, it hurts my feelings to think about it. Not gonna lie, tearing up a little writing this.

I was heartbroken. I couldn't understand why friends would shit on my joy. I couldn't understand why a friend would see me waiting for the corks to start popping, and opt to pour me a warm, flat soda instead.

I imagined these friends would hear about this baby being born and send a text:
heard u had baby. not even a girl. uh oh. yikes.

I cried. And I thought,

THIS IS NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. 
This is not just another day.
This is a whole new baby. 
Not a re-run. 
Not a leftover. 
Entirely new.

This baby is just as precious as the first one.
If he is a boy, I will love having two sons.
If she is a girl, I will love having a son and a daughter.
I did not get pregnant again to make up for my dissatisfaction with my firstborn's sex.
I got pregnant again because I wanted another baby.
I wanted one. Bad.
And now, this second, he's here. Or she.

I'm so excited,
excited the way Chicken is when he sees a helicopter in the sky.
Please
don't be bored. 
This baby is just as worthy of your excitement as the first one. 
This baby deserves a baby shower, a celebration in his honor. 
He deserves his own storybooks, his own cute onesies. 
This baby deserves to be born into a world that can't wait to meet him.
Please be one of those people who can't wait.
Please don't be bored.
Please don't be mean.
Please.

Memo to friends who hear the big news and for some reason are not excited about it:

If your instinct is to say some version of "So?" "Again?" "Yikes!" or "Uh oh, now you're screwed," when a friend tells you that she's pregnant, do your friendship a favor and put an entire renaissance fair turkey leg and/or movie theater soft pretzel inside your mouth until the urge passes.

It doesn't matter if you think you're cracking a hilarious joke. You're not.

It doesn't matter if it's her second, third, or if she's about to get the free one on her obstetrician's "lucky dozen" punch card.

It doesn't fucking matter.

It doesn't matter if you have opinions about how many babies a person should be having in a world where we are mindful of carbon footprints, or if you cannot imagine wanting to have as many children as your friend is about to have.

Any time a friend tells you that she's pregnant, be AS EXCITED as you were the first time.
Because she's probably AS EXCITED as she was the first time.
And even if she feels nauseated and terrified and exhausted, you're her fucking friend.
Plus, you're not having your life force sucked out of you by a tiny superhuman bundle of cells the size of a sesame seed.

It is your job, friend, at precisely this moment, to hold her up.


Memo to pregnant mamas whose friends are not excited:

HOLY SHIT! 

YOU'RE PREGNANT?!?!??!?! 

THAT IS THE BEST FUCKING NEWS!!! 

CONGRATULATIONS!!! 

How are you feeling? When did you find out? 
Bedelia is going to be the most amazing big sister. 
I'm so happy for you.
(tear)


The french press makes really strong coffee. Like, maybe too strong. I'm typing SUPER FAST RIGHT NOW.

The traffic is going to be so yucky when I go to therapy tonight at 5, so I won't even have time to go to PCC and get a vegan donut.

I have to fold all this clean laundry now. It sucks so bad having a lot of clothes and a washing machine, you guys.

My trainer made my glutes really sore, so carrying that bag of organic kale and vegetable broth up the steps to our house is like uncomfortable.

Like a fool, I opened a banana without first asking permission from Emperor Chicken, so he flipped out and NOW I HAVE THIS OPEN BANANA. What am I supposed to do with an OPEN BANANA?

Why don't more houses in hip, walkable neighborhoods with great school districts have stainless appliances and two-car garages? I'll tell you why. It begins with a B. And ends with an "arack Obama."

My hair is too thick.

We're out of sparkling water so I have to drink the filtered water from the fridge door. Like a savage.





This prayer card is sold online at shopcatholic.com.


Most Loving Father, the example of parenthood, teach us what to give and what to withhold. 
Show us when to reprove and when to praise. 
Make us gentle and considerate yet firm and watchful. 
Keep us from weak indulgence, or from great severity. 
Give us the courage to be disliked sometimes by our children, when we must do necessary things which are displeasing in their eyes. 
Give us the imagination to enter into their world in order to understand and guide them. 
Give us all the virtues we need to lead them by word and example in the path of righteousness.
Amen!


NAILED IT.

This prayer lives among my favorite writings on parenting. 

I appreciate the measured nature of the prayer - this is not a prayer for redemption or perfection, but a plain request for help in finding balance. And then it gives parents a simple, largely secular framework for finding that sweet spot - between indulgence and severity, between wonder and necessary displeasure. You don't have to be Catholic to find this advice useful. At least I didn't have to be Catholic to find this advice useful. 

Of course, I'd add a few more tidbits...

Free us from punishing ourselves for our mistakes, so that our children can learn how to be kind to themselves as well as to others.

Bless us with love and respect for other parents who may make different choices than we do. Help us to keep our mouths shut when tempted, from short temper or a crap night of sleep, to tear down someone who is struggling.

Give us the perspective to appreciate each day's blessings and challenges, since children can be counted on for an abundance of both. Keep us young enough to delight in the silliness of children, and old enough to weather their emotional storms without panic.

Give us the confidence to measure ourselves against nobody else. Remind us that our insides cannot be compared to anyone else's outsides. 

Protect our precious cargo on onramps and icy roads.

Liberate us from embarrassment or apology when telling new people about our roles in our family.

Help us to be patient with our partners, who do not do things the way we do. Remind us that we are not the only parents in the family, and that we would not rob our partners of the right to form their own unique relationships, traditions, and ways of doing things.

Help us to be thoughtful and intuitive, open to new ideas and loyal to our own hearts.

Bless us with long memories.

Amen!
Chicken is running one of his trains around the yellow plastic track, talking in the voice of the train.

I better go home.
I better go home.
I gotta head home.

I say, where's his home, baby?

He says I dunno.

I say, well, should we find him a home?

He says no.

I say, should we make him a home out of a box?

He says no.

Then he runs his train around the track again until it bumps into another train car. The two click together with a little metallic snick.

Oh!
He's wif his friend!
Now he's home.
Yeah. Now they gotta home together.

Chicken run the two trains around the track together.

Here we go, he says.


When was the last time you went to a Babies R Us? If you're lucky, the answer is, "I don't remember, I was drunk." If you're really lucky, the answer is, "quoi le quoi? I am French." But if you're an expectant mom in the US of A, chances are you're not that lucky.

Babies R Us is... it's awful. Just awful. The best part about it is the designated "expectant mother" parking right in front of the store. It's all downhill from there.

Babies R Us is the embodiment of hyper-consumerist, capitalism-on-steroids, let's see if we can convince you that you need four of everything in every size right now, how can we sell water at a 500% markup just to moms, sell-sell-sell-selling of stuff stuff stuff.

I'm not joking about that water thing. The last time I went to Babies R Us I stood, stunned, at the top of the "nursery water" aisle. Isn't it just... water? And that's when it hit me.

I thought that by having a baby I was changing my life, my family. I thought this shit was personal. And ok, maybe I was completely naive, but I felt that the businesses who serve women who are about to turn a page into a new chapter of their lives might have a sense of responsibility to those women, an obligation to be truthful that would live at least on par with the corporate imperative to stay in the black.

Nah.

Business is business.

And I've just become everyone's favorite consumer.

As an adult, I can say "you know what? Tap water's fine." But as a parent, I have a much harder time settling for anything less than the absolute safest, the cleanest, the most enriching, the most natural, the best for my child. In short, the most expensive. And price-setters know that.

If regular marketing aims to provoke a range of emotional responses - arousal, confidence, comfort, thrill - I think parenting marketing is far more specific and far more effective. Babies R Us uses only one feeling to sell us the idea that we need three strollers: fear.

Fear of buying too little.
Fear of denying our children comfort, joy, pleasure.
Fear of buying something dangerous.
Fear of not buying something that could have saved the baby from discomfort or danger.
Fear of not knowing what the fuck we are doing, at the moment when the stakes couldn't be higher.

There's only one thing stores don't want us to be afraid of: buying too much stuff.

Exhibit A: Babies R Us's Must-Have List.

I guess this is a list of just "The Necessities."
If you're pregnant with four babies.

A woman carrying one or even two precious souls looks at this list and thinks what in the bleeding heart of fuck is all this crap, and how in the sacred dusty tomb of Tutankhamen do I pick which bottle to register for among the 219 different kinds of bottle Babies R Us has on the website?!?! I have a goddamned degree from a goddamned institution of higher learning and this is BEYOND ME. What kind of mother am I going to be if I can't even choose a crib blanket? I HAVE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE. 

What's frustrating is that, sure, you can see the need for each of these items.
It's just that Babies R Us wants you to believe that a) you MUST BE registering for everything the baby could need for the first year; and b) why buy one when you could buy SIX?

If you have the storage to register for walking toys that you can just shelve for 8 months or so, I say thee yea. Go for it! One less thing you have to consider buying down the road. But walking toys aren't a necessity. You can buy them gently used from any consignment store, whenever you need them. It's not like city code mandates that you have to buy them before the baby is born.

If you want six crib sheets so you can go months without doing laundry, I say thee yea. Go for it! Whatever! But six crib sheets are not a necessity. What do you need? One crib sheet. Two makes your life easier so you don't have to rush through laundry. But six? Extremely convenient; not necessary.

Babies are simple creatures with simple needs:

1. Food
2. Clean Diapers
3. A Safe Place to Sleep
4. Garments to Protect Them from the Elements

If we made a true, literal "must-have list" it would be like 15 items MAX - a place to sleep (a box will do,) bottle or boob, diapers and wipes, a few items of clothing. Baby's favorite toy is your face. Baby's diapers can go in any kind of trash receptacle that already exists in your home.

I'm not saying you have to make your baby's room look like an ascetic monk's cot space. I think you should absolutely treat yourself to items that aren't musts - sweet touches like artwork, books, clothes, things that are special to you and make you feel good because you've provided them to your child. I say YES, YES to all of that.

I say NO to feeling obligated to spend a lot of money on stuff that a for-profit store has told you that you NEED when you do not, in fact, NEED it.

I'm saying you get to pick whatever you want.

When you're making your registry, remember that every website that sells baby stuff is going to have a list of must-have items that (surprise surprise) the website would happily sell to you.

There is nothing you can buy, or not buy, before your baby is born, that will make you a good parent or a bad parent.
Don't be scared.
You can't do this wrong.
It's stuff.
Just stuff.
Pick what you like.
Keep the receipts.

And HEY.
YOU.
Yeah, YOU. Babies R Us.
Fuck off with your "you don't know what you're doing yet, do you? Well, trust me, you definitely must have three strollers and one of them should cost $500."

PS:

Prepare yourself for the longest PS in PS history.
Below is a table.
On the left, Babies R Us's list of necessities.
On the right, what my family actually used for the first few months of each baby's life.
Bear in mind that this has just been our experience - we have acquired less than some and a lot more than many. You get to decide what's necessary for you and yours.

If you're knocked up and have a question, shoot me an email or comment below. You know I'm happy to throw in my opinion. Which is why I have this blog which consists entirely of my opinion.



What Babies R Us Said We NEEDED:
What We Actually Used:
Nursery
Crib
Crib Mattress
Changing Table
Glider/Rocker

Ottoman
Dresser
Nightstand
Hamper



Hangers
Crib
Crib Mattress
We used a dresser
We used a regular chair with a lumbar pillow.
Nope
Dresser
Nope
Sure, but we just used a regular one we already had.

Oh yeah, to make sure his 100% cotton onesies he crapped all over were wrinkle-free.

We also used a Rock’n’Play with Buster and it was great. Some people opt for a co-sleeper or bassinet/pack’n’play.
Bedding
Crib Bedding Set









Crib Sheets (4-6)
Mattress Pads (2-4)
Sheet Savers (2)
Changing Table Pad
Changing Table Pad
Covers (4)










Receiving Blankets (4-6)





Crib Blankets (4)





Swaddle Blankets (2-4)

Wearable Blankets (2-4)
Do you mean sheets? Or bumpers? We opted out of padded bumpers because of the suffocation risk. They do make breathable mesh bumpers that help keep binkies in the crib. Talk to your doctor. I am not a doctor.

Sheets (2)
Mattress Pad (1)
I have no idea what this is.
Changing Table Pad
Changing Table Pad

Covers (2) If something happens and both your covers are dirty at once, WHAT WILL YOU DO? MY GOD, WHAT WILL YOU DO? Oh, right, use a towel. Babies R Us, you d-bag convention. 4 is not a must-have.

Receiving blankets (2) – but we don’t use them for sleeping, just in the car to block sun or on the floor for playing.

You’re not supposed to put the baby in the crib with a loose blanket until at least 1 year old. So, no. No times 4.

Swaddlers (3)

Sleep Sacks (3) but not until after he was out of a swaddle at like 5-6 months.

+ White noise machine.
Car Seats                 
Infant Car Seat

Convertible Car Seat
Infant Car Seat

Um not until he was like 18 months old.

We also bought a mirror so we could see into his rear-facing seat when it was TOO QUIET BACK THERE.
Strollers & Carriers
Travel System/Traditional Stroller
Lightweight Stroller



Carrier




Diaper Bags (2)
Travel system

We just bought our first lightweight stroller and Chicken is 2.

Carrier. Ergo. One of the best things we got. 2.5 years of near continuous use and going strong.

Diaper Bag (1). We do have a reusable shopping tote in the trunk of our car that is basically an emergency diaper bag, but you don’t need to buy a second fucking diaper bag.
Feeding
Breast Pump
Nursing Pads
Breast Milk Storage Containers
Nursing Covers (2)




Nursing Pillow











Baby Support Pillow


Bottle Starter Set

Bottles, 4 or 5 oz (6-10)
Bottles, 8, 9, or 11 oz  (6-10)
















Slow-flow nipples (8-10)
Medium-flow nipples (8-10)
Fast-flow nipples (8-10)



















Bibs (8-12)











Burp cloths (6-12)
Pacifiers (6-8)












Pacifier holder





Teethers (3-4)
High Chair
Breast Pump
Nursing Pads
Breast Milk Storage Containers
Um, I used a blanket. No need for a designated cover. Plus most babies hate that shit.

Nursing pillow. YES a thousand times yes. The Boppy is a rare multi-use baby item – you use it for nursing, supporting tummy time, early sitting-up support, and Chicken still sleeps with his in his crib. We also bought a spare cover. Babies throw up.

I don’t know how this is different from a Boppy.

I don’t know what this is.

Here’s the thing with bottles. You won’t know what to stock up on until the baby shows you what he or she likes. So sure, register for a couple of different kinds of bottles. But don’t register for 6-10 bottles until you know if that bottle works for your baby, and how many bottles the baby is really having in a day. If you’re staying at home and only enjoy the rare baby-free ladies’ night or yoga class outing, then no, you don’t need TWENTY BOTTLES.

Here’s the thing with nipples. The flow thing? Total bullshit. Your human nipples don’t like sprout more holes to give a heavier flow as your baby gets older. You have one flow. There’s no reason to ever buy anything but a slow-flow nipple. You want the baby to have to work to get the milk out of the bottle. If he/she gets lazy with a faster-flow, then he/she might not want to work to get the milk straight form the source anymore, which translates to nipple confusion/hate nursing/nursing strikes. Which sucks.

Bibs (6 pack) we didn’t really use bibs until he started solids at 5 months, but I know other moms whose kids spat up a LOT who used a lot of bibs early on. You won’t know if you have a spitter until you meet the baby. So you can wait, or go for it, no harm in a few extra bibs.

Burp cloths (10)
Pacifiers (6-8) But don’t register for too many – same deal as the bottles. My kids hated the soothie pacifiers, loved the Avent ones. Other kids love the soothies. If you want to register for pacifiers, just register for one each of a couple different kinds so you can figure out what your baby likes.

Pacifier holder (2) the leash is great for when you’re driving, to save you from the blind digging grope at red lights.

Sure, but they’re toys.
Not until 5 months.
Diapering
Diapers, up to 8 lbs (4 value boxes)



Diapers, 8-14 lbs (5 value boxes)








Baby Wipes (4 value boxes)

Diaper Cream & Ointment


Diaper Pail & Refills
Diapers, up to 8 lbs, um, one box. A lot of babies are bigger than 8 pounds on the day they are born. Don’t stock up on these.
Diapers, 8-14 lbs, I don’t know who these people are who have like so much room to store crates of diapers. Buy them as you need them. Don’t buy 5 boxes of diapers unless you are a lucky bastard with a huge closet.

Baby wipes, one big Costco box.

Diaper cream, I like Balmex or Desitin.

We use a diaper genie in Chicken’s room because his poops are gnarly, old-man liver and onions poops. But in Buster’s room/our room we use a small, bathroom-sized step can with regular liners. We empty it every day or so.
Bathing & Infant Care
Baby Bath Tub








Baby Bath Towels (6-8)









Wash Cloths (10-12)




Shampoo
Body Wash


Body Lotion
Grooming Kit (Brush, Nail Clippers)




Thermometer
Humidifier
Air Purifier


Aspirator

Laundry Detergent
Nope. Never got one. We just took turns taking baths with our babies until they were old/strong enough to hold their heads up in the water in the tub. It was fun, actually, and really sweet.

I will pay someone $1,000 to explain to me how a baby bath towel is better than a regular fucking bath towel. They’re usually thinner, cheaper, and more expensive. This is a racket. And you certainly do not need EIGHT of them.
Baby wash cloths are thinner, cheaper regular wash clothes. This is a racket.

Baby shampoo & body wash, we bought one bottle that does it all.

Body Lotion
Hair brush. We just bite their nails to keep them short. For serious, works better than nail clippers on their soft little nails.

Thermometer
Nope
Yep – I fear old house mold.

Nose Frida 4 Ever

Yes, now that you’ve had a baby, the time has finally come to buy laundry detergent. Because before this, you were just pumping purell into the machine.
Clothing
Bodysuits (10-12)
Sleep n Play (6-8)
Side-Snap Shirts (4-6)
Gowns (4-6)
Pull-on Pants (6-8)
Socks (6-8 pairs)
Caps (2-4)
Mittens (2-4)
Booties (2-4)
Honestly, can’t nobody tell you what your baby is going to need until the baby comes out. Your baby might live in newborn-sized bodysuits for the first three months, or you might bring her home in a 3-6 month outfit. The snappy/zippy footies are my personal favorite, for ease of access. The good news is that people will give you a lot of clothes, and whatever you discover you need after your baby is born, I’m pretty sure there’s a place nearby where you can pick up some socks or a gown.
Safety
Monitor



Baby Gates (2)





Outlet Covers & Plugs


Cabinet & Drawer Locks







First Aid Kit
Monitor, although we didn’t need it because our house is small.

Baby Gate (1) but we don’t have stairs inside our house. Didn’t need until he started crawling around 6 months.

Didn’t need until about 6 months.

Didn’t need until about 6 months. Arguments can be made for not ever needing these things, and just moving toxic/dangerous cabinet contents a little higher up.

First Aid Kit. Never used it, but you have to have it, right? Also bought a baby emergency handbook.
Play Time
Swing






Bouncer





Play Yard
Play Yard Sheet (2-3)

Play Mat or Baby Gym
Infant Toys (5)




Jumper





Stationary Entertainer


Books (3)




DVDs (3)

Music (3)
Chicken loved it, Buster didn’t care for it. Your call. It’s a big piece of machinery, but for some babies it is a miracle sleep machine.

Bouncy chair is a godsend early on – for when you want to put the baby down to shower, write emails, whatever.

Nope.
Yeah nope.

Play mat, or a blanket.
Toys – don’t forget all of the baby’s senses – crinkly toys, chewy toys, colorful toys, musical toys.

We love our Jumperoo, but you don’t want to put your baby in there until he’s close to sitting up, 4 months ish.

Like, Wayne Newton on a sofa?

Way more than 3 books. But we’re bookish. This was the funnest part of baby shopping for me.

Um no.

CDs (2) One Kanye West Lullaby CD (not a joke), one Nursery Rhymes CD. Chicken didn’t really respond to music that much. He preferred to hear us read aloud. Again, you won’t know until your baby comes.
I know three people who have given birth in the last ten days.

First of all, thank God for the safe delivery of three gorgeous new babies into my Facebook feed.

I feel like I should post something newborn-related for these three moms, but the three moms in question are so different, and will be facing such different challenges (many of which I know nothing about) that one piece of all-purpose "advice" seems like just noise.

One mom just had her first.
One mom just had her second.
One mom just had her third.

One mom is groping her way through the painful, awkward first days of breastfeeding.
One mom is recovering from a cesarean with a toddler running around.
One mom is experiencing, for the first time, what it feels like to have more children than hands.

Bless their three full hearts.
And I mean that sincerely, not in the way South Carolina debutantes say it.

I remember dropping off a lunch basket with another new mom when Chicken was just a little thing, maybe 5 or 6 months old. She opened the door in her pajamas and glasses, padding around slowly, whispering over the baby in his bassinet. My God... at that moment, I felt like I was right back there. Not even "back there," not even like I had to be transported back to those first days. I felt like I'd never left. My own first days as a mom felt completely current - they weren't memories yet.

I asked her how she was doing, ready to tell her all the things I needed to hear on my first days.

It's hard for everybody.
It gets easier as you get more confident.
It's okay if you don't enjoy it or love it immediately. You will. Don't force it. 
You are the best mother for your child. 
Ask for help if you need it, if you feel like you're overwhelmed.

But she didn't say, "I'm freaking out," or "this is so hard."

She said, "I feel amazing. I am so in love with him. I've never been happier in my entire life."

Uh?

So I was like, "But your vag is sore, right? That gets better... make sure that you use the ice packs--"

And she was like, "Actually, it's not too bad! We took a short walk earlier."

And I said, "I don't have anything else to say to you. Here's your sandwich."

My first days as a mother were characterized by a cocktail of terror, uncertainty, and rage. I didn't eat much, couldn't sleep, sat awake next to Chicken, waited for his syncopated, gurgly, hiccuping baby breaths to stop.

I just figured that was how it was for everybody. I assumed that becoming a parent was a universally terrible experience, that you had to spend a few days panicking in a hot box before you could learn how to breathe easily in this tight, new space. I assumed that people who said they were "over the moon" were lying or just being polite. I thought, "you don't have to say that to me. I've been behind the curtain, b. I KNOW what's back there. Cut the shit and let's be real."

Honestly, most of my new-mom advice was fucking terrifying.

I slipped my postpartum psychiatrist's phone number to people, saying, "she's great. She knows which panic attack medications are safe for breastfeeding."

Like Wednesday Addams all grown up, I eagerly shared the most comforting thing I ever heard at a new parent support group: "If the baby is going to die of SIDS, there's nothing you can do to stop it. It's sudden. It's not like if you were there, watching, you could have done something."

Seriously? Who in their right mind thinks that's, like, a little gem to pass along to new parents?

I had no idea what to do when faced with a genuinely beatific figure of motherhood, someone whose childbirth resulted in instant, perfect love with all the glowing, honeyed ecstasy that comes along with it.

She seemed... happy? But how? How could she be?

Like the Grinch, whose small heart exploded out of its gilt frame when he saw the Whos joining hands to praise the morning, I felt a pop in my chest as I realized that having a baby doesn't have to be the way it was for me. It doesn't have to be scary, sad, and impossible.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was a little sad about the way Chicken's first days went down.
I wish I'd drawn a different card from the deck.
I miss the experience I never had.
I yearn to go back and have it just be different.
At the same time, I wouldn't change a thing.
I'm sure there's a word in another language that sums up this feeling exactly.

This one goes out to the new mamas who are having some kind of day today - a glorious I've-never-been-complete-until-today day, a scary I've-made-a-huge-mistake day. Maybe both. Probably both.

What I have landed on, in my own heart, is the fact that no matter how I felt about those days, the truth is that they were, like all days, precious and fleeting, and never to return. I hold those first days close to my heart, not as the time I was terrified and unbalanced, but as the time I stumbled and eventually got up again. That time is a myth, part truth and part perception, the based-on-a-true-story of how we became three.

You will never be in this place again.

So try to just be where you are. Even if it sucks. Even if the only great thing about today is that it's about to be fucking over. It's part of your myth, part of your story.

See? Here I fucking go again with my "I know it's hard" spiel.

If you're not having a hard time, I can't tell you how happy I am for you.

I just don't have anything else to say to you.
I am not the hardest-working person in my family.

Neither is Ryan.

And although Chicken lives his life at an operational tempo that makes The Flight of the Bumblebee feel like the Ave Maria, it's not him either.

No, the hardest-working person in our family award goes to the little guy.
Buster.
Hands-down.
Every time.

But he takes 3 naps a day.

You would too, if you spent your every waking second doing push-ups, pull-ups, squats, sit-ups, and the boat pose to end all boat poses.

Pretend I just told you that you couldn't walk anymore, that you had to learn how to walk on your hands.
Also, you can still pick things up, but you have to do it while wearing ski gloves.
Also, we'll be strapping a weighted helmet on you, so that your head is going to be like a third of your body weight.
All the time.
Starting now.

That's work.

The rest of us lazy fucks learned how to walk and pretty much clocked out.

Sure, I work hard, and many of my days feel like an interminable march along an endless, steep road. But that road is well-worn, a wide boulevard made smooth by years of wear. 

Buster? He's bush whacking.
He scraps, scrambles, fights through the weeds and slogs through the mud. 

If I am tired of walking this road, how much more tired must he be?
He is building his road - today, right this second. 


Look at those toes. Those toes are working hard.
Way harder than I am, folding laundry, making toast.

Respect, B. Respect.
Climbing the charts in toddler hip hop this week, an impromptu freestyle sesh recorded while Chicken was supposed to be having quiet time. I call it... "What Happened To Mommy."

I need my sweater
I need my sweater
I need my cheddar
It's down
It's down
my cheddar is down
oh well
oh no
uh no
wooooooooh woh woh



(long silence)


UUUUUUUUNNNGH!
WWWWWWWAAAAAAH!
I'm awake
I'm still awake
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah
I'm so sad
I'm sad
so sad
AAAAAAAH HA HA HA




(long keening moan like a monk)




Open
open
open the door
open the
the
the
the
DRAWER Mommy
I need my sweater
Mommy
I'm awake




(indecipherable whimpers)





Hey
what happened
what
happened to you
Mommy
you gotta zit
that zit gotta go
gotta go NOW
what happened
to
me
no
what happened to
YOU



Here's my problem with mean "cool" mommy bloggers.

The ones who are all, my kid eats nonorganic bananas and guess what, he's still alive! You're all dumb asses for paying that extra 20 cents a pound. AND I'M DRINKING WIIIIIIIINE NOW!

The ones who are all, I saw these parents who were talking to their baby like he was an adult and those people are trying way too hard, man. It's a BABY, sucka. He doesn't know the difference between pancakes and eggs florentine. 

I feel like these people are the mean cool slackers from high school, all grown up but still just as pricky.

They're the ones who never studied for tests, got D's and told everybody about it with a swagger that said, "yeah that's right I got a D, who gives a fuck?"

When Steve studied his ass off and was proud of getting an A, or disappointed with a B, these mean cool kids spent an excessive amount of time and energy mocking him. For caring.

That's who these bloggers sound like to me. Like the insecure people who brag about their own failures and pick on others who are brave enough to declare that they want to succeed.

Parent any way you want to, guys.
Seriously. I do not stay up nights worrying about your kid's banana-driven pesticide intake.
But don't shame others for their work.
At least not in writing.
That you then submit for publication.
On the internet.
Where it will live
forever.

That seems... I don't know... like a liiiiiiiiittle too much work for someone who is too cool to give a shit about parenting.

It seems like you work harder at scoring points off of other parents than you do about doing your own life. Or at least like that's the image you want to project. And that's a shame.

Listen, of course I judge other parents too. I see a mom grab her melting-down kid a little too forcefully and I think, come on, take a breath, anyone can kick down a door. I see a dad yelling at his 6-year-old daughter for talking back and I think, well I wonder where she learned it? I would never yell at my kid like that.

The difference, I guess, is that after I have my small, knee-jerk pettiness, I remember that yeah, I would absolutely yell at my kid like that. I remember that I have no fucking idea what it's like to be the parent of that baby. I remember that I could be watching the worst moment of that parent's day and what that parent needs more than anything else is a look that only another parent can give.

I know. 
It's so hard.
You've got this.

I don't go home and pick on those parents in a public forum.

Well, one time I did. She was so mean, though. And I apologized to her.

And I didn't publish my diatribe with a click-baity title on a widely-read website, just to make some people feel okay with being mean, and make other people feel defensive and judged.

What's the fucking point of that?

Why do you care how someone else talks to their kid?

Why do you care about the contents of another person's fridge?

Why does watching other parents care make you so mad?

Listen.

I know.

Being a parent is really hard.

But you've got this. You don't need to stand on anyone's back. You don't need to keep score.

Just do you, ok?
Would
You
Please
Stop
Biting
My nipples.

They are not your meal.
And you have teeth now
new ones
little jagged sharp ones
ya jackal.

Would
You
Please
Stop
Twisting 
My ear.

I'm pretty sure
If you worked at Guantanamo
You would get written up
For that kind of behavior.

Would 
You
Please
Stop
Pinching 
my armpit skin.

Of all the skins
You pick that skin
To pinch 
with your quick bird beak fingernails?

Would 
You
Please
Stop
Picking
My chin zit.

I know it's all "pick me pick me"
Like a bachelor contestant
But seriously
Take it from the at-home viewer
Don't
Pick
That
One.

Would
You
Please
Stop
Kicking
My tits.

If that was some kind of experiment
Consider your hypothesis supported:
When kicked repeatedly 
By a toddler 
From a prone position 
on a diaper changing table,
Tits are 
In fact
squishy.
Let's move on.

Would
Both of you
Please
Please
Stop
Pulling
My hair.
Head-butting
My nose.
Poking
My eye
With your probing
dentist tool fingers.

Thank you.
Chicken: Where's my Thomas? Mommy, where's my Thomas?

Me: I don't know baby. Where did you have it last?

Chicken: In the poop!



Yeah, that's Thomas. In the poop.

With 3 egg shakers and a harmonica.

I don't know what I expected.


With two babies and all this blogging/laundry avoiding, I don't have time for the kind of grooming regimen they'd recommend for me at the MAC counter at Nordy's.

Let's be real - the MAC counter wouldn't even have me. They'd be like, "so... are you like sick, or...? Oh, you're a MOM. Let me walk you over to Clinique, ma'am."

BOOM MAKEUP BURN! (on myself...)

But I'm still a girl. I want to look, you know, well. Alive. Pretty even!
Well, I'll stick with alive.

So I did some research into the 5-minute face. I can do a face in 5 minutes, right?
I'm starting with good raw material.
Which is to say, a face.
I have one.
Technically I wake up every day with a 0-minute face.
Hi.
Here it is.
Bones, skin, nose for days...

Hey! Look at that! A 5-minute face with only 5 products!


This is so accessible and clearly laid-out.
You guys, I can totally do this! 
She looks fresh-faced and natural! 
Her eyes, how they sparkle! 
Her cheeks, plump and rosy! 
Her complexion, even and quietly glowing! 
And her hair is STILL in a ponytail! 
5 minutes is all it takes to look like that?! YES! 
New Year's Resolution of 5-minute facing is ON!

So I went for it.
Like a lamb to the MAC counter, I went for it.


You guys.
Hair aside.
This is a 5-minute face.
I did the whole fucking thing.

Fresh-faced and natural? 
More like meth-faced and feral.

Eyes? Sparkling? 
Does glassy count?

My cheeks might be rosy
but they're as leathery and empty
as two old whoopie cushions
that a cabbie sat on
all day
in July
while he ate a burrito.

And my complexion
is the tortilla
wrapped around that cabbie's burrito
doughy
dimpled
bumpy
soft and a little stretchy
charred in places
with rice stuck to it
(not in this picture, but you know, anytime anyone orders rice I'm walking out with a piece on my face somewhere.)

Fun fact, guys.
When your tinted moisturizer says it's "brightening"
what that means is
"Girl I am full of microglitter
and if you put me on
so help me God
I will make you look
like Britney Spears
not 20 years ago
but today
because you know 
that toe-up diva is still slathering on the glitter like it's 1992."

My chapstick is like
Katie
you know
I love you
but
your lips
if I'm being honest
kind of feel like a stale croissant
so...

My mascara is like 
yo
what am I, a fucking wizard?
Girl, no mascara on Earth is going to make you
alluring
or Asian
not on 5 hours of sleep a night girl
plus
I only do eyelashes
and eyelashes
are not what is bringing your shit down

My moisturizer is like
ohmygosh you actually thought you'd look pretty
that's so sweet
bless your heart
(my moisturizer is kind of a snotty bitch)

TRUTH BOMB:

I look how I feel
which is not
gorgeously ethnic
almond-eyed
cafe-au-lait skinned
well-rested
hydrated
sipping on a coconut water
wearing sunscreen and clothes
that I selected
because I wanted to wear them.
Yeah.
None of that.
At all.

I look how I feel
which is
like I spent the morning
pushing a swing
and hearing Chicken crow
"I'm in the sky!"

Like I spent last night
sitting awake
shushing
and singing
and saying
you're safe baby
you can sleep now
I'm here

Like there is more to a day
than 5 minutes.
Like my face
is the least beautiful thing
in all of my days.
Thank God.

The good news is
now that I've seen that my 5-minute face
looks like 
an only slightly less cadaverous version 
of my 0-minute face
I'mma save that 1,825 minutes this year
and use that extra 30 hours
to sleep
and possibly drink some coconut water
or at least
eat a Mounds bar.