hi mom
I don't know if you remember me
from the birth
and every minute since that birth
but
I'm your baby
hey
what's up
so
I wanted to say a few things
while I have your attention

first just let me start by saying
your uterus?
four stars, mom
four fucking stars
that amniotic fluid?
perfect temp
and the flavor?
one word
umami

I dream about that umbilical cord
not too thick
not too thin
just right
it's the little things
that make or break the experience
and it's clear from my time
in you
that you get that
so
I'm already pretty psyched to be,
you know,
of you

so great
hi
here we are
nice to meet you
in person finally
right?

mom
that's so weird to call you that
mom

anyway
mom
I don't really know
because
I'm a fucking baby
but I'm guessing that this shit
is a mindfuck for you
too

I mean
look at me
I've spent my whole life up to
right now
in the pitch dark
upside down
in a jacuzzi
not breathing
not eating
occasionally grabbing
what they tell me is a "foot"
occasionally landing a "thumb"
in my
what do they call it?
oh
"eye"

so this world out here
with light
and loud
and breezes on my skin
dude
I
am
trippin

and sure
"out here" has been your home
for your whole life
but
you've never been a home
until now
and that
could really scare the shit out of somebody

I mean
think about it
yesterday you were just a lady
a hungry
bulbous
waddling
sweaty
lady
and today
you're
my table
my bed
my home
my entire planet
I guess

so
that's pretty fucked up
for you

I'm just taking a second to be in your shoes
you know
like
how do you even know what you're doing right now
how do you even know
if you should give me a bath
and how to make that shit happen?
am I even dirty?
do I even need a bath?
I mean
my skin could get super dry
if I take too many baths
but you see all those pics on facebook
of like
babies in the bath
so
should you do that?
or not?
how do you even know?

and the milk situation
mom
seriously
hard for me?
a fucking shit show for you
because all I have to do is like
open my mouth
and kind of
lunge
tongue-first
aim for the pink bit
and start gulping

but for you
you have to hold my body
and your boob
(which
by the way
smells awesome)
and you have to time it just right
and don't be scared that I might be hungry
and don't feel guilty if I don't latch right
and don't get frustrated at me
for fucking up my end
or booting all over you
and you have to somehow
know

in your cavewoman brain
if this is hard because it's new
or hard because it's wrong
and how are you supposed to know that?

mom
be honest with me here
please
just give it to me straight

is this how life is?
do people expect you
to just master
new
high-stakes
painful
scary shit
that you've never done before?

because if that's the case
please let me
back in
you
because I can't do fucking anything yet
seriously
I can't locate my hands
with my hands
much less acquire the ability
to feed a body
from my body
using all my limbs
at the same time
while remaining calm
and "enjoying every minute"

I think that's bullshit
I think it's ok
if this takes some time
I think it's fine
if we both
fuck each other up
a little

I think that's what
(I'm told)
love is:
two people
fucking each other up
bumping against each other
until they find a way
to carve out a space
a just-right place
the way
only they
fit together

and that shit takes time

mom
we've got time
and we've got this going for us:
you
are perfect
for me

you are exactly
who I need

there's a reason you grew me
and a reason I'm yours

no bullshit
mom
you
just you
as you are
right now
are everything I need
to be safe
healthy
and happy

and if you're scared
me too
let's go home
and close the door
against the light
the loud
the breezes on our skin
and work this shit out
together

starting
I think
with a snack
Actual text conversation with a friend who just became a dad:

Me: Do you need a dinner tonight?
Him: We've got some frozen stuff, so we're good.
Me: Great! Let us know if you have any questions, but I know you've got this.
Him: Question 1: What the fuck just happened?

Best. Question. Ever.

And a lot harder to answer than, "how tight to the car seat straps need to be" or "how often should we be feeding this critter?"

This is a recurring theme on this blog and any other parenting blog that keeps it real.

What. The fuck. Just happened.

The night Chicken was born, Ryan went home so he would not have to sleep on the damnable hospital cots that feel and smell like repurposed Greyhound bus seats. At 2 am, Chicken woke up and cried. I lay in the hospital bed and waited, listening to his new voice. The room glowed softly, dark but illuminated by the electronic greens and blues of powered-up medical machines. I walked to him where he lay in the wheeled bassinet, and looked down at his mushy little face. I thought, "this is the first time I'll ever do this. This is the first time I wake up in the middle of the night to be a mother."

What the fuck just happened?

We went home when Chicken was a week old. I couldn't stop worrying. What if I got the flu? What if the baby choked? How was I going to go to the grocery store? For the first time in my life, I did not believe that I had the wherewithal to take care of my shit. For the first time in my life, I did not believe I had a backbone, or a brain, or two strong arms, or even a beating heart. I lay like a quivering heap of jell-o - heavy, sentient, messily unpacked.

What the fuck just happened?

Circumcision. Nobody told me that foreskin looks like calamari.

WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED. 

He looked at me and smiled. Not the vague, sleepy smiles of random neurons firing. He lay on a towel on the bed, warm, damp, all lotioned up. He looked up at me, my face, and smiled. I smiled back. He laughed. I laughed back. He grabbed his face in sheer delight and kicked into the air.

What the fuck just happened?

The first time he rolled. The first time he pulled his knees under his body without any instruction. The first time he slapped that palm down on the ground and heaved himself forward in a clumsy drunken crawl.

What the fuck just happened?

The first projectile vomit. The first green poop. The first nub of tooth, white and sharp as a shark's, clamping down on my finger.

What the fuck just happened?

The first time a 10-month-old Chicken hit a baby, a full-on bitch-slap across her little 5-month-old face in the middle of music class with everyone watching. He slapped the bow off her head you guys. Slapped it OFF.

What the fuck just happened?

The first time he signed "please."
The first time he woke up every hour on the hour.
The first time he slept 12 hours straight.
The first time I actually saw a poop emerge from that little butt hole.

What the fuck just happened?

I still ask myself that shit all the fucking time. TODAY, I have asked myself what the fuck was happening the following times:

I found a thumb-sized plastic carrot that I have not seen in a year and a half, inside the printer.

Today when we walked down the hall to his classroom, Chicken paused to spin a globe. I asked him, "is that a ball?" He responded, "Mommy, it's the earth."

I told Chicken it was time to get in the car. He stood up, put his truck back on the shelf, said, "bye bye truck," and walked to the door.

This morning Buster pulled himself up to stand against a table. He let go with one hand and took a first creaky, erratic step away from safety.

What the fuck just happened?

I imagine my parents asked themselves that question on the day my son was born. What the fuck just happened? they thought as they looked down at my gooey little squid baby. We just became fucking grandparents, that's what.

It's the magnificent gift and the unwavering test of children, that nothing is ever acquired, not even the things we think of as central to our humanity. I'm talking about sleep here. Having teeth. Saying please. Pooping. Liking pineapple. Disliking salmon.

Imagine a child's brain as a giant trampoline, and all of the quirks and passions and skills and qualities of the child are balls on that trampoline. Now imagine bouncing on that trampoline. Their shit is all over the place. I mean it is the definition of IN FLUX.

So today, when my friend asked me what the fuck had just happened, I was torn. On the one hand, I wanted to say "I know. Me too. All the time. It's okay."

On the other hand, I kind of wanted to pull a John McClane. You know, in the first movie, when he's trying to get Sgt. Powell's attention, and he drops the body of one of the terrorists on the police car? Powell loses his shit, all "AAAAH GODDAMN IT JESUS H CHRIST" and starts driving in mad screeching circles. And McClane just calls out the window, "welcome to the party, pal."


Yeah. Like that.

Overheard over the PA in Walgreens:

"Customer assistance needed in the shaved meats department. Customer assistance, shaved meats."
These are all things I've said to Chicken over the last week. Your task? Fill in the blank with the actual thing I said.  

Godspeed.

1. No, baby, _____ doesn't go up Buster's butt. Put it in your mouth please.

A) string cheese
B) your toothbrush 
C) your binky

2. _____ is NOT for smearing food on.

A) Mommy's hair
B) the MacBook 
C) the refrigerator door

3. Bravo, Chicken. Excellent choice of _____. NO! DO NOT THROW IT.

A) knife
B) rock
C) pudding

4. The first step is to _____ is to make sure you have enough room. You want to make sure you can really stretch out.

A) swinging a bat
B) somersaulting
C) pooping

5. I guess you can taste my _____... if you really want to.

A) coffe
B) wine
C) skin
Overheard at the lunch table:

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I see a dead bird looking at me.
(slurp)
Mmmmmm... delicious.

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I see a duck.
(slurp)
Mmmmmm... delicious.

Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I see a...
a...
a...
another dead bird!
(slurp)
Mmmmmm... hey green frog! Want some dead bird?
(slurp)
Mmmmmm... delicious.

Hey purple cat... no, no, no, I just wanna talk for a second...


MAYDAY MAYDAY

This is Mother Goose
It's 9:30 in the morning
I have two
repeat
TWO
babies with head colds

We have heavy
Say again
HEAVY 
GREEN 
SNOT 
FLOW

Heavy
hostile
resistance
to Kleenex

Eeerrruuuummm Mother Goose
can you utilize the snot sucker

THAT IS A NEGATIVE
Negative on the snot sucker
Are you even listening to me
They're bucking Kleenex
like a couple of coked-up spider monkeys with snot-sucker phobias
So no
that's a strong
super strong 
negative on the snot sucker

Backup requested immediately

It is 9:30 in the morning
We have exhausted all of our resources

YES we did trains
YES we did trains through a tunnel
YES we did animals riding trains
YES we did animals fighting with trains
YES we did animals making up with trains
YES we did "Not Without My Octopus: A Lifetime Original Movie: The Tragedy of Choo Choo at the Zoo."



YES
WE HAVE DONE EVERYTHING
YES
and just to confirm
it is 9:30 in the morning

Request permission...
request permission...
Oh God
the screaming
Come in
Are you there
Come in

The babies
They're
so strong
so whiny
they're rolling around on the floor
HOLY SHIT
STAND BY STAND BY STAND BY

static
static
static
static 
static

Mother Goose
Come in Mother Goose
(I'm not getting anything)
(Oh God)

static
static
static
static
static

OK
I'm back
the big one just pushed the little one
for touching his trains
he...
he hit his head
I thought something was broken
but 
he's fine
he's good
he's chewing on a spoon
Where was I

Request permission
to initiate Daniel Tiger protocol
for the rest of the day

Errrrrrruuummmmmm
That's a green light on Daniel Tiger, Mother Goose
Happy Hunting



Affirmative
Daniel Tiger protocol initiated
Mother Goose over and out
I fucking hate Mythical Mommy. She only exists to make me feel like a piece of shit.

Let me back it up a little bit so you know where this is coming from.

A few weeks ago we discovered a substantial black mold growth on the wall behind a built-in shelf in our closet. So now we're looking for a new place to rent.

Buy. 

Rent.

No, buy. 

Wait... maybe rent?

Rent.

Okay, so, yes, we're finding a new place to rent.

Wait.

Let me back it up a little bit more.

Ryan and I are camping in the living room while Buster learns how to sleep. Chicken has a room. Buster has a room. I have a couch. Ryan has a sleeping bag on the floor with two decent foam pads. Buster has been sleeping pretty reliably from 7 until 5 or so, so we're thinking it might be time to move him into Chicken's room.

Wait, but we're about to move. 

So should we move him in now or wait until we're in the new house? Wait, right?

And when we're there do we leave the crib in our room too, for naps? Right? Yes?

But Buster still wakes up so fucking early and Chicken hasn't been napping... if we do this too soon our world will implode.

I was standing in my bedroom - sorry, I meant the room where Buster sleeps in a mini-crib in the corner next to an empty queen-sized mattress - and I just couldn't stop having this conversation in my head. How do I get the kids in a room together? Is Buster ready? Is Chicken going to be okay with this? Is it too much change to move them into the same room in a new house, or will it be like oh hey there's my brother I find this comforting now?

I tried to calm myself. There's no way you can be wrong about this. Whatever move you make, you'll learn something. It's not a final decision. You can always bring it back and try again later.

I was unable to calm myself. If I am wrong the Mythical Mommy inside my head will never let me live it down. 

So hi. Here we are. Back at the beginning of the post.

I fucking hate Mythical Mommy, for so many reasons, but the big one is this: Mythical Mommy is never wrong. She's the most enraging fictional character that the worst people you know believe is real. She's the "great mom," the one who always knows everything, the psychic seer of truths, wise and brilliant and humble and lord knows she's never hungry enough to order a whole dessert by herself but that is another kettle of fish.

"Everyone said to just let her cry but I KNEW THAT SHE HAD A POOPY DIAPER."
No you didn't.

"I had this feeling that it was the right time to wean."
No, you didn't.

"I knew that if she bought the big carton of blueberries that he would eat them all and have a poopy blowout in the car but she didn't listen to me and the next day she called me and guess what someone has to wash her car seat cover again. Well, I knew that would happen."
No. No you didn't. You make me want to start biting again.

What drives me crazy is that I know Mythical Mommy is just another Nessy, another Bigfoot rustling in the bushes, another fucking Area 51, a fantasy constructed of wishful thinking and too much sugar. But I still think of her as... I don't know... someone I should be.

Today when I stood in my bedroom - sorry, I meant the room Buster shares with my dresser - I dreaded, DREADED having to engineer Buster's move into Chicken's room. Because I'll do something wrong and make it harder than it has to be, and if only Mythical Mommy had been at the helm it would have gone perfectly.

I hate this lie of motherhood, that insane expectation that as a mother you are going know how shit is going to go down. People will ask me, "so, is Chicken going to like this curried goat?" And I'm like, "fuck if I know, give it a shot."

I don't know the future any more than anyone else does. But now that I'm a mom who can't see the future, I feel like the dumbest kid in the class.

Nobody knows your baby as well as you do.

Really? Shit. My baby is a fucking mystery to me. What's that face? Is that pooping? Teething? Are you about to yawn or cry or laugh? What is about to happen?\

You'll just know if something's wrong. You'll feel it.

Great. I feel it. Wait. Or did I just watch too much local news today. WAIT. NOW I feel it. But I don't know if I feel it-feel it or if I'm just feeling it because everyone else is saying that they've felt it and I can't be inn the Mythical Mommy club until I have a story about how I saved my baby from a feral hamster with my unexplainable ghost hunter intuition.

Future-knowing is the exclusive purview of mothers, the Long Island medium, and cheesy Wall Streeters, and we're all of us equally accurate.

Some days Chicken takes a nap and some days he doesn't and I have no fucking idea which one it's going to be tomorrow. And it's not because I don't pay attention - it's just that if you share your world with other human beings, you will live to sample an infinite number of permutations for how you day is going to go.

And anyway, what would be the reward, really, for knowing the future? If I woke up tomorrow as Mythical Mommy, able to see the clearest way through all of the obstacles I'll ever face for the rest of my life, what would I get for that? I'd get a fucking A that I cheated for, that's what.

I'm not opposed to taking the low road when my feet hurt, but there's something to be said for sweating over your life.

(drops mic)

(it's Mardi Gras)

(I may have written this post after several adult beverages)

(This is going to be really embarrassing when I read it tomorrow)

(Sorry 12 readers)
(Мне очень жаль, парень в России)
Well... The baby's not constipated...
We moved to Seattle with two cats that we'd adopted from a feral cat rescue when they were wee kittens.

FIRST OF ALL you should all know, because I didn't, that when an airline lets you bring the cat onto the plane as your carry-on, and you must first pass through security, you have to TAKE THE CAT OUT OF THE CARRIER and hold it, IN YOUR ARMS, as you walk through the X-ray machine. And then. THEN! You have to wrestle the panicked, borderline-psychotic cat back into the carrier in the middle of the fucking airport. What the holy shit. I was in LaGuardia having a no-holds-barred bitch-off with the TSA agent.

Me: I'm sorry, you mean I have to open the carrier and take the cat out.
Her: Yes.
Me: Seriously? That's, like, a policy. I have to carry a cat. In my arms.
Her: (silence)
Me: Through a crowded, loud, busy, scary airport.
Her: (silence)
Me: And then I have to put him back in. When he's already freaked out. GREAT. That's exactly what I wanted to do this morning at 5:18 am. Wow. I mean, honestly, wow. Do you think that's the best way to handle this situation? It's seriously dangerous, and like, inhumane. Who came up with this idea? Obviously not a pet owner. Or anyone who's ever spent any time at all around any cat. Honestly? Seriously? Are you serious right now?
Her: (silence)
Me: (unzips carrier)

She had tattooed eyebrows and wielded silence with the cool detachment of a sociopath.

But anyway.

We moved here with our two cats and stayed with Ryan's parents (and their four cats) until we found a place. 6 cats and one house is a recipe for 6 pissed off cats. And when cats get pissed...

I will never forget the night we all sat down to dinner at Ryan's parents' table, and Nero jumped up on the counter right next to us, met my eyes, and held my gaze with that sociopathic chill even as he peed all over the microwave.

Those months put the cat p in catastrophe.
(Shhh.)
(I know.)
(You don't have to say anything.)
(It just happened.)
(It was so organic.)

When we moved out and got our own place, the cats never furinated again.
(YES. FURY + URINATED = FURINATED.)

That is, until this past year.

Chicken had arrived in 2012 and they ran for cover but, thanks to ignorance and arrogance, remained in a state of cowering indignation. They didn't really believe he was, like, a thing. I mean 2 years in they were still popping their heads into his room and then looking up at us like Wow. Still? This guy cannot take a hint, huh?

Then Buster was born and the furry urine fury returned with a bang. Or perhaps a hiss. They peed on his play mat. They peed on our bed. They were trying to tell us, in the most literal way possible, that they were pissed.

I mean, I get it. They already have Chicken thundering around the house. No cat wants to be woken up from his crucial eighth nap of the day with the words, "CAN I RIDE IT MOMMY?" They'd already set up 24-hour crisis napping HQ in the safe haven of the basement.

So when another one came home, squalling and floppy, this time they knew exactly what was in store, and if it was more of what they'd already been served they were sending that shit back posthaste.

And honestly, you guys, we were right there with them.

The first days of a new baby are always tough, as you try to gather the scraps of your old life and rearrange them like some new age tile puzzle into a quilted-back-together existence. We waited it out to see if they would settle down. They didn't. They got worse. We established a three-strikes rule, just to set a deadline in our own heads. That very day we found 2 pee spots in the house.

They were still living almost exclusively in the basement, only coming upstairs when it was time to eat or after the kids were asleep, but at that point in our night we had given exactly 100% of what we had to give. We couldn't even summon the give-a-fuckitude to hold each other's hands, much less throw a mouse toy for a creature we weren't genetically bound to protect.

So I wrote a craigslist post offering them up to a loving home. I thought yeah, right, I'll have to re-publish this one fifteen times before anyone even emails me, and then it'll probably be the scary bearded lady in a motorized scooter who hangs out at the Safeway to ask shoppers to pay her cable bill. Next day I got an effusive and polite email written in complete sentences, with correct spelling and grammar, from a semi-retired teacher looking for a couple of adult feline companions. When I say it like that it sounds questionable but I swear, it was on the up and up.

We met her, and she took our cats home.

I felt guilty, but mostly just guilty about how relieved I was. Ryan felt guilty because we'd made these animals a promise to care for them for their entire lives, and he felt that he had broken that promise.

The way I saw it, we were breaking that promise by keeping them in a situation that was making them pissy and cranky, relegating them to the humanless basement when they'd always been devout lap cats. This way they got to have the home they deserved - a loving new guardian who cared for them with joy, rather than irritation or grim determination to meet the bare minimum of maintaining their pulses.

I don't regret what we did. Our boys were, at best, years away from making any kind of reasonable connection with the cats. I'm glad that we decided not to suffer through, all of us, when there was a way for all of us to be happy instead.

I think a lot about Joni Mitchell's line, "there's something lost and something gained in living every day." We lost the guilt that plagued us every time we yelled at a cat for meowing, or decided to just close the basement door rather than try to go down and play with them. We gained new guilt, of course - we sent them away. They must be so scared. They must be confused.

For the record, yeahnope. Send a cat to live with a trim fifty-something cat lover, and give him full reign in her sprawling child-free home, and he's not gonna be scared. They settled right the fuck in, thank you very much. Honestly, I am super jealous of them a lot of the time. Like tonight.

Tonight I had to assume a secret identity to make sure that Chicken ate dinner WHICH WAS DELICIOUS AND NOT EVEN HEALTHY. I had to do multiple voices to get him to sit and eat hot dogs and oven fries. I would so much rather be dozing on a sun-bathed windowsill.
I am not even kidding, my 8-month-old is way up there on my shit list today.

Buster.

Buster.

Come on, man.

Help me out. Please.

I know you are pulling up and you're super excited about it. I am too. Really. I'm giddy as a schoolgirl at the county fair. Or a Taylor Swift fan at Claire's. Except, maybe not so much on the TV stand please? Or on the back of that chair that always tips over on your face, literally every single time you try to pull up on it. It has never, not once, NOT tipped over on your face.

I know you're focused on this one thing right now.

But can you please do something else?

Just for like a minute?

I have like a huge list of shit you can do other than pull up, fall down, hurt yourself, and scream.

Like, literally everything else in the world is on that list.

Pick your nose and eat it.
Hit your brother.
Start a fire using tin foil and lead paint.
Rob a bodega.
Pour maple syrup in your hair.
Genocide.
Genocide is on that list.
(Genocide is not on the list. Don't even think about it, extremely young man.)

This is the reason I haven't been blogging as much. Or doing anything else except follow you around, pry open your fingers from around the lip of a drawer, and carry you back to the soft, padded ottoman that is exactly the right height for pulling up on and was in fact purchased for this exact purpose. But NO. It doesn't matter what I put on that ottoman to entice you - your brother's favorite dump truck, crunchy butterflies, a Fisher Price cell phone. You're like Fisher who bitch? Gimme them draws. You don't even straighten your legs when I lean you up against the faux-leather cube. You just sink back to the ground and rolls yourself over to hands and knees, and you make a fucking beeline for those drawers on which you have pinched your fingers 47 times in the last 8 minutes.

The second I sit down you crawl up to me and try to pull up on my leg. One of your cooked-noodle legs gives out suddenly (and yet, not suddenly, because this is every fucking time) and you smack some portion of your face or skull on the chair leg.

Pull
Fall
Smack
Scream

I move you back to safety and frantically wave toys in front of your face. I engage in the scariest fucking over-caffeinated screaming peekaboo anyone has ever attempted in written history.


Yeah, like that. Except faster, 4 octaves higher, and with more teeth.

Buster, I know you're just working on your shit. I know that the more you pull up, the sooner we will emerge from this hellish hellscape standing upright as God made us on the fourth day, or whenever. (Because you can't spell evolution without "EVIL." Try it. You can't.)


I will be so in love with this quality of yours when you are able to safely move your body through space without floundering and bouncing off of blunt objects, like a dinged-up air noodle man who bears a striking resemblance to Shawn Wallace.

When you're 12 and stay late at practice because you want to make the team, I will love your tenacity.

When you're 25 and you meet the person you want to marry, I will love your balls-out pursuit. (Except, balls-in please, son. With dignity.)

When you're 30 and your 8-month-old is driving you fucking crazy, I will laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and go to sleep knowing that you will never give up on teaching that baby all he needs to know about how to stand on his own two feet.

Tenacious B, even when you are 2.5 like Chicken is right now, and you throw down with the biggest tantrum of all time because I tell you that you have to stop doing your puzzle and come to dinner, there will still be a small part of me that loves, loves, loves your focus, your butt-crazy toddler tunnel vision.

But right now. Dude.

PLEASE STOP HURTING YOURSELF.

Me: Chicken should be fine for the next hour. I'm just going to run to the store to pick up a clove of garlic.

Ry: I don't know why you just said that out loud.

Me: Hey, you're the one who told me that there's no such thing as a jinx.

Ry: True.

Me: Besides, if Chicken starts to kick up a fuss, we can always just settle him down with--

Ry: -- a mallet.

Me: THE IPAD.

Ry: Oh.

Me: ...

Ry: Not an iron one. I'm not a monster.
1. Don't panic. The laws of physics clearly state that Fucking Tuesday can last no more than 24 hours at a time. You can do anything for 24 hours. Plus it's already 5 am so it's really only 19 hours. 19 hours! Psh. You got this.

2.  Get dressed and put your hair up before any small humans are awake. Make time to drink coffee and eat something this morning.

3. BUT NOT TOO MUCH COFFEE. The last time you had too much coffee on too little sleep you spent the whole day with 9-1 pre-dialed into your phone, waiting to have a heart attack. You were like, "I think there is about to be an earthquake or a terror attack or maybe I just drank too much coffee I should eat some cheese, that'll help, that's a thing, isn't it?" Seems like it should be, but no. It's not.

4. Oh shit, the small humans are awake and you're still in your pjs. Don't you wish sometimes that you could just sleep in the next day's clothes? I suppose you could, but at what cost? At what cost, I ask?

5. Don't panic. The laws of physics clearly state that Fucking Tuesday can, at this point, only last 18 hours longer. 18 hours! The Lord of the Rings Director's Cut Trilogy is* longer than that!

* is = feels

6. Try to keep it light this morning. It is never harder to be the tone-setter than on a morning that began too early. Smiling and singing is an uphill battle when you woke up in the dark. I know. I also know that whenever I wake up Chicken with storm clouds on my face, the kid goes to a very, very dark place. I wish he were old enough to be able to say, "oh, Mommy's tired  and grumpy today. I should be quiet and sweet and do everything she asks of me without trying to run away or kick her." But he's not. He's just old enough to be able to say, "oh, Mommy's tired and grumpy today. It must be Tired and Grumpy Day!" And for that, I have no one to thank but myself. So. Put on some music that you like and try to get a little happy.

7. Be gentle with yourself. You slept like shit and the day's barely begun and despite a solid string of thumbs-up jams on your Booty Sweat station on Pandora, the toddler can smell your desperation. You're on the edge. The last thing you need is to leave your own team. The thing about Tuesday is that it can only last so long, but it makes you believe it is going to last forever. This isn't the Twilight Zone. It's Tuesday. Don't panic. It's okay to take a shortcut. It's okay to buy lunch at the drive-thru today or sit with the baby and watch How I Met Your Mother. Be your own friend. You wouldn't kick your friend for letting the kid watch some Dora on a day she felt like shit. You wouldn't call your friend lazy for grabbing a burger because salt tastes fucking amazing today. Just be your own friend a little.

8. Triage your shit.

Not optional tasks, in my opinion, include:

drinking coffee, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, diaper changes as needed, dressing self and children appropriately for weather, packing toddler's lunch, taking toddler to school, picking toddler up from school, putting kids down for naps as needed, feeding baby as needed, keeping all souls alive in home until reinforcements arrive. That's a lot of work, just that, just the must-do stuff.

Optional tasks, again in my opinion, include:

home art projects, home-cooked meals, cleaning out the basement, (why? Why does that seem like a good idea today?) showering, tidying up, laundry, dishes, blogging, scheduling dentist appointments for self and toddler.

Laundry isn't a 9-1-1 until laundry is a 9-1-1. Even then, Target sells cheap socks you guys. I know it sounds silly to buy more socks instead of washing perfectly good ones, but in case you didn't get the memo, it's Fucking Tuesday.

9. When one of the children needs to go to the doctor today for a mystery rash, sudden high fever, inverted toenail, or possible concussion (and that's probably going to happen. Thanks, Fucking Tuesday) accept that this one is bigger than you and be thankful that you have access to good medical care. Kids get sick and sometimes their toenails invert. Plus I think there's a drive-thru on the way home. Who wants a frosty?

10. Reach out and touch somebody. I'll be that somebody. All you have to do is text me, comment below, or Facebook me and say Fucking Tuesday. Or Fracking, Flipping, Fudging, if you're like me and prefer not to drop f-bomb on the F-book. Is it Fucking Tuesday for you today? I hope not. But if it is, that's why you've got me, sister. Or whoever.

11. From a purely practical standpoint, here are a few more tips for getting through your Fucking Tuesday:

- Try, just try, not to multitask too much. One thing at a time is enough.

- Take a lot of selfies of yourself making angry/pouty/constipated faces. Text them around. Or, you know, don't.

- For the love of God don't buy jeans or swimsuits.

- Don't be scared of changing your mind today. If you made the kid waffles and he really wanted cereal and he's square-mouthing at the breakfast table, how about you consider those waffles your first snack of the day and make it rain Cheerios?

- Let people in even when they drive all the way up to the "right lane closed ahead" sign before putting on their signal. They are ass holes. If you treat them like ass holes, it might give you a rush of self-righteousness, but then you might be kind of an ass hole too. And you'll feel like one. Or I do. So, with a smile (fake it till ya make it) and resisting the temptation to throw down any passive-aggressive eye rolling or sigh-heaving, I let them in. I mean, I let ONE of them in. I'm not a fucking pansy.

- Your kid loves you and wants you to be happy, not because he worries about your self-actualization but because when you're happy, he's happy. You don't have to, like, fake happiness, because that shit is both transparent and gruesome. But you might try to do some things with your kid that do actually make you happy. It's pretty ridiculous how easily my happiness can be bought by a couple of stories on the couch, or a rousing game of "tow trucks saying hi to each other."

12. Before you know it it will all be over. Fucking Tuesday, you threw down hard today. Respect. But we played our game and stuck together, we stayed on the same team and we focused on what we could control, and this time we came out on top. See you next week, you bastard.

This is just a post about baby toys. If that's not your thing, I'll see you tomorrow.

Baby toys seem to fall into one or more of several categories. 

Baby toys can be:

a) handmade by fifth-generation artisans, crafted of sustainable oak in Denmark, photographed in chic modern flats, and sold to you for the cost of a Vespa.
b) mass-produced in China, photographed in the Sears portrait studio, and sold to you for the bargain cost of 40% off the retail price, all the time.
c) guaranteed to make your baby smarter.
d) guaranteed to make your baby hit milestones faster.
e) suspiciously absent of any guarantees whatsoever.
f) homemade and a little ghetto.

I like a little of column a, a lot of column f, and a little more of columns b thru e. As with anything in life, balance is key in the world of baby toys.

Let me tell you, I have a lot of friends with way better taste than I, and maybe they started with those posh neutral toys, but everybody eventually bows down to Fisher Price. 

It's just that those heinously primary-colored toys are so damned appealing to babies! You surround him with hand-crafted environmentally responsible to-scale models of schooners and railway cars, and he will find the one fucking giggling Elmo ball that you hated your cousin for buying you. But cousin Francy is wise. So wise. That Elmo ball will buy you a shit AND a shower. Plus, when you're tied up in the bathroom, you can tell that the baby is still safely posted up, just by listening for the insane chuckles that the Elmo ball makes every time baby smacks it in the face.

Anywho, here's a few of our tried-and-true baby toys, both Chicken and Buster-approved.




$14.16 on Amazon
Starting as soon as baby wants to reach for shit.

Buster and Chicken both chewed the shit out of these stacking cups. Just tonight in the bath Buster gnawed on the blue cup and Chicken used the yellow cap piece to scoop water into his "rain bowl" (the inside of a salad spinner. We are super cheap with bath toys.) They are perfectly contoured to chubby baby hands. Also dishwasher safe, and made in 'Merica out of recycled milk jugs. 




$19.70 on Amazon
Starting as soon as baby wants to reach for shit.

Sorry guys. I know non-parents are always like "what's the deal with the fucking giraffe? Why is it so special?" Well obviously it's because she's French and babies are all born French until we bastardize them with our chicken tenders and constant snacking. 

Actually, I think it's for a few simple reasons:

In one form she sports a multitude of chewing options. You can hold her legs and chew her head or butt. You can hold her head and chew her legs. You can hold her head and legs and chew her butt. There's really no wrong way to make that giraffe squeal.

And speaking of the squeal, babies love that shit. At least mine did. I know everybody has one, but you wanted to know what the deal was with the fucking giraffe and that's what the deal is with the fucking giraffe.



$30+ on Amazon
Starting as soon as baby exists

This is one toy that packs a big bang for your buck, especially for those first few months. Want to cook, eat, poop, shower, read, watch TV, just be the sole occupant in your personal bubble for a minute or two? Bouncy chair. They have all kinds of bells and whistles, vibrating mechanisms, toy arches that dangle excited monkeys or sleepy elephants in front of baby's face, flashing lights, lullabies, the whole nine yards. 

I know, again, not a shocker that a bouncy chair would appear on a toy list for babies, but I feel like I'm hearing a lot of soon-to-be moms eschew the bouncy chair since babies outgrow it so quickly, and the world has provided a safe place for baby to hang in the event of a pooping emergency (it's called "the floor.") True. All good points. But please allow me to retort.

- Babies hate hate hate being flat on their backs. I mean, not all babies maybe, but every baby I know really did not care for that shit. It triggers their startle reflex and freaks them the fuck out. You know those nights when you're falling asleep and you suddenly feel like you're falling through the void? And you jerk your arms up to protect yourself, but then you realize you were just falling asleep, and you wait for your heart to stop pounding so hard, and you tell yourself that you're so silly? It's that. Except you're a baby so instead of being like, "oh, man, that was weird. Good thing my body is safe on this hard surface," you're like, "I FEEL LIKE I AM FALLING THEREFORE I AM FALLING HOLY SHIT I JUST GOT HERE AND NOW I AM PLUMMETING TO MY--" until mommy picks you up again and then you're like, "oh hey. I'm hungry." So big people might not see the difference between putting a baby on the ground and a baby in a hammock at an angle, but the little ones, they see it.

- Sure babies grow fast, but your baby won't grow out of that chair (and by that we mean "roll out of that chair") for at least a few months. If you buy a $40 chair and the baby uses it for 3 months, that's 120 days. That's 33 cents a day. Not too high a price to pay for a little bit of freedom.



$13.71 on Amazon
Starting as soon as you bring baby home and you're like what have we done

When baby comes home from the hospital, survival is the name of the game. Figuring out the logistics of this new world is a full-time job, so it's a good thing that little babies sleep all the fucking time, at least until you get your feet underneath you. The baby is only awake long enough to eat, burp, shit, and start yawning again. 

But at some point, after you're good with breastfeeding or baby's figured out the bottle, after you've become a swaddle ninja and been pissed on at least once, after all that, a few weeks in, or months, the baby will want to actually be awake for a little bit of time during the day. And that's when you have to start playing with it.

But how? 

That's where this book comes in. It's legit awesome. It's divided up by trimesters of the baby's first year of life - 0-3 months and so on. And within those chapters, the book tells you a little bit about what the baby is capable of, developmentally, and the best way to engage with the baby at that age. Early on it's all "stroke the baby with soft blankets and sing lullabies," and then it graduates up to lap rides, flashlights, noisemakers, and other pulse-pounding baby hi-jinx. I just loved it because I didn't have to, like, come up with something to do when Chicken was awake and wanting to play. I went to the book, opened it up, and BOOM, it's "Itsy Bitsy Spider" time y'all.


$10.99 on Amazon
Starting, I don't know, I'm not a doctor, 6 months? The bag says ages 1-5, but Chicken got his first set as a gift when he was 6 months old and he has loved them ever since.

Bright, colorful, great for teething babies because they have those baby mouth-sized plastic nubs, and your kid's appreciation for Mega Bloks will grow as he or she gets older. First they're teethers, then they're things you can bang together, then they're things you can put in a metal bowl and shake around and make a tremendous racket, then they're things you can throw, and then, like five years later, the kids are like oh shit, I can build with these! Anyway, I'm a sucker for a toy with staying power. Which is why I hate buying puzzles... I wish there were a toddler puzzle library. With free babysitting. Next to a wine bar. Am I reaching for the stars here?


Here are a few that just speak for themselves. Not every baby toy needs a novel extolling its virtues. OK, novella.





















There are tons more options, of course, and every kid is a riddle wrapped in Huggies, but these are a good place to start. 

Stand by for a Top Homemade Toys post... the pictures will be craigslist-quality. That's a promise.


Ten things I was never afraid of before I had kids:

1. Normal, cheap milk.

The thought of routinely buying non-organic milk brings on a physical anxiety response. I get knots in my stomach, thinking about pouring a cup of cold, creamy hormones for my children. I have no defense for my first-worldliness. I have been brainwashed by the organic food lobby.

2. Nuts.

NUMBER ONE CHOKING HAZARD ON A LIST I FOUND ON BABY CENTER.

3. Grapes.

NUMBER ONE CHOKING HAZARD ON A LIST I JUST MADE UP.

4. Honey.

Not the botulism! For the love of God, don't give the baby honey unless you want him to lose the ability to hold up his own head! Until day 366 of baby's life, then it's totally safe.

5. Residential streets.

"Nobody thinks they need to look both ways before chasing a soccer ball out onto a quiet cul-de-sac..." is how so many local news stories begin.

6. Bedsheets.

Not just a smooth, light covering for dozing with the baby. Also a smothering and strangulation hazard, conveniently located on your sleeping body. Sweet dreams.

7. The tensile strength of a seat belt.

I'm not scared of it snapping. I'm scared of not being able to get it off when the car goes off a bridge. WHEN the car goes off a bridge. Somewhere, a clock is counting down.

8. The clock.

If it's naptime and I'm still not home, I feel like that doomed teenaged cheerleader rabbiting through the woods toward the safety of a cabin, the chainsaw-wielding psycho lumbering behind me, just a step behind me, getting closer, and closer... except I have to bring my screaming little psychos into the cabin with me, and then give them hugs and let them suck on my boobs until they lose the urge to destroy me. For now.

9. Ferry boats.

Do I need to even list the number of ways my children could perish on a ferry boat? At least they'd be, like, super psyched about it. Boat + cars + water = Toddlers can die happy.

10. Tuition.

It's like the reverse Santa Claus of adulthood. You don't believe in it until you're all grown up, and then it's a terrifying monster who is coming to take everything away from you.
Three things that were hard today:

1. Trying to keep Chicken from jumping in the rain puddles at the zoo. Like a fucking amateur I elected to dress him in sneakers (SNEAKERS) after it had rained all morning. I deserved what I got.

2. That crick in my neck. Camping in the living room while Buster learns to sleep? It has its disadvantages. But on the plus side, we don't ever have to change the sheets on our bed. Also on the plus side, I'm so stiff and awkward it's like I'm trying to collect damages after slipping on someone's driveway. So, I'm ready for that payday.

3. Visiting a friend who had just had a baby. She was still in the "I just had a baby" zone, the place of total immediacy where today's problems are the only problems, and today's victories are all that matter. It was hard because it was so familiar, my God, so familiar, it was like it wasn't even a memory yet, like I was still right there, in that place, with her. And that's a hard place to be.



Three things that were easy today:

1. Selecting which variety of bagel to purchase for breakfast tomorrow. (Everything, duh.)

2. Giving in to Chicken's deepest desire to splash in puddles at the zoo while wearing sneakers. Fuck it. That's what two is all about: soggy socks and mud in all your nooks and crannies. Once he twisted away from me and splashed into that first puddle, it was like, well, ya can't put the whiz back in the can, am I right? So yeah, all the parents who walk by are like, "oh that's so fun DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT FELICITY." So yeah, the kid was what ya might call "moist" for a couple hours at the zoo. That's why God gave us all skin and laundry detergent and also why I never go anywhere without spare pants for the whole family.

3. Dinner, actually. I made caprese sandwiches and black bean soup. I bought one of those loaves of bread that you finish in your own oven, so the bread was crisp on the outside and warm and steaming and pillowy on the inside. Sliced a tomato, sliced some mozz, slathered on a bit of pesto on one side and drizzled some balsamic on the other. Suck it, Giada.



Three things that smelled skunky today:

1. The load of laundry that I washed, left damp in the washer for 2 days, put in the dryer like "maybe it will magically be no big deal this time," completely folded, and then sat down next to on the couch before I realized that it smelled. Not like Tide. Like low fucking tide.

2. Those everything bagels. But in the best possible way.

3. Dude, Chicken's breath. That is starting to be a problem. It's like he has always just finished a poop sandwich and washed it down with a pumpkin spice soy latte.



Three things that smelled sweet today:

1. Buster. Buster, Buster, Buster, post bath, post baby massage, in fresh, still-cool pajamas and a sleep suit still warm from the dryer (not from the low-tide load.) He smelled like everything that is good.

2. That bread in the oven, a simple Italian loaf smell blossoming in the warm room.

3. The gym, as soon as we walked in this morning. We've been there 3 times and I already have a biological response to the peculiar, cold metal, just-unpacked smell of this gym. It's like, if an Under Armour commercial had smell-o-vision. GAME ON motherfuckers.



Three things I'd do-over today:

1. I'd go back and put some fucking rain boots on that kid.

2. I'd go back and drink more coffee sooner.

3. I'd have stayed longer with my friend who just had a baby. I was late for the zoo party, and I didn't want to wear her out, but I wish I'd stayed just a little longer.




Three perfect moments today:

1. When I decided to spit out a quick blog instead of watch TV (admittedly not my best post ever, but still. Here it is.)

2. When I sang "Stick with Me Baby" to Chicken and he started singing each line back to me. "We'll find a way. Yes, we'll find a way."

3. When Buster looked at Chicken during dinner and laughed, and then Chicken threw his head back and laughed, and said, "Oh that Buster, he's so funny!"

3. (Bonus 3) When, at the zoo, I told Ryan he should go meet up with our friends, who had moved onto actual animal exhibits while Chicken chose to stay behind and wallow in a rain puddle. And Ryan said, "it doesn't matter if I see anyone else. I just want to stay with you."

3. (Bonus 3 #2) When, in the bath tub, we started singing the Nemo song (the Mount WanaHockaLoogie song that's just monosyllabic grunts.) AH OO WA EE AH OH OH OH, and Chicken started doing it too, OO EE AH AH OO AH EE OH, and Buster laughed and laughed and his two white teeth just bobbed up and down in the pink sea of his mouth as he clapped his hands in delight.

3. (Bonus 3 #3) When I got that first hit of coffee. None of this would have been possible without that first cup of coffee.


A Partial List of Things That Scare Me


Merging
Rotten milk
Accidentally tossing a living thing into the dryer
Ghosts who mean us harm
One day I will wake up and all of the clothes in my closet will be from Chico’s
One day I will wake up and nobody I know will know that I wanted to be an actress
Falling and hitting my teeth on a curb
The water heater exploding
Truckers
Rest stop bathrooms
Rats in the attic
Mice in the pantry
Moths in my hair
Losing my teeth
Taxi drivers
Growing old and hunchbacked
What is in the silver vats of hot soup at ready-made self-serve stations
Is that aioli on my sandwich, or…?
Trying to step out of a slippery bath tub and losing my balance and falling astride the tub and hurting my lady bits something fierce
My son driving drunk
Affairs
Cancer
Athlete’s Foot
Leukemia, which is different from cancer because in my fear I'm not the one who has it
People thinking I'm stupid
My kid walking up to a bear having been tragically misinformed by the works of Walt Disney