Dear Valentine,

I’m not going to lie
and say it’s easy
to love you.

You are a real
prickly pain in the ass
sometimes.

You’re stubborn
and snappish.
You’re always sneaking treats.

You run away
and build a wall
of busyness and noise

when you should stay
and talk about your hurt feelings.
What’s wrong with you?

You run so hot, all day, all night.
It feels like you don’t ever slow down
just to be with me. I miss you.

You always tell me
when I’ve done something
wrong, when I’ve forgotten.

You tell me all the time:
The house isn’t very clean.
I’m out of socks again.
What do you do all day long?

And I’ll tell you something else,
you could really be nicer to me.
Despite everything, I do love you.

So you don’t have to
call me names
like stupid

mean
worst
person ever.

You don’t have to
make those sounds when I’m getting dressed for a movie –
blech

ugh
yuck
no.

That really hurts my feelings.
It makes me feel alone, worthless,
so unlovable.

You could really give me more time
to eat
breakfast.

You could let me finish writing this letter
before calling me, urgently,
to some other need you have –

What! A snack?
What! You’re sad?
Ugh, I was writing. Please let me write.

Hey, you could listen to me more
when I say I’m hungry.
I’m sad. I'm telling you because it matters.

I need you to listen to me
when I’m rattling hangers
and sighing heavy sighs and it’s an hour until the movie starts.

Listen to what I’m not saying
as I stand in a bra and unzipped jeans,
thinking about how I used to be,

and respond to that:
It doesn’t matter what you wear.
Your worth isn’t in your appearance.
You are wonderful, just like this.

Listen to me when I say
that a treat, in the quiet room alone,
would really make my day.
Take your time, love.

Listen to me:
I like to be busy.
I’m proud of the work I do.
I’m proud of you, too.

LISTEN!
If I did nothing else all day and night
I could keep the house clean and the sock drawers full.
But I do a lot more than that,
so I don't keep the house clean, but we don't mice,
and the sock drawers aren't full,
but when have ever not had socks?
You're right. Thank you.

Listen,
I need space and time
before I can talk
about my hurt feelings.
There's nothing wrong with that. I'll be here.

You could be nicer to me.
You could listen.
You prickly pain in the ass.

I know.
I’m sorry.
I’ll try.

Loving you, Katie?
It isn’t easy.

I’m not going to lie.

After all,
I love you.
And you
are pretty fucking good too.

it's the valentine's day equivalent
of looking into
a broken mirror
#selfieinaballoon
#whoami



Checking out at Target.

I'm in the semi-fugue state that all mothers reach at some point while shopping with young children. I'm acknowledging any sound that comes out of my children's mouths, making vague affirmative sounds like "Ohhhh!" and "Mmm hmmm," all the while calculating how long until I can get another coffee/having an existential crisis.


sometimes
when i look at the deep
red
center of the bullseye
i feel like alice
plummeting through time
and space
oh  mr. raaaaabbit
we're going to be late

down the rabbit hole we go
to wonderland
where nothing is what it is
and everything is what it isn't
wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Jeremy is ringing us up. Jeremy has a lot of information to offer me on which forms of ID are best for international air travel with children. I did not initiate this conversation. I have no plans to travel internationally with my children. Jeremy just started talking. Jeremy just became dead to me/a third child to me, and I respond to him with the same vacant "mmm" and "oh uh huh" sounds that the kids have been getting for the last two minutes.

Both Jeremy and the children take these sounds to mean they should absolutely continue doing the things they are doing, only louder and with more intensity. 

Jeremy: Typically, the standard-issue Washington driver's license has been acceptable for most domestic travel--

Me: Mm hmm...

Chicken: MOM I SEE A DINOSAUR!

Me: Oooohhh!

Buster: DINO-RAAAAAAAR!

Jeremy: -- enhanced driver's licenses are more expensive, sure, but in the long run you have to ask yourself what your time is worth, especially since my uncle told me that they're going to start phasing out state-issued--

Me: Wow. Yeah.

Buster: CAN I HAVE A LOT? MOM CAN I HAVE A LOT OF PRETZELS?

Me: Hmmmm.

Chicken: I WANT A LOT OF PRETZELS TOO!

Jeremy: -- but the problem with the passport card is of course the cost per use, not to mention it's easier to misplace--

Me: Sure, sure, that makes sense. Oh, I don't need a receipt. Thank you! OK boys, say bye bye!

I start to push the cart away from the checkstand. 

Chicken: BYE PENIS!

Buster: BYE PENIS!

Me: (vacantly) Bye penis!

I realize what I just said.

Me: Wait, who are you talking to?

Chicken: To the PENIS!

Buster: YEAH! PENIS!

Both their hands point straight at Jeremy, whose face has turned bright red as he begins to ring up the next person in line.

Me: Oh. Oh no. Hey, listen up guys.

Chicken: YEAH LISTEN UP PENIS!

Buster: PENIS!

I put my face really close to their faces. They know the closer I get the more serious I am. Well, Chicken knows. Buster just wants to pick my nose.

Me: Penis is a -- Buster, no thank you -- perfectly great word to use when -- stop it, Buster -- you're talking about your body with someone you know and -- BUSTER, cut it out -- love and trust. But penis is NOT an okay word to use with strangers, or to call somebody.

Chicken: Oh.

Buster: Penis!

He waves at Jeremy.

Me: His name is Jeremy. He works here. He deserves our kindness and respect.

Chicken: But... what if he were a penis?

Me: But he IS NOT a penis. He's a person.

Chicken: A person with a penis, though, right?

Me: I don't know and that's none of our business. Penises are private body parts that are not okay to talk about with strangers.

Buster: Strangers?

Chicken: Yeah, Buster, strangers are people we don't know.

Me: That's right. And do we know him?

Buster: No.

Chicken: Yes!

Me: NO! We don't.

Chicken: That's Jeremy. He works here.

Me: OK, yes, we know him a tiny bit, but we don't know him enough to talk about penises with him, and we definitely don't know him well enough to CALL him a penis.

Chicken: Who do we know well enough to call a penis?

Buster: Me! Me! ME ME ME!!!

He shoots his hand straight up in the air and waves it around like a crazed Price is Right contestant.

Chicken: You're penis.

Buster smiles, pats himself on the belly, and says,

Buster: I am penis.

Me: That's totally fine with me.
Because I am not a wizard, my sons take naps/afternoon quiet time in separate rooms across the hall from each other. 


 


On Monday, I could hear them whispering to each other, and occasionally kicking their respective doors in what I can only assume was a rudimentary morse code. Whenever I'd walk down the hall they'd fall silent and wait for the sound of my footsteps retreating before they'd start talking again.

I had no choice but to change up the guard schedule to throw them off, and try slithering down the hall on my belly so as to avoid making footstep sounds. (It didn't work. We have creaky floors.)

I then had no choice but to imagine the exchange.

Buster: Pssst... Chicken? Chicken? Are you there?

Chicken: Buster!

Buster: Oh thank God! I couldn't see anything... all I heard was the sound of the door opening, and then, those terrible footsteps, echoing back down the hall.

Chicken: I'm here. I'm here. Are you okay?

Buster: I'm okay. Are you okay?

Chicken: I don't know. She... she said no water for me today.

Buster: Oh God... OH GOD NO

Chicken: I mean, I had water with lunch. Sparkling water, actually. I got to squeeze the lime wedge too.

Buster: Oh.

Chicken: But she said NO water in here.

Buster: Did you do something to provoke her?

Chicken: I dunno... something about "Last time you dumped it all over the bedside table and floor, and danced in the puddle, and it got the iPhone charger really wet and it didn't work for a week."

Buster: (taking notes) Operation Riverdance successfully hobbled communications capability for one week, but resulted in severe fluid deprivation for the operative responsible--

Chicken: Shhh! I think she's coming...

They hear footsteps coming down the hall... the footsteps stop. They wait.

Buster: Chick--

Chicken: SHHHH!

Chicken kicks the door three times. 

Buster kicks his door back twice, but with both feet.

They wait.

After a silent moment, the footsteps retreat, back toward the kitchen.

Chicken: We don't have much time.

No sound comes from Buster.

Chicken: Buster? BUSTER!

Buster: Mm? Herm? Wha? I--

Chicken: Did you fall asleep?

Buster: What? No! Well... yes.

Chicken: BUSTER.

Buster: She turned on the ocean sounds.

Chicken: Buster, what have I told you?

Buster: Yeah, but she stroked my hair across my forehead and--

Chicken: And let me guess... the room is dark, and the bed has smooth flannel sheets, and it's just cool enough in there that when she tucks the fluffy duvet up under your chin you sigh involuntarily with the sheer pleasure of the weight and warmth of the covers, even as the cool air kisses your cheeks?

Buster: Mm hmmm.... (creaky yawning sounds)

Chicken: SNAP OUT OF IT BUSTER. You're playing right into her hands!

Buster: You're right. You're right. I know you're right.

Chicken: We are not dealing with your run-of-the-mill baddie here.

Buster: What's run of the mill?

Chicken: No, we're dealing with something far more sinister.

Buster: Is run of the mill a snack?

Chicken: NO it means normal. Which she ISN'T. What, do you think she threw me in here, into a puddle of old rat piss on a cold cement floor? No, man. She's too smart for that shit. She tucked me into a sumptuous bed, too. She flipped my pillow to the cool side, pulled the soft covers up around my shoulders, and handed me my favorite book. She told me to, "Have a nice rest, SWEETHEART."

Buster: She is a monster.

Chicken: You gotta stay focused buddy. That cell is engineered to put you DOWN. And we CANNOT GO DOWN.

Buster: YEAH! WE CANNOT GO DOWN! Why can't we go down?

Chicken: (sigh)

Buster: It just feels so right... I'm getting grumpy... and the pillow is squishy... and my head feels so funny... and the ocean sounds...

Chicken: Buster, when you go to sleep, do you know what happens?

Buster: Laundry. It's laundry, right? I'm out of jam jams again right now but somehow there are always jam-jams at bedtime.

Chicken: No, buddy. I'm gonna let you in on a secret that NOBODY knows but us and the kid who DIED getting me this intel.

Buster: What's died?

Chicken: Ask Mommy. Here's what happens...the second we fall asleep, she knocks quietly on the door and whispers "Anyone who is awake can have a warm brownie ice cream sundae with three kinds of sprinkles and whipped cream!"

Buster: WHAT.

Chicken: AND the second after that first second, she says, "Also, if anyone is still awake, all of the awake people can eat gummy bears and make a spider web in the play room out of every roll of toilet paper in the house and then watch every Paw Patrol ever made for ever and the only thing I will say when one episode ends and you're waiting for the next one to start is "DO YOU WANT MORE POPCORN OR WOULD YOU RATHER SWITCH TO PIRATE'S BOOTY."

Buster: (gasp)

Chicken: She tells us we "need" to "rest," to keep our "bodies" "healthy" and "have" a "good" "afternoon." But make no mistake, she has an endgame. And that endgame is...

Buster: (whispering, horrified) To eat all the Pirate's Booty?

Chicken: To eat. All. The Pirate's Booty.

Buster: (muffled sobs)

Chicken: She's a MONSTER.

Buster: Is she eating it now?

Chicken: I don't know. Maybe. Probably.

Buster: I'm gonna destroy her.

Chicken: That's the spirit.

Buster: I'm gonna BREAK HER PHONE.

Chicken: Atta boy, Buster.

Buster: Chicken... I'm getting that feeling.

Chicken: Yeah, man.

Buster: The feeling where I've got a thing I need to do.

Chicken: Yep.

Buster: I've got an idea. And I HAVE to do my idea.

Chicken: I remember that feeling. I used to have it a lot before I learned about consequences.

Buster: Consewhatsis?

Chicken: You'll learn, brother. What's your thing?

Buster: I HAVE TO push my bed over to the tall dresser where the lamp and the ocean sounds machine and the clock and the bowl of binkies are and I MUST climb up onto the tall dresser and then I AM COMPELLED BY INVISIBLE FORCES to UNPLUG ALL OF THE DEVICES and THROW EVERYTHING ON THE GROUND.

Chicken: I salute you. But prepare yourself, comrade. When she hears the crash from the stuff you've thrown off the dresser, she's gonna come barreling down the hall like a mother who thinks her child might be in danger. When she opens the door and sees what you've done, you're going to see all 6 of her feelings play across her face, one after the other: fear, anger, confusion, hysterical giggles, love, and tiredness. It's like spinning a roulette wheel - you don't know which one she's gonna land on. Could be hysterical giggles--

Buster: I know.

Chicken: COULD BE ANGER THOUGH, man. You're taking a big risk here.

Buster: I KNOW. But Chicken, what shall we do with our one wild and precious lives? Give us Pirate's Booty or give us death!

Chicken: OK. While you're doing that, I'm just gonna snap the hooks off some velvet clothes hangers and then sit in her bed and crumble up this Ritz cracker I just found.

They hear footsteps coming down the hall. The footsteps turn into the bathroom. They hear the fan turn on.

Chicken: You have only 2 minutes to get the bed in position. Once the bed is under the dresser, kick the door seventeen to twenty times so I know you're in position, and then I will snap four clothes hangers so you know I'M in position.

Buster: Roger that. I'm moving.

screeeeeeeeeeeeeeee (sound of bed being pushed across hardwood floor)

running footsteps back to the door

THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD

Mom: BUSTER! Please stop kicking the door!

THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD
THUD

Mom: Buster, please, buddy? I'm just trying to take a quick poop here.

THUD
THUD
THUD

Mom. Thank you, B.

Chicken: (whispers) Godspeed, brother.

Snap
Snap
Snap
Snap

CRASH!
I've thought about renaming the blog about a thousand times, every time someone asked me the name of the blog and I said,

"Katie Katie Katie. But with a y, an i, and an e."

LISTEN. I KNOW. I KNOW it's impossible to explain.

But whenever I started brainstorming different blog names I kept coming up against this problem: I didn't want the word "Mom" in the blog title.

I wanted this blog to be about parenting, sure, because in the pie chart of my life, that's the slice that I would want to eat - the one where the cartoon character cuts a paper-thin sliver, and then serves the rest of the pastry to himself? So that's parenting, in my life, the quivering heap of cake, comically large on a tiny plate painted with pink roses.

But I do other things - I'm a woman, first of all, and that's something that has required my thoughts from time to time. I write about feminism and the times I've experienced the world, for better or worse, as a woman. Sometimes I like to write about the news. Sometimes I like to write about clothes, marriage, friendship. And whenever I write about something other than my kids, I'm always so glad I haven't changed the blog name yet. I don't want it to be like, "Oh, what does SomeBombMom.com have to say about the newest cabinet appointee," or "Oh, it looks like MamaButt.net has some thoughts about the refugee crisis in Syria."

Bottom line - this blog has been kid-heavy, and it will likely continue to be kid-heavy.

But the game has changed, friends.

Politics is going to be here.

Racism is going to be here.

Misogyny is going to be here.

It will still be (hopefully) funny. You'll still hear about all the hilarious shit my kids say and do. I'll still offer my insights into watching them grow up, figuring out how to Lincoln this team of rivals into a fucking more perfect union.

(See? Politics! IT'S EVERYWHERE.)

But I wanted to say hi, it's been awhile, I'm here, I'm trying to be funny, but I'm also... in grief, I guess. Outraged, heartbroken, somehow still hopeful? You know, all the feelings I normally associate with the end of a season of the Bachelor, but DUDE the season has barely even started so this is like whaaaaaa?

See? I'm trying to make jokes to lighten the mood.

I don't even watch The Bachelor. I LIED.

And now I'm looking at my reflection in a shattered mirror asking myself, "Was it worth it, Katie? For the cheap laugh? You sad clown. You sad little clown girl."

LISTEN I KNOW shit is weird right now and it's only going to get weirder and I gave myself 30 minutes to write this blog post and that time is up right now.

So... I'm just going to leave you with the "about" section of the blog:

This is a blog about
moms
who are still
real people too
giving a shit
swearing too much
having your back
trusting your gut
holding on tight
& making an unholy, gorgeous mess of it all

STILL TRUE.

Byeeeee!