Mama B*tch

imagesLast night I was at the mall when I ran into someone who looked so familiar. We made eye contact and said, “I know you from somewhere.” [Pause, head cocked, brow furrowed.]

I got it! She was the girl who got pissed at me at the front desk of the YMCA when she mistakenly took me for the person who snaked her precious parking spot.

That episode happened about a year ago, and with arms full of kids, being in the first trimester, and feeling like I had to regain control of my life somewhere, I started with that girl who wrongfully told me off and I retaliated.

No b*tch slap. No yelling either. But there was swearing. And then there was crying.

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This week as we were waiting for preschool to start, a gaggle of 4-year-olds (mine included) were running little circles at top-4-year-old-speed. I wasn’t bothered, because it was zero f*cking degrees outside and I figured they had to get the wiggles out somehow.

Just when I was admiring the giggly bunch, another mama yelled loud and at length at the kids to stop running. Her kid must have been angelically sitting on her carpet square waiting for class to commence. I can’t recall.

However, being the recipient of a foreign and harsh disciplinary action, my kid lost it. He ran to me crying, clinging to my legs, saying he didn’t like school anymore. I had to run out the door, leaving an anxious kid in the arms of the preschool teacher, disappointed that this happened.

When I picked him up from school a couple hours later, that yeller-mama asked if my kid cheered up about school, and I replied with a heavy dose of condescension, “He was shocked and hurt that you yelled at him to stop running. That’s not how we do it in our family.”

What I almost said was, “Do you even know how much self-control it takes me to not yell at this kid?!? And then you go and waste a good yell on a little ring-around-the-rosie?!? B*tch, please.”

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This Mama B*tch is getting harder and harder to contain.

Surprise college reunion

I have late-onset social anxiety. Taking a vacation in my hometown of San Diego heightens my anxiety of running into someone I used to know. When I’m there, I run in and out of Target with sunglasses on. Costco is even more risky. But there nearly no risk at all in taking a vacation anywhere in the Pacific Northwest because we never run into anyone we know there.

After a busy couple of days of driving and sight-seeing in Seattle, my kids were exhausted. But because we had just arrived at the park, and I was tired of being cooped up in a vehicle, I wasn’t about to let them nap in the car. I had to employ some heavy love & logic. I picked up my 4 year-old by the collar of his jacket, plopped him on his feet in the parking lot, and sternly instructed him to walk to the park so we can have an enjoyable family picnic, dammit.

But he played the injured card. He screamed and cried with such fervor that I kept looking around to make sure I wasn’t going to be affronted by some concerned witness. Pretending to ignore his performance, I walked on toward the park,  praying that my strong-willed child would follow. 

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Then the baby started in. Here I am in the middle of a park with a crying newborn in my arms and a wailing 4 year-old in the distance. I notice a line-up of stylish parkour participants looking in my direction.

Embarrassing, sure. But not unusual.

Then I hear, “Mandy? Is that you?”

No one ever wants to hear those words while kids are not in line. Which means those words are pretty unwelcome on any given day at any given time. I looked up to see Hilary, one of my closest friends from college, walking toward me, while her whole parkour class looked on.

You have to know Hilary to know how comical this is. Hilary is a former actress. She is at all times perfectly coiffed, even during a parkour class. She is stylish and child-free. She’s straight-up Georgian, and was in Seattle only for that weekend.

Usually when Hilary and I get together (when our paths cross in California) I try to make sure my kids aren’t present so I have the best chance to put my best foot forward. Not only was I embarrassed that my good friend saw me (and my brood) in that state, but as I scanned her parkour class, I noticed three more old friends from college among us. Quadruply embarrassed.

It was like a f*cking surprise college reunion. I didn’t go to my high school reunion or my college reunion. But if I had I would have damn well made sure I had left the wild card kids at home.

Nursery reveal: decorating on a budget

Our little baby finally has a sweet spot to rest her head. We put her in the teeny room adjacent to our bedroom. Here it is before with the previous owner’s poor taste on prominent display. A moment of silence, please.

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God-forsaken before: blame it on the previous owners

Here’s what we did. We tore out the carpet and had hardwood floors installed. Then we primed and painted the whole room Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (my go-to white) and Super White on the trim. I used Jonathan Adler wall decals from Target ($28), Jenny Lind White Crib (gift), Land of Nod crib sheets ($29), vintage quilt ($35), and vintage rug ($40). I used a white twin bed skirt I already owned and artfully folded it to fit the crib, and then sewed grograin ribbon ($3 so there’s no guilt to switch out colors) on the edge and used the leftover ribbon to trim the lampshade (already had the lamp). Book basket on the floor was on clearance at Target ($5).

The “mobile” is a repurposed thrift store find ($20), decorated with bird christmas ornaments I already owned. I like how the shape of the “bird cage” echoes the shape of the wall decal lanterns behind it. The Vogue print was a hand-me-down from my mom. Midcentury dresser was a thrift store find ($85). We have owned that rocking chair since our first child, but even that was nabbed at a garage sale six years ago ($27). I used an old t-shirt to recover a pillow we already owned to make a more comfy seat for late night rocking.

It feels so good to be done. Almost like I’m getting my sh*t together.

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Much improved after

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Thrift store objet-turned-mobile

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Thrift store midcentury dresser

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Garage sale rocking chair; pillow recovered with an old t-shirt. Vintage Vogue print.

What came first, the anxiety or the minivan?

Have you ever looked at a mom driving a minivan and thought that she looks peaceful? Me neither.

It seems like every f*cking minivan is driven by a frazzled mom who is barking threats while throwing juice boxes and goldfish crackers two rows back to growling, crying children who are simultaneously sticking hands and feet out the side windows.

I know I could be begging the question here. I mean, by the time the woman needs a minivan she has enough kids to drive her up the wall. But perhaps, just perhaps, that minivan has robbed her of her last semblance of peace.

Minivans are like the potato sack of cars. I get in one and quickly become invisible behind that big box of metal. I become the minivan. I am big. I am drawn to Costco. I volunteer to carpool. All is lost.

And how does everyone just stand by and watch this grotesque thing happening to millions of moms across the nation?

Stand up mothers! Fight against the pressure! We will not drive a f*cking box of metal that eats us up and spits us out! We will be better than that! We will resist.

Resist! Resist! Resist!

Damn involuntary Suessisms

With kids, the more you interact, the more your thoughts actually transform into that kid-lingo. I’ll be with grown-up girlfriends out for a drink and say in my sing-songy mommy voice that I have to use the potty.

I’ve lost it. It’s like the brain has been divided between mommy side and grown-up side and, during the span of three kids, my mommy side has engulfed the normal side. I fear it has caused permanent brain damage.

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Which brings me to Dr. Suess books. The dreaded Horton Hears a Who takes a good 30 minutes to read, and anytime the kid chooses that one, I try to squirm out of my reading job. That thing takes forever! In fact, many Suess books are ever-so-long.

So it makes sense that after all that Suess-immersion, my thoughts take on the shape of Suess-style rhymes. I often quote lines right out of those books and apply them to my daily conversations.

So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day. I sat there with [Lulu]. We sat there, we two. And I said, “How I wish. We had something to do!”.

But what’s worse is when my own thoughts actually assemble Suess-style. I don’t even realize it’s happening until the thought-rhyme is executed and I feel ashamed that I’ve come to that.

For instance:

Sometimes your noises make me choke; I could use another rum & coke.

Or

Mark my words, I’ll be damned if I have to drive a minivan.

To quote Dr. Suess, “This may not seem very important, I know, but it is, so I’m bothering telling you so.”

Gestating the bonus baby

When I first heard a year ago that friends of ours were expecting a surprise baby long after they thought they were done, I actually said the word suckers. I teased my friend about not blowing up the condom like a balloon before relying on it.

Then I found out I was pregnant with a surprise third, and the word sucker haunted me. At the time, my mind was still reeling from serious depression, as recounted here in my post, How to go crazy in 6 months or less. Just when I felt like I was getting a grip, a little pee stick turned up with a f*cking plus sign and my house of cards came crashing down. I felt like I couldn’t breathe for a few months, I was having panic attack after panic attack, sure that my life and my kids are going to be so f*cked up because I made this mistake of relying on just one form of contraception.

Years ago, I had decided that any more than two children would be too many for me. My identity rested in having precisely two kids and I didn’t know how to change that.

Having three children felt so big, so looming, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what that meant for me. My clothes wouldn’t fit for another year (or two). I would fill a sedan to the brim – or surrender and get the dreaded minivan. I might need those damn leashes for my kids like my mom used.

I felt like I was gestating a grenade.

I struggled with a new breed of depression and anxiety throughout the pregnancy. And as a stats junkie, I knew that my baby would experience the negative effects of my stress, but knowing that stressed me out even more.

But one month ago Little Lucinda made it. I made it. (My therapist deserves most of the credit.)

And you know, it’s not as crazy as I expected. My clothes aren’t that far from fitting. I now look longingly at minivans. And I’m shopping on Amazon for wrist leashes for wild card kids.

Having a baby is still a miraculous thing, even when it’s the surprise pregnancy. I got through it, kicking and screaming, and Lucinda did too. This bonus baby felt like someone played a joke on me. I now get the humor.

Oh, the third

There is a slippery slope in parenting. When we had our 1st child, we read to him lots of times throughout the day. Absolutely no TV. Organic everything. Lots of photos and videos were taken.

Fast forward to our 3rd. No videos taken capturing her existence during her 21 days of life. In fact, no books read to her, either. And my manifesto not to let her sleep in my bed? That was destroyed 2 weeks ago when we realized she clocks better sleep there (which in turn boots my husband to the couch. Ce la vie.).

Photo of our 3rd child, taken when she was just 2 days old. Not sure we've taken any since then.

Photo of our 3rd child, taken when she was just 2 days old. Not sure we’ve taken any since then.

Many years ago, when my mom had 5 children under the age of 7, my mom lost my then 4-year-old sister at Sea World. My sister had outsmarted her rainbow-wristed leash and walked out the exit gate. She was wandering in the parking lot when some good samaritan brought her back into the park and turned her into the lost and found. They announced they had a missing child. My mom took a head count and eureka! it was hers. My mom hadn’t even realized my sister was missing.

Can you imagine what life was like for her 5th and later 6th children? Those kids taught themselves to do pretty much everything. As for us older kids, they could barely keep tabs on us either. Think Lord of the Flies, but tucked into suburbia.

Our 3rd has been the easiest baby. But I’m starting to see that it’s because we’ve dropped everything superfluous and left only the necessities. She gets fed, clothed, and sheltered. Anything more than that is bestowed on her by the grandparents. And I’d venture to say she’s all the better for it.

Iced coffee revelation: the things that get me going

These days my world has shrunken to the size of a successful day of sharing. Or getting enough protein in my kid. Or getting a decent cup of coffee.

There was a time, not so long ago, when getting a good cup of coffee was a given. I could walk or drive to my favorite place, or home brew the perfect cup in my kitchen. I actually roast my own coffee when I’m able to (and you can too – it’s easy!). So stooping to the level of bad coffee indicates desperation.

Last week I saw Starbuck advertise their Toddy, the cold-brew coffee method, and Williams-Sonoma has it too – perfect for iced coffees in the summertime.

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Williams-Sonoma’s Toddy Cold Brew System

Cold coffee melts less ice, so flavor isn’t diluted. And I remember reading in the New York Times article Iced Coffee and Tea: (Not) Taking the Heat about how cold-brewed coffee contains less caffeine than if it were hot-brewed. Something about how it extracts less caffeine. And less caffeine is pretty good for me right now since I’m trying to be responsible about the bun in the oven.

But why buy the $35 Toddy contraption when I have a french press and also a manual drip? I decided to give it a try. And boy am I glad I did!

You make this iced coffee the same way you would make it hot except that you use cold water instead of hot water – you could make it stronger if you’re using a lot of ice.

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It’s amazing – low acidity, easy, quick. I feel like I’ve just discovered the secret to life. But then again, it’s probably because I’ve been playing restaurant with my kids all morning so my perspective is a little skewed.

Cheers!