Thursday, August 27, 2009

We Only Come Out At Night

So I went out with some girlfriends the other night....

It was a much-needed two-hour vacation. Not like I have that hard of a life, but sometimes Mommy needs to get out of the house without it taking fifteen minutes to coax Rollie into the car, enticing him with grapes and books and promises to play his favorite song, strapping him and Elsa into their respective seats, only to have to run back into the house several more times to collect my keys, purse, drink, shoes and cell phone (which I also sometimes have to call with the house phone because I have completely spaced and left it somewhere random, like the dog food bowl).

So anyhoo, a girls night out was definitely in order.

One thing I will say is, mothers, when voluntarily separated from their children, are an uproarious bunch. Especially if there's wine involved.

It's an odd transformation. During the day, mothers are selfless, methodical, practical. Sometimes even subdued to the point of being...dull. At least I know I am. Sometimes I become very aware of how boring I must sound when I realize I've been talking to someone for ten minutes about like, putting Rollie to bed as if I'm recounting an incredibly entertaining anecdote about the time I met Brad Pitt at a grocery store (hasn't happened yet, but it's only a matter of time).

Then I'll stop mid-sentence and think, Oh My God, this person must be ready to kill herself if she has to listen to me another second. I mean, who the hell wants to hear about Rollie's pooping habits or his refusal to eat Fruit Loops? I hardly want to know about it, and I'm his mother.

But get us away from our children and we are a gaggle of giggling, silly girls, spilling juicy secrets, telling hilarious tales of the crazy stuff we all did pre-kids, giving each other advice on everything from sex to shopping. I learn more about my friends in two kid-free hours than I do during the months of playdates and park days. We're vampires, only out when the sun is down and the kids are in bed, eager to drink in as much fun and freedom as we can before we get into our minivans and SUVs and drive home.

You wouldn't know it if you were to see us during the day. You wouldn't look at one of us and think that we have a VIP card to a sex shop hidden in our wallet beneath our health insurance card. Or that we used to sneak into bars or rock concerts or that we have a very worn copy of The Kama Sutra in our bedside table. Like a superhero's powers, we keep these things secret, hidden away beneath our diaper bags and coupon holders. We can't expose these things to the light of day. And we certainly can't talk about them in front of our children.

But it makes those playdates a little more fun to know that there is so much more to my fellow moms than meets the eye. It's fun to guess what the others are really like when they aren't preoccupied with the well-being of another person. And it's even more fun to find out. Especially after a few drinks.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What the Tech?

What is it with men and technology? Seriously....

So we've finally decided to emerge from the Dark Ages of giant, bulky, two-foot deep big-screens and purchase a flat-screen TV. Well, my husband has decided. I'm perfectly happy with my hulking monstrosity of a television set that currently occupies one-third of our family room. I mean, it still works. It turns on and off and serves as a competent babysitter for my children when I need to check my email or fold the never-ending laundry or, ahem, blog.
But lately my husband has been poring over Crutchfield catalogues, his eyes glazing over as he flips through the pages featuring heroine-chic TV sets, TV sets that look like all they've had to eat all day are cigarettes and Tab.

He has his heart set on some model that can do everything but cook and clean my house. He showed it to me online (on his Iphone, which is a whole other blog), the expectant look on his face so adorable as he waited for me to be as jazzed about the Hertz, the Pixels, the rate of return on its 401(k), its favorite movie. And to be fair, it looks pretty cool. But for God's sake, as long as it's color and doesn't come with rabbit ears, I'm happy.

The following is an actual conversation about the TV in question between my husband and me....

Jeff: I'm thinking we should get the 8000 model.
Me: Okay
Jeff: I mean, the 7000 would be okay, except that it doesn't have the same megahertz and you can't get on the internet.
Me: We can get the internet on our TV?
Jeff: Well, on the 8000 we can.
Me: But we have a laptop.
Jeff: Well yeah....
Me: What else can it do?
Jeff: Its refresh rate is 240 Megahertz.
Me (not having the slightest idea what the hell that means): Okay.
Jeff: Plus it can...he launches into a very technical description of the innate intelligence of the 8000 model, making it sound like it can outthink our own son and will soon replace our 10-year-old dog in the family hierarchy.
Me: Okay.
Jeff: But I don't know....we don't really need all that stuff.
Me: Okay.
Jeff: But it's only an inch thick.
Me: Whatever you want, Hon.

So after much hand-wringing, vacillating between exactly which model he wanted, the 6000, the 7000 or the Triple Lindy 500,000, he finally ordered one. And while I guess it would be nice to not have a TV set the size and shape of a Fotomat booth in my house, I have found myself much more interested in what type of TV stand should go beneath it. And how to rearrange the kitchen table so Rollie will still be able to watch Zooboomafoo while he eats lunch.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mother By Numbers

Time Rollie woke up yesterday morning: 5:23
Number of blueberries I put on his breakfast plate: 18
Number of blueberries he actually ate: 3
Number of his blueberries I ate: 15
Number of balls I pitched to him during The Today Show: 21
Number of times I told him to get off of Baby Elsa or he'll squish her: 12
Number of times I asked him if he had to use the potty: 10
Number of times I asked him if he was sure he didn't have to use the potty: 10
Number of times he actually sat on the potty: 3
Number of time he actually went in the potty: 0
Number of times he peed directly onto the floor: 1
Number of towels I used to clean up the mess: 2
Number of pacifiers scattered around the house for Baby Elsa: 4
Number of pacifiers I was able to locate: 0
Number of minutes Elsa spent half-heartedly crying because I couldn't find her pacifier: 7
Number of times I contemplated getting my tubes tied: 6
Number of episodes of Ni-Hao Kai-Lan Rollie watched: 2
Number of times Rollie climbed in Elsa's crib: 3
Number of time Rollie climbed into Elsa's crib with Elsa in it: 2
Number of times I threatened to spank Rollie's bottom: 16
Number of times I actually spanked Rollie's bottom: 2
Number of times I should have spanked Rollie's bottom: at least 20
Number of times I thought to myself, "Calgon, take me away!": 9
Number of years since I've actually seen that commercial: like, 18, and I finally get it.
Number of minutes late my husband was coming home from work: 90
Number of seconds he was in the door before I threw the kids at him and hid: 2
Number of times Rollie got out of bed after being tucked in: 4
Number of times I sang Little Rollie to him: 3
Number of Family Guy episodes Jeff and I watched after the kids were finally sleeping: 2
Number of beers I drank while watching Family Guy: 1.5
Number of M&M's I ate while drinking beer and watching Family Guy: approximately 47
Time I went to bed: 9:43
Number of times I got out of bed to settle down Elsa: 4
Number of times I got out of bed to stop the dog from snoring: 1
Number of times I elbowed Jeff to stop him from snoring: 2
Time Rollie woke up today: 5:20

Monday, August 17, 2009

Clothe-us Interruptus

My clothes are having sex.

That's the only explanation for what is happening in my laundry room. I honestly believe that somewhere in there a shirt, or perhaps a pair of undies, has a stash of Barry White albums, and as soon as I turn out the lights and shut the door, it fishes out one of the albums, sticks it inside a hidden CD player, and to the deep, smooth croons of Mr. White, on top of the washer set to the spin cycle, my clothes have an orgy.

And when I return to swap the clothes into the dryer, I swear to you that my piles of clothes have multiplied. Socks I don't remember even owning are popping up in strange places, shirts I swear I gave away are returning like polyester boomerangs, waiting to be folded and placed inside a dresser drawer, where they will likely have more sex. One particular pair of my husband's shorts, ones I know I've thrown into the garbage at least twice because they're holier than a Baptist choir, have reappeared in the dryer, acting all innocent, as if I'd never really intended to get rid of them--they'd fallen into the garbage can accidentally. Now I'm kind of afraid of them, afraid that if I try to toss them in the trash one more time they'll come back and smother me in my sleep.

The hamper is never empty, either. I don't think I've ever seen the bottom of it. Maybe there isn't one. Maybe where a bottom should be is really a portal into another dimension, where mountains of jeans, tank-tops and footie-pajamas are waiting for their window, their chance to leap into my laundry basket and get busy with whatever clothing is there.

I know I never did this much laundry before children. But I also didn't have to change clothes two seconds after getting dressed because I'd just been spit-up on. I didn't have to wash piles of Kool-Aid stained t-shirts or bibs encrusted with bananas. And I never had to wash my own sheets because of spilled chocolate milk or boogies because God forbid my son actually use a tissue to wipe his nose. I should buy stock in Tide and Downy...I go through it by the barrel.

It's only gonna get worse. Soon Rollie will be at the age when boys think rolling around in the mud is the most fantastically fun thing they've ever done or will ever do in their lives. He'll start coming home with bloodstained pantlegs and marker on his sleeves. And Elsa, who knows what sort of havoc she'll wreak on her pretty little pink outfits. I'm seriously considering dressing my children completely in black for the next ten years. Sure they'll look like creepy little goth kids, but at least they won't be sporting stubborn ketchup stains.

In the meantime, one of these days I'm going to catch my clothes in the act. As soon as I hear that spin-cycle come on, I'm going to barge into the laundry room, throw on the lights and shout, "Ah-HA!" And then I'll have to explain to my husband why I'm shouting at our dirty clothes. Although since having kids, I've done things that are far stranger.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If My Brow Were Any Lower, I'd Trip Over It

I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you are seven stories above every kind of low-brow potty humor, if you were raised by royalty and have never so much as smirked at a joke involving bodily functions in your entire life, once you have kids, poop is sort of funny.

Not at first, of course. At first poop is rather horrifying. Seriously, was anyone else surprised to learn that babies could shoot poop clean across a room? The first time Rollie projectile-pooped, I freaked out. I thought there was something wrong with him, or that he had some sort of genetically superior sphincter, capable of unleashing poop at a staggering velocity, breaking sound and smell barriers in one mighty blow. It's a pretty impressive sight, even if it is 2 in the morning and you're bleary-eyed and fuzzy-headed and your boobs are aching like a post-op implant patient.

But after a while, you get used to it, learn to listen for the ominous belly-rumbling and the tell-tale O-face--signs that you're about to get front seats in your very own Gallagher show. You're prepared for baby number two (get it?). It's not such a shocker when your darling little angle can poop on a wall five feet away like some kind of party trick. And when it comes out an odd color, purple, for example, you sort of appreciate the neat hue and make a note to not feed them blueberries for a while.

Soon poop becomes part of your daily life. And the more kids you have, the more intimately involved you become with poop. It's almost like another entity living in the house--you become aware of its comings and goings, you almost miss it when it's not around. You find yourself keeping track of the days since you've seen your friend Mr. Hanky, what color he was last, his bouquet, his consistency. You even find yourself discussing such matters with your significant other. Where the two of you would discuss your respective days, your hopes and dreams and plans for the future, suddenly you find yourselves IN the future, and it's full of...shit.

And once you've accepted that your lives are now full of it, it starts to get kind of funny. I find myself giggling when Rollie lets one rip. I don't know if it's because he's so blissfully unaware at the stigma attached to such public displays of flatulence, or if my sense of humor has taken a nose-dive into levels not seen since adolescence. When I see Elsa's face turn an alarming shade of fuschia as she grunts and strains to fill her diaper, I crack up. It's one thing I hope she grows out of before she starts dating. Imagine the nicknames she'd garner with that little display. They'd start calling her Smell-sa, The Super Purple Pooper Trooper, or worse. Poor thing. Someone should tell her.

I would, but I'm too busy laughing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yell-Fest '09

I think there's something going around. Some sort of illness that saps you of your patience, leaving your nerves raw and exposed and susceptible to your children trampling on them and destroying any sense of self-control you used to have, turning you into a threat-screaming, arm-yanking, head-in-hands-crying monster.

I think I caught it at the pool. I took Rollie there the other day to hang out with some friends and enjoy the hundred-degree August-in-Florida weather the only way possible--drenched in chlorinated water.

Everything was going fine. Elsa was chillin in her little floating lily-pad, grinning and splashing and kicking her chubby legs. Rollie was making me hold him so he could paddle and kick without sinking to the bottom. Everyone was having a grand old time.

Until it was time to leave.

I gave Rollie a warning. Five minutes, I said. Elsa was starting to get ornery, wilting like a fat little buttercup, and I was getting hungry. Rollie wasn't ready, but what kid is when there's a giant pool with water fountains and a huge slide and all kinds of toys floating around like nuggets of deliciousness in a bowl of fun-soup? Every request I made for him to come get his towel was ignored, so I started pulling out the warnings, the countdowns, the outright threats for him to get over here now, or else.... Still Rollie wouldn't come.

Finally I went over to physically remove him from the shallow end of the pool. His legs flailed, his fists pounded, he threw his head back in a primal scream of rage. It was a full-on tantrum, something he doesn't do very often (honest!). I asked him if he was really hitting me, and he even stopped for a moment, as if surprised by his own gall. But then he went right on hitting me. Sigh.

I was able to manhandle him into the car, and drive home without further protest. What I didn't know was that I must have either inhaled or ingested some microorganism that wormed its way into the recesses of my brain and started to grow.

Once we were home, Rollie wasn't interested in taking a nap, eating lunch or keeping his clothes on. Every attempt of mine to feed, cloth or make him rest was thwarted as he dodged out of my reach, yelling 'nooooooo!' and tearing around the house naked. And while normally the sight of my son streaking through the living room and crashing into the couch makes me laugh, this time I lost it.


I was loud. I mean, seriously my throat was sore for a few hours afterwards. If our neighbors had been home they may have come knocking to make sure everything was okay.

Rollie even stopped and stared at me.

"Don't be mad, Momma," he said in a very small voice.

That's when I started to cry. Which is something else I hardly ever do. I just stood there and buried my face in my hands. My shoulders heaved, my nose ran. I was losing it. I had flashbacks of my mother, sitting at the dinner table as the squabbling and name-calling bounced around her, pinballing from one sibling to the next. She would bury her face in her hands, or sometimes just burst out with a diatribe that usually included threats to leave, move out, and never look back. No freaking wonder.

I got it together enough to apologize to Rollie for screaming. Then I strapped he and Elsa into their carseats and left the house. I didn't know where I was going. Rollie wasn't even wearing pants. But a change of scenery was in order, as was something from Starbucks. Sometimes a nice mocha frappaccino makes everything a little better.

The next day, though, Rollie pooped on the floor. Yeah, I screamed at him again. Not because of that, but because as I was trying to clean it up, he rolled on top of Elsa, bowling her over like a big, chubby pin. She started crying, he started yelling at her to stop crying, and then our dog started barking to go outside.

"ROLLIE!" I shrieked. "GET IN YOUR ROOM!"

Poor Rollie. He jumped up, wide-eyed. Really though, his room was the safest place for him--if he hung around near me any longer, I was liable to smack his freshly wiped little butt. It's funny how I spend so much effort trying to get him to control himself and his impulses, when really if I'm pushed far enough, all I want to do is scream and hit and throw things, too. I guess we all have a melting point.

I apologized to him again for losing my cool, but I started to worry that I had started a bad trend. I didn't want to spend my days yelling at Rollie and counting down the hours until he was in bed so I could consume an entire box of wine and pass out on the couch by 9. And if I have to scream at my son when he's only two, how am I supposed to get his attention when he's ten? Maybe I should start saving up for a bullhorn. Ay-yay-yay....

But I really do think it was a passing phase. Now that a few days have gone by, I think the little worm is gone. Maybe he found another host, or maybe he just curled up and died. Because right now, even though he's supposed to be taking a nap, Rollie has just sprinted past in a diaper and a pair of green rain boots, and all I want to do is laugh.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Liar, Liar, Mom-Jeans On Fire

Since Rollie has been old enough to start asking for things, I have discovered that I am a big, fat liar.

I think this is part of being a mom--for the longest time I truly believed that my parents were going to buy me a horse. And not just buy me a horse, but build a fence in our backyard for the horse to live. For years I envisioned a beautiful brown horse with a white nose sleeping in my playhouse, and coming to my window in the morning, where I would lean out and feed it carrots for breakfast and stroke his long muzzle, and then leap from my windowsill and only his broad back so he could take me to school. I imagined how jealous my classmates would be as they climbed off of the boring yellow school bus, and here I'd come galloping up astride my very own horse.

It was my mother who fanned the flames of this fantasy. I distinctly remember discussing with her the possiblility of our getting a horse on several occasions.

Me: Mom, can we get a horse?

My Mom: We'll see.

Me (the wheels already spinning) : Could we keep him in the backyard?

My Mom: Maybe. It's big enough for one.

Me: Would we need a barn?

My Mom: Your playhouse is big enough for a horse.

Me: When can we get one?

My Mom: I don't know. I've always wanted a horse.

Me (hardly believing my luck that here, all this time, my mother and I both wanted a horse and now here we were, having an actual discussion about the possibility of getting one. To an eight-year-old girl, that's as good as a yes): Me, too.

Needless to say, I'm still waiting for my mom to make good on that little promise.

But the other day, I found myself having a similar discussion with Rollie. He wasn't asking for anything as elaborate as a hooved animal for a pet, but the intensity of his desire for a Lightning McQueen remote control car was very familiar. As was my response.....

Rollie (as we walk down the toy aisle at Target): Lightning McQueen!

Me: I see him.

Rollie: Can I have him please, Momma?

Me: You don't really need him, baby.

Rollie: He goes super fast!

Me: Yes he does.

Rollie (now removing the Lightning McQueen car from the shelf and walking toward our cart with it): Can I have him, Momma?

Me: Not today, Rollie. Maybe another time.


I know damn well I'm never going to buy this remote control car for my son. A. He has a bajillion cars at home, B. This Lightning McQueen fetish is a phase he is currently at the pinnacle of, and so if I were to wait until say, Christmas to buy this thing, he will play with it for a total of five seconds before either he gets sick of it or it breaks, and C. if I say yes to every impulse buy of his, I'd already be in some serious credit card debt.

But the phrase Not Today...therein lies the problem. Not Today leaves open the possibility of tomorrow, and every other subsequent day from now until he gets a job and can buy his own toys. Not Today leaves a sliver of hope. Not Today's main function is to cut off any tantrum, bout of begging or other such spectacle before it even begins. But Not Today, to a two-year-old, is also as good as a Yes.

Yet I find myself using Not Today or a variation of it in all kinds of situations. If he asks for a trip to the beach and I know I'm not taking him, I say "Maybe." If he wants to watch Cars (again), but if I have to hear Lightning McQueen say "Cka-CHOW" one more time I'm going to stab myself in the ear in the ear with a crazy straw, I say "Not right now." Which of course, to a two-year-old, means "Any time after Now." Which is why he asks again two minutes later. Sigh.

And that's not all I lie about. I tell him the orange scribbles on his paper look exactly like the dinosaur he said he drew. I tell him he did a great job putting his pants on even though they're on backwards and both of his legs are shoved into one pant-leg. I let him believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, that birdies and lizards who cross his path are saying hello to him. It's no wonder kids his age are completely egocentric. It's parents like me who perpetuate that attitude.

But in all fairness, I understand why we do it. Why we lie. I understand that we do it to keep our children happy, to protect them from some of the ugly truths in life. They have plenty of time to figure it out without us telling them they suck at getting dressed or can't draw for crap.

I am, however, still waiting for my pet horse....