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Archive for January 2011

Shut Up And Drive

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I’m not going to lie; there are times when I love staying at home with my son, and the thought of leaving him on a daily basis for a career is enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Today was not one of those days.

To be fair to my son, it wasn’t his fault that my day sucked. It’s been a bad week for all of us; Jon has been gone a minimum of 12 hours each day this week working ridiculously long retail shifts and preparing the team he organized  for a case competition at the UW.

And what was I doing while he focused on building his future career? I was sleeping on the floor with a toddler who had the stomach flu and couldn’t get comfortable anywhere else. I was scrubbing brown puke out of the white carpet -and may I point out that, at least when it comes to puke, progress is not our friend? I miss the good old days of milky spit-up. Gag-inducing stench and chunks of partially digested apple probably won’t inspire the same sense of nostalgia for me, even in retrospect.

I’ve also hosted two 8 hour playdates this week, spent two full afternoons trying to convince my toddler that the neighbor’s dogs aren’t trampolines and wasted over an hour on the phone trying to communicate with incompetent quasi-English speaking receptionists who consistently try to schedule my appointments using the Julian calendar…and then an additional hour trying to explain to those same receptionists that I was not going to be able to make it to those appointments after all because of all the puke. Did I mention the puke? It was sort of our theme this week.

And, not to minimize Jon’s contributions to our happy little family unit…but I did it all pregnant (opted to skip the heels, though).

Of course, after every supreme act of parenting heroism you can expect a bit of a parenting meltdown. Mine occurred this afternoon in the Fred Meyer parking lot, when my two year-old managed to lay claim the driver’s seat and locked me out of the car. (Damn you, automatic locking doors!) Thankfully the keys were outside the car when this locking occurred, or the grocery trip would have blown our meager grocery budget out of the water.

I stood there outside the car, uncomfortably aware of my pregnancy, trying to convince this pre-linguistic, diaper-wearing child of mine to remove his full body weight from the one lock that isn’t rusted into place on our car. I remember thinking, “Well, this couldn’t get more ridiculous.”

Of course, the obese, stubbly driver of the dilapidated RV more or less permanently parked out in the back lot chose that moment to approach me.

“Locked out?” he asked, genuinely concerned.

“I’ve got the keys,” I assured him quickly, smiling gratefully/wearily back at him. “I just have to wait until he gets tired of sitting on the lock.”

The man laughed. “Glad you’re not completely locked out, anyway! That’s pretty funny…reminds me of a movie I saw. Do you watch much comedy?”

“Not…a lot. Some,” I replied, not wanting to completely alienate the one human being to speak to me in non-gibberish in the last 48 hours.

“You’d like this one,” the man assured me. “It had Will Ferrell in it, and that other guy…Adam McKay!”

My heart sank.

“I can’t remember what it was called, but it started out with this kid doing this exact same thing, at this exact same age,” the man continued. “Little kid stole his parents car and just went driving off with it as fast as he could! Funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Oh! I remember, it was Galletega…Taddelgegga…Talladega Nights, that’s what it was.”

That’s right, I’m locked out of my crappy ancient Honda, literally watching my ankles swell up while a voluntarily homeless man jovially compares my son to Ricky Bobby. This is me. This is my life.

I doubt I was smiling anymore at this point in the conversation.

And that is why the rest of the afternoon was dedicated to watching esoteric documentaries and researching obscenely expensive preschools in our area. And ways to more effectively cover my hormone-crazed boobs. You know, just to distance myself from Leslie Bibb in any and every way possible. That separation is all I’ve got right now.

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Written by GRSeim

January 28, 2011 at 6:04 am

Free to be Me

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“There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. . . . Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me -– whatever that was -– but somebody actually needed me to be that. . . . If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.” – Toni Morrison.

I am 22, and my personality is still flexible. I am not, perhaps, as completely moldable as I was at 19, when I gave birth to my first child. I feel a change in my bones, a stiffening, and I know in my heart that my relationship with the child that I am currently expecting will be different from the one I share with his or her older brother -I have grown bolder, more confrontational, better prepared to make a greater assertion of My Self but with less room for that Self to regenerate itself into gentler, more palatable forms.

I experience a deep sense of ambivalence when I consider these changes in myself; on the one hand, it is hard for me to turn my back on the popular parenting lie so accepted in my community, that it is vital to provide complete equality to your children in order to avoid sibling rivalry. Raised on the biblical stories of Cain and Able, Jacob and Esau, this threat chills me. Although I recognize the roots of this myth as fallacy (to treat two people identically is to not know or love either of them at all), it is hard to admit to myself that I could not provide this kind of stability for my children even if all of our lives depended on it. I have not reached that plateau of personality that so many experts consider the definitive trait of all good mothers; a phrase about correlation and causation runs through my mind.

On the other hand, though, I feel a surge of joy and gratitude toward my children as I realize that they are actively turning me into the mother that they will need me to be, not just here in the moment, but for years, decades -for the time that we enjoy sharing this planet with one another. Although I hate the saccharine sentiment about the young mother growing up with her children, there is a certain amount of truth to it. Just as surely as I am raising them, they are also raising me –raising me to a new level of awareness, a new plane of existence from which I can finally forgive old hurts, accept new joys and make progress in a way that would not have been possible if I had journeyed on my own.

Written by GRSeim

January 2, 2011 at 5:54 pm