Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Getting Along: Baby Steps

Someone once said it's the little things that mean the most.
(Or maybe it was Hallmark.)
I try to remember this as I challenge myself to Keep the Peace with Maleficent. To keep us all communicating for Cinderella's sake.
It's not easy.
It took us 7 years to get to this point, it will take more than 7 months to overcome it.
Maleficent seems to be having an even harder time breaking the habits of her bad behavior as evidenced by some recent events which resulted in a heated phone call with Prince Charming last night but that's a whole other post.]
I'm not at the point where I'm ready to invite her in for a cup of coffee. I don't know if I will ever Trust her enough for that.
Maybe one day. But not this day.
For now I'm taking Baby Steps.

Like informing
Maleficent on all of the "girl talks" I have had with Cinderella. She is almost 10 and oh-so-curious about these things called bras, tampons, and...yeah... O.R.G.A.S.M. I make sure I let Maleficent know every detail, so she doesn't feel left out.
I offered to put pretty photos that I have taken of Cinderella over the years on a CD for Her.
I asked Her to copy home movies of Cinderella on to DVD, as a surprise for Prince Charming. I have never seen Cinderella as a Baby and Hubby's VHS movies are packed away somewhere.
Maleficent agreed to do it without hesitation.
I've complimented Her role as an early-childhood educator and asked Her opinion on Hansel's preschool. I firmly believe that, next to parenting, teaching is one of the most important jobs a person can do and I wanted her to know that.
I included
Maleficent on my list of things-to-by-at-the-craft-store for my Mother's Day crafts, and helped Cinderella make the craft for her Mom. Cinderella loves crafting and what Mom doesn't appreciate homemade gifts?
I've bitten my tongue on more than one occasion. Like when She pointed out how commited she was to making things work for Cinderella's sake.
You should be committed is what I wanted to say.
"We're all committed," is what I did say.
I smile politely and make idle chit chat when she picks Cinderella up. I struggle to keep things friendly even though I am currently seething over the continued spitefulness.
One Foot in front of the other.
One Step farther away from the Past.
One Step closer to peace harmony something better more tolerable.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Growing Up: Explaining The Big "O" [Yes I Mean *THAT* One]

What's an Orgasm?
[A blood vessel in my brain explodes.]
It says it here in my Book.
Cinderella proceeds to show me a series of cartoons in one of her "Let's Talk About Sex And Periods And Bras So You Can Wow and Amaze Your Parents Over Your Vast Knowledge Of These Subjects and Watch Them Squirm As You Attempt To Engage Them In A Conversation About It" books and one of them makes a reference to an orgasm.
So, what is It? What is an Orgasm?
[Again with that word! Why, OH WHY does she have to keep saying THAT WORD?? Can't She just point to it on the page and then giggle like any normal awkward pre-adolescent would do?!?!? She's not even 10 for Chrisakes!]
I proceed to explain to Her that an Orgasm is ... I have no idea what I said as the sound of my voice was suddenly drowned out by the cacophony of blood vessels exploding inside my own head.

[Actually, what I did tell Cinderella was that it's something that usually happens when two people are having sex and it's something that feels good. Whatever the Question I always try to give our children matter-of-fact age-appropriate answers no matter how badly their questions make me want to run from the room screaming. And thanks to this honesty they come to ME and not my Husband who actually does run from the room screaming.]

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Don't Tell Tom

Doctor's Office?
I'd like to make an Appointment please.
Ok, for a routine exam?
No... umm... to talk to someone about ... Post-Partum Depression.
Oh, ok, honey. Let's see what we can do.
The professional tone in her voice immediately changes and becomes a verbal embrace - gentle, comforting and sympathetic. Like an arm around my shoulder she guides me through what she knows is a difficult Phone Call.

After a few moments of silence she apologizes and explains that she is seeing what she can do to find a slot.
She knows as well as I do of the potential seriousness of my call.
She does not want me to wait longer than necessary to come in.
What she does not know is that I have done the research and am erring more on the side of caution.
Still I want to be sure.

Accepting it as a possibility wasn't easy. Talking about it to The Husband was difficult.
I was afraid of him thinking less than me.
I felt Guilty over giving him one more thing to worry about.
But I challenged myself to be completely open and honest with Him.
I owe it to Myself. I owe it to our Kids.
He was supportive and understanding.
I've been asking other Moms about their experiences. Talking to my own Mom.
And now I am writing it down here.
I decided to tackle this head on. Whatever it is. Not hide behind the Veil of Perfection that Mothers create for themselves. That I have created for Myself.
I know I am a Good Mother.
I know what makes me a Good Mother is being able to admit that I am not Perfect.
That sometimes I need Help.
And that it's OK to ask for it, and take it when it is offered.
My doctor's appointment is for next Thursday.
In the meantime, if you're a preachy cult follower you can go sell your crazy someplace else.
We're all stocked up here.

Tummy Time

Being the cause for my flabby tummy, the least She could do is give me something to look at while I do my crunches.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Because I Am Secretly Competing With Amalah For Cutest Baby Pics

Amalah's Noah is so cutylicious.
I can't help but steal be inspired by his pics.
I think The Mouse wins the
Punk Baby contest hands-down!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Have You Ever...

... finished feeding your baby who then spits up and you reach for a burp cloth to clean up the river that is flowing from their mouth and when you turn back to said baby you find the spit-up is GONE?
Where does the spit-up go?

Lost and Found

I pull into the Driveway.
It's 3pm. No sign of the Bus yet.
I made it Home in time.
I was visiting a Friend and had to rush Home on an empty tank of gas to meet Cinderella off the School Bus.
She is only home for an hour before BioMom comes to pick her up for her scheduled visitation but Hubby wanted me to be here to make sure She does her Homework.
You're more responsible, he tells me.
Reluctantly, I agree. Even I can't ignore the fact that each time Cinderella takes homework to BioMom's something does not get done, is conveniently forgotten or does not get checked.

[I continue to hope that one of these days she will learn how to balance being Cinderella's Gal Pal while not shirking her parental responsibility. In the meantime, Cinderella can rely on her Dad and I to teach her about responsibility and accountability.]
The Mouse is hungry and needs a nap but I decide to wait for Cinderella before I feed Her.
5 minutes.
10 minutes.
No bus.
It's 3:13pm.
I call Cinderella's Elementary School to find out if the buses are running late.
She is normally home by now.
No, they are all on time. Call the Transportation Office. They will locate the Bus for you.
I hang up and call the number for Transportation. Give the Woman on the other end the Bus number.
I am put on hold as she radios the Driver.
He says he already dropped off on your street.
Well, my Stepdaughter isn't home.
What's your house number? Ok, hold on.
Again, I am put on hold.
Panic starts to creep in. Could this really be happening?
Hello? Yeah, He says he dropped Cinderella off at your House.
Well, She is not here.
::sigh:: Hold on.
The Boy is hungry and asks for a snack. The Mouse, still in her carseat begins to fuss.
Ma'am? The Driver says he saw Cinderella go into the House.
That's not possible. No one was Home. The Doors were locked and she does not have a Key.
Are you in the house now?
Umm... YES.
Is it possible she came in with someone else?
Umm... NO.
::sigh:: Ok, hold on.
Her sighs are not that of annoyance but of slight panic.
The Mouse is losing her Patience, so I attempt to nurse her while the Transportation Lady tries to locate my missing Child.
A noise on the Street outside.
Cinderella's bus now pulls up. The Driver looks nervously around the street and toward my House.
At first I think he realized that Cinderella was still on the Bus and he is here to drop her off but then I figure out that he has come back to try and help locate her.
The Mouse is still nursing. I am still on hold. I can do nothing but stare at him from my living room window.
Hello? Ma'am? He says he dropped Her off at your House and saw her come in.
There is no way He saw Her come in here. I was not at home. The Doors were locked. She does not have a Key. The driver is out front, I should go talk to him and then call around to the neighbor's.
Ok, Ma'am. Can you call me back please? I will try and help you however I can.
I open the front door. The Bus Driver and I stare at each other for a moment. My mind is racing as to where She can be.
She got off the Bus. I saw her go into the House.
Maybe you saw Her open the screen door but the inside door is locked. She is not Here. She's probably at a Friend's. I am going to call around now.
I try to reassure him and myself at the same time.
This is one of those times when the difference between Bio and Step children becomes painfully obvious.
Not only am I worried for Cinderella's safety but I am terrified of what The Husband and Her BioMom are going to say when they learn that I have lost their daughter. THEIR daughter.

Not mine.
In my mind flashes the scene from Stepmom where Isabel/Stepmom loses Ben in Central Park and is confronted by Jackie/BioMom in the police station. I think of this and start to feel like an irresponsible Ninny.

[How could I be so selfish as to visit a friend in need when I have the responsiblility of being home for Cinderella?]
[Why didn't I leave Her house earlier?]
We've gone over this procedure with Cinderella before. Told her what to do and where to go if she were to get off the Bus and find noone at Home. She is to go to one of three Neighbor's houses either directly across the Street or next door.
She is not any of those three Houses.
I call her Girlfriend's House around the corner. They are practically inseparable these days. Playdates can't end without a Pajama Party at one of our Houses. If I were Cinderella, that's where I would go.
The Girlfriend's Mom answers.
Oh, hi. The girls are upstairs doing their homework.
Umm, yes. Didn't she call you?
No she did not and I have been looking for her for the past 20 minutes. She needs to come home.
The Mother is stunned and tries to apologize for not making sure Cinderella called Home.
I have no interested in discussing what should have happened. I am relieved to know She is OK and just want Her to come Home so I can STRANGLE HER.
This is one of those times when the difference between Bio and Step children ceases to matter.
The panic-replaced-by-relief-replaced-by-rage that every Parent feels when their child makes this kind of mistake is Universal.
When she walks in the Door I start out sounding like a worried parent but quickly morph into something more like
The look on her Face reassures me that she will never do this again.

But I know better.
In the meantime, I wish someone would invent LoJack for kids.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

[Not-So] Merry-Go-Round

It's 11:30pm.
I am plagued by thoughts of dread for tomorrow.
The Boy needs $6 for an in-house field trip at his preschool.
[SIX DOLLARS and they aren't even going anywhere. What the fuckity fuck?!]
There is $1.20 in our checking account.
The Husband doesn't have enough gas in his car to get to work.
The storage facility that we are renting charged $600 on my debit card thus leaving us with one dollar and twenty cents.
[A credit was supposedly issued on Monday but according to my suckass bank it can take up to four, FOUR business days for that money to reappear. Yeah, try telling that one to my car insurance company who is waiting for my overdue premium payment.]
What's a parent to do?
Do we send him to school without the money knowing that he could watch as the rest of his class participate in the field trip while he is left behind?
Do we keep him home to avoid things altogether?
Do we beg the school to allow him to go to the field trip with the promise of an I.O.U.?
What if they say no?
This ride on the money merry-go-round is not fun.
I want to get off.

[Updated to add Hubby came through, as he always does. The Boy was able to participate in the ridiculously overpriced field trip which was an interactive story-teller. Whatever the cost, he had a blast. His imagination and love of reading fueled by the experience.]

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day (The Preschool Way)

This year I received my very first Mother's Day school project.
Inside, The Boy signed his own name.
I couldn't be more proud.

[Uploaded using Mobile Blogger because I am too lazy to go downstairs and create this post.]

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Hair Pulling.
Knees to the kidneys.
Pulling on yo' mama's nose, lips, teeth and anything else within reach.

Breastfeeding is a full contact sport, and The Mouse (who is 6 months old today) is not playing fair.

Friday, May 12, 2006

What NOT To Say To Your Wife Two Days Before Mother's Day

Having children hasn't done the best to you.
Uhh... Excuse me?
It's not an insult. It's just that becoming mother has changed the way you look.

[Oh, and don't slam the front door in a huff when she doesn't want to kiss you goodbye for fear her UGLY might rub off on you.]

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Do You Know the Repo-Man?

Do you know the Repo-Man?
The Repo-Man?
The Repo-Man.
Yes, I know the Repo-Man,
And this is how we met.

The phone rings.
I realize I am laying crosswise on the bed, the DVD of King Kong still flashes brightly and booms on the big screen TV in our bedroom.
I fell asleep while watching it but don't remember even closing my eyes.
I pick up.
Hi, Wiff.
The Husband is away on a business trip and is calling to say Goodnight.
It's 11:20pm.
I am sleepy and disoriented and it takes me a moment to remember that He is not here. Not calling to tell me he is on his way home from a late night at work.
I suddenly become aware of another Noise in the house.
It's coming from outside the bedroom. In the livingroom.

It is loud enugh to be heard over the booming stereo sound of the TV.
It's the sound of glass windows rattling in their wooden frames.
Someone is banging on our front door.
I head out of the bedroom and peer around the corner into the living room to see a Man.
There's a Man on our front porch banging on our door.
He is bald. With an earring. He looks like Mr. Clean. Only shorter. A mini-Mr. Clean.
He has the storm door open and is standing between it and the front door.
Knocking. BANGING.
I am frozen in terror.
My heart starts to pound with the realization that I am alone. The Husband is hundreds of miles away and I am alone in the house with three children.
I stand in the dark in silence.
Are you dreaming?
My husband doesn't know what else to ask.
No, hon there is a fucking Man standing on our front porch and He is banging on the door. I am alone in the house with our three children.
I scream at him in a whisper because I don't want this Stranger to hear me.
I then become aware of the TV still blaring in the bedroom. If I turn it off, He will know someone is Home and awake. Our bedroom window faces the street and is directly next to the front door.
I don't move.
Who is He?
How the hell am I supposed to know?
My heart is racing. I start to shake.
Just then he walks away. Moments later I hear the sounds of a large vehicle driving up the block. I catch a glimpse of the lights of a large truck, a flatbed, as it drives slowly passed the livingroom windows.
He's gone.
We determine that Mr. Clean must be associated with the phone calls we've been getting for the past several weeks. Husband has missed a couple of payments and is close to defaulting on his car loan. Yes, the Costs of Custody are far reaching.
I hang up with The Husband and find myself checking to make sure all of the windows are locked. I close the blinds in the livingroom, lock the screen door, turn off the porch light, and sit in the livingroom in darkness trying to process and recover from what just happened.
It's a good hour before I am able to get to sleep.
**Fast forward, one week later. **

Every night since the visit from Mr. Clean I have been following the same routine.
Windows? Locked.
Front & Storm doors? Locked.
Blinds? Drawn.
Livingroom Lights? Off.
TV? On, but volume turned so low I have to read lips.
It's now midnight and I am nursing The Mouse in our bedroom.
Again The Husband is not Home.
From down the block I hear the sounds of a large flatbed truck drive up in front of our house.
My heart starts to race. Mr. Clean has returned.
I sit in bed, my 5 month old infant alseep on my breast.
I listen.
The truck door opens.

The truck door closes.
Footsteps in the driveway.

Heading up the front steps. They are heavy and purposeful.
They reach the front door.

What happened next is a bit of a blur but goes something like this:
- Get up from bed and gently lay The Mouse down in one graceful movement so as not to wake her.
- Storm out of the bedroom teeth clenched and head to the front door.
- Totally spaz and miss the front door knob because the SEETHING ANGER apparently hinders gross motor skills.
- Successfully manage to grab the doorknob on Attempt #2, swing open the door, shove the storm door open and unleash the following verbal bitch slap to the Chucklehead now staring at me all wide eyed like a deer caught in the headlights.
It's not illegal. He dares to speak.
I close the front door and walk towards to the kitchen to call 9-1-1.
Mr. Clean stands on the front porch yelling at me through closed doors and bangs on the door a couple of more times for good measure.
The police are painfully slow. I should have
By the time the officer was finished getting my information -- do you reside at...? do you know who this person is? have you ever seen him before? ok, so you say you are alone in the house with three children? and oh, are you in a safe place? -- Mr. Clean leaves.
Nevermind officer, he's gone.
So... Do you still want us to send someone out?
Well, no there's no point now. He's gone fuckyouverymuch.

The next night, I disconnected the doorbell and sat in my livingroom in the dark until midnight.
Waiting for his next visit.
Yes, I know the Repo-Man.
I wish he'd go away.

Monday, May 8, 2006

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn

Hey, you there?
My online Buddy IM's me.
We used to be co-workers in another life. What were once daily office chats are now quick IMs sent across telephone and DSL lines.
He's a stay-at-home-dad, fellow
blogger and, like me, has a 4 year old and a 6 month old.
He's also a newshound. He scours the news sites on a daily basis and often sends me links to current events stories.

(Sometimes more often than I'd like because who the hell wants to be reminded of all the bad news out there these days?)
(I think he thinks I am too ignorant on world events.)
Today he tells me of an article he read recently that noted a story about Ernest Hemingway who was once challenged to write a novel in 6 words. This is what he came up with:

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

How incredibly sad, my Buddy notes.
I agree. Nestled within those 6 words is a profound sense of loss that we, as parents, hope beyond all hope that we will never have to experience firsthand.
A few days later I am still pondering those words and find myself with a different take on them.
In this age of excess (Can you SUPERSIZE those fries, please?) Hemingway's words read more like an eBay ad posted by a someone who finds themself as my friend and I do with too many baby clothes and just not enough days in the week.
Just for fun I go to The Mouse's closet.
I pull out her shoes one by one.
I count 11 pairs of shoes.

Two of those pairs still have the tags on them.
One pair is size 0-3 months. A pair of pink and blue sneakers that I just HAD TO HAVE when I was still pregnant with her and which she has never worn.
She has but two feet. Two deliciousy kissable feet with 10 pudgy little piggies.
Feet which look much better naked than covered up with man-made leather uppers and canvas.

Hemingway's Greatest Novel?
Or one Mom's desperate attempt at reclaiming money pissed away frivolously lovingly spent on too many baby clothes?
You decide.
And in the meantime, anyone wanna buy a pair of baby shoes? [NWT!]

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Killing Me Softly

I emerge from the bathroom. It is the only place where I can sometimes get a moment of peace. So it seemed the most logical place for my self-imposed time-out.
The Boy greets me as I head back to the living room.
Mommy, there's Nothing to worry about.
His words are spoken with the same tenderness as a Parent would speak to a Child who is in Distress.
He opens his tiny arms. I melt into his embrace and feel the wave of Guilt overcome me.

I'm sorry, Baby.
It's ok Mommy.
The camoflauge fleece shirt he picked out all by himself this morning soaks up the tears which stream down my face.
My heart breaks. His Words are killing me. His attempts to comfort me drive the Guilt further.
He's too young for this kind of role reversal. He's not quite 4 and already possesses the wisdom of someone well beyond his years.
He is profoundly sensitive, thoughtful and understanding.
He knows I did not mean it. Somewhere inside he knows this. (He does know this, right?)
The child in him is confused and perhaps a little scared.
But the wise old elder in him knows this isn't about him.
My doctor told me months ago that breastfeeding mimics Menopause.
It was the fear of early menopause that brought to me to my OB's Office nearly a year ago.
Instead I left the office that day with the knowledge that I was pregnant.
Well no wonder you're moody.
The midwife joked with me while trying to allay my concerns.
I know now that pregnancy is not the reason for my moodiness.
[Unless we're talking about another Immaculate Conception, in which case someone call the Guinness Book of World Records because WHOOHOO! we're gonna be rich!]
Breastfeeding causes the same hormonal fluctuations as menopause.
3 kids + Hormones + financial woes + race ever survive?=one stressed out Mommy in need of frequent time outs.
I yell more often than I like. Yell because of stress I cannot control.
I yell because I don't know what else to do.
And I yell because I am angry disappointed in myself for letting the stress get to me and for exposing my children to this. For making my son back away from me in fear because I lacked the self-control.
It's ok Mommy.
Thanks, Baby.
But it's not ok. You didn't do anything.

Mommy's sorry.
I promise I'll do better.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Cinderella leaves her Mother's separation-anxiety-induced-death-grip loving embrace and heads for the front door.
She is home from her weekend visitation with BioMom.
Her Mother calls out as She walks away.
Okay Mom.
No, Don't. BioMom shakes her head. Don't.
I am sitting on the couch with The Mouse. The livingroom windows are opened so my ears are privy to this suspicious exchange between Cinderella and BioMom.
Cinderella opens the front door and greets us.
My curiosity piqued, I break a cardinal rule and violate #3 & #4 on the
Children of Divorce Bill of Rights.
Don't, what, babe?
Her face shows the tell-tale signs of a child caught doing something they know they shouldn't be doing.
Oh it's nothing.
I know it's more than nothing. If it involves her Mother, it's definitely SOMETHING.
I ask again.

My gentle prodding brings forth a flood of tears and insistence on Her part that it's Nothing. She doesn't want to talk about it.
I try to reassure Her that I am now concerned. Her tears are upsetting me. She does not cry for no reason or over Nothing.
Cinderella stands firm. She does not want to talk to Me about this.
Then she says it.
It's between Mommy and Me.
Cinderella has never said this before which leads me to suspect She was prompted to say it if questioned.

I know I am wrong for asking. It violates Cinderella's right to privacy. She has a Right to have conversations with her BioMom and She does not have to share them with us.
It's difficult to give Her that right to privacy knowing full-well that Her Mom is not modeling the proper behavior. She is not teaching Her the proper values. That she is teaching Cinderella to keep secrets, be deceitful and hide things from Her Dad and Me.
We have to give Cinderella the Freedom to have these conversations with Her mother. And trust that despite Her mother's influence, that We are raising Her to do the right thing.
I know what I must do.
I must apologize to Cinderella.
Apologize for upsetting Her.
Apologize for asking about something that was none of my business.
Apologize in an effort to restore Her trust in us and in Her right to privacy.
Apologize and remind Her that we have Faith that she knows the difference between Right and Wrong.
We cannot control BioMom. We can only do our best to raise Cinderella to be strong enough to stand up for what's Right.
Strong enough to know that one day that may also include standing up to her own Mother.

Updated to add that I DID apologize and, as a result, Cinderella DID clue me in on the "big secret" right in the middle of my apology.

(Turns out it wasn't that big of a secret after all and somewhat of a misinterpretation on my part.)

(I'm sure there's a lesson in there about eavesdropping but we're talking about Cinderella, NOT ME!)

Cinderella also confessed that she knew she had made a wrong choice about something over the weekend [parental guilt wins again!], which went totally against something her Dad had asked her to do while she was visiting BioMom. Something which BioMom constantly overrules him on and tells Cinderella she can do the OPPOSITE and that her Dad can bring it up with Her if he has a problem with it fuckyouverymuch. Cinderella knew it was wrong and felt she needed to let me know, despite what her Mom told Her.

That's one good kid we've got here.