Sunday, March 24, 2013

Screw the Oscars

We just got through awards season.  The time of year when all of Hollywood dresses up in super-fancy, super-expensive designer clothes and spends a lot of time and money congratulating itself on being creative, talented, culturally relevant, and just generally (in its own opinion) tremendously awesome. 

I just got to the middle of potty training season.  The time of year where I learned the important lesson that diarrhea and potty training do not mix.  Nothing about that was tremendously awesome.

Let’s face it, parenting is not for the faint of heart.  Or the squeamish of stomach.  In the first year of your child’s life, you will deal with more bodily excretions than you can ever imagine.  By the time your child is potty training, it is such old hat, you will start discussing said bodily excretions with perfect strangers while in line at the grocery store or on the elevator.  Much to their embarrassment.  Theirs.  Not yours.  After spending just a few months with a tiny human, your ability to be embarrassed will be totally numbed.

This year, during awards season, Anne Hathaway got a bunch of awards for singing I Dreamed a Dream while covered with pretend dirt and pretend grime and pretending to have all her hair cut off in a pretend dank alleyway by pretend bad guys and also pretending to prostitute herself to pretend johns for pretend money.

Yesterday, I got absolutely nothing for singing “We’re going to Pee in the Pot-Ty! We’re going to Pee in the Pot-Ty!” repeatedly to a toddler who didn’t quite make it to the toilet and, instead, peed on my hand while I was helping her pull down her Minnie Mouse panties.  And there was nothing pretend about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Golden Globes, the Oscars, the Tonys, the Grammys, and the Emmys.  I love watching the stars dressed in their finery.  I am sometimes amazed by the performances they give on screen or stage.  But I am also jealous.

That’s right.  I admit it.  I am jealous.  I want awards.  I want lots of awards.  I want to pretend to be humble about my awards when I am interviewed by Katie Couric or Matt Lauer.  I want to say things like “Oh, that old thing?  I was honored just to be nominated” and “I keep it in my bathroom to remind me that it’s not really all that important.” But, really, that will be a lie because I want to have so many awards for what I do that I have to build a special room for them. 

But, no one gives you awards for Momming.  And, last night, I decided that the only way anyone is going to get any awards for doing what I do is to invent the damn things. 

So, welcome to The Ickys….awards for the contact sport that is parenting.

No one at The Ickys dresses up in any finery.  Shirts with spit-up on them are de rigueur.  We don’t have a red carpet….but we do have a big, purple beach towel that only got a little bleach spilled on it in that one corner and you hardly notice it.  When you are standing on our purple towel being asked “who are you wearing?” the interviewer means which kid’s chewed-up-then-spit-out green beans are globbed on your left shoulder.   

And when we give you an Icky, it’s for something you only wish was pretend.

So, without further ado….here are the first annual Icky Awards.


Back when Iris was just a month or so old…back when we didn’t know what the hell we were husband was changing Iris’s diaper.  I was sitting across the room, attached to a medieval torture device that is commonly referred to as a breast pump.  Suddenly, I hear Quinten make a strangled yelp.  It sounded like the noise a person would make if they came to the top of an escalator for which there was no second floor and they just fell over the edge. 

I looked up and saw my husband balancing on one leg, still holding Iris’s foot, looking down at some dark brown splotches on his clothes and the family room carpet. 

Me: What happened?
Quinten: She pooped!
Me: What do you mean she pooped?
Quinten: (pointing at the splotches that extended about five feet across the floor from the changing pad and which peppered the front of his pants)  I mean she POOPED!!
Me: (laughing)

It took Quinten three days and four different products to finally get the stains out of our carpet.


I had this conversation with a friend of mine, another potty-training mom, not too long ago:

Her: So, I saw something weird in B’s poop, so I did something you’re going to think is really gross.
Me: You reached in and fished it out of the toilet, didn’t you?
Her: Worse.
Me: Worse?
Her: I got a fork and kind of squished it up to see if I could find anything. 
Me: (laughing)
Her: Now I don’t know what to do with the fork.
Me: (stopping the laughter) Wait?  What?
Her: It’ll get sanitized by washing it in the dishwasher, won’t it?
Me:  You used silverware??  I don’t know.  I’m not sure I’d ever trust that fork again.
Her: What would you do?
Me:  I’d have used a plastic fork.


Sometimes, the Ick is all in your perspective.  As evidenced by the following conversation I had with another friend:

Her: W managed to get a poopy diaper out of the trash while I was cleaning poop out of R’s undies. I found W with a poopy wipe in his mouth. I can't sanitize him enough. I am so grossed out.
Me: Is it really worse than the time when R licked the floor of the Home Depot?  I mean, at least you know where the poop on that wipe came from.
Her: You’ve got a point….


So, when Iris was younger, she didn’t like baths.  At all. Ever.  From the time we brought her home from the hospital, she would start screaming as soon as she saw water in the tub and wouldn’t stop until long after she was dry.  It was, to say the least, unpleasant for everyone involved.  And then I hit on the idea of getting into the tub with Iris so I could hold her. Which worked, thank God.  And, because it worked, I kept doing it longer than I probably should have.  You want to know the day I stopped doing it?  Iris stood up and announced, “I’m peeing!”  And she was.  She definitely was.  


The night before Iris’s third birthday party, she got a stomach bug.  As in, I woke up to the sound of my child wailing at half-past midnight.  Following the noise to her room, I discovered, she’d thrown up all over her bed.  Half-digested barbecue and broccoli everywhere, soaking into sheets and blankets and pillows and even the mattress pad.  So, first there was the cleaning up of the child and then there was the changing of the sheets and blankets on the bed and the finding a new pillow to put on the bed because we’re just going to have to throw that one out. Followed by the taking of the child’s temperature and the child remarking that she feels better now and just wants to lie down.  So, I let her lie down again. 

Big.  Mistake.

She was up again in a matter of minutes and I could see on her face what was coming next.  More vomit.  And my husband lunged for the trash can but I could see that he wasn’t going to make it in time.  And I knew we didn’t have another clean set of sheets for the bed because I’d been slacking on the laundry.  And this is where things started moving in slow motion…I reached out my hands and cupped them together and, dammit, I caught that vomit right in my hands.  All of it.  Every drop.    


Just a couple of mornings ago, I had this conversation with a friend of mine:

Her: Yesterday, B told me “tee-tee tastes like poop.”
Me: She what?
Her: I know!  I told her she shouldn’t be tasting her tee-tee, it could make her sick.
Me: Good advice.  But, how does she know what poop tastes like?
Her: Oh God!  I hadn’t thought that far!  Don’t tell me that!!!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Need You to Settle a Dispute for Me......

I’ve been sick.  I had Rico the cold last week.  Then I got on a plane and went to Rochester, NY to go to my brother’s wedding.  Where I got another cold, who I have christened Julian. Julian is a bastard.  I hate him.  In return, he decided to up the ante and turn into a sinus infection.

So, I’ve spent the last few days exhausted, coughing, trying not to swallow because my throat is sore, and laughing my ass off.  That’s right, laughing.  Because when I’m really sick, I am HILARIOUS.  At least I think I’m hilarious.  Because I am.  And It.  Is.  Awesome.  Quinten, my husband, on the other hand, does not think I’m nearly as funny when I’m sick as I think I am.  He keeps telling me that I am not hilarious.  He is so wrong.

But, I said I would put it to a poll.  I am going to put here a transcript of my twitter conversation with my husband over the last two days and let you, faithful readers, tell me how hilarious I am if I am, indeed, as hilarious as I think I am. 

Let’s start with the fact that, on Monday night, when I was lying on the couch drinking tea and trying not to fall asleep in front of How I Met Your Mother, I decided I wanted comfort food.  And not just any comfort food.  I wanted a donut.  I wanted a donut a lot.  So, I started pestering Quinten to go get me one.  Because I was sick and he was not and the able-bodied should always go get the donuts for the not-able-bodied.  After he put me off a number of times, I took my requests public:

Me: Tonight, I am ending every sentence with “Now get me a donut!” I can’t tell if my husband is amused or annoyed.
Quinten: A little of column A and a little of column B.

Then Quinten, after getting a little bit fed up with my persistent donut-whine, offered me one of the cupcakes we had leftover from Iris’s birthday party.  I ate it. But I was not mollified.  As we were lying in bed right next to each other later that night, I tweeted again:

Me: A cupcake is not a donut. And you did not even leave the house to get it for me. So it does not count.
Me: And, little does Quinten know, I’d really rather have chocolate ice cream. So, even if he does get off his ass to get me a donut, he’s screwed.
Quinten: But in the end, I win because more donut for me.
And then I laughed like a loon for about fifteen minutes because I am so hilarious. 

Quinten responded:

Quinten: Oh please sweet 8 pound, 9 ounce baby Jesus, make sure the Nyquil my wife took takes effect soon.

Then, after I fell asleep, he did this:

Quinten: I’m sorry twitter. My wife is sick and very tired. She thinks she’s hilarious.

In the morning, I responded:

Me: I AM hilarious! I even made myself laugh. That’s how hilarious I am!
Quinten: I’m thinking still really sick.

Quinten is so mean to me.  Because, clearly, I am amazingly hilarious.  You think so, don’t you?  Right?? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Confessions of a Chronic Overpacker

When do you start packing for a trip?

The day before?

Two days?

Or are you one of those lucky people that, two hours before you get on a plane, can throw two handfuls of stuff in a duffle bag and go?

If you are, I sort of hate you.

Because, from day one, I have been an overpacker.  This is one instance where my natural ability to organize and strategize works against me.  I used to say that I’m just one of those people who always tries to have a Plan B.  Somewhere in the last few years I realized that, actually, I always try to have a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E, and Plan F.  Which might be insane.

I try to plan for every eventuality.  For example, what if it rains?  I need to have rain gear with me, right?  And what if the weather is colder than forecast?  Or warmer?  So, I need clothes for that.  Also, I have to assume, even if we are staying at a hotel with guest laundry (or at someone’s home), that the washer and dryer will not be working.  So I cannot plan to wear a shirt more than once because, well, I’m kind of legendary for spilling food down my front.  Thus, I have to pack extra clothes in case I render all clothing unwearable by food stain. 

And, what if we suddenly decide to go to a ball and I didn’t bring my ballgown?  What then?  Yeah, you didn’t think about THAT, did you? 

I bring one and a half pairs of underwear for every day I’ll be gone.  And then one extra pair.  And God forbid I’m going on a trip where I don’t know what it is we’ll be doing.  That would send me into a blind panic and I’d start wondering if I could just ship the entire contents of my closet, dresser, and armoire to my destination.  

I took a three-day weekend trip by myself a few years ago.  I took two suitcases.  One of which almost exceeded the weight limit for plane travel.

I am not famous for anything.  But if I were famous?  It would be for my ability to overpack.

Then I had a child.

If you have a child, I really don’t need to say any more.

If you don’t have a child, let me explain.

You know how, when someone is getting ready to have a child, they register and you can go on the Babies R Us website and see this ridiculously long list of all sorts of toys and clothes and equipment?  You know the one.  It’s the one that’s a mile long with things on it like a changing pad, a diaper bag, two boppy pillows, fourteen receiving blankets, twelve different kinds of bottles with five different kinds of nipples, a bottle warmer, a bottle brush, a breast pump, thirteen pacifiers, a car seat, seventeen burp cloths, twenty-seven bibs, eight sleep sacks, a dizzying array of clothing in either pink or blue, diapers, diaper bags, wipes, a wipe warmer, a bouncy seat, a baby swing, a pack n’ play, a baby carrier, a baby wrap, swaddlers, nursing covers, diaper rash cream, diaper bags, baby soap, baby lotion, baby shampoo, a baby bathtub, baby washcloths, hooded towels, baby thermometers, nasal aspirators, many varieties of baby medicine, baby fingernail clippers, a diaper pail, baby monitors, a white noise machine, a stroller, toys for the car, toys for the house, toys for the stroller, toys for the bathtub, toys for teething, baby books, sippy cups, a high chair, a potty seat, and a crib.

Now imagine packing all of that in a suitcase.  With clothing and toiletries for you and your spouse.

Yeah.  That.

I will admit that things have improved since Iris was an infant.  These days, we can cut that list by about two-thirds.  But we do have to plan for the joy of working with a potty-training child on the road.  Which means trying to figure out just how many pairs of panties we should take with us when we can’t guarantee access to laundry facilities.  But, hey, she can sleep in a rollaway bed these days. 

Currently, I am trying to pack to go to my older brother’s wedding this weekend.  And, never mind that I can’t decide which of my own clothing to bring.  Never mind that half of what I want to bring either doesn’t fit quite right or isn’t clean.  Never mind that I can’t decide what dress I want to wear to the wedding itself, and never mind that I don’t think I even own a pair of panty hose which I will need if I’m going to wear a damn dress.  No.  Never mind any of that. 

Because what I have to do right now is get Iris packed. 

Iris who will only wear spinning dresses.  And who won’t tell me in advance which dresses will spin on any given day (because it changes based on her mood.  Or the barometric pressure.  Or maybe the alignment of Pluto and Saturn.)

Add to all that the fact that the wedding is in Rochester, New York.  Where it will be snowing. 

I think I may be hopelessly not up to this task.

Preliminarily, I have laid out in our guest room (otherwise known as “the staging area”) all the clothing I am thinking of bringing for Iris.  In there, I kid you not, are fifteen pairs of panties, ten dresses with matching leggings (not counting the two options of more formal dresses for her to wear to the actual wedding), eight pairs of socks, two pairs of mittens, two winter hats, three nightgowns, five pairs of tights, three swimsuits, and six little cardigan sweaters.  We will be gone for five days. 

And I am still not sure I’ll have what I need.

And I haven’t even started looking at her books, toys, sippy cups or toiletries.

My husband, Quinten, is no help.  He is also a chronic overpacker.

We leave on Wednesday morning.  Pray for me.  Or, better yet, come over.  I would pay you money to come to my house and pack us for this trip.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tweets of the Damned

When it comes to new technologies and technology trends, my husband and I aren’t early adopters.  We’re more like what-is-that-I-think-I-heard-about-that-six-months-ago-let’s-wait-another-year-before-we-try-it adopters.  So, this is a long and roundabout way of telling you that he and I got ourselves some Twitter accounts not too long ago. 

No one is following us. 

I mean no one.

But, we do follow each other.  

So, for a while, we just tweeted semi-witty or hare-brained things and giggled to ourselves about it.  Then we discovered that we could tweet back and forth to each other.  Kind of a Twitter conversation.  And it was stupid.  And silly.  But fun.  It made us feel witty and clever.

And I figured no one but us would get it or think it was funny.  But, somehow, I think our Twitter dialogues tell you something about our relationship.  And they might make you laugh.  Also, well, maybe someone besides just us will think we are funny. 


1. Quinten and I are trying really hard not to eat too many sweets or between-meal snacks.  Sometimes, I am not very helpful in this regard:

Quinten: That’s 5 cupcakes and 3 tins of cookies at work left over from a Friday birthday.  I could eat it all.  I WILL NOT EAT ANY!
Me: Ummmm….I have a message from a Mister Cup Cake. He says he’s in the break room waiting for you? Is there something I should know?
Quinten: Don’t listen to that sumbitch. He’s a liar. He tells half-truths. He’s tricksy, that one. I haven’t eaten one of his kind since Friday.
Me: Iris has a message for you: “YOU ATE A CUT-CAKE WITHOUT ME?!?!?!??!?!?!!!!!???”
Q: Damn. You caught me.

 2.  Quinten got a cold last week.  He was kind of angry and whiny about it.  I was not particularly sympathetic:

Quinten: I cannot smell one god damn thing. Going to be a great day!
Me: Can you smell things that are not damned by God?
Me: Like, for example, I’m pretty sure God approves of popcorn, so could you smell that?
Me: And I have it on good authority that God actually likes my perfume, so could you smell that?
Me: But burnt plastic…I’m fairly certain that smell would offend God…so you can’t smell burnt plastic, right?
Me: Seems like a pretty good deal for you.
Me: Also, am I going to hell now?
Quinten: I’ll be there with you so at least you won’t be lonely.

 3.  I was punished for my lack of sympathy when I, too, was infected with the cold.  At first, my cold seemed to be more mild than Quinten’s so I could joke about it:

Quinten: The colds my wife and I share take on personalities and develop emotions. Our current cold, named “Rico,” hates us, and wants us to die.
Quinten: Our last cold, named “Barbara,” loved us, and wanted us to die. I sense a theme.
Me: Remember “Sal”? He was so disappointed in you. Because you wouldn’t die.
Me: And “Regina”? She was so happy. Until she realized we weren’t going to die. Then she was just mean.

4.  Then the cold, Rico, got so much worse and I was miserable.  Quinten gets whiny when he gets a cold.  I just get mean.  I blamed Quinten.  After all, he gave me the cold.

Me: Rico is killing me and I kind of hate you now.
Quinten: Blame Rico, he’s the one being a dick. He doesn’t care about us at all. He’s a horrible pathogen.
Me: Rico should be required to come here and potty train Iris as a punishment.
Quinten: Rico doesn’t have hands.
Me: (here is where I got instantly and absurdly irate that Rico did not have hands.  Which is insane because Rico is not real. Anyway, I was tired and sick and I just lashed out)  Fuck him! That’s not my problem! He’ll have to figure it out, dammit!
5.  Then I just started feeling sorry for myself.  And, for the record, this particular Twitter conversation took place while Quinten and I were on separate laptop computers in the same room.  Because we are ridiculous.

Me: When I am sick, I shouldn’t have to come up with a nutritious meal for everyone. I should get to eat chocolate pudding and go to bed.
Quinten: We’ve just eaten two cupcakes. Does that count?
Me: You have to chew cupcakes. You do not have to chew chocolate pudding. So, no, cupcakes don’t count.
Quinten: That’s fair. I think I’ve been lawyered.

And now you will either think we are cute, or that we are nuts.  Actually, we’re never quite sure which it is, ourselves.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do As I Say, Not As I Do, Dammit

Let me start by saying that this whole being-a-good-example thing is hard.  I do not like it.  I am not good at it.  I'm forty years old and I like my bad habits. 

They're endearing. 

Fine.  Maybe not endearing, but I've grown used to having them. 

The thing is, I don’t want Iris to have them.  I want all of Iris's habits to be good.  Yes, I know that’s unrealistic.  Shut up.  I'm entitled to my wishful thinking.

When Iris was younger, I wasn't thinking about the habits Iris might pick up from me.  I wasn’t thinking about any of Iris’s habits.  Or anyone else’s habits, either.  I was too busy trying to keep her fed and happy while managing to stay sane.

But, then Iris came home from preschool one day and sneezed into the crook of her elbow.  See, I didn't teach her that.  They taught her that in preschool.  And it got me to thinking.  I know it's a good thing for her to do.  It's polite.  It’s hygienic.  It's a great habit.  But, yeah, I don't do that.  And I don't mean I-sometimes-do-it-but-most-of-the-time-I-don’t.  I mean, I don't do that.  I know I should, but what I was taught, way back in the dark ages, was to cover my mouth with my hand.  This crook-of-the-elbow stuff is new.  And, if I'm being really honest, I don't even use my hand all of the time.  Sometimes I just sneeze or cough freely without even thinking about it.  Don’t say it.  I know.  I’m good about it in public.

It's just that I want Iris to be good about it all the time.

And she's watching me.  I'm her example!

Which means I’m going to have to start being good about the elbow-coughing thing.  Hell, I’m going to have to start remembering the elbow-coughing thing.  Crap. 

I'm really no one's good example. 

I mean, I don't stand up straight.  Or sit up straight.  I am queen of slouching.  I slouch all the time.  I even periodically tell myself that I need to stop slouching and I go around with my shoulders up and my spine straight for a while, but, within 24 hours, I'm slouching again.  And, sometimes, I talk with my mouth full.  Oh, who am I kidding? I talk with my mouth full a lot.  And it probably doesn’t make it more polite that I cover my mouth with my hand while I do it, does it?  Most days, I don't make my bed.  Or pick my towel up off the floor after my shower.  I chew on pen lids and pencil erasers.  I have been known to pick my nose.  (Oh hush, like you've never done it.) 

Also, when I am home, I don't always wash my hands after I pee.  Every time after I poop, mind you...that's ingrained.  But, you know, sometimes you just didn't get anything on your hands and you're at home and you just want to get out of the bathroom and back to the action and....don’t look at me that way!  I can't be the only one!  But that one’s going to bite me in the ass now that we’re potty training, isn’t it? 

I want Iris to always wash her hands.  And never pick her nose.  And I’d like it if she thought chewing on pens and pencils is gross.  Because it is.  So is talking with your mouth full.  Slouching is bad for your posture and can give you back pain.  I have always planned on having her make her bed every day and clean up after herself in the bathroom. 

I'm going to have to change the way I do a lot of things.  And right quick, too.

Otherwise, I’m going to have a nose-picking, open-mouth-chewer on my hands.  I can see it now, instead of saying, “You should be more like Iris,” the other mothers will say, “Don’t be like that Iris!” and no one will want to have play dates at my house.

Worst of all, I swear.  A lot.  No.  Really.  A lot.

My favorite word?  Fuck.  Followed closely by shit, bitch, asshole, and bastard.

None of which I’d like Iris to be saying anytime soon.

There are other, more minor, words I’d prefer she not say, too.  Like the time about a year ago when pointed at my breast and asked me what it was.  I told her it was a boob.  Which is how she came to be saying "boob" over and over again at Target later that day.  And not quietly, either. People were staring.  I tried to pass it off like she was saying "boom," but I'm pretty sure everyone knew that's not what she was saying.  Especially because she kept pointing at my chest while she said it.

Still, I don’t think anyone was scandalized by a two-year-old saying boob.  If, however, a three-year-old starts saying fuck or shit?  I don’t think anyone’s going to find that cute.

The thing is, before I had a child that might parrot back to me whatever comes out of my mouth, I never thought I swore a lot.  I mean, I knew I was capable of putting together a pretty salty phrase. Especially after ten years as a public defender.  I just didn't know I did it quite that much.  But you really start to notice how often you’re using a word while you’re trying to weed it out of your vocabulary.  This whole thing has been way harder than I thought it would be.

Seriously, can you even think of a word that can truly take the place of fuck?  Or shit?  They are both just so very versatile.  When you drop a full sippy cup on your foot, you will understand exactly what I mean.  And, sometimes someone is being an asshole or a bastard and I just can't bring myself to call them a "meanie" or a "bad man." 

When she was not quite two, Iris ran around all day one day saying "shit."  I tried to tell myself that she was just mispronouncing "shirt," but, c'mon, we all know that was just my own, personal delusion.  And we all know where she got that language. Well, shit.  And here I'd thought I'd been doing so well.  (Also, I knew I shouldn't laugh, but, let's just face it, watching a toddler run across the family room while saying "shit" repeatedly is pretty funny.) 

There are also the true mispronunciations.  For a while when Iris was maybe eighteen or nineteen months old, I’d drop her off at preschool and have to tell her teachers that, when she was trying to say "horse," it was going to sound like she was saying "whore."  But, I promise she wasn’t saying "whore."  Really.  Because I'm pretty sure a whore doesn't say "neigh," right? (Unless you pay extra, but I digress…)  And, later that same week, she's started saying "fork," but it came out sounding like....well, like “fuck."  Her teachers were very understanding, but I kept waiting for them to start looking at me like I was "that mom"?
And, despite my best efforts, it hasn’t gotten better.  Iris is three now, and a few weeks ago, at dinner, Iris dropped her fork on the floor and said “Dammit!”  Clear as day. With the exact inflection I use when something frustrating happens.  My husband, Quinten, and I were stunned into silence.  We just stared at Iris.  Had she really just said that?  Iris took this as a sign that she’d done something interesting or, possibly, funny.  “Dammit!” she said, louder.  “DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT!”  Smiling and giggling while she shouted. 

I’m not winning mother of the year anytime soon.

I know what you're thinking.  I'm painting this like I'm the mom version of Samuel L. Jackson.  I know you're imagining me potty training by saying "When are you going to motherfucking poop in the motherfucking potty?" 

I'm not like that.  I promise.

But this being a good example is such hard work.

Can’t I just be a horrible warning?