Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twas Six Nights Before Christmas and All Through The House Only Mommy Was Stirring Because of The Damned Elf

What is it they say?  Pride goeth before the fall?  Yeah, well, I’m not sure it’s pride that goeth before the fall.  I think maybe what goeth before the fall is Pinterest.

See, a couple of years ago, back when my daughter, Iris, was two years old, still not potty trained, and in the throes of giving up her afternoon nap, I was reading some mommy blogs, like an idiot, and there I found tales of tiny handmade stationary and envelopes used to write tiny notes from the tiny tooth fairy.  In tiny calligraphy.  Notes that contained glitter and money and celebrated perfectly the loss of a child’s first tooth.  And other tales of birthday parties for kids with special themes and homemade party favors and homebaked cake pops and crafty place settings and creative activities and inventive gift-exchanges.  All complete with pictures of delighted kiddos having the times of their lives.

And did all that crap inspire me?  Did all that crap make me want to, likewise, throw parties and make stuff?  No.  All that crap did was make me feel horrible.   I really AM a slacker mom, I lamented inwardly.  Outwardly?  I wept, all snotty and red-faced at my husband: “Their kids are having a magical and pinterest-y childhood and I’m lucky if I get a SHOWER!!!”

My husband, bless him, calmed me down and handed me a Kleenex (not in that order) and convinced me that I wasn’t doing it wrong, that Iris was still going to experience the magic of childhood, despite my slacker status.  But, secretly, way down deep in my heart of hearts, I knew  I needed to up my game.  Because, if Iris’s childhood could be magic without my intervention, imagine how much better it could be with my intervention.

Enter the Elf on the Shelf.

Her name is Lolly.  And she is a bitch. 

Oh, sure, it started innocently enough.  I purchased Lolly and brought her home with visions of holiday delight in my head.  I introduced her to Iris at the appointed time, dreams of the inventive and artistic scenes I would create for Iris while she slept, the joyful giggles of my child when she discovered the “fun” Lolly had in store for her.  I started an account on Pinterest just so I could save ideas for the elf. 

And I did okay the first few nights.  Lolly balanced precariously on the chandelier over the kitchen table.  Lolly hiding in the big vase on our entertainment unit.  Lolly holding a candy cane and sitting on the mantle. 

Then, on night four, I was getting ready to go upstairs for bed and my husband said, “What about Lolly?”


And that set the tone for the rest of that Christmas season.  Every night: what the hell am I going to do with the damned elf?  And all those ideas I pinned to my Pinterest board?  Half of them required the child in question to know how to read (Iris was two), and the other half were simply impossible given the elf’s floppy arms and legs.

Sometime the following summer, I found out a shocking secret….those mommy bloggers?  The ones who make magic for their children?  They’d sewn wire into their elves’ arms and legs to make the elves posable.  SON OF A BITCH!  This is where I had gone wrong!  This was the answer!  The answer to all my problems from the year before.  Now there would be wire!  Now there would be poses and scenes and some fucking enchantment, dammit!

Yeah.  And then came last year’s day five.  “What are we going to do with Lolly?”


But this year, I’ve actually been doing pretty well.  I’ve managed to set up some fun little scenes for Iris to find.  Lolly hanging out with Iris’s dolls or leading a toy pony parade across the kitchen counter.  

 Lolly hanging from the shower curtain rod in Iris’s bathroom or sitting on a swing I made from candy canes. 

I managed to reach day nineteen before there was a problem.  And, let me tell you, on day nineteen, right there in the homestretch, when Lolly was hanging from the garland wrapped around the upstairs banister, I was feeling pretty clever.  Nineteen whole days!  I was killing it!  I was making some damn magic!

4:37am on day twenty, I sat bolt upright in bed.  Oh no!  The elf!  Damnit!  I forgot to move the stupid elf!  Shit shit shit shit shit!

I scrambled out of bed and tiptoed down the hall, whispering prayers of thanks that Iris hadn’t gotten up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I untangled Lolly from the garland and crept down the stairs, hardly daring to breathe as I passed Iris’s bedroom door.  Please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up.  Wait?  Was that a noise?  Was that a moan?  Is she waking up?  What am I going to say about the fucking elf I am holding in my fucking hand?  The elf I am not supposed to fucking touch because, if I touch the fucking elf she will lose her fucking magic? 

Mercifully, Iris did not wake up and I did not have to come up with a creative lie OR hurl Lolly down the stairs like so much rubbish.  So far, I was winning.

(Spoiler alert: this would not last long.)

I crept down the stairs and started looking for someplace I could put the stupid elf.  The chandelier over the dining room table?  Nope.  Already used that one.  Twice.  On top of the kitchen cabinets?  Used that one yesterday.  And she’d already been in the fridge, in the pantry, on the mantle, hanging from the mistletoe, in a stocking, on the counter, and in the decorative birdcage on top of my bookcase.

Oooo, the copper kettle!  The decorative copper teakettle I have on top of my bookcase!  I haven’t ever put Lolly there!  Perfect! 

Except I am kind of short.  Well, shorter than the bookcase.  And my arms are short and there was no way to reach the stupid teakettle without a step stool. 

Craaaaap.  Because there was NO WAY I was going to risk the kind of noise I’d have to make to get out the step stool, carry it from the garage to the front room (during which trip you know I’d have banged it into a wall or doorway), or squeaked the darn thing open to set it up.  So, there had to be another solution.

Before I tell you the solution I came up with, I am going to have to explain to you exactly why this was the most colossally bad idea I have ever come up with in my entire adult life. 

On my very first date with my husband, the first day we actually met, I was walking across a perfectly flat, perfectly dry, recently repaved parking lot.  I might be the only person in the history of the world who can fall down and sprain her ankle, badly, under that set of conditions.  Our first date?  Going to Walmart to get me an ankle brace.

I am a klutz.  In our house falling down is called “pulling a Betsy.”

So, keep that in mind when I tell you that my solution to reaching the decorative copper teakettle on top of the tall bookcase was to pull over the ottoman from the yellow chair and stand on it.

And if you’re guessing what happened already, shut up and don’t spoil it for anyone else.

Picture it….there I am, perched on the ottoman, arranging a bendable red elf on a nonfunctional teakettle on top of a bookcase in the middle of the night….you know, like you do….  and, just as I get Lolly perfectly positioned and looking cute…

…the ottoman, for no reason known to man, decides to tip over onto its side.

You know how sometimes people say that a fall happens so fast they didn’t even know what was happening until it was all over?

Yeah, that never happens to me.

I just can't seem to fall like a normal person.  There is no simple plop on the butt for me.  Nope.  I tend to have the really spectacular oh-my-god-I'm-falling-can-I-save-it-I-think-I-can-save-it-oh-no-I-can't-I'm-going-to-fall-no-I-think-I-can-save-it-oh-shit-nevermind-here-I-go kind of fall with my arms and legs and, probably several other body parts that shall remain nameless, flailing around like a convulsing octopus.  While Lolly just stared at me with that creepy smile on her plastic face. 


One sprained thumb and one bruised calf (all the way from knee to ankle) and I bet I am the only mother on the planet with elf-related injuries this Christmas.

I knew I should have negotiated for workman’s compensation coverage when I became a stay-at-home mom.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Black Snake Whimper

So, maybe a year and a half ago, there was a spider in our garage. 

This is probably not an uncommon occurrence.  I wouldn’t know because I try not to think about it.  I only think about spiders when I am confronted with absolute and incontrovertible evidence of their existence.  Like when one slinks into view and stands next to me.  Or across the room from me.  Or in the hallway next to the room I’m in.  Or, you know, crawls on my foot with its numerous and tickly little legs.  Which is when I either scream, squeal, back away slowly, or cower in a corner with my hands over my eyes while begging my husband, Quinten, to get rid of it for me.

Yes, I am a cliché.  Shut up.  But I know I am a cliché, so that makes it okay.  Actually, it upgrades the whole phobia because I am well aware of what I need in regards to safeguarding from spiders.  And what I need is very simple.  I need someone else to OH MY GOD GET IT AWAY FROM ME!!  Preferably by implementing the death penalty, but really, as long as the spider is out of my presence, I don’t care what happened to it.

And I told Quinten this before we ever got married.

I think my exact words were, “You understand that spiders are your job, right?”  And, if I recall correctly, he agreed that he would take on that responsibility.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it was in our wedding vows.

So when something that looked like this

 showed up in our garage, I felt like it was a perfectly reasonable request that my husband dispose of it.  Right now.  Like right now.  Like rightfuckingnow!

And I didn’t put any conditions on my request.  He could have killed it.  He could have picked it up and carried it outside while petting it and whispering sweet nothings into whatever passes for its ears.  I did not care which, as long as, in the end, it was no longer in my garage.  See!  Totally reasonable! 

But my husband, my otherwise wonderful and dutiful husband, refused. 

Me:  But it’s in our HOUSE!
Quinten:  No, it's in our GARAGE.
Me:  The garage is part of the house. 
Quinten:  It is not.  It’s more house-adjacent.
Me:  I cannot believe I have to argue this point with you.  The garage is attached to the house.  It shares a wall with the house.  All that is separating it from the house is one flimsy little door.  That spider is ONE SCUTTLE away from being inside our house!
Quinten:  Look, our cars are in there and we lift what amounts to a whole wall to get them out of there, I kind of regard it as neutral territory.  It’s like Switzerland, where we can all peacefully coexist.
Me:  This is not Europe.  There are no Alps.  I cannot peacefully coexist with a spider that is as big as your average Chihuahua.
Quinten:  It is not that large.
Me:  It is TOO that large!  And, if you don’t get rid of it, I am never going back in the garage.  Which means we’re not having dinner because right now what I need to make dinner is in the chest freezer in the garage and I won’t go out there and get it.
Quinten:  I’ll get what you need.
Me:  Forever?  You will forever get what I need for me from the garage?  Because if you don’t get rid of that spider, like you vowed to do at our wedding, I am never setting foot in your stupid “neutral zone” ever again.
Quinten:  That was not in our wedding vows.

But he did finally get rid of the spider.  Finally. 

And for eighteen months, I have not mentioned his utter betrayal.  Not once.  Not even a hint.  Because I believe in forgiving and forgetting.  Sometimes.  Sort of.  Maybe.  A little.  Okay, I don’t, really, although I did it this one time because I am a tolerant and compassionate creature. 

But no more!  No more, I tell you.  Because on Wednesday, Quinten learned that karma is quite the bitch.

What happened on Wednesday, you ask?  Well, on Wednesday, this fellow

decided that our garage, our neutral zone, our Switzerland, house-adjacent garage, would be a fine place to hang out. 

And, it turns out, my husband is afraid of snakes.

If I took a minute to laugh right now, that would be mean, wouldn’t it?

Quinten: (coming into the house from the garage, looking a little white and talking very, very fast) There’s a snake in the garage.  A black snake.  It’s big.  I saw it slither in and it went behind that tub and the box in the corner…you know, where we keep the garden tools and the push broom.  It went under there and I banged on the boxes but it wouldn’t come out.

I would like to note here that there are many things I could have said in this situation.  I could have said that banging on boxes is not likely to make a snake come out, and might in face make a snake mad.  I could have said that it was no big deal.  I could have said, “It’s just in the garage.  That’s neutral territory.  It’s Switzerland.  We can peacefully coexist with it in there.”  But I didn’t.  Because I am NICE.

Instead, I went out to the garage and pulled out the box and the tub with the garden tools in it and I didn’t see any snake.  Instead, I looked under the nearby shelves and I didn’t see any snake.  Instead, I very calmly reminded my husband that black snakes are not poisonous and it would probably leave on its own after finding we had nothing in there it could eat.

And, the next morning, after my husband had tiptoed very very quickly to his car in the garage and leapt into the front seat like something was going to shoot out from beneath his vehicle and wrap itself around his ankles, slowly squeezing him to death while repeatedly biting his tender flesh, I went out and opened the garage door and discovered our friend the snake right by the base of the door, where he had been trying to get out of our food-and-waterless wasteland of a garage and I just used the push broom to urge all three and a half feet of him into the open air, where he promptly disappeared into the bushes in our front yard.

Quinten?  Cannot even hear that story without his heart racing and his hands shaking.  And I’m pretty sure he’s avoiding the bushes in front of our house entirely.  But I am not making fun of him for this.  Because I take our wedding vows seriously.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Winter of My Discontent. And Spring. The Spring of My Discontent, Too.


Dear February,

Okay, fine, I got the message, you vindictive bitch.  I will never again try to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Never.  Ever.  Again. 

I get that you’ve been trying to send this message for years.  I get that all those lonely, flowerless, dateless, Valentine’s Days were messages that I somehow missed.  I get that the only two times in my formative years that I, by some miracle, was actually dating someone on Valentine’s Day and they “forgot” or “didn’t believe in Valentine’s Day” (as if it were imaginary) were messages that I blithely ignored.  I get that, after I finally found my husband, Quinten, you attempted to dissuade us in our celebrations by making sure that we were either forced to be apart or had nasty head colds on the day in question.  I even understand how frustrating it must have been for you that I wasn’t listening.

But two plagues and a blizzard?  Seriously?  That was about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

I mean, I was optimistic two weeks before the fourteenth when it looked like both Quinten and I would actually be free for a night out on Valentine’s Day.  I felt even more hopeful when I was able to secure a babysitter for that night.  When the babysitter had to cancel, I didn’t despair.  No.  Unlike previous Valentine’s Days when I dissolved into self-pity, I just changed course and made plans with Quinten that involved our daughter, Iris.  After all, Valentine’s Day is about love, right?  And we certainly love our daughter. 

Hope springs eternal and all that shit.

Foolish of me, really.  Because, February, that’s when you, you she-devil, swung into action.  First, a week and a half before the planned lovefest, you gave me a plague.  The worst cold I have suffered in years.  I lost my voice for several days.  However, you didn’t plan that one very well, did you?  Because I actually started feeling better a couple of days before Valentine’s Day.  I still thought we’d be able to get out to celebrate, child in tow. 

So, for your second line of defense, you sent the snow.  Six inches of snow.  In North Carolina.  Now, I’m from the Midwest.  Six inches of snow doesn’t faze me at all.  But six inches of snow definitely fazes most North Carolinians.  The mere forecast of six inches of snow shut our city down damned near completely.  And, once there was the actual white death, the shutdown lasted for several days.  One of which was Valentine’s Day.  But, February, that wasn’t enough for you, was it?  No.  No, it was not.

At 12:07am on Valentine’s Day itself, Quinten and I were woken up by a crying Iris.  And not just any crying Iris.  Nope.  A crying Iris who had just puked all over her bed.  Because nothing says “I love you” quite like cleaning barf off a weeping child in the middle of the night.

Yet, still, you were not through with us, were you?  Just in case we decided to wear our rose-colored glasses and attempt to celebrate Valentine’s Day a few days late, you decided to up the ante and give both Quinten and I a dose of the stomach plague, too. 

Not cool, February.

And, yes, I got your message.  There will be no further attempts at celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Holdren household.  No flowers.  No candy.  No cards.  No romance whatsoever.  Never again.

Are you happy now, you spiteful bitch?



Dear February,

I'm sorry I called you a bitch because you cursed everyone in my house with a stomach virus at the same time we had a snowstorm that shut the city down for a couple of days.  March has far outdone you.  Comparatively, you are a gentle and magnanimous mistress. Please accept my apology.



Dear March,

You are an ASSHOLE.

Don’t look all innocent over there.  You know what you did.  No one is buying the harmless act.  YOU!  ARE!  NOT!  HARMLESS!!

First you make us think you’re going to be all nice and awesome and springlike with your sun and your temperatures in the 60s and 70s.  But that was a lie, wasn’t it?  You are a big, fat, lying liar who LIES!  Just when we’d all started to think that maybe the cold and the bluster was over, BLAMMO -- ICE! 

Yes, that’s right, we got all that ice you sent, you underhanded bastard.  So much ice that you shut down the city.  So much ice that you knocked down a tree in our front yard.  So much ice that you knocked out the power to two-thirds of our city.  Including the power to our house.  Jackass.

But you weren’t done, were you?  Because you wanted to punish us.  Why, March?  Why would you want to punish us?  What did we ever do to you?  The only conclusion I can draw is that you are a  sadist. 

Your next move was downright wicked.

After fourteen hours of having no power and not being able to cook a darn thing with our electric stove and microwave, we just could not stomach yet another peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  So, we went out to look for an open restaurant.  There we were, standing in the world’s longest line at a Moe’s Southwest Grill with a child who was tired and cranky and clinging to my husband like he was the last available life vest on the Titanic.  We ordered our food, waited some more, got up to the front of the line and were about to pay when…..Iris barfed everything she’d ever eaten down the front of Quinten’s shirt.  And herself.  Not to mention the floor. 

You know the best part of a power outage?  Not being able to wash clothing.  You know, like clothing with half-digested peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and grapes all over it.  That smells so bad you have to leave it in the garage when you get home.  You know what else is really fun about power outages?  Realizing that you don’t have the ability to wash anything so that you spend all night awake, dressed in seven layers of clothing (not an exaggeration) because it’s freezing in your house, sitting next to your child’s bed holding a trash can and tensing for action every time she moans in her sleep.  Or moves.  Or wakes up.  Or sniffles.  Or rolls over.  Or grinds her teeth.  Or sighs.  Or cries.  Because she might vomit again and you need to catch it.  Because if she vomits all over the bed sheets you will not be able to wash the sheets and you run the serious risk of your daughter sleeping on a bare mattress because you hadn’t gotten around to doing the laundry before the ice came. 

And while I was up all night catching vomit in that trash can, I had lots of time to contemplate what, exactly, you were trying to convey to me with this little slice of hell.  Were you trying to give me bragging rights, March?  (“I’ll see your power outage and I’ll raise you a vomiting child!”)  Or were you trying to teach me a lesson about preparedness?  Did you want me to realize that, when the Walking Dead-style zombie apocalypse comes, that it is my friend, Elizabeth, with her 72-HourSurvival Bag that will make it?  Elizabeth, who has clothes, and food, and temporary shelter, and all sorts of other useful paraphernalia like three ways to purify water, and five ways to make fire (all of which she knows how to use), who will outlast us all?  Because, truthfully, March, the first morning of the power outage, while Elizabeth was popping a can of sterno and making herself a cup of coffee and I was weeping over the handfuls of dry Cap’n Crunch cereal I was eating straight out of the box, I already knew the only thing I would be good for when disaster struck was zombie meat. 

So, thanks for nothing, March.



MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2014

Dear March,

More ice?  Really???  You get mad at me because I called you an asshole, so you dump more ice on us?  Real mature, jerkface.


MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2014

Dear April,

I see you there, peeking out from behind March.  You with your promise of lovely weather and flowers and shit.  I’m watching you.  Don't fuck it up.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And the Truth Shall Make Me Want to Curl Up In a Corner and Eat Every Marshmallow Ever

I am in so much trouble. 

It’s bad enough that I am well aware of my own faults andbad behaviors, but now Iris, my daughter, who is not even four years old yet, has started to notice them and point them out. 

Look, I already know I am not the most pleasant person in the morning and I sometimes say I will do something “in a minute” when I really mean I will do it “as soon as I finish reading this article and play a game of Sudoku.”  And I don’t really wish to be reminded that I am not as polite as I should be, or as nice as I want to be, or that I am a much more horrible parent than I intended to be. 

But, as I now live with a pint-sized busybody, I am reminded.  Every day.  All day.  Often loudly. 

Honestly, I thought it was cute when she started doing it to my husband, Quinten. 

Iris: Daddy, why do you drink so much coffee and beer??  Normal people drink water and juice and milk.
Quinten:  What do you mean so much??
Me:  (attempting to come to Quinten’s defense) I drink soda! Does that make me not normal?
Iris:  No, only Dad is bad.

It was totally unprovoked, too.  We were in the car and no one was drinking anything at the time.  Apparently, it was just something she’d been contemplating.  I think I giggled for half an hour.  Poor Quinten spent a couple of days asking me if he drank too much coffee. 

But, then, this happened while I was on the phone with my mother (in my defense, I was doing laundry at the time):

Iris: Grammy, I have to tell you sumping… (shouting at the phone receiver)  MOMMY’S NOT WEARING ANY PANTS!!!

A few days later I tried to sneak one Cheeto (just ONE) off of her plate when we were eating lunch together at Subway.  I tried and failed.  The sneaking part.  I failed the sneaking part.  The eating a Cheeto part I did just fine.  But, the response was,

Iris: (in the car, 20 minutes after we had left the restaurant, in an accusatory tone) Mom, you took my ma’Cheeto!
Me:  I’m sorry, sweetie.  It was just one.

Iris: (at home 3 and a half hours after the incident in question, lip quivering) I’m sad, Mom, because you took my ma’Cheeto.
Me:  I said I was sorry, sweet pea.  You got to eat all the other Cheetos, though.

Iris: (to Quinten, the next day) Mom took my ma’Cheeto!!
Me:  That was yesterday and I’ve already apologized.  Let it go.

I guess I was unprepared for how observant she has become.  And she’s like a ninja about it.  Even when you think she’s not paying attention, even when she’s facing the other direction and looking at something else entirely, she’s noticing what you are doing. 

For example, during our recent cold snap, I introduced Iris to hot chocolate with marshmallows.  And, of course, it immediately became her favorite drink.  Because why wouldn't it?  But there are times to drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and times to not drink hot chocolate with marshmallows.  And one of the times to not drink hot chocolate with marshmallows is right before bedtime.  Which, of course, means that, last week, right before bedtime was exactly the time that Iris decided to beg for hot chocolate with marshmallows. Beg and beg and beg and plead and implore and screech and howl and beg some more.  As I was not interested in dealing with a sugar high right while I was trying to get her to go to sleep, I said no. 

Now, I’m not going to lie, I am a fan of the hot chocolate with marshmallows.  At times when I cannot actually have the hot chocolate with marshmallows, I will settle for just marshmallows.  At times when I don’t even want hot chocolate with marshmallows, I will still eat just marshmallows.  And Iris has, it seems, inherited my practicality in this matter.  When I told her she couldn’t have hot chocolate with marshmallows, she went the obvious alternative route of asking if she could just have a marshmallow.  I suppose I could have just said no.  But, it had been a long day.  A long, long day.  And I just didn’t have it in me to deal with another round of whiny entreaties.  So, I told her we didn’t have any more marshmallows.

That’s right, I lied.  I lied to my child.  Right to her face.  And she just accepted it!  She just accepted the lie and went back to playing with her Legos!

To celebrate, I ate a couple of marshmallows.

And then, NINJA!

Iris:  Mommy?  What are you eating?
Me:  (my mouth still stuffed with marshmallow) A cracker.
Iris:  (looking at me suspiciously) Is it a white cracker?
Me:  (attempting to talk without opening my mouth wide enough for her to see into it) Yyyeessss?
Iris:  (still suspicious) Is it mooshy?
Me:  (dejectedly) Yes.
Iris:  Can I have one?

The only thing that saved me was Quinten yelling “BEDTIME!” and taking her upstairs to put her down (while laughing his ass off). 

The way this is going, I have two choices, I either need to improve my behavior, or…….


I guess I’ve really only got the one choice. 

So much trouble.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Something Comes to Mind About Apples and Trees....

For the first year after my daughter, Iris, was born, people who probably thought they were being nice would exclaim, “She looks just like your husband!”

And I would smile and nod and say something that sounded blandly positive while thinking, Thanks, jerkface.  Never mind all the heavy lifting I did for nine months – never mind the fatigue, the morning sickness, a hardcore diet and exercise regimen, and major freaking surgery so we could have this baby.  Never mind that I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom to this baby who even you, a random stranger in an ice cream shop, tells me has nothing whatsoever in common with me.  Yep, I was nothing more than an incubator for this perfect little genetic re-enactment of my husband.  Go mind your own damned business.

Unkind, I know.  But, seriously….  And, yes, I love my husband.  Yes, he has a lot of amazing qualities (otherwise I would not have married him).  Yes, the whole point of having a baby with him was so that some of those amazing qualities would be passed down to our progeny.  But it was only supposed to be some of his qualities.  It wasn’t supposed to be all-Quinten-all-the-time.  There was supposed to be some of me in there.  A little bit.  A tiny little bit.  A smidge. 

I love Iris harder than I have ever loved anyone ever, but for the first year of her life, all I had to hang onto was the fact that, unlike Quinten’s hazel eyes, Iris’s eyes were blue, like mine.  So maybe they looked more like my dad’s eyes than mine, but they were BLUE, dammit.  BLUE! 

It’s all I had.

But, now?  Now the worm has turned, and the times they are a-changing.  Because, these days, Iris and I cannot go anywhere without someone remarking on how much she looks like me.  And she does.  She really does.  I’m not sure when, exactly, it happened.  But it happened fast.  Basically, one night, after putting Iris to bed, I was griping to Quinten about yet another person insinuating I was participating in illegal cloning operations in our basement, and, when Iris woke up the next morning, even my mother-in-law couldn’t deny that Iris looked just like me.

And, truly, it’s almost scary:
Me, circa 1975

Iris, circa 2013.

Even I think it’s weird how much she looks like me.  Weird, but gratifying. 

Like awesomely gratifying.

To finally have a child that looks like she might have sprung from my womb!  To finally have a child who looks like she shares some genetics with me!!  Secretly, deep in my heart of hearts, I was dancing with glee.  Utter and shameless glee. 


And then this happened…

I was setting the kitchen table for dinner and waiting for the meatballs to come out of the oven, when Iris came up to me, brow furrowed, a very serious look on her face, “Mama, I need to ask you a question.”

I stopped, still holding some forks, “Yes?”

“Mama,” she said, cocking her head to one side, looking as though she was thinking some deep, thinky thoughts, “I would like a cookie.”

I glanced at the timer on the oven, “Well, sweetie, it’s almost dinnertime.  The meatballs will be ready in 8 minutes.  So, the cookie will have to wait until after dinner.”

Iris paused and thought this over.  I watched the wheels turning in her brain.

Iris:  Mama?
Me:  Yes, Iris?
Iris:  Can I please have a cookie now?
Me:  I already said no.  You’ll have to wait until after dinner.
Iris:  (with a hitch in her voice)  But I’m hungry.
Me:  Well, soon, you’ll have meatballs, and then you won’t be hungry anymore.
Iris:  (tears welling up in her eyes, her voice getting small and wavery)  But I’m SO hungry.
Me:  (starting to get irritated) I know, honey.  But dinner will be soon and you can have a cookie after dinner.
Iris:  (walking over to Quinten)  Daddy?  Can I have a cookie?
Quinten:  What did your mother say?
Iris:  (pointedly not looking at me)  I’m really hungry, Daddy.
Quinten:  We’re going to have dinner soon, sweet pea.  You can have a cookie after.
Iris:  (coming back to me)  Ummm….can I have a cookie now and then I’ll eat my dinner?
Me:  No.
Iris: (screaming)  FINE!  THEN I’LL NEVER EAT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

And she stormed off, stomping into the family room and throwing herself on the couch, sobbing like we’d ripped the arm off her favorite stuffed bunny.

Which is when I knew that we were all doomed.  Doomed, I tell you.  Doomed.

Because, apparently, Iris didn’t bear just a physical resemblance to me.

The negotiating tactics?  The use of pout and tears?  The playing both ends against the middle?  The losing her shit and going completely overboard with a nuclear explosion of emotion over not getting her way in some small matter?  Yeah.  She got that from me.  All of it.  Even that last bit. 

Especially that last bit. 

And it would be bad enough if I could say that genetics are fascinating and I had acted that same way when I was her age.  But, I am ashamed to admit, I kinda, sorta, a little bit, maybe acted that way last week.

I know.

I had always imagined that a child of mine would be a better version of me.  That she would inherit all my best qualities and improve on them.  It never occurred to me that she would inherit my worst qualities and amplify them.

Like my inability to be anything but cranky when someone wakes me up, even when I’ve gotten plenty of sleep (not too long ago, I may or may not have told my husband to “kill it” in a possessed-by-evil kind of voice when the alarm clock went off). 

Last week, Quinten and I woke Iris up by blasting the opening to “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King:

Iris responded by giving us the evil eye, throwing the covers over her head, and shout-growled that we were “BEING VERY NOT NICE!!!”

Also, when Iris is very, very tired, she gets extremely talkative.  And I don’t mean she just talks a lot.  I mean she talks incessantly, as if she has a certain allotment of words she must use in a single day and she’s behind quota.  Which is the most frustrating thing in the world when you are trying to put her to bed and she.  Will not.  Shut.  Up.  If you ask him, Quinten will tell you that after a long day, when he’s exhausted and lying in bed waiting for sleep to take him, I am the same way.  He is too polite to say anything, but around the time he pulls the covers up over his ears so he can’t hear me, I will concede, “you wish I would shut up so you could go to sleep, don’t you?” 

“Right,” he’ll sigh. 

I’ll still want to talk, but I am not three, so I can control myself.  Sort of.  A little.

“Just one more thing and then I’ll stop….”

Quinten will sigh the deep sigh of a wounded man who must endure one more shot before the anesthetic starts working.

Clearly, he loves me.

Which, given what my genetics and temperament are going to do to our child, is something of a miracle.  By the time Iris is ten or so, I fully expect my fundamental impatience, my tendency to horribilize any situation, and my overly-dramatic moodiness to fully blossom.  And I’m not even going to think about what’s going to happen when she hits puberty.

I can only hope that Iris also inherits a few of my finer qualities, too. 

Because people will forgive a LOT if you’re funny enough. 

Won’t they?