Monthly Archives: April 2009

Pointing fingers

I have a new post up at L.A. Moms Blog.  I wrote it in response to this post of Julie’s.

And happy birthday to my husband.

Thalon Bruce Myers

I have never before read this blog, but someone else’s post sent me over there today.  As I sit here, bone tired from dealing with three jetlagged kids while my husband is on a business trip in the middle of our vacation, I am suddenly filled with dread.  As far as I can tell, she just went in and found her beautiful little boy dead and tried to revive him.  Today, he passed away at the hospital.

Go leave her a note of support while I go check in on my babies. 

And, to the grieving mommas out there in the blogosphere, the support we are trying to give is so tiny in the face of your grief, but we offer it nonetheless.

And I didn’t have to lift my shirt except to feed the baby

             It was a crappy day in a crappy week.  Granted, I have three kids, so most days are full of actual crap, but this one was also metaphorically a glistening pile of shit leaking out of a diaper onto my living room rug.  It was only Tuesday, and I was ready to throw in the towel.  Frankly, I am not sure why the day of the week ought to matter.  It’s not like my weekends are any different from my weekdays.  I wipe asses and clip nails and prepare meals and breastfeed and foster fine motor development and give each kid the 15 minutes a day of special time that assholes everywhere keep reminding me are so very important to making my kids feel special.

            (An aside: could someone please explain to me the merits of making my kids feel special?  Maybe they aren’t special.  Maybe they are totally ordinary.  Wouldn’t I be doing them some huge disservice by making them feel all unique?  Some ninth-grade teacher will give them a C, which means “average,” and the whole caravansary will dissolve into thin air.)

            The boys were climbing the walls.  I went to take out the trash and had that thought we’re not supposed to have but we all do: “I could just keep walking.”  Lilah is bizarrely angelic, making us wonder about mix-ups at the hospital, but even she was having a fussy day.  I was snapping at the kids even as I considered the distinct possibility that my behavior might not be helping any of our moods.

            I had to open the front door for something or another, although I am proud to report it was not to attempt an escape or to eject a child.  And there, on the front step, was a box that must have been left at some point in the afternoon while I was preoccupied with a runny nose or sending Zach to the Unkindness Chair.  And the return address was from New Orleans.

            So, although it is mucho, mucho belated, I would like to publicly thank Painted Maypole for the Mardi Gras beads she sent last month, especially the incredibly long string of giant pink ones, which my sons miraculously have been sharing nicely for nearly four weeks.  Those beads turned our afternoon around and entertained the boys for a good long time, allowing me to both nurse the baby and scrape Play Doh off of the underside of the kitchen table. 

            Of course, the next day sucked even worse.  But the beads rock.


            If you have not already done so, I would like to IMPLORE you to click on the button at the right (or RIGHT HERE) and go vote for me at the Bloggers’ Choice Awards.  (And thanks to Vodka Mom for sending people to vote.)  You see, I am nominated for The Blogitzer, which is for way smart writing, and Dooce is beating me.  Now, I know she will win.  She wins all of these things.  But, if all of you go over there and register right now and vote for me, maybe for just one day I can surpass her.   And that will be my fifteen minutes of feeling special.

Four more questions

              We were a little nervous about Passover this year, but not because of the four-and-a-half-but-who’s-counting hour flight with three small children, the three-hour-time-difference-that-the-baby-never-gets-over, or the staying-in-someone-else’s-house-long-after-Ben-Franklin-advises-leaving.  Packing took me an entire day because the airlines make baggage regulations without taking into account the So Much Crap that tiny people need, but I plodded along and we made it through security at LAX with 42 seconds to spare before they closed the doors to our airplane.  Even though this was the first time I had ever arrived at a plane as late as final boarding, it was not missing our cross-country flight with the posse in tow that was making J and I tense.

            No, we were worried about the Four Questions.

            Some of you may recall that we ran into some issues when Zachary tried to do the Four Questions last year.  He knew them, he wanted to say them, but he was too anxious about the big crowd to do it, and there was a Stage Three Meltdown.  Zachary’s social anxiety exploded up against his desire to be the center of attention, which he really enjoys as long as no one is drawing attention to him.  If it’s confusing for you, just imagine how it feels for him.

            We send our kids to a Jewish preschool precisely so we don’t have to teach them this stuff, and the teachers must have drilled Zach’s class plenty, because he knew the first two questions in Hebrew and all four in English.  (Actually, all five in English, because there is a main question and then four sub-questions, although no one has ever thought to rename them the Five Questions.)

            Some friggin’ genius at the preschool thought to have the kids add visual aids to a handout which they could use to jump-start their memories when Four Question time came, so even though Zach knew them cold, he also had a cheat-sheet for emergencies.  Not unlike many ninth-grade algebra classes.

            J and I were worried that our little dude would once again freeze up but be too frustrated with himself to allow the Seder to continue.  We practiced several nights at dinner, hoping to recreate the ambiance under which he would have to perform.  We instructed his grandparents not to make a big deal of it, because Zachary abhors the Big Deal.  And, still, that first night of Passover loomed large.

            The boys were informed that they needed to take a siesta before the fiesta.  They were dressed in neat button-downs, and they were ready when the rest of the 17 guests arrived.  We were careful to seat Zachary far from Benjamin, who is truly gifted at pushing not just some but ALL of his brother’s buttons.  Zachary was a little hesitant to enter into play with his adored three-year-old cousin and then became sullen when she played with Benjamin instead, but by the time we got to the dinner table, all was copasetic. 

            And then we rolled around to the Four Questions.  Grandpa announced it was time, everyone let out one of those enthusiastic “Oh, my” cheers in which grown-ups tend to indulge when kids are about to perform, and Grandpa pulled out the video camera. 


            That was Zachary’s cue to fall apart.

            He froze, and everyone started jumping in with the helpful encouragement that just makes him more anxious.  After a moment, they stopped, and I asked him if he wanted to do it in Hebrew or English first.  He mumbled “English.”  We pulled out the cheat-sheet, and I silently tried to will him to just make it through, even if no one could hear him, not because the rest of us desperately wanted to hear this part of the Seder but because I knew he’d be so frustrated when the Seder moved on and he hadn’t done his part.  Like last year.

            “Why is this night different from all other nights?” he began, with his father and mother hoping that it would indeed be just a little different for him.  “Why do we eat matzah?” he said hesitantly.  “On all other nights, we eat fruits and vegetables, why on this night do we eat horseradish?”  Now he sounded almost, dare I say it, confident.  “Why do we dip twice?  Why do we lean on pillows?” he ended in a loud voice.

            While J and I stared at each other in total disbelief across the dining room, everyone cheered, and I’ll be damned if the child didn’t take the applause as his due. 

            But it wasn’t over.  Grandpa included in the Seder three songs that the boys learned in preschool and have been singing (incessantly) for weeks.  Benjamin was far to busy drinking the salt water to join in, but Grandma tried a few bars, and I sang along to give Zach some encouragement.

            Which, by the way, he did not need.  We were treated to loud solo versions of “Bang, Bang, Bang,” “No, No, No, I Will Not Let Them Go,” and “One Morning When Pharaoh Awoke In His Bed,” complete with hand motions.  The child was not just singing; he was performing.

            Shit, they may not like me to publicly breastfeed, but they are doing something right at that preschool.  Now if they could convince Ben not to suck spilled matzah ball soup off his shirt.

Ready, aim

I have a new post up at LA Moms Blog.  Head on over there and answer a sticky question.

So goes the nation

            You know which state gets a bad rap?  I mean, other than South Dakota.


           All us people to the east and the west carry on as though Rembrandt was a New Yorker and Shakespeare lived in L.A.  We act as though the vast majority of Americans exist just to keep NASCAR in business, because really only the Northeast and the West Coast have any hope of social progress.

           Now, I’ve never been to Iowa, but I’ve seen Field of Dreams, so clearly I am an expert.  And I’m here to tell you that in some ways, Iowa has it all over California.  In no particular order: they have better snowmen, a lower cost of living, and a governor who was not the Terminator.

          And as of today, they treat all couples equally.  Let’s hope Iowa’s voters show they have more class than California’s in the years to come.

And she left a little letter said she’s gonna’ make a stop in Nevada

            I was never the hard-rocker type.  Even in my wild and carefree youth, you were more likely to find me cranking up “Oh, What a Night” than whatever it is that The Scorpions recorded. I’ve been to two Simon & Garfunkel concerts, seen three Billy Joel tours, had nosebleed seats for Clapton, gotten drenched at Wolftrap right after Peter, Paul & Mary sang “The Great Storm is Over,” and been forced to sit through Phil Collins’s version of choreography (which mostly consisted of running about in a circle).  The first concert I ever saw was Cyndi Lauper.

            I used to know all the words to “Miss American Pie.”  I’m that girl.

            But, the music I listened to I loved passionately, mellow though it was.  I was the first one on the dance floor for Gloria Gaynor every single time.  The day after I got accepted to the Ph.D. program at UNC, I listened to a certain James Taylor song about 72 times on my long commute to the job I was quitting.  When J and I got engaged, I knew just which song I wanted for our first dance.  I had gone my whole life moving between families and states.  There was no doubt in my mind that “You’re My Home” was our song.

            When Zachary was born, I listened to Norah Jones while nursing until the baby hit three months old and got distracted by that kind of wild and crazy music.  When we lived in London, I’d put on the soundtrack to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert so the boys and I could dance in the kitchen.  Sure, now I also listened to the Bacon Brothers singing “Philadelphia Chickens,” but that’s some rockin’ kids’ music.

            Over the last couple of years, I have somehow stopped listening to music.  I play it for the kids in the car, but when I drive alone I listen to the news because otherwise I’ll be out of touch with current affairs.  In the house, I rarely turn on a CD.  I am too busy with the Getting Done of Things.  There are lunches to make and bottoms to wipe and Zach is learning to read and Ben finally recognizes two letters.  And, oh shit, the baby didn’t get the memo about how six-month-olds are supposed to stay where you put them, so she’s fucking crawling towards that one-inch Lincoln Log and shoving it in her mouth.

            I used to be charming and interesting and funny.  Now I am efficient.  And, I mean efficient.  No one I know is as capable as I am.  I breastfeed with one hand and type with the other.  I get three kids out the door by 8:45 every morning with all teeth brushed, everyone dressed, and no breakfast dishes left in the sink.  And I pump five ounces before they even get up for the day.  By the time we make it to the preschool, I want a fucking marching band to be there waiting to point out how amazing that feat is.  We have recently had to cut back our childcare help significantly (glad the folks at AIG are getting bonuses, by the way), but that’s OK, because I can pick up the slack.  I can bathe all three kids.  I can answer Zach’s questions.  I can bake pumpkin muffins during Lilah’s morning nap on Tuesday because the boys are at school and that is the day someone else brings Ben home.  I CAN DO IT.

            People ask me whether my husband gets time to pursue his interests because he works so hard and is such a dedicated Daddy.  People also worry whether we have enough “us” time.  And I want to scream at them.  Because I don’t need “us” time when I have no “me” to contribute.  Fuck “us” time; I’m drowning in one us or another around here.  I have buried ME under a sea of US. 

            You can take your “us” time and shove it up your ass.  I want to know what happened to the girl who used to sing “Cecilia” in the car, albeit off-key.  As far as I can ascertain, she is allowing everyone else the luxury of falling apart now and then because she is holding it all together.

            We have an au pair coming soon, and that ought to help.  Except, of course, the first priority has to be finally getting time alone with each kid.  And volunteering a little at the preschool.  And dealing with summer vacation.  And reintroducing Benjamin to the concept of discipline.  And perhaps actually reading a book to Lilah now and then, rather than putting her down on the floor to choke on her brother’s toys.  And I have to get my resume in shape, because if we have learned one thing in this economy, it is that five people being reliant on one person’s hirability is not a wise idea.

            Tonight, the boys watched the second half of their show while I did the dishes.  I put Lilah on the floor with some toys, but she fussed.  She cries so rarely that we end up taking advantage of her easy-going nature and ignoring her too much.  Tonight, she had enough and wanted some attention.  There were lentils all over the floor from Benjamin’s protein-fest.  I had to water the tomato plants we just put in.  I thought some music might keep her occupied.

            I just recently rearranged the house to make room for the au pair, so the stereo is in a new spot.  It wasn’t even plugged in yet.  I fished out the cord and plugged it in, then dug through the CDs until I found Piano Man.  And there was “Travelling Prayer,” as beguiling as ever.  I picked her up and began to whirl around the kitchen.  And she giggled at me.  The boys came in, and Benjamin – exhausted from a missed nap – started spinning around.  Lilah laughed some more.

            And then I had to put her down to do the dishes.  I sank back into the woman who can do it all, although I did pick her back up for a moment when we got to “You’re My Home.”

            When J gets home tonight, all the housework will be done.  But, as usual, his wife will be missing.  Let me know if you come across her.