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Christmas In The Heart, Empty In The Wallet

The season of giving, receiving and believing.

The season of keeping others in our minds, thoughts, prayers, hearts and digging into pantry cupboards for those cans of baby formula that we didn’t need but someone else will, or the soup and the extra jar of peanut butter, because even though we have needs of our own there is a bin at the grocers that needs filling for the people whose hunger is literal and can’t be filled by iPads under the tree.

Coats and jackets that don’t fit the wiggling limbs and growing midsections of our own kids are removed from plastic bags in the basement and donated to Goodwill for another growing child with growing needs of their own.

For people like me who rummage through their cupboards and add extra canned goods onto the shopping list to donate, or grab an extra pack of mittens or pajamas for the Goodwill drop off when we’re buying our kids theirs, the money is often tight at home too. We are the people who pay it forward when we drop the dollar into the “Charitable Organization Tin” at the cash register even though we’re kind of sweating the Forty Dollars we still have to put in the gas tank. We just feel better giving a five dollar bill to a stranger ringing a bell than we do giving it to Starbucks for Seven Hundred Calories of Diabetic Shock. I think there are a lot of us out there. This season is hard on us too.

The season of spending, charging, over-drafting for merriment and magic making, and trying to pay a mortgage, higher than heaven tuition for preschool and keep food on the table.

This is the season when everyone is looking for their miracle. When we lean on each other to provide the magical acts of kindness that make December the bright spot in a dark winter.

The most remarkable people will have only a quarter in their pockets but they will drop it into the jar for someone else who needs it.

I met my Miracle workers recently. I didn’t see it coming. In a rough year of trying to do everything I can for everyone in my family I was spent dry. It was all for good people and all for good reasons but the sense of justice that beats strong inside of my heart was slowing and becoming duller. I was becoming exhausted trying to extend myself and feeling the need for rehabilitation. The demands of everyone around me having a hard year were ringing loudly in my ears and I was burned.

Until I was rescued from my own ashes in the bed of sorrow that I stuffed for myself.

A group of women that I know almost exclusively through blogging in my online community literally read between the lines of my posts and interpreted rather intelligently that I was in trouble. They secretly rallied behind my back and pulled a crowd funded Christmas Gift together in my honor.

I felt undeserving of such kindness and in truth, taking anyone’s money is incredibly hard for my ego and stubborn pride. When I showed the email I received to my husband he told me to take it, because there was no reason to feel guilty or undeserving of the kindness that others wish for me, especially when I walk around giving myself to others because helping makes me feel whole.

With his blessing and eyes full of tears I was able to buy our kids truly nice Christmas gifts and go grocery shopping without fear of my card declining. Christmas didn’t have to come out of our mortgage. We were able to take a week off from stress and arguing about where the money is going in our household.

I was able to inhale relief and exhale that there is hope for people when they need it, even the people who don’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t even realize how much I needed help until it came. The greatest feeling was in knowing that there were people out there thinking of me and wanting the best for my family, they wanted nothing in return and for that, I owe them every ounce of Joy in my heart.  There was no shame in wanting a Christmas, wanting to provide toys for my kids, there was no suggestion that I should spend my money a certain way or somehow do better for myself, but I am learning how to grow into a more financially stable adult with three small kids (and a live-in extended Family Member) and try to use what we have more effectively while still maintaining the integrity of my “givers soul” and making sure that the Christmas Spirit stays alive inside of me for a long and gracious time.

Thank You to these somewhat anonymous Santas, your act of kindness will be remembered until I slip from this Earth.

Small things really do add up to big things.

Merry Christmas

Happy Solstice

Happy Holidays to the other Faiths

Happy Belated Chanukah

Shalom

And Peace on Earth

Let’s eat cookies and fill our hearts with love. Don’t allow yourself to feel ashamed of the holiday you want to create or the holiday you have to create out of what means you have available to you. 1290

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The Disorienting Reality Of ADD

I would do just about anything to avoid calling my doctor. It doesn’t matter if I’m calling a physician or OBGYN, I absolutely hate having to deal with a receptionist who puts me through to a nurse who is never available and then I have to listen to the eight hundred myriad of options on the phone prompt just to leave a voicemail for a stranger that says something like, “Hi, it’s me again. I have another yeast infection. I am dying. Send help. And wine.” Because I am the utmost professional.

It may speak to some of the issues with health care in our country that I have to call repeatedly to get medical help for simple issues like prescription refills.

It may speak to my agoraphobia that I just don’t want to be weighed and touched by nurses and have my blood pressure taken and discuss my dads’ high blood pressure and the embarrassing number of drinks I have in a week, and be looked at by the waiting room weirdos for something that can be taken care of long distance.

Every time I go to the doctor I leave feeling fat and bothered and I am almost always asked to pee into a cup for a test that I will never get the results from.

I bit the bullet though, when I was nearing a mental breakdown. Staying home with kids is hard work, not the hardest work, because honestly, building bridges or spaceships is probably so hard that it makes me look like a wuss. The staying at home parent gig is hard because of the mental isolation.  My oldest companion is five and whiny. My youngest companion is a baby who falls down a lot. There’s even a two year old at home with me who hits the baby and says “MAMA UP” a lot.

Nearing a breakdown? Par for the course.

But I am a respectable enough human to know when my insanity is normal and when my insanity is dangerous. I’ve put off the warning signs for a quite a while, but I was hitting my mental panic button and called the doctor like a responsible lady should.

“Hello, my name is Cindy, how can I help you?”

“I am calling to make an appointment.”

“Are you a patient here?”

“Yes.”

“What is the visit for?”

“…Uhhh…errr…eczema.” Yeah genius, way to think on the fly. Now nobody will know how crazy you are and you’ll just walk into the office and bombard your doctor with questions about your mental health. Totally fine. I’m sure passive aggressive agoraphobics do this on the regular.

“Next Tuesday?”

And there I sat, on white paper having just been weighed in a fully-clothed high-heeled nightmare.

“My shoes alone added ten pounds” I said to the nurse.

“I’ll make a note.” She replied through a halfhearted attempt at a smile.

“I got excited to leave the house and dressed fancy.”

“Blood pressure’s good, the doctor will be in shortly.” And just like that, the only compatriot I had in this sterile, whitewashed, and florescent patient mill is gone. I suddenly suspect my blood pressure is higher.

I sit and crinkle on the table and nervously wonder how I am going to segue from eczema into my anxiety without getting kicked out for being a liar pants.

Naturally, the doctor went on about eczema and wanted to know at the very end of our appointment if I had any other questions. At which point I blurted out, “I think I need therapy. Can you refer me to therapy? I have a problem. I can’t stop talking. I can’t clean my house. I can’t remember anything. I can never pull myself together and I’m always in a haze or a fog. I drink six cups of coffee a day to just feel normal.”

And then the doctor sat down, slowly opened up his laptop and said, “I am going to ask you some questions. I think I know what is going on here.”

I answered each question like a complete rambling idiot, and dotted all of my I’s with tears.

The doctor confirmed that I had easily diagnosable ADD.

Oh good, easy peasy.

Why was I not flooded with relief?

He had me fill out forms and pee in a cup and said they’d call me in a month with a prescription because it’s a controlled substance and I’m breastfeeding and blah blah blah the words he spoke muddled together in my addled mind and all I could think about was crying and screaming and breaking things.

I felt the opposite of comforted.

So I called my husband and fell apart in the parking lot because I know now why I can’t function and where my anxiety stems from but I feel hopeless and bereft and cluttered. I feel cluttered everywhere. From my overwhelming sadness and my constant stream of jumbled thoughts, and my messes and the receipts piled up in my minivan and the random baby sock in the cup holder. I am filled with sudden fury and I want to throw everything away. I allow myself the fantasy of a tantrum. I imagine the satisfaction of tossing socks and receipts and random charger cords out the window as I drive towards home. I want to run into my house and just throw everything on my counters into a garbage bag.

The Home magazines full of luxuries I can’t afford and loose change and markers without caps. The earing missing it’s other half, the last tea bag out of the box that has no other home. The spool of ribbon I used last year that is sitting in the corner, behind the paper towels because, what do you do with a little spool of ribbon? The only things I know how to do are make piles of everything or throw everything away. There has never been an in-between stage of organization.

I want to declutter and live a life that is free of the mess that I feel contained to. But it’s a mess that I can’t escape because it runs through my brain and it follows me like a haunting.  When the kids are out of control, I am powerless. I shrink underneath the shroud of what ADD can do. I lose focus, and I lose the ability to process in simple steps, what is taking place and how to address it.

I park outside of the post office only to drive away without ever mailing my package, because I am again, blocked by the fog and the failure to process procedures. I become overwhelmed and driving away becomes easier.

I have forgotten three birthday parties this year and gave up trying to schedule them, because every time that I RSVP “Yes” I don’t remember that I’ve missed the party until everyone is talking about it on Monday and I am filled with instantaneous regret, and I resent myself for not being able to be more stable for my kids.

Here I am, with the diagnosis and no access to the cure. And it feels, useless.

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I Called Off Birthday Parties, For Now

I enjoy parties, having guests, cleaning up the house and pretending that it always looks that nice. I have always loved hosting, making people feel loved and welcome in my home, putting the expensive cheese on the one nice plate and using an opportunity to dress up.

I even totally love kids parties, getting to eat cake that I don’t cook, giving an excited kid a fun gift for $19.99 or less, and letting my crotchfruit run amok in someone else’s space is a special change of pace.

As much as I desire super duper fun times and dress up and the good thick cut pepperoni, and matching Thomas decor and streamers, I can’t muster even an ounce of the energy, the drive, focus, motivation or the money to front three kidaplaoozas every year.

Given my new conundrum, my options seem to be:

1) Get rid of two of my children

I could host the dope parties from the days of yore like I did when I had one kid to provide for.
My other two kids would be missed, but seriously, one time I made two birthday cakes, invited fifty people, and made them all wear Halloween costumes.
My child was turning one, not being coronated, and why was I so bossy?
Nobody knows.

2) Give one kid a great big party because he’s used to it, and give the other kids little pathetic parties until they’re old and ruined enough to notice and just stash the extra cash for their future therapy fund.

3) Give my oldest kid a severely, corporate downsized party this year so that his expectations aren’t inflated for the future and also give all three kids equally small but meaningful parties where we actually have time to interact with our guests.

For my petite prince’s second bash, I rented out a farm. A fucking farm. We had a petting zoo, a corn maze, ponies, hay rides, apple cider and all the spoils of having too much time.

Those were probably better times.

I like option three.

I am currently so very fed up with providing daily childcare for my rugrats. I’m winded from a perfectly mediocre day when we have no plans at all and I change back into my stretch pants when I get home from the grocery store. I’m a pair of muddy, ripped toddler pants and a potty training failure away from hiding in my lazy Susan corner cabinet with a glass of Cabernet.
Organization isn’t going to be my claim to 2015 fame.
Neither is a hardy party.
Frankly, I feel I’ve birthed enough children at this juncture to firmly make a logical case that every day is a party. Just ask the chicken nuggets and sprinkle cookies that have been smooshed in the seat cracks of my minivan. They’ll tell you, we have a great time.

I’m slightly worried and massively shrouded in mom guilt because there’s no chance that my five year old won’t notice that he isn’t getting three hundred and fifty thousand toys and having a hundred people run around painting pumpkins on our lawn. But my plan of action is to blame his siblings for being born and taking all of our money. He’ll understand, five year olds are notoriously empathetic and fluent in the nuance of sarcasm.
*puts five dollars in the therapy jar*

I know other families that also put together magnificent parties for their children, and the adults have fun too, and why shouldn’t they?
I’ll attend with bells on and a toy from Target costing appropriately $19.99.

I know other families that in five years have never once invited my family to a party for their kids and I can finally let go of the politics of party planning and say, “I get it”. I do.

There are no hard feelings about who invites who.
We’re not Taylor Swift. We don’t got bad blood, yo.

There’s no social commentary I can make about excessive parties for kids. Some people get a ton of joy from blowing Manolo Blahnik dollar bills at pink frosted bull shit castles and updos for four year olds. Some people put Pinterest Gold Star Viral Award level energy into creating one of a kind parties on a tight budget.

I can’t do it for all three of my kids, I can’t even afford to set the precedent, or plant the seed that my kids will each be having a big birthday party, and the bottom line is that this is one of the sacrifices my whole family had to unwittingly accept in order to expand into the giant love ball that it is.
Full of cheap pepperoni and one shared bathroom.

There’s the possibility that something special will happen, that by coming to expect less my kids, my whole family even, will appreciate more.

They’ll probably just whine about presents or being bored and ask to watch every episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates that we have on the DVR.

Special.

I have outgrown the need for a giant “prove how much I love my kids” party and instead I’m opting to pay the huge electric bill and keep the lights on.

Happy fancy pants birthday.

They’re going to have to face the reality that while birthdays are special, the world doesn’t stop spinning.

I also have to take ownership of my habit of trying to make my sons parties about me, and fancy Pinterest cakes and matching decor. And yes, showing off.

Well, I fold. If I had stopped breeding a kid or two ago I could have huge fêtes in discotheques but we all know that spoiling kids with discotheques and fêtes leads to feelings of resentment when they grow up. And midnight abuse of chips ahoy.

But whatever.

Do what works for you. I’ll be watching a Jake marathon for his special day, and eating pepperoni and chips ahoy mini sandwiches.

Don’t you dare judge me.

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Does he look like he needs 234 people to celebrate with? Naw, my bumpkin will be fine with some pumpkins.

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Bathroom Confessional, The HBO Special

I’m sitting in the bathroom, basically locking myself in solitary confinement while I type on my phone. I’m not hiding from my kids, no, that would be cliché and no different from what I do every day. Hiding is my norm, but tonight I am hiding from something a little more dangerous and harder to avoid.

Tonight I huddle in the bathroom and hunker down in my safety bunker because I need to prove to myself that I can go a day without drinking alcohol.

Sounds like borderline addict behavior yes?

Yes.

Which is why I must sit here tapping on my phone, because standing in the kitchen nervously unwrapping dessert after dessert wasn’t helping me win out the fight with habits and cravings, neither was it helping me fit into a pair of pants. Fall is coming, not that I want to feel confined to the fashion industry’s fascist buttons and oppressive skinny jeans, damnit.

Do you ever try and tell yourself that you can’t have something? And then you obsess over having that thing because now you know you can’t have it and wanting what you can’t have feels so desperate and thrilling?

I never do that with wine.

I’m about to drop an atomic over share bomb:

I drink every single day. Not like, a French affair with baguettes on white linens and Cabernet among candles and laughter.

Nope.

Like, stressed out hair pulling, oh shit, today was hard, these kids wear down my strength and will power. It’s 5 pm now! Socially acceptable happy hour!
Drink!

And then:
Oh man, my glass is empty already? Well the kids are done in the bath and it’s bedtime anyways!
Drink. 

And then obviously there’s:
Yay! Goodnight munchkins! Kiss kiss!
Mommy is going to go be alone and watch educational programs about indigenous housewives.
Drink!

Every night. It’s not even a cute routine. It’s a full blown ritual, minus a goat sacrifice. There’s never been a night when I skipped it. Except for pregnancy. There’s variations though, sometimes I don’t have number 3, or sometimes I start past the kids bedtime and I only have one glass, and then it’s easier to justify, but being honest, because truly there is nothing left to lose, I drink 3 glasses most nights.

Judge me. I deserve it. I’m probably an alcoholic. The bright side is that I’m self aware, in control of my functions and faculties and I never drive or go out or start bull shit fights with my husband. I’m like, the happiest, mellow drinker ever.

Which is why I keep it up every day and ended up in the bathroom terrified to go out there, past the kitchen, past the wine that is so smooth and fun and delicious.

I’m smart enough to know that doing something every day and struggling to break the cycle is a good indication that I need to do exactly that. And it’s hard and I do not like it. But maybe, maybe, if I get past tonight, I can get to the weekend and have Saturday wine and tell myself, “Hey Chrissy, you need to chill girl. Wine is awesome, and unless you want to end up in rehab or dancing on the table, you’d better scale your shit back to a reasonable level, because 3 drinks a night is a fuckton. And that’s a real measurement.”

Coincidentally I woke up today, like every other day and said, “girl, you’re going to eat carrots again and quit stuffing Frito’s in your mouth hole all day. Health matters!”

And then I ate two magic bars.  Because it’s like wine. If I can’t have it it will be all I want.

There’s probably truth in something I heard before, that things aren’t a problem until you make them a problem.
But that is coming from a woman locked in her bathroom trying to avoid her own bad behavior.
Best to start addressing it now.

Sincerely,
The blogger locked in her bathroom gaining ten pounds.

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Baby steps.

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Is Something Wrong?

It’s hard as parents to know when a child is crossing the proverbial line from being willful, high energy and strong towards being potentially diagnosed as hyperactive or having ADD. Preschool is difficult; it’s too soon to tell. Kids are still learning their boundaries, mastery of school skills is only starting and kids are barely capable of changing their own clothes, let alone handling themselves with the control of an adult. But a parent knows their kid, and a parent knows a gnawing in their gut and “waiting it out” is utter torture but “overdiagnosis” may also be a very real issue.

We carefully look for milestones in kids from babyhood through toddlerhood, and we try and encourage the development of interests through preschool. Maybe sometimes with a lot of outside pressure from family, online communities, the knowledge of a failing school system, or friends kids who are ahead of the curve and add just a little guilt to your plate through no fault of their own.

Teaching the ABC’s from scratch is shockingly difficult when you’ve spent thirty years completely accustomed to them.  What I am most frustrated by is how easily my son gives up on himself. He begins with a bright spark, his eyes light up and he asks a wonderful, curious question that I either can explain or have to google. (This is probably the greatest application of the internet.)

Understanding that my child is learning differently than I do isn’t the hard part, he has a skill set for building with blocks and Legos at a level that I lack the aptitude to master. At different points in life we all find our thing. I don’t want to pick battles over activities and interests with my kids because the simple act of existing with them is hard enough.

I am a pitiful teacher; I’m too wordy for a four year old. He gets bored with how I’m explaining things and says, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore” or the worst, “I can’t do it”. And that’s how we are completely stunted at writing the letter “T” for Teddy and the rest is a wash behind his big brown, brooding eyes. I haven’t found my way into his head yet.

My son shuts down very easily. He rarely takes interest in sitting still to observe or absorb. He has two modes: frenetic, wild, running, screaming, jibberish baby talking or silently and contentedly building fantastic creations out of magnets and Legos. Those moments are stunning and brilliant and they make my heart swell. I’ve learned to sit back and watch him as quietly as I can because when I speak I ruin his concentration and he’s instantly frustrated again.

My son is sensitive, he’s a crier. I never foreshadowed myself being upset with a child for the act of crying. I myself cry very easily, but my son cries every time he’s confronted. If I don’t handle every situation with absolute delicate care, he crumbles. Even in times when he is the assailant and tormentor. Because even though he is sensitive he is not innocent. I catch him hitting his little brother, stealing toys, refusing to share and using his body inappropriately and defensively.

Sometimes I’m awesome. Sometimes I say the right words, separate the kids or remove the toy they’re fighting over.

Sometimes, I scream.

I feel awful and regrettable and mean for screaming when he acts out, and then he cries at my reaction and I scream again because in some ways, I wonder if he’s crying to get out of the confrontation, but honestly, I think I know in my heart that he’s crying because he’s overwhelmed. I cry when I’m overwhelmed too, I should have more compassion but sometimes that well runs dry.

We assert that he should to sports, or karate or organized physical activity because learning how to be a part of a team is healthy and good preparation for a future in society.

He spends practices with his shirt over his head, standing in the middle of the room spinning in circles.

I am embarrassed. I am also ashamed that I could be embarrassed by my son. I have to be stronger for him and be his defender, and do it in a way that acknowledges when his inconsistent behavior is a distraction. It’s tricky and I admit that I like the days when we skip practices, in fact, my husband and I argue about whether he is ready for classes or not.

If he’s like me, he will never have a genuine interest. But to my husband’s stern point, you can’t just raise a quitter.

Having my son at home with me during the day became nearly impossible this year. I had my third baby and I absolutely relish quiet time. My son seems to thrive on destruction and jumping off of the couch screaming his head off about Spiderman.

Meals are an absolute nightmare. He takes food off his plate, smears it across the table and licks it off. Or he throws it on the floor, or mashes it in his hands and eats like Mowgli. He sits for ten minutes, announces he’s full, and wants to be excused. Ten minutes. He eats almost nothing; he weighs 38 lbs. and has for a full year.

I don’t want my son to spend his whole life in time outs.

I don’t want him to feel dejected in public school.

I don’t want his siblings to continue to copy his behavior and follow in these footsteps.

I don’t know what to do with my son.

I said the words that have been eating me alive for the last year. I do not know what to do. He is hard, so hard that I don’t cope with him being home all day and I shell out for day camp just to keep him busy and active and to give myself some space.

I walk the line daily and waffle back and forth. “Is he a normal four year old?” “Is every single thing supposed to be a struggle?” “Am I supposed to have to say something six times before I start screaming and he finally listens?” “Is something wrong with Teddy?”

I think I might be failing my child and I have to figure out what’s right before it goes more wrong.

I hear you all in the ether talk about lack of discipline, spoiled kids, lazy parenting, and making up excuses, more spankings and all other ways of refusing to admit that sometimes we get a hard hand and not everything is in our control. We do the best we can do and we spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what that is. It’s anything but lazy, it’s an absolute struggle.

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Compost maggots and other reasons July sucks

It was somewhere between my boob sweat, the beetles on my kitchen floor and the maggots camping in my compost bin that I realized, I hate July.
I loathe July like I loathe winter, but July has at least one decent perk; sending my kids outside without 3 pairs of pants.
Open scene:
Monday night, the trash goes to the curb. It’s always the same, tedious, icky and it’s boring.
We take turns dragging out our weekly refuse and then we hose the bin, let it dry and bring it back. We even line our compost bin with a bio bag. (Biodegradable)

This week in July has been particularly gross and excessively muggy. I try to take walks to stretch my legs and live longer. I push a double stroller usually full of free loading babies, and I just end up sweating from my bra clasp down to my stretchy lycra waist band.

I guess it’s also primetime fly hatching weather. And nature provides bountifully.
When I removed the compost bag from the bin, a swarm of flies came darting out as if I’d summoned the Candy Man. The smell was not of this earth. It was a stench too putrid to have been born on God Fearing Land. Surely, this was the work of a devil. 

I ran for soap or matches or a flame thrower.
My husband was inside, coughing from pneumonia. The fever could take him any moment, he was house bound and trapped by weak lungs. It was like a novel out of Colonial New England. He was of no help! I had to hurry and clean up, the children would be looking for me and I damned sure did not want them touching maggots. Or asking questions.

The first bottle of solution I happened on in the shed was organic Castile soap. This would lightly scent the maggots with almond oil but I was desperate. My toddler was already at my heels in nothing but a diaper. Not even shoes. (Cmon now, there’s maggots in a bucket and he’s not wearing shoes? Someone is going to call DCF. PS DON’T do that! He’s tended to!)
“Mama! What you do? Mama doing? Mama clean?!”

“There’s no time to talk! Be brave, run, save yourself!”
But he follows me instead, peppering me with the same question. “Mama doing? Mama doing?”

“Mommy’s drowning maggots.”

I inhumanely euthanized those three repulsive larvae with a fifteen dollar bottle of biodegradable-earth-friendly-pocket-book murdering soap.

I Tekken-style finished them with the garden hose and dumped the whole sloppy mess over my neighbors fence.
And that’ll teach them to never trim their bushes and run motorcycles at midnight, and fireworks; don’t even get me started.

I was relieved to have it done with. Maggot free is the way to be.

What’s more than awful is that I can’t scrap the compost idea altogether. You see, my town implemented an Earth Saving (cheap, money grubbing scheme) to charge two dollars per trash bag that you toss. Accountability, guilt, greed, I dunno, same umbrella.

I buy a roll of five special, gilded, bourgeois garbage bags for ten bucks.

With two diapered babies and a preschooler who trows out food like we’re Vanderbilt’s.

But compost is free removal! All you have to do is put paper and food waste in a separate bucket and ditch your nose and bleach your memory.

Go to hell compost. I don’t care how free you are.
But I’ll still see you in my office on Monday.
You’re on notice July.
I can’t wait until October.

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Compost maggots and other reasons July sucks

It was somewhere between my boob sweat, the beetles on my kitchen floor and the maggots camping in my compost bin that I realized, I hate July.
I loathe July like I loathe winter, but July has at least one decent perk; sending my kids outside without 3 pairs of pants.
Open scene:
Monday night, the trash goes to the curb. It’s always the same, tedious, icky and it’s boring.
We take turns dragging out our weekly refuse and then we hose the bin, let it dry and bring it back. We even line our compost bin with a bio bag. (Biodegradable)

This week in July has been particularly gross and excessively muggy. I try to take walks to stretch my legs and live longer. I push a double stroller usually full of free loading babies, and I just end up sweating from my bra clasp down to my stretchy lycra waist band.

I guess it’s also primetime fly hatching weather. And nature provides bountifully.
When I removed the compost bag from the bin, a swarm of flies came darting out as if I’d summoned the Candy Man. The smell was not of this earth. It was a stench too putrid to have been born on God Fearing Land. Surely, this was the work of a devil. 

I ran for soap or matches or a flame thrower.
My husband was inside, coughing from pneumonia. The fever could take him any moment, he was house bound and trapped by weak lungs. It was like a novel out of Colonial New England. He was of no help! I had to hurry and clean up, the children would be looking for me and I damned sure did not want them touching maggots. Or asking questions.

The first bottle of solution I happened on in the shed was organic Castile soap. This would lightly scent the maggots with almond oil but I was desperate. My toddler was already at my heels in nothing but a diaper. Not even shoes. (Cmon now, there’s maggots in a bucket and he’s not wearing shoes? Someone is going to call DCF. PS DON’T do that! He’s tended to!)
“Mama! What you do? Mama doing? Mama clean?!”

“There’s no time to talk! Be brave, run, save yourself!”
But he follows me instead, peppering me with the same question. “Mama doing? Mama doing?”

“Mommy’s drowning maggots.”

I inhumanely euthanized those three repulsive larvae with a fifteen dollar bottle of biodegradable-earth-friendly-pocket-book murdering soap.

I Tekken-style finished them with the garden hose and dumped the whole sloppy mess over my neighbors fence.
And that’ll teach them to never trim their bushes and run motorcycles at midnight, and fireworks; don’t even get me started.

I was relieved to have it done with. Maggot free is the way to be.

What’s more than awful is that I can’t scrap the compost idea altogether. You see, my town implemented an Earth Saving (cheap, money grubbing scheme) to charge two dollars per trash bag that you toss. Accountability, guilt, greed, I dunno, same umbrella.

I buy a roll of five special, gilded, bourgeois garbage bags for ten bucks.

With two diapered babies and a preschooler.

But compost is free removal! All you have to do is put paper and food waste in a separate bucket and ditch your nose and bleach your memory.

Go to hell compost. I don’t care how free you are.
But I’ll still see you in my office on Monday.
You’re on notice July.
I can’t wait until October.

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Modern Motherhood, An Exercise in Futility

I typically don’t make a habit of writing open letters on the internet or writing any scathing responses to internet articles, so consider this opus an exception to all of my rules.

The Elite Daily has published some rotten piece of rubbish that seeped under my skin and hurt me in a place I didn’t think was even going to be reachable. I have dedicated my adult life to my family and it’s anything but fabulous. Read all about how fashionable and luxurious it is to be a Modern Mom like me here, and get your own torch flame blazing.

The idea that motherhood can somehow be glamorous is smashed into pieces by the realities of actual living, breathing modern motherhood. I’ve never cared about matching outfits with my kids, because they require changing four times throughout the day. Wearing heels serves absolutely no point and a nude peep-toe isn’t going to earn me cool points while I chase my kids around the public pee infested pool, what counts is that I kept my two year old from nose diving into the shallow pool and ruining the potential for a beautiful, living childhood.

My sunhat keeps my wrinkles from rooting deeper at a faster speed, as I’ve just now gathered enough courage at the age of thirty-one to stand confident, pale and a shameless size fourteen. I learned a lot in my foolhardy twenties, and the importance of sunscreen hadn’t embedded itself in my stubborn young head until the evidence of premature aging rippled across my eyes. It’s not about looks; it’s about preservation and my new aversion to chemotherapy.

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I embarked on a journey of having three kids in four years. I didn’t set out to do it with intent, although that wouldn’t hold up in a court of law. The point is I am here now, and I am immersed in the culture of being a mother in the age of the millennial.

I can’t speak for the people who identify with comparing selfies on Instagram with Kim K. I cannot speak for the people who shop tirelessly for the perfect matching mother-toddler swim gear. I can’t speak for everyone.

But I’m more than willing to wager a wife-bonus that for every woman out there creating perfectly pinterested parties to upload to social media there are more moms like me, who struggle to prepare four lunches through hard-earned sips of coffee while the naughty kid in the bunch is throwing ham on the floor to “Fee Da Ants Mwammy”.

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GMO’s are delicious, rave toddlers everywhere

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Glamorous, Pinterest-worthy lunch making in progress

The moms like me read every article on the internet about GMO’s and we roll our eyes because we get that it causes cancer but we also can’t afford preschool tuition on an Organic eating plan. I would like to be able to heat my house in the winter as well, because when I bitch about freezing my ass off I only get two “likes” on Facebook, which I would think an uber cool millennial mom would “get”.

A modern mom is concerned with finances, just like the mom who came before her, and the mom who came before her. Imagine a time when we had avocado colored refrigerators, laminate floors that probably leached cancer into our lungs and moms who hunched over the dining table with a calculator and a check book. That’s today’s mom, and that’s yesterday’s mom. We care about the future, so we plan for it. Even though it kills us that we can’t buy the amazing retro sundress we saw at Mod Cloth because it means saving up for the deck we hope to build in five years.

Modern Mothers are more responsible than we’ve been given credit for. We work harder to be proud of who we are and stop shaming ourselves over our weight, or our five o’clock shadow. We admit to not showering every day and we confess that we actually like having sex with our husbands.

Modern Moms are killing it, but not in the ways described in the elitist self-centered article.

We embrace feminism, we get to choose birth control and we discuss it in private Facebook groups where we also lament breastfeeding and wiping our kids’ butts. We confess things to one another about motherhood, we admit to it being hard, to knowing that we have to be done having kids because sometimes, motherhood is too emotionally challenging. We talk about guilt and how expensive preschool is. It’s seriously really ridiculously expensive.

We find tribes, and we find ways to relate to the people around us and we don’t want anything to do with mommy wars.

We care more about politics, the environmental future, the figurative climate and the literal one.

We talk openly with our kids. We discipline them with a little more understanding than a beating had previously offered in my up and coming generation.

We hide in the bathroom when we can’t handle breaking up one more sibling argument.

A drive thru has saved my ass in more than one situation. And while we all would love a home cooked meal every single day, sometimes it’s best for our egos to not watch our kids throw our handmade spaghetti and meatballs on the rug and refuse to take even one bite. And so pizza happens.

We are a generation of well-read women who stay on top of current events and enjoy glasses of wine and discussions about politics.

I stick my kids in front of Disney for an hour so that I can type out a blog post in response to the idea that Modern Motherhood is superficial, and that we are unimportant unless we are fashionable, thin, white and of moderate wealth and privilege.

I work too damn hard at being a mom, paying attention and being a self-aware human being to let that kind of pop culture egocentrism endure.

This is my Alamo.

WE ARE BETTER THAN WHAT THEY ARE SAYING WE ARE.

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Maybe when the kids are older

I feel like I’m holding the wheels on a rickety bus barreling down an Audubon.
It’s coordinating schedules, meals, balancing life. Make time to exercise, make time to read. Watch the news. Keep up with Facebook. Keep the kids clean. Diapers are piling up. The 4 year old is dumping Lego’s on the floor and the baby wakes from the racket. She needs solids and the high chair is a mess. I forgot to feed her lunch. Breastfeeding is easier, no high chair involved, no scrubbing.
I secretly wish she would refuse solids altogether.

My own ears throb in pain and frustration with the decibels and screams of my kids. One is hungry, one is wet and one is screaming because the cool kids are doing it.

Clean the house again, cook another meal. The kids have already had three yogurts and  two applesauce packs and I want to give them donuts because donuts keep them quiet. When they’re quiet I can check Facebook and zone out of my duties and forget the guilt I’m faced with every waking moment.

It’s 3 pm and their teeth still aren’t brushed. They haven’t seen a dentist in a year.
Oh, another diaper to change.

Don’t forget to do sit ups because it’s raining today and the kids can’t go out for a walk.
The kids won’t go outside so we sit in and torture each other while the rain ping pong patters and drips from the roof.
We need gutters.
Add it to the list.

I should do yoga. It’s supposed to be good for my blood pressure.
Maybe when the kids are older.

The toddler screamed in my face and hit my chest like an angry chimp.
Thank god he’s napping. Now I have time to do arts and crafts with my preschooler.
Father’s day is coming up and we need to get to work.
We love daddy but we don’t show it enough.
He comes home from work and the house is all but crumbling from the foundation up.
The kids teeth. I’ve forgotten again.
Daddy grabs the kids and hugs them when he opens the door, he kisses me and asks me how my day was. He doesn’t even get mad that I gave the kids donuts while I cooked dinner to keep them quiet, and now they’ll have no appetite and we will fight them for each precious bite they begrudgingly take.

He loves me. He loves us all deeply. I need him and his patience.
He needs space. The phone rings and he says he needs a night out to go play cards.
A hobby I don’t understand anymore than I can understand people who walk into lion cages. He needs to escape and I’m burdened by the “What about me. I need to escape too” thoughts that creep in and wreck havoc on my guilt pile.
Hanging up the phone and breathing a “Fuck You” with my last dying breath is no way to show my appreciation and gratitude to a good man. But it still feels better.
I don’t deserve him.
“Why him? Why does he get to have all of the freedom?” My jealousy overtaking my guilt momentarily and then fading away, giving into the realization that he is human, I am human and we’re both clinging to those wheels.
“Now is just not my time.”
“He deserves space.”
“We all do.”
It’s just not my time.
Maybe when the kids are older.

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