Thursday, January 22, 2015

Seriously, When Will People Learn to Mind Their Own Business

I was having lunch with an old friend at Le Pain Quotidien ("Our handmade bread serves as the canvas for a myriad of organic and seasonal ingredients") last week. Henry did well -- he ate his sandwich after mushing it around a bit -- but, he's three, i.e., a bit unpredictable. When he found a train near the bottom of my bottomless diaper bag and started to play on the floor at our feet, I was thankful he was amused enough for me to catch up with my friend.

Ten minutes later, a woman approached our table.

"Excuse me, your child is on the floor."

I glanced down at Henry. He wasn't in the way, which is what I assumed she meant, and he seemed perfectly fine.

"Okay, thanks." I smiled.

"No," she continued, as if I wasn't following. "Like, his cheek is on the floor."

Ah, I saw where this was going.

"Okay, thanks," I said again, with another smile.

But she wasn't done!

"Um, it's dirty,"

"Okay," I said once again, "thanks."

She walked away in a huff, and I'm sure she told everyone the story about the irresponsible mom who let her child rest his cheek on the floor of an upscale cafe chain on the Upper East Side.



I'm not going to go into a tirade about Americans' collective (marketing-driven, I might opine) obsession with cleanliness and parents' helicoptering to the point of suffocation. As I've said before, I'd rather my son break his arm falling out of a tree than never climb a tree at all.

Instead, I'm going to share an anecdote from when Henry was a mere 13 months old. First, there are a lot of new people around here, and I wouldn't want you to miss out on this gem of an insight into my personality. For everyone else, I just want some damn props for keeping my cool. Give me props, people!

The excerpt below is from a longer essay published in the 2013 anthology, The Mother of All Meltdowns. You can find the original post here.

***

By winter, I had learned braving the subway was a whole hell of a lot easier if I strapped my son to my chest in the baby carrier and stashed him inside a special Papoose coat big enough to close around us both. Once bundled in, my son’s round, hairless, disembodied head stuck out of the middle of the enormous poofy coat, like a little Voldemort. Remember in the first Harry Potter movie where Professor Quirrell carried Voldemort in his turban? Yeah, like that.

The book doesn't have this snazzy picture, though.

Everyone raves about baby-wearing, but toddler-wearing is something else entirely. I have neither the shoulders nor the upper body strength to glide effortlessly along with twenty pounds strapped to my chest. I spent the entire winter swearing and perspiring from one place to another.

On my way to the subway in Manhattan one mild January afternoon, I called a friend who had been trying to conceive for months to see if she was free for lunch. She wasn't, but we chatted briefly about her recent doctor’s appointment. Just then, I saw a fifty-something-year-old man walking toward me, gesticulating wildly with an appalled look on his face.

I narrowed my eyes in the silent but universally understood sign of: What? Is there a Tyrannosaurus behind me about to chomp my head off? Why else would you be interrupting my phone call, complete stranger?

"Hat," he said, gesturing again, a bit more frantically as he passed. "Put a hat on the baby! It's cold out."

I. Almost. Lost. My. Mind.

It was the hat that broke the camel’s back. I cracked under the invisible weight of comments and insults that had been heaped upon me, my body and my mothering over the past two years.

"Really?" I said, turning to follow him down the street like a lunatic.

The man continued on his way, pretending to ignore me, which was ironic, considering I should have been the one to pretend to ignore him. But I did not. Oh, no, I did not.

"Really??” I continued, yelling. People stopped to stare at the woman carrying Voldemort who was verbally accosting an apparent stranger. Even by New York standards, I was acting a little crazy. “Is it cold out? I couldn't tell!” I called to him as I followed. “Do you think I should put a hat on him? I wasn't sure!”

Was I imagining things or was he picking up his pace a little so he could cross before the sign changed from the inviting white walker to the forbidding red hand?

“Thanks for letting me know!" I screamed as he crossed the street.

I realized at that point that I had been holding the phone in my hand the whole time. My friend was still there, laughing. My heart was pounding; I was furious and not a little embarrassed. What I should have said, I told her, was:

Excuse me, complete stranger, but did you carry this child in your uterus for nine months? No? Is that because he's not yours? Or because you don't even have a uterus of your own? Did you carry his 20 pounds strapped to your chest inside a parka made for the Arctic Circle from the ass-end of Brooklyn to the Flatiron District, sweating, late and trying not to trip down the subway stairs and kill the both of you?

Did you?

DID? YOU?

Are you me?

ARE? YOU?

No?

Then, for the love of all that is holy, MIND YOUR OWN @$#%^* BUSINESS.

***

That goes for you, too, Le Pain Quotidien lady.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Inappropriate Reasons I Am Psyched to Be Pregnant

That’s right, Moo Cow is growing another rascal. I want to write something melodramatic and starry-eyed about it. Maybe another time.

Instead, let’s just get something straight. I do not like being pregnant. I wasn’t writing the first time around, so you missed the vitriol, but truly, if you are a person who just loved having a bowling ball inside your torso, smashing all the other organs into useless little pancakes, then you should either keep it to yourself or unfriend me preemptively. Because in theory, I love the idea of the little person in there. In practice, I’m pissed off and uncomfortable most of the time.

There are, however, a few reasons -- seven, to be specific -- that I am psyched to be pregnant again.

#1 - Hospital Socks

I’m always cold. Even in the dead of the summer, I sleep with a comforter. In the olden days, I hypothesized it was because I was skinny, but that theory has been disproved by recent evidence. I shiver day and night; I wear a gray wool hat indoors. So those hospital socks with the little grippies underneath are the best. I wear them to bed every night, which Rayne loves, because it’s a surefire signal that there will be no sex. I still have the brown ones from when I gave birth to Henry, but they are getting a little ratty. I’m totally due for a new pair or three.

#2 - Second-Trimester Sexy Time

In between the stage when you vomit just from hearing the word “vomit” and the stage when you are a gigantic whale, there is a sliver of time when you feel well and cute. And horny. Though I am in the second trimester now, I’m still waiting for the nausea and exhaustion to abate and the cute to kick in. I fear it might not. Possibly it’s because I have a toddler, also known as my personal energy-sucking machine. But I hold out hope. Rayne is more on board with this one than with the socks, as you might imagine.

#3 - Menses-Free Living

I know I will pay for this after giving birth, when I will bleed all nine months in the span of two weeks, but for now, I thumb my nose at tampons and those overnight pads with “wings.” I don’t want wings when I sleep. I just want pajamas. And hospital socks.

#4 - I Give Even Less of a Rat’s Ass

Someone recently was shocked at how big my belly was already. My response? “Fuck you.” Yep. Because I didn’t give a rat’s ass about social niceties in the first place; now that I’m perpetually, unreasonably tired and growing exponentially larger in two opposing directions (belly and butt), well, let's just say it's best to stay out of my way.

#5 - Boobs

Once upon a time I was concave in the chestal area. Then I gained weight and I was simply flat, with an inkling of flabbiness poking out of certain outfits. For this pregnancy, I am inexplicably HUGE, i.e., a full B cup. It’s cool, because they fill out shirts a bit and balance out the belly-butt axis of evil. BUT DON’T TOUCH THEM. Don’t even think about it. There is a price for this bounty, and it’s called soreness.

#6 - Maternity Pants

Maternity pants, with their wide, elastic, forgiving waistlines, are amazing. It’s like wearing pajamas every day. I wore my maternity pants until five months after I gave birth to Henry, just because I could. That is a LIE. I have maternity shorts and pants that I still wear because they fit like normal bottoms these days. Three cheers for maternity pants!

#7 - Cheese

To finish on a related note: Oh, cheese. I love you so, so much. Especially on a Triscuit. Thanks for being you.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Deconstructing Toddler Literature

I didn't want my first post back to be a bitchfest, but we are potty training. Potty Training. I just love reading all of Henry's favorites while sitting on the edge of a cold, hard, ceramic tub.

"Again!" he orders.

You already know how I feel about that damn one-eyed Pigeon who loves things that Go. Below is my synopsis of some other toddler lit that you hopefully will never have to read.


Curious George. A selfish poacher steals an innocent monkey from the jungle and puts him in an American zoo. The monkey has other ideas.



The Poky Little Puppy. Five cute and curious puppies learn about sloth, revenge and deception. Then they teach these wonderful lessons to my toddler.

.

Horton Hears A Who. Monkeys and kangaroos beat and detain an elephant for his beliefs.

 

10 Little Rubber Ducks. Low-wage workers in the developing world make cheap plastic shit my kid will play with for two minutes before discarding. Too bad a white captain loses the box in a storm on the sea.



Harold and the Purple Crayon. Drawing on the walls is okay as long as you go to bed afterwards without a fuss.



The Three Little Pigs. Three Depression-era pigs scare my toddler into being a hard worker.