Mom Dating

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Yesterday, I typed up a text message then deleted it. A few minutes later, my baby clinging to my legs, screaming, I tried again. It didn’t seem right. When my husband came home, I asked him to look over the text. “Is this too needy? Too desperate? Should I wait 48 hours to send it?”

He blinked so hard, I could hear his bewilderment. “Um, aren’t you just texting a new friend?”

Not any new friend. A mom friend.

Finding a friend is hard enough, in our increasingly digital and isolated world. I have many friends from college or friends from my old jobs, who I email, call and text on any given day. But staying home with my kids is sometimes a lonely job and really, the baby is terrible at discussing “Game of Thrones” with me. I need to talk to a human, an adult, someone who can pour me coffee and say, “I’m sorry your baby threatened you with a knife.” But, finding the perfect mom friend for impromptu playdates to the park and commiserating over coffee while our kids throw blocks at each other is hard. It requires the perfect confluence of proximity, schedules and childrens’ ages. Also, your kids have to get along.  I once had a perfect mom friend, who enjoyed discussing “Downton Abby” and what’s wrong with the animals at Bever Park (a favorite topic of mine). But my daughter decided her daughter was a horrible witch who was casting mean spells on her. My friend’s daughter responding by shrieking and kicking my kid in the shins. The relationship didn’t last long.

This year, I’ve found myself irrationally angry at mom friends who dared sign their children up for preschool on alternating days than my children. “Why wasn’t Tuesday/Thursday good enough for you?” I found myself yelling at a friend the other day. She patted my arm. “I will miss you too.”

Finding a new mom friend is often like dating. You go to parks and groups, trying to scope out someone who doesn’t look like they’re going to judge the fact that your baby has a face full of dirt and your three-year-old is sobbing because her stick isn’t magical. Someone who might be able to talk about minivans and books and shrug when you say your kid was three when she finally gave up the pacifier. And not newly-minted three. And unfortunately, I was never good at dating. Of the four people I dated before my husband, three of them are married to men now.

But the other day, I bumped into a mom at the mall after my baby tried to push hers. We started talking and discovered that we have all the right elements—she lives in the neighborhood, our schedules match, and our kids seem to like one another. Not to mention, she can talk to me about books and some of the crime procedurals I enjoy. I mean, she hasn’t seen every episode of “Criminal Minds” twice, but no one is perfect. Best of all, she’s new to town, so she’s just desperate enough to need a friend. We exchanged numbers and I immediately made a playdate.

So, it appears I have a new mom friend. Which will last until my daughter decides her daughter is a witch. I lose more friends that way.

Disclaimer: I wrote this originally for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, but it has become really timely, so I republished here. Yes, that makes me lazy.

Go, You

Iowa

Even though I usually run five times a week and it’s a big part of my life, I don’t write much about running. It’s hard to write about running without being annoying. Without bragging. Without saying, “Hey, I’m so awesome, I ran all these miles!”  Even if I told you about the time I peed myself during the last half mile of a race or the time I had to poop during a race, but I didn’t, and then I didn’t poop for five days and I thought I was going to die. Even then, those stories still involve talking about how I ran 13.1 miles willingly without zombies, or bears or White Walkers behind me. And all sports stories are the same–this thing was hard, I did it, go me. It’s cliche and I hate cliche.

For me, running is about the challenge, the endurance, it feeds the intensely competitive beast inside me by keeping me humble because I’m slow. But I can also compete against myself and I do. I love beating that smug Lyz of a few days ago. But in the end, running is really about justifying my deep craving for chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers.  Look, we all have our vices. Mine just happens to be fried and breaded chicken, also true crime. Also, pantslessness. Just be glad it’s not cocaine.

I also don’t write about inspiration. I am inspired a lot, by people and places and things. But I don’t write about it because again, it seems so cliche. This thing is hard. I was inspired to keep going. Go me.

I suppose in the end, it’s a matter of pride. I wish it was something esoteric that inspired me or kept me running. But it really is just cheeseburgers and someone telling me that Jane Smiley had four kids and still won a Pulitzer, so shut down Facebook and keep writing, loser.

On Sunday, I ran five miles and for the last two miles I did intervals, uphill. My legs burned and I thought I was going to puke. Part of me, thought I was really stupid. But the other part of me said keep going because nothing good ever came without pain and struggle and sometimes the worst pain is what you do to yourself.

As I was running up my last hill, Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave” came on. You know the pop song that’s been corporatized by Microsoft? It’s my own personal stance that no one should ever be judged by the contents of their workout playlist. Mine already has way more One Direction than is appropriate for a 31 year-old mother of two. That number, by the way, is two. Two songs. Also, some Britney, also a lot of Chris Brown, who I don’t like on principle, but “Drop it Low” is pretty amazing.  It’s hard to have principles when your last mile of a 10 mile run is uphill. At that point, the only principles that remain are “Don’t die. Don’t fall.”

I’ve been singing “Brave” to Ellis this year as a joke of sorts. She hates it when I sing, which isn’t different from the rest of the world. I’m pretty awful. But I sing her the song, because my little anxiety-ridden three-year-old sometimes needs that extra boost to climb a rock, slide down a slide or walk near a chicken. But when the song came on during my run, I started crying for all the stupid, cliche, reasons that I normally abhor on principle. But I was running, I couldn’t have principles. So, I gave in. And there I was–chubby white lady, tromping up a hill, with tears in her eyes because of a top 40 song.

Since February, I’ve seen some of my closest friends and family go through some deep pain–divorces, infertility, infidelity, separation, death. My friend Kristin has been writing about the death of her 11 month old son on her own blog. Someone told me that her blog was hard to read because of the pain that seeps through. And I agree. Her words are hard, but how much harder was it to write them? Did her fingers burn? Did she feel like she was going to puke?

Head down, legs burning. I think of all the people I know working so hard to crawl out of the spaces and cages they found themselves in. It’s not pretty, it’s not easy. It’s like clawing out of quicksand, pushing yourself to the light you see, which may not be daylight, but at this point it doesn’t matter. Just out. Just get out.

Maybe it’s because it’s all so complicated that easy cliche  finds meaning. And easy simple things–like saying, “I’m proud of you,” like telling your kid you are there for her as she faces  a chicken, like a silly Top 40 song that now means everything because of that moment when you heard it at the time you most needed to–sometimes those things are really important.

I tell Dave I hate sports movies because they are all the same–underdog tries hard, overcomes obstacles, wins. I think the thing that offends me so much about cliche is that it makes things seem easy–judgement, triumphs, it undercuts the specificity of what makes our lives individual and our pain so contextual. But sports movies are timeless for a reason, cliche sometimes happens because it’s true, because everyday we all feel like underdogs, trying hard, overcoming obstacles, and will we win? I don’t really know. I hope so.

After I came home from my run, I was pretty sure, I was going to have my period or that I needed to pee on a stick. I’m usually a rock and an island. Embracing cliche and crying from it? That’s what old ladies do! But maybe old ladies are soft because they realize that life is too hard, if you don’t cry every once in a while, you’ll never get it all out.

So, here is a song for you. I hope you ugly cry at your computer. At least then, I won’t be alone.

Edit: I removed the video because it was autoplaying. And that is obnoxious.

 

If The Red Woman Had A Mom Blog

Basically, if you watch Game of Thrones (and I do), you’ve realized it’s just one big giant lesson in parenting. Like if you don’t want to raise a sadistic killer, maybe don’t have him be the spoiled offspring of incest. My friend Tom noted that if Catelyn Stark had a parenting book it would be Battle Hymn of a Direwolf Mother.

I proposed that Cersi’s manifesto would be What to Expect When You’re Expecting Your Brother’s Baby and Lysa Aryn’s would be The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding Until He’s 15. At this point, Tom stopped talking to me and blocked me on Twitter.

But no one encompasses motherhood in the way that The Red Woman, Melisandre, does.

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I mean, she gave birth med-free in a tunnel. I bet she totally shops at Whole Foods too. Anyway, I figured she has a parenting blog titled Raising Ghost Demons, and here are some titles of her last few posts.

-The Night is Dark and Full of Terror: How I Sleep-Trained My Ghost Demon

-I Gave Birth Med-Free In a Tunnel and You Can Too

-How to Use Fire to Potty Train

-Breast is Best: Why I Breastfed My Ghost Demon Until the Age of 5

-Why is Everyone Stealing My Ghost Demon Name?

-What Do You Do When Your Ghost Demon Commits Regicide?

-Are Toy Swords Ever Okay?

-How to Apply Leaches in 10 Easy Steps

-How to Get Your Body Back After Birthing a Ghost Demon

-What Happened When I Let My Ghost Demon Wear a Pink Headband at Wal-Mart

-An Open Letter to the Mom Who Judged My Ghost Demon at the Grocery Store for Assassinating the Cashier

Mother’s Day Gifts For The Mother Of Dragons

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The slow and painful death of her enemies.

An iron throne.

Some ships.

A coupon for free dragon sitting.

A Dyson.

Avenge the murder of her family.

Just for once, for people to free their ownselves.

A gift card to the salon for a root touch up.

A day without everyone breathing fire all over each other, is that too much to ask? Honestly.

Me Judging Fictional Moms

Mom

The Mom from the Cat in the Hat

Well, sure. Who can expect a cat wearing a hat and playing with his *grasps pearls* things to show up while you’re out running errands? But I would never leave my babies alone, even if I needed my polka dot dress tailored. Sure, the fish was there. But a fish is hardly responsible. They only have like a six second memory, which is three seconds longer than my own mother’s. But still. It’s the principle of the matter.  Also, I never knew a cat could have two things. What perversion is that? I hope she’s getting that boy and Sally the help they need.

The Mom From Where the Wild Things Are

I personally love my children and I would never send them to bed without supper. Especially if all they said was, “I’ll eat you up.” I mean, what does she expect from letting her kid run around and wear a wolf suit all day? Does she even wash it? Tammy saw her and Max at Target and she said he stunk like he hadn’t had a bath in and out of days and over a year.

Mom from I’ll Love You Forever

Cut the cord, Margery. Geez. I’m surprised your kid didn’t call the cops on you. That’s not love. That’s called stalking. And frankly we all feel a little weird about it.

The Mom From Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Buy your kid some damn toys and maybe he won’t turn into a freaking rock.

The Mom from Good Night Moon

If my kid called me an “old lady” I’d choke him with that red balloon and show him who’s boss.

The Mom of the Caterpillar in The Hungry Caterpillar

Personally, I’d never let my kid gorge himself on snacks like that. In the real world, you don’t become a butterfly when you are obese, you become a reality show.

The Mom in Blueberries for Sal

It’s great she’s into canning, but it’s pretty irresponsible of her to let her kid just eat blueberries without washing them. Lord only knows what animal peed on them before Sal put them in her mouth. Also, why didn’t she teach that child proper procedure for meeting a bear. You are supposed to play dead. Although, with that skin tone maybe the bear thought Sal was already dead. And why did she name her kid Sal? You can’t be supreme court justice with that name. The best she’ll be able to do is play on a hockey team in Ontario with that name.

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