I don’t know anything about rainbows

For a long time now, Ellis has wanted to see a rainbow. Whenever she is in trouble, she will wail from time out, “Now, I will never see a wainbow!”

She has begged us to take her to see a rainbow. And told us stories about magical ponies that will take her up to heaven to see God and rainbows and lots of rainbow cupcakes. She even spent the better part of bed time last week, crying because she couldn’t sleep, because her bed wasn’t a magical rainbow bed. I finally calmed her when I spread my arms wide and said, “Hocus pocus! Your bed is now a magical rainbow!”

“Mom, don’t say hocus pocus, say ‘woil-a!’”

So, I waved my arms in the air. “VOILA!”

“Oh wank you, my queen!” And then she fell asleep.

I have learned not to ask where she gets this from. Because I’m sure it’s all that godless TV and pop music I let her listen to, not to mention the Fancy Nancy we read until our eyeballs bleed, but when I say, “Where did this come from?”  She just smiles and just points to herself. Three year olds are a trip.

A week ago, we were outside doing yard work when it started to rain. The sun was still peeking through the clouds and Dave (who randomly knows a lot about the weather and all the names for clouds and stars, he’s our guide to the sky, that guy), grabbed Ellis and rushed her over to the Boulevard on our street. There he pointed out a very faint rainbow, visible through the neighborhood trees. Ellis shook her head. “No, dat not a wainbow.”

She wasn’t disappointed as much as she was just convinced we were wrong. I tried explaining to her about how rainbows don’t just happen, how sometimes they are hard to see, how you have to look, how life isn’t always like a cartoon, I felt like I was imparting some greater meaning, some deeper message. Ellis was having none of it. “No,” she said calmly. “It not a wainbow.”

Get used to disappointment. I wanted to say. Okay, maybe I mumbled it under my breath.

On Sunday, Dave dragged us to Palisades State park, which is right on the Cedar River. I say dragged, because I had been up since 5am, taken the kids to church and grocery shopped. Then, I had to make a picnic and pack us all up for some mandatory family fun. I love how much Dave loves to spend time with us, but I also love naps. Today, Dave won. But it wasn’t boding well. Ellis was still tired from a full day before and the baby, well he was fine. He’s always up for an adventure, which to him translates as eating dirt in new locales. But Ellis isn’t so into nature. The last time we went on a little hike at a local park she spent the entire time tell us we were “Wost! So berry wost!” And that someone should have brought a map. Do you have a map? Did mommy have a map? Maybe we needed Jesus to come from heaven to bring us a map? She was a little hysterical. It might have been made worse because Dave and I spent the whole time discussing how we needed to learn how to build a home in the forest since we were so lost we’d never get out. “Do you have a knife to fight the wolves?” I yelled.

“No,” Dave shook his head. “Buddy, do you have a knife?” The baby laughed, dirt on his chin. Ellis wailed.

Our trip to Pallisades was going just about the same way. After some digging in the dirt on the beach, we took a walk to see the dam. The whole time, Ellis told us she was too hot, too sweaty and we might be “WOST!” There was a time out. And another time out, because we don’t pick flowers in time out. We got back to the picnic table and ate. Dave and I negotiated how to shoo away a bee under our breath without alerting the three-year-old to the fact that there was a bee, because oh my god could we handle the terror that would rain down upon us if she saw?

She didn’t see.

Then, we went to splash in the shallow part of the river. This went a little better. We found shells. The baby ate some river sediment. And then, we heard thunder and saw a wall of rain heading toward us. As we packed up, we could see the rain turning in another direction. It was only a hundred yards away from us. We could hear the rain drops splashing in the river upstream. Dave and I looked at each other with the same wonder and confusion we’d had when we dealt with the bee, here was a thing we were having to handle, but we couldn’t really say, “Huge storm! Run!” to our three-year-old who had only just fifteen minutes ago stopped sobbing because there was mud in the river.

“Maybe we should head back,” Dave said.

As we herded Ellis back toward the shore, I looked up. “Ellis!” I yelled and pointed.

She looked up. Her mouth dropped. “Oh,” she breathed, “it what I always wanted.”

Rainbow

There in the sky was one of the brightest rainbows I’ve ever seen. We stood and just marveled at it, ignoring the thunder behind us. Then, Ellis looked down and saw the reflection of the rainbow in the river. ““Wook! All fings are beautiful for me!” 

We stayed as long as we could until Dave saw some lightening and gently urged us to come into the car. By that time the rainbow was disappearing and Ellis began to sob, “It melting! It melllllting!”

I thought about telling her that rainbows don’t just happen. That they come and they go. That the things we most want, the things we dream of and crave in our innermost hearts, come buffeted by storms, muddy feet, and are gone too soon. But I remembered the last lecture I tried to give her about rainbows and what the hell did I know anyway? Instead, I just let her cry. Part of me wanted to cry with her.

Last week, I learned that my friend is divorcing a husband who has never been kind. It’s no small thing to say he’s ruined many lives. So, this is what I’ve always wanted. I know it’s awful to say, but it’s true. I know that makes a lot of people mad, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. I’ve wanted this for 12 years and it’s here. It’s here. But it’s not bringing the peace I’d hoped. It’s not returning my life to the place I wish we could be. Instead, it’s just showing me that that place that I want to go back to? That didn’t exist. And those people, those dear ones on the other side of that rainbow? I don’t know who they are anymore.

So, really. What do I know about rainbows?

That night, when I tucked her in again, because she was in her doorway, singing a song about rainbows, she told me, “I knowed da wainbow will come back for me.”

And I just said, “If I were a rainbow, I would always come back for you.” Because at least I know that is true.

Ellis Rainbow

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

Mayzie The “Lazy Bird” Comes to Her Own Defense

I’ve always felt bad for how much Mayzie is maligned in  Horton Hatches the Egg. So, I wrote a defense for Mayzie, in her own words. It occurs to me that I will probably regret this piece of stupidity in a few weeks, but what the hell, happy Monday. 

—–

Mayzie The Lazy Bird

I’m Mayzie, frequently known as the lazy bird who left her egg in the care of a steadfast elephant, but I want you to know that first and foremost, I am a mother. A good mother. And I am far, far from lazy.

That sanctimonious, bag of wrinkles has dominated the conversation for too long. I mean, just because he’s an elephant, we all listen to him. Honestly, I think the Wickershams had it right, when they wanted to tie him up. You know, that story didn’t really happen that way either. There really was nothing on that clover, there wasn’t even a clover. That mad elephant was just running around the jungle talking about voices in his head. We were trying to help. God, if I’d have known that he was going to go full-on tusk nuts on us, I would never have asked him to babysit. But he was a kindly elephant. Maybe had his trunk a little too far up his egg-squishing behind, but as a mother that’s what you want. You want someone who will be careful. He was always going on and on about his duties. His morals. His respect for humanity. How was I supposed to know he would kidnap my egg?

I know what you want to know. Did I leave my egg? Yes. I did. But it wasn’t easy. My husband had recently left us for that whore Kangaroo and I needed to work. The jungle was in a recession. (Thanks, Obama.) I needed to work to support my new little beak to feed. I didn’t want to have to leave the jungle. I didn’t want to have to leave my egg, but what could I do? I’m a tropical bird. The only jobs for me were in West Palm Beach. I planned on meeting back up with Horton in a few months, once I had earned enough to buy us a nicer nest in a better school district, away from those whoring Kangaroos who are just really wreaking havoc in our bush. They barely speak English, but they’ve been in the jungle how long? I’ve seen what happens to birds raised in this area of the jungle. I needed to get my baby bird out.

What Horton leaves out is how much I paid him to watch my precious egg. He left out all my tears, my wing wringing. I didn’t want to go. But what recourse did I have? My husband off with that whore Kangaroo and me penniless and alone.  We don’t have subsidized egg care like they do in some countries. When I was out there in West Palm Beach sending home my earnings to Horton, hoping he wouldn’t abandon my egg, not knowing what was happening, it felt like I was just working for the egg sitting. But we also needed health care. And well, you saw the tree we lived in. If you can call it a tree. More like a stick with leaves.

Then, imagine how I felt when I came back to the nest, Horton was gone. My baby had been eggnapped. I don’t want to judge Horton too harshly, it’s clear from that episode with the “Whos” that the elephant wasn’t okay. We know that at the very least he has multiple personality disorder, perhaps schizophrenia.  And it’s clear from stealing my egg that he also suffers from a Jungian mother complex. And at the very least a narcissistic personality disorder.  I mean, look at the story he concocted. He claims to have sat on the egg for fifty-one weeks? What egg has that kind of incubation period? The Emperor Penguin has an incubation period of 64-67 days, which is the longest in the animal kingdom. Elephants have a gestational period of approximately two years, so it’s clear he just drew on his limited knowledge of the birth process.

And no, the baby wasn’t an elephant bird. He had a longer floppier beak that favored my ex-husband’s side of the family, sadly. But this just shows you how delusional that pompous trunk swinging, eggnapper is. And you’ve all been duped by him.

I’ve spent the better part of my baby bird’s life in and out of the jungle court system trying to regain custody. I’ve lost my job and my nest. I’ve become shorthand for bad parenting.  It’s easy to judge isn’t it, you with your white elephant privilege. You’ve never had your husband cheat on you with   Currently, Judge Vlad Vladikoff has suggested that we drop the bird in a sea of other baby birds and the first one to find my child (I named him Jayzden), is the true parent. Horton, not surprisingly, is fine with this judgment.

Scenes from a Life With Two Children

When JQ first joined the family it was like being hit by a linebacker. Not because he is anything less than the best little cheeky guy ever, but because it pushed me to my physical limits. I have two arms, two ears, two eyes, two legs, one heart and all of those faculties have been employed in the wrangling and preservation of my children for the past 10 months.

Back when JQ was first born, I was holding him and I invited Ellis to sit with us. “There no room,” she said.

“I have two legs, one for each kid,” I said.

“You have two eyes too! One for me, one for bubba!”

“Yep.”

She frowned as I held out an arm to welcome her into my lap. “Well, I fink you need more hands.”

E and JQ

Going from no children to one child was stunning in it’s all encompassing exhaustion. Even after she was sleeping through the night, I was tired all the time. Probably because I was constantly worrying about when she was going to eat, whether she needed a new diaper, did she eat beans yesterday for lunch? Could I feed them to her again? Would she be damaged if I let her watch the Today Show for an hour while I drooled on the couch?

But with JQ I don’t worry about those things so much. Not because they aren’t worth worrying over, but because I know he will eventually get food. He will get his diaper changed (at some point). Children are hard to break. No baby became a serial killer from watching a little “Strawberry Shortcake” with his sister. I worry less because I have more to worry about. It’s system overload. And it’s a blessing a little bit to realize your limits. To say, here is where I end and here is where grace and life and the goodness of family and friends and a little bit of luck take over.

10 months in and I think we have a rhythm. Bubs is making his place here in the family, with his mischievous nature and good heart. He loves to hold out toys and then whisk them away when you reach out to get them. He likes to put his pacifier in my mouth and laugh when I say, “Ew gross baby spit!” He covers one eye with his chubby hand and giggle when you say, “Where did my baby go?”

He doesn’t crawl much, except when he wants into a lap. Then, he turns around and hands and knees head first into you. He dives into snuggles and hugs. Then wiggles free. Then, comes back. Then, wiggles free. My two arms ache from the pick-up-put-down dance. I could use some more arms.

Scenes from my life with two children

*

I put Ellis in time out for putting her snacks on JQ’s head, after I told her not to put snacks on JQ’s head. She yelled, “My mommy doesn’t love me or take care of me! She is not my queen. Only my daddy loves me. He is my king. My mommy needs to go to jail! She is impossible to me!”

Meanwhile, JQ and I picked snacks off of his head and ate them.

*

Ellis built a block tower and JQ knocked it over. I helped her move the rubble out of his reach and we rebuilt. As we stacked blocks, JQ stretched and stretched to reach the tower. His little arms reached over his head, his shirt lifted up and showed his belly, he tipped face first on the wood floor, but he didn’t cry. He just kept reaching until he could touch a small corner of the nearest block and then he pushed with all his might. The tower tipped over. Ellis cried. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

*

I was in the bathroom. JQ was playing with toys in the hall. I heard Ellis approach and say: “Hi little buddy, where is your mommy? She not here? I will play wif you so you won’t have to be alone.” So, I stayed in the bathroom just a little longer and put on some eyeliner.

*

On Wednesday night, after the kids were bathed and put to bed, I sat down to write. Just then, Ellis called from her room that she was worried about wolves. So, I went in to reassure her. I came back to the office to write, when JQ started crying–his foot was stuck in the crib slats. Baby soothed and back to sleep. I went back to the office, Ellis was sitting in the desk chair, her eyes were red from crying. “Mommy, what do you do without me when I sleep?”

*

A wad of receipts in my purse reveal individual purchases for bubbles, wipes, coffee, more coffee, cheese sticks, peanut butter, a trip to the trampoline park and a Target trip where I bought Children’s Benedryl, Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey, kleenex, Excedrine for Migraines, and a 12-pack of Coke Zero. I don’t remember any of these purchases.

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.

Angry Toddler Reviews Breakfast

Previously angry toddler has reviewed a trip to Target and Sesame Street Live!

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This day was already going horribly wrong. For starters, I was told pacifiers only belong in bed. So, I was made to part with my pink pony pacifier just minutes after waking up. What a hypocrite. How would my mom feel if I told her yoga pants were just for working out? Where would she be then? She certainly wouldn’t be marching her butt to the elliptical, amirite? Baby weight. I’m no fool. I sneak out of bed and peek down the stairs. That’s definitely bourbon and ice cream weight. But here I was, taking my pink pony pacifier back up to bed all before the hour of 7am, while Mrs. Baby Weight waddled around in her yoga pants sucking down coffee like it was her last meal.

That mewling child was already awake, getting his drool and spit all over my sparkle shoes. Good god, that kid starts his reign of terror early. Based on how many coffee stains were on my mother’s shirt, I’d say he’d begun screaming sometime around five in the morning. I don’t approve of him or his drooly ways, but I do admire his dedication to killing our mother. We could be allies if he didn’t insist on crying every time I tried to put a toy on his head. Baby, I’m doing it for science! He knows nothing. But admiration aside, someone had to rescue that sparkle shoe. I reached out and grabbed it from him. He screamed like a stuck pig. Like we couldn’t just settle this mano y mano over a good wand jousting session, but no. He screamed. And mother came hustling in from the kitchen, where she was no doubt making another cup of her brown, life-sustaining swill.

“Be nice to your brother!” She said.

“He had my ‘parkle shoe!”

The baby screamed again. Please, he can’t even talk properly.  What my parents see in him, I’ll never know.

“Be nice to him,” my mother lectured. To be honest, she probably said more things. But at this point I had zoned out and begun begging for PBS Kids. My mother relented. She didn’t even hesitate. I suppose I should thank the baby for breaking down her resolve to parent. But my sparkle shoe was damp with his spit. I clutched it in my hand while I watched TV. There passed a good twenty minutes. The baby had been whisked away to the bowls of our home to be fed, no doubt. And I was left blissfully alone with “Peg+Cat.” Look, I’m not saying it’s good television, but it’s much better than doing one of those sticker crafts mother plans for me. A sticker craft is a craft for the lazy mother. I can’t be insulted by her pathetic attempts at parenting. “Peg+Cat” it was, until mother walked over and turned the TV off.

I responded the only way one can under such circumstances, I screamed and crumpled to the floor. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, my friends.

My mother tried to convince me that I was hungry.  I screamed louder, my body crumpled in a heap. How could she not know? I was hungry for learning. Hungry for experience. Hungry for adventure. Hungry for a day of wearing a princess dress with no pants. But her brown glop of oatmeal? How could she even claim to make such a dish? Unless opening a package and pouring hot water is cooking now. Please, even the starving toddlers of North Korea would reject such insulting swill.

Through the din of my anguish, I heard one word uttered: “Sprinkles.” Yes, sprinkles. Sprinkles would turn this all around. Nothing gives my heart more joy than the multi-colored nonpareils in shades of pink, red and white. No one can say this toddler wasn’t willing to come together with the ruling, yoga pants-clad parties and work out a truce. I accepted her offer of oatmeal with sprinkles graciously and took my seat at the head of the table in my rightful role as ruler of the household. I occasionally let my father sit there during dinner, it appeases his man ego. I enjoy it in the way people enjoy tossing crumbs to pigeons.

The baby was there sitting in his highchair a cheerio was stuck to his cheek. Had he no shame? No sense of dignity? I ignored him the best I could and ate my sprinkle oatmeal. When the bowl was empty, I asked for more.

“How about your yogurt from yesterday?” She was really pressing her luck, wasn’t she? Fine. I accepted her offer. No one could say, I wasn’t being more than fair. She brought out the yogurt and I peered into the cup and what I saw made my stomach turn.

My mother had put sprinkles in the yogurt. The yogurt. Can you believe that? Sprinkles don’t belong on yogurt. How could she insult me like that? How could she insult yogurt like that. I shouted at her to right this injustice, this affront to breakfast everywhere. And do you know what she did? SHE. ROLLED. HER. EYES.

“Listen to me,”  I said. “Sprinkles don’t go here! This is nuts! Nuts!” But the woman wouldn’t listen to reason. She walked away. In the face of this gross abuse of sprinkles, she walked away. How could she turn such a blind eye to my suffering? HOW? I screamed. I rent my clothing. The baby began to wail too. He is really co-dependent. But oh well, I appreciated the solidarity.

Finally, mother walked back into the dining room. “Eat the yogurt or go to time out,” she growled. What recourse did I have? I didn’t have the manual dexterity or the passcode to her phone to call child services. I had to bow to her cruel whims. Her cruel disgusting whims.

Okay, it wasn’t bad.

Fine. It wasn’t that bad.

And then it was gone. I asked for more yogurt with sprinkles, obviously. She shook her head, looking like someone had tipped her over the edge of sanity. God, they really have to get that baby under control. Then she said, “You ate the last yogurt.”

There was no demon in hell who could have matched my fury and rage. Inexplicably, I spent the next 20 minutes in my room. I chalk that severe punishment up to the baby. I mean, he did spill all his cheerios. Someone needs to get him under control.

 

 

Pants-Free Parenting: A Philosophy-ish Thing

No Pants

The lie of modern life is that we have control. There are studies, statistics, philosophies, advice, books, experts and countless websites. They all tell us how to raise our children perfectly. Breastfeed and your baby will be smart and skinny.  Don’t use your iPhone while you parent and your kid won’t resent you. Don’t yell. Give them organic food. Make everything magic. Make everything special. Don’t spank. Don’t leave them in the car alone for a second, even on a 45 degree day, while you run inside to get your purse. No Tylenol. No GMOs. No vaccines, no wait, vaccinate you parasite! Make your baby food. Send them to Montessori. No screen time. No wine (for you, ever). No looking away. No freaking breaks.

And we cling to this advice. I know I do. I seek it out. I gorge on it. I’m like a hippo wallowing in the muck and mud of all the words and advice to parents, for parents and about parents. I know I need to stop, but I can’t.

Parenting is so isolating. It’s enervating to think that everything you do, everything you say, every moment shapes the life of that little person you love so dearly. If you don’t hold that baby and even briefly think, “Ohmygod I’m doing everything wrong and I’m going to mess this little pooping machine up,” you are probably the college-age aunt.

So, of course, we immerse ourselves in advice and opinions and forums. We glut and glean and worry.

But it is a lie, isn’t it? My friend recently lost her 11-month-old son for no reason. His babysitter put him down for a nap and he didn’t wake up. It’s simple and confounding. She’s been sharing her son’s legacy and her grief on her own site, I won’t try to co-opt her grief or her story. But she shared something with me last month that left me deeply shaken. “You do everything you can as a parent,” she said. “But in the end, the thing that happens, wasn’t the thing you’d prepared or protected for. It never is.”

I think about my own family. My parents spent years protecting us from the outside world–homeschooling, raising us in Conservative Evangelical churches, no TV, no popular radio. They buffeted us in from all sides. But in the end, what destroyed us came not from the outside, but from the inside.

I’ve been thinking a lot about her words. I see the truth in them. Recently, a friend tried to tell me how she wasn’t letting her kids play at a certain park anymore because a suspicious van had been allegedly trolling for children near there. I wanted to tell her that statistically if your kid is kidnapped it’s because a family member took them. If your kid is abused there is only a 10% chance that the person is a stranger. But I kept my mouth shut. Statistics aren’t the point. Our anxiety is the point.

….

I hate pants. I truly do. I hate how they constrict me at the waist. How they leave that mark on my very soft underbelly. I hate how they slide down my grandpa-like butt. Pants make me feel every inch of my physical insecurities, which settle around near my waist.  They confine. They barely let me breathe. Pants are a metaphor for all my anxieties. That what I take on won’t fit, won’t be right. That the thing that works so well for others? I’m deeply afraid it won’t work for me. So, both literally and metaphorically, I’ve done my very best to make my wardrobe a mix of leggings, dresses, skirts and the occasional stretchy denim pant. But I can’t escape pants. In the Midwest where at some point it will be -30 before windchill, pants are a necessary evil.

My hatred of pants has become a running joke. To the extent that at the beginning of the year, when I was asked to write a column for the local paper, a friend suggested I title the column “Pants-Free Parenting.” I loved it.  Not only because I do find myself parenting sans pants, a lot. But also because, when it comes to raising children, I often oscillate between anxiety and fear and just ripping off those pants, throwing on a skirt and saying, “Now it’s time to run through the sprinklers naked! Every body in!”

….

Right now, my children are little.  So much of what I do and what I say matters. It has influence and control. But it won’t be many more days before that is no longer true, when my job is not to be the general but merely the safe harbor. But in these martial days, I’m trying to balance my duties to my children and raising them to rule themselves. I’m trying to find out how to do what is right and responsible, how to protect and shield, and how to say, “Sure you can play swords with sticks, but you’ll suffer the consequences when someone gets scratched.” I’m trying to figure out how to be okay with those scratches, those tears, those minor wounds, that teach children how to bind and mend their own wounds. To teach them that wounds happen.

….

My baby son sleeps with a security blanket. We gave it to him recently. He loves it. It helps soothe him at night and he has such long fussy nights. Right after I learned about my friend’s son, I ran into my baby’s room and watched him sleep. I kept running in. Every five to ten minutes. When my husband came home, he too checked on our child. He saw the blanket and he instinctively ripped it away. “No more,” he said. “No more of this.”

My son woke up screaming. We could only calm him by giving the blanket back.

It was a completely ridiculous moment. We had selfishly appropriated someone else’s sorrow into our own. We thought we could solve a problem by protecting him from everything. Sanitize the environment. No blankets. No processed food. No GMOs. No Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus. This was our gut reaction.

But it’s foolish. No life is perfect. No place is completely sanitized from all harm. We do our best to mitigate the worst. But we have to let the anxiety go. Give the blanket back.

….

In 2012, I stopped buying clothes. I called it my “No Pants Challenge” the goals were to rid my closet of excess, learn to wear what I had and control my spending and shopping, two things that were motivated by my anxieties about how I looked. A ban, I thought, would mean freedom. So, I spent the entire year, not buying anything. By the end of the year, I had saved a lot of money, learned some valuable lessons about appreciating what I had. But there was no big insight. No sense of peace about how I looked. In fact, after XO Jane ran an article about my challenge, commenters came in droves to tell me that what I had was awful. I shouldn’t ever dress how I dressed. They pitied me. Good old, internet.

But it’s not their job to mitigate my problems. That’s my job.

When it comes to parenting, I think so often about throwing off everything that constricts us. Being free always. No pants. No parenting. TV all the time. Ice cream forever. But I know that won’t solve the problem, just like insulating, constricting and binding my children won’t fix anything either.

There has to be something else besides total abandonment and complete confinement. We have to built our closets with a mixture of what feels comfortable to us and the necessary evils. And then, somehow, the wisdom to know when to rip those evils off at the tail-end of the day, or to shove our legs in, suck it in, button it up. Which gods do we serve? Which crazy do we lean into? What do we give up? What do we embrace? That mixture is different for everyone. Our closets don’t all look the same. We all have to find our best fit.

All I can say is, I hate pants.

9 Questions I Have for the Creators of “Dinosaur Train”

Previously in this series: “Curious George: What The Hell?”

DinosaurTrain-300x273

 

1. Um, what the actual hell is going on in this show? You expect me to believe that there is a train that is supposedly built by an entire species with arms that are too short and a lack of opposable thumbs? And this train is then supposed to travel across the entire earth and through time for a pleasant little jaunt and then return the dinosaurs home by dinner? My train can’t even get me to Chicago at a reasonable time and I live four hours away. And we need to discuss the episode where they visit Giganotosaurus and they aren’t even harmed in any way. Like, one of the biggest carnivores isn’t going to pop Tiny Pteranodon like a fruit snack. Seriously. Do I need to be high to buy into the premise? Because I will be. I will move to Colorado and toke up every morning I decide to phone it in on parenting and I turn on PBS Kids. I mean, it’s not like I can put away the laundry any less at this point.

2. So, because the pre-historic era has a train, am I to believe that the British colonized the dinosaurs too? This show is Canadian. Are there colonial undercurrents? Is this a subliminal request to have Britian recolonize you?

3. So, how did Buddy the Tyrannosaurus get into the Pteranodon nest? Was he kidnapped? Is that why Mr Pteranodon has that creepy nervous laugh? Was Buddy abandoned outside a pre-historic Burger Rex? Was he adopted? Was he the result of an unfortunate affair between Mrs. Pteranodon and a T. Rex? Did Mr. Pteranodon have a bastard child? Will he be made to take up The Black? IS HIS LAST NAME SNOW?

4. When is Buddy going to eat their faces off?

TRex Eating Another Dinosaur

5.  Why do the dinosaurs only learn about themselves? I mean I guess it’s great they are learning and understanding new species, but can’t they actually read a book or try out some hands-on learning of fractions? Oh, I’m sorry. Did you just say, “Dinosaurs don’t do math? IT’S A SHOW WHERE THEY RIDE A MAGICAL TIME TRAVELING TRAIN, GIVE THEM SOME FREAKING FRACTIONS.

6.  Let me be real honest, from what I’ve read about Pteranodons on Wikipedia, they fed off the carcasses of other dinosaurs. When exactly are we going to get an episode where Buddy finds his family face-deep in the intestines of a Raptorex and they all have to go to family counseling?

7. Why can’t I quit you Dr. Scott the Paleontologist?

Creepy Dinosaur

 

 

8. If the series finale doesn’t include Buddy with a face full of blood and all the other dinosaurs bowing to him as meteors rain from the sky, I will quit you PBS Kids.

9.  Speaking of meteors? They should be picking off at least a few dinosaurs by now.

10 Observations About Human Anatomy According To My 3 Year Old

I try to be completely up front and honest with my kid about bodies and anatomy and how things work. When she asks why her body makes hair, I tell her. When she asks where poop comes from, I tell her. She wants to know how babies get inside mommies? I say, “Beer.” But now that she is three, she has decided she’s smarter than me, wiser than me and the definitive source for all information on everything. Especially health, wellness and anatomy.  Here is another post we can all view as Exhibit 35359938 of reasons not to teach your child to talk.

1.

“Mom, you feeding the baby with your milk bellies?”

“They are called breasts.”

“No, dey milk bellies. I have some. They have rainbow milk.”

2.

“Mom, you milk bellies hanging down, down.”

3.

“Mom, guess what! My ‘testines making my chocolate milk into poo poo! Dat so exciting.”

4.

“Baby Jude sometimes he spritz like a whale.”

5.

“You have large ‘testines. I have large ‘testines. Princesses have large ‘testines. Daddy has large ‘testines. We all da same.”

6.

“Sometimes my booty just want to shake itself.”

7.

“I hab baby Jesus in my belly. He comin’ out! Wet’s go to da hospigal!”

8.

“How do babies get out?”

“Your vagina.”

“No, silly. You poop them out!”

9.

Me: “Miss Tara had her baby!”

“Did she poop it out? Is it named poop?”

10.

“Hey mom, let me smell you bum bum. Phew. Dat so stinky. You need to change you diaper.”

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