Greetings from 2015! Dude, let me tell you — the future is CUCKOO BANANAS. I don’t want to tell you too much, because Doc in Back to the Future II says you shouldn’t know too much about your future, but suffice it to say all that time you’ve been spending in the library this year putting books back in order for no reason and playing with the Macintosh computers in the labs has really paid off. Or not, depending on how you look at it.
Also, there are no hoverboards or flying cars yet.
I’m writing this letter out of love and concern, after finding this picture in an album the other day while looking for cool pictures of myself in college. I feel like there’s a few things you could address right now that would really help you leave that awkwardness Continue reading →
This year I’ll turn 35. I can’t even type that without itching to click onto my open Facebook tab and pretending like I didn’t type it. I tried giving my brother-in-law shit because he’ll be 25 next year, but then I remembered that I’ll be 35 THIS YEAR which is way scarier and just means that I’ve known him for twenty years. I’m kind of freaked out that I’ve remained in constant contact with anyone for twenty consecutive years.
Once, when I was a kid, I asked my mom how old she was, and she told me, “I’m 35.” Ever since then, 35 has forever been my mom’s age in my head. Now, when my kids ask me how old I am, I tell them and they don’t believe me. It sounds too impossibly old to them, and I have to agree. 35 is, in my opinion, about five years away from not even remotely being considered young anymore. I mean, fuck, dude, I just turned thirty last year, right?
Nope. It wasn’t last year. It was about five years ago this May. Which, yes, I understand I still have four more months before my birthday happens, but I like to be proactive in my existential crises.
There’s a group of us in our extended circle of friends that all have birthdays in May. We started celebrating our birthdays together in one huge party back in high school, and have continued the tradition to this day. It’s changed over the years, for sure — people drift in and out as they move away and return home, new friends who were also born in the best month of the year have joined the group. There’s definitely more offspring attending our party nowadays than there were ten years ago (my bad, everyone).
But other than that, the party feels exactly the same to me every year. We always get an ice cream cake that says something absurd that has nothing to do with birthdays. We talk loudly and bring up old stories of funny things we did when we were younger. Rob and I get into ridiculous arguments that aren’t really arguments, but just our way of making our friends laugh. We talk about the parties from the past: the year everyone else got presents except for me; the year the cake said, “Get Well Soon, Chet”; the year our dog got skunked and we had to give him a peroxide and Dawn dishsoap bath in the middle of the party; the year Bella threw up on the dollhouse, then carried on as if nothing had happened; the first few years when there were five of us and we filled my mom’s house with kids that had just arrived home from college for the summer. Despite all the history we have together, every year feels the same. This year’s party, when most of us turn 35, will feel exactly like the party we had when we were in college and we all turned 22.
I suspect this will remain the case forever. One thing my mom said once, right after I made some smartass remark about her age back when I was a young childless asshole, was that no matter how old she was, she mentally felt exactly the same way she felt when she was sixteen. The older I get, the more I come back to this idea and see the truth in it. It’s so weird to be one person on the inside, but see a much older person looking back in the mirror.
I was commiserating with a friend (another fellow May birthday person HOLLA) about how old we would be this may. He’ll be 37, which is also approaching not-young. After we wallowed for a bit in our anxiety about our rapid approach to 40, he finally said, “You know? Fuck it. Look at me: I’m doing alright. I’ve got my shit together, and good people in my life. Who cares how old I am?”
That’s it, right? I mean, isn’t that the point of all this? Have your shit together and have good people in your life? I’ve got that. The best part is, you get to define what “having your shit together” means. His definition is different than mine. Yes, my house is a train wreck and I’m not 100% where I want to be with my career, but my bills are (mostly) paid, my kids are happy and healthy, and I have a kick-ass husband. I’m old enough to to realize I only want to surround myself with family and friends that contribute to my happiness, not take away from it. These are all things I didn’t have ten or twenty years ago.
So bring on the cake, because honestly at this point I can’t remember my goddamn age anyways.
I spent the day before Mother’s Day at home with my kids, which would normally be awesome except that I mostly spent it dealing with all four of Bella’s major meltdowns. She was off from school last week, and we’ve slowly let her screen time get out of control, so today was the day we bit the bullet and went back to our previous screen time limits. It went over like a screaming, ragey, attempt-to-run-away-naked balloon. Bella hated it, too.
At one point, during meltdown #3, Bella told me she didn’t love me anymore, that I was a really bad mom, and that she wished that I would move out and a new mom would move in (preferably one with a Hulu Plus account or at least someone with a cool friend who would let her use their login). I just told her that was unfortunate, because I still loved her and I wasn’t moving out.
This is my standard answer when she tells me she doesn’t love me anymore, because it’s true. How she feels towards me is irrelevant; I love her, and that won’t ever change. Even though she went ahead and threw meltdown #4 at me an hour and a half after she went to bed, I still love that asshole of a kid. And that is saying a lot, because anyone who has dealt with a middle-of-the-night meltdown knows they are the fucking worst, because on top of the kid being irrationally angry, they are tired, and their loud-ass crying just grinds on your last nerve and wakes up all the other kids in your house, so then you’re dealing with everybody all at once. So I LOVE YOU AND YOU’RE FUCKING WELCOME, KID.
It should be noted that I didn’t deal with that last meltdown very well. I screamed right back at her, despite the two other kids in the house (unsuccessfully) trying to sleep. I tried keeping my cool, but the long day of meltdown after meltdown had sucked up all of my patience reserves, and I resorted to acting like a pissed-off teenager. I just wanted to sit on my couch and watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and chill out, and I did not have it in me for a Round Four. So instead, I stomped downstairs and called Rob, and yelled at him for awhile about my crappy day with Bella. Then I went back upstairs, where Bella had crossed over from being angry to being sad, and snuggled her to sleep. She said she was “so sorry for getting carried away,” and I said the same.
When kids make things for their moms for Mother’s Day, it’s always something that mentions how wonderful and awesome they are. Case in point: on my fridge, right now, I have an award from Phaedra that proclaims me to be “the best mom ever!”
This is factually untrue. I am not, in fact, the best mom ever. Did she not hear me swearing at Bella during that meltdown last night? I never play Barbies with Surrey when she asks me, and when I do, it’s so half-assed. I haven’t dropped all three kids off at school on time since October, and it’s mainly because I just don’t feel like getting up early enough. I have miles of patience for Surrey and Bella, but for poor Phaedra? Never enough. I’m constantly apologizing for being too quick to yell at her for something I would just deep-breathe and move past with the other two girls.
This is not me saying, “I’m a sort-of okay mom, but aren’t we all! Isn’t parenting tough? Who needs perfection? My kid love me anyways, yay!” while giving you a quirky “aw shucks!” face. Really I’m not. These are just a few of the facts I use when making the case against myself in my head as to exactly how hard I am fucking up this motherhood gig. I mean, yes, generally I am doing an alright job, but I have this fear of being FOUND OUT. Do you have this? Like, I’ve always had this thing where deep down I believe that someday, everyone is going to find out that I’m not as great of an employee/student/mom as they think I am. Another example: one morning, after finally getting an ornery Bella onto the school bus to go to her therapeutic swimming class, her teacher said to me, “You are so patient. Really, it’s amazing.” And I thought, I’m really not! If she could see the outtakes from my life, she’d know I’m not. She’d FIND OUT and then she’d know that I’m not as patient as she thinks I am.
But my kids? They know everything, because they live it. They’ve seen all the stupid shit I’ve done while trying to be their mom, and yet they still make me awards calling me things like “the best mom in the world!” because they’ve already FOUND OUT. They FOUND OUT and still think I’m great. Just like I love these kids no matter how they feel about me, in a weird way, it’s not about how I feel I’m doing as a mom, it’s how they feel I’m doing. They seem to be pretty happy with things so far, so I guess I can quit worrying about being found out and just accept my award and watch my Hulu Plus in peace.
I’m going to try to get us all to school on time next year, though. Just in case.
Alright, fine, I did wrap it up with a sort-of corny ending. SORRY.*
That’s me, in the bottom-left corner. Pink cardigan, emerald green dress, flapping my hands around my head like a crazy person. I only talk with my hands when I’m really feeling what I’m saying, when I don’t fully trust that my words are making you understand what I’m trying to say. My wonderful friend Kim Bongiorno took this picture at BlogU last June. It’s one of my favorite pictures from the conference, and I come back to it often when I’m working on things for BlogU ’15. For me, it’s like that moment when you’re looking at pictures online, and for a few seconds after you click on a picture, it’s still slightly pixelated, and then suddenly it snaps into focus and becomes clear. This picture is the exact moment that everything about the creation of BlogU came into sharp focus.
While we were planning for BlogU earlier in the year, someone brought up the idea of having an open mic night at the Friday night cocktail party. “Great idea!” we all agreed, and it very much was a great idea. Several people got up and read their favorite post as their name was pulled from a fish bowl. Some of us wanted to read very, very, much, but realized this was the time to step aside and let the attendees shine.
And shine they did. I mean, the pieces ranged from side-splittingly hilarious to achingly poignant. But it was over far too soon, as most charmed moments are, and everyone shuffled back to the dorms while the BlogU staff cleaned up, gathered signs and banners for the next day, and generally marveled at the realization of so many months of hard work and planning becoming real. When we finally came back to the dorms after a long first day, what we found blew us away.
As it turns out, Open Mic Night wasn’t finished. The attendees decided they wanted more — more words, more voices, more laughter, more tears, more sharing, more of all of those things, and they wanted them out loud and together. So they circled up on the second floor of the dorms, some wearing pajamas, some still wearing their fancy party dresses, and they started reading. There was no discernible system, as far as I could tell. It was seamless — one person stopped reading, and another person began. Those not reading kept the bag of Doritos moving around the circle. Everyone got hearty applause when they finished reading their piece.
As I approached the group, I could see my fellow faculty, my sisters who together are the embodiment of the spirit of BlogU, standing across from the circle in the shadows, watching the magic that was happening right before our eyes. We were a group of bloggers who became friends as we shared the struggles of finding our own versions of success as writers and bloggers. BlogU was intended to be a celebration of our tried-and-true philosophy: finding a tribe of like-minded writers and using that bond to improve and succeed together. Seeing this group of talented women standing in the shadows, next to a brand-new group of talented women sitting in the lights, becoming a tribe right before our very eyes? I couldn’t decide on the right word(s) to describe that moment.
I decided I’d sure like to try to find those words, and after silently squeee-ing with the faculty that stood their soaking up the good karma oozing from the circle, I marched back downstairs to the lobby and grabbed one of the signs from the Open Mic at the cocktail party. I dragged it back upstairs with its accompanying easel and set it up right next to the circle. But that wasn’t enough, because I AM A LIBRARIAN, GODDAMMIT. If something needs a label, I’m going to give it a fucking label, and these women needed to know that they were doing something special and earth-shattering and life-altering and shimmery all at once.
Hence, the picture you see above. I told those beautiful bitches that the faculty lined up behind them couldn’t have been happier to see what was going on. I told them that this moment, the one they were living right at that very second, was what BlogU was all about. I probably also said thank you at some point. I said a lot of other words that repeated these three concise statements in a much more rambling and not coherent way, which further illustrates the fact that I am much more verbose and coherent on paper than I am in real life. This also explains the hand waving, because I just needed these women to feel the passion I was feeling at that very moment.
Big moments deserve big hand gestures.
This year, I am proud to say that the tradition of Open Mic Night, so wonderfully initiated by the women in the picture above, will continue at BlogU ’15. It will be, once again, held after the Friday night party. There will also be Doritos, as there was last year, but there will be much more than just Doritos, thanks to That’s What She Said and their gracious offer to sponsor the snacks required to keep the party going as late as it needs to go. It’s so appropriate to have That’s What She Said as the sponsors for this event, since their show is “a social venture to showcase women living boldly, truly and fearlessly.” That’s what I see in this picture. Women coming together to live their truths out loud, without fear of reactions or judgment.
I can’t wait to share my words and my Doritos with you this June in Baltimore at BlogU ’15.
I KNOW I’M USING A LOT OF CAPS IN THIS POST BUT IT’S TIME TO GET FUCKING EXCITED EVERYONE AND THAT’S HOW I EXPRESS MY EMOTIONS.
If you enjoy reading hilarious and heartfelt blog posts about parenting, then this book is basically that, except you don’t have to plug it in and you can take it with you and read it wherever you want to zone out and not listen to your kids.
One of the biggest honors of my still-very-short writing career has been to be accepted into this anthology series. I could not be prouder to share pages in a book that includes these talented women:
Did you make it to the bottom? Yes? GREAT! Because sometimes people get about halfway through the list, and they start to feel overwhelmed with euphoria when they realize so many great bloggers are in one book, and they pass out. So you must be one of the lucky ones who can handle this much awesome in one shot. Why not treat yo self to your very own copy today! It’s on ALL THE THINGS, including Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes and Noble. Or, if you’ve been very good, you can BUY ALL THREE BOOKS IN THE SERIES.
A few weeks ago, I traded in the car I’ve owned for the past ten years for a minivan. Well, I didn’t so much “trade in” my car as I “donated it to charity because apparently it’s illegal to purposely set your car on fire in an attempt to give it a viking funeral.” Thanks, Obama.
As is often the case when a long-term relationship ends, my car and I were not on good terms. It was no secret to anyone that I hated my car. Some people say you shouldn’t speak badly about your car because it may jinx you, but in our family, it’s a daily ritual. Every morning, when I loaded up the girls for school, we’d recite the Daily Litany of O God, I Hate This Piece of Shit:
Me: “Oh GODDAMMIT I hate this car!”
Kids: “I hate your car too, Mom.”
Me: [obscene muttering about something wrong with the car]
Kids: “When are you going to get a new car, Mom?”
Me: “Soon, girls. Very, very soon.”
One day, after driving my car home engulfed in a blue cloud of smoke like the automotive version of Pig Pen, I asked Jesus to take the wheel and drive my car the hell out of my life. Jesus was all, “NO WAY. I wouldn’t be caught resurrected in this car.” But then I prayed super hard, and so he had no choice but to take my car to the junkyard for me with his sacred tow truck. Amen and farewell, you beautiful bitch.
While shopping online for a “new” car, I kept looking at crossovers and other bigger-type cars. I would stare at the pictures of the back seat, superimposing three booster seats into the picture with my brain. Then I imagined three backpacks, four stuffed animals, a bag of half-eaten pretzels, my purse, and the tote bag I take to work which is basically “Purse, Part Two” stuffed into the back seat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee and finally I called Rob over to hold my hand as I asked him, “I need a minivan, don’t I?”
“Yeah, you do.”
This was what my face looked like the first day I drove my new minivan. It’s the face of a person that hasn’t driven a car bigger than a compact since 1998, and is trying to understand how she became a mother of three in her mid-thirties who drives a minivan. I mean, I understand how all those other women in the school parking lot got there. But not me! I’m still renting a shitty apartment on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, taking the city bus to campus and working til midnight at the video store, right?
Plus, I think I felt like driving a minivan was overkill. It felt too luxurious for me. I mean, my mom had two kids, and she managed to tote our asses around town in a regular old car! But I seriously doubt three booster seats would have fit in my mom’s 1986 Ford Escort. Also, minivans seem like they’re made for families with four or more kids. I only had three, which is one too many for a car, but seems like not enough for a minivan.
But despite all that, here’s my picture the next day.
You guys? I fucking love it. I love every damn thing about that car. It’s clean, it’s comfy, and everyone is out of Surrey’s slapping radius. I love how satisfying it feels sliding the door shut after loading up and buckling everyone. I love how snow doesn’t blow into my car from the heat vents when I try to turn on the warm air. Everyone fits. Everyone is happy.
There is one thing I don’t like about owning a minivan. I have developed an acute case of MMS: Mistaken Minivan Syndrome. Just as every single car on the road today is silver, it seems that every single minivan on the road today is dark blue. I know this because I’ve walked up to countless blue minivans and tried to open them. After exhibiting the telltale symptoms of MMS for the fifty-seventh time in three weeks — furrowed brow, muttering, repeated mashing of the unlock button, and looking around the parking lot with a confused look that quickly brightens at the sight of the next blue minivan — Phaedra finally took pity on me and said, “Mom, why don’t you look at the license plate before you try to open your car?”
So now that my seven-year-old has cured me of attempted carjacking, I feel pretty boss driving around town. I even feel…dare I say it? Grown up.Fancy. Slightly bourgeois.And once I figure out how to park this motherfucker? I’ll be the classiest bitch in this Kroger parking lot.
A few months after Bella was diagnosed with autism, I was on the phone with my health insurance company. Calling your insurance company is the hazing all new special needs parents experience when they’re just beginning to pledge this crazy fraternity/sorority. It’s our secret handshake, our “thank you sir, may I have another [representative to talk to because you’re a jackass and I suspect you don’t actually know what you’re talking about]?” I should have followed my gut instinct that told me to hang up and call back when I heard the guy’s voice, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He pulled up my information and then asked why I was calling.
“I have a question about our coverage. My daughter was recently diagnosed with autism.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
I paused for a beat, completely taken aback by his apology. I was used to hearing people respond with, “okay,” or “uh huh.” He said, “I’m sorry,” as if she had been diagnosed with a horrible terminal disease. I shook my head and said, “Um, thanks, but she’s fine,” before I continued with my question, which he answered incorrectly in the most condescending tone I’ve ever heard from an insurance customer service rep (and trust me, I’ve talked to a large enough sample size to make this statement statistically sound). But it wasn’t his rudeness that bothered me the rest of the day; it was his response when I told him about Bella’s diagnosis.
I understand that this guy (apart from being a douche) wasn’t trying to offend. He probably meant well with his apology, or maybe it was just a reflex from talking to people all day long about devastating illnesses. But the idea that someone should apologize to me for Bella’s diagnosis, that they should feel bad for me or feel like they needed to extend their condolences was a totally foreign idea to me.
Listen to me very carefully: I am not sorry. Sure, I have moments where I think about what Bella’s life might be like if she weren’t autistic. The idea that certain things in life will always be hard for her, like making new friends, makes me sad sometimes. I mean, no parent is happy about the idea that their child will have to struggle with things that come easily to most kids. I wish she could have a simple conversation with her sisters about anything at all that was longer than one or two sentences. Sometimes I can see an entire conversation bubbling in her mind, but she can’t get it all out because of the invisible shell that surrounds her, trapping some thoughts and letting others escape through cracks and holes here and there.
But here’s the rub: to wish away Bella’s autism is to wish away the Bella that we know and love. It would mean wishing away the most sincere, genuine person I have ever known. It would mean wishing away Bella’s unique view of the world, her way of thinking that is so maddeningly different from everyone else and yet, once you understand it, is so damn brilliant I can’t help but marvel at my little genius. It would mean wishing away her innocent frankness, the way she does whatever she wants without giving a shit about what people think of her, her irresistible charm that makes everyone immediately love her.
To love Bella is to love her autism.
So thanks, but I’m not sorry about Bella’s autism.
Do you want to know the main reason Christmas gets on my nerves? It’s the shopping. I shop at two stores: Kroger and Target. Occasionally, if someone gets sick or I need to buy a health-related item in the middle of the week, I shop at the Rite-Aid by my house. That’s it. That’s why I fucking love Amazon. Seriously, it’s the only store that comes close to my love of Target. They have everything AND they’ll ship it straight to my house within two days! What? How is this possible? I don’t know (I do, it’s because I pay for Prime membership), and I don’t ask them because I’m afraid they’ll realize this whole two-day shipping thing is a terrible idea on their behalf and cut me off.
Sometimes I buy extremely dumb shit on Amazon, and once in a great while, I buy incredibly amazing life-changing things on Amazon. It should become painfully clear to you as you read this which items fall under which categories.
Dr Mom LED POCKET Otoscope: When Bella was younger, we went through a six-month period where she had an ear infection at least once every six weeks. Going through the “is she or isn’t she?” stage right before you decide to take your kid in to the pediatrician to see if she has an infection sucks huge balls, let me tell you, mainly because it means they’re up all night crying or not sleeping several nights before you finally get fed up and take time off work to haul them in. So I decided that, like most things that are expensive and a pain in the ass, I could probably figure it out myself. Yes — I, a librarian with extensive training in analyzing American and British literature as well as twentieth century American history, decided I could teach myself how to diagnose an ear infection. The only thing keeping me from doing this (besides medical training, of course!) was owning one of those light-thingies they shine into her ear during the office exam. And wouldn’t you know it, Amazon feels me on this, too! They even had one called Dr. Mom, with pictures to tell you what an infection looks like! Way to encourage my already overblown ego, Amazon!
Assorted Stick on Body Crystals: Are you a twelve-year-old girl? Do you feel the need to decorate your body with stick-on jewels, specifically your lower back and face? Are you about fifteen years behind the latest fashion? Sounds like you need body crystals! I bought these for a friend once as a joke to cheer her up while I was away on maternity leave. Needless to say, I think I’m hilarious.
The Puppy Baby Book: Before we had kids, we had Shaft. I’m embarrassed to say I spent an excessive amount of time searching Amazon for the “right” puppy baby book. Meaning a) unbelievably, there are multiple puppy baby books to decide between, and b) I had time on my hands to waste at stupid bullshit like searching for PUPPY BABY BOOKS. Bonus: I’ll have to explain to my kids one day why the dog’s baby book is more complete than theirs.
Bicycle Rear Light: Rob got a new bike this spring. Also, Rob loves anything that lights up. Imagine his delight when he found something to buy that makes his BIKE LIGHT UP!!!! It puts lines on the ground on either side of his bike when he rides it. He couldn’t tell me the purpose of this besides looking cool. To be fair, it does look cool.
Aqua Notes – Waterproof Notepad: This is, hands down, the best thing I have ever bought on Amazon, period. I am a shower thinker. I come up with my best ideas (and remember everything I forgot to do) while I’m in the shower. Problem is, I forget them almost immediately after I step out of the shower. Last summer, a friend of mine told me about this waterproof notepad that lets you write down all those awesome ideas so that you don’t forget them, and I nearly lost my shit. It’s fabulous and has saved me from losing about a billion ideas (at least fifteen of those ideas were actually good ones).
Automobile Swivel Tray: So, I’m cheating a tiny bit on this one, because I haven’t actually bought this item yet, but I reeeeally want to. I’m holding off because I’m kind of suspicious of it. It seems too good to be true, especially when I look at the picture. It just looks like it’s not very stable. I picture myself driving down the freeway and getting a faceful of Whopper flung at me after changing lanes. I realize you’re probably only supposed to use this while parked, but come on — I don’t know about you, but I’ve got the need for speed while I eat my chicken nuggets, and I need to dunk them in that barbecue sauce while I do it. I can’t drive fifty-five without my fries, son!
Anyways, I realize that as posts go, this one was pretty pointless, and as gift guides go, it’s utter garbage, but I guess now I realize I should be a bit choosier with how I wield my power as an Amazon Prime member.
***BTDubs, I’m also an Amazon.com Associate, which means every six months I get a check for like $1.50 when people click on the links above and order anything at all. Just so you know how much of a baller I am.***
Our family’s relationship with Santa can best be described as “tense.” Rob disagrees wholeheartedly with the idea of Santa. He feels it is dishonest and sets your kids up for heartbreak when they figure out the truth. I see his point, but didn’t want to rob my kids of the magic of Christmas (plus I really wanted that Santa picture every year). So we compromised: we still do Santa, but we make as little a fuss about Santa as possible. One present under the tree is from Santa; the rest are from Rob and I. However, over the years I have been pulled deeper and deeper into the Santa deception. Rob has stood by all these years shaking his head and judging me hard as I added more Santa-related rituals and customs: letters written and “mailed” to Santa, sprinkling the “reindeer food” the kids brought home from school on the front lawn, reminders that Santa doesn’t come until you’re asleep. Rob lost his fucking mind last year when I asked him to eat the cookies and drink the milk Phaedra left out. “Do NOT drag me into this bullshit! I told you I want no part of this!”
“I’m asking you to eat some goddamn cookies, dude.”
“You’re not making me complicit in this. I don’t like this at all. This is lying.”
“No, this is the last sugar cookie with frosting and sprinkles. Just eat the fucking cookie so we can go to bed.”
But this year I’m in so much trouble when it comes to Santa, and all because of the goddamn Tooth Fairy. A few months ago, I was unloading dishes from the dishwasher, high on the knowledge that the kids would be going to bed in the next five minutes, when Phaedra wandered into the kitchen. We started talking about her efforts at earning money to spend on an app. “Oh hey, don’t you have a loose tooth?” I asked her. “That’s another dollar you can put towards your Club Penguin fund once the Tooth Fairy comes, right?”
She looked at me with a mix of caution and annoyance. “Mom, I think it’s you. I think you leave the money under my pillow when I lose my tooth.”
To be fair, I was a pretty piss-poor Tooth Fairy. Of the four teeth Phaedra has lost, I had exactly one successful Tooth Fairy transaction. Once, I filled her bag of quarters with sprinkles, then left the goddamn sprinkles jar open on the kitchen counter for Phaedra to find in the morning. And technically, there was no third time for us, because I FUCKING FORGOT to do it at all. Phaedra woke me up crying at 6:00 a.m. on a school day because the Tooth Fairy didn’t come. I looked at Rob with the same “help me” look on my face that Tom Skerritt had when Sigourney Weaver found him hanging on the wall in Alien. After Phaedra left the room to get dressed, Rob looked at me and shook his head. “Dude. You fucked up.” I had to write Phaedra a note at work from the Tooth Fairy about how she was super busy and left the money on her pillow.
So needless to say, Phaedra was suspicious, and was having none of my denials and flimsy excuses this particular evening. Finally, after a lengthy good-cop-style interrogation where she assured me she already knew the truth, that everything would be okay if I was just honest, I finally looked at her and said, “Well, what if it was me? Would that be a bad thing?”
She burst into tears.
See, she thought she could handle the truth, but, well you know.
I spent the evening listening to her cry and rage at me, responding to the following statements and questions from Phaedra:
1. I had lied to her. (True)
2. She was going to go to school on Monday and expose this web of parental lies to all of her classmates. (“PLEASE DON’T DO THAT,” I begged. Visions of angry phone calls from parents danced through my head.)
3. She insisted on calling Rob at work and telling him what I had done. She also told him that she suspected I had gotten the coins from his change box on the dining room table. (This delighted Rob to no end, but the joke’s on you, motherfucker, because I did get that money from your change box.)
4. She now realized that the leprechaun had not trashed her classroom during recess on St. Patrick’s Day; in fact, it was probably their cool custodian, Mr. Dave. (Probably true)
5. Speaking of leprechauns, she decided that she also no longer believed in:
Leprechauns (I never said anything about leprechauns; take that one up with your teacher.)
Cupid (I mean, okay.)
The Easter Bunny (whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s not get cra…)
Santa Claus (RED ALERT)
I stopped her on that one. I knew, after watching her melt down for an hour over the goddamn Tooth Fairy that there was no way she was ready for the truth about Santa. She was just testing me. So I looked my daughter in her red, puffy, tear-filled eyes, and I did the right thing.
I lied my ass off.
I reassured her that Santa was most definitely real. After a few half-hearted protests from her, I used the argument that I thought would sound the most realistic and plausible to her: “Honey, do you honestly think I would spend all that money on presents? I don’t have that kind of money to spend on toys!” Her unshakeable faith in my tightness with a dollar turned the tide back towards believing in Santa. I also bribed her with a new knockoff American Girl doll from Target so she would forgive me, but that’s not really important.
So yes, instead of being vague and ambivalent towards Santa, I am now straight-up lying to my daughter about Santa’s existence. Is it the best strategy in the long run? No, probably not. And if you’re scrolling down already to leave your comment about how it’s wrong to lie to your kids and how dare I, well then you can just get the hell on, Felicia. I know that girl, and she is not ready to give up Santa just yet. When she periodically accuses me of being Santa as Christmas draws nearer, I know now that it’s her way of asking for reassurance. I’m still not pouring on the Santa schtick very heavily, but he’s still here, bumping into us time and again during those four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Also, there is a small possibility that I am not ready for her to know the truth, either. As cynical and wise as she is, she enjoys the idea of a little magic now and then. Life is hard, and my goal at this point in the child-raising game is to postpone as much of that disheartening hardness as long as I can. She deserves to be able to wake up and be swept away with happiness that Santa brought presents without being seen.
But if you think I’m putting Santa’s name on that PS4 we’re buying this year, you’re fucking crazy.
It’s no secret in my house or amongst anybody who has ever met me that I am not a great cook. I don’t get it. I cook everything on a high heat, because that makes it cook faster (it doesn’t). I tried frying mashed potatoes once because I thought it would result in potato pancakes (it didn’t). My signature move is starting something simmering or boiling on the stove, then walking away to check my email (don’t do that). However, I can handle baking and roasting. If I can do all the work, then put it in the oven and forget it until the timer goes off, I am golden.
So last year when I suddenly decided to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for my family, I was nervous, but optimistic. And guys, I don’t like to toot my own horn, but rooty-toot-toot motherfuckers! I don’t mind telling you that I made an awesome turkey that we went on to eat for about a week. That little dude was delicious, and I COOKED IT. I roasted that bird with a goddamn THERMOMETER, like I’m Mr. Wizard and shit. When my family came into the kitchen to admire that beautiful bitch sitting on top of the stove, I was all YES, FAMILY, I AM A WOMAN AND I PREPARED THIS MEAL FOR YOU. ARE YOU NOT IMPRESSED? WILL YOU NOT FEAST ON THIS HOMEMADE GRAVY AND THESE PRE-COOKED DINNER ROLLS? YOU WILL NOW BOW DOWN TO MY DOMESTIC GRANDEUR BEFORE FIXING YOUR PLATE.
This attitude continued for about five more minutes before this happened.
This is the aftermath of Cornocalypse. I dropped the corn while taking it to the microwave to re-heat so the butter would melt in it. You can bet your sweet ass that if I had to roast the corn in the oven, everything would have been fine, but nooooooooooooooo, I had to get fancy and try to make frozen corn on the stove. This is what happens when you try to get cute in important situations: your shit ends up on the floor.
Despite the corn-on-the-floor debacle from last year, my kids are super excited about Thanksgiving. Which makes no sense at all, because they don’t eat about 75% of the food served at a typical Thanksgiving meal. They are excited about the idea of turkey, not necessarily eating it. It also appears that my brainwashing over the last six years has finally kicked in, because Phaedra and, to a lesser degree, Bella are excited to watch the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade (America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to all you non-Michiganders). I refuse to turn anything else on in the morning, meaning at a certain point I am the only person watching the parade. I don’t care. Tradition is not necessarily fun, and even when it is fun, it’s because you’ve been conditioned to believe it’s fun. I’m alright with that concept.
Sometimes, though, tradition just happens and you don’t even realize it. I didn’t know that my spur-of-the-moment decision to cook a turkey would result in my girls expecting me to do it every year. We visit family for actual Thanksgiving dinner, but my girls now have Thanksgiving lunch as well. And even though I suspect they’ll eat more of their Cinnamon Toast Crunch than light meat tomorrow, they’re still excited to see that turkey come out of the oven in our own kitchen. You know, the one that I cooked. Me. Their mom.
I cannot wait to be The Man tomorrow when I pull that roaster out of the oven.