And then…there were two

welcome-to-parenthood-i-hope-you-like-pooping-for-an-audience-0ae7b

Okay, it’s been nine weeks since Ayanna broke out of my womb, and every time I look at her precious plump face I think: Lawd Jesus WHY DO YOU KEEP ENTRUSTING ME WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES? Now this is getting dangerous and I thought I made it clear that I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I’M DOING. Okay, I guess that’s not entirely true anymore, but I still have SO MANY unanswered questions about my mothering style. Such as:

How the hell are we all still ALIVE?

Is it normal that all my son EVER wants to eat is CHEESE?

Do more RESPONSIBLE mothers let toddlers climb their cat towers?

Is my 1-year-old going to grow up to become a unrepentant MURDERER because we watched Scarface during playtime the other day?

I’m sure I’ll get my answers in due time.

My homey Erin just found out that she’s pregnant with her first child, so now she’s bursting with these existential parenting questions, and coming to me with these questions, as if my parenting game was super tight or something. And my first instinct was to just feed her comforting lies like “Every moment of having children  never sucks and is JUST WONDERFUL. I am VERY well rested, bro. Yup, I would TOTALLY be full on pregnant all over again, my dude.” Then my second thought was to answer her questions by badly quoting Louis C.K. and tell her “I love my kids more than anything in the world, and I regret every decision that led to them being born.” Which is a funny way of saying “I love my kids, but life was way less terrifying and exhausting before they existed and I’d like to go back to a simpler time when the stakes weren’t so high.” But that’s WAY too bleak and not entirely true, and I didn’t want to scare her. I think it’s clear that I’m probably the last parent anyone should rely on for sage parenting advice. I’ve never been officially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, but I think it’s safe to say that I TOTALLY have one, and it is the crux of all my problems. The only nugget of wisdom I could honestly give was instructing her to take a penetrating stare in the mirror and ask herself if she is a punk bitch, because effective and successful parenting is NOT for punk bitches.

That’s the most reliable takeaway I’ve had since becoming a parent.

And you know what? I don’t think this priceless piece of advice is ever going to steer me wrong for the rest of our lives. I should needlepoint my genius quote and hang it on the mantle (I don’t have a mantle), so I can refer to it whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I explained to her that I can’t remember the last time I was able to use the bathroom without my son ALL UP IN MY FACE. If I ever make the mistake of trying to sit on the throne with the door shut (the way nature intended), he will stand on the other side of the door and bang on it with all of the relentlessness of a severely insane person.

I told her that trying to feed Brandon vegetables is like that scene in Dances With Wolves when Kevin Costner is trying to get the wolf to eat from his hand. But instead of majestic wooden flutes providing the soundtrack, it’s me grumbling “Just eat it eat it eat it just EAT THE FUCKING KALE.” So if you don’t want to get put on a bad parent watchlist because your pediatrician alerted social services that your kid’s iron is low because he chooses to subsist on slices of cheese, you better figure out a way to sneak some damn vegetables in his diet RIGHT QUICK.

I told her that living with a toddler is like that time in college when you were paired with a criminally insane person as your dorm mate, someone whose mood turns on a dime and will pickle your belongings with boogers and vomit if you don’t keep a VIGILANT eye on them.

NOW there’s an infant in the mix, so you can FORGET about sleep, yo. JUST FORGET IT, sleeping is now in your past along with napping, quiet contemplation, and good old-fashioned zoning out. The baby and I are shellacked to each other because I carry her only source of food in my boobs. So it makes disciplining a toddler that much more hilarious for anyone who might be watching us. I have to hastily put the baby down and chase my son around with a tit hanging out of my collar because he keeps trying to open the stove while she’s nursing.

I told her I read somewhere that mother-nature makes your children’s faces really cute by design, so instead of the natural homicidal urge you feel towards the person who keeps waking you up all night long, you feel bad for them and want to help them out. But I think I totally made that up.

And lastly, I instructed her to start downloading all of her favorite comfort movies to her husband’s xbox NOW, so she can play them ad nauseam when her emotional chips are down. I have watched my favorite scene in Aliens when Vazquez blows herself up more times than I can remember. It always gets me pumped and ready to face the day.

 

An addendum to: “A comprehensive list of my toddler’s personality traits”

ldsn

One more thing: my son is an undefeated drunken boxing master

I know that being a master in the drunken boxing arts isn’t so much of a “personality trait” as it is a “warning” to the rest of the world to not come within arms-reach of mommy’s little killer. I keep forgetting to have his hands registered as lethal weapons with my local government.

I can never tell which angle the attack is going to descend from. He’ll be cuddling in my arms, curled in the fetal position, when suddenly he’s like TIGER STYLE and rips my glasses off of my face. Sometimes, he’s propped up in my husband’s lap playing with a Lego when out of nowhere he’s like HANNIBAL LECTAR ATTACK and clamps down on my husband’s supple arm flesh with his little Chucky teeth and takes a bite. Sometimes he gets all CRANE CLAW, and goes from innocently sucking milk from a bottle to cracking me in the face with said bottle. Most often, he’s trying to scale mommy’s legs while I’m standing at the stove trying to cook myself a meager breakfast of orphanage gruel when he’s suddenly like DONKEY PUNCH SURPRISE and takes me out at the knees.

You would think he’s giving us enough time to duck & cover from his assaults since he yells out the fighting style he’s about to throttle your ass with. Sadly, no. My reflexes have dulled with age, while his are razor sharp.

 

 

 

The Difference Between Us

My train of thought when I’m hungry:

“I’m hungry.”

  1. Opens fridge.
  2. Scans its contents.
  3. Creates a menu in her mind for dinner, consisting of a protein and an appropriate side dish.
  4. Makes sure there is enough to feed herself, her husband and their son.
  5. Commences to cooking.
  6. Commences to serving her husband, her son and herself.
  7. Commences to eating.
  8. Commences to cleaning up while having an imaginary argument with her husband because he is not helping to clean.

The end.

My husband’s train of thought when he is hungry.

“I’m hungry.”

  1. Drops xbox controller to the floor and leaves the living room.
  2. Enters the kitchen, and scans his surroundings for the nearest edible item (probably a box of taco shells).
  3. Grasps box and tears into box from the side like a raccoon, not even bothering to open it properly like someone who isn’t a caveman.
  4. Stands there eating taco shells until he no longer feels the annoying pangs of hunger.
  5. Drops box where he stands
  6. Does an about-face and exits the kitchen.
  7. Re-enters living room and resumes playing with his xbox, never once having considered his pregnant wife’s or his son’s hunger (we might’ve wanted some raw taco shells for dinner, too.)

The end.

My son’s train of thought when he is hungry.

“I’m hungry.” (I don’t think this is literally what he says to himself, since he doesn’t entirely speak English yet.)

  1. Drops whatever household item he is destroying.
  2. Adorably waddles into the kitchen.
  3. Happens upon the box of taco shells earlier discarded by his father.
  4. Picks up where his father left off, finishing off the contents of the box like a smaller, cuter raccoon.
  5. Vomits.

The end.

Parents

This movie gave me nightmares. Straight up.

Sometimes, during reflective moments, I look at my son and think, “I can’t possibly be this kid’s mother. When is his REAL mother going to swoop in and rescue him from me?”

Sometimes, during frenetic moments, I look at my screaming banshee son and think, “I don’t know what you want from me, kid! Here, just take my wallet! Also, my eardrums are bleeding.”

And sometimes, during funnier moments, I look at my little comedian and think, “This kid is hilarious. I MUST be his mother.”

And then, during nap time moments when he is neither moving nor speaking, I look at my little angel and think, “My mothering game is so TIGHT right now. For the love of god, kid, DON’T wake up for the next 4 hours. Mommy has to go stand under the shower and space out for a while.”

My husband makes fun of me for what I’m about to admit, but I heavily rely on making references to obscure 80s movies to make my point during most of our conversations. I may have a legit clinical disorder. As someone who grew up without television, I don’t why he even bothers talking to me. He never gets any of my references and it aways derails the conversation into me yelling, “WHAT? You never saw I’m Gonna Get You Sucka? Well, that’s YOUR problem, not mine.”

I think he married me just to keep me around as an amusing oddity, like having a kangaroo in the house as a roommate. A kangaroo…..with benefits.

Wait, no. Scratch that, it doesn’t work.

So when I referred to us as the parents from the 80s movie Parents, he looked at me like I insisted Doc Brown crashed his time machine into our living room, and he wants us to hop in for the good of our future. In other words, he didn’t know what the hell I was babbling about.

So, let me explain: the parents from Parents were seen from their child’s point of view as creepy and secretive with an overly cheerful facade that he was perceptive enough to see through, right to the nightmarish truth.

But in all honesty, we’re actually NOTHING like that. We keep it real, you see. TOO real, in fact. So on the surface, this was a poor choice of movie to compare us to. But, it’s the underlying idea that children don’t know what their parents are up to after they’ve been put in their cribs for the night, so the concept is loaded with mystery. I used to wonder what MY parents were doing when I wasn’t around. Partly because I was a weirdo only-child with no one to bounce my ideas off of. It also didn’t help that my parents thought this creepy movie was HILARIOUS, like they could personally relate to the parent’s struggle of keeping their nosey kid out of their dark double life. Trust me, this movie was NOT FUNNY.

I’ve now changed (upgraded?) stations from the suspicious child to the weird parent, and that simple concept BLOWS MY TINY MIND. I never thought I’d be a parent henceforth for the rest of my life. There’s no graduation ceremony to declare you ready for the GIGANTIC SHIFT in your life like a bar mitzvah, something that you’ve studied, prepared and trained for like a Rocky montage. Instead, you’re suddenly a parent, and you are NOT qualified for the job, you have no experience, no references, no vocational training for any of it. Yet, here you are, responsible for this other person’s LIFE, like it’s no big deal.

I don’t so much “parent” as I “blindly grope my way through the darkness” of parenting, and I can admit that. My husband, on the other hand, has gracefully ice-skated his way into the roll of father and he does triple-axel twirls around me while I fumble around and face-plant on the ice like the novice that I am.

“Don’t say “no” too many times, or he won’t respect you as his mother,” he says.

“That’s not his “I’m hurt” cry, it’s his “give me attention” cry. The difference is SO obvious.” he says.

“He’s trying to tell you that he doesn’t want eggs for lunch, he wants macaroni. Can’t you make out the babbling non-words?” he says.

And I’m like, since when did YOU become an old pro at this? We’ve both been parents for the exact same length of time, and yet somehow he is LIGHT YEARS ahead of me.

Damn farm animals

Note: this is NOT a picture of MY kid

Not long ago, I was a stoic and self-possessed person. Not unlike the Terminator, I was all cold and steely to the touch, not able to comprehend basic human emotions. Like, EMPATHY.

Damn hippies with their empathy.

YUCK.

And you know what? I LIKED being a Terminator. It was an easy way to live. I was easy, breezy, beautiful, TERMINATOR. All I had to worry about was myself, and making sure I gave Sallie Mae her pound of flesh tribute once a month (don’t play with Sallie Mae about her student loan money, she will send her goons to your house to take a kneecap as payment for every month she doesn’t get her money. TRUST ME).

But the simplicity of those days are OVER. Because now I’m married with children. I’ve got these people in my life now that I care about (*shudder*). I’ve got this husband guy running around, and he’s all attractive, and funny, and caring and dependable. And he sticks around despite the fact that I drive him mad with my neuroses. So I can’t help but to be IN LOVE with him. Jeez. And now there’s this other person running around my apartment, this toddler guy I gave birth to. And HE’S all adorable and shares my DNA, so I am programmed by mother-nature to care about his safety and well being. Yikes. And now, ever so slowly, the thick coating of ice that used to encase my heart has melted away and left a quivering, open wound of a heart in its place. And I. DON’T. LIKE IT.

So, when I was offered the chance to take some pics of Brandon being swarmed by diseased farm animals at a petting zoo, I was like YO, SIGN ME UP. Because I’m a SUCKER for that cutesy stuff now. Yeah, I said “diseased” farm animals, so before you whip out your trusty pitchfork, let me explain.

Hindsight is 20-20, as they say. I am a novice parent, and sometimes (maybe, most of the time) the obvious does not occur to me. Like the fact that farm animals are filthy, transient, scavengers whom have dookie perpetually pouring out of their exposed buttholes. And those shit encrusted buttholes are at exact eye-level with with a one-year-old. So, this begs the question: At any point, was Brandon overcome by the urge to plug a curious finger into a goat’s shitty butthole and then immediately touch his own face?

Probably.

Sadly, I can’t say for sure because I had to take my hawk-eye off of him for a few seconds now and then. Like when I was rudely side-swiped by an unaware llama who didn’t appreciate the notion of PERSONAL SPACE. The only thing I DO know for sure was the horrible aftermath of the petting zoo debacle, when my kid was sweltering with a 102+ fever ten hours later.

Damn farm animals.

I shook my fist at the sky and cursed our fate at 2am that night, because trying to nurse a sick toddler back to health TOTALLY SUCKS and is fraught with fear, bumbling incompetence, hallucinations (both audible and visual), and pickled with an extreme lack of sleep for both child and parent. It also lasts for DAYS. I rushed him to the doctor once his temperature peaked into the “he could have a seizure” danger-zone above 104 while chanting don’t die don’t die don’t die the whole way there.

Beautiful sleep after a dose of nearly vomit-inducing Tylenol. Note: my trapped arm.

Beautiful sleep after a dose of nearly vomit-inducing Tylenol. Note: my trapped arm.

After she gave him the once-over, the doctor assured me his fever had NOT been triggered by the now infamous petting zoo butthole cage match. You can stop blaming yourself, she said sympathetically. I was like YESSSS! Because up until then I had mentally logged this incident on my growing list of times he narrowly escaped death because of me. Turns out, it was just your run-of-the-mill virus that vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared. He was fine less than 48-hours later.

Damn farm animals.

I still haven’t realized that he’s not the faberge egg I anticipated a baby to be. These kids bounce right back!

A comprehensive list of my toddler’s personality traits.

1. He’s abusive
In every facet of the word. Physically. Emotionally. Verbally. Even spiritually.
Seriously, he beats us. By “us” I mean my husband and I. Someone send help, QUICK. He gave me a nice gash across the neck once. The next day, a concerned co-worker pointed at the gash and asked me what happened. I think she suspected my husband was to blame for the perceived domestic abuse.
“This is what happens when you burn dinner,” I said. “My husband warned me before, but I just don’t listen.”
What ACTUALLY happened was: my son enthusiastically snatched at my neck while demanding a hug, and a jagged fingernail gouged a trench across my skin. I’d been neglecting trimming his nails for days, so I’M probably to blame for that one (SEE? there I go blaming myself like a victim does). Seriously though, his little talons reach prison-shank-grade sharpness 24-hours after they’ve been trimmed. I really need to get on a better schedule about keeping them dull.
One day he bashed my husband across the face with house keys. It was hard to watch. I don’t think MY presence helped the situation, because my reaction was to yell out, “DAYYYYUUUM!” like an audience member at a rap battle.
No one told me we’d be victims of his throttlings like EVERYDAY. The worst part is the fact that he’s not inflicting any of the abuse on purpose (he’s still grasping the mind-blowing concept of cause and effect), so I have to temper my gut reaction when attacked. Especially since my gut-reaction is to immediately UPPERCUT my attacker.  I think there’s a biblical law against uppercutting a toddler. Thou shalt not uppercut thine toddler, or something to that effect.
But I’m not entirely sure, so I should check my bible.
2. He’s practiced in the art of torture
Specifically: sleep deprivation. It’s his specialty. He is a staunch advocate of using sleep deprivation as a cruel means of interrogation. I don’t know what more information he’s trying to squeeze out of me, I’ve already told him everything I know. Someone should tell him that torture has been outlawed by the UN and he should rethink his stance on human rights violations. I would tell him myself, but I’m too afraid of the repercussions.
3. He is a demanding and merciless despot
 Brandon likes eggs for breakfast.
So I acquiesce and make them lovingly for him, as is my want, because I am a domestic GODDESS! (just kidding, I totally suck at homemaking). I’ll sweat over a hot frying pan, probably sweating DIRECTLY INTO the eggs, thoughtfully seasoning those bad boys with a delicate blend of exotic spices, and then top them off with a light sprinkle of artisanal cheese like I was Gordon F*cking Ramsay up in here. Then I chop them up into toddler friendly bits and present my meek offering to his royal highness as he sits in his high-chair holding his scepter (and by “scepter” I mean a bright orange kiddie spoon). “I hope these eggs are to your liking, my lord. Please don’t have me killed,” I say, making sure not to make eye contact.
And what does this kid do after the first bite of my eggs? The same eggs I’ve been making for him everyday. My eggs, which are THE BOMB, and he always gobbles up without protest? He spits them out. He lobs a handful of the eggs onto the ground. He screams. He sobs. He starts doing that jerky, bucking, contorting he does when he wants to be let out of his highchair. Defeated, I try not to take his food critique personally, and I resign myself to removing the offensive eggs from his presence. But then, he does something unexpected. He snatches at the eggs before I can take them away, and starts devouring them, two fistfuls at a time. Confused, I take a quick step back and allow him to inhale his food so he doesn’t de-glove the skin off of my hand. I guess he just wanted to remind me of my new place in this hierarchy.
He likes to keep me on my toes.

the mustard incident

As I sat in bed this morning, Brandon entered the room to greet me. We exchanged pleasantries, and he walked past me heading straight for the bathroom. He entered the bathroom, busied himself in there for roughly 20-seconds, then exited.

Upon his exit, he was holding a bottle of mustard.

He flashed a broad, toothy/gummy grin as he walked past me again, affectionately bear-hugging the bottle of mustard to his chest and then they disappeared around a corner together.

Let me tell you something: I am not in the habit of storing mustard in my bathroom, or any room outside of the kitchen. Because, I run a normal household, goddamn it. We are normal people, and being normal does NOT include storing perishable food stuffs where we defecate. ESPECIALLY mustard. So this begs several questions, the first being: when the hell did a bottle of mustard materialize in my bathroom? I’ve been in and out of that bathroom at least 10 times since last night, and not ONCE did I spy a bottle of mustard. Which leads me to my second question: how did Brandon know there was mustard to be had in the bathroom? I didn’t know it was in there. How did HE know? What else does this kid know that I don’t? He entered and exited bathroom in less than a minute, leading me to believe he went in there SPECIFICALLY for the mustard. He was on a mission, a mission involving mustard, and he knew exactly where it would be. The smile he gave me spoke to a confidence he had in knowing there was mustard in the bathroom, right where it was supposed to be. Not unlike the confidence someone has when they leave something in a familiar place, and then come back to it later, because that thing was right where they left it. Where it always is. Of COURSE there’s mustard in the bathroom, Mom. Duh. That’s where it’s supposed to be.

Two seconds later, my husband calls to me from the front room.

“WHY DID YOU GIVE HIM A BOTTLE OF MUSTARD?” he asked.

“I DIDN’T,” I yelled back.

“WELL, THEN, WHERE DID HE GET IT?”

“THE BATHROOM”

[….silence….]

“OH REALLY? MUSTARD IN THE BATHROOM?” he says.

I don’t have any answers, and frankly, I’m getting annoyed because now my husband has adopted this tone in his voice that suggests I’m lying. Which is stupid, because who lies about mustard? In fact, his accusatory tone makes me not fully trust that HE isn’t behind this somehow.

“MAYBE YOU GAVE HIM THE MUSTARD!” I yelled.

“WHY WOULD I GIVE HIM MUSTARD?”

“WHY WOULD I GIVE HIM MUSTARD??”

[….more silence…]

Aaaaand now we’re at a stalemate. Which is annoying because we’re both too proud to give in and admit one of us is being childish (him). But now I’m legitimately mad because HOW DID WE ALLOW MUSTARD TO DRIVE US INTO A STRAIGHT UP YELLING MATCH? The day I let some mustard test the endurance of my marriage is a dark day.

We never did get to the bottom of the mystery of the mustard, but we did eventually kiss and make nice. I think it’s safe to assume Brandon stashed it in there for future use, days (maybe even weeks) prior to its discovery. But I’m not fully on board with that theory either, because it suggests that I am a shitty housekeeper who doesn’t even know when condiments have been hidden in her bathroom for days on end.