Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just Don't Do It

The Atlantic Monthly printed an article of a type that is becoming fairly common. The author bemoaned that having children did not make her happy, that one shouldn't expect people to have children, and that many women are miserable raising children. To that effect, she provided a few quotes from some website or another. The gist of the quotes was that these women had expected to be fulfilled by being SAHMs and were actually deeply unhappy.

The comments, though, seemed to reveal that people who empathised with this article had a very particular view of motherhood. They had extremely high standards for themselves. One commenter said that, of course, mothers of toddlers had no time to read.

I have time to read, and I do read, a lot. As I thought this, I looked up and caught sight of my toddler. He was chewing on a piece of balsa wood that I think belonged to his brother's kite. He looked up at me thoughtfully, as if to say, beg your pardon? Don't mind me; I just thought I'd take a break from gnawing at your electrical cords as if I were a rodent.

He does not actually gnaw at electrical cords.

In sum, I have time to read because of my very low standards. If there was one thing that would have made these commenters happier, it was some low standards of their own. Plus, not only do low standards give you time to read, but you can get a very special glow from knowing that you are making other parents feel better about themselves. When I venture outside with my little circus, all sorts of mothers see me, and immediately they feel more competent. Sure, they may have missed the school play, but 100% of their children are wearing pants right now. Meanwhile, I'm having to remind Firefly that he isn't allow to chew on his own shoe.

My daughter kept waking up tonight. She'd periodically pop up with some comment, until finally I told her that it was unnerving to hear her at one a.m., and she ought to go to sleep. She asked if "one a.m." meant that it was morning now, and her father answered yes. She said, "Yay, I'm nocturnal!" Apparently this and losing her front teeth are now her proudest achievements to date. I am still not pleased that she keeps waking up, but I can't help but applaud her on her usage of vocabulary. The night before, she responded to mild verbal chastisement by telling her father that "this is not acceptable!" One doesn't know whether to laugh, or to send her to time out.

Genome is extremely interested in Pending. He particularly wants to feed Pending chocolate chip cookies. He says that were he to wish on a star, he would wish for a dinosaur, and a chocolate chip cookie for the new baby. I said, "you'd wish for a cookie for the new baby?" He said "yes, and a dinosaur." 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My toddler is still awake.

In fact, he is in good spirits. He is wearing a polo shirt, a diaper, cowboy boots, and three strings of Mardi Gras beads. He's alternating his attention between eating scrambled egg and playing with three toy dragons. He is babbling to his teddy bear as he plays. It would all be idiosyncratic and adorable if he were someone else's child, or if it were not quite so close to midnight.

I have discerned something critical about my children. It is that they are trying to starve me to death. I don't know why I didn't cotton on before now. In utero, they make me vomit everything. Once born, whenever I sit down with some food they want to eat it out of my dish.

Toddler recently ate everything on my plate but was still hungry. His plate was untouched and thus full of food. He tipped his plate out onto my plate, then ate the food. I think this may be some sort of monkey/gorilla/reptile brain way of making sure that I don't want him to starve.

Last night, I had a vivid nightmare. I heard thunder getting ever-closer to our house. I saw the figure of a person at the window in our bedroom, trying to get in. I was experiencing sleep paralysis and couldn't move. I started screaming, "Husband, help me, help me." Owing, I suppose, to the sleep paralysis, this apparently came out as "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" Either way, he ran in. The three children had piled on top of him and caused him to retreat to one of their beds.

He was very good natured about the entire business: First he is exiled to the land of Spiderman sheets, and then he is dragged back because his wife "had a bad dream."

At this point, Munchkin poked up her curly head from where she was sleeping at the end of the master bed and started crying. She said she was upset that no one ever called for _her_ when they had had a bad dream.

Genome woke up for perhaps ten seconds, raised one eyebrow at me, and went back to sleep. Apparently mummy crying out in the middle of the night is not the kind of thing that my sons consider worthy of investigation.

The next day, I asked Munchkin about something an adult had said to her. She said, "I don't know. I wasn't listening. Everyone thought I was listening, but I wasn't really. Really, I was singing a song silently in my head, and I was listening to that."

This actually explains a great deal.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Me: Captain, she reads! Munchkin reads! Proper books and everything!

Captain: Good. I'm relieved I won't have to hear about it anymore.

Me: Say something more positive.

Captain: I'm very glad that Munchkin won't have to put up with your my-child-will-never-read angst any more. With any luck, she'll forget this entire episode and won't need therapy for it.

It's not like I'm the only jump-the-gun angsty parent around these days. Munchkin started cello lessons. She's the oldest child there. She's six. The teacher overheard that I had a four-year-old and asked if he were taking music lessons as well. Are you kidding me? The only things Genome is interest in these days are plastic and shaped like dinosaurs (or soldiers, or pirates).

Of course, the four-year-olds at her music class don't seem particularly interested either. But while I'm willing to do a certain amount of angsting over literacy, I just can't quite get that same deep-felt panic at the thought that my daughter may never be a proficient strings player. And since (like all lawyers) I'm an adrenaline junky, I can only take action when I'm panicking. Luckily I'm neurotic so I panic a lot.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Pending is a fetus. Pending lives in my uterus and expands, as far as I can tell, entirely inwardly. Because I don't look all that pregnant, but I clearly have no space for a bladder or lungs in there. I am seven months gone. If Pending were a wart, he would be a plantar's wart.

Do mummies who compare their babies to plantar's warts go to hell? Or do they go to Purgatory, along with the mummies who watch documentaries about crazy Norwegian punk rockers instead of doing the weekly shopping?

I keep planning to teach my children appropriate songs at some point, and not put them to sleep singing whatever comes to mind. Munchkin is six and I still haven't fixed this. Instead I have kids who beg for God Bless the Grass and Hard Times Come Again No More, and I should just be thankful they don't want the Internationale.

I have a theory that being pregnant is a lot like getting old. Every day or so, something stops working correctly. Today you wear a ditch between your bedroom at the bathroom. Tomorrow you find yourself unable to sleep past first light. Heartburn. Forgetfulness. It's like an AARP advertisement around this place.

In keeping with the above, a doctor suggested that I should add supplemental fibre to my diet. I responded that that might be a tough sell, given that I am one of those nine-months-of-barfing pregnant people. He said, it's just water. Would you throw up water?

Oh, isn't he cute?

You dissolve the fabulous powder in your drink, and you won't even know it's there.

Who do you think put it in there? I'm not that forgetful, you know.

On the way home I stopped by a slightly hippy-dippy grocery store with a health section, to pick up my magic invisible fibre powder. The lovely lady with long dreadlocks directed me to a bag of what appeared to be law clippings. I definitely recognised dandelions. I am never, ever, ever going to pay someone for dandelions. This did not appear to be the kind of magic fibre that dissolves in a glass and one can't tell that it's there.

I went to a Big Chain Pharmacy and got my chemical powder. I stirred it into a glass of water, drank the glass of water, and threw the glass of water up.

Nevertheless, I feel accomplished.