Category Archives: Ask and you shall receive

I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad…

My husband just passed me the Kaukauna port wine spreadable cheese and I find myself strangely overcome with lust and desire.  For the cheese.  And as I skimmed a little of it off the top with a fresh Wheat Thin (BAKED! Not fried!) just now and savored its pure awesomeness,  suddenly my head heard the lyrics to  “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music.  And I thought, hell, I haven’t written on my blog recently. I shall post about my favorite things.  Because everybody totally cares about them.

Which naturally led me to think of Oprah, and her favorite things.  Remember when she would do that Oprah’s Favorite Things show where she would just talk about products the whole time while her audience members got all the stuff?  The first couple of years she did that show, it was off the hook.  I would watch and lust after all the stuff she picked out, in awe that the whole audience got to take it all home.  But by year three, that show just pissed me off.  All those screaming, fainting whores audience members got thousands of dollars worth of stuff for being a damn teacher or because someone wrote Oprah a note and said they helped an orphan escape from Russia or they just showed up on the right day. I’d feel like crap, because  the only time I got tickets for Oprah was immediately following 9/11 and hurricane Katrina. I shit you not. Anyway, I just got to the point where I stopped watching that show every year because it would just make me angry that I wasn’t there while all those lucky ass bitches jumped around with their heads turning around 360 degrees and popping off (which mine would have as well, no doubt).

Jealousy is a bitch. Sometimes I would tell myself that she picked out all lame stuff I wouldn’t want or know what to do with anyway – like soaps that are like $13 and refrigerators with built-in TVs that would probably only fit into 5% of the kitchens in this great nation. And I couldn’t help but wonder if a cable or satellite hookup was necessary and who the hell has that stuff in the kitchen? See? So who would want to win that on Oprah’s Favorite Things?  Me. ME, DAMMIT!! That show made me hate myself. Thanks, Oprah.

Then one year Oprah decided instead of giving away an obscene amount of shit to people, she would give everybody $100, and then they’d have to go out and give it to someone else and whoever was the most creative or made the most out of that $100 got to come back at a later show.  Ha ha Bit-chez! That put a smile on my face because I knew as the cameras panned the crowd of pleasantly smiling faces, those women and their mothers were secretly thinking: “God DAMN you, OPRAH! I got a ticket for your Favorite Things show and all I’m taking away is this punk-ass gift card and a mandate to give it to someone else?  I fucking hate you. And your dogs too.”  But I’m sure in the end, giving away that $100 made them feel so good and warm and nice inside that they didn’t hold a grudge. Or tell everyone they knew how they got screwed and wanted to die.  Which would totally have been my — I mean, a healthy reaction. I’m pretty sure.

Anyway, I digress.  It’s just that I can’t think about Oprah’s Favorite Things without wonder, fascination and pure snarkiness.  On to revealing my majestic list of favorite things.  If I had a blog wherein I could name all my favorite things and give them to those of you that regularly comment, this is what you would get:

1) One year’s worth of Kaukauna port wine spreadable cheese and Wheat Thins.

2) A Mac.

3) A subscription to “O” and “Us Weekly” — the only publications with real import these days.

4) Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, a gallon of skim milk and a martini shaker.  Equal parts of these ingredients shaken with ice makes me incredibly happy. I think it would make you happy too.

5) Take 5 bars. A lifetime supply. Proof that God loves us.

6) TiVo. I honestly don’t have the words to explain my love, devotion and adoration for TiVo.

7) Counting Crows “August and Everything After”. Best album ever.

8.) Vaseline Cocoa Butter Deep Conditioning lotion.  I suppose it’s a good moisturizer, but more importantly it somehow captures “new baby smell” like you’re within a few inches of a newborn’s little head at all times. I get high off the fumes on a pretty regular basis.  SO much easier than having to give birth again.

9) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  Funniest book of all time.  All time.

10) Tickets to Oprah’s show.  If you get them, be sure to let me know. We can go together and hope that my attendance doesn’t mark the end of the world. Oh yeah, and did I ever tell you about the time BD turned down a job at Harpo? She brings everybody and their families on these really swank all-expenses paid vacations every year. I would have hunted her down and convinced her by now of our destiny if he’d just taken it. But he didn’t.  And we’re still married. That’s love.

11) Josh Groban’s “Noel”. Shut up. Wipe the smirk off your face, because I’m giving it to you for free, bitch.

12) McDonald’s gift certificates. Enough to buy a Value Meal #2 with Diet Crack Coke and two happy meals with apple dippers twice weekly.

Okay, and go to this post to see the Oprah Favorite Things SNL skit, along with all my favorite YouTube stuff…

So I feel like if you got those 12 things today, you probably wouldn’t have a need for anything else. Ever.  Feel free to print and substitute for your Christmas/ Hanukkah / Kwanzaa/ Festivus list.  One day when I am rich and famous and lunching regularly with Oprah, I will make sure that my commenters do receive all of these things, making your friends seethe with jealousy and rage.

‘Tis the season, after all.

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Adventures in Babysitting, the Finale

If you are just joining me, start here.  For the other three of you following the story and want to know what happens when Love insists on choosing a daycare run by a woman who shares none of her interests or philosophies in life, here goes:

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a 10 page signed contract, Miss Amalia decides that we are a good enough family to admit into her daycare and even agrees to take our son at 10 weeks, instead of 6 months, with a little extra charge.  I liked Miss Amalia and her sister, who ran the daycare, but Miss Amalia and I had very different M.O.s.  Miss Amalia loved rules. LOVED rules. I, on the other hand, love to ignore rules, especially when they appear to be arbitrary, which many of Miss Amalia’s were. So when I would visit before my son started I would kind of laugh to myself about how amusing it was the way she clung to her random rules. You know, no shoes in the house. No coming more than 15 minutes early or later than she expected you. No calling during nap time. No breaking any of her 600 breast milk handling rules (thank GOD I didn’t have to deal with that). The list went on and on.  And on.  And on.

So my son is born in June and he turns out to be the easiest, most even-tempered and laid back baby ever born.  God only gives you what you can handle, and that is when I realized that God thinks I’m a total loser, because honestly, the kid never cried, he drank his formula without complaint, he had no gas, he slept all the time, he nailed all his weight and height checks at the doctor. He didn’t even cry when he got his immunizations. I had no idea what motherhood was going to be like, but after the first few weeks with my little guy I was wondering what so many new moms were complaining about.  Everyone was always talking about how hard it was and how they never got to sleep or shower or catch their breath.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  Taking care of an infant was so easy.

When I was on maternity leave, I probably read 100 books and even started watching Dr. Phil (a moustached man who is not a police officer, leaving only one other possibility) just to fill the time.  Seriously.  I was tethered to the house because my baby was always sleeping.  There was nothing for me to do except make a few bottles and change a few diapers every few hours.  And Oprah was in re-runs, so I turned to Dr.Phil. I was totally intrigued desperate.  My son would wake up, eat, be cute for 30 minutes, sleep for a couple of hours and then do it all over again. At  7 weeks he slept through the night.

These facts clearly prove that I must have been the best damn mother in the universe. I had the perfect baby, so that must have meant that every decision I had made had been the right one. If I wasn’t doing everything exactly right then how could my baby be so awesome? You’re stumped. I can tell.  All those moms whose kids cried a lot or didn’t sleep or had acid reflux – it was probably because they weren’t doing it right. I started fancying myself as an authority.  I thought maybe I should write a book about being a perfect parent and I would prove to the world that formula fed babies and their working mothers weren’t all that bad. Scratch that. Formula fed babies and their working mothers were superior! I was a perfect parent*, as evidenced by my perfect child.

(*I think I actually may have believed in my post-partum stupor that my parenting had something to do with my son’s temperament, until I was graced with my second son. The one that feels me up in Target. I now have no such illusions.)

Okay, so now that you know that I am a perfect mother and I have a perfect baby who is about to go to a perfect daycare, you might understand my surprise when my baby went to daycare and Miss Amalia reported that he cried all day.  Ummm? My baby? Impossible. My child does not cry.  “No, he does. All day.” deadpanned Miss Amalia.  “Well, I don’t understand. Are you feeding him? Is he dry?  He never cries with us. Never!”  I was wondering whether she was trying to shake me down for more money. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing.  And yet everyday when I came to pick him up (and he seemed to be docile and happy as ever then), she would claim he spent most of the day crying and fussing.

Not to worry, though.  Miss Amalia knew why.  She suspected that perhaps we let him sleep whenever he wanted to. Yes, we did.  She suspected that sometimes he fell asleep in our arms or in a swing but not in a crib. Well, yes. Sometimes.  She suspected we didn’t have him on a strict schedule. No. At two months old we did not.  “Well”, she said, “you’re going to have to get him on my schedule or this isn’t going to work.”  Your schedule? Um? What the hell are we paying you $375 a week for? I’m not giving up all things fun in this world to pay you just so that you get to be the boss of me, thankyouverymuch.

But I didn’t say that. I asked for the schedule.  Here is a great example of BD and I saying “Sure, Miss Amalia. Give us a copy of your schedule and we’ll make sure we keep to it on the weekends.” (wink, wink, roll eyes, giggles).  She gave us the schedule and I’m pretty sure we used it to pick up the dog’s poop on the way home.  Our kid was younger than 3/4 of the food in my pantry. What did he know about schedules? If he needs to sleep, let him. When he wants to eat, we’ll feed him.  We’re his parents for God’s sake. What does this single woman in her thirties without children know about taking care of children? (Actually – not such a good question to ask yourself when you hired her to do just that). Her unyielding anal retentiveness was really cramping my style and pissing me off.

So a month goes by and he has about 4 bad days and 1 good day a week. After his first four weeks there, Miss Amalia tells us that we need to have an “evaluation” meeting at Starbucks.  We thought this was another one of her random administration rule-y things and we begrudgingly went to our meeting, but were eager to hear about our perfect son’s progress.

She got straight to the point. Our son won’t go to sleep unless she is holding his hand. He fusses and cries a lot and she has other kids to watch, so it’s very distracting.  Perhaps it wasn’t a good match.  Perhaps he’d be happy somewhere else. Perhaps we would all be happy somewhere else.  It just wasn’t working out.  Maybe we’d all made a mistake.  Somewhere in the background the sound of a needle scratches a record.  Oh no she did ent. I saw her lips moving, but I couldn’t really make out the words.  We were getting kicked out of day care.  Oh, helllls no!  After my brief blackout as she was kicking our infant out of the only daycare in Chicago I could find for him, the fighting spirit came back into my body and I begged her not to kick us out. We had nowhere to go, and plus, it made no sense that this baby that was so calm and perfect with us could be such a pain in the ass for her.  I mean, if our kid couldn’t meet her standards, then nobody’s could.  We just couldn’t comprehend the situation we were in, but we promised we would do anything, anything to stay in.

She wasn’t a monster. She only made us beg for 15 minutes until said she would give us another four weeks to either clean up our 3 month old’s behavior or find a new daycare.  Aw, fuck.  I mean, was I supposed to take away his car keys? How do you “fix” a 3 month old who is on probation at daycare and yet an easy, laid back angel at home?

Miss Amalia said she’d work with us. She told us she suspected we weren’t following her schedule. She suspected we were still letting him sleep whenever and wherever and often in our arms. We kind of demurred, but it was probably clear to her that we weren’t doing anything she told us to do.  We sheepishly asked for another copy of the schedule.  We thought it was completely absurd voodoo to have to a kid this small on her strict schedule, but we had no choice. We had to feed him, sleep him, play with him, change him and practice sign language with him, all on this schedule she had.  He had to take all naps in his crib, alone and he couldn’t already be asleep when we put him in there.  No more falling asleep on daddy’s chest, or in the swing or a free bottle here or there.  Obviously, there was no way this was going to work, but we had no other choice, so we decided to do it her way. I really wanted to be right that she was wrong – that the schedule was meaningless — because after all, in just three months I was already a perfect mother with all the answers. So we watched the clock and followed her schedule over the weekend, no exceptions.  Except the yoga part. We weren’t sure how a 3 month old gets the most out of his yoga session, so we substituted Baby Mozart.

On Monday she said he had a good day. “You followed the schedule, didn’t you?” Um. (eyes downward) Yes. On Tuesday another good day. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday.  It had to be a coincidence.  Maybe he had a sense that he was on probation and was on his best behavior. But the next weekend we stuck to the schedule again. And suddenly Miss Amalia is reporting that our kid seems to be so happy and she has never seen him so calm.  Really?  Finally the son we’d always known was showing up at daycare. But only after we went against everything we wanted to do and put him on a schedule. On her schedule. I could tell Miss Amalia was gloating. Because she knew she was right and that we were just punk new parents.  She scared us straight, and she knew it.

Miss Amalia – 1, Love Family – 0. Well played, Miss Amalia, well played.

Eventually our son worked his way off the probation list and we stuck with Miss Amalia for a year. It wasn’t without days that I wanted to punch her in the face because she was so sure she knew everything (and unfortunately, most times she was right).  When she decided she was so awesome that daycare was going to cost $400/week even with 7 other kids there, we gave up.  We couldn’t afford it and she told us she was quite sure that other people could.  We had to move somewhere we could find affordable daycare.  We had to change everything.

So thanks to Miss Amalia, we sold our condo at the height of the real estate bubble and bought a single family in a great neighborhood.  I had to look for new daycare and discovered my Mom Crush in the process and another parent at Miss Amalia’s gave us the lead on the new daycare we found that was almost half of what Miss Amalia was demanding. And we’re still with that daycare. She didn’t make us sign a contract, or tell me how to mother, or make me feel guilty I’ve never seen the inside of Whole Foods. I’m pretty sure she has never done yoga and when the kids get dirty, she washes their clothes, instead of sending them home in a plastic bag. And she loves our kids and they love her. And none of it would have been possible without all Miss Amalia’s rules.  And Starbucks.

So thank you, Starbucks and Miss Amalia — for everything.

Adventures in Babysitting, Part III

(I’m incapable of making a long story short. You’ll need to start here for the first part of the story).

Thankfully, Amalia didn’t make us wait too long.  She called two days later and told me that we passed the first round and she would like to schedule time for me to come over to her home to see the daycare and watch her and her sister in action with the kids.  Score! We had successfully come off as the type of parents good enough for Miss Amalia.  I still wasn’t sure how I would break it to her that we needed somebody when the baby was 10 weeks and I wasn’t breastfeeding, but I figured that I’d ingratiate myself to the point that she wouldn’t be able to say no.

I couldn’t wait for my visit. It was like being invited into a Mormon temple without being Mormon, or to Oprah’s show without being Josh Groban.  By the way she had described her daycare, I was expecting to see brilliant, magical 1 and 2 year olds who could totally go from downward dog into Warrior III without missing a beat. They’d probably be signing questions to Miss Amalia about “Goodnight Gorilla”, like why the zookeeper’s wife had to put all the animals back when it was clearly her husband’s responsibility. I taught myself how to sign “yes” and “no” and “I completely agree. I would’ve kicked him to the curb” just in case that question did come up.  I imagined children that did not cry except for when they wanted more homemade organic pureed beets.  These kids probably didn’t poop either. No, that didn’t seem like behavior becoming of a toddler at Miss Amalia’s daycare. I wondered if a child that sprung from my loins could possibly measure up in Miss. Amalia’s world. (Wait. Do women have loins, or is it just men?)

Being around people I don’t know having awkward conversations is extremely draining for me, so I had prepared for my 45 minute visit as if I were training for a triathlon.  I drank plenty of fluids, got a lot of sleep, practiced answers to questions I thought she might ask, like “which do you prefer the most: the farmer’s market on Randolph  or Whole Foods?” or “describe your daily meditation sequence” both of which I formulated an answer to using the Internet. I had a big carb -filled dinner the night before, just so I wouldn’t pass out from exhaustion, or irritation or judginess.

On the big day, I walked over there with butterflies in my stomach. I was still being judged. And I didn’t really know anything about kids or taking care of them, so I told myself I wouldn’t touch any of the kids.  Just in case I accidentally killed one of them.

It was a warm day and I happened to be wearing sandals.  I found out when Miss Amalia answered the door that shoes were supposed to be left in the hall. No shoes were permitted at any time within the confines of her home. But now I had this awkwardness of having bare feet, which I think is much more gross than wearing the sandals. I think Miss Amalia and I agreed on this.  She brought me some socks before I could step over the threshold into the magical home daycare. If you’ve ever read “Grasshopper Along the Road” (which, if you haven’t, you must) Miss Amalia was exactly like the mosquito that obsessively chants “rules are rules!” and cannot fathom exceptions to any arbitrary rule he makes up.  I’m not a big rules person if the rules are arbitrary.  But again, maybe this is how all daycares were? What did I know?  I put on the socks and apologized for not knowing the rule.

The magical home daycare looked a lot like a regular condo with a lot of toys in it. But they were arranged just so for feng shui purposes, I was told.  The kids were adorable.  And from what I could tell, they cried and they pooped, which I was really surprised about.  Even more surprising was that at least one kid thought I was awesome. I think.  One little 18 month old ran up and hugged me as soon as I got in the door. And he didn’t die right after. He spent most of the visit in my lap. Miss Amalia was astounded. She claimed he only acts that way around her and his mother. Really? Nice. Maybe I would be a good mom after all. And I was so relieved that Miss Amalia didn’t have a rule about kids not being able to cry or poop without being dismissed. And that I didn’t kill any babies.

It was a fun visit. Really. Her sister was a lot less hard-core and rules-based than she was and it kind of made it a little less weird to talk to her. I told them some of my more tame stories that made them laugh, which is really about the only talent I have that usually doesn’t fail me. The kids were bright and lovely and having fun and actually, they really could sign. Which was news to me. I thought all that stuff was bogus, like I did about dogs really staying down in down-stays (which they totally do if you spend thousands training them). And Amalia and her sister took pictures of the kids all the time and then would email them to the parents during the day, which is the next best thing to the live camera feed I got from my doggie daycare. I’m probably making some people uncomfortable with the parallels between my dog and my kids.  I’ll stop, but in my experience, toddlers and dogs aren’t that different.

So I left after my allotted 45 minutes feeling like it was the best place ever and our going there was probably a done deal.  Just as I was walking out, they mentioned that another couple vying for my son’s place was coming the next day. Damn. Maybe I should have brought chocolates or some energy drink or something. Damn.         Damn. Damn. Damn. Fuck. I told them I thought they were spectacular and that my son would be lucky to be taken care of by such good people.  And I meant it. I mean, there were no other alternatives, so they really stacked up nicely compared to leaving him by himself all day.

I went home and ate a tub of Cherry Garcia.  Luckily that isn’t called bingeing when you’re pregnant. I think it’s just called normal. I mean, if you can’t drink your worries away, what other alternatives are there?

I called Miss Amalia the next day to ask about where we were on the list and when she could tell me if we were in or out. She said she was going to hold off on a decision until she met the baby. Who wasn’t going to be born for another 6 weeks. If she said no, then what was I supposed to do?  That’s when I kind of went ballistic.

Love: “Umm…that isn’t going to work.”

Amalia: “Pardon?”

Love: “You can’t just decide a week before whether a family is coming or not! I have a baby that needs to be in a great daycare and I have to know now whether he is in or out at your place so I can make other arrangements if it’s not working out!”

Amalia: “Well, to tell the truth, you are first on our list, but he wouldn’t be here for another six months, and a lot can happen between now and then.”

Love: “What if he came in 3 months? I need you in August, not December.”

Amalia: (silence) “I don’t take children younger than 6 months.”

Love: “Because you can’t or you won’t?”

Amalia: “Well, it is very young to be separated from the mother.”

Love: “I have to go back to school! I can’t change the date that school starts. I trust you. I trust you more than I trust me to be honest. Please make an exception.”

Amalia: “I might have to charge more for a baby that young…”

Love: “Listen, we don’t have a lot of money, but we’re willing to pay you whatever you want if you’ll take him in August.”

Amalia: “I would have to talk to my sister.”

Love: “I need that spot in your daycare. I know very little about taking care of a baby but I know a lot about being in school, which is where I need to be in August. I have no other options. I’m literally begging you. But if you can’t tell me by the end of this week whether we’re in or not, I’ve got to do something else.”

Amalia: “I like you.”

Love: “I like you too.” (I think we’re supposed to kiss here, but the phone made it hard.)

Amalia: “I feel bad for you. You really don’t know much about being a parent.”

Love: “No. I know about being a parent. That is what this conversation is about. I need a good caregiver for my baby and you’re it. If you meant I don’t know much about child care, then you’re right on there. That is no secret. Oh and while we’re on the subject I forgot to tell you I won’t be breastfeeding.”

Amalia: (gasps) “What? Why?”

Love: “I can’t. Physically impossible.” ( Psychologically impossible would be more true. Honest mistake. )

Amalia: “I’ll talk to my sister.”

Love: “Tell her to say yes. We’ll be the best family you have. I swear.”

Amalia: “Okay.  This is a lot of information to take in.” (she is wondering who the hell she is dealing with)

So we ended it there. I was sure that was it for us and Miss Amalia. We’d have to hire a nanny if this didn’t work out, and then selling our kidneys wouldn’t cover it. BD would probably have to go out and turn tricks while I did the night shift at Dunkin’ Donuts. I ate another gallon of Cherry Garcia.

After an excruciating couple of days, Amalia called me back. We were in.

I won! I won! She tacked on another $25 a week, but it seemed like a small price to pay to the daycare gods. I celebrated for a month straight. I went over and visited Miss Amalia’s place up until I gave birth and then brought over my son when he was about 6 weeks. I still thought she was over the top about most stuff, but I was in no position to complain. This was what I wanted, right?

Sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for. (Sorry, Part IV is a must, but I haven’t written it yet. Forthcoming.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Part IV

Adventures in Babysitting, Part II

If you haven’t already, it’s best to read Part I. But if you don’t like reading my super-long posts (I’m working on it), and just want the net – I’m 7 months pregnant with son #1 and found out from two snarky ladies on their lunch break that daycare is impossible to find and then after a miracle in Starbucks, I find a home daycare, Miss Amalia’s Place, that meets my criteria which is that its near my house and…that it is near my house, but it turns out that she is used to desperate parents. She is going to interview us to see whether we’re the right sort for her daycare.

The flyer from Miss Amalia’s Place didn’t have a ton of information, but it did mention that it was an all organic environment and the kids would be taught yoga and learn to sign when they were babies and no TV (obviously) and I think there was something about earth sounds music too.  From what I could tell, this is what all the good moms were doing, so it seemed like a pretty good plan to me, especially when you consider the alternative: me taking care of the baby in an environment that included a lot of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Sex and the City, McDonalds, The Killers, Eminem and some Baby Mozart once in a while.

But the issue was that Miss Amalia was going to interview us, to see if we were the right sort.  The first interview wasn’t even going to take place at her daycare, because she wasn’t going to bring just anyone there. That was only if you got to the second round. Failure was not an option. Because we had no other viable options. So I spent the two days we had to prepare for the interview Googling “how to be a good mother” and “acing the daycare interview” and drilling BD on his part in the whole thing.  I reminded him that this interview could decide whether our son would be a well-adjusted adult or a circus performer.

Love: “Okay. So whatever she says, nod and smile and agree wholeheartedly with her. Even if you have no idea what she is talking about.”

BD: “I’m not sure we should be pretending –”

Love: (gives husband ‘the hand’) “Listen – I’m not kidding around here. This is our ONLY option.  We will do whatever it takes to get in. Repeat after me…We will do whatever it takes to get in.”

BD: “Do we even know how much she costs?”

Love: “No. And we will nod and smile and agree wholeheartedly with whatever she says it costs. We will have time to panic later, and sell our kidneys when she isn’t around.”

BD: “I don’t know. This isn’t our only option.”

Love: “Oh yeah? What are the other options?”

BD: “Well, I’m sure we could find -”

Love: “By ‘we’ I assume you mean ‘me’ and guess what? There isn’t anything else. But if you want to spend hundreds of fruitless hours looking, be my guest.  In the meantime, you will nod, smile and agree wholeheartedly with everything that is said. Including by me.  I will likely say things you’ve never heard come out of my mouth before. Pretend like it’s totally normal for me to make butternut squash and say ‘namaste’ and stuff.”

BD: “What is ‘namaste’?”

Love: (through gritted teeth) “It’s what I say all. the. time. Get it?”

BD: “Oh my God. This is nuts…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Miss Amalia turned out to be a Korean woman in her mid-thirties. She was unmarried and her older sister helped her out taking care of the children.  She had very definite ideas about how to run her daycare, although she had only started up 6 months earlier and she’d never had a child of her own.  She announced that the youngest child she would take would be 6 months, since it would be “very bad” for a mother to leave her child before then. She explained also that it would give the baby some time to adjust from the breast to the bottle, but she had a whole page on how breast milk would be handled.  We nodded and smiled and agreed wholeheartedly. The thing was, we needed someone at 10 weeks and there was not going to be any breast milk. We were formula feeding. But neither of us said anything.

She told us about all of the enriching activities she would be providing the children and she told us what our duties as parents were. There was a long list of rules. Schedules were very important. We could drop our child off within a half hour window in the morning and pickup in a certain window.  Any exceptions would have to be logged in advance.  We nodded and smiled and agreed wholeheartedly.  She told us that it would be $350 a week.  It was more than I hoped it would be, but it was doable. Perhaps we could keep our kidneys. We asked her about what she liked and disliked about the other families.  We asked about what she thought about traits of great parents. We asked her about why she started her business and told her how wonderful and genius she was for doing so.  We told her we liked her hair. And her shoes. And could we get her anything else to drink?

I thought we aced the interview.  We did everything we planned to do to make sure we got to the second round.  At the end of the interview, we thanked Miss Amalia and she said she would call to let us know whether we made it to the second round. She also gave us a 10 page contract to look over to make sure we were “comfortable” with all of the terms.  We walked out hand in hand and didn’t speak until we were safely back in our condo.  The minute the door was closed, we looked at each other and simultaneously asked, “What. the. fuck?”

Neither of us could believe that we lived in such a world.  Sign language, and schedules and yoga and dietary restrictions and minimum age 6 months old?!  When we were little we watched TV all day and drank lots of Kool-Aid and got locked out of the house and told to play outside for four hours.  Our moms didn’t breastfeed us and we didn’t know what organic meant until 1998.  We felt totally unprepared to be parents.  Miss Amalia had us scared to death. We needed her to take care of our son because we were going to do it completely wrong if she wasn’t coaching us the whole way.

Now what to do about the fact that we weren’t any of the things she wanted us to be? We couldn’t wait six months. We needed her at 10 weeks. And I wasn’t planning on breastfeeding, because I’m just a bad mom.  This was going to get complicated, but I had to make this happen.

Part III

The search for my tribe

This January I found myself back in the place I have perpetually been throughout my life, which is wandering around aimlessly, wondering what the hell I’m doing with my life and how I got to the place where I am and how that place where I am always feels like a place I’d like to leave – immediately.

You know why I love Oprah? Its not because of her fabulous hair or because everybody is afraid of her or because she gets to hang out with Obama all the time.  It’s because she doesn’t go two weeks on her show without doing a story about somebody who was nobody until they got inspired one day and then changed the world.  I live for those stories. Without believing in those stories I would have no hope that one day my life will abruptly and powerfully change and my angel will come to me and say “Love, lets do this.  3-6-34-51-52 and the Powerball is 22. I’ll let you know what God wants you to do with it, but in the meantime, why don’t you just go ahead and buy a beach house in Zihuatanejo, kay? You can run your new philanthropic foundation from there”. I mean, Oprah has me convinced that one day I’ll be minding my own business and ordering my Value Meal #2 at McDonalds and suddenly the heavens will open up and I’ll just “know” that the cook in the back is a genius orphan who is homeless and just needs a chance and I’ll adopt her and she’ll grow up to be the President and I’ll get to live in the White House and she’ll make me ambassador to Tahiti and life will be totally sweet because of my awesome inspiration to take her home with me on that fateful day I was quenching my insatiable hunger for a Quarter Pounder with cheese.  I could tell you about a million other scenarios I’ve feasted my mind on, but you get the point.  Nobody loves stories more than I do about ordinary people doing extraordinary things that make this world a cooler place to be because if I’m being honest, I really believe that one day I’ll get to be one of them.  When I hear those stories I don’t think, “Oh, thats really neat.” I think, “When is it going to be my turn?”

Which makes me really a different sort of person than the people I find myself surrounded by most of the time. I know this because I’ve taken every damn personality and motivation and self-discovery test this world has to offer in an attempt to find out why it seems like I can’t find anybody like me out there in the world.  And usually my results break the computer or they come back but it says something like, “ERROR- value unknown” or “Only 1% of the population is this type…” and when you read the description of a person that would get this score, it is usually brief because it commands a total loss for words to describe. I think the issue is two-fold: only three people have ever scored this combination and those three people are too strange to really describe. When you look at professions that are good for my personality type, you wind up with stuff like unicycle rider, psychic, manic-depressive and homeless.  What you don’t get is ‘efficient little cog in big corporate machine’, which is what I am, except for the efficient part.

On the other hand, the fact that there are a few people out there – that it is humanly possible to meet someone like me – gives me a lot of comfort.  There are so many days when I look around at the people I work with, or the parents at my kids’ school, or my neighbors, or whatever group and just think, “am I the only one thinking…(x,y,z)?” and I’m pretty sure I am.  And after awhile you start to feel weird and lonely because people look at you really funny when you tell them what you’re thinking. So I’ve learned to self-edit, especially when at work.  It is very unbecoming for a professional salesperson to say she could care less about the money and sometimes she tells her clients not to buy stuff from her, because she knows her competitor has a better widget.  These things are completely foreign concepts in the circles I travel in and they would likely get me fired or at least demoted. Some days I fantasize about getting fired. But then I cry inside knowing that if that happened, the bond between me and my favorite fabulous gay salesman Leonardo at Banana Republic might be broken forever.

So back in January I decided that I either had to go into therapy or get a life coach or I might go insane because I was born to change the world and so far all I’ve done is changed careers four times. And a lot of dirty diapers.

I thought if I went into therapy there was a good chance I might never get out, so I thought it was safest to try a life coach first. So I began the search for a life coach to tell me what I am supposed to do with my life and why I always feel like a fish out of water wherever I go.  You want to have a fun couple of weeks? Interview some life coaches.  Ones you find on the Internet and not through a referral because of course, you don’t associate with anybody who doesn’t double over laughing in amusement by the whole concept.

But it was awesome. Wow. Some life coaches have PhDs, or some sort of relevant training and some life coaches have an extra phone line and illusions of grandeur.  And honestly, a lot of the times you can’t tell which is which by talking to them.  Some are really great and some are train wrecks. But, to their credit, they are amusing train wrecks. Like the guy who I was interviewing that talked to me for a half hour about why he thinks his second wife left him. I had to interrupt him, “Hey, could I offer you some coaching? She just not that into you.”  After that moment of genius, it got me thinking that maybe I should be a life coach. I mean, if all you have to do to be a life coach is give people advice and help them solve their problems, then sign me up.  I clearly don’t have a great grasp of the world, but I know about people. I can read people. And like I said, my personality books tell me I’m well-suited to be a psychic as well. So who wouldn’t want a psychic life coach?  But, I’m an intellectual snob and as such, I can’t get behind waking up one day and calling myself a life coach.   So that is a whole other fun story, but the point is, I actually found a coaching situation in February and signed up for a year and it has, much to my delight and surprise, actually changed my life.

That said, the meaning of life hasn’t presented itself. And I’m still working for The Man. And a few months into it I was still feeling pretty alientated from the world.  My coach recommended that I do stuff that comes naturally to me, take inspired actions and go find my tribe.  She suggested that perhaps people in my tribe don’t hang out at my corporate entity.  Perhaps if I were really living the life I was born to live, it wouldn’t be as a corporate drone at a Fortune 100 company. It would be me, doing something else, surrounded by other people that teach and inspire and make me laugh everyday.

A concept I hadn’t thought of. One I wasn’t sure existed.

So what did I do after my third glass of wine one night? I started this blog.  People in real life laugh at my stories. And it turns out that when I’m at my best, I’m entertaining people with my stories, but they aren’t always of the ilk that are appreciated around the water cooler at work, or at dinner parties with parents from my kid’s school. So I decided to hell with it – what if I just wrote all my stories down and didn’t worry about what my coworkers or family or the world in general thought about it, and then maybe my tribe would find me. Maybe people who “get” me will enjoy what I write, and start reading it and I will have a community of people who I can entertain and who I “get” and who will teach and inspire and motivate me to be great.

And here you are.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for commenting on it. Thank you for following me. Thank you for writing your own blogs that are real. That teach and inspire and make me snort Diet Coke out my nose laughing and unable to read the screen through eyes full of tears. I think the vast majority of you know exactly what it’s like to need to blog as an outlet and tell your stories and write down your thoughts and be validated by other people. So we’ve found one another. Our tribe.  Lets keep blogging, keep reading about each other, keep commenting and validating one another and maybe we can keep each other from going postal or owning too many cats. Maybe we can be great together.

Excitable: Love and her Mom Crush go from “its complicated” to “in a relationship”

Yes. I have a new mom BFF. I have to change my Facebook status immediately. Just in case there are other moms out there who want to stalk me — they need to know I’m taken. I am a highly faithful BFF once I fall in love and I’m just not sure I could handle the responsibility of another. I guess this is why the Universe hasn’t delivered me Oprah yet.

Okay, so in case you haven’t read about my Mom Crush with Kirsten, either Part I, Part II, Part III, Finale or Part IV: The Revival, you probably have no idea how weird I am. Basically, I had a random phone conversation with a woman back in 2005 that I decided was the coolest woman/mom I ever never personally met.  So I went about the business of making her my best friend because I tend to stalk be obsessive about things/people that I must have. We had a few starts and stops. And it never came to fruition. And then I wrote about it on the blog and then I got all nostalgic because I remembered again how she and I were as destined to be together as me and Oprah. So then against my better judgment I emailed her out of the blue a few weeks ago to have lunch with me.

That sounds really psycho, but I swear that people who know me don’t think I’m psycho at all. Probably not even eccentric. I don’t think. But I guess if they knew this story they might want to reconsider. I’m just focused, is all. Despite my ADD. Hmm.

Okay, so when I sent Kirsten the email out of the blue, she enthusiastically replied that she’d love to get lunch again.  I was a little dumbfounded by this. I was kind of expecting her to be afraid. Very afraid. I think it is probably quite normal for people being stalked to be a little creeped out by the process. But apparently she didn’t see my random overtures as stalker-like (I asked). She has a kind heart and I guess when her own mom crush called again out of the blue, it was sheer excitement on her end. Which is exactly why she and I are awesome together.

So we schedule a lunch date, and then much to my chagrin, one of my dumb clients wants to have a meeting that day, and since my job kind of pays for my mortgage, I had to ask to reschedule. So we do. And then the day that we’ve rescheduled, Kirsten emails and said something came up at work, and she needs to reschedule but she added that she “totally wants to get together”. So then we reschedule again.  Okay, so THEN I have another, rather important, client lunch get scheduled for day that Kirsten and I rescheduled our lunch for the second time.  I’m thinking that if I ask to move lunch AGAIN, then this thing is DOA. We haven’t talked in two years — at some point you have to figure it isn’t worth it. SO…I ditched my client. Seriously. I just told one of my teammates I was double booked with something really important and I couldn’t make lunch. Which was true. I don’t lie. But I guess I omitted that I had a mom crush that had to be explored and I just could not bear to wait one more day.  I’ll admit I was feeling kind of bad about it, probably the way that an alcoholic feels bad when they miss their kid’s recital, but then God blessed my decision, because the client wound up blowing off that lunch anyway.  I think he may have his own Kirsten.

Okay, so we met at the same place we had lunch on our first real date. And from the first second to the last we just talked as naturally as if we’d been friends for years.  Perhaps I should go back to do another past life regression because I think maybe Kirsten and I were identical twins in one of our lives (Shut up. Oprah and Dr. Oz said to do it. And when they talk, you listen). All I’m saying is that if there were such a thing as the Newlywed game for Newlyfriends, we would take first. fucking. place.  And I know what it takes — I’ve never lost the Newlywed game (a post for another day). So when Kirsten and I inevitably take our families on a joint Disney cruise together, it’s on. ON.

But I’ve got to set some expectations going forward. I started writing about Kirsten here thinking I would likely never see nor talk to her again, I had no problems telling the Internet about all the weird stuff I did to try to make this random person my friend, because if I’m good at anything, it’s telling self-deprecating stories about the retarded, socially incoherent things I do on a pretty regular basis.  But now it occurs to me that since she is a real-live person who I am now involved in a real-live relationship with, I am going to pee my pants with joy need to be really sensitive to what I write here.  I’m finding out that Oprah is right about this whole Law of Attraction thing. Because everything I write about on this blog that I want to happen, winds up happening. Well, except for the parts about my sleeping with the President or being invited to Oprah, but I’m patient. Lets not rule out either at this point.

Okay, but I must reveal one part of our reunion conversation because it is such a completely and totally bizarre coincidence,  lending still further proof that we were meant to be together. Listen to this: So we’re discussing the politics at our boys’ schools and about how every class has one or a few moms that are constantly there. They make it their business to be the alpha mom and in charge of everything and as a result, their kid is automatically the favorite by teachers and kids alike and treated better than all the rest of the kids (no judgment here alpha moms – it just is what it is). And it is important to note that the alpha moms always have daughters in the class.  I don’t know why boys’ mothers don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the classroom politics, but girls’ mothers – watch out for the cage fighting. We noted how fortunate we felt to be mothers of boys.  If we had girls, they would probably not survive, since we would be reviled by the alpha moms for not doing our part (i.e. doing exactly what they tell us to), which is how we started talking about our own experiences when we were in school.

I told her about how my mom worked full-time and wasn’t really that involved in the school politics and was totally oblivious to the way the social strata at school all worked. And this disturbed the alpha moms in my class, and because (of course) they ran Brownies, I wound up getting kicked out of Brownies.  Yeah. Seriously. The alpha-moms booted my little 7 year old ass out of Brownies because my mom worked and couldn’t come to the meetings and run a craft for the week she was assigned. (FYI – I sold more cookies than all those bitches, so it was personal).  So then Kirsten gasps and says “I was kicked out of Brownies for the same reason! Well, kind of. They wouldn’t even let me join because my mom worked and couldn’t do the craft!” Then we kind of looked at each other like, “No fucking way!” But it gets even better.  So then she tells me that her mom felt so bad about the whole debacle with the alpha moms that she signed them up for 4-H (which meets evenings, and is friend to the working mom).  At which point I spit out my Diet Coke all over the table and I screamed, “Whaaaaaaaaat!?”  Holy shit. That is exactly what my mother did to cope with my banishment from Brownies.  She signed us up for 4-H and I was in that damn club until high school. I mean, how insane is that coincidence? And it wasn’t like 4-H was a popular past time in my little hamlet. I didn’t know a single person from school that was in 4-H and I did my best to hide my affiliation with it. Same with Kirsten. But she learned to bake and I learned to cross-stitch. Looking back, I should have learned to bake or raise hogs, or something that would be semi-useful.  But alas.

So this is what it feels like to watch your destiny unfold. While my angel never explicitly said “Fuck [my baby-hating ex-best friend]! Wait till I bring you to Kirsten”, I think she is responsible for all of this. I don’t know how else I can explain how someone who hates the phone, is afraid of and/or dislikes most other mom interactions and has no time for new friends and is REALLY NOT prone to stalking usually – really! – could become so smitten by another mother in 5 minutes over the phone. Smitten enough to stalk and pursue over the course of 4 years. And then write about it exhaustively on her anonymous little blog.

So…to net it out, Kirsten and I both admitted our love for one another and we’ve decided to be “in a relationship”.  Since we both have common aversions to the phone and for planning stuff in advance and formal gatherings, we decided we’ll do lunch as often as we can and keep the conversation going. As much as introverted working moms can. And I promise to send you a postcard from Disney World when we get there!

Hellz Yaz!

I’m pretty much done having my own kids.  Physically, I just don’t think I can do it again.  Although the thought of having more kids delights me. If I could snap my fingers and have a potty trained 3 year old delivered, I’d do it.  I’ve also tried to talk BD into us getting an Indian surrogate mother, or better yet adopting a few Liberian choir boys (all Oprah’s ideas) but he is not for it.  At all. Sure, these ideas do seem a little far-fetched, even for me, but I’d be lying if I haven’t fantasized about each for days on end. I’m not sure if it is because I might be able to get on Oprah if I did it or because they’re the best fucking ideas I’ve ever heard.  Probably the latter.

My deliveries were traumatic, and I’m not that psyched to get strapped down again while they cut me open while I’m still fucking conscious.  I honestly believe history will look back on this time and shake its head in disgust with the c-section rate at 46%.  I hate to admit it, but I have to side with Ricki Lake for once (please don’t tell Oprah I said that, or she will never leave Gayle) – but all of these medical interventions during the process of childbirth is going way overboard. Routinely cutting women open to deliver children is not okay. It really isn’t. It’s fucked up. But this post isn’t about that. Not really.

It’s about Oprah , I mean birth control.  Right now the point is to avoid giving birth again and I would be kind of surprised if I changed my mind about that.  But here is the rub – I’m stuck in a terrible Catch-22 of Epic Proportions. I’ve spent the last 15 years on birth control pills except for when I’ve been trying to have babies.  Until I was off the Pill, I had no idea I actually wanted to have sex. Really wanted it. I suppose this is because in nature, people are supposed to have the urge to procreate. But, at least for me, the Pill is like the ultimate sex kitten killer. And nobody likes killing kittens.  Especially the sex ones. And I had no idea that a side effect of the Pill is asexuality non-existent libido. I just thought I was tired or my vagina was extremely anti-social or something. But I didn’t realize that was just the Pill talking.  I think my vagina is an extrovert.

But here is where the Catch-22 happens: off the Pill I look like an oily teenager riddled with zits all over my chin.  I went out to lunch with my old PhD advisor the other day and — I swear this is true — when she saw me she screached, aghast, “What happened to your face!?” Uh, thanks. Good to see you again too. Yeah, so she lacks a certain tact, but I appreciate honesty. She told me I should go to the doctor immediately because something must be very wrong for me to have my chin boiling in huge puss-filled cysts. Sorry I have to use that verbiage, but I have to make it clear how disgusting my complexion gets.  Apparently that is me being off the Pill.  That is the trade-off. Libido or zits. Nobody wants to have sex with me when I remind them of Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles, but when I get that all cleared up on the Pill, I don’t want to have sex with anybody. Since I’m only allowed to have sex with one man, the world isn’t suffering, but we sure as hell are.  A conundrum, see?

So I relayed this information to my doctor recently. Her answer was Yaz. I was like, “Isn’t that the one for crazy people?” and she said, “Yeah, but it will clear up your skin. For God’s sake, you need it!” So I’ve been on it two weeks. Hmm.

Here are the pros:

  • relatively certain I won’t get knocked up because I don’t foresee sex happening ever again.
  • no new exploding painful zits on my chin.

Here are the cons:

  • relatively certain I am now completely asexual. ” This is bad, real bad. Michael Jackson.” – Kanye
  • relatively certain I have eaten several times today, but my body thinks I’m a lying SOB.
  • relatively certain I will gain 25 pounds by next week if I stay on this drug.
  • relatively certain I lost my mind at each of the 1745 slightest infractions by one of my dear, sweet, young insane children this last week. “Now I’m mad, real mad. Joe Jackson.” – Kanye

(Ooh. I’m excited!! Did you catch that? I just crossed the threshold of blogging where I describe all of my medical issues with prescription drugs in detail. YES!.  Now I just have to wait to be nominated for some type of blog award. I’m pretty sure I also have to be hella funnier and have more than 6 people read my blog too, but those are just technicalities. I have a prescription drug problem everybody – Put your hands up, ya’ll. Woot. Woot. Holla. Holla.)

So I will have to say “Hellz No!” instead of Hellz Yaz. But that puts me back at square one again. I have a bad feeling that zits and sex drive are linked to the surge in the same hormone.

Okay, dear Internet. It’s time to pull your weight and tell me which way to go on this – is it better to be un-pregnant, asexual and beautiful, or an un-pregnant whore with grotesque chin zits? And just to sweeten the pot, if you find a solution that allows me to be an un-pregnant beautiful sex kitten, I will send you the Oprah quote magnet featured here:

I have one of these on every magnetic surface in my home.  You can start your collection today, if you can solve my Conundrum of Epic Proportions.  I will also nominate you for a Genius Award, and who doesn’t want one of those?

Ah, crap. I have to go eat again.