Tag Archives: working mom

Love’s PhD Trilogy: Exodus

***if you are new to the trilogy, it started here.

Despite my grand illusions of who professors actually are and what they actually do (like screw around with undergrads and smoke pipes), my PhD experience wasn’t really all that I had hoped for. I liked all of my classes and I was doing fine, but the stress of having an advisor like Professor Dragon and the feeling that I would be railroaded into a field of study I didn’t even like became overwhelming. Not to mention that I was pretty sure that BD was probably getting tired of being a single father and I heard once that if your husband isn’t sleeping with you, he is likely sleeping with someone else. And I didn’t want him taking up with the cleaning lady because she wore thongs and I didn’t.

So we decided to take a romantic getaway to Napa. Because it would be nice to see each other and talk about something other than how Professor Dragon hates me or how I have to work the weekend or asking him to tell me stories about our son that was in bed by the time I got home. There were many days when I thought I had probably made a huge miscalculation about my fitness for academia, but I kind of suck at admitting when I’m wrong. And I’d already sunk almost two years into the thing, and I knew I was smart enough, so I just felt like there was no going back.

But thank God we were going to a place that was relatively warm and had wine, in abundance. I was so stoked to just drink wine all day, get loaded, have lots of conjugal relations and sleep in. It would be a great escape for three days and then it would be back to the salt mine. But we weren’t going to talk about my work this trip. We were just going to keep it light and have fun.

So off we went. Normally, I wouldn’t comment on the plane ride, because they are generally pretty boring.  Whenever we fly together, we always buy the aisle and the window in particular row, hoping nobody will buy the middle seat. I’m shocked how often this works. But alas, on this trip, some old dude did buy the middle seat, and I offered him the window and I took the middle so I could sit next to BD. The only thing more annoying than the person who buys the fucking middle seat is the person who wants to chat throughout the flight. I do my best not to ever talk to anyone ever on any plane because chances are that you will either fall in love with them or be stuck talking to them for the WHOLE FLIGHT about their god awful boring ass job or family (at least these are the only two scenarios that have ever played out in my life). Since I was already married, the first scenario would have been super awkward with BD sitting on the other side of me, which only left the latter option. And this was going to be a four hour flight, so I sure as hell wasn’t going to open up the lines of communication.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea how Old Balls Who Bought The Middle Seat managed to get me to respond to him. Perhaps he offered me a Take 5 or maybe it was a million dollars? I feel like those are the only two reasons I would decide to start talking to a stranger at the beginning of a fucking transcontinental flight. It was probably a Take 5 bar, because if it were a million dollars, I would remember that more vividly. But anyway, he started talking to me. I’m guessing after he gave me the Take 5 he said something really compelling like, “So….what brings you to San Francisco?” to which I would have rolled my eyes but felt obliged to reply through my very full mouth with teeth covered in chocolate, peanut butter, pretzel, caramel: “Spring break”.  Opening him up to asking where I went to school. And I look like I’m about 22 and this makes me salty sometimes because I really want to be taken seriously so badly that I went to get a PhD and I feel like I have to prove I’m old, so I said “I’m studying for my P.H.D. At [prestigious univeristy].” I thought this clever retort would make me sound super smart and important and he would look at me in awe and figure out how god damn important I was and shut the hell up and let me finish the candy bar that I feel sure he must have given me to talk to him in the first place.

“Oh yeah? What are you getting your PhD in?”. Fuck. Here we go.

“Marketing.”

“Oh. That’s a really growing area in business schools.” Love’s right eyebrow shoots up. Whaaat? He knows something about this? “I’m a business professor at [not a university I’d ever heard of] in Michigan. Boy, I remember my PhD days. What are you doing your dissertation on?”

“Um. I don’t really know yet. I’m just finishing up the coursework.”

“Ha! So you don’t even know what work is yet.”

“What?” He looks at BD and then at me.

“You guys have kids yet?”

“Yes. One. A two year old boy.”

“You ever see him?”

Suddenly the stale, recirculated air leaves the cabin and I feel like I just got sucker punched.
“Um. Well, its hard, but I mean, we make it work.”

“Ha!” He leans over me, taps BD on the knee and says to him, “If you think you don’t see her now, just wait until she starts her dissertation!”

I think BD was probably mad that I wound up talking to this guy, but it was too late now and we were both listening. So I said, “Finishing your dissertation was hard on you?”

“Brutal! Oh it took me a long time. That’s about the time I got hooked on amphetamines and started really abusing alcohol. It took me until I got tenure to realize I had a problem. That’s a lot of years. Actually that’s why I’m going out to San Francisco — to visit my AA sponsor. I’ve been clean for 12 years.”

“Um. Oh. Congratulations?”

“Thanks. Yeah, oh God I remember those days!! How could I forget? I was married back then too. But we got divorced right after I got my first job. I can’t blame her. I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Plus, I was never around. She left me for a guy at her gym. But I can’t blame her.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. On the one hand, I could already picture BD and I re-enacting this whole conversation as we snorted wine out our noses from laughing at how inappropriate the conversation was. On the other hand, holy shit.

“Well, I’m sure it will be fine.” I said, totally NOT sure it would be.

“Yes. I’m sure it will. It takes a really strong person to be married to an academic. We’re a rare breed. A lot of stress – very cut throat. It’s hard to think about anything else when you’re trying to publish and get tenure. It doesn’t end with the dissertation. You’re fooling yourself if you think it does. The stress. It just doesn’t end. You know, I used to teach at [prestigious university] but I took the job where I’m at now just to get out of the rat race. It’s the only way I could stay sober. And then I met a nice lady and got remarried now and life is pretty sweet.”

That’s about the time when BD and I asked the stewardess for two little Jack Daniels bottles and a diet Coke. It probably wasn’t that respectful to our new friend, the talky-talky-jaded-alcoholic-recovering-drug addict-oversharing business professor Old Balls sitting next to us, but the stuff he was saying was scaring the shit out me, and the only coping mechanism that always works is drinking myself into a stupor. Oh wait….shit. Was I going to be an alcoholic soon too? I have never done amphetamines that I’m aware of, but was I just a dissertation away from that and a divorce too? I mean FUCK. I was already miserable. Was it only going to get worse?

So I told the guy I was really happy for his sobriety and I hope he had a good time in San Francisco, but I really needed to sleep because I hadn’t done that in a while. And as I was switching on my iPod to drown in my self-defeating thoughts, he says, “Ha!…Get your sleep! Do it now while you still can! They don’t just give PhDs away at [your university]!”

Eh. Heh heh? Shut up shut up shut up shut up, Old Balls! I never should have taken candy from a stranger. Here is this living, breathing person sitting next to me basically embodying my every fear in the world about what I was doing. Of all the fucking flights on all the fucking days, this mother fucker is the guy who sits next to me.

But wait…was this a sign? Was this my angel punching me in the face so that I would finally listen to what she’d been telling me for months? I can’t quit! Can I? Should I? I mean, what the fuck am I doing? I could get a great job with my MBA – I don’t need this to have a job. I don’t really need this for anything, except to stroke my obnoxious ego. If I keep going down this road, I’m going to be fucking miserable as a professor. I don’t like to do experiments! I like thinking of questions, but I’d rather have someone else tell me the answer. I don’t like doing lit reviews! I don’t like writing and re-writing the same damn paper 653 times just so some other PhD asshole can tear me a new one. I think I might like teaching, but I’ve never done it and maybe I would suck or I would hate that too. What the fuck am I DOING?

That is what was going through my head for the last two hours of the flight. But BD was going to kill me if I told him I wanted to quit. We had invested too much. So we got to our hotel and then went out to a Chevy’s or something like that for lunch and just as the nachos came, we looked at each other and BD said, “So that dude? On the plane? What did you think of that?”
“Um. Interesting, I guess.” I tried to be coy.
“I mean, what the fuck?” he said.
“Yeah.” I said. Silence.
We looked each other in the eyes for the first time in I don’t know how long.
Then I said it. “I can’t do this. I need to be done with this.”
To which, to my shock and relief and delight he replied, “I agree.”

And that was that. It was over. Thanks Old Balls!! We decided by the time the check came that I only had a quarter left to finish up classes and that I should do that and get the hell out of dodge. Just be ABD (all but dissertation). Forever.

We talked about the possibilities in our new life: we could have another kid! And financial security! And stay in Chicago! And have sex once in a while! And time at the park with our little boy that wasn’t full of guilt and tension! We could be free.  Free at last.  I didn’t realize how miserable I was until I could imagine what freedom from the anxiety and stress would feel like.

And that, my Internet friends, is the story of how I became a PhD school dropout.

**********If your eyes are tired or you’re bored, you should stop here, but for those of you hanging on every word, there is a shocking epilogue I just can’t leave out:

When I got back to school the following week, I announced my decision to my cohort. They thought I went crazy. They tried to tell me it was just miserable because Professor Dragon was mean, and maybe I should just get another advisor. But I knew it wasn’t her. Sure, she wasn’t an easy person to deal with, but it was me. I just wasn’t built to be an academic. Most of the other people in my cohort are. They’re the genuine article. Me? I’m something else. I’m a smart-ass, potty mouth blogger/US Weekly subscriber/Oprah Winfrey stalker. That’s my niche. That’s what I’m REALLY good at.

Word of my decision traveled fast and even Professor Bourbon – all the way from his new University – gave me a call to encourage me not to give up. He conceded that the academic world was full of assholes, but that it also had its bright spots. He told me if I could just hang in there and get the PhD, he’d give me a job and we could work together again, with normal people. Because he was only hiring people who were cool. But as tempting as that was, I know he is also the genuine article. Somebody born to be an academic. I was just faking it and he’d know it and then one day he would stop having me into his lair for chats because I was unproductive and I would lose the respect of a person who I loved to death. So I was resolved. I had to quit.

But I also had to tell Professor Dragon before she found out from someone else. I was at once completely ecstatic and scared to death of telling her I was quitting. I felt like when I told her, her head might spin 720 degrees and then she would shoot fire out of her eyes and nose and my hair would be totally singed off and that would suck for me in job interviews. I’m no Sinead.  At the same time, whatever she did, whatever she said, it just didn’t matter anymore. Because I was free.

So I go into her office with some flame retardant clothes and our conversation begins to take the normal course where she starts off kind of like she cares whats going on in my life, but then she’ll explain its only because she is trying to understand why I suck so bad. So I told her that I had a great vacation and I decided that academia wasn’t for me and that I was going to finish up my classes and finish being her research assistant and I was leaving the program in June. I was going to get a job. Probably back in sales. Thanks for everything, yada, yada, yada.

To which she replies, completely calmly, “Don’t be silly. You just came back from vacation and you’re thinking strange. Now go edit this paper, because I’m not satisfied with the lit review.  I don’t want to hear another word about this until you’ve had some time to think.”

Um. I just quit. It wasn’t a question. It was a fact. But I was quickly shoo’d out of her office and I got back to the PhD room where my cohort was waiting. I think they were as surprised as I was that I emerged from her office with hair and no visible third-degree burns.  “WHAT DID SHE SAY!?” I had to explain that though I had quit in no uncertain terms, in Professor Dragon’s world, I had simply said something crazy and that was probably the direct result of sunshine on vacation, or because I’m a moron, and if I just got used to the flourescent lighting of the business building again, I might come to my senses. Basically, she did this neat move where I tried to quit, but she didn’t really let me. There is very little drama, or satisfaction, in that.

So I worked for her for another three months. We did not discuss my pending departure. In the meantime, I filled out all the necessary paperwork to drop out and they were kind enough to give me another Masters degree as a parting gift. It’s no PhD, but two Masters degrees are cool. I could live with that.

A week before leaving, I finally reminded Professor Dragon that I was leaving. She told me that she wished I would reconsider, but she understood. And THEN — wait for it —- she planned. a fucking. party. for me. I shit you not. She pulled out all the stops and ordered in great Chinese and desserts and everything.  It was a feast the likes of which mine graduate student eyes had never seen, except for when they were recruiting the top PhD talent and we could come in later for the leftovers. Not only that, but it was a complete surprise to me. She kept asking me to come in to get some papers one day and I was like oh hellz no! and she kept insisting and I kept coming up with excuses until she was finally like “Fine. I am having a party in your honor today for all the hard work you’ve done. I hope you can come.” The fuck? And it gets even better – at the party she gets up and gives a short speech to all professors and students who came wherein, with tears streaming down her face, she said I was a wonderful person and student and that she would really miss me and that I could come back any time if I changed my mind.  I felt like somehow the time-space continuum bended and I found myself in an alternate universe called “opposite day”.

I had no idea until that point that she didn’t think I was the very worst student that she’d ever worked with in her entire life and that I hadn’t totally dishonored her by quitting. But she was more than cool on that last day, and I salute her, for throwing me a party after chasing me out of a profession I was never cut out for anyway. I have forgiven her for being from Hong Kong and showing me the kind of Chinese love that in an American context is generally experienced as torture. Now we’re tight. We still talk occasionally and I have nothing but love for her.

After that I got a job, my first son started understanding what a “mom” was, along came Baby #2 and BD and I are still married and I’m pretty sure I’m not technically an alcoholic. In other words:

THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

If you actually read this whole post and this whole quadlogy , you deserve a medal. Or a Masters degree of some sort.  You might even want to consider a PhD….

Cheers!

Advertisements

Love’s PhD Trilogy: Judges

Okay, so I decide to get a PhD from a top program and then I get accepted to said program, even though I was about to have a kid and getting a PhD with kids is like climbing Everest with kids. I’m not sure anybody has ever done it.  Everest with kids, that is.  But that isn’t a totally fair metaphor. Because people have earned PhDs with kids – it just that they are mostly the men that didn’t give birth to those kids and it didn’t come without cost.  This became kind of apparent, kind of early on.  But I’m not making excuses, because people do it. It gets done. And it was my plan to be one of them.

As I looked around on my orientation day at the 6 people who were to be my cohort I was kind of comforted. First, they looked normal.  Second, no douchebags. Finally, I could understand all but one of them when they spoke.  Plus, there were five women and two men. The feminist in me had my hands in the air just like Miley – noddin’ my head like yeah, movin’ my hips like yeah. (Please let the record reflect I had this move WAY before Miley’s song and I do not condone references to Miley Cyrus songs. Ever. Except when you were already doing that shit when she was nine and you I want credit because I deserve it, dammit.). But I think all that movement freaked some of them out because my very large, protruding pregnant belly wasn’t making it cool. It kind of looked like maybe I had gas or I might go into labor.  I eventually stopped so the men wouldn’t pass out.  But there was one thing that stood out — I was the only person married and the only one who was going to have a kid when we started.

Two of the women just graduated from undergrad, so they were like 22.  And then there were four of us who tried the whole working for a living thing and decided to go back to school and then there was another woman from China. She didn’t speak English all that well, so I don’t know what her story was.  All I know is that she moved here from China for the program and she had this Chinese boyfriend that followed her around everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean he actually would follow her into our seminars. You know, where the 7 of us were learning how to be smart and he would just come along and sit down like he was in the class. It got so weird because at some point he was volunteering to present papers to the class and it was like, “Dude!? You aren’t even in the program. And you don’t speak English. The fuck?” but Google translator doesn’t really do a good job putting that into Mandarin.  So he kind of just hung around and while his girlfriend slept through the seminars, and he took notes and we all looked at him like “WTF?”. I don’t think the look needed to be translated. I’m guessing it was the same in China as it is here.

The least he could have done was solved the Rubik’s cube for us, but he never did.  Probably our fault for not bringing one.  But he eventually was told to get a life by the faculty and she eventually wound up getting kicked out because unfortunately she wrote English worse than she spoke it, and then there was that little problem she had with narcolepsy. When you’re in a class with 7 people and one prof who holds your future in his hands, you don’t fucking sleep through it.

I digress –  I need to stop talking about my cohort, who I  love to death because they did humor me and talk about US Weekly with me and Oprah and they are way cooler and way smarter than me, which is the kind of company I like to keep. And now they are all PhDs and professors and prestigious universities across the country and abroad, so I don’t want give their students any fodder for ridicule. No – lets just talk about fodder you can use to ridicule me.

I wanted Professor Bourbon to be my advisor.  I took some of his courses as an MBA and most of my peers found his class super strange and abstract and not applicable to being an investment banker, so they didn’t like it. But I thought he and his work rocked. He was really an anthropologist by training and the stuff he did research on was fascinating.  He was kind of a hippie at heart, but still he dressed in tweed sports coats with little corduroy patches, so we had a shared sense of fashion.  And his office was like this really dark, cozy lair because all of the walls and windows were covered floor to ceiling with books.  He told us once he read 10 books a week – and that was just fun stuff. Not the stuff for work. Oh yeah, and he was so nice about me getting preggers and all.  So see? He was pure awesomeness.

So the program requires you to take two years of seminars on marketing research and stats and math and psychology and sociology and all kinds of fun stuff, but at the same time you’re also supposed to figure out what kind of research you are drawn to so you can have a dissertation topic at the end of the two years, that you will spend the next 3 to 4 writing.  In the meantime, you have to write papers for faculty review to start your big career as an academic researcher.  Unfortunately for me, I’m the type of person who likes to be a user of knowledge, not a creator of it.  And unfortunately, it turns out that in order for professors to keep their jobs, they have to create knowledge in the form of research that gets published in journals that only about 40 people read, and those are the 40 that publish in that journal and they don’t really want anybody else to publish in their little journal.  So when you submit a paper, they read it and tell you in very academic language that you suck and hope you fail miserably in life and reject your paper.  And then you cry and get over it and try to kiss their ass until one of them will let you write a paper and put their name on it and then they’ll let you in their journal.  Apparently teaching and facilitating panels of CEOs is just what they do on the side and counts for nothing as far as their career goes.  Yep. Didn’t really know that before I signed up.

But no matter – Professor Bourbon inspired me. Compared to other academics, he was like the man version of Mother Teresa.  He didn’t seem to get the same glee that his peers did in humiliating his students and working them to the brink of a mental breakdown. At the same time, he didn’t coddle. He just told you that you sucked in a really nice way, without using the terms “suck”, “ludicrous”, “trivial”, “excrement”, or “fuck you” and then encouraged you to do it all over with some helpful suggestions, but you left feeling like you still wanted to live instead of hanging yourself, which is about the best feeling you can hope for as a PhD student.  Other professors would be more likely to yell at you for wasting their time even reading the drivel you spent that last three months on.  Then they would set it on fire in front of you and spit in your face.  Okay, no. They didn’t do that, but you could tell they would if they had a lighter and if their desks weren’t so wide.

So after my first year I was going to declare Professor Bourbon as my advisor when, quite out of nowhere and suddenly, he resigned. He got an offer at his alma mater to be chair of the department and he probably was sick of the assholes he had to be around at my school and he left.  And the school he went to didn’t have a PhD program. And he couldn’t be my advisor. And my blissful PhD world came to a screeching halt.  He was leaving me? Noooooooooooo! It’s not FAIR!! I kind of had a mental breakdown about it, but it didn’t change anything. I was S.O.L. Nothing I could do.

So I had to find another advisor.  I surveyed that landscape and there was one other Professor I had as an MBA that seemed to like me alright and I liked her when she taught me back then.  Lets call her Professor Dragon.  She did completely different research than Professor Bourbon and she was very, very good and well-respected for her contributions, but none of it really interested me.  But beggars can’t be choosers.  And I knew if I could work with her, I’d be learning from the best in her field and I’d get stuff published. Plus, she said she’d work with me. So.

But after my first couple of months as her advisee, I began losing my grip on my will to live. I started working 70+ hours because no matter what I did, it was never good enough.  Professor Dragon was born and raised in Hong Kong.  She came from a culture where if you like someone, you tell them that you hate them, because that will make them stronger.  So on a daily basis I would walk into work and she would ask how my son was, and then she’d ask what I had done lately and then she said it wasn’t enough and my ideas were lame and maybe I wasn’t serious and that she was disappointed and maybe I needed to try harder or maybe this wasn’t for me and I was embarrassing her and she didn’t want my loser ass dragging her down. This is actually how she showed her love — the students she didn’t like, she just ignored completely. But her love kind of felt like hate to me most days.

It got to the point that for the Saturdays when I was physically at home, my thoughts were still at work and I would feel guilty for bringing my son to the park because I had so much work to do. BD was doing all of the cooking and cleaning and childcare when he wasn’t at work.  I never thought I’d win a Mom award, but I suddenly realized at some point that I was probably in contention for Worst Mom and Wife Award.  But I wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t going to break because I could do this. Plus, my husband wasn’t going to let me because of all we’d sacrificed for this and plus, it was only going to be three or four more years of torture. I could probably endure it, right? I mean, I bet Dr. Phil had to pay his dues before Oprah gave him his own show.  I just had to be Dr. Phil and suck it up and get through it.  It’s not like everybody else in my cohort was on easy street. Then again, it wasn’t like anyone else in my cohort was married with a kid either.

One thing I noticed almost immediately when I started was that every single one of the tenured professors in my department were on their second or third marriages. They’d all lost their first spouses early in their career when they were working like dogs to get tenure.  It wasn’t long before I could feel myself getting on exactly the same track.  Somehow this fun “game” of mine – to get the PhD — had higher stakes than I’d ever imagined.  With this new lifestyle, more kids were out of the question for us.  We always wanted a bunch, but I had no time and no money and the situation wasn’t just temporary — there was no logical time that having other kids would make sense until after I got tenure, which would put me about about 40 – best case scenario.  So here I was in Year 2 of my bright, shiny dream to be a bonafide intellectual with papers to prove it and my advisor apparently thought I was a fucking moron and I was convinced she was right about that.

Wow! So my big, beautiful dream had turned into a nightmare and I wasn’t sure I could find a way to earn three new little letters at the end of my name without losing those three little cherished letters at the beginning of it, namely MRS.

For spring break of my second year in the PhD program, BD and I left the baby with my parents and we escaped to Napa Valley for a weekend.  Just to get away and to spend some meaningful time together  getting drunk having fun, which happened very seldomly at that point.

The life changing plane ride that happened next was kind of a small miracle and will be revealed in Love’s PhD Trilogy*: Exodus.

*Yeah, I know this is the third installment and I’m telling you there will be a fourth and it’s only supposed to be a trilogy, but they don’t have a word for a four part series, so what am I supposed to do? Blame the person responsible for making up words like “irregardless” and “moist” instead of a more valuable term like “quadlogy”.

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

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!

If you were to tell me that I’m a mother of two, I wouldn’t believe you

I wouldn’t. And yet, the facts show that I am indeed a mother of two. I even have a muffin top that I swear at every day to remind me of this fact, and yet…

Moms are supposed to be responsible, mature and organized.  I am none of these.

Moms are supposed to know how to cook, make scrapbook thingies and keep their kids’ faces clean. Umm…no on all three counts at my house.

Moms don’t let their kids watch too much TV, listen to inappropriate music or play outside by themselves. My kids have seen every episode of Scooby-Doo ever created, can sing every word to both Kanye’s and The Killers latest albums and I’ve had my 2 year old returned to me no less than three times by a mother who does supervise her children.  (I should note that I wouldn’t have let the two year old out by himself on purpose, but he escapes a lot while I’m checking Facebook or watching Oprah. It’s a conundrum.)

Moms with careers are always talking about feeling guilty that their kids are at daycare. I rejoice because I know I am doing them a favor by working. Their daycare is 100% more safe, fun and educational than their time at home with me.

Moms aren’t supposed to bring their kids to McDonalds more than 4 times a year. They are supposed to feed them homemade, organic foods and shop for earth conscious toys.  The bulk of my children’s toys came out of Happy Meals, which I purchase an average of twice a week for them. I am madly in love with the McDonalds #2 meal and whatever addictive drug they put in the Diet Coke, so I feel a compulsion to go there whenever I’m feeling elated or anxious or happy or sad or lazy. Which covers most days. So the fact we only go twice a week kind of makes me a martyr for my children’s health.

Moms know which way they are supposed to go in the school parking lot and whether their kids are legally required to get vision tests before kindergarten and they dress their kids cutely and/or appropriately for school.  Can I just tell you – my five year old picks out his own clothes, which I buy in bulk from eBay because stores confuse me, so nothing generally matches and there are always a few things in there that I wouldn’t have paid for any day of the week, like the oversized dork dark purple T-shirt with this sci-fi D&D dragon on it in neon colors. Its something Napoleon Dynamite would have salivated over, and would get my son justifiably jacked by a posse of 8 year olds for wearing if he were eight, but at five he adores it and insists on wearing it with red and black wind pants. Which don’t match. At all.

I try not to photograph my children when they look like this to save them a little money in future therapy sessions and so I can look back when I’m old and make up stories about what a good mother I was, but I’m sure the other mothers at school are thinking “WTH is the matter with that kid’s mother?” (not WTF, because I’m convinced I’m the only mother whose thought bubbles must always include an F-bomb).  I know I would be thinking that about me if I were them.  But as you know, I’m a lover, not a fighter.  So as long as he has clothes on of any kind and we’re out the door on time to give me the extra 20 minutes I require to navigate the school’s fucking traffic pattern and catch my train, I’m not going to complain.

Moms are also supposed to edit their thoughts around their children. If a four year old asks, “Mom, what is a terrorist?” because he is listening a little too closely to NPR, a good mom says “Oh, honey. Don’t worry about that. Lets go to the farmers market and get some delicious organic beets!”  I go into a 20 minute lecture about who terrorists are, which depending on your religion and politics, could be just about anybody and cite examples from September 11, which of course, he wasn’t even alive for.  I’m sure my 5 year old knows more about war, prisons, and the criminal justice system than any kid his age. If he asks an intelligent question, I give him a totally age inappropriate, (hopefully) intelligent answer, like we’re in a masters political science program together. The other day while he and the neighbor kids were playing cops and robbers, I hear my son protest as he’s being brought to the jail in the backyard:  “COPS don’t decide if robbers go to jail! The JUDGE decides that! And probably the robber’s lawyer will say hes not guilty so it could take forever to figure out if he is going to jail!  I can get out on bail you know!” That almost got him beaten up, but it made my day. Someone in my house listens to me.

I’m just nothing like a person who fits my description of an appropriate mom.  I’m not like my mom and I get the feeling I’m very little like the other moms I regularly crash into every morning in the school parking lot.  Even blogging moms – they have mouths as dirty as mine – but I get lost in all the talk over prescription drug abuse. I have no idea what Xanax or Vicodin or Percocet are — but I hear about them all the time.  From what I gather, they must be sweet. But I’m a weird mom, so I don’t even have an prescription drug addiction worth noting.

So I come up short a lot. And I find myself gasping sometimes when I tell myself, “Love, these kids have only one mother. And that is you. That’s pretty wack.” To which I answer, “I know, RIGHT?” to which I then reply, “Poor kids”.  And then I say a prayer for them and start writing a new blog to try and forget the sorrow I feel for them that they didn’t get one of the totally normal moms.

On the other hand, the kids do have a few things going for them because of the mom they have:

1) If there is ever a b-boy competition in kindergarten, all of the hours my son spends watching ABDC on TiVo and having me rate his performance (pa-fo-mince) with spot-on impressions of Mario Lopez, Lil’ Mama, Shane Sparks and J.C. Chasez, will pay off and he will totally win. (“YO! That was so DOPE! Can I get a slow mo on dat?!”)

2) When the plague comes around again, my kids will survive — and thrive– because there isn’t a germ they haven’t picked up in daycare, or school,  or from a 4 day old discarded half-eaten cheeseburger that they finished off after finding it on the ground in the park.  Seriously, bubonic plague — bring it on.

3) I posted an excruciatingly long video on YouTube for my family blog of my toddler son “playing” the guitar and singing his own made up songs which inexplicably has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and which advertisers now want to pay us for.  So I know how to pimp out my kids so that they can go to college.

4) Each of my sons will be happily married. I find it hard to believe that they could marry anybody who, when compared to their mom,  will not blow them away with her mad skills in any culinary, cleaning, or child care domain. I think I’ve set the bar low enough that if she knows how to make any meal from ingredients that do not come directly from a box, they’ll commit the rest of their lives to worship her.  And the best marriages are those wherein the men are easily satisfied and worship their wives.

5) They’ll never doubt how much they are loved.  One thing I do excel at is telling them how much I adore them, how incredibly special they are and showering them with hugs and kisses.  I do that well. Because I can’t help it. And because they’re awesome  — even if they are single-handedly responsible for this goddamn muffin top.

I did not breastfeed my babies because I don’t really love them

…and also I wanted them to have lower IQs than all of the carefully breastfed, loved kids.

I think that you are reading the blog of the only upper middle class, well educated, white woman who did not even try to breastfeed. Wow. That didn’t take long – I can already feel the judgment, and the blind rage that I am so despicable to my children!  I know you think I’m unfit.  Maybe I am.  Did I tell you that I let my 2 year old drink a juice box once in awhile? Yeah. Didn’t even water it down. And while I’m airing all my dirty laundry, the yogurt I feed them isn’t organic, nor is it sugar free. Its the Yoplait kind. That adults buy. And they watch TV. Everyday. And sometimes I lose my shit and yell at them. Okay and sometimes I pretend its their bedtime an hour earlier than it actually is.   So I’m not going to be on the cover of any parenting magazines soon. But Oprah didn’t breastfeed either, so I’m still holding out hope for a shot at “O”.  I’m just lucky that the La Leche League hasn’t made it a federal crime not to breastfeed.

I know a lot of women that wanted desperately to breastfeed their children and then for whatever reason it didn’t work out much to their horror and chagrin.  You know exactly who these women are because they will immediately tell you all of the medical reasons it was impossible and apologize incessantly for their failures as a person and a mother, but they just want to make sure you don’t think they are one of those terrible mothers that would actually feed their babies formula on purpose. Like me.  I fed my babies formula because I just didn’t love them that much and I was hoping that if they were born with any native intelligence, this would make it disappear instantaneously.  And because I don’t love them. Have I said that yet?

Let the record reflect that I respect women who love their children/breastfeed them. There is a lot of fuzzy science research and good, documented reasons to go that route.  Except if that “baby” is four fucking years old. That is disgusting and yes, I will sign the petition making that a federal crime. Twice the penalty if they pull it out in public and lift up their shirt so their four year old can feed as he fondles his transformer.

But I’m not really that judge-y. Really. Not like you. Who hates me because my kids that you don’t know and will never know didn’t suck on my little sad boobs.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about breastfeeding. I made a little pros and cons list.  It went as follows:

Pros of breastfeeding:

  • Big boobs (finally!)
  • Elite playgroups will invite me to join, despite the fact I work full time. Maybe. Wait – that may be a con.
  • My children will be 8 or 34 times smarter, 90 times healthier and 637 times more loved than they will be if they take infant formula from a bottle.

Cons of breastfeeding:

  • Another hungry human (that will eventually get teeth) will want to suck on my boob all. the. fucking. time. this includes 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am. All hours that I am very unpleasant to be with, if awake.
  • My babies might get hungry in public.
  • I might have to whip it out and have that smug look on my face as everybody notices my boob hanging out at the mall and I’ll feel all righteous that they are so ignorant not to rejoice in nature and give me a special breastfeeding bench to show off what a good mother I am.
  • BD gets off scott free. Isn’t 40 weeks of being hormonal and fat and peeing all the time and having indigestion and people commenting “are you sure you’re not having TWINS” and giving up alcohol and sushi enough sacrifice for one person? Oh yes, and then there is the pleasantness of delivery. Shouldn’t a father be given an opportunity to do penance for all the crap I had to endure ease the burden and bond early with his new baby?
  • I will be bitter and angry at all times.
  • If I want to go anywhere by myself,  I’ll have to carry around a big backpack and hook up myself up to a loud machine with big suction cups, that looks like a medieval torture device to pump out milk that I’ll fret about keeping chilly. And then clean the whole damn thing when I get home.
  • And hate my life.
  • And my husband.
  • And secretly think that this “mom thing” is a pain in the ass.

So my favorite kind of women are the ones that figure out what is best for themselves and their kids.  They don’t worry about what me and my kids are doing, because it doesn’t make one fucking bit of difference to their lives whether I breastfed my kids or not.  And I know this might be hard to believe, but I do love my kids.  Honestly. Really. And myself too except when battling an excruciatingly large stress zit.

So regular breastfeeding moms, I love you. Judgy breastfeeding moms, I love you, albeit a lot less than the others. Don’t worry Oprah – I didn’t forget about you. I love you too.  Formula feeding moms that would have preferred to breastfeed, stop apologizing. You’re cool. Formula feeding as a first choice moms — I’ll see you in hell. But its best if we all stop judging and become friends although we all know that will never happen – because lets face it – we are all total experts at raising children and we know a bad mom when we see one.

So I won’t judge you even though I really want to. Oh wait, there is a caveat. I will mercilessly judge any person pulling the whole whipping-out-a-boob-in-a-public-place-to-feed-large-children-old-enough-to-have-mastered-the-monkey-bars. Yes. I have witnessed this. Yes. When I got over the shock and awe of it I threw up in my mouth a little. Yes. I have been scarred for life. Yes. I guess I’m judgy. Yes. These people are fucking nuts. But I will practice compassion for these women because I am forever grateful to them for not inviting me to their playgroup.