In Which We Revisit the Concept That, Just Because You Weren’t Born to be a Mom, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Get Knocked Up
I’ve probably told you this story before, but, you know, I’m kind of notorious for that.
So, before I had a baby, my only experience with one was babysitting for a family who, fortunately, never figured out that, every time they left the house, I put their little cry machine in its bed so it could exhaust itself by screaming until it passed out - hopefully before I was done raiding the fridge. The sound of babycries totally spoils one’s appetite, which is why I understand when people are pissed when their fellow restaurant-goers bring one to dinner like it’s just another person.
When I was pregnant, every time I confessed to my utter lack of relevant experience to qualify me for the position of Mom, everyone told me not to worry; that, the first time I held my baby, I would fall totally in love and not ever want to party, go to work or even have my old vagina back again. I’m guessing that whoever who told me this didn’t even come close to sharing my enthusiasm for having fun, making money and having a lot to offer in the no-no square department due to a great deal of personality flaws.
Don’t get me wrong: I DID fall in love with my son the first time I held him, and I like dandling him on my knee and other stuff that people with babies are into. However, by no means did making a baby turn me into a different person, which is the way I was told that these things happen.
I can’t be the only mom like this. In fact, I know I’m not: one of my friends told me just the other day that she didn’t feel bonded with her daughter until she was about 6 months old. And, when I say, “like this,” I don’t mean the kind of parent that blows cracksmoke in their child’s face; I just mean women who don’t really have that, you know, mom thing. And just because it doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean that we suck at being moms.
Maybe it’s not the best example, but, when speaking about a helicopter mom in one of her memoirs, Chelsea Handler says, "[She] was the antithesis of my mother. There was more adult supervision at the Neverland Ranch than there was in my house growing up. When, a week before my fourth birthday, my parents told me to play my own birthday party - I knew I was pretty much on my own." You may disagree, but I think that anyone capable of writing My Horizontal Life turned out pretty great.
The bottom line here is that, if you don’t have some kind of knee-jerk reflex that makes you want to turn on Disney Jr. or sing lullabies or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent. As someone who marches almost every noise-making toy given to my child by well-meaning family members right back to WalMart to trade for store credit to buy underwear so I don’t have to do laundry OR listen to the same terrible song eleventybillion times this week, though, I guess my opinion might be a little biased.
Not Quite Divorce, or Rebirth by Force
This probably isn’t the kind of thing you’re supposed to talk about on the internet. When you post publicly about what your vagina is up to at least twice a week, though, you sort of lose your bearings when it comes to this shit.
Tomorrow will mark a month since my partner and I separated. An anniversary, I suppose, of sorts. We didn’t even celebrate the anniversary of the day we met this year, so, what the hell? Let’s reminisce now. I think I’m going to need a drink, anyway.
Anyone who passes on getting married in order to avoid the pain of divorce might as well go ahead and trot on down the aisle, because, listen, kids, I’ve been divorced before, and this separation has sucked insurmountably harder. I never understood, before, when people would say that a divorce is like a death, but, now, I do. Our family was its own entity. Like, you know, the holy trinity, without the holy part. I’m not sure when he disengaged himself from us. I couldn’t tell you the first day I got the sick feeling that there was a stranger in my bed (and not in the good way). But I doubt I’ll ever forget the exact day that he told me to take our son and leave.
This isn’t exactly one of those things you plan for, and, so, of course, it happened at the worst possible time in the history of worst possible times. The unemployment I’ve collected since losing my job is cool and all, but I wasn’t exactly putting a little back every week into my Divorce Fund. So, I’m sitting now at my mom’s, one eye on Graham and the other on job and apartment listings, with a broken-down car in the driveway. Broken car, broken family, broken heart. But, if divorce is death, then it must also be birth. Every ending is, after all, a beginning, and, as any woman who has given birth will tell you, it never comes without pain, no matter how many times you push the button to put more pain meds in your spine (which I still think is not actually connected to anything other than your OB’s desire to shut you up).
Everyone wants to know what’s next for us. Is this permanent? Have you “given up?” I don’t have any answers. As with any loss, I needed time to grieve. I took a month - a month of wondering how the hell I was supposed to eat; to shower; to get out of bed in the morning; to take another breath. But, when you have a child who depends on you, you don’t have the luxury of not doing these things. You have to figure it out, and fast. Now, it’s time to figure out the bigger things. I didn’t choose to start over, but how I do it is entirely up to me, and I’m gonna make this look GOOD (Men in Black-style; say it with me). Stay tuned in, internets. This could get scandalous.
So, Jesus, Tampax Lied; My Period is So Not Happy
Dear Lord Sweet Baby King Jesus,
I’m not the type to ask for supernatural assistance every time my neighbor’s great aunt stubs her toe, but, today, I have a request.
Just because I’m not a big supplicator doesn’t mean that I’m not up-to-speed on shit. I know, for instance, that, according to Mark 5, verses 25-34, your impressive miracle repertoire includes, shall we say, the ability to dry up the red sea. Get it? Anyway, I know that, on every other occasion on which we have spoken in the past few years (omitting all the times I was like, “PLEASE JESUS PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEASE DON’T LET THEM CALL OUT THE DRUG DOGS”), I’ve asked for pretty much the opposite of this, but, this time, I’m going to have to ask you to work a Mark 5:24-36 on me. Like, stat, because, even though Shark Week just started today, it already feels like Shark ETERNITY.
I’m not very particular about the method by which you go about alleviating my menstrual misery. Even early onset of menopause, for instance, would be totes acceptable. There’s only one exception I’m going to have to ask you to make: whatever you do, don’t conjure up a pregnancy in order to call off this month’s period. I know you pride yourself in your sense of humor, and that this is just the kind of thing you’d find hilaaarious, but, trust me, it would really be kinda tacky. Besides, you need to save all your fertility spells for Beyonce.
If you choose to do me a solid here (and I think you should, because, per the aforementioned passage in the Gospel According to Mark, you dig impure women), I so promise that I will consider going to church. Really! Just not until the cramps have fully abated. A girl can only endure so much torture in one day.
So, good luck, and don’t fuck it up, or whatever your followers tend to end a prayer with, Amen.
I was having an awesome eyelash day, yesterday. Like, stupid, too-good-to-be-true good. Good eyelash days are far better than good hair days, because, if your hair looks like a small family of rats has recently taken up residence within its matted strands, you can always wear a hat or a scarf or something. They don’t make hats for eyelashes. Fortunately, yesterday, mine didn’t need one.
I’m calling this one: “Things You Can Do When You’re Unemployed.” In addition to afternoon drinking, obvs.
Behold: the results of donating plasma, as seen on my right arm. This is the same arm, which, as you may recall, was abused last Thursday by an incompetent phlebotomist. Much as I’d like to give this dude a pass by assuming that Octopharma’s employees suffer from low morale due to less-than-competitive wages, resulting in work performance that looks like, you know, my arm, I’m pretty sure that’s not the problem. Given the fact that a second phlebotomist came to my rescue and drew blood from my left arm with technical proficiency that would’ve made a robot feel inferior, I’m pretty sure that the maiming of my right arm was done by an individual who is also known as as That Guy Who Definitely Smokes Something Before Work, But We Can’t Figure Out What.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an experience I’m happy to tuck under my belt, especially since the $30 I made bought me a fat bottle of wine and several new additions to my job interview wardrobe at Goodwill (I’ll wear your granddad’s clooothes), where I also found a ribbed tank so gorious, I believe that its fibers were cured in Jesus’ tears before it was sewn together. Behold!
Donating plasma is just of the many activities that I didn’t have time to participate in before losing the extra weight of my fundie Christian boss who did stupid fundie Christian shit like never missing an opportunity to bring any actual work that might be taking place to a screeching halt in order to correct any employee who dared to shorten “Christmas” to “Xmas.”
During my time of unemployment, for instance, I have not had to turn one pair of underwear inside-out because I’d run out of clean ones for lack of laundry-doing. I’ve prepared home-cooked meals for my family. I have maintained trimmed and styled hair (you would not believe how phenomenal it looks when I actually brush it). I’ve developed an exceptionally-close bond with all the pets in the house. I have even whitened my teeth with something other than Photoshop. Best of all, though: I have the selfies to prove it. Shall we?
I am not ashamed to admit that I have also taken two of the greatest photos of my butt that have ever turned my cell phone into a liability. I wouldn’t be ashamed to post them, either, but what little propriety I possess is standing in my way. I know; I’m a little surprised, too.
Colorized Bettie Page beautiful backside. Original here.
I Donated Plasma (and Possibly Some of My Dignity)
As you may have heard (or not, whatever, you know now), I have been spending what are typically my working hours at home now for a few weeks, searching for new and more gainful employment. Not being bound to a desk all day by this invisible chain called a paycheck, I’ve spent my time producing more delicious but very possibly (say it with me) diabeetus-inducing home-cooked meals, and fewer blog entries. Just in case you were wondering.
I guess we’re a fortunate little lower-middle class family, because, with his job, B has been able to keep us afloat and even pay for a few weeks of daycare in the name of an uninterrupted job search for Mandy. Unfortunately, though, this tragic (shut up, it IS tragic to me) budget squeeze has required us to cut back to the necessities - and I think we all know how I feel about necessities. Unless I get to define them, you know, but, as the only person in our home who prefers wine to three square meals, AND the one without a job, I’m pretty much SOL on this occasion. So, today, I decided to give back a little by donating plasma for some extra
beer money cash.
From the jump, I felt a little slighted by the fact that I would receive a smaller sorry-we-stole-part-of-your-blood compensation package than my fellow donors who were lucky enough to weigh over 150 pounds (THE HUMANITY!) would be given. I wasn’t too unhappy with the amount they gave to people who can’t help that they’re small dammit, so I moved along with the process.
No one has ever had trouble accessing my veins. I’m not saying those little blood subways are EASY, but they don’t typically object to being poked, either, if you get my drift winkety wink wink. Today, though, of all days, when we actually stood to make some money instead of losing it to a doctor, my veins suddenly developed some dignity and retreated far beneath my armskin to sulk and refuse to come out and play. Or, you know, maybe the phlebotomist sucked. Either way, they plunged the needle what turned out to be way too far into my right arm, took only half of what they needed before it was tapped out, and had to stick me again in my left arm unless I just wanted to leave without my blood or my money which NO.
As I sat there, wondering how an organization that pays individuals to give up their bodily fluids in a fairly unpleasant procedure has the gall to turn away individuals who have had sex for drugs or money since 1977, my phone rang. Taking the call would have violated the rules of the donation floor, and I didn’t want to risk an infraction that could get me kicked out without what appeared to be most of the blood in my body, so I let it go. I did, however, manage to discreetly (I think… my bar for this shit is so low) listen to the resulting voicemail, which was left, it turns out, by my job recruiter. She had called to report good news, although she revealed no details (but, I mean, really, there are only so many kinds of good news an employment agency can deliver to a job seeker). I’d been in a pretty docile, it’s-all-good-I-don’t-use-that-vein-for-anything kind of mood, up until that point, but, after hearing the message, I started clenching and unclenching my left fist with a vengeance, unable to think about anything other than returning the call, in hopes that I would soon be spending my afternoons earning more than the $30 this vein-abusing place was paying me.
After I finally escaped into the main lobby and returned the call, it turned out that the news was, indeed, very good: I passed the online test I took earlier this week as a perquisite for an interview with the company I’ve been dying to work for. Can I get a HOLLAAA up in here?! The final interview, in all its glory, is tomorrow, followed, hopefully, by my acquisition of 100% company-paid insurance, guaranteed bonuses and the extra $10k a year that I did not earn at my last job.
I’m not trying to sound like I’m better than all my fellow donors, but I’m pretty sure that nobody walked out of that place happier today than me.
Mother Plans On Spending Nothing On Her Son in 2013; is My Hero
See this lady right here? We have a lot in common. Her adorable child bears a great resemblance to mine (thus the adorable), she has a blog, and she has resolved to avoid spending any money on her son this year. Why the stingy parent business? I’m glad you asked.
I grew up digging through sale bins at thrift stores and yard sales for Barbies with clothes, battery-operated toys with still-charged batteries, or - and this was solid gold - a Polly Pocket toy with the Polly doll still inside. This gave me the impression that low-budget childrearing was the norm - right up until I had my own child to rear. Then, I stopped ignoring the images crowding my social media feeds of the latest and greatest accessories that my friends were buying for their offspring - offspring that couldn’t even ask for a snack yet, let alone demand expensive toyage.
I get it: consumerism is a powerful force. Sure, many of us don’t all feel all that compelled to buy our children this year’s version of Tickle Me Expensive as a matter of necessity. Be that as it may, though, most of us still want to avoid being known as the Goodwill Parent. And, in today’s “pics or it didn’t happen” world, it’s hard to give the impression that you’re buying the shit without actually buying the shit. And, if you’re not buying the shit, what ARE you buying, you selfish asshole?!
In the end, this whole thing comes down to every parent’s weakness: our desire to give our kids the best of everything. It’s a marketing strategy particularly effective on frightened and uninformed pregnant first-time moms, which is probably why it’s so played-out that it makes Call Me Maybe look fresh and exciting. But is a $50 pair of shoes for a kid who can’t even walk yet really “the best?”
I’m not sure what my takeaway would’ve been, had my childhood been ruled by consumerism. I do know, though, that I wouldn’t have learned that commercials aren’t a very good source of information if my parents had bought me everything I saw on TV. A go-kart that wasn’t rigged with a tiller engine and pool mat seats wouldn’t have taught me resourcefulness. Buying new, name-brand clothes wouldn’t have been a lesson in how to spend a little money and look a lot awesome.
Most importantly, there is my mom’s mantra, “You didn’t need new toys; you had each other! You were happy with sticks and dirt.” Without it, I wouldn’t understand the importance of family, and how much more valuable it is than anything you can get at Babies R Us.
Almost as good as Cheaters: undeniable evidence of my partner’s maaaybe-too-close bond with our “first baby,” Little Bear. Our trial run may have failed in the potty training department, but we are co-sleeping PROS. Obvs!