“Please do not put your penis on the table” is something I had to say yesterday.
Naturally, Mac adores him.
Fortunately, Chris had a decent amount of time away from the office over the holidays and he shouldered some of the tasks I typically perform on a regular basis, sharing diaper and clothing changes, making Mac (and sometimes me) breakfast, amusing Mac during the day. You know. . .the usual stuff. . .
After a few days of watching all the Father-Son cuteness, it occurred to me, all was not as it should be. Something was making me feel uneasy. Yet, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was?
Last evening, Mac took a little spill in the kitchen. This happens at least 12 times a day. He trips or tries some crazy new skill that causes him to lose his balance and he has a little fall. But this time, he didn’t just brush it off and get up. Instead, he stayed on the floor, looked to see if Chris was looking at him, and promptly began wailing. Of course, Chris swooped in, picked him up immediately and started the whole, “Are you okay, little Smootchie Bear?” routine.
Well, that’s a new one, I thought to myself. Typically, if Mac’s busy and engrossed in something, he really doesn’t want any sort of intervention from me. In fact, I’m pretty sure if the kid suffered a concussion in my presence, he’d likely just shake it off and resume whatever activity it was that resulted in the injury in the first place.
While I cleaned up dinner, Chris gave Mac his bath. While I was alone, I started thinking back one the past few days. . .
Mac ALWAYS puts up a fuss when Chris attempts to place him in the stroller, high chair or car seat. Sometimes he just pretends to protest. Sometimes he actually protests. That doesn’t typically happen on Mommy’s watch.
Mac is ALWAYS imploring Daddy to pick him up and carry him around the house. . .and Chris always happily obliges. Mac seldom ever wants me to pick him up especially when we are in the house.
When Daddy’s here, Mac almost NEVER independently plays with his toys. He’s always attempting to engage Chris. Usually when it’s just Mac and me, I can get him to play independently for short blocks of time here and there throughout the day.
Chris showed Mac how to operate the Keurig. Naturally, Mac is continually requesting he and Daddy make “Coff.” Mac never wants to Mac “coff” with Mom.
Yep. Daddy’s getting played. Hard.
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized there is a generally increased level of drama when Daddy’s around. There’s always a chase required to get a fresh diaper or shirt on the kid. Mac doesn’t eat as well. . .unless Daddy sits beside the high chair and helps feed him. Mac flips out if Chris leaves his sight. He’s not quite as willing to take naps or go to bed. . .
I’m convinced it’s all Daddy-related drama.
I find this problematic on several levels:
Obviously, it’s annoying and time-consuming. We shouldn’t have to bribe the kid to get him in his car seat or chase him to get him dressed. Chris shouldn’t have to carry the kid around the house on demand.
Are we establishing a situation where the kid figures out he can manipulate Daddy and play the two of us against one another in the future?
And perhaps most disturbing. . .Is Daddy already becoming the “fun one”? Am I destined to be like my OWN Mother? Who used to go around proclaiming with alarming frequency something to the effect of “I always have to be the bad guy. I realize your Father is wonderful and I’m the mean one!”
Troubling indeed. I thought maybe Chris and I needed to discuss the situation after we put Mac to bed last night.
Before bed, we sat down with Mac to read him stories. Chris was up first with Fox in Socks. He opened the book, which Mac promptly grabbed, handed to me and plopped right down in my lap.
As I looked at Chris’ stunned expression, I realized we had nothing at all to discuss. . .
Getting played by a toddler ain’t so bad. . .
Everyone gets all jazzed about the New Year. They get all excited about self-improvement and organization and not slurping a bottle of wine for dinner every other night. My Twitter feed is positively buzzing with talk of “cleanses” and the purchase of storage tubs and trying to fit into high school sized pants.
Every time I see one of these Tweets, I smile an all-knowing smile. It’s not that I wish for these folks to fail in their quest to get their garage organized to diet themselves into a continued state of cranky miserable-ness. Honestly, I wish them nothing but success.
BUT I KNOW BETTER.
For a number of years, I too fell into the magical thinking that is New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to get our family photos in order. I’m going to clean my closet. . .or at least under the kitchen sink. I’m going to do better writing letters to folks. I’m going to complain less and be more gracious. I’m going to take yoga classes. I’m going to pay more attention to the dry skin on my heels. I’m going to eat one apple a day -everyday. I’m going to brush my teeth and wash my face every night before bed – no matter how exhausted I am.
Often I even made a plan. I would get out a crisp, fresh day planner and begin scribbling in a walking plan I found in a magazine. Or meal ideas for every night of the week. Or a reminder to write a card to Aunt Hazel. . .
Sometimes I was so sure of my own resolve, I’d write that shit in INK!!
In hindsight, I can see my resolve was consistently much greater after half a bottle of champagne.
And every year, by about January 25, all those reminders cluttering up my day planner only served as a reminder of my complete and utter failure.
So I’d bust out another bottle of champagne and a bottle of White Out and have a glorious time self-loathing.
The list of resolutions I’ve failed to keep is long and distinguished. In fact, I don’t think I’ve EVER kept one resolution I’ve made – EVER! Not one.
And honestly, I’m not a quitter. I’m actually a rather organized, driven, Type A sort of person.
I’m not sure if it’s my rather rebellious nature that soon thwarts my efforts to honor my self-imposed resolutions. Or perhaps it’s just that I never actually had that much resolve in the first place? Maybe they were just wholly unattainable, despite my efforts to make them so? Maybe I lacked a proper motivational “rewards” system?
I’ve given up trying to analyze the situation. . .I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll NEVER, EVER make another New Year’s Resolution.
I’m going to enjoy New Year’s Day. It will never again be a day of half-hungover self deprivation. I will never find myself awake at the crack of freezing cold dawn attempting to wedge myself into some Spandex exercise gear. I will never sit at dinner greedily eyeing up the buttery mashed potatoes and kraut everyone else is eating while I lick an orange rind and sip cucumber infused ice water. NEVER.
Sounds glorious doesn’t it?
Do you too want to kick the resolutions habit too?
Want to know my secret?
It’s difficult to share, but I’m going to tell you my rock bottom resolutions moment. . .
About this time 7 years ago, I was day drinking in our basement one Saturday morning, outlining a bunch of cases for some wretched Law School class I was torturing myself with at the time.
Because I worked all week and attended classes in the evenings, nearly all of my reading for the week had to be done on the weekends. It was a LOT of reading. . .BORING reading (hence the drinking. . .).
Anyway, at some point after I had downed about 3 glasses of very high-test cheap egg nog, I noticed a TV infomercial for a set of workout DVDs called Yoga, Booty, Ballet.
Yes. That was EXACTLY the name of the DVDs. Hilarious. But after all that egg nog, it occurred to me that I LOVED ballet, I wanted to try yoga, and those women looked so fabulous and happy and healthy, espousing the fast results, I NEEDED these DVDs. ASAP!
I completely forgot about my lap top and case books, watching mesmerized as one fat slob after another testified to the remarkable results they achieved – their jiggly thighs transformed into lean lovely sinewy muscle.
I can do this! I too can Yoga, Booty, Ballet! Every morning before work at 4:30 in the morning!
Despite the fact that there was a huge disclaimer at the bottom of the screen “Results Not Typical” and despite the fact that I likely wouldn’t get out of bed at 4:30AM even if the house was on fire. . .
I raced upstairs to grab a credit card. I had to call in the next 15 minutes to get my super special dumbbells and small exercise ball!
I swilled a huge gulp of egg nog. My fingers trembled as I dialed the number. I immediately felt thinner as the perky customer service rep took my order. I was going to be in control of my muffin top! It would no longer control me! Of course I needed express shipping! Can’t you tell by the sound of my voice that I’m a half soused lazy lard ass? I NEED these DVDs ASAP! Save me from myself, perky customer service rep!! Please, I’m begging you!!
Surely sensing my desperation, the customer service rep, seized the opportunity to try to up-sell me. At first I was firm. No I didn’t need the special diet supplements, or the super special logo yoga mat, or the extended “lean and green” diet plan. . .
But after about the 20th suggested sell and another half glass of egg nog, I was getting tired of explaining why the fuck I only wanted the damned DVDs (and of course my special dumb bells and exercise ball which were mine to keep even if I wasn’t satisfied with the DVDs). . .
So when the customer service rep suggested a subscription plan, I agreed. I had no idea what she was talking about. In fact, I had been on the phone so long, I really wasn’t even listening. I just wanted her to shut her cram hole so I could drunkenly eat a bunch of potato chips without her judging me.
Several days later, the DVD’s arrived at my office. I examined the contents and the enclosed suggested diet plan. Nearly the first line of the diet plan included something to the effect of “For the next two weeks, you are on the wagon. No alcohol.”
WTF? Shouldn’t they have perhaps mentioned that in the infomercial?! Two weeks?! Assholes.
I did the work outs for about 3 days. . .and promptly ditched the entire plan. My muffin top (and its penchant for mayonnaise and Sauvignon Blanc) had a much stronger pull on me than those skinny bitches who were bending themselves into pretzels on the DVD.
Oh well. I tried (kinda. . .not really).
About three weeks later, another package was shipped to my office. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and found two more exercise DVD’s.
Well that’s odd. I didn’t order more DVDs. Did I?!
I threw the DVDs in a box under my desk at work and promptly forgot about them. Until another two showed up four weeks later. . .
This time, I glanced at the invoice: SUBSCRIPTION PLAN.
You’re douche-bag customer service rep.
These DVDs also went into the box under my desk. . .and so did every other DVD I received for the NEXT 18 MONTHS!!!
There were 36 unopened exercise DVDs in a box under my desk at work!
Such. A. Loser.
I’m pleased to say eventually I did get some use out of them. When I was pregnant, I used the box to prop up my swollen feet. . .
36 DVDs at $10 a pop. . .And that, my friends, is EXACTLY why I’ll NEVER, EVER make a New Year’s Resolution.
Remember how I was all enthralled with the pint-sized Ikea table and chairs Mac’s Grandparents gave him for his first birthday?
Remember how I was all excited to share when I gave them a chalkboard paint upgrade?
Remember I thought they were SUPER FUN?!
I WAS WRONG!!!
So terribly wrong.
The other day I was in the kitchen prepping dinner when all the recessed lighting on the main floor started going nuts. For a split second I was certain I was having a seizure or stroke.
But when I peeked around the refrigerator, I found Mac STANDING on his table, playing with the dimmer switches!
He dismounted, under great duress, at my stern insistence.
I resumed preparing dinner but not more than 30 seconds later, I heard a crashing sound. He was BACK on the table dancing around like he was Magic Mike and had knocked a canvas painting off the wall.
Once again, I “encouraged” him to “Please get off the table, sweety, honey, Huggy Bear and ooooohhhh look a spatula to play with.”
I didn’t catch him on the table again for a few days and I had hoped things were cool.
But then he started pulling the chairs out to the middle of the kitchen floor and standing on them.
He’s not a clumsy child. I’m actually rather impressed with his (meddlesome) physical coordination. However, when he’s perched about 8 inches off the floor, he tends to wobble around like Mommy after 1/2 of a box of wine.
Yes. Not safe. At all.
For a while, he’d only pull this little trick when his Father was around. So naturally, I blamed Chris for the whole thing while patiently ushering Mac off the chair, repeatedly explaining to him that we only put our bottoms on chairs and he could get hurt.
Still, naive first time Mother that I am, I kept tucking the little chairs under the table thinking that this time, he’d heed my warnings.
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
He started climbing on the table and chairs even when Chris WASN’T present. And when I asked him to please get off, he would look at me with this adorable naughty sideways glance and LAUGH AND LAUGH AND LAUGH.
This of course, prompted me to gently remove him from his perch. At which time he would throw himself on to the floor in a minor meltdown until I could dispatch a suitable distraction.
Still, I kept up with our little chats about bumping his head and how chairs were for sitting not standing.
I was certain he was going to understand any day now. . .
And then one day it happened: I turned my back, he climbed up on one of the chairs, and he fell off. Hard.
And I laughed.
Kids are so stupid!
And once we cuddled and he felt better, I took those stupid chairs to the basement. . .where they can rot for all I care.
I was published.
In a book.
I’m as shocked about it as anyone. . .
The awesome ladies Monica & Abbey who compile the Life Well Blogged series asked me to contribute a story to their first edition entitled No Laughing Allowed.
It’s an eBook available on Amazon.
I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s hilarious. It. Is. I am by far, the least funny contributor. Talented, hilarious contributors aside, possibly the BEST part of this eBook is a portion of the proceeds benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
This book would make an awesome holiday gift. . .GO GET IT NOW!
BUT WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE!!!
I’m giving away two copies of this book THIS WEEK!!
Feelin’ Lucky?! In it to win it? Here’s how.
Leave a comment on this post by 11PM EST on Thursday 12/13/12.
Want to up your odds? Bonus entries can be obtained by:
1. Following me on Twitter @homeeckwreck Shoot me a tweet telling me you want No Laughing Allowed.
2. Go check out Life Well Blogged’s website and leave me a comment on this post indicating you did so.
3. Follow @lifewellblogged on Twitter and leave me a comment on this post telling me you did so.
4. Purchase a copy of the book for yourself or someone else and leave a comment on this post telling me you did so. (Multiple purchases = additional entries, one entry per purchase).
The winners will be randomly selected and contacted on Friday 12/14/12.
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!! If you don’t win this time. . .Check back next week. . .Santa might come early this year. . .
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. . .The contest ends as previously stated on 12/13/12 at 11PM EST. All qualifying entries will be entered in a random drawing and two winners will be selected. You will NOT be disappointed. Please, be honest with your qualifying entries.
Love and Hugs, Reluctant Mother
The other day, as I watched Mac once again climb onto his little table and go wacky berserk on the dimmer light switches for the entire main floor of the house, I began to wistfully reminiscence about this time last year: His first Christmas.
He was about 7 months old. . .and barely mobile. . .and pretty docile. It was glorious!
This time last year, we weren’t chasing birds the way we have been this year, so we were also checking out other attractions and activities in our free time. Plus, he was so teensy, it was simple enough to cram him in a Sleepy Wrap and walk around with him wherever we went.
For those of you who only know Baltimore from the likes of The Wire, you might be surprised to know what a wonderful place it is for artists. We have great museums, a world-class art school, and really support artists and the thriving local arts scene.
We have a lot of local artists and crafters who share their wares at local farm markets, bazaars, on Etsy, in local shops and I LOVE checking it all out. I like to see what people are creating. And I love the idea that a lot of these items are small, functional, and priced at a point where many folks can enjoy art in their every day lives. . .pillows, and pot holders, and plush toys, and jewelry, and t-shirts, and art prints. . .Oh my! It makes my heart go pitter patter. . .
And full disclosure: about this time last year, I was still toying with the romantic idea of perhaps starting my own little artsy business. . .hanging out in my basement “studio” all afternoon covered in paint while Mac napped. . .watching him play while I worked my display at the farmer’s markets. . .
And it was this sort of delusional thinking that landed us in the Craft Fair from Hell. . .which ironically enough was in a Church.
We park in front of the church, its lawn was littered with ironic-looking old-school bicycles and a hot dog vendor of certainly questionable repute. The church building itself looked as if it’s seen better days.
I promise myself I’ll keep an open mind as I pluck Mac from his car seat and slide him into the Sleepy Wrap. Plus, I’m really excited to see what treasures might await us inside. Maybe I can pick up a few adorable items for Mac’s nursery?
The outside steps of the church are crowded with people who could possibly be homeless. They have scruffy facial hair and are wearing the likes of oversized plaid flannel shirts and finger-less gloves, and humongous cowl-type scarves. However, their very skinny jeans, Starbucks coffee cups, and expensive eye-glass frames prove they are far from homeless. We gingerly move past them into the building.
Sensory overload slammed into me like a freight train.
I swear I felt my heart stop beating for a few seconds.
It was hot. So very very hot.
Even though something told me to FLEE, we pressed on towards the Church’s former sanctuary.
What I saw next is difficult to describe. There before us, was a massive, undulating sea of humanity. The sanctuary had been gutted, leaving a gigantic void of space complete with crumbling plaster, exposed lath, and floating dust visible in the beams of light that were flooding through the sanctuary windows.
Everywhere, as far as the eye could see were people. They looked like squirming maggots. . .Craft crazed maggots in plaid and hand knitted apparel, vying for the juiciest bits of handicrafts.
“Oh shit,” I gasp, certain I could already feel the dust irritating my throat. “Should we take Mac in there?”
Chris doesn’t protest so we take the plunge, throwing ourselves into the churning sea of humanity.
“Stay close,” I hiss at him. “And what’s that smell?”
“I believe that smell is hipster. . .or hippie. . .mixed with Starbucks, handmade soap, and damp, moldy plaster.” Chris whispers.
It becomes readily apparent there is absolutely no order in this joint. Whether this was a function of poor planning on the organizers’ parts or the fact that the place was crammed full of people, I couldn’t quite ascertain.
The vendors were seated behind tables, packed in so tightly that it was difficult for the volume of customers to move past comfortably. And forget about pausing. The crowd was so thick, you couldn’t stop moving, someone was literally right at your heels, pressed almost completely into your back.
I put my arms around Mac, one hand over the back of his head and tried to nestle him closer to me. I was definitely starting to freak. Claustrophobia was setting in. And it wasn’t helping that some asshole was mindlessly waving their Starbucks dangerously close to the baby while excitedly examining some knitted underwear with a mustache attached to them.
Then we came to a halt. Everything was gridlocked. People were trying to squeeze this way and that. I glanced at my position in the room. Both exits were terrifyingly far away. I was certain my heart was going to explode. I tried glancing at the vendors’ tables on either side of me, but I couldn’t see shit. I stare up at the ceiling.
The place is a damned disaster. The plaster is cracked and crumbling. I began to wonder what was keeping any of it attached to the lath. Huge chunks of plaster could certainly fall any moment. How did they even get a permit to hold this huge event in this craphole?
Chris takes my elbow, likely noticing the gray pallor on my face and out of concern I was going to pass out. “This place has to be a fire trap,” he whispers in my ear.
“Tell me about it. All it’s going to take is for one careless hipster to improperly discard their cigarette near the hand-made paper vendors and we’re all going to die a tragic firey death.”
“Have you seen anything you’d like?”
I snort, “I believe I’ve seen what Hell looks like and I’d like to NEVER visit.”
“We’re out,” he says.
We spend the next 15 minutes attempting to “flee” towards the exit. . .at a snail’s pace.
I felt positively giddy as I exited that dusty fire-trap. I was so elated I even smiled at the hipster who blew his cigarette smoke in Mac’s face.
WE. WERE. ALIVE.
I skipped back to the car. We got ourselves situated and Chris started the car.
“Well?” he asks.
I sigh a disappointed sigh. This was not at all what I had expected.
“Screw that. Take me to the closest effing Target immediately,”
When I was younger and just slightly less foolish, I used to mercilessly mock my own Mother and maternal Grandmother for being “nosey.”
(Not often to their faces mind you. . .mostly behind their backs. . .perpetuating a “gossipy” cycle of discussing another’s business while they aren’t in your presence. Remember that drug commercial where the kid screams “I learned it by watching you, Mom”? Yeah. That’s apparently how being a bit of a busybody happens.)
We lived in a small town and everyone knew who’s check was good and who’s husband wasn’t. . .
There wasn’t a ton of action, but apparently enough to keep Mom and Ma-maw chatting through a daily shared meal or visit. They were never mean or rude. . .They just seemed to be trading shared observations or repeating things they “heard” and as best as I can tell, they didn’t go around broadcasting it to others – which is a valuable lesson for a budding busybody to learn.
I’m not sure where they sourced ALL of their intel, but I do know they were keen observers. We lived in the town, on a corner lot. My Mother’s home on one side of the street, my Grandmother’s on the other.
There was always a parade of folks walking by just begging for my Mom or Grandma to discretely peer out the curtains to watch them.
Every time there was a small flutter of activity on the street outside, my Mom would got to the window. And I would roll my eyes and laugh to myself at how silly it seemed. After all, she was continually TELLING me to “worry about myself and NOT worry about what everyone else was doing.” Yet, it appeared to me she was consistently doing the exact opposite.
Flash forward about 20 years.
Here I am, at home all day trying to get by with the pets and the 18-month old. . .
And what am I catching myself doing with alarming frequency?
Looking out the windows, peering out the peep-hole, cracking open a second story window so I can eavesdrop.
I justify this nosey behavior by saying it’s for “safety reasons.” And sometimes, that’s true. If there’s a lot of uncharacteristic noise in our alley, I should have a little look-see. Right? We live in a CITY rife with drug problems and folks looking to steal and damage property!
Right. . .
So a few nights ago, about dusk, I peered out my back door, and noticed this:
I realize my photos are very poor, so let me explain: This is Christmas Tree Guy’s deck and those are a bunch of dust covers for high-end handbags strewn about the deck.
Odd. Very odd indeed. I made a note of the time and kinda’ forgot about it while we had dinner and prepared Mac for bed.
But later that evening, I looked out the door AGAIN, and I realized the dust covers were STILL there and now it was raining all over them.
Christmas Tree Guy and his fiance are young and busy and sometimes there’s some random stuff tossed into their outside environs but as a lover of designer hand bags myself, I realized, there was barely a snowball’s chance in hell I’d throw the dust covers all over my back deck and allow them to be rained on.
Something seemed off.
Crime Dawg Deni was on it!
I shut the door and went racing to the basement to find Chris who was busy with his 25 minute brushing and flossing bedtime ritual.
“I want you to look at the neighbor’s back deck. I think their house was burglarized.”
Chris rolls his eyes, floss wedged between his right rear molars, and gives me a look of resignation. He can apparently sense my excited urgency on this one and sighs while he agrees he’ll take a look.
I’m hot on his heels while he flosses every blessed tooth no fewer than 12 times. I go on and on and on about the evidence.
“I heard their back deck sliders a lot maybe about 3 or 3:30 this afternoon but I thought maybe it was the dog walker. But I wonder if it was someone breaking into their house. I mean, I haven’t seen them in days. Maybe they are still out-of-town for Thanksgiving and they have their dog with them and someone stole a bunch of stuff? But why would a criminal toss all the handbag covers on the back deck? That seems like to would take a lot of time and I’d think you’d want to get out quickly if you are going to burglarize a place. I never heard anyone except for the sound of the back door. I didn’t see anything. But don’t you agree it’s odd to have all that stuff just randomly strewn around your deck? I mean one of them is a Burberry for gawd’s sake. BURBERRY! And they are out there in the rain!!”
“OK!” Chris says in an exasperated tone. (I’ve clearly ruined his tooth brushing). “I’m going to go look right now.”
I know he thinks I’m just being insane.
He opens the back door and walks onto our deck. I anxiously peer out the door mentally preparing my rebuttal for when he returns and tells me I’m ridiculous and to stop being so damned nosey.
Except when he returned to the kitchen, he AGREED with me!
“Yeah, that’s weird.” He says.
“Well do we call the cops? What do we do?”
Chris wisely suggests perhaps we should call Christmas Tree Guy first.
I grab my iPhone and start scrolling through the contacts. It’s then I realize I no longer have Christmas Tree Guy’s phone number because the phone crashed after I failed to sync it for about 6 damned months.
“I don’t have his number! Stupid effing phone!”
“It’s ok Deni, why don’t we just knock on their door then?”
Right. Good thinking. My heart is pounding.
We very quietly sneak out the front door since Mac is sleeping and knock on their door. No answer. But I can see the lights on and the TV and I can also see their dog.
“Well NOW WHAT?!”
“I think we should go to bed,” Chris says. “They must be around. Let’s just see what happens.”
This is a very unsatisfactory conclusion for me. But I really didn’t want to call the police if nothing was wrong. I mean, our City Police are BUSY. Plus, I certainly didn’t want a bunch of sirens and activity outside our house to stir up the dog and wake up the kid.
Every day, I checked on the dust covers. They were still strewn about the deck. Yet, I’ve noticed Christmas Tree Guy’s cars have been moved so I know they’re around. (nosey, nosey, nosey).
Still I wanted answers DAMNIT!
Last night I got them. . .Chris ran into Christmas Tree Guy. . .
Turns out their one-eyed cat peed ALL OVER her purses!!!!
Frankly, I think that’s an even worse offense than burglary.