Friday, March 30, 2012

Sharing is Hard

Pete volunteered to do a little music class in day care this morning. We gathered almost all our musical instruments, including drums, old harmonicas, guitars, shakers, and a recorder and made the trek. We told Finn this was happening, but I don’t think any of us fully processed the meaning: Finn would not only be sharing his musical instruments but his daddy.

It did NOT go well.

I think the kids and adults present (minus me) had fun, but Finn spent much of the hour weeping, wailing, flailing, or lifeless on the floor. He could not wrap his mind around it. All of the things that were happening would have been supremely enjoyable to him were it another individual facilitating without using his crap, but sharing Daddy and his stuff caused pure psychic pain.

Get used to it kid. Daddy’s a musician, a performer. We don’t have to share him with the world yet, but we do have to share him with a significant amount of people on a regular basis. It’s just that, most of the time, we don’t have to see it. Finn wouldn't even let me sing along if he was sitting on my lap. No "Mary had a Little Lamb" or "I've been working on the railroad" for you, Mama.

Finn enojoying the Bodhran

Finn enjoying the guitar

Finn soaking up the whole experience.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I never really had it. But what I did have is long gone, along with seeing 130 pounds on the scale, the desperation of singlehood, freedom, and the raging insecurity of youth.

I have had two recent run-ins with my lack of coolness. They were both situational and completely related to the insecurity of the middle-aged and out of touch. Because I am both acutely aware of my lack of coolness and feel deep disdain those who are cool, I am a deeply conflicted person. Once when we were listening to a David Sedaris CD in the car, daddywhumpus remarked on how neurotic Mr. Sedaris is. My response was, "Well, maybe, but I relate to a lot of what he is saying. He's just saying it out loud. Most of us keep that sort of stuff to ourselves."

Some friends of ours recently had a wedding happy hour at a tragically cool tiki-type bar here in town, and I felt like I should have a big sign around my neck that said, "Mom," just like the wooden placards that soldiers at Fort Snelling had to wear when they were bad, which said things like "Drunkard" or "Thief." Then today, I wanted to stop at The Electric Fetus on the way home from day care to pick up the new Madonna album. This is a most excellent independent record store in Minneapolis, and I have been a customer of their for years. Too late, I realized that I was still wearing my nightshirt (a big, white one with "Jameson" adorning the chestal area), no bra, hair in both pony tail and elastic headband, fleece covered in cat hair, no make-up, and glasses. I truly considered not stopping until my way back to day care, when I could make my purchase in full hair and make-up, plus outfit (at least Jeans and a Cute Top). How could I walk into The Electric Fetus looking like THIS?!

I had to talk myself down; remind myself that I was being totally ridiculous. No one knows or cares who I am; I don't have to impress anyone.

I tucked in my giant night shirt and bought my Madonna CD, "Mom" placard securely in place.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sick: A Reminiscence

Last year, the sick came through. It came through in waves, over the course of three days. It washed over each of us in succession. Friday, babywhumpus. Saturday-Sunday, daddywhumpus, Monday, moi. This year, it was precisely the same. Friday, babywhumpus. Saturday-Sunday, daddywhumpus, Monday, moi.

Last year, it ended on daddywhumpus's birthday, with me sick (and crying) on the couch. Sexy. This after I had been the only one well enough to dig the house and car out of a snowstorm that shut the city down. This year, it started with babywhumpus hurling up pasta and broccoli on me. Chunky. Over my shoulder, into my hair, down onto my lap. Then on the couch and the fake fur star blanket and pillow. Finally, and repeatedly, into an empty (large) yogurt container. Glamour.

In the middle of the following night, babywhumpus came tramping into our room and told me, "Daddy is going to be sick." This means that there will soon be underwater screaming coming from the bathroom. I have never heard anything like it. I don't think there is anything like it. Me? I could barf and go back to bed and no one would know the difference. Him? I am surprised the neighborhood howly dogs don't start wailing up a storm.

Why am I telling you this? Because I am waiting for a Madonna interview video to load, I promised myself that I would try to write something every day, and the things I have in the queue are continuing in the rather depressing, cynical vein.

I wanted to break it up with some cheery vomit stories.

Feel good?

The pasta vomit was rather orange.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Too Invested

Finn is fingerprinting, and he's doing it wrong.

He's mixing the colors, he's using too much, he's using all his fingers at once, everything is brown, there are piles of gloopy paint on the paper, which will never dry just like van gogh except without the crazy.

And so what? All of these elements are being judged by my adult standards of How Stuff is Supposed to be Done. It's not happening to me. It's not my prized work of art. He's not doing it on the walls. So what if he makes a mess and uses all the paint? Even though I have to clean it and him and buy new paint (or not), is that really such a big deal? Why is it so hard to let kids be kids?

Partially it's because kids can be such dickheads, and we spend our lives making sacrifices to accommodate them. They don't listen. When you tell them that if they keep putting their fingers into the other paint, they will make all the paint brown, they say, "I like brown things." When you tell them not to put all their fingers into the paint, they put their whole hands into the paint and say, "I'm washing my hands with paint."

When you try to sit silently and let them have at it without all your strictures and rules, they look at you and smile with dead eyes* as they do the thing they know you don't want them to do, just daring you to tell them to stop.

Man, you gotta wade through a lot of bullshit to get to the really good cuddling.

*babywhumpus has learned to smile without his eyes and it is one of the most terrifying and creepy Village of the Damned things I have ever seen. Here's to hoping he's not a sociopath!


Fingerpainting, a set on Flickr.

It can be difficult to divest oneself from the actions of a child when you know THEY ARE DOING IT WRONG!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Parenting is Awesome! You should do it!

Whenever people tell me they are going to have a baby, my first reaction is always, "What are you nuts?!" Fortunately, I am (sometimes) capable of quelling my first reaction in order to not be an asshole, so instead, after a beat, I give the requisite congratulatory "Squeee!" and move on because I know that the people telling me are (hopefully) not nuts and (probably) really do (think they) want to do this. If the person in question already has one and should know better, this is harder to pull off, but I (mostly) manage.

After all, I thought I wanted two, too, before I had a preemie, went through his infancy, got old, and thought, "What am I, nuts?!" My reasons for not having another are rational and understandable. Where I have trouble is in understanding how others have not come to the same conclusion. After all, most of us are not running a farm or factory on which we need forced labor of our own making, and, especially in urban or semi-urban settings, our lives are busy enough without introducing another wakeful, whining, demanding being into our existence.

Marriage is hard, even when you genuinely like and love each other. When you bring in this other creature, who inevitably becomes the focus of your lives because it can't keep itself alive, you often lose everything you liked about each other. You talk only about work and the kid. Mostly how to arrange work to deal with the kid. Once it is in day care, you can add money stress to your list of enjoyments, as you will basically be paying two mortgages, except one is in baby rent (our day car is presently two hundred dollars more than our mortgage, and those people still don't make half of what they should).

Almost eight years into our relationship and four years into our parenting, things are not easy. An in fact, they are not going very well. Finn is a happy, well-adjusted child (so far), and we will work it out, but when you take two busy lives and add another huge and animated responsibility, it's just asking for trouble. Someone will always wind up doing more over-all, and someone will always feel like he or she has lost something in the mix. Usually, it's both partners for that last one.*

While it's true that there is nothing like having a child, and I don't know what I would do if something ever happened to Finn, it's true that there is nothing like having a child (insert serious eye contact here). It swings both ways. If you want to name something and talk baby talk to it and have cuddles, get a dog. There are plenty that need adopting at many nonprofit facilities around the country. Don't step into parenting a child lightly.

Heck, we are not even considering a dog at least until this kid finishes his first year of school.

Obligatory adorable family photo to assuage mother-guilt (taken by Crystal Liepa, who is amazing):

*In our case, it's the same thing for each of us: me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Being sad led me to church last week for the first time in over twenty years. I was not looking for a higher power or searching for meaning in a tragic loss, I was looking for community. Not necessarily people to talk to, but I wanted to be around people who knew my friend and perhaps hear him spoken of. So I went to his church, and I took babywhumpus with me.

We got gussied up, perhaps not as fancy-like as I would have when I still went to church, and people dressed in their Sunday best, but somewhere in the middle. I don't know what people wear to church anymore, but I suspected that Unitarians would be somewhat relaxed about dress code.

I had checked out this particular church online before, as it is near our house, progressive, and would perhaps provide an opportunity to troll for teenaged babysitters without too much propaganda. Nonbelievers are somewhat limited in that sense, as we don't generally gather regularly to network. When I learned that my friend attended this church, it became more appealing as his version of spirituality was kind, accepting, and non-threatening. We never went because, well, daddywhumpus is in a band, and Sunday mornings are slow-going, and scurrying out to a meeting house is the last thing that appeals to us. Unless there's bacon.

But that's brunch.

Plus, I am both an atheist and an introvert, who is unenthusiastic about change, new environments, and new situations.

I lost my community of commiseration when I got laid of, where I was around people who felt the same as I, or at least knew my friend. I decided to go to church.

daddywhumpus was out of town, so I was trudging into new territory on my own with babywhumpus, which is a recipe for discomfort  if not disaster. He's not a sit-still-and-listen kind of child. He has contemplative moments, but they are commensurate with his life: short. And often about food.

The experience was about what I expected. The church is welcoming and without garish adornment; one is not assaulted with God or Jesus. There are pamphlets about human rights and specific communities and how the church is inclusive to all. I could see my friend here, smiling openly at people, talking and walking through the halls. Had I shown up there when he was in attendance, I can precisely see the reaction on his face: open-mouthed, wide-eyed shock, wonder, and gratitude, all at once, followed by a hug and kiss.

I took babywhumpus around the spaces, telling him to be quiet, even though Unitarians are not generally as stuff as some, and showing him the organ and its pipes. We sat at the back and only talked to a few people, and my friend was mentioned at the beginning. We did not make it long; once he tired of scribbling on the bulletin, was finished munching his Cheddar Bunnies into crumbs all over himself and the floor (mortifying), and made to crawl up under the pews like his Gran did when she was little, I got him out of the sanctuary. We walked the halls a little bit more, looking around, and I tried to get him back into the service as I wanted to hear the message and see if I could be comfortable here, but it was not to be. It was a beautiful day, so we went to the co-op, and went home to make eggs and sausage.

I'm glad we went; It was nice to pay respects in that way to my friend--he would have appreciated it.

Some context about my friend here.