Archive for the ‘Kvetchitude’ Category

Halloween Rant

Pure unadulterated evil.

This is a rant. You’ve been warned.

We live in a fairy tale of a neighborhood where everyone knows their neighbors, waves to passing cars, and lets their kids run amok like they should. There is one thing, however, that I utterly hate about living here: The Phantom.

See, every year in the two weeks leading up to Halloween, The Phantom begins to strike. You know when you’ve been hit because you’ll find a bucket or bag of Halloween crap on your porch. I don’t mind finding fun stuff on my porch as long as there’s chocolate involved — it’s the chain letter aspect I detest. Also there’s never chocolate in these things.

Your delivery comes with a flyer that you’re supposed to make two copies of, put with two NEW buckets or bags of crap, and then leave on two other porches. BUT here’s the “fun” part: you have to find houses that don’t have the “already been hit” flyer on their front door. AND you’re supposed to do this at night, AND ring the doorbell AND run away without being seen.

There are two main reasons I don’t participate in this “tradition”:

  1. I refuse to perpetuate the cycle of buying more crap just because it’s “fun” and that’s what everyone does.
  2. Shitty, labor-intensive, obligatory tasks like this fall on moms 99.9999% of the time.

Look, I like Halloween as much as anyone, but A) I have MORE than enough to do, and B) I don’t need more plastic/gooey/sugary crap in my house. It’s hard enough regulating all the crap that’s already here. Which ties back into A), really.

So when this year’s bucket arrived (there it is up there, looking innocent but holding only evil) and the Boo asked about it, I explained the rules and why I always break the chain. Then I said, “If you want to keep it going, that’s great, but you’re on your own once I make copies for you. I’m not buying more stuff, and I’m not going out with you.”

We’ll see what he does… I’ll just be over here in my Halloween Grinch outfit.

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A week ago I left the Boo in my husband’s care for the day. I had never done this before, as there had never been a need. But an uncle had died and there was a memorial in Detroit and we take our funerals seriously in my family, and so off I flew.

I was worried about how the baby would react to being away from me — I’d only ever been away from him for a few hours at a stretch. The day dawned and he slept late, so I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him — and he’d be asleep by the time I got back.

Naturally, he had a great time with Daddy. So great, in fact, that he now asks for him as soon as he wakes up in the morning. And when he wakes up from his nap. And it’ s only been a few weeks since he started calling out “Amma” when he wakes up.

The first few times, I thought it was sweet. Then it began to rankle. Nearly two years of constant care brought down by one day — one DAY! — of non-stop fun. Suddenly I was the proverbial chopped liver in my kid’s life.

But on the plus side, perhaps this means he’ll have an easy transition to school.

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Mama Body

I’d heard about it for years, but never quite believed it, this thing about pregnancy changing your body forever. Then I started trying on my pre-baby clothes.

I’m nearly 10 pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant, but try telling that to my midsection. It’s all, “Whatever, you go right on ahead and eat leafy greens and lean protein, yadda-yadda, I’m keeping ALL the fat RIGHT HERE! Because I LIKE IT”! Meanwhile, the best part of my butt is missing. It’s kind of like someone let the air out of it. Pfft! And recently when I felt brave enough to go bra shopping, I found I’d gone up a cup size — this despite never having produced enough milk for the baby. It’s kind of insulting.

It took me a while, but I figured out what happened. Clearly, they sent me home from the hospital with a post-partum poltergeist. Slowly and stealthily, it’s been working its evil magic on me while I sleep. It must be good, too, because I don’t ever sleep for long.

The list of changes is amazing, really. The nicest plumpness of my rear has been shipped up north of my waist, and apparently some of it continued on up to my chest. My skin went schizoid for a good three months. The texture of my hair became so alien to me that I’m still battling with it, a year and a half and three stylists later.

Yep, a poltergeist. That’s the only possible explanation. It actually makes sense, because I’m certain it hitched a ride amongst the free diapers — Pampers, as it happens. They’re made by Procter and Gamble. You know what else they make? Half the beauty and grooming products on the planet. You know who buys most of that crap? New moms who are all, “What the FREAK is happening to my body and how can I fix it?! Surely this magical shampoo/lotion/lip gloss will help!”

See, it doesn’t sound so crazy anymore, does it?

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“Enjoy every moment.”

“That’s kind of a lot of pressure.”

My response was out of my mouth before I could stop it. I may have offended her, or hurt her feelings, and I don’t feel great about that. I wasn’t trying to be mean or bitchy, but that nice lady I had just met unfortunately uttered my biggest motherhood advice pet peeve on a day when my speech filters were not fully operational.

She meant it nicely, of course. It’s one of the things people think they are supposed to say to people with babies. When you say it, the other person is supposed to smile and nod and maybe tilt their head to the side in a wistful manner. But there are a few reasons why it sets me off

First of all, as I said to her: I don’t need more pressure to do motherhood the right way. I put enough on myself, and the media takes care of the rest. Pick up an issue of “Parents” magazine and check out any article on Having Maximum Fun With Your Child to see what I mean. Perhaps I’m too much of a literalist, but the flip side of “enjoy every moment” is: If you’re not enjoying every moment, there’s something wrong with you, or your parenting skills, or both.

Secondly: What if you’re just having a bad day, or a string of them, because oh I don’t know… Insomnia, cramps, crushing headache, your sister/cousin/brother/dad/partner is being awful just then, you have no idea how you’re going to put the kid through Kindergarten. Granted, there are times when caring for a kid provides respite from bad days, but my experience is that being a parent on a day you just need a break from being a parent is the opposite of enjoyable. (Which is why I will never again have more than two glasses of wine on date night.)

Thirdly: Come on. Poopy diapers and teething and spitup and sleep deprivation suck, deeply, for a long time, and everyone knows it.

Finally: What if your kid is sick? I don’t mean like with a cold, I mean with cancer or some serious illness you can’t tell they have just by looking. My kid, for the record, is (knock wood) very healthy, but I do sometimes allow myself to think about what it would be like to deeply love a very sick child. There is no possible way parents of sick kids are enjoying every moment. They’re just enjoying the ones they can.

So maybe that’s the better statement: Enjoy as much as you can. It’s not as pretty, but it rings true to me.

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A few weeks back, I caught Drew Barrymore on Ellen. Charmingly daffy as always, she nattered on about her angelic baby girl and whipped up some vegan pasta for her hostess.

A few days ago, while trolling one of my mental check-out sites (you know you have a few), I read a few excerpts from this article.

In it, she talks about tie-dyeing her baby’s leggings during naps and developing a line of cosmetics for Walmart while she was pregnant. Because, you know, that’s what you do when you’re pregnant, right? But none of that bothered me nearly as much as this:

“When my daughter was born, I thought to myself, ‘How do I go past infinity with my efforts and care?’ “

Um, Drew. Honey. We all love you and understand that you’re not terribly hooked into reality, but come on. Throw us real mamas a bone. Talk about being exhausted at least once. Whine about something other than how to shield your daughter from the media’s glare. Acknowledge the mind-numbing, repetitive, occasionally terrifying drudgery of the first four months of caring for a baby.

I can only hope she did talk about those things and that they got edited out. I know she’s a celebrity with tons of hired help and organic grocery delivery and whatnot, but I’m still hopeful that underneath all her “mommyhood is a non-stop delight train” mumbo-jumbo there’s just a little bit of realness.



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Well, dear readers, in this breathless post I promised you an update on bifocal contacts. So here it is: They pretty much suck and are worthless.

See, pun intended, if you correct one eye for distance and one eye for reading, there’s a lot of territory left uncovered by both corrections. So if I wanted to see clearly far away, no problem. If I wanted to see clearly about 18 inches in front of my face, again, no problem.

But the middle distances, like, oh, across the room where the baby might be plugging his fingers into an outlet, were fuzzy and hazy and a lot of work to bring into focus. And the very close range, such as my baby’s sweet face? A total loss.

Also: I had no idea how much tiredness my glasses frames were covering for me.

And so, dear readers, that’s how I ended up with perhaps the grooviest pair of bifocals ever:


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Baby Baboo’s mop in utero.

Whenever I see a bald baby, I start to twitch with envy. Invariably, the parent of the bald baby has the same reaction to my baby’s Bieberesque ‘do and we end up saying how jealous we are of each other’s infant hair situation.

I’ll admit Baboo’s hair makes him look like a teensy rock star. (You’ll have to take my word on this since I don’t post photos of him here.) It’s long, but not quite long enough to stay tucked behind his ears. So I put a bobby pin in one side (he wears a deep side part). Then I spend the day putting the pin back in whenever it slips or he pulls it out. Which is at least a dozen times a day. I’d count, but that would be inviting madness.

And let me tell you: He does not like having that thing put in. I swear I’m very careful not to poke him, but if he sees it coming, he starts kvetching up a storm. So I often swoop down on him from behind and sneak the pin back in just after I set a few Cheerios on his high chair tray.

Then there’s the combing, which happens at least twice a day. Baby hair, if you are unfamiliar, is very fine and therefore prone to tangling, especially during naps and overnight. Because babies do a lot of physical work to go to sleep, or at least mine does. He tosses himself about getting comfortable and then he rolls around and smooshes his little face into the mattress until it’s time to get up. And if he has a cold, guess what’s in his hair when he wakes up? BOOGERS! That are also stuck to his face! And his hair!

I can hear you all thinking: Give that baby a haircut, you silly woman! I’ve been dying to, for months. But we are adhering to a Hindu tradition of not cutting the baby’s hair until he’s 11 months old. Happily, that milestone is less than two weeks away, and you can bet your boots I’ll be writing about the blessed event in this space.

Until then, though, I’m on hair wrangling duty. And doing my best to convince the baby that his name is not, “Look at that hair!”

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Speed Reading


We have a fantastic library system, but they really have their heads up their butts when it comes to digital book lending.

The e-book selection is odd and not terribly wide. Maybe they’re just getting going, or the person who’s in charge of picking titles has terrible taste. I can let this one go.

Want to search the e-books? Good luck with that — the interface is clunky and shunts you off to weird places, including the conventional collection.

The length of the lending period for e-books is anywhere from seven days to two weeks. And you can’t renew them. You have to go back through the download lending system, which is separate from the system for reserving physical books, DVDs and CDs. And then you might have to wait while a copy becomes available before you’re granted another seven days with the book.

What’s the point? Who reads that fast? Who wants to read a book for seven days at a time with breaks of God knows how long in between? Aren’t they supposed to be encouraging reading?

Maybe it’s a licensing issue, or a cost issue, but come on, there has to be some way to get it together so readers can, you know, read the books, use the library, yadda yadda.

I’m almost halfway through the digital version of Cloud Atlas (really enjoying it by the way, it’s great) and every time I open it, all I can think is that I only have a few more days with it before it vaporizes from my device. It’s kind of stressful. Most of my reading happens right before I go to sleep. I want to relax and enjoy, not whiz through the prose I’m meant to be enjoying.

And I have to say, I don’t really enjoy digital reading all that much anyway. Pardon me while I go reserve a physical copy of Cloud Atlas so I can finish it the old-fashioned way.

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Mad Face

Today’s kvetchitude is not mine, but the baby’s: He has officially started making a Mad Face. He busts it out when he’s frustrated, or displeased, or I close the dishwasher or fridge just as he comes crawling up.
Since I don’t post photos of him publicly, you’ll have to use your imagination. But this is it, exactly, only without glasses, with dark hair, and much, much, younger:


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Mmm, the white stuff.

Back when the baby was starting to eat solids, I was thrilled to discover that he loved yogurt. It seemed he would eat his weight in YoBaby if I let him. Awesome, I thought — probiotics, whole milk, and it’s organic — what’s not to love about this?

And then I read the side of the container and was far less thrilled. There are 11 grams of sugar in four ounces of the stuff. No wonder. I may as well have been putting two sugar cubes in front of him, or filling his sippy cup with Kool-Aid.

Just to see what would happen, I mixed some mashed banana with whole-milk Fage. He took a taste. He stared into the middle distance, seemingly considering whether he liked what he just opened his mouth for. And then he opened his mouth baby bird style, asking for more, over and over.

I admit I may be splitting hairs here — he’s been on formula pretty much since day one, and the first ingredient in that is corn syrup solids. I’ve never felt great about that, but I’ve made my peace with it. And there are plenty of websites and people who would have you believe that the body can’t tell the difference between honey, sugar, corn syrup and agave nectar. But I’m not in that camp.

But I still feel smug: No refined sugar, much cheaper, I know exactly what’s in it, it’s still good for him, it’s calorically dense, and he’s learning to love food that’s not crammed full of sugar. Victory on all fronts!

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