Does your sanity hang low; can you tie it in a bow?

Haven’t posted in a while. Had some lovely days, had some hard days.

And today was just really freaking long.

Spouse was gone for five days a while ago. Couldn’t blog about that because all my stalkers would know I was home alone with the kids, which would mean 1)my 2am fears of bumps in the night would be heightened and I’d never go to bed and 2)I’d burn all my energy being nicer because I’m convinced some of my stalkers work part-time for Child Protective Services and are working to build a case against me.

As my father says, just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re *not* out to get me.

Anyway, it was hard to be a single parent. But not awful. We only had one of those dreaded nights when both kids were crying at the same time, at maximal volume, and nothing soothed them and they wouldn’t sleep and there were gloppy spills and major appliances breaking and plague and pestilence and identity theft. Otherwise the time while the biggest set of boy parts was away was deep-breath-and-chocolate hard but not debate-narcotics-and-google-self-help-books hard.

Thanksgiving was fine. Not the dream holiday I build it up to be but not nearly dysfunctional enough to even blip the humor radar.

The thing about Spouse’s absence and holidays and school days and weekend days and every stinking day is that I’m muddling through. It’s fine, I’m okay, everything’s middling…and that’s starting to drive me nuts. I don’t actually get anything impressive done. I don’t actually feel much meaning in the days. Highs, sure, because my baby is delicious. Lows, sure, because my baby doesn’t sleep and my preschooler is in a phase and I have no child care and my dreams are tied up tightly in the garage under so many other boxes that I don’t even have the time or energy to peek at my hopes and aspirations, let alone take them out and coo at them.

Shit is just marching on; I’m marking time.

Not really a problem, given the world’s problems, you know?

Tonight, after a decent day, each time one of the kids screamed at me it was like being hit with a sharpened rake. Painful and brutal and crushing and temporary and defeating. But also not rising seas or hulking deficits or torture or roadside bombs or amputation or malnourishment.

And I was all set to feel sorry for myself and pout and be depressed in ways that I’d just love to do, for once, since I don’t even get to shower or pee or cook something self-nurturing most days and would like to be selfish and eat from a bag and ignore everyone else on the planet for a while (thanks, Heifer International catalog for making that pretty much impossible).

But I couldn’t crack a pout after a friend sent this link.

Now *that* is why I read blogs. Because it’s good to remember that “baby less dangerous”.

In which I whimper “Uncle”

Despite an almost four year track record of ink only on paper or skin, in compliance with my simple request—oft repeated and carefully monitored—there’s blue marker on my favorite couch pillow. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There’s blue marker on my favorite silk headband. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There’s blue marker on the carpet. Just a bit. It’ll come out.

There are long artistic streaks of blue marker on the backside of the curtains. A lot. It’ll come out. If it doesn’t, they’re cheap and replaceable. And it’s hidden.

The bigger problem is thathis was all before 7am. And then there was a relatively quick oil change at a creepy oil change chain with a tiny, depressing waiting room…jiffy, even—for an adult. But for a four-year-old it was enough time to go through all the toys, books, and snacks I brought then use coffee stirrer after coffee stirrer to spit at Mama and torment strangers and climb on the checkwriting counter and invent new songs and sing them loudly, then quietly when asked, then loudly, then quietly when asked, then loudly, then quietly when hissed at, then loudly until they called our name.

And then there was the supermarket where there was pushing the cart too hard and pulling the cart too fast and running off and responding to gentle and to polite and to clenched teeth and to threats all the same. Begrudgingly, nastily, saucily. And temporarily.

When told he would fall if he climbed on the side of the cart, he got off. When told again, and given a brief reminder about balance and gravity, he got off. When told again, he got off. And when I turned my back to load items onto the conveyor belt of “almost-done-thank-you-lord”-ishness, he tipped the cart, and I caught it with one arm just before it crushed him, righting the cart and wrenching my back all with baby strapped into the wrap on my chest. And I almost cried.

I told you. I told you. I ask everything politely and gently the first time. Second time. Third time. A million times a day you disregard and refuse and ignore and refute and sass. I still don’t know why you don’t listen. I mean…you do, then you don’t. It seems to go beyond the developmentally appropriate hear only what you like. And you totally deserve for that thing to fall on you. I hurt myself helping you. I daily hurt myself trying to help you.

And it doesn’t seem to matter. Whatever you want you do. Whatever I say you don’t want to do and you don’t do. You hit me no fewer than twenty times today just trying to leave school at the same time we always leave school.

I’m so sick of this. I’m done.

Except I can’t be.

This is the only job on the planet you can’t quit.

Birth announcement

Here’s the announcement a hypothetical mama might send:

The Naptime Writing Family blissfully welcome Hazelnut Nutella Naptime to the world! He made his entrance March 23 weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces and measuring 19 1/4 inches. Mom, Dad, Peanut, and Hazelnut are all doing well and can’t wait to get to know each other.

But here’s the announcement a hypothetical mama really wants to send:

The Naptime Writing Family joyously announce the arrival of Hazelnut Nutella Naptime! He reluctantly joined our family March 23 after 41-plus weeks of gestation and 47 hours of labor. His mama made it through 41 hours of unmedicated labor and arrived at 10 cm dilation just in time to pull a muscle in her back. She lost all ability to cope and sobbed for two hours about acquiescing to an epidural. Hazelnut’s ginormous melon was facing posterior and get stuck under mama’s skeletal structure, so five hours of pushing wasn’t enough to get him to join the air-breathing lot of us. Mama Nappy’s doc offered several unacceptable options and Hazelnut got forced into reality with heroic pushing and expert, though traumatic, vacuuming.

Unfortunately, that mode of birthing left mama in shambles, and she bursts into tears every time someone says, “well, at least he’s healthy” or “you’ll heal” because she knows that and really wishes you’d say something supportive instead of dismissive (unless you, too, are currently sporting more than two dozen stitches in your lower body, twenty pounds of active volcanic rock on your upper body, and have made it seven days on approximately 20 hours of sleep).

Mama and Hazelnut are resting at home, where Peanut is as sweet as can be to his baby brother, and as terrible as he can be to his parents. Hazelnut is perfectly delicious, opinionated, and ravenous. His doting family are surviving just on nips of his sweet breath and heavenly sounds and hoping things get a bit easier.

But we’re not holding our breath.

URL surprises abound

Did you know that, if, in a fit of rage, you type ihatemyhusband.com into the URL box thingie up top there, you get a squatter site that links to Russian brides? That is just six kinds of wrong.

And seriously? Nobody has claimed and developed these sites?
apathy.com
futility.com
whythehellbother.com
myhusbandbugsme.com
Iwanttothrottlemyhusband.com
mykidisdrivingmecrazy.com
mykidsaredrivingmecrazy.com
shootmenow.com

But these URLs forward as follows…
failure.com to a scientific and engineering firm
despondence.com is a clearinghouse for mental health ads

no surprise….
depression.com is owned by a Big Pharma company selling their bottled happiness. So why don’t they buy mykidsaredrivingmecrazy.com and iwanttoothrottlemyhusband.com ?

Don’t get mad…get worms

*Warning*
This post not for the squeamish. Or those who still think I should dump our cats in the Bay. If you’re easily creeped out or a cat-hater, come back tomorrow. I’ll write something lovely. Or depressing. But at least not gross.
*End Warning*

I’ll spare you the intro and get right to the phone call with the vet. Or rather, the vet’s office, populated with, as you will see, freaking jerk-ass zombie idiots sent to this planet to torment me.

Me: I’m calling to check the results of the sample I left yesterday (for my indoor cat, who should really stop licking shoes as a pasttime, else risk this particular medical issue again.)
Freaking Jerk-Ass Zombie Idiot Sent to This Planet to Torment Me: Let me check. [on hold for two minutes.] It came back negative.
M: Really.
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Yes. Negative.
M: The sample I brought that was crawling with worms came back negative for worms?
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Yes, ma’am.
M: I don’t have a lot of critical thinking skills lately, but I’ll try this one: which type of worms doesn’t show up on this $30 test?
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Let me check. Hold on. [on hold for two minutes] Ma’am? What did the worms look like?
M: [I give description I will spare you, but which was heard by this same Freaking Jerk-Ass Zombie Idiot Sent to This Planet to Torment Me yesterday when I dropped off the specimen and the day before on the phone.]
FJ-AZIStTPtTM: Okay. Hang on. [on hold for five minutes.] Ma’am? I’m going to have to call you back.

She doesn’t. Shocking, from a freaking jerk-ass zombie idiot sent to this planet to torment me.

An hour later I call the clinic again and get a recording saying they’re closed, and please don’t leave a message but call back when they’re open.

Look here, you $%^&#^%&)*#)($%^)*%^ers!!!! I spent ten minutes on the phone Monday, an hour of my precious child-free time on Tuesday, and now 15 minutes of my time today to find out NOTHING except that, now, the second cat has contracted the same @#(*$^%(*#@$ parasite that the first one has, in my house with a &@#&$*^*$ four-year old and adult male whose hygeine habits are suspect, approximately 2-4 weeks before I shoot a baby out of my lower personage? Really?

Really?

Are you serious? Do you want to rumble? Do you? Because really, genuinely, seriously? I can bring it, bitch. And if any of the humans in my family get this disgusting parasitic affliction because you’ve been INCOMPETENT, I will bring their “samples” daily to your waiting room and smear them on the walls.

Try me.

Wit’s end

Well, we’re on Day Four of absolutely unacceptable behavior at Chez Nap. In the past six days we’ve had four days of unbelievable, out of control, unreasonable, tantrum and violent outburst horseshit. And I’m running out of ideas for not beating my kid.

This morning Peanut played by himself for about 20 minutes, then asked for help making a fort. I tried several different ways of helping and each time he screamed at me that I was doing it wrong. So I offered to sit back and watch, and he agreed but told me to leave the room. When I sat in the next room and watched, he yelled at me to come play with him. I told him if he could speak nicely to me, I would play with him, but that I wouldn’t respond to yelling. He asked nicely. He pretended to fix his bike, and asked me to join him. Every tool I touched, every bicycle part I looked at, he screamed that I was doing it wrong. Mind you, we never tell him there is such thing as wrong. Everybody does things differently. Everybody has different ideas. Blah blah kumbaya.

So after being yelled at three times I told him I was going to go read in another room. He sobbed he needed me. I told him I’d try one more time but if he told me I was doing it wrong or if he yelled, I was leaving. Tried. Yelled at me to stop doing what I was trying. Left.

Now he was screaming, sobbing. Not having any of this, I calmly told him I would respond to nice requests for play but i don’t play with people who yell at me: not at home, not at work, not with my friends, not with my family. He screamed at me to go out in the pouring rain and 50mph winds to get him a cookie. Amazingly, I didn’t laugh. I’m open to having a cookie with breakfast, and we have two varieties in the house. But I’m not leaving in this weather to get you a different cookie. (I held back the “You freaking maniac weird-ass hostage taker.”)

He lost it. Screaming, throwing. I calmly said I didn’t tolerate this and would be in my room when he was ready to talk calmly. He threw child-sized furniture at my closed door. (No joke. Wish it was. Little chair, little step stool, little doll bed.) I was tempted to open the door and correct that behavior, but I knew I’d manhandle the little f—er and am trying really hard to model better anger choices. Like hiding in my room taking deep breaths.

When he calmed down I came out to talk. And he hit me. I used my words and he hit me again.

So I dissembled the fort. I kept responding calmly that we don’t treat people this way. That angry is okay and that hitting is not okay. That angry feels like too much but that cuddles or talking or breathing help. He hit me with his stuffed monkey and I put the monkey in timeout. And he lost it even more. I restrained him in my lap while he raged, but he sunk into a slump of sobbing after a few seconds. He cried in my lap for probably ten minutes.

After the bodysnatchers replaced the angry shell of jerk they had filled with nonsense and crazymaking with my son, I fed him, I talked to him, I played with him. And when the whole series started again an hour later, I just picked him up, kicking and screaming, and put him in the car. Because if we stayed home I would have beat him. We drove around for half an hour. And when he said he was ready to find new ways to be angry, I took him home. We ate lunch, we played Candyland, and we napped.

And I’m telling you, readers, I will not take another day like this.

This is not about me not entertaining him enough…there is a tidy house with a new project and lots of old, well loved toys available every morning. I help when asked, stay away when asked, and offer suggestions when asked. And if he’s at a loss, I initiate something fun and invite him to join me.

I’m doing my part. Now what the hell do I do with him?

Seriously. What do I do? What are the patient, gentle, respectful options? I will not be an emotional martyr in my own house.

Every evening at dinner we go around the table and ask each other: What made you feel happy today? When did you feel sad? Frustrated? Angry? Surprised? Excited?

And when Peanut asked me tonight what made me happy I burst into tears.

Babies are cute and cuddly…

…but they grow up.

Awoke yesterday morning to a small child climbing onto our bed. Cowboy hat, cat mask, and Mardis Gras beads which he was swinging over his head and cracking like a whip. I greeted him sweetly as I got smacked with beads and mentioned that necklaces are for wearing, not hitting. He said, “But that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m in the mood to hurt somebody.”

He’s nothing if not self aware.

It got much, much worse from there. I offered to take him to a playground to get out his energy (at 7am. Because I know how these days go.) He refused and tried to antagonize me by throwing clean laundry from the basket onto me. I refused to take the bait and offered to brush his teeth for breakfast. He took of his socks, threw them, then SCREAMED “Go get my socks!”

Um, no.

For the next 30 minutes, he kicked and sobbed and screamed at the top of his lungs that I should get his socks. I calmly replied, each time, that he took off his socks, he threw them, and he could get them if he wanted. After he screamed even more loudly, I left the room, explaining that I don’t stay in the same room as people who act this way, but that I’d be happy to play with him or talk to him when he’s calmed down. He slammed doors and began to throw books. I escorted him out of my room and told him he could not be in my room if he was unable to control his anger. I told him asking for a hug was a great way to help get some calm when your anger feels like too much. He hugged me and clawed at my back. I stood up and told him I wouldn’t hug someone who tried to hurt me. He asked for another hug. I squatted to give him one and he pulled my hair with his teeth.

This went on and on and on for almost an hour, with me calmly removing myself and him escalating. I had more patience in reserve because the day before I had screamed at him when he bit me, and had grabbed him so hard (to tell him that hurting people when you’re angry is not okay), that Spouse noticed abrasions under Peanut’s armpits at bathtime. Carrying luggage on your shoulder through the whole Denver airport kind of broken capillary marks. Peanut said they didn’t hurt, and there were no bruises, but I was horrified and mortified and guilt ridden. So the next morning my remorse allowed one full hour of bullshit to get only calm, measured, parental responses. Because I’d rather teach him that freaking out doesn’t have any benefit, and that controlling anger is a useful skill. But I’m a terrible role model. Awful. Horrible. Trying to reform. Feeling penitent when small person has trouble with anger because he has two quick-tempered, often angry parents. Who have vowed never to hit or hurt him for all the reasons that wielding violence and fear do not work. One of whom just totally failed.

And then he stopped. After an hour of shouting at me and holding me emotional hostage he asked, “‘if I get my socks would you please put them on?”
Yes, I will.
“Thanks. Can I please have a blanket so I can lie down on the couch? I’m exhausted.”
Ya think?

And after Spouse got back from his morning track meet I left the house for the rest of the day. I had several projects to finish this weekend, including a reread of a book I’m editing, and I just couldn’t bear another day of anger and screaming and nonsense. It felt so good to sit in the car reading, to wander a grocery store slowly and without having to explain/correct/process/direct anybody else, it overwhelmed me. Why do I never get any time to think or be alone?

This…THIS…is what happens after I get a week of really impressive fun and tolerable behavior from my intense, persistent, sensitive, shy, empathic, high energy kid. An hour of screaming and biting and hitting. Most days are a mix of wonderful and terrible. If I get more than one day of wonderful, I pay in spades. [All the people who are impressed with his behavior on trips? THIS is what we get when we arrive home and he needs to decompress from all that “being good” (which we never label or praise it but which members of a different generation can’t seem to resist endlessly extolling).]

Gee, after mornings like that, why do I seem so scared to have two?

What I really want to do is direct

It’s overcast and cold today and I’m feeling melancholy. This, in addition to reminding me why I shudder each time Spouse recommends Portland, Oregon as a solution to his job woes and our financial woes, makes this MLA panel piece by Brian Croxall on the dismal prospects for academics in my field lately even more poignant.

(The punchline, if you don’t feel like reading it? Full time professors these days qualify for food stamps, and jobs for both Tweedy Tenure Track and its neglected stepchild Oliver Adjunct are beyond pathetic, hurting students, graduates, and Universities in a rather horrifying spiral. A rather nasty, brutish, and short career view paper read at an MLA panel that complements today’s intensely depressing Fresh Air interview of Woody Allen. Come on, people. The decade was bad enough without this layer of realism and honesty. It’s like living in a William Dean Howells novel today.)

It’s no fun to be depressed without some data to back you up. So here you go, courtesy of a Tweet by my recent conference panelmate Matt Bucher. Thanks, man. Contagious academic depression is almost enjoyable as an academic dissection of a funeral. Cheers!

Just one day.

I want one day.
ONE day in which I don’t need tricks and techniques and reverse psychology to get my job done. I want ONE day in which I’m in charge of only my own actions, in which I get stuff done without taking six times as long as should be necessary because it will be just me and the voices in my head.
I want ONE day in which things are easy; where I ask and things happen. Calmly. Happily. Without whining or crying or throwing or hitting or questions or bullshit. I want ONE g-dd-mned day where I don’t have to explain safety and society and polite and dangerous and inappropriate and unacceptable. ONE day where I don’t need to consciously reinforce all the good behavior of someone else in a DESPERATE attempt to stave off the batshit insane bad behavior that I can’t even label “bad” because it’s not the way I want to do things.
I want ONE f—ing day where I can just operate on my own list, focusing when I want to, spacing when I want to, and taking freaking breaths when I want to. One day with clear goals and outcomes, milestones and markers, measurement and metrics, respect and a f—ing paycheck.
I want ONE day where nobody tells me about their bowels or their bladder or makes me help them evacuate either. I want ONE day where I actually feel like I’m doing a good job. Where I don’t need a g-dd-mned book to give me suggestions for making things smoother and can operate without needing freaking experts telling me how to get through the day without homicide and suicide and infanticide and freaking increasing the shockingly low child abuse rate.
ONE day where I don’t have to explain or cajole or bargain or compromise or invent games to convince everyone but myself that life is fun and washing hands is wonderful and eating is jolly. One day where the growth, development, life, or death of people around me is really none of my concern and certainly not my responsibility. I just want to do my day.
I want ONE day. ONE. One. 1. Just one.
Or I want a 60 hour a week job so someone else does this b-llsh-t for me.
Never mind. I want an 80 hour a week job. The weeks I handled a 120 hour work week, all billable hours, I barely had enough energy to shower. I want that again. Someone else handle this. Someone who’s good at it. For just one day. Or maybe forever.

Look! It’s rant time!

To whomever wrote: “You’re probably feeling a whole lot better as you settle into your second trimester. Less nausea, fewer mood swings, and “glowing” skin contribute to an overall sense of well-being.” SCREW YOU, LIAR!

To the cat whose illness has led to feces on my bed, urine all over my house, and a $400 vet bill with a shrug and an “I’m not sure what’s wrong with him,” SCREW YOU! Next time you get sick I’m spending the money on an iPod and you get a brick in a pillow case.

To the vet clinic who told me to collect feces and urine for my cat then forgot to give me the kit and locked the doors before I had even gotten to the car: Screw you, too. I’m not coming back for the kit then going home then coming back with samples. Screw you a lot. Now YOU get to come over and collect feces and urine. For all the family members. I do it every other day; now it’s your turn.

To the phlebotomist who closed the lab ten minutes before we got there: Screw you. No, I didn’t check your hours by calling or anything. But who the hell runs a lab open 9am to 4:30pm, closed for lunch 12-1? Seriously? Do you do any work? I collected a toddler and a sick cat, both of whom needed more than the usual amount of fecal clean up today, got the noisier of the two into the car and drove half an hour for your stupid one vial of blood intended to scare me about all the things that could, hypothetically, but we can’t tell you with any certainty, what might be wrong with my poor, maligned, nauseating Hazelnut. Screw you, lab tech. You give phlebotomy a bad name. and sphignomenometers. And sternocleidomastoids. And stuff like that.

To the librarian who accused us of returning a DVD case with no DVD: SCREW YOU! I always double check because I don’t want to walk all the way down here and have to go back for a stupid disc. AND, I don’t rent baby Einstein crap. No, I didn’t. No, I didn’t. Stop telling me I need to go home to get it. I’ve never IN MY LIFE checked that crap out of your library. I’ve never seen that DVD in my existence. No, I didn’t. Oh, and how do you propose I do that? Buy a new one and give it to you? Screw you. I may have mentioned that, but it bears repeating. SCREW YOU. Oh, you’ll double check? That’s so thoughtful. Oh, it wasn’t me? Oh, you’re paging a different library patron without apologizing to me? You’re ignoring me now? SCREW YOU! I’ve never liked you. You’re greasy, icky, and rather creepy and give my kid a bad image of the few male librarians on this planet. You know what? I’ve taken bibliographic methods. I’ve aced out of all the methodological and theory-based library sciences courses. I could OWN you if I felt like it. Don’t ever accuse me of Baby Einstein Forgetting again.

You know what, world? Screw you. Screw all the nasty people and the yucky people and the rude people. Screw all y’all. Cuz I don’t have the patience for your asinine driving, ugly looks, rude cell phone talking, and general in-my-way-getting. Get off this planet, you jerks. Especially the dude who took the last jar of m—-f—ing olives today. Screw you. You’d think I’d have something new or clever to say, wouldn’t you? Nope. Screw you. You people are killing me. And you don’t need those olives like I do.
I hope global warming takes out, like, 85% of you by next year.

(And to the little emotional sponge who lives in my house, who is way intense and way sensitive and way perceptive and way neophobic, I’m sorry dude. I know when I’m way off my rocker it’s even harder for you. I watched as each of these little wrongs in our day sent me further and further from reacting well, you absolutely melted down. Sorry, friend. We’ll both get some sleep and one of us will have a really, really dreamy can of caramel colored sugar water and tomorrow will be better. That said, if you ask “why” one more time I’m ripping your arms off and shoving them down your throat.)

We now rejoin our midlife crisis, already in progress

We went to the guitar store today to restring Peanut’s awesome little 1/2 scale SX guitar. He earned it potty learning, when he got 20 dry days in a row (and therefore 20 stickers) at 21 months. He bought himself a guitar with the stickers. You’re damned right, kiddo. Not yet two and dry all the time? Guitar? Fine.

Well the trip to the guitar mecca coincides with a midlife crisis I’ve been contemplating, based in part on the nausea I’m feeling at life, my choices, and the impending and rapidly growing BOMB that will descend on my already precarious situation. My midlife crisis today looked a LOT like a $2660 twelve string guitar. Then it looked like an $80 used and totally awesome used natural ash wood bass for the band my newest peeps and I are starting. Then my midlife crisis looked like a miraculous $3200 keyboard that sounded honest to goodness like a well tuned piano.

And then my midlife crisis reminded me what end was really up. Because besides not having even the $80 for a bass, I don’t have time for a new hobby. I have a novel to edit. Again. I have a paper to submit, another paper to write, and a PhD application to ponder for next fall. I have to find a babysitter and a preschool.

I grabbed an Atwood at the library, because there’s nothing to counter balance 32 picture books like an Atwood. We got home late and I had to wash dishes and make dinner. Peanut was in a lovely mood and tried to dump out a whole canister of ground flax. Sealed, luckily, but he was willing to test Oxo’s sturdy seal.

I asked him nicely to put it down, and he did. Sweetly. In the dining room. I continued thinking about whether, really, cowboy boots would serve the same purpose as a guitar, as midlife crises go. Maybe I’d need them for the band (blues, I think, but whatever. Everything goes with buckaroo boots.)

I went into the dining room to give Peanut some carrot sticks. He had dumped all the flax neatly on the table and was sorting it into piles. I took a deep breath and told him to get down. I asked, as I gathered the placemat parking lots, what he was trying to do. He was making pretend smoothies. Sure. okay. As I brought the soapy sponge back and forth from the kitchen, I explained that while pretend is a good idea, his pretend kitchen is a better place for pretend juices. And that using real food for pretend food isn’t a good idea. And that I understand how he wants to help, so he can make a real blender juice with my help. But real food always needs a yes from Mommy.
Okay?
Well, kind of. Except that now, at the dining room table, he has his face burrowed into my brand new, 64 oz. jar of organic kosher pickles. tongue fully extended, licking the brine in the freaking jar. i collapsed on the floor. Took a deep breath. Contemplated a good cry and realized that I already had his cold, so, no harm no foul. I mean, really, really foul, but I’ll be done with the pickles in a few days, so…meh. I told him how not okay it is to put hands or mouths on containers of food. I try to explain, I try to be forceful but casual. I remember a gorgeous burbinga wood guitar and take another breath.

So we make a smoothie together. He’s happy and proud of his blueberry pouring skills. I’m almost ready with dinner. I turn away to get cups for the juice. I pour the juice. I turn away to get lids for the juice.

And now I need one fewer lid because he’s poured all of one juice on himself, trying to get to the purple one first. “you can’t have thee purple one,” he began, before getting really wet and cold.

Here’s the thing, people. I’m barely hanging on. And now the flax-y sponge has to sop up 12 ounces of blueberry smoothie. WHY CAN’T PREGNANT WOMEN DRINK, AGAIN?

I don’t think a late night trip to the pawn shop to trade my wedding ring for a guitar is too much to ask.

Well, the jinx is comin’ to roost

Peanut is being tremendously sweet lately. And willingly playing by himself. And helping around the house and being polite. And sleeping.

Which is probably why I’ve been unbearably nauseated for three weeks. If I’m awake, I want to puke. I give in more and more frequently, but even after succumbing, the need is still there, every waking second of every day. If I wake at night, it takes three seconds before I register, “Oh, crap, again?”

So, clearly I have a stomach ulcer or an inner ear cyst. Maybe it’s a tumor. I’m only four weeks late, so it couldn’t be THAT. It can’t be THAT. I have to be really honest, I don’t want it to be THAT. See that paragraph above, where P is being reasonable and semi-self-sufficient? So it can’t be THAT. I can’t have made it this to far to have it be THAT. I finished and submitted a novel. I’m getting client work. I can’t be in the black hole for another three years.

So I’m opening up a plea for nausea advice. The regular stuff doesn’t work. Empty stomach, full stomach, doesn’t matter. Please don’t say “just don’t let yourself get too hungry” or I’ll throw up. The “little bites of cracker all day” wind up tossed on my neighbors lawn when we go for a walk. Fresh air is clearly not the answer, for I haven’t been on a walk or run without making an impromptu pitstop.

For a couple of weeks, nothing but the sugar from my Glee gum stayed down before 11am, and anything before 1pm was dicey. Now it’s the reverse. Fruit and cereal might stay down in the morning, but after nap all bets are off. Back to the Glee. At no time does the desire to self-remove my stomach with a rusty grapefruit spoon go away.

Ginger (fresh or candied or tea or Ginger People candy) makes me puke. Sour juices make me puke. Tea makes me puke. Water makes me puke. Miso soup only stays down for a little while. Salt and vinegar chips help a bit but only at dinner. Lemon lollipops help a bit. Motion sickness bands may or may not help, but I wear them for at least 12 hours every day. just in case. A voodoo doll of Spouse is not helping anything. Bargaining with all manner of deity seems to have no effect. Further proof that other peoples’ gods care more about football than about my being able to take care of my kid.

So what to do? Help out a lady who has some sort of gall bladder disorder or inner ear tumor. Because clearly it’s not THAT. Back three years ago when it was THAT I subsisted on almonds and oranges and only wanted to puke all day and night. I didn’t actually void several times a day. Plus, back then I was tired. Now I’m not tired. Except for the whole haven’t slept much in three years thing.

I’m seeing a doctor tomorrow because clearly it’s some sort of intestinal cancer. I think I’m seeing an oncologist. Or something that sounds like oncologist. I don’t remember. I made the appointment a couple of weeks ago and they said I could wait two weeks because I have, like, nine seven months to live.

Can’t you do those sums in your head?

Number of times kid woke me last night, screaming, scared, or needy: three

Number of times spouse work me last night, snoring: three

Number of times cat #1 woke me last night, kneading kitty bread on my all-too supple belly: two

Number of times cat #2 woke me last night, yowling to go outside, totally ignoring the eight year precedent as an exclusively indoor f–king cat: two

Total times some other creature woke me last f–king night: look, I got an A+ in calculus at a pretty prestigious University, but I can’t even add right  now. And does the number really matter? I am the grouchiest (what is the right word? “bitch” has too many connotations that my anger and frustration are misplaced because I’m a woman which is false [the misplaced part not the woman part…as though there is a “woman part”]; “a–hole” connotes that I’m less shitty today because I more puckered; and “motherf—er” just doesn’t work right for so many reasons…let’s try again) the grouchiest shell of a human this side of Alaska.

Aaaaargh!

I think I need a career as a pirate. Those f—ers get some respect.

Something of worth

If you take some time to focus on the present, to take every day as it comes and honor each moment, rather than looking back at the demons chasing you, they will catch you and claw their way up your back and slow your progress to a crawl as they cling to your neck and head.

So go ahead and run from them, and glance back every now and then to make sure they’re not gaining on you. Because if you focus on the present, tomorrow will absolutely suck, in terms of psychic pain and gouged eyeballs and whatnot.

This sunshine-y moment of zen (which came from realizing I’m made to be an aggressive, constant-list-of-projects, hard-on-myself-if-they’re-not-all-done kind of gal rather than a cheerful, live-each-moment-to-the-fullest type), is brought to you by a perfect storm of personality, internalized social expectations, perfectionism, shitty economy, massive errors in judgment, self-absorption, and the lies we’ve  all been told about having it all. With whipped cream and a three-year-old on top.

En garde.

Okay. I’m here to pick my battles. I’m done, little tyrant. Things are gonna be different because I’m here to declare, on national blogovision, where I draw the line.

This is pretty simple. Listen to me. Listen to my words. Listen to me, you f—ing little freeloading ball of attempts to become an individual. You can have all the opinions you want, you can make most of the decisions. But f—ing listen to me! Not the third time, not the eighth time, not just when I give up on my parenting willpower and patience reserves and yell. Listen to me the motherfucking first time, you parental hostage taker.

Trash stays in the trash can. Why is that so hard? Don’t touch trash. Don’t grab it, feel it, shake it upside down. It’s trash, you little eating-whining-pooping robot. It’s the same trash I’ve gently steered you away from since you could move under your own power. Please touch something else. Please step over here. Please go around. Please put down the f—ing trash. Because I’m picking this battle.

We pee in the toilet. Not on the floor just because it’s funny. Not in the cat box. The litter box is for cats. Yes, I know you can meow, but you’re not a cat. No you’re not. No you’re not. Fine, you are, but your kind of cat uses the toilet. Yes it does. Yes it does. Oh, I see. This is not your house and in your house the rules are different. Okay. Then go there. Because in this house we pee in the toilet and only in the toilet. You’ve been out of diapers for more than a year. You know full well what your body can and cannot do. And choosing to piss me off by pissing on my floor is a big ball of not okay.  I’ve chosen this battle, as well.

We use gentle touches with the cats. Would you like it if someone hit you? Kicked you? Pulled your tail? Well, they don’t like it either. And I’ve been telling you this for months. Redirection isn’t working. Positive reinforcement isn’t working. Clear explanations aren’t working. Empathy lessons aren’t working. If you can’t be gentle you don’t get stories or toys or breakfast or lunch or dinner and I may just lock you in your room until college, you little AP expermient gone horribly, horribly wrong. Don’t hurt the cats. Be friendly with the cats. Or I will teach you the word rue. For I have chosen this battle, as well.

We use gentle touches with daddy. Would you like it if he hit you? Kicked you? Well he doesn’t like it either. And I’ve been telling you this for months. Don’t make my retype the whole cat admonition, just replacing your father’s name for the cats’ names. I don’t want to say it again. I didn’t want to say it the first two hundred times, calmly, gently, in short declarative sentences at eye level with explanations when necessary. Don’t. Hit. Or nobody will like you, including me. Unconditional love is a myth they tell kids who watch TV and you don’t get more than half an hour a week, so don’t come crying to me about how I’m supposed to love you no matter what. I picked this battle, too.

That’s it. I picked my battles. Know what they come down to?  Listen to me. When I have to say things twice I sweat. When I have to say things three times I twitch. When I have to say things four times I yell. And when I have to say things five times I lose my shit and contemplate horrible things including your sale to the gypsies, my escape to the tropics, and choosing a soulless career in any one of the three hundred jobs I had before you sucked the life and brain out of me just to get away from you.

Go to the trash, would you,  please, and fetch mommy’s sanity. Sweetie? Would you please help Mommy and get her self esteem out of the trash? Peanut—please go take my selfhood out of the trash and bring it to me.

Jayzus. Do you hear me? I need you to listen to my words…go get my life out of the crapper.