Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Perfect Balance

When I was in college, my sister-in-law and I took a yoga class together.  While all the ladies around me balanced gracefully with their legs around their ears, I spent most of the time on the floor laughing.  "Down dog" was about the only position I could execute without falling over sideways.  (If I ever get pulled over for suspicion of DUI I know I'm going to fail the sobriety test.  I couldn't walk a straight line if my life depended on it).

Even after several weeks, I never got better at balancing.  One day, the instructor looked around the room of statue-like poses and in a deeply zen manner said, "Wherever you are is perfect."  And then she glared pointedly at me.  (Okay, okay, so yoga isn't my forte.  But you haven't seen me use one hand to balance two crying toddlers on my hips.  Now that's a skill...)

Ever since that day I've wondered why she couldn't stop herself from that glare.  It's not like I was clueless.  Not only was I fully aware of her superior flexibility and balance (and how well the rest of the class was doing), she had made it painfully obvious that she was frustrated by my ineptitude.  Yoga is supposed to be peaceful and meditative and soul-renewing, not punctuated by glares and irritated sighs.  

Welcome to Yoga, where everyone is perfect... except for you.

Cue entry into parenthood, where no matter what you are going through at the moment, someone will say, "You have it easy now.  Just wait until you have [fill in the blank]."  Two kids.  Four kids.  Toddlers.  Tweens.  Teenagers.  Licensed drivers.  Soccer games.  Music lessons.  Dance recitals...

Translation:  I have it harder than you.   You should be handling this more gracefully.  (Yoga translation: Everyone else is perfect.  You, on the other hand... *glare*).

Look, nobody else is perfect, nor are they handling things perfectly.  Wherever you are isn't perfect, it's hard.

One kid?  That's hard.

Two kids?  Still hard.

Screaming toddlers?  Hard.

Hormonal tweens?  Hard.

Rebellious teenagers?  Hard.

So, before you elbow the mother-of-the-crying-child in the check-out line at Target and say, "Just wait until he's a teenager!", think!  When your child was a tantrum-throwing, snot-covered toddler, it was HARD.  Just because you're far enough removed from the experience that all you remember is lollipops and rainbows, does not mean that someone dodging gunfire in the trenches wants to hear, "Enjoy it now!  You'll miss those bullets someday!"

Parenthood is not a contest.  It's not a game where the object is to rack up the most Persecution Points.  (Oh, I see your toddler wiped his used diaper all over the carpet, but my teenager just snuck out in the middle of the night and wrecked my car!  More points for me!)  It's not a matter of blue ribbons or trophies or angel wings or who made the most sacrifices.

It's a matter of raising humans.  Of making mistakes.  Of surviving and becoming better.  And it needs support, because parenting is incredibly, incredibly hard.  

So, next time you see a mother struggling, don't tell her she has it easy now.  Don't say, "Enjoy that little shrieking brat who is trying to hit you!"  Don't turn up your nose and opine, "Teenagers are so much harder" or "Wait until the hormones hit!"  Say, "You're doing just fine."  "This is such a hard age.  It will get better."  "You're a good Mom.  Keep at it!"

Because lifting others, helping others, wherever you are...

Now that's perfect.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pregnancy: A Guide to Asking Questions

Pregnancy:  A condition that causes strangers, casual acquaintances, and even some friends and family members to behave like complete buffoons.

How do I know this?  Hahaha!  Surely you jest.

For some reason, anything related to childbirth tends to short-circuit common courtesy and tact.  So, as a public service, I present to you a guideline for asking questions.  There is just one simple trick:

Would a similar question (or statement) be appropriate when a woman is not pregnant?

For example:

To Pregnant Woman:  "Do you plan to deliver vaginally or by c-section?"

To NotPregnant Woman:  "What are your upcoming plans for your vagina?"

See?  It's easy.

Still unsure?

To PW:  "Was this pregnancy a surprise?"

To NPW:  "Did you intend to have sex with your husband last Tuesday?"

---------------

To PW:  "Are you going to breastfeed?"

To NPW:  "What do you intend to do with your breasts for the next year?"

----------------

To PW:  "Did you do fertility treatments?"

To NPW:  "Are your breasts real?"

-----------------

To PW:  "You look huge!"

To NPW:  "My, you're fat!"

-----------------

To PW:  "Should you be eating that?"
To NPW:  "Should you be eating that?"

-----------------

To PW:  *Pats belly*
To NPW:  *Pats belly*

------------------

To PW:  "Are you pregnant?"

To NPW:  "Are you pregnant?"

I don't care if the woman is "obviously" pregnant.  Believe me, as someone who has been mistaken for being "obviously" pregnant, nothing is more demoralizing than a person checking out the box of Godiva chocolates that settled just south of your belly button and asking, "When are you due?"

As a rule, I would say that most women like to be (very) well-acquainted with someone before discussing their private parts, their sex life, their weight, or any of their plans for the future.  (Of course, knowing what the college bar scene is like these days, maybe that's just me...)  But think, people.  Think before you speak.  Realize that 99% of what is going on with any woman's body is absolutely none of your business, pregnant or not.

And if you simply must ask a question, try one of these:

"Would you like my chair?"

"You look beautiful!"

"May I help you with that?"

Or my favorite:

"Have some chocolate."

And please, please keep your hands to yourself.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kids

Kids like little holes.  Specifically, putting things in little holes.  Which is how we ended up with a bead shoved all the way down Matthew's ear canal Wednesday afternoon, courtesy of Leah.  Thanks, Leah.

Of course, this is better than tiny objects up the nose (if I had a nickel for every Lego I've removed from Matthew's nose... never mind the marshmallow incident...).  Or at least I thought so, until I found out my son would have to go to the hospital and be sedated so they can remove a bead from his ear.

I can just imagine the waiting room now:

"My son is having tubes put in his ears."

"Mine is having having his tonsils out."

"Mine has a bead stuck in his ear..."

Oh well.  I  can record it in my Great Moments in Parenting, right next to the time I had to call Poison Control on Leah twice in one month ("Wild hyenas would be more qualified to raise children than you are, Mrs. Overly...") and the time Matthew and Leah both fell all the way down the stairs within two minutes of each other while I was standing, oblivious, ten feet away.

At least something in the ear canal won't migrate to his brain while we wait for Matthew's "procedure" this afternoon.  And at least the bead can't go past the eardrum.  (Come to think of it, maybe this is payback for the time Matthew jammed a q-tip through Leah's eardrum).

I don't know if it's because I am operating at Full Frazzle this week or what, but my kids seem to be on a mission to send me to the loony bin. My sweet, girly Leah -- when she wasn't sticking beads in her brother's ear -- peed on my lawn this week.  Yes, you read that right.  The only child with non-adjustable private parts peed on my lawn.

When she got in trouble for stripping off her panties and watering the grass, she wailed over the unfairness of it all.  "But Michael and Matthew peed on the lawn and didn't get in trouble!"

Um, what?

"Matthew, did you pee on the lawn?"

"Yes."

"Michael, did you pee on the lawn?"

"No...  well, not on the lawn.  Just in the window well."

Oh good, because that's SO MUCH BETTER.

Really, I'm just telling you all this because I feel it justifies the fact that I ate nothing but pumpkin candies for dinner last night.  Normally about three of those things is enough to send me into sugar shock, but it's just been that kind of week.

Don't judge.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Every Mother a Critic

I just watched a video of a c-section, because I'm weird like that.  And all I have to say is that is abundantly clear why you are in so much pain afterward.  I mean, good heavens, they go in there and rip things apart without even using a knife for all of it.  They rip things.  Lots of things.  Ouch.

Of course, vaginal births aren't the most fun either.  Really, there is just no good way to get a baby out of you.  Which is one of my questions for God.  I mean, wouldn't childbirth be easier if the exit were, say, a little more exit-y?  Maybe if there were some kind of zipper involved?

Of course, there is no good way to get a baby out of you, but according to the internet, there is a right way.  And it doesn't involve epidurals.

Now, I know "women have been doing it this way for thousands of years" and I have no problem with natural childbirth.  If you want to ride that pony, be my guest.  But, keep in mind, the reason women did it that way for thousands of years is because they didn't have any other options.  Personally, I like to think that, given the choice, Eve would have been like, "Epidural?  Yes, please!"

So, if you choose to give birth naturally, afterward your line is, "I loved my birth experience!" not "I am superior to anyone who has an epidural!" 

Epidurals are not of the devil.  But making other mothers feel like failures is.

Honestly, ladies, enough with the one-true-and-holy-childbirth thing.  As well as the one-true-and-holy-way-to-feed-an-infant thing.

Seriously, in case you've missed it, breastfeeding is a movement now.  Not just a way to feed your baby, but a moral superiority card you can play whenever someone criticizes you for whipping out your Double D's in the middle of Olive Garden.  (Just type "Nurse-in" into google and you'll see what I mean).

Is breastfeeding great?  Absolutely!  Should you be able to feed your baby anywhere and anytime you need to?  Certainly!  But you know what else is great?  Politeness.  Kindness.  Not flashing your boobs at everyone around you just because the law is on your side.

Also great?  Formula!  Isn't it wonderful that so many babies are growing up healthy and strong thanks to this scientific advancement?  So why do mothers go around criticizing other women for not breastfeeding?  "You're feeding your baby something that is meeting all his nutritional needs!  How dare you?!"

Um, yeah.

Unfortunately, the criticism doesn't stop there.  Pacifiers.  Diapers.  Sleep training.  Potty training...  need I go on?

Let's lay aside the judgment, ladies.  There is more than one way to do all of these things.

And more than one way to do them right.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What's in a Name?

"That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."

Really, would it now?  Because I don't think William Shakespeare would have penned these words if he lived after Utah came along.

2014 Romeo:  "I know you're a Capulet and I'm a Montague, but names don't really mean anything... Wait, what was your name again?"

Utah girl:  "Braxleigh."

Romeo:  "Uh... never mind.  Just forget I said anything."

(Braxleigh is a real Utah name, you guys.  I'm not making this up).

Unfortunately, most of the ridiculous names I've seen lately are for girls, so not useable.  (*Sniff*  Byrklee.  *Sniff*)  But thankfully, luck appeared just yesterday in the form of a small boy knocking on my door.

"Who are you?" I asked, just before his grandmother appeared from around the corner and said, "His name is Draygen."  (sp?)

"Have you been drinking?" I asked.

"No, his name is really Draygen."

Okay, I made that up.  I didn't actually ask if she'd been drinking.

But since I'm such a generous person, I bequeathed the usage rights for the name Draygen (and any of its possible variations -- Dragon, Dragen, Dr'Agen, Draegon, or Draygon) to a friend of mine who is also expecting a baby boy.

This left me with quite a problem, since the perfect boy name is now in the hands of someone else.  Luckily, my sister, who has taken to texting me name suggestions on a daily basis, came through for me today:

"I have a boy bible name for you," she said.  "Izaak."

"Twin brother to Muzak?" I asked.

"Yes, and sister Prozak."

Prozak!  It's brilliant!

Prozak Zyrtek Overly.

What do you think?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Names and Other Issues

I disappeared.  Again.  

Sorry about that.  It's just that I was busy spending all my spare time with my face in my pillow.  

I'm not kidding.  I wasn't just tired, I was I HAVE TO TAKE A NAP RIGHT NOW OR I'LL DIE tired.  (You should have seen me at Legoland this summer trying to nap while standing in line).  That, coupled with 24/7 nausea might have made me a little bit anti-social and grumpy (sorry, neighbors!)  Don't worry, it wasn't you.  It was me.

Okay, it actually wasn't me.  It was baby number 4, due to arrive in early February!!!

We are thrilled, obviously, though I still find myself not quite believing this is for real.  (11 years of infertility will do that to you).  After I took several pregnancy tests I left them in my nightstand drawer and then went back every five minutes to check on them.  For three days.  (Yep, still says "positive"...  Wait, really??  Let me check the instructions again...)

I was convinced that this little one was a girl, if nothing else because Michael never caused this much trouble in utero (even my twin pregnancy didn't wipe the floor with me the way this one has).  We had a name picked out and everything.  But to our great shock, ultrasound says 100% boy!

So now I need name help.  Because I have about 15 girl names I like and ZERO boy names.  Zero.  But, if you are going to help me with names, first, you have to know my rules for naming:

1.  You are naming a person, not a pet.  I just saw some friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook who named their new baby (a human, presumably) "Lynx".  These are the kind of people who make me fear for the state of humanity.

2.  This baby will need to get a job someday.  A respectable job.

3.  You should know how to pronounce his name as soon as you see it.

4.  You should know how to SPELL his name as soon as you hear it.  Nobody wants to spend a solid third of their life explaining how their parents were drunk and playing Scrabble when they decided to spell Michael M-Y-K-I-L-E.

5.  All my other children have biblical names.  Normal biblical names.  I'm not saying it has to be biblical, but it does have to be normal.  No Methuselah or Nebuchadnezzar or Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.

6.  Like I said, it doesn't have to be biblical, but it does need to dwell solidly in the realm of classic or traditional names.  (You really can't have a Michael, Matthew, Leah, and then a Denim Diesel).  

7.  It should be clear what gender the baby is based on name alone.  I know it's the in-thing for parents to be all, this is my baby girl "James", but that's NOT NICE.  Not nice at all.

8.  Naming after a person is fine.  Naming after a thing or a brand is not.  (This is my son "Eiffel Tower Lego" just doesn't cut it).

That's easy enough, isn't it?

Thanks in advance!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Insanity

You know you're in the throes of a diet when you're making ramen noodles for the kids and you're like, "Mmmm.... wish I could have some."

I mean, they're ramen noodles, people.  They're like little strips of sawdust flavored by chemicals. They're not even part of the food pyramid.    But man, do they smell good!  (Er, sorry, kids.  I think I may have drooled in your bowl a little bit).

I miss carbs.

Plus, I did a really insane thing the other day.  Costco was selling those giant bags of M&Ms for like $5 and I thought to myself, those will be perfect to pass around at the family reunion... in July. 

Yes, I bought two giant bags of chocolatey goodness and they are going to sit in my pantry for a month and a half.  Which means I have to look at them every time I open the door for a piece of oh-so-satisfying sugar-free gum.

On second thought, maybe I should just bury them.  In the Bermuda Triangle.  

Conveniently enough, I'm pretty sure the Bermuda Triangle is residing with Michael's wallet, my favorite charm bracelet, and the lost City of Atlantis just inside the door of my storage room.

Seriously, my kids got in there last week and thought it would be fun to play Tornado.  (I knew I should have been suspicious when I tripped over the Fischer Price baby Jesus on my way to the laundry room!)  So that is today's task -- disaster clean-up.  I'm hoping to find Matthew's black hole that he uses to transport our most prized possessions to a galaxy far far away.  Wish me luck!

But first, to plow the kitchen.  I made the mistake of mopping the floor on Friday, which was really stupid because my kids still live here.  (New task: send the kids to boarding school.  And pick up a snooty British accent for good measure).

It's true,  dahling, nothing attracts sticky messes like a freshly mopped floor.  You might as well put out a sign that says, "Spills wanted."   And never mind about the clean bathrooms.  (How is it that you can have the house totally spotless on Saturday and then by Monday morning it looks like a colony of Tasmanian devils whirled through?  Does no one know how to pick up their own underwear?  Or aim?)

As it is, it's 11:00, which means I have about eight hours to go until it's time for a Family Home Evening treat.  Eight hours with me, the pantry, and two giant bags of M&Ms.

It's going to be a long day.