Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Truth About Work

They call it work because it's just that: work.  Otherwise they would call it sitting-on-a-beach-trying-to-decide-which-umbrella-should-occupy-your-drink.  Even things that aren't necessarily recognized as work are work, like motherhood.  Case in point, this morning Michael stuck his head in the bathroom where I was showering and said "Mom, there's green poop on the carpet downstairs!"  Seeing as I had just spent the last evening scrubbing half a bottle of green lotion off the stairs, I wasn't too worried, even after Michael appeared again to report that it was in Leah's hair and on her blanket.  Then Leah ran into the bathroom yelling "Mommy!  Mommy!  Nooooo!" and presented her blanket, which was indeed covered in green poop.

Um, I'd like to put in a request to take a half-day, please?

Unfortunately, the work of motherhood, like any job, isn't always suited to one's own desires.  You have to work when you don't want to, and do things you don't want to do (I mean, not only did I clean up poop this morning, I just realized there is blood on the shoulder of my bathrobe and snot on my lap.  Plus, I woke up before I wanted to with my stomach feeling questionable, and yet I still had to manage getting everyone diapered, fed, and dressed, and then, in the twins' case, bathed, even when I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed).  Your job might require you to wake up in the middle of the night to work, or you might have to miss a party, or even a planned vacation.  You might have to work on a holiday, and you might have to put in overtime. 

That's life.  That's work.

So I have little sympathy for Anthony Hardwick, the whiny Target employee who started a petition (now 80,000 signatures strong) to protest having to come in to work at 11:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day.  Says Mr. Hardwick, "With the midnight opening, employees like myself will have to leave for work right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. We don’t mind hard work, but cutting into our holidays is a step too far.”

He'll have to leave in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner?  Really?  How long does it take him to get to work, six hours?  Because I'm pretty sure no one waits till 10:00 at night to carve into the turkey. 

But, let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he means he'll have to leave the dinner early to sleep in preparation for his shift.  Even then, my sympathy is lacking.  One day of inadequate sleep is not going to kill you.  (Try motherhood on for size, Mr. Hardwick...)  Skip the long snooze and enjoy the family party.  Or skip the family party and take a long snooze.  It's called sacrifice, Mr. Hardwick, and it's part of work.

Believe it or not, you are not the only person who is being required to adjust his Thanksgiving celebration.  For heaven's sake, you are being asked to come in at 11:00 at night (when most families have long since finished their dinners) and are being paid time-and-a-half for your trouble.  What about the policemen and doctors and transit employees who have to work the whole day?  I'm sure they'd love to stay home.  My own husband has missed everything from holidays to my birthday because he had to work.  This year he might even miss my family reunion. 

Anyone with a job will, at some point, have to work when they don't want to.  It's not being picked on.  It's not corporations "treating their workforce as serfs", as one entitled woman put it.  It's work.  It's not always fun. 

That's why they pay you for it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Husbands as Punchlines

This weekend David and I attended the wedding of a longtime friend.  It was lovely --The bride was beautiful, the groom was beaming, the ceremony was sweet and simple.  As I watched them say their vows, I could picture them sitting on the back porch at ninety, holding hands and watching a sunset together.  I guess you could say they are meant for each other.

So, it was quite a contrast when, after dinner, a fellow wedding guest began chatting with me about marriage and husbands and kids.  "I always say I have four kids..." she began as I cringed in advance for the punchline: "including my husband."


Except it wasn't funny.  It's NEVER funny, and yet women go around repeating this joke as if it were the most hilarious thing that has ever come out of their mouths.  Ha ha ha.  You think your husband is a child.  What a scream!  Pardon me if I forget to laugh.

How are jokes like this okay?  How is it socially acceptable to sit around and talk about our husbands like they are a bunch of buffoons who do nothing but sit in the yard and pick fleas off each other?  I mean, aren't these the same guys who provide for the family, help change diapers, sit through chick flicks, and remember our birthdays?  You know, the guys who slay dragons and love us and take care of us?

Ugh.  The Tyrannical Wife strikes again.

Someone needs to tell that chick to retire.

The Art of Childbirth

Childbirth and I don't exactly have a warm and fuzzy relationship.  We kind of started off on the wrong foot when, after 12 hours on the highest dose of pitocin without significant progress, my doctor was like, "You have one hour to dilate 7 more centimeters or you'll have to have a c-section" and my uterus was like, "Bite me."  I tried -- really I did -- but one can't exactly will her uterus to do anything it doesn't want to do.  So I ended up sliced and diced, which was a highly unpleasant experience for all concerned, especially my uterus.

The second time around was better in theory, but my doctor was a jerk whose concern for me was limited to whether or not I was still breathing.  He didn't even say "Congratulations!" after yanking two healthy little humans out of my body.  With that and the whole catheters here, bodily fluids there thing, I don't exactly think of childbirth as being beautiful or miraculous as much as I think of it as being horrible.  Forgive me, but nothing could possibly be more undignified or disgusting.  I know you might disagree, but as anyone who has attended a birth knows, those biohazard bins aren't just for decoration.  Just sayin'.

So you'll understand where I'm coming from when I say that childbirth should not be a spectactor sport.  As far as I'm concerned, there are already way too many spectactors involved, particularly those of the I'm-here-to-stick-my-fingers-in-your-nether-regions variety.  (And for the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would want to invite their father-in-law or their next-door-neighbor to witness an event where private parts are on full display and poop is likely to end up on the table).

But, putting aside one's dignity, I can see how someone might want to share their birthing experience with a close friend or family member, especially when you factor in the whole miracle thing.  I just don't see why anyone would want to share the ordeal with a group of strangers, particularly when one is only doing so because she considers it "art".  But, one New York City artist, whose previous exhibitions have included re-enactments of her own birth and losing her virginity, recently did just that -- take her "performance art" to the next level by giving birth in front of a whole bunch of strangers.  According to her, giving birth is the "highest form of art".  I guess that makes her the "highest" form of artist... if by "high" you mean "on crack".

Okay, okay.  I've already said that however messy and gruesome birth is, it is also a miracle.  And it is quite overwhelming and wonderful to see a brand new infant make his way into the world (not that I would know - stupid surgical draping...).  But, as is the case with many miracles, oversharing the experience, especially indiscriminately, has a tendency to cheapen it, to take away the sacredness.  So it follows that if one's goal is to share the miracle of birth, it hardly seems logical to splay oneself out as "performance art" before a group of irreverent strangers who have no vested interest in the event itself.

Is giving birth miraculous?  Yes.  Is it worth doing?  Absolutely.  But is it art?  No.  Heavens, no. 

Do I need go over the part about those biohazard bins again?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Last night our Family Home Evening lesson was on gratitude.  So, I got my craft on (one of the few times per year) and the kids helped me make small lists of what they were thankful for.

Then we started a family gratitude list we can add to over the next few weeks:

I admit, it does seem a little jarring to have iphones listed right underneath the Savior of the World.  But nothing is too small to be thankful for, and gratitude lists shouldn't suffer from Desert Island Syndrome where everyone tries to be noble and say their three allowed items would include the scriptures and a picture of Jesus when really, they would bring an old collection of Reader's Digests and an endless supply of tampons.  (Personally, I would bring a laptop and my cell phone, because all desert islands should come pre-equipped with cell phone towers and free wireless internet, don't you think?)

Oooh, that reminds me, I'm thankful for wireless internet.  Add that to the list, along with the fact that when I was trying to take pictures of the lists, I had two cutie-pie toddlers step into my shot and say "Cheese!"

And speaking of said toddlers, I'm grateful that yesterday Matthew came up to me saying "Uh oh!  Uh oh!" and pointing down the hall until he could show me that not only had he and Leah turned on the bathtub and somehow closed the plug (not too recently, judging by the fact that Godzilla would have had adequate water for a scrub) they had emptied my entire get-ready drawer into their homemade pool.  Hairspray, make-up, lotion, all taking a swim.  Thank goodness it's a big tub.  Thank goodness Matthew pointed out his mischief in time.

And I suppose, all things considered, this was better than the day before when Matthew somehow procured my curling iron and proceeded to plug it in and then drop it on the carpet.  Great.  Let's not only electrocute ourselves and burn our hands, let's burn the house down.  Luckily I happened upon that one about two seconds after he'd done it.  (For future reference, if you're looking for it, my curling iron will now be residing with the toilet paper in the safe on the top shelf of my closet).

Of course, Michael, ever the helper, will probably observe me hiding the curling iron, get a ladder, and help the babies climb up one by one until they are all sitting on the top shelf of my closet.  Then, when I happen upon them, he will point at his sister and say, "Mom, Leah did it!"

Thankfully, he's not a good liar.  And thankfully I'm like a human polygraph or something.

I love my kids so much, but the combined mischievousness of two toddlers + Michael would make certified neat freaks shake in their boots.  The kids just came up from playing downstairs and within three seconds crackers were dumped on the floor, I had to remove the babies from the table top, and somebody stuffed cereal down the heating vent.  And I just noticed the fireplace is on.  But then they all ran to Michael's room, and I hear peals of laughter echoing down the hall.  I love it when they play together.  I'm so grateful for my kids.

I should check on them though, because you never know what they're up to...  Nevermind, there's no need.  Here they come.  And Matthew is crying.

It's a good thing they're cute.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Universe Explained

Scene: sitting at the table, eating lunch. 

Michael:  Mom, there's a bug on the ceiling!
Me: Okay
(thirty seconds later)
Michael:  There's still a bug on the ceiling!
Me:  Just ignore it, Michael.
Michael: (standing on a chair, yelling vigorously at the bug)  RRRRROOOAR!  RRRRRRROAR!!! 
Michael:  Is that ignoring it, Mom?

It was like my whole life got explained in one sentence.  If "ignore" means "get as close as humanly possible and yell" I've been approaching this whole parenting thing from the wrong angle.  I wonder what "bother" means, or "pester" or "annoy"? 

Time to recalibrate. 

"No" must mean "Yes", and "Stop doing that" means "Do it with greater enthusiasm, preferably while causing injury to your siblings."  It's like the secrets of motherhood were revealed to me in one shining existential moment.  My universe has been explained.

Well, most of it.  I still don't understand why anyone would stick her hand down the back of her stinky diaper to see what's going on.

Maybe when Leah is older I can ask her about that one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Space Invaders

Happy Halloween from infinity and beyond!

Last but not least, The Claw:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Marriage Problem

In case you haven't already heard, the famous-for-no-discernible-reason Kim Kardashian is divorcing her husband after just 72 days of marital unbliss.  I, for one, am absolutely shocked.  Usually weddings involving vapid celebrities, whirlwind courtships and millions of dollars in extravagant flower arrangements and gold napkin rings last forever.  Especially when one of the parties involved is so egocentric she actually had her butt x-rayed to prove its authenticity.  (I have to say, doing such a thing would never would have occurred to me, but then, maybe that's because it wouldn't take much to prove that my behind is authentic.  All you'd have to do is look at the pile of candy wrappers left behind after this morning's Halloween candy breakfast and you'd figure it out on your own).

I'm not sure how it is that Ms. Kardashian ended up hopping out of the honeymoon getaway car with divorce papers in her hands, but it seems to me that this whole saga could have easily been prevented, and not just by avoiding a premature walk down the aisle.  That is not to say I have something against whirlwind courtships in general -- my husband and I dated for only four months and were engaged for four months before we married, and ten years later we love each other more than ever -- but I do have something against selfishness. 

Forgive me for saying so, but most people could make it work with their mortal enemy for more than 72 days.  There is virtually no excuse for throwing in the towel that quickly.   How can anyone say they gave it their best shot when they called it quits before the ink was even dry on the marriage license?  No one goes from "Forever" to divorce papers in two months without having taken an extended swim in Lake Selfish.

But, the allure of a "fairytale wedding" is strong, as is the temptation of sponsored nuptials and untold amounts of media coverage that resulted in as much as a $17 million profit for the bride and groom.  I would say Ms. Kardashian is an anomaly in her quest for fame and attention, but judging by the amount of self-centered people who also want to share their most intimate secrets on national television, she's merely a number in a long line wannabes who have used sex (and sex tapes) to propel themselves to the front cover of a magazine.

The problem with Ms. Kardashian, and with marriage in general, is this: weddings have assumed importance disproportionate to that of the actual marriage.  Why else do you suppose there are whole television channels devoted to Bridezilla and her dress, her cake, and her day?  In a culture which promotes dating as having all the privileges of marriage (including having sex and having babies) the wedding must automatically become more important than the actual living of vows, otherwise there is nothing special or different about marriage itself.  Without a huge party to start things off, it's nothing more than living life as you have already been living it.   In Ms. Kardashian's case, marriage must be quite a letdown after a $10 million, nationally televised wedding that was all about her.  Without any foundation of friendship or faith to fall back on, it's no wonder she filed for divorce.

My only question is who gets to keep the butt x-rays?