Posts Tagged ‘life’

My best

“Mama, can you help me get down?”

But before I could stand up, she fell. Smacked her head right on the sidewalk, after she’s climbed onto the retaining wall in front of our house. It’s probably only a foot and a half high, and the tumble from it sounded worse than it was, of course. But she’s 3, and this was a doozy of an owie, as far as owies go. So the tears came fast and hard.

As I scooped her up to rush her inside, she started wailing, “Mama, you didn’t help me!”

That’s when my tears started falling fast and hard, too.

Not because I thought it was my fault. Even in three short years, I’ve learned I can’t protect her from every fall and failure, nor do I think I should.

I started crying because she’d just articulated my biggest struggle since becoming a mom of two: that while my heart expanded to love two children unconditionally, it almost always feels impossible to be the mom they both need.

And, for the toddler who is less dependent on me than the newborn, it falls disproportionately on her.

I know all I can do is be the best mom I can be in any given moment. But in that given moment, my best felt woefully inadequate.

It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time. I just hope they know that even when my best is merely good enough, it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of better.

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This photo is from last fall, taken at a football game of our college alma mater.

At first glance, looking at it as my husband handed my phone back to me, I liked it. I thought it was a cute picture of us making a fun memory with our first kiddo, shortly after we learned we’ll be having our second.

I started pulling up my Instagram to share it on social media. But then I looked at it again. All I could see now were the dark circles under my eyes and the crinkles that have started emerging around them when I smile.

Suddenly, I didn’t like the picture so much. I thought if I shared it, those imperfections would be the only thing other people would see as well.

So I didn’t post it. Instead, I feverishly researched eye creams later that night.

And that’s some real bullshit.

It’s bullshit that instead of seeing those wrinkles and dark circles as signs of growing wisdom and experience, I only saw signs of my diminishing value as a woman.

It’s bullshit that instead of admiring them as marks of devotion earned while my heart overflows for a sweet, tiny human who sometimes just needs her mama to lie down with her on a dark, scary night, I bemoaned them as marks of stress and exhaustion.

It’s bullshit that instead of appreciating them as the wear and tear exchanged for the gift of loving a child in such a way that I can’t remember now what I did during my carefree, wrinkle-free previous life — because the one I have now feels infinitely more rich — I only lamented my deepening crow’s feet.

And it’s bullshit that instead of seeing the beauty in it all, I could only see the flaws.

Well, I’m done bullshitting myself. I’m done falling for the lie that age will inevitably diminish the beauty worth sharing in my life.

So I’m sharing it now, imperfections and all. Because despite the inevitable wrinkles, life is always beautiful.

Dear people who were parents before I was a parent: I’m sorry

 

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Confession time: Before Lily was born, I was a bit judgey toward people with kids who seemed to not always have their shit together 100 percent of the time. Not out loud, necessarily, but I’m sure they could see the judgey look on my judgey little face.

I remember smugly thinking to myself “I’m soooooo glad I am sooooooo god-damn perfect and have sooooo many good habits now, like making home-cooked, certified-organic-and-GMO-free-artisanal meals and exercising 800 times a week and getting 20 hours of sleep a night, which I will obviously keep doing even after I have kids, who will also be perfect and never melt down in the middle of the grocery store because I wouldn’t let them climb the paper towel display! I AM JUST SOOOOO AMAZING AND WILL NEVER NOT HAVE MY SHIT TOGETHER!!!”

Well, ladies and gentlemen,  you heard it here first: I do not, in fact, have my shit together. I recently introduced myself (Allison) as “Lily” and my daughter (Lily) as “Allison.” Last week, I took my toddler to the park with her shoes on the wrong feet, and she noticed before I did. Yesterday, I ate an entire can of olives for lunch. Because I was hungry and tired and, well, they were there.

Here’s the thing. When you become a parent, every last cell in your brain is in some way devoted to making sure you keep your adorable offspring fed and diapered and otherwise alive. Couple that with severe sleep deprivation (which may ease up after the first few months but never really goes away), and what little is left of your “mom brain” is put toward only the most essential tasks, like guzzling coffee in the morning. And, if you’re lucky, not forgetting to brush your teeth afterward.

Other seemingly reasonable tasks — such as responding to a text the same week your friend sent it, remembering to fold laundry within seven days of putting it in the dryer, not getting yogurt on your pants, not remembering you got yogurt on your pants and wearing them again the next day, blogging more than once or twice a year, not wearing your shirt inside out, or knowing the name of that one actor, you know, the one who was in that one movie with that lady from that one show? He has hair and eyes and a mouth, probably? — are relegated to the back burner.

Having been a parent for a year and half now, I understand this. But before, I was Ms. Judgey McJudgerson and basically thought moms and dads just used parenting as a lame excuse for not having their shit together. And for that, I apologize. I now know that we’re all just doing the best we can, and we should give each other — and ourselves — a break.

And, if I could go back in time, rest assured that I would slap that smug, self-righteous look right off my smug, self-righteous face.

New life philosophy: Don’t be a dick

Well, I like to think that’s always been my life philosophy, but I know I’ve committed my fair share of dick moves in my life, intentionally or not.

But motherhood has made me soft, and the current shittiness of the world makes me feel powerless.

But there is one thing I can do, every day, that makes a difference, even if it’s small. And that’s to be kind. Or — if you have a propensity for crude language, like myself — to not be a dick.

No matter a person’s perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, intelligence, socioeconomic status, education level, physical ability, mental state, age, upbringing, attractiveness, weight, occupation, hometown, lifestyle, current mood, hygiene, relationship status, parenting style, annoying tendencies, apparent inability to use a turn signal, or recent history of screwing up your lunch order — we are not actually capable of knowing what it’s like to live their life, despite whatever preconceived notions we might have.

But we are all capable of not being a total dick to them. Even if they were just a total dick to us.

Is this oversimplying things? Of course. I might just be a privileged white girl in Montana, but I’m not naive enough to think that if we all just sing kumbaya and be nice to each other, it will magically erase the deeply ingrained prejudices in our country and the excruciatingly real pain so many people suffer because of them.

But is it going make things worse? In a world much too full of hate and indifference, is going out of your way to show kindness to a fellow human being going to make it worse?

Show compassion. Have empathy. Choose love. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. However it resonates with you, make a concious effort to do it, especially to those in our society who need it the most. Don’t be just another person spewing negative energy into the world.

Is it always that simple? No.

But sometimes, it is.

So when it is, make the choice to be kind. Or at least, don’t be a dick.

Three very good reasons NOT to get your kids a bunny for Easter

 

Easter rabbit

Bunnies are family, too.

 

One Easter when I was a kid, I desperately wanted to walk down the stairs to our living room and find a real, live bunny wabbit lounging in my basket. I found a stuffed rabbit instead, because my parents thought they were so flippin’ hilarious, and that I would think so, too. I did not.

Fast-forward 15 years, and — in my most rebellious act of adult independence to date — I got MY OWN DAMN RABBIT, thankyouverymuch.

Fwuffy-wuffy wufferton

Pancake!

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However, we only brought Pancake home after doing extensive research on what’s required to care for a pet bunny. And now I know — though it pains me so to admit — my parents were right. Rabbits are not necessarily great pets for children.

I don’t know the exact statistics, but somewhere around a shit-ton of bunnies bought as Easter gifts end up abandoned in animal shelters only a few weeks later, because parents don’t realize what they’re getting into when they buy their little darlings a rabbit.

So, with Easter right around the corner, I am here to help you parents who find yourselves in this very predicament. Though I could ramble off dozens of others, here are three very good reasons NOT to get your kids a bunny for Easter, no matter how much they beg.

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1. Bunnies are not like other house pets. At all.

A bunny is not just a dog or cat with longer ears and a fwuffy-wuffy tail. If you and your kids think a pet rabbit is going to play fetch or purr when you scratch its ears, you will be sorely disappointed. Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits are prey animals, meaning it takes them a while to trust that you are not going to eat them.

How long is “a while”? Well, we have had Pancake for six years, and until last year, she would not let us pet her without running away. It literally took FIVE YEARS to earn her trust. She still won’t let us pick her up without using the Bunny Burrito technique. And she certainly doesn’t care for our 1-year-old’s ham-fisted attempts at “petting” her.

So look. I’m sure your kids are perfect and deserve everything their little hearts desire. They are brilliant and talented and will probably discover the cure for alektorophobia some day. But I’d be willing to bet no less than a triplequadrillion dollars they don’t have an attention span of five minutes, let alone five years.

 

 

2. Rabbits live longer than you think. A lot longer.

Contrary to popular belief, when properly cared for, rabbits can live 10 to 12 years. They require the love and attention of responsible caregivers, which could — but probably doesn’t — include your precious offspring.

Bunnies are not just some pet you can buy for your kids that will die in a few months that you can use as a “circle of life” teaching moment. I mean, I guess you could purposely not properly care for a bunny so you can get that uncomfortable conversation out of the way. But that would be kind of a dick move.

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3. Rabbits chew. Everything.

Yeah, I know dogs chew up stuff, too. But rabbits aren’t just going to chew your favorite slippers that you can easily replace via Amazon. Left to its own devices, a rabbit could literally chew you out of house and home.

See this stylish combination of rugs and sheets here?

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Rugs and sheets

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The only reason these exist in our home is because we need something to cover the edge where the living room carpet meets the kitchen tile. Otherwise, Pancake would chew the carpet there into oblivion. We also have a giant cardboard box that covers the various cords behind our TV stand, because she will chew those — and possibly shock herself — if we don’t.

And this is just the beginning of what it would take to bunny-proof your home. If you’re not convinced, you can read more about what it’s like to live in a house with a bunny in it here.

Now, we love our fwuffy-wuffy Pancake to the ends of the earth, and we are willing to put up with these lifestyle adjustments for her. But are you willing to do this? For a pet that will likely bore your children in a few weeks because it doesn’t act the way they want it to? One that you will probably abandon at a shelter, where it could have an even more unfortunate fate?

If, after reading this, you are ready to make the commitment of owning a rabbit, then please consider adopting one from a shelter instead of buying one at a pet store. (Full disclosure: We got Pancake from a pet store, because we didn’t know any better. We do now, and so do you.)

If you’re not ready to make this commitment, please don’t buy your kids a rabbit. I promise they will forgive you, eventually. Or, they’ll hold it against you until they’re old enough to buy their own damn bunny. But at least by then, they’ll be more likely to accept the responsibility that comes with it.

The day I lost my Fitbit and my legs stopped working

Fitbit meme

 

When I got to work the other day, I looked down at my wrist. To my dismay, my Fitbit was no longer on it. I frantically searched every inch of my office, hoping it had merely fallen off upon my arrival.

When that proved unsuccessful, I started backtracking my steps, all 1,200 of them that it takes me to walk the five blocks from my car to my office. I scoured the sidewalks, hoping to spot my slate blue wristband against the white of fresh snow. No dice.

So I tore apart my car while refreshing the Fitbit app on my phone, longing to see the magic word — “synching…” — pop up. Negative.

I walked back to work, head down, my eyes flitting across my path, just in case I’d missed it on the way out. Nothing.

If you are a fellow Fitbitter, you know how perfectly rational this reaction is. Because if you’re not obsessively quantifying every single step you take every single day, what’s the point of even walking at all?

I got back to my office and posted a pithy Facebook status about it.

Fitbit status

 

Then my husband commented.

Fitbit comment.png

 

As you can tell, my husband does NOT have a Fitbit. Because if he did, his takeaway from all this would not be “Good news – it’s slobber-proof.”

I replied with a comment that properly conveyed the gravity of the situation.

Fitbig reply

 

Then I hardly got up the rest of the day.

 

#tbt to the time my mom tried to make me look like Hitler

My mom sent me this photo the other day, because she thinks it proves Lily looks like me.

Me Lily

         Me                                                                                                      Lily

I think it proves she tried to make me look like Hitler when I was a baby.

Me Hitler

           Me                                                                                                         Hitler

The resemblance is uncanny, amirite? I mean, with that choice of hairstyle, I’m not sure why she didn’t just draw the Fuhrer’s mustache on me and get it over with.

When I showed this photo to my husband and told him my mom thinks I look like Lily in it, he — without any provocation — replied, “Hmm. You look like Hitler.”

My mother, of course, vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Convo 1

Convo 2

I think we all know which one of us is truly off her walker.

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