Monday, January 5, 2015

Plush...Plush, Sweet Charlotte

Hush little baby don’t say a word, grandma’s gonna buy you another stuffed bird. Then 4 stuffed kittens, 3 Hello Kittys, a moose who sings Jingle Bells and a unicorn that doubles as a nightlight. And that’s just on an average week. You sensing a pattern here? Do you know a place that counsels old ladies with an addiction to plush creatures? I think I heard my mom was a bit randy in the ‘70s. I’m absolutely shocked she never joined a band of furries! Glad she didn’t of course. But shocked nevertheless. (Wait, did they even have furries yet?) You see, I’m running out of room to house all the stuffed animals in my daughter’s assortment. I’m using clothesbaskets now. Not only that, I turn into a furry freak myself while trying to arrange them because I hate for one to be completely covered by another one, as though it won’t be able to breathe. It’s bad, people. Bad. And as anyone who has a mother who is a grandmother can attest, you can’t stop them. They are unstoppable. “Oh it was just so sweet Meredith. I knew she’d love it. And it was only $5.” (You’re killing me Kohl’s. You and your rotating collection of $5 character charity plushes are killing me. My family is suffocating in acrylic fiber!)
ET could be hiding in my daughter’s closet, and I’d never know. My mom always reminded me of actress Dee Wallace who played ET’s unwitting Earth mom. But actually she’s me. I mean I’m her. My kids (who are of similar ages and genders of ET’s earth friends) could be those kids. OMG – I see my future and it has a phone that plugs into a wall in it! Sorry, I go off on a side and can’t get back. Phone home Meredith, phone home. Where was I? Oh yes, trashing Kohl’s. No, I love Kohl’s. They have a sale. Every day. Wait, I was done trashing Kohl’s. I brought up ET because my point really is…if my children did befriend a wobbly candy eating alien and needed a place to hide it from Peter Coyote, then I’ve got the best closet anyone has ever hidden in. Oooh – I really need to rethink that sentence. But I’d rather move on.

My daughter typically sleeps with one special faux critter a night. Many a night she’ll wake up and prance her way into my bedroom with special critter in tow. My husband and I share a queen-sized bed currently and unfortunately. A few weeks ago my darling child chose to sleep with her Toothless stuffed animal. You know Toothless? He is the protagonist dragon from How to Train Your Dragon. And this plush version of him is not small. Middle of that night:…thump thump thump thump thump thump jump! Right into my bed with Toothless. It was 2:00 am, and lying in my bed was a grown man on the right, a grown woman on the left, and a 5 year old with her Doberman pinscher sized dragon in the middle! Luckily for me I had about a balance beam sized portion of the bed to stretch my ummm…toes. When that night was over, my husband and I both looked as though we’d had a fight with a dragon in our sleep. It was really rather ridiculous. If I were a more capable parent, I’d stop her mid creep, and walk her back to her own bed. But that would make the kind of sense I don’t have when I’m sleeping. The following night, I was ever so grateful when she chose Pepper to sleep with her. (Pepper is a cat the size of a mouse.)

So today, I picked my mother up to look after my youngest so that I could work from home. My older boys can entertain themselves. Littlest one wants attention. She wants to play puppet show, and big box store and lots of things that involve plush creatures. Well who better to play with than little old grandma herself?! As I was sitting in her driveway and watched her emerge from her house, I noticed a pair of large eyes peering out of a plastic bag. Grandma had gone and done it again. What was it this time? A pink octopus? A dog wearing a fireman’s hat? A snow leopard? No. It was another Hello Kitty. This one dances to Jingle Bells. (Because a moose singing Jingle Bells is never quite enough Jingle Bells.) Then I heard about the Dory and the Mike and the Firetruck they currently have at Kohl’s. Which means I need to free up another laundry basket…real soon.

I jest about my mom, but it must be said, the patience and pure love that emanates from her in regard to my children through each and every interaction is something to behold. It makes telling that silly old bat to stop buying stuffed animals for my daughter that much more difficult. So I don’t and I won’t. Besides, I think I have a soft spot for all that plush.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ding Dongs Merrily on High


As I sit at my computer the last evening of the holiday season, I reflect on the highs and lows of the past two weeks. My 3 children have one extra day before school starts again. Which means, they aren’t as depressed as I am yet. Tomorrow the sulking will begin for them.  And I will be annoyed because I’m always annoyed with behavior my kids learn from me. (Geesh, I must be terribly annoying then.) Anyway, tomorrow is coming (along with below freezing temperatures and commuters who have forgotten the rules of driving in inclement weather.) I tell myself I will embrace it. I get through the post holiday blues every single year, right? What could be different about this year? I won’t answer that or my blog will delve into territory better suited for a psychiatrist than an innocent reader. Okay – so the future starts tomorrow morning and I will talk about all of that after it happens. Right now, I’d rather take a few steps back and look into the very recent past. The holidays.

It all began on a Friday. My children had parties at school. Except for my 7th grader. I have no idea what he did on that throwaway school day. Truthfully, I already don’t remember anything else that happened that day, or the rest of the weekend so I’m going to skip to Monday. I remember Monday. I begrudgingly worked from home while my children entertained themselves with TVs, iPads, Xboxes and sugar. Work ended up being a nightmare – and lasted into the evening. In the meantime, my child who tends to cough from October to April of every year was coughing more, and I suspected it was turning into illness. Why wouldn’t it? Everybody on my Facebook friends list was sharing their viral misery with everyone on their Facebook friends list. That kind of sharing puts me in a panic and makes me assured I will catch something through the computer screen. I was getting nervous with my daughter’s cough because she started sounding like a werewolf smoker lounge singer. Not something that sounds as though it should come out of the larynx of a 5 year old girl. More worrisome though was the fact that we had tickets to our city’s annual Yuletide celebration the next afternoon. Not a cheap excursion. And I wanted my children to get into the spirit of the holidays by giving them a fun experience. So I put little werewolf Tom Waits to bed at a reasonable hour hoping she’d wake up in good health and spirits.

This is the part where I fib and tell you she did not wake up with a slight fever. Nope. Bad thermometer. We were going to Yuletide dammit. No one was going to babysit a sick child the day before Christmas Eve, and by the looks of my sprightly one, she was not ill at all. (Thank you Tylenol). Just a wee little cough. (cough cough) Let’s face it, I was a nervous wreck. Taking a hacking 5 year old to an orchestral event the day before Christmas Eve was sure to get me a few hateful glares.  But it would be loud right? Who would hear her? The answer is I. I would hear her. Every forty seconds I would hear her. Muffled with her coat and a hand towel I stuffed into my purse just for the muffling, I would hear her. When the 4 of us sat down in our seats – at the very top of the auditorium and on the end of an aisle thank goodness, I made a preemptive apology to the women in front of me about my coughing child. Told them she’d been coughing for months (which is true) but that I was an expert about stifling the sound. They were very gracious but the older woman in the duo kept insisting I take one of her mints for my daughter. Even though I clearly had my own stash of mints, (clearly because I had them in the palm of my hand), she wanted me to take one of her childnapper lollies. (Think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang…because I was.) This was not going to happen. I don’t know whose hands had been in that tin. I mean I know at least one person who had her hand in that tin. (This is how my defective brain works. I had the sickie with me yet I was worried about the germs of a stranger with a tin of mints.) But, I was always told to never take candy from strangers. That parental advice stuck with me. (If we leave college and my early twenties out of the equation.)

The show started. It was loud as fuck. YES! I figured out my daughter’s cough tempo and was there with the hand towel in time to smother the sound. I noticed too that about one-eighth of the theater was hacking anyway. Suddenly I felt as though we belonged. My boys were enjoying the show, I was successfully blocking locomotive sounding sputters and coughs, and my little girl was dancing in between hacks. Happy times! Then, then it all went to shit. Why you ask? Because whoever created this show decided to have a group of men sing Elsa’s signature song from the movie Frozen. The second we heard the first lyrics of Let It Go come out of a male singer’s mouth, my daughter went into thumbs down mode. Coughing was no longer the issue. Let It Go was. She was pissed. PISSED. How dare these professionals ruin her show? I personally thought it was terrific, but I no longer have the mind of a 5 year old girl (for the most part).  Unfortunately this was the beginning of the second half so I had to try to hang on until the end. I made up my mind I was not leaving early unless public shaming of my family for bringing a sick little person happened. Now she was restless and whispering to me every sixty seconds, “I’m ready to go home mommy.” No easy way to muffle that, so I put in my internal mommy earplugs, (they seem to work much better on whining than coughing) and made her stick it out to the end. When it was over, we Usain Bolted our way out of the theater to beat the crowd. A talent I learned from my father at an early age I’m proud to say. This entailed me having to carry my forty pound child, but I fortunately had it in me.

Once we made it to our vehicle in the parking garage, I let out a colossal sigh of relief. I did it. It wasn’t a great success, but not a complete failure either. My middle child was meh about the show. My oldest and most favorite child during this blog, liked the show, and my dear sweet exasperating youngest child said, “That was the most terrible-est thing I have ever seen in my whole life. I wish I just stayed home!!” It did not take long for her to realize her blunder with that declaration. Something dreadful washed over my face and I turned into well, is it cliché to bring up Faye Dunaway’s impersonation of Joan Crawford? Because although I don’t remember what came out of my mouth since I buried it deep inside the 5 percent of my heart that is cold and unforgiving, it may be tell-all worthy to my babies one future day. Needless to say, baby child buckled her seat belt faster than she had ever shown she had skills to do, and she didn’t complain or say a word the rest of the ride home. She did cough though. A lot.

To be continued…  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mom Fails Again

The first moment you realize you’re going to become a mother, you think of all the things you are going to do and not do in order to make your children perfect citizens and human beings. It’s so funny how quickly it all changes when reality sets in and you are one exhausted mommy. Mommy failures happen all the time and we are probably a bit hard on ourselves about them. Because truthfully, what is a perfect mother? We’re all just one Dr. Phil episode away from at least one of our children writing a scathing tell-all about their childhood, with an entire chapter devoted to that particularly tough moment when you took your 8 year old to see that rated R movie, and your sweet little 8 year old asked out loud in the audience of adults –“What’s a condom mom?” (more on that in a moment)…

One of the first declarations I made when my number 1 was born was, “There is no way my kids, at least until they are 16 years old, will ever have a TV in their bedrooms. No way. Not conducive to sleeping and sleep is so important for children.” (Gave in at 10 years old for the first child and 7 years old for the second child) – Well, can you blame me? Parenting at bedtime is hard and some of us suck at it, so we sometimes have to take the easy way out to the detriment of our children’s sleep health. I’ll say to myself, “Screw it, they’ll be all right. I used to stay up late and watch Morton Downey Jr. scream at people and I kinda sorta turned out okay.” Truthfully though, my boys fight me less at bedtime AND actually fall asleep faster now that there are TVs in their bedrooms. So I’m actually kind of okay with this failure. Don’t care what the parenting experts say on this one, because my boys quoting Seinfeld makes me laugh. And if they weren’t put on this Earth to entertain me a little considering all the grief they’ve put me through in their short lives, then I don’t want to live on this stuffy Earth anymore. Besides, I hear the Martian parents are far less judgmental than us Earthlings.

We are some judgmental little fucks aren’t we? Jeez, mind your own business. If I want to be a short order cook and make Bobby, Bubby and Sue 3 different breakfasts, than what’s it to you? Unless I ask you to make the 3 stack pancakes while I heat up the waffle iron and plug in the toaster, you judgies need to shut the fuck up. So what, they are spoiled. That’s because I’m lazy. Duh. But in the end, I  discuss with them how spoiled and fortunate they are and how their actions affect others, and all of that warm fuzzy good citizen crap too. I have my failures, but I try to balance them with my successes. (I could go on and on about the successes but just don’t feel like bragging right now…)

My most recent mommy failure happened this past weekend when I had the dumb idea to take my 2 boys to see the movie The Heat. I had already seen it with another adult and we laughed quite a bit. It’s a funny movie. In my opinion it’s not worse than Family Guy, and since I lost the Family Guy battle a few years ago thanks to daddy’s parenting failures, I thought – the boys will love this movie! They’ll just skip over the dirty parts they don’t understand and laugh with the rest of the audience. Besides, their father just let them watch the rated R movie Identity Thief the weekend before. It too had Melissa McCarthy so surely this couldn’t be any more inappropriate than that one.

For my 11 year old? It was no problem. He told me once after I made him turn Family Guy off thanks to a particularly inappropriate scene – “Mom, just ignore the naughty stuff like I do.” That little shit…what could I say to that? I did not give in, but I still lost the battle.

For my sensitive 8 year old? After probably the 200th utterance of the F-word, he had had enough. Glad he’s better at policing himself than I am, but damn, I wanted to watch the rest of the movie again! What really did him in though was first, noticing he was the youngest person in the theater and second, when Sandra Bullock pokes at a squishy thing in the fire alarm, and Melissa McCarthy points out it’s a condom, and he shouted, “What’s a condom mom!?” Thank goodness it was dark enough so I couldn’t see the horrid glares and loud enough so I could not hear the horrified whispers.

Oh c’mon… most of those adults had to be laughing when he shouted that. I just shushed him and whispered, “I’ll tell you about it when we leave.” That was a signal to him that it was not for his eyes and ears and he was ready to go. So I took him out of the theater and let my 11 year old stay. 8 year old said maturely, “Mom, I just felt like everyone knew I wasn’t supposed to be there.” So I said, “Grow up kid, it’s just a movie!!” Just kidding. What I really did was pat him on the head and admit to my mistake. So we agreed – no more rated R movies for him until he’s 13 or so. My memory must be terrible because there were so many scenes I forgot about my 11 year old so generously reminded me of including the tracheotomy scene. Yikes, I can’t believe I ever thought this kid could come to this movie. Where was my brain? Apparently in hibernation with the brains of all the moms who let their 4 year olds go to the drive-in to see The Omen back in 1976. I am in no way referring to my own mother and her numerous failures, why would you think that? Just because I will never let my children play with a kid named Damien, does not mean I am referencing a bit of my past. Nope. But seriously, why would you ever name your child Damien? Fuck that. That’s just dumb. Such child naming failure.

Okay back to my sensitive little man. So we sat in the lobby to wait for the movie to end, and I was grateful he forgot about the question he asked in the theater loud enough for the projectionist to hear. Until he remembered that question and asked it again. “Mom, what was that one thing you told me you’d tell me about? What was that thing?” I was thankfully saved by the exiting Pacific Rim movie goers and said, “I can’t tell you now…I’ll tell you in the car.” But little 8 year old put it together. “It’s not appropriate for me to know is it?” He said. “Well nevermind then.” Wow –where did this child come from? I hope he’s this self policing in high school!

So the movie let out and 11 year old loved it. He also felt the need to remind me about how wrong I was to think I could ever have brought 8 year old to this kind of movie. He said, “Mom, did you just not remember the movie you saw? I mean how could you forget she cuts someone’s throat open? Or that a guy gets shot in the balls at the end? There is no way he (8 year old) could have handled that mom. I just don’t know what you were thinking.”
After my 11 year old finished lecturing me about my pathetic parenting skills, we went to Culvers and had a sandwich. And it was delicious. And we all lived happily ever after until 8 year old stubbed his toe on the kitchen table leg…but that story is for another time…

So – I screwed up. I will screw up again, BUT it’s okay. I am a human mother. And I will continue to do things a human mother will do. Which includes love these kids to pieces. That will trump the mom failures any day of the week.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


My attempt at a movie review will look nothing like the reviews from the Roger Eberts of the world. But I’m doing it anyway because I love movies and I got shit to say about them (operative word = shit).

So I went to see “Lawless” this morning with my niece (who is a 27 year old adult) after much pleading with my children to let me out of the house. Little Normy Bates doesn’t always like his mother to see movies without him. But since I need to keep any kid with the nickname Normy Bates as far away from violence as possible, he was forced to stay home.

Lots of fun previews including one for a movie called “Looper” where Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears colored contacts to make him look like a young Bruce Willis and nothing like a Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Looks interesting and fun. That Joseph sure is hot and a hot commodity these days.

I did not get to see a preview for my most anticipated movie of this year, “Argo”. Ben Affleck’s next film. Thought I was going to get lucky when the last preview opened in a middle eastern city. Nope – turned out to be Liam Neeson playing John McClain or Jason Bourne or someone who kicks a lot of bad guy ass.

Back to “Lawless” - the great thing about seeing this movie was I had no idea what to expect. I saw a trailer for it a long time ago but didn’t remember it at all by the time the movie opened this weekend. The most I knew was it was about moonshiners and starred greats like Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy as well as the very much under-appreciated Guy Pearce.

The movie opens with a little boy freezing up when it’s time to shoot a pig. His older tougher brother takes the gun and does the shooting for him. This scene sets up the brotherly dynamic that will be displayed throughout the rest of the film. The older brothers are no nonsense badasses while little Sam Witwicky can’t do shit with a gun when Optimus Prime isn’t around to babysit him. Turns out these band of brothers are the Bondurant boys who have a reputation for being invincible and making the best moonshine in Franklin, Virginia circa 1931.

If you haven’t guessed, the youngest Bondurant brother (Jack) is played by Shia Labeouf whose character is a little too cocky for his level of hardness. But he is a good actor and you do root for him to get mad and beat the shit out of someone. That someone preferably to be Guy Pearce in a smarmy role of a sadist named Charlie Rakes who has the law behind him, and who is hell bent on getting a piece of the Bondurant pie. His appearance in this film can best be described as The Little Rascal’s Alfalfa mixed with the demented charm of Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s rotten left pinky toe. He’s gross and terrifying, plain and simple. And let’s face it; it looks as if that middle part in his hair was made by Tom Thumb’s tiny little lawn mower. Dude needed a shovel to the face and it took way too long for him to receive it. 

I will probably have to watch Pricilla Queen of the Desert to like Guy Pearce again. (Well, and to see those ping pong balls popping out of that woman’s cooch again. That’s always fun.)

Moving on. The oldest and the leader of the Bondurant brothers is played by Tom Hardy who is a bit of a chameleon as an actor, and whose resume has grown quite a bit over the last few years. He plays Forrest, respected and feared in Franklin. His legend calls him immortal. Apparently he cannot be killed but it’s not for lack of trying. Tom Hardy who is English, was praised and criticized for his voice work in The Dark Knight Rises. In this film, he also has strange sounds coming from his vocal chords. I’m not saying they don’t work. I am saying they make him sound as though he is the offspring of a Foghorn Leghorn/Sgt. Barnes from Platoon sexual union.

But those lips, oh those sweet sugary balloon animal lips make me forgive any and all of the grunts and mumbles. Although Tom Hardy is a chameleon, it’s those beautiful lips that give him away.

The middle brother, Howard, is a played by an Aussie actor named Jason Clarke. He is the most untamed of the Bondurant brothers. But a good man to have on your side of the fight.

One of the subplots involves Gary Oldman as gangster Floyd Banner who makes the boys major bucks by being a good customer. Here Gary really doesn’t have much to do. However, he does get to have a least one psycho Gary Oldman moment. And that’s all we ever really ask of him, right? Worth the cost of my gourmet pretzel for sure.

The other subplots involve love for two of the Bondurant brothers. Jessica Chastain, looking as radiant and damaged as ever, plays Maggie Beauford, an ex-dancer from Chicago looking for a quieter life in the boonies. She starts working at the Bondurant’s bar and falls for Forrest in the process. The woman has the most angelic face, and I just can’t get enough of looking at it. I honestly think the world would be a better place if we could all cuddle a blanket of her hair nightly.

The other love story revolves around young Jack and the very religious yet rebellious Bertha Minnix, played by Mia Wasikowska. Go on and pronounce that one. It was hard enough to spell it. No one knows how to say her name, which will unfairly hurt her future Oscar chances. She is sweet, and her face is so innocent in this film she is like a Precious Moments doll come to life. Bertha’s dad despises the lawless Bondurants, so it’s not an easy road to her heart for Jack.

The movie is very violent. Look away kind of violence actually. Especially a hotel room scene with a pretty package sent to Charlie Rakes. Oh lawd. I wish I could Eternal Sunshine the Spotless Mind that one from my memory banks.

In the end I’m glad I saw Lawless because it was entertaining, well acted and beautifully filmed. Sure there are flaws but I don’t expect all of my dollars to go to flawless entertainment. I am happy I gave two hours of my life to this film. Oh and if I can mention those Tom Hardy lips one last time. It was easy to pay to look at those. Easy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

There's a Weirdo Raising My Children

My family has told me from the day I was born that I was a little strange. Possibly not even from the planet Earth. I never really understood why they thought that. I just did what I did, liked what I liked and said what I said.

I did come out of the womb rocking my head back and forth and never stopped. I’m sure that looked a bit strange to grown ups. Head back and forth…that is how I put myself to sleep until my self conscious pre-teen years when I feared rocking my head back and forth on a pillow would give me a bald spot. These days if you rock your head back and forth someone somewhere thinks you need medication. No medication for me and no bald spot thankfully, but still considered a little weird by polite and normal society’s standards. However, I have always been pretty good at hiding my brand of odd. (Until Facebook that is. The cat is out of the bag but only just a little). I mean, I can interview for a job, I can put someone at ease, I don’t mouth breathe unless I have a cold and I can hold a conversation with a doctor, a lawyer, a butcher, a baker and/or a candlestick maker. So I may be a Martian, but I damn well have taught myself how to fit into Earthling society.

What makes me a weirdo? Hell I don’t know. It’s just a stupid label I’ve been given because I occasionally voice an odd thought that entered my brain. My brain either is missing a chip or has an extra one embedded in it from my birth planet. What’s the big deal that I have a mental ritual I have to perform in order to keep people who’ve left my house from getting into a car accident? It only takes 30 seconds out of my day. Not such a big deal to me. So what that I wish there was a computer that could calculate how many times I’ve said the word, “the” in my lifetime. You have to admit that would be pretty cool. And I don’t think it’s so odd that I’ve spent time wondering what it’s like to a be an ant on a tortilla chip trying to figure out how exactly to start chomping into that sucker.

Some weirdos prefer to be called “eccentric”. As if that is the high class superior version of weird. Not me. Apparently I’m just a good old fashioned weirdo. And that’s cool with me. Besides, you have to be British to be eccentric. And you usually have to have a hairdo out of the Helena Bonham Carter catalogue of hairstyles as well as a set of teeth out of a rusty old tool shed. And you must own a lot of purple-ish fringy scarves. Not to mention you typically emanate an odor that can only be described as ‘lavender fields of chocolate curry covered patchouli mothballs’. It’s an odd smell and fitting for the best of the eccentrics out there. Oh, and let’s not forget the disproportionate amount of cat hair covered clothing whether there’s a cat (or 15) in the picture or not.

So, eccentric in my book is too specific. That label won’t work for me. Not a big fan of strange either because I think of the word stranger, and I don’t know a movie with the word stranger in it that turned out well. Strangers on a Train. Not a happy ending for Farley Granger but he did ask for that so my sympathy is limited. When a Stranger Calls. Yeah. Ruined the lives of every babysitter that watched it in the late 70’s. Not a scarier opening to a movie is in existence. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.  More recently, The Strangers. Don’t have to see that one to know the outcome is not good. The movie poster art tells me all I need to know.

Freak. I can take or leave freak. I tend to think of Circus oddballs with unusual body shapes and circumstances when I think of freaks, but I can sometimes find it endearing.

Bizarre. Bizarre goes a little beyond eccentric, strange, freakish, odd and weird to me. If you’re bizarre, you’re usually doing things that even aliens would find bizarre. Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman a few years back. Bizarre. I don’t care how he explains it now, he made Andy Kaufman antics seem like a chat with Morley Safer. Fellini’s Satyricon. Classic foreign film and bizarre as hell. Even after taking a film theory class where we discussed it, I still don’t get it. So if I’m being called bizarre, I fear I’m beyond making sense anymore.  

People can call me names, but I personally don’t think I’m all that odd. My head just drifts into the clouds quite a bit. But I come back to Earth just as often as I leave it. So I think what my family should really be labeling me as is “balanced.” That’s’ a nice and appropriate term. And my balanced ass likes to march to my own tune. It may be a tune with the word “poop balls” in it. But it’s mine and I’ll take it over marching to no tune at all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Knockers! My History of Breastfeeding

So I’ve just hit a huge, MAJOR milestone in my life as a mother, and my life period. I’ve put the boobies away for good and weaned my last child. Oh it was not easy. Not easy at all. My 3 year old daughter was not giving up the mommy milk (mimmies in her words) without a vicious fight. A scratching clawing fight. More on that later.

This end to an era is bittersweet no doubt. On the one hand, I have longed for my freedom at home. It’s been years since I’ve been able to sit on the couch without a babe climbing into my lap to catch a comforting sip. On the other hand, I will never do this again. I feel I am letting go of my baby and pushing her to grow up. I mean she really is just a baby. 3 year olds have the maturity level of 3 year olds. Which is still quite baby-ish.

During my early twenties, when my breasts were far more popular than I was, I only saw them as a source of attention from men and a source of income from men who liked to tip bartenders with comely young bouncy flesh orbs.  I never met a tight fitting low cut t-shirt I didn’t like. Well wait. I take that back. Yes I have. It was white and inside a dark bar with bar lighting, and my white bra glowed in the dark. Talk about getting the hell out of Dodge fast! But for the most part, if it was cotton, tight and wide open at the neck, I was a fan.Which is one of the reasons I threw a colossal fit when one of the bars where I worked changed the dress code so that all employees had to wear ugly, unflattering, beige and green baggy ass, man cut t-shirts with crew neck collars. I put in my two weeks notice in record time.

My next move was to a bar where the dress code was “no jeans”. Well hell I could deal with that. A year and a half into that gig, I mistook a Kiwi for an Aussie and ended up married 9 months later. You have to fast forward 3 years to get to the breastfeeding. So 3 years later, I was 40 weeks pregnant, larger than Kevin Federline post Britney and thinking, “When this baby comes out, I’m actually going to give breastfeeding a shot. Why not?” You could not have told me that pre-pregnancy. I mean breastfeeding was for groovy hippies without a care or worry in the world…right? I didn’t mind bouncing the boobs in a form fitting top, but unleashing them on the world to feed a baby? Just couldn’t see that for myself.

But some little mommy voice kept knocking on my conscience’s door saying, “How can it hurt to try? If it doesn’t work, you have back up. If it does work, then presto! Cheap food.” So I got over my inhibitions and fears about it and gave it a try.

My firstborn latched on like one of those creepy leach-lipped fish you see suctioned on the side of a fish tank. Once he got a hold of it he wasn’t letting go. What the hell? It took me awhile to figure out how to unlatch the baby jaws of death. Just poke a little finger in their mouth and wiggle it around until they let go. I guess at least he liked it but damn little man. I’m not going to lie, it was ridiculously uncomfortable at first and I was not convinced anything was coming out.

By day 3 I was sore, had a cracked nipple and wanted to drop kick, bitch slap, and karate chop every member of La Leche League who ever said, “If it hurts, you’re not doing it right.” Bullshit. My tender nipples that have rarely seen the light of day are now the sole life source for a hungry infant with twice the suction of a fucking Dyson. That’s why it hurts! Here’s a sentence you can add to your Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, “Kiss my ass!”

Now before my crunchy friends disown me, please know those thoughts came from me when I was sleep deprived and pissed off at nature for making the natural seem impossible. But I kept giving it a good fight because Boss Hog took a shine to it.

Through all of this I was getting antsy to see some real milk because all I had produced at that point was colostrum and I kept thinking my son was not really getting enough to eat. I wanted to see some real evidence dammit! This is the part where my conscience spoke up again, but this time she said, “Be careful what you wish for because girlfriend, you’ve got no idea what’s about to happen here.”

Man was my conscience ever correct. The books sure don’t prepare you for the milk invasion. It’s like nothing I ever imagined. Men, I’d like you just to envision how your testicles feel on an average day. Now, pretend some nature fairy replaced the testicles you have come to know and love with a couple of medicine balls filled with liquid. After you stop crying, you eventually have to get up and walk. You would need a special apparatus to hold those monsters in place so that you could resume what’s left of your life. Enter exhibit A – The Nursing Bra!

Gotta have a nursing bra when your milk arrives. And it’s absolutely pointless to buy one during your pregnancy. Your boobs double and triple in size…so wait til the babe comes out and the milk comes in! My fitting was a real trip. Oh they had some cute bras with leopard prints but they were in size G…too small for me. Yeah that’s right. I skipped right over G and went straight to J. 36 J. I was like, “Come again?” What the hell does J stand for Jupiter? Jugs? Jeez O’ Pete?

This was the ugliest piece of undergarment clothing I had ever laid my eyes on and I was about to pay fifty bucks for it. Ugh! But I did because I had no choice. Looking at my post partum body with that thing on was depressing. I looked like all the before photos from weight loss supplement ads. And I felt like I belonged on the Benny Hill show as one of the body doubles for the melons! All for the good of the babe…right?

2 weeks into my new role as provider of everything to my baby, I was starting to get the hang of it.  A little shocked the first time my baby quickly unlatched and I realized my breasts were actually garden hoses with 3 sprinkler settings to them. The quick unlatch brought out the jet stream for sure. A nodding off baby, more of a light spray. All of the things I didn’t know about breastfeeding but had to learn on the fly was mesmerizing to me. The whole process was pretty awesome, but the most amazing thing was watching my baby grow strictly from food produced from my body. I was beginning to like Mother Nature again.   

One of the down sides to all of this breastfeeding was a lack of alone time and sleep. Who better to get up in the middle of the night to feed fussy hungry baby than the parent with the food? Oh sure I could pump and let daddy feed, (and I did) but who wants to pump when they don’t have to? Pumping is the biggest, most boring, time consuming pain in the ass. And my breast pump (lovely enduring thing that it was) always spoke to me during pumping sessions. Sometimes it would say, “Aflac! Aflac!” Other times it would say, “RedRum” “RedRum”. As annoying as it is to hear your breast pump do its best Insurance Goose (or is it a duck?) impression, it was much preferable to its creepy kid from The Shining impression.

Sleep deprivation, obnoxious breast pump and ugly bra aside, the breastfeeding children thing became something I was really good at. So I kept doing it. I made a goal of 1 year with my firstborn and exceeded it by 2 months. When my second son was born, breastfeeding was a piece of cake. No cracked nipples thank goodness, but I was still sleep deprived and being stalked by the little boy in the Shining kid’s mouth thanks to my Ameda Purely Yours Breast Pump.

Boy number 2 got the same 14 months of momma’s milk as Boy number 1. Then I took a 4 year break while we decided if we’d have any more children, and while I lent my jabber jaws of a breast pump to my sister-in-law.

When baby number 3 came along, I was practically schooling the lactation consultant the hospital sent to my room. The one who came the second day of my stay took one look at me and said, “Yeah, you’re good. Do you need anything?” Yes, a spare set of nipples would be nice. (I mean, I was experienced but the nipples still get sore when attacked by ravenous newborns.)

This time around I thought I’d let my baby nurse a little longer. I’d just play it by ear but definitely be done by age 2. Over the age of 2 would be beyond my comfort level. At her 18 month check up, I still fed the little thing on demand and asked her pediatrician if she’d ever let up. The doctor explained to me that breastfeeding to her was her lovey. Some babies and toddlers had blankets or Teddy Bears or pacifiers. My daughter’s lovey just happened to be attached to my body. And she told me not to be surprised if she wanted to nurse until she was 2 ½ to 3. Oh Hell no. I was missing my autonomy desperately; there was no way I was getting near the 2 ½ mark let alone 3. That’s just crazy talk!

But 2 came around and sweet baby had zero interest in letting up.  Occasionally I’d say no, and it would turn into a fight to the death. (The death of my freedom.) I just couldn’t say no to her. She’d bawl and cry and I felt horrible. I’d say to my husband, “Okay…she’s clearly not ready, we can continue for a bit longer and I’ll wean her by the time she is 2 ½.” Yeah, dream on sucker. This one ain’t weaning until she is good and ready, and I had the claw marks on my upper chest to prove it.

I always had an excuse why I couldn’t wean. Work stress, baby not feeling well, too tired, etc. But the main reason was it felt cruel to me to wean her when she was still not ready. I personally was ready but stuck it out a bit longer for her. When she turned 3 last month and I still couldn’t see an end in sight, I knew I’d need to make that end come. (I am having a surgical procedure next month and cannot have a big ass 3 year old all over the mimmies!)

So I prepped her verbally one day. Just talked about it all day long. When night came, she didn’t even ask for them. Just went straight to sleep. She has fussed a few times since then and is still asking on occasion, but I’m not going back now.

In the words of all those useless Bachelors and Bachlorettes, “It’s been a long journey but very rewarding.” Only I really mean it. Much easier for me to say that now that I’m done. A few weeks ago you would have gotten the stink eye from me if you made even one innocent little remark about my breastfeeding…I was so over it. I spent 5 ½ years of the last 10 breastfeeding. That’s a lot of work for a 40 year old set of cans. But I gotta say, I’m impressed with their durability. They are not too shabby for all they’ve been through. What knockers indeed!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When Dead Animals Attack!

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person lying on their bathroom floor in possession of a wretched case of food poisoning, must be in want of a quick death."

November 11, 2011. Many were excited about this date and hoped to give birth or get married. I guess because having 6 number ones in a row brings good luck?? Never heard that before. Sure I suppose it’s kind of cool to write out 11-11-11. But after the 30th email I sent that day for work with the date 11-11-11, I was over its very minor coolness. I understand 7-7-7 when that day came and went 4 years ago. Because lucky number 7 right? But I’ve never heard of lucky number 11 and for me it’s turning out to be a real shit number. You see, on 11-11-11 my food tried to kill me for the 3rd time in my life.

Let me take you back to Jr. high school and a very nasty Domino's Pizza my mom had ordered us for dinner. It had sausage on it, it had pepperoni on it, it had green pepper on it. And about 5 hours later so did our living room couch, chair and floor. My 2 older brothers and I all got sick at the same time. I suppose it could have been a stomach virus, but with the way that green pepper was flying through the air, I’m convinced we had a killer pizza. My poor mother. It should have been easier on her considering we were all teens and should have been able to make it to the bathroom in time for some of the chucking, but sometimes when your food attacks you, you don’t have the strength to sprint to another room. Sucks big time. I could not eat pizza for many years after that episode. People thought I was un-American. How do you not eat pizza Meredith? Because even the smell of it brought back memories of wishing for death. So no thanks, I’ll pass. When I did give in and started eating pizza again, I spent another few years pulling all toppings off so I just had the crust and tomato sauce. I got grief for that one too. I don’t know why. Why should anyone else care if I ate naked pizza for a few years?

Food poisoning episode number 2 took place in November of 1996 when I was 24 years old. I waited tables at night and shared a rental with my mom and brother during that year. I left my job early because I just wasn’t feeling right. The moment I got home I had the most violent puking I had ever had in my life. Coupled with the “rain” of terror coming out my backside, I thought I was dying. I was wishing for death out loud and became completely bonkers and incoherent. All of this was in only a matter of a few hours. My terrified mom who was probably channeling Ellen Burstyn’s character in the Exorcist didn’t know whether to call a priest or an ambulance. Thankfully she chose ambulance or I would be ashes on top of someone’s fireplace today.  When the head EMT arrived he asked (like they all do), "What seems to be the trouble?" Are you freaking kidding me!? What seems to be the trouble? A volcano just erupted inside my body while lava guts are spewing out of my gob and my ass and you want to know what seems to be the trouble? "Uh Mister, can't you take a guess?" Is what I would have asked, had I been able to speak. There was no 'seems' to be trouble...this was full on trouble! I could not hold my head up or even open my eyes fully. They had to carry me out on a stretcher and hurry me to the hospital. They could not get an IV going because my veins were being difficult due to the extreme dehydration. They kept sticking me and sticking me all over my arms on that bumpy ride.

Finally, once I made it to the hospital, they were able to get the IV going through my hand. Those poor ER nurses and docs that night were in bed pan hell. They opened the door ever so slightly, just enough so that a forearm with an aerosol can attached to its hand could reach in and spray disinfectant. No one wanted to be my caregiver that night. Can’t say I blame them. Not a pretty sight (or smell) in my ER room. My mom peeked her head in to check on me at one point and said, “Meredith, don’t ever let anyone tell you your shit doesn’t stink. Because they’re lying.” True story. I will never forget lying on that cold bed in that cold room whimpering in misery alone while my ever so precious and dear mother practiced her stand up routine. Ba da bum! Good one mom. If I had the strength to lift my middle finger, I would have enthusiastically. A tearful look of desperation from my deathbed had to suffice. No, I wasn’t mad at my mom. She was trying to make me laugh. Something I find impossible to do when my body turns on me and decides to expel every single ingredient that ever entered my mouth. I’m quite sure there was a piece of brussels sprout in my vomit, and I hadn’t eaten a brussels sprout in 11 years. (My 7th grade Home Economics teacher made me eat one if I was going to get an A in her class. Torture.)

So the fluids and medicines in the IV finally started working and I went into a calm haze for a few hours. Some Dr. talked to me about Salmonella and told my mother she did the right thing by bringing me to hospital when she did because I would have eventually died at home otherwise. Gee whiz – thanks undercooked chicken. Clucking bastard. They cleaned me up and I was sent home. Now I cook my chicken to a nice boingy burnt finish. And pretty much put on a hazmat suit whenever I have to handle the raw stuff. However, thanks to those beautiful already cooked rotisserie chickens they sell everywhere now, I rarely have to handle the raw stuff. I truly can’t believe I ever ate meat again after that nightmare.

But I did. And on 11-11-11, a dead piece of it turned on me again. Of course these days the plants are turning on people too. Spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe. Maybe I need to just stick with Pop Tarts – nobody gets food poisoning from them. Perhaps a bigger ass and a bad cholesterol reading, but not food poisoning.

I ate an all beef burrito at a little strip mall Mexican restaurant. Mexican food is my absolute favorite. Chips, salsa, guacamole, beans, cheese, non-psychotic beef, queso. The list of deliciousness goes on and on. But the beef burrito was very odd. It was a tortilla filled with beef only. No cheese, no spices, no sauce, no tomatoes, no onions. Nothing but ground up cow parts and a few tasteless toxins (I would find out later).  7:00 pm was the first hint of my near hellish future. You know that feeling. Just a little odd flutter in your gut that makes you put your hand on your stomach, wince a little and start the prayers. Something like this, “Oh no, please God. No. No no no. Don’t let this be what I think it is. Please let this be just a little upset stomach. One round on the potty should get my belly right….right? Oh please oh please oh please.” For me, those prayers fell on deaf holy ears. 

You don’t need details about the next 10 hours. Because there is not a single one of you that doesn’t already know what those details entail. But I will tell you I traveled (usually in crawling style) from my bed, to the bathroom floor, to the hallway floor, back to the bathroom floor, back to my bed, back to the bathroom floor, back to the hallway floor and so on until it was 4:30 in the morning. That is when the retching stopped. But it wasn’t over yet. It’s not the puking that dehydrates you. It’s the other foul stuff that I can’t seem to bring myself to spell out in words. And that bullshit (there you go!) went on throughout the day. By Sunday morning, I was as pitiful as a legless zombie. Moaning rather than talking, crawling rather than walking. My husband had had enough and scooped me up to take me to the hospital. One IV and a magic bag of fluid later, and I was almost not pitiful anymore. If my husband had told my mom’s joke from 15 years ago, I would have chuckled a bit.  

So what I have I learned from all of this havoc that has been wreaked to my insides? Bacon. Bacon is where it’s at. Bacon has never turned on me and it never will. Don’t say “Huh uh, you had sausage and pepperoni on that Domino’s pizza liar!” Because then I will be forced to say, “You’re right. Sausage and pepperoni. Not bacon. I didn’t say pigs, I said BACON! Ya useless wanker.” 
The end.