Monthly Archives: August 2012

My Mommy Friend Turned Into That Mean Old Woman

 

I’m afraid to find out which one of my friends is going to turn into THAT parent that I’ve been scared of since I was a kid. The over-protective one who is only focused on her child’s well-being and freaks out, automatically blaming other kids during those formative elementary school year fights or experiences. If this is you, let me know now before we get any chummier in this mommy club I keep getting sucked into, because quite honestly I prefer to stay away and not know that side of people. It’s like those friends that are great as friends but you would never want to date them–well I’m sure there are girlfriends who are great on their own but you’d never want to be a mom around them when they’re a mom.

Ugh…moms. Growing up I felt like I had to deal with them all the time. Once after a fight with my friend Jennifer two doors down from me, I left her house so upset I kicked some wild (not garden variety) mushrooms growing in her front yard. Oh yeah, I did it with drama–big tears in my eyes and all the hurt and anger a 6 yr old could muster. Suddenly Jennifer’s mom threw open the door and yelled at me to, “Stop that! Go away,” and, “Get off my property and don’t you ever come back!” A year before that on the street behind my house, my friend Jaime (it was the 70’s everyone had J names) and I decided to play the game I’ll Show You Mine If You’ll Show Me Yours, because naturally at 5 yrs of age we were curious. Scared of what we might see, we stood outside on the side of his house with our eyes focused on where we suspected the others’ privates to be, and started the count down to drop our pants at the same time. One… two… three! Pants dropped and so did our jaws–what the hell?! Just then a woman’s hand thrust itself out of what was once an unopened window and grabbed Jaime, making his little body fly through the window and back inside with his pants still holding below his knees. His mom then popped her head out, eyes wild and face beet red, and started yelling at me for having done something so horrible and shameful. She called me a slut and said she couldn’t believe I did that to her son! Still recovering from the shock of seeing Jaime’s baby pee pee, I ran as fast as I could lifting my pants with Jamie’s mom screaming after me, “Get off my property and don’t you ever come back!” Needless to say I was not allowed on many properties in Nassau Bay, Texas.

I would like to believe that parenting has changed since then, but it looks like now it could be worse. With all of the helicopter parents buzzing around stressed out trying to build their kids into perfect human beings, I see no room for any humor, patience or ability to take anything in stride. And that’s just what parenting seems to call for the most. All I’m saying is I’d prefer that what happened to me not happen to my kid or yours. From the kid’s perspective it’s scary to have someone who is that much bigger than you and presumably adult flip out, and now that I’m almost a mom, it would be incredibly awkward to find out that your friend you used to toss one back with has become that lame mean old woman from your childhood. And if it happens what do you do? Tell your friend, “Hey be cool–you’re sounding like a woman with rollers in a 70’s nightgown.” When friends assume the suburban uptight way even when they live in a city, you know there’s no stopping that change. There’s nothing left to do but say goodbye to a friendship that was once beautiful and put your cootie spray on against the curse of the Mean Mommies.

More than anything I just don’t want to have to go looking too far for women with kids that I connect with. It would be better to be surrounded by those I already know, mainly because I’m lazy, but also because…nothing else, I’m just lazy. So please ladies, be cool. If your kid and other kids are having a bad day just treat it as an opportunity for everyone to learn how to deal with one another, cool-off and not be so dramatic. Please don’t get in my face or another woman’s face about how our kids suck and yours is an angel. We should all know better than that. How about being forgiving and kind if we want our kids to do the same and more importantly if we want to keep our drinking buddies and our sanity.

And what should happen if the Mean Mommy curse gets me?  Then do not hesitate–pull me aside and get me off your property.

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Why Being Pregnant Is Worth It

This past week has been a real testament to the superhuman strength that is Mommy-To-Be Willpower. At almost six months I desperately wanted to give in to everything that’s bad for my baby and I: splurging on an obscene amount of cookies, donuts, poached eggs; getting drunk on fresh fruit cocktails made with fancy ice and hard,  I mean HARD liquor; skipping the gym or that stupid walk that’s oh so good for me; indulging on a whole night of  sleeping on my back and procrastinating on every incomplete chore I had successfully put aside for nearly 5 years. I just wanted to be a little punk, even if only for a week! Then in the midst of my pregnant tantrum, a friend of mine at the gym asked me from out of the blue and in a very serious hushed tone, “So is it worth it?” What is? “Being pregnant?”

After the week I had had, I should have replied by going into everything I couldn’t stand about pregnancy and everything I missed about not being pregnant. But instead I found myself answering with an emphatic, “Yes!” For a moment I thought my brain had been taken over by some secret society to make women procreate, but as I heard myself gushing about all of the wonderfully sweet experiences pregnancy has given me, I couldn’t help but agree with myself. It was then that I realized I’ve only been writing about the negatives of being a baby carrier instead of the positives. So today for a change of pace I bring you everything that makes pregnancy worth it.

1. BOOBS–For those of you who already had them, congratulations, you have been enjoying dangly bits for quite some time. As for my smaller sisters, it’s very cool to finally go through the exciting part of puberty we missed out on. I now know what boobs feel like, and have enjoyed taking them out on short strolls in push-up bras just to experience that bouncing motion on my chest.

2. TOILETS–The bump is a VIP pass to every “Employee Only” toilet in the city.

3. CARGO PANTS–For three years I couldn’t find a pair of relaxed fit non-skinny cargo pants to replace my last pair. Turns out that maternity shops are mini cargo lands.

4. ICE-BREAKER–You think having a dog helps you meet people; try getting pregnant.

5. I WON’T GAIN WEIGHT?! — I learned that I can actually eat more and not gain as much when I’m pregnant than B.P. (Before Pregnancy). There have been weeks where I ate enough sandwiches and pizza to have warranted a gain of 3-5 lbs, but since being pregnant, my body is using so much energy that I burn through most of it and gain no more than a pound. NOTE: This perk only applies if you’re pregnancy has allowed you to keep your old workout schedule.

6. SOMETHING NEW TO CRY ABOUT–I was already a sucker for lovers dying in each others arms and old people eating Campbell’s soup, but now I can add men being sweet to their wives and women giving birth as reasons to get emotional!

7. GREAT HORROR FILMS–Birthing classes bring you the classics! Tons of bloody umbilical cords, alien-like creatures, scary masked doctors and creepy scratchy films depicting women giving birth in military bases from the 50’s.

8. BREAKFAST–My husband now makes me breakfast in the morning.

And last but not least…

9. MORE LOVE THAN YOU KNEW YOU COULD EXPERIENCE.

This last reason is my number one for refraining from eating poached eggs on grits. I have been lucky in that my pregnancy has brought my husband and I even closer than before.  B.P. I had already been loving my man more and more every day since I’ve known him, but as my belly has grown so has the love between my husband and I. Not in the usual way though; it’s not just more love but a new kind of love. Best way to describe it is this: before, the love I felt for my husband was growing like a skyscraper in perpetual construction heading towards the skies, but since my pregnancy, I looked down and found a whole new town of love surrounding it and filling the picture with trees, homes, shops, streets, parks and life that I had never seen before or knew was there. Does that make any sense? I know to some of you it may sound a little hoaky, but another awesome part of being pregnant I forgot to mention, is that it also makes you not give a damn.

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My Apologies To Pregnant Women

I need to publicly apologize to all the pregnant women in the world who have walked by me these last 5 1/2 months. I’m sorry for having so blatantly gawked at you. I should have had better manners, since I am from Texas, but it’s just that I feel like a dog at a kill shelter watching my buddy who’s been in the slammer for 3 1/2 months longer than me, and I know where he’s going is where I’m going.  So yeah, I’m scared. Especially before my bump started to show. Back then I felt like I was in hiding, able to observe from a safe distance. I don’t know how the preggos didn’t sniff me out.  I thought being pregnant was like being gay–if you are one you know who else is. But they never caught on and so I watched with mouth agape as they waddled to their cars, picked out baby room decor and asked for the nearest restroom.

But now I’m here and starting to show and I don’t know if I like that people can tell. Especially since I’m in that weird stage of it, where to some it may look like I’ve been drinking too much beer rather than had sex without protection. As a result, karma’s getting the better of me and I’m getting double gawked at by other incognito mother’s-to-be and the security dude at my office. And I understand it, I’m a walking “Morphing-Into-Something-Else-Being” right now. I’m straddling the two worlds of no baby and yes baby and no one can do anything but watch as I drift into another reality and become one of “them”.

“Them” as in couples with babies. Not that I ever wanted to think of them as “them”, but so many families rip themselves from the rest of us. And I don’t think that has to be the case. When my husband and I visited Barcelona a couple of years ago, families were walking around and hanging out at bars and restaurants filled with drunken singles. They didn’t get all huffy when a person next to their baby started smoking or got wasted. Sure they might have moved the kid, but they moved, they didn’t ask anyone else to. To each his own! As a result, all seemed happy. The parents didn’t even look like parents the way American parents do. Something about parents here; it’s like they lose their identity and end up looking like casual fashion ads from REI where the family is dressed to compliment one another so everyone can see they are of the same unit. While overseas parents were just as dressed up or down as anyone else-very much themselves; by chance they had a little one dangling off their shoulders, but they kept talking away with their friends without their kids interrupting or expecting to be the center of attention.

So why is it that the generation that brought pajamas to office attire and tattoos to the mainstream have somehow or other become more obnoxiously sterile and constrictive about what a family should be than those in the 50’s who propagated the Stepford Wife nuclear family ideal? Aren’t we cooler than that? Do we have to be so uptight like a bad rom-com female protagonist? The strangest part about it all is that some have assumed that I’d like to be one of “them” without ever even asking.

Just because I’m gonna be a mom, please don’t assume I want to go to baby conventions and events (seriously I just found out about some). Just because I’m gonna be a mom, don’t think that being a mom is the number one thing on my mind (well except in my blog). And don’t think because I’m gonna be a mom, I’m as excited about joining the mommy club as you might have been.

Thank God we have friends who somehow balance being parents with being people. I know there are ways to make life’s conventional roles your own. In my marriage, we never assumed that we needed to “settle down” and only hang out with other married couples. We continued to surround ourselves with all different people in all different stages of their lives. Of course, I did feel a similar slip into a different reality when I left the world of singles. It was a little scary then to know I’d no longer get to spend a night with girlfriends partying it up to prove that the guy who dumped me made an obviously major mistake (look at me now!); but the change into married life felt reasonable since many of our friends were in relationships themselves. We may have been the only married people for awhile, but not the only couple, so we never felt too different. But suddenly a baby comes on board and I see it in the eyes of my friends–I’m falling off the life raft and slowly slipping into the abyss. As my stomach grows I see their faces grow more distant. I want to say, please don’t let me fall, but I know they’re just waiting to see if I can swim.

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Should I Raise My Kid To Be A Jerk?

Aw man… I thought this whole time I was supposed to figure out how to raise my baby with good old-fashioned values passed down to me from the historically popular ethics specialist, Dr. Jesus Christ. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That way hopefully the kid will become a good person so they can have the love, empathy, heroism, independence and drive to succeed in life. Sure enough, I was wrong. In July, I read the New York Magazine article “Money-Empathy Gap” and it turns out being nice just makes you sad and poor. My alternative? Raise the kid to be a jerk. Even worse, maybe even a douchebag.

Wait how does that make any sense? Isn’t success all about the people you know? Don’t people promote people they like? In research conducted by Timothy Judge and his crew at Notre Dame, folks seem to be drawn to promote the people they don’t like at a company rather than their friends. This is because those who are less “agreeable” are more likely to be associated with money, and therefore higher positions–whether or not they are actually qualified doesn’t matter, they are still seen by others as a better fit for upper management than the “agreeable” type.  Basically it comes to this: the average person sees rich powerful people as jerks, so when they meet a grade-A asshole and a position of power comes up, the  average person will automatically link the asshole with the position whether or not he/she can do the job. After all it’s a natural fit, right?! So to those men who complain that women only like jerks… well, it turns out it’s not just the ladies who like them, men do too.

I can’t help but think, everything I ever learned that I felt so ready to share with my kid…is any of it relevant? In terms of having a happy relationship, I can definitely hand that over, but how to be a good person always looking out for others, I just don’t know if that will make them successful and therefore happy. Yep, I said it… success=happy. I know it’s not cool to even think it, but there is nothing worse than being out of a job and feeling like you have no place or need to fill in this world. Even research shows that poor people are less happy and more stressed than the rich. I don’t want that for my kid. I want my kid to kick ass in his/her field of choice. I wish I could beg the world to stop being pushovers and stop promoting meanies or letting them slide, but wishing won’t get my kid anywhere. Instead I’ll accept the fact that people like the unlikable and stop promoting this fantasy that the nice hardworking person always wins in the end.

So now how do you teach your baby the opposite of everything you know? How does a nice person teach their kids to be jerks? And how do you handle having to live around a douchebag of your making? And so I have my dilemma: for his/her own good should my kid be raised to think about money, getting ahead and feeling entitled enough so he/she will end up entitled in the future; or for my own sanity make my kid the kind of likeable person I would want to hang out with for the remainder of my life?

Aw man… I hate douchebags and everyone who’s contributed to my having to possibly raise one.

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