September 9, 2015 § 3 Comments
First of all, and I try never to express gratitude on the blog, as it implies that I believe there are real people out there reading, but I was almost overwhelmed by the support and camaraderie that yesterday’s post inspired. If it takes a village to lose weight, it appears I am in luck. So many folks sharing their struggles and desires to follow my own journey as a way of motivating. As an aside, that is a TERRIBLE idea. I support you, but I am the last person to be motivating anyone.
Many people emailed/commented about Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide. I went ahead and sunk some money into buying the guide, not because I’m committed, but because at this point there’s no sense in NOT throwing money at the problem. I downloaded the workout guide and spent some time last night reading through the workouts carefully but not actually doing (or even considering doing) any of them. I need to wrap my head around all that jumping. (Side note: I also have to buy some Depends if I am serious about any workout that involves a jump rope. On the long list of things I never got back after having the baby, my ability to keep the liquid IN my bladder is there at the top. A rogue or ill-timed sneeze can be the end of a perfectly good pair of pants.)
Kayla (we’re on a first name basis now that I spent $75 on a collection of photos of her doing physical exercise) feels very strongly about progress photos. She even puts little notes throughout the book reminding me how much she wants to see my progress photos. Initially I didn’t even consider taking “before” photos, but after a couple of hours I reconsidered. I thought that maybe if the diet doesn’t work and the exercise is a flop, my self-inflicted last resort will be to get thin because I have to take a photo of myself every week. And let me tell you, that shit is terrible. Just awful.
Corey asked if I needed him to take the photo for me, which I balked at because the whole point of these photos is to take them yourself because you have a selfie FREE PASS. I am not taking selfies because I’m a narcissistic asshole, I’m taking them because Kayla asked me to. She wants to see me. I also balked because there was no way in an unfrozen hell that I was going to let him be in the room while I figured out how to cheat on my before photo.
I was mindful that if I was successful losing this weight, the worse The Before, the more awesome The After. That was tempered, however, by the knowledge that if I don’t lose the weight, I’d like to be able to look at The Before and be like, “oh please. You don’t look that bad.” Turns out, the second scenario is completely impossible. It could have been my choice of horribly unflattering neon sports bra and striped shorts, but it’s more likely that when you put my tits and my gut into anything you’re going to get a bad photo. See below. (It looks like I’m in a halfway house. I’m not. Just my bathroom.)
I’ll give you a second to regain your breathing and have a sip of water. For reference, I’ll share a few of the before and afters on my friend Kayla’s site:
Not exactly a bunch of fatsos. I agree that the girl in the wind shorts looks like she may have eaten a taco before her photo, but I’m also willing to bet the farm that her tiny little love handle isn’t muffining over a size XL. Those striped gems in my photo are an XL and I look like a ate a taco truck. But whatever, we all have our cross to bear.
So that’s pretty much it. The Before. It’s done. My next photo is supposed to be next week but that seems entirely too soon. Plus I think since I spent Day One reading the workout instead of actually doing it, I should probably delay the timeline by a smidge. I don’t want y’all to get bored.
Tonight I will attempt to NOT eat Aut’s dinner as an appetizer to mine and then I’m feeling really positively about spending 28 minutes with Kayla and a jump rope. After I get some incontinence panties.
September 8, 2015 § 2 Comments
There are a lot of things that I am really glad I don’t ever have to explain to my 15-year-old-self. Among them? My current figure. (A combination of the Venus on a Half Shell and a Mr. Potato Head.)
This morning I “weighed in” to get an official number for my now very necessary weight loss. I weighed 197.4 pounds. To give you some idea, the last time I hit 197.0 pounds I was about eight months pregnant. So the last time I was this size it was because I was carrying around another human life. Like a whole ‘nother person.
When I got pregnant, I was by no means at my fighting weight. I had started to creep up the scale after “retiring” from running because I hated it. I had meant to lose some weight, but because I was about to get knocked up, I didn’t really care THAT much. I can’t remember exactly, but I think I was nearing 170.0 pounds. (Oof.) Previous to that, I had enjoyed a few years of being about 150 pounds. Too thin by some folks standards, but man did I look great. Hungry, but great.
As many of you know, weight is a tough subject for me. Despite every reason to be a normal and well adjusted gal with no body image issues at all, I instead opted to go down the path of being a hugely fucked up gal with lots of issues. I started throwing up my food when I was in first grade. I was at a pool party and I was eight years old. I ate too much cake and I felt bad about myself and for some reason my eating-disorder-preconditioned-brain connected some super fucked up dots and I made myself throw up. That was the start of a 17-year battle with bulimia. (Though I’d argue that was just the first outward manifestation of a life-long battle with food and eating.) Having my cake and throwing it up too was easy. It made sense. There are times even today that it still makes sense.
For starters, I do not eat bon bons. I don’t scoop ice cream into my pie hole while bemoaning my existence. In the traditional sense, I don’t use food as comfort. I know cake doesn’t love me. I realize that BLTs don’t care about me as a person. For me, eating has always been about seeking stimulation. When I’m bored or restless I look forward to eating. Maybe it will be fun! Maybe that feta salata will be entertaining!
Another important thing to know is how healthy I eat. Kale, sprouted nuts, salads, cottage cheese, kombucha, no red meat, lots of herbs, olive oil…. We spend hundreds of dollars a week at Whole Foods on really good quality food. I’m living proof that you can get pretty fucking fat on large quantities (accidentally large quantities) of healthy food.
And I drink. Again, I’m not guzzling growlers and slinging White Russians. But I do drink beer and wine. Usually 3-4 days a week I have a glass or two of wine and then on the weekends maybe more. Depends. But I’m not taking out a bottle a night.
But because I don’t have these crazy swings of totally out of control behavior, losing weight is nothing short of just plain annoying. Because I’m not saddling up to the bar and ordering cheese fries and bacon cheese burgers, the thought of having to lose 40 or 50 pounds seems cruel. I don’t deserve to be punished when I didn’t do anything wrong. But that none of that changes the cold, hard facts. I am 4.5 pounds from OBESITY. Those tiny weights you grab at a step aerobics class are all that stand between me and obesity. And I’m not the kind of girl who was supposed to be obese. Seriously.
But it goes like this.
You stop running after four or five half marathons because you hate running. Running sucks. And then you start having a few more beers or don’t reduce your carb intake even though you’re not running 30 miles a week. Then you get pregnant and you finally find something YOU ARE REALLY GOOD AT. I excelled at being pregnant in a way few can. I was SO good at it. And you’re pregnant so no one is like “why is that chick eating two entrees?” They’re like, “you are so cute and pregnant!” (Wee!)
And then your baby comes and he doesn’t latch so you’re pumping all the time. You’re pumping in a unisex, single bathroom in the hallway of an industrial building at 9AM and 1PM. You’re rushing home to pump again before your boobs explode and your nipples take someone’s eye out. You can’t jog because you wear a 40EE and any sudden movement causes pain and leaking. And no one likes a leaky jogger. Fortunately, breast feeding takes a lot of the baby weight off. (Not all, but a lot.) And you’re feeling pretty okay.
And then after about a year you have to stop pumping. Because pumping is a prison. And breast feeding is making you nuts. And you’re crying a lot. And something is totally up with your hormones. So you stop and you gain a few lbs, but it’s not the end of the world because you’re going to start exercising again because your boobs are no longer weapons of mass destruction. But then you get a new job. And it’s terrible. And you have to buy a Prius and you’re driving to work in the morning, crying, and then driving home in traffic, cursing the clock and trying to make it in time to let the nanny off. And you’re tired as fuck when you get home and your baby hasn’t seen you all day and you have about an hour before he has to go to bed. So you eat some cheese and olives and crackers and wait for your husband to get home. And you stress about money and feel guilty about your baby and your terrible job. And so you open a bottle of wine and you try to just breathe and relax. And then he gets home and you look at your baby and he has some wine and then you talk about dinner and then OH FUCK YOU TOTALLY FORGOT THAT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO GO JOGGING. Maybe you’ll wake up at 4:45 the next morning and exercise before going to your terrible job? Maybe? (Answer: no.)
So then you leave your job. And that’s a huge relief but it’s not a relief to be without a job, a primary breadwinner, and panicked as shit that you need to do something. So you start hustling. Because the nanny has to get paid and the rent doesn’t pay itself and you’re arguing with your husband and eating cheese and crackers because it’s easy and dinner is a distant memory when you’ve got a little guy who needs to take a bath and go to bed. Maybe you’ll cook some chicken later. Or order Chinese. Or both.
AND OH FUCK YOU FORGOT THAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO LOSE SOME WEIGHT. So you don’t.
And then you move. Because you and your husband finally decide that something’s gotta give. So you move. And it’s great. But now you commute three hours a day and the baby has daycare and once again working out is going to have to be before 6AM or after 8PM and while that’s not impossible, it’s just not motivating. And you’re happy in your new house and you’re starting to feel like maybe being fat isn’t that big of a deal. And you take on a persona. And you get a little less beautiful to yourself. And your underwear get HUGE.
And then you get on the scale one day and between what felt like yesterday and now you’ve put on more than twenty pounds. And you feel a lot of sadness and guilt. And no matter how many times you say to yourself, “I am more than this number.” It doesn’t make it less humiliating. It doesn’t change that you can’t buy new clothes and you don’t want to see old friends because you know what they’re thinking. They want to know how you got almost obese. And you want to be able to explain it, but you know that at the end of the day the real reason is that you chose this over losing weight. I’m almost obese because I chose to be. And I didn’t even realize that’s what I was choosing. I was just trying to get through another day or season or situation. And ten extra pounds seemed manageable. And then twenty was only ten away from ten. But now…
Now I’m 25 lbs from where I started, 40 lbs from where I “should” be, and 55 lbs from where I once was. And it sucks so bad.
So today I got on the scale and I got the number and I wrote it on my fridge. (Which isn’t symbolic, just centrally located.) And while I know it isn’t about a number, I also know that’s what motivational people say to fat people. It’s about a number. It shouldn’t be about an unrealistic number, but these numbers are a necessary guiding principle. Girl got fat and she’s got to get un-fat. Before I get obese.
Because that, friends, is how I got almost obese.
June 23, 2015 § 3 Comments
I’ve had a tough time blogging recently for a few reasons. “Lack of inspiration” is the blanket term, but it’s actually more complicated than that. When social tensions spike, I find myself with so many thoughts– many of which haven’t been vetted by my brain. It may surprise you to know what a complicated filter I actually do have, it’s just not the traditional filter. The point is that I want to speak, but I often find it’s just to say “HUSH UP! QUIT BEING SO STUPID!” But that’s neither helpful nor entertaining.
Moreover, while I actually love to write serious things, they seriously dent my readership. Like a lot. Folks get a little, “what the fuck? Where’s my laugh?” and then I’m all, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’ll be funny next time, I swear!” But they don’t come back. And then I feel like I’ve lost someone because I really just wanted to rant on about racism and republicans and the chronic bullshit that’s inundating me every second. And what’s the fun in that? Nothing, apparently.
I also hate that all I have to talk about is mom stuff. Lame.
But recently I’ve seen so many “mom blog” pieces being passed around. Touching letters about a son with autism or a daughter with a skin condition. A kid who can’t eat anything but cotton candy and dryer sheets, or a little guy who’s different and both parent and child feel alone, sad, and overwhelmed. Like any human, I am touched by the stories of these people with serious hardship, but I also can’t help but feel like the desire to explain our own unique situations only deepens the gap between us. ADD, ADHD, Autism– these are very real and very tough things for parents, but at the end of the day it amounts to unceasing reminders that “my kid is different.” I fight the urge to remind many of my friends that if they didn’t keep reminding me, I’d likely forget and move on. In a good way.
Sometimes I lie on the bed naked and lament about all the parts of me that are depressing. I wiggle and jiggle and point at pockets of horrifying and shameless dimples. It enrages my husband. He recently told me that anything negative that’s ever occurred to him has been because I’ve insisted on pointing it out. To him, I’m a big delicious bowl of naked. It’s not exactly severe spectrum disorder, but there are some parallels. Sometimes we have to go out into the world as we are and just see what happens. Maybe we’ll be surprised.
I have a younger brother with one of the most obvious, obnoxious, and socially crippling syndromes around. You think your kid brother drove you nuts? I can hear a pen clicking six offices over and drive myself to insanity over it, and I was given a little brother who chirped, barked obscenities, and threw up the Nazi salute every second of every day. He blinks, he stutters, he trips, hops, yells, barks, and makes the stranges facial tics– and I stopped noticing about 20 years ago.
When I was in middle school, Oprah or Maury or someone else with a couple of couches and a microphone did a show on “freaks.” Four kids with Tourette’s were paraded on stage with their parents. Their parents then proceeded to speak for the kids, explaining to the audience (and the world) how their children would never be able to do the things every other kid could do: no movie nights, no school dances, no organized sports. They couldn’t take them to the grocery store or the mall. They worried their children would never find love or happiness.
My brother and I were both watching. The creeping sense of dread that came over me was too late. I realized that until that moment, we’d never really treated Charlie like a kid with a disability. (I don’t actually know if he knew it was….) As a family (and not because we had our shit together, or even a long-term plan), we simply held him to the same standard as we held ourselves. (Albeit low.) Tourette’s was never a reason for anything to be a non-starter.
He didn’t quit baseball because of Tourette’s. He quit because he’s a pansy and it was too hot outside.
He didn’t quit playing the bass because of Tourette’s. He still plays. We just told him he had to get a real job.
He didn’t quit archery because of Tourette’s. We just asked he not do it around… anyone.
He didn’t stop going to movies because of Tourette’s. He told people to shut the fuck up.
He didn’t shy away from social interaction because of Tourette’s. He made friends on the basis of his humor and alcoholism.
He didn’t avoid romance because of Tourette’s. He’s just not very good looking. (I kid. I kid.)
He didn’t quit law school because of Tourette’s. He bitched about it, took a few victory laps, and then passed the bar. To the surprise of even himself.
And while my parents did fight a lot of battles on his behalf, ultimately we all knew it was up to Charlie to fight the war. The greatest misfortune of being a kid with a disability is often not the disability; it’s cultivating the emotional and intellectual strength to be yourself and recognize that people are staring, people are judging, people are wondering, and simply not care.
I have stood at the ready many times over the years, waiting for someone to cast a stare I didn’t like or say something to him I could beat them for. But in all my years, I’ve never once had to pick a fight. There either wasn’t a fight to pick or Charlie was quicker to say, “get over it. I have Tourette’s.”
I realize that his battle is not my own. I realize (believe me) that the desire to clear a wide and painless path for your child is fierce, but I also know from my own experiences that we have to encourage them to accept themselves, not qualify themselves. Our children believe they are who we say they are and if we tell them they are disabled and different, they will believe it.
Aut could have Tourette’s. It’s too early to know, but we do watch him for signs. Do I think about how his life would be different? Of course. But I think more about how to cultivate in him a sense of pride and acceptance in himself no matter what he does or doesn’t have. After all, even if he doesn’t have Tourette’s, he’s got the Beaulieu legs and the Minton hairline. And those will take confidence to overcome.
And there are exceptions. But I encourage all parents to think long and hard about what you (we) do because we are scared of what other parents or kids will think and what we do because it’s actually best for the child. Bring your autistic kid to the birthday party. Bring your son with cerebral palsy to the pool. Kids will never stop staring, but your kid deserves a swim on a hot day. And they damn sure deserve cake and ice cream.
May 12, 2015 § 6 Comments
Today was shitty. There was nothing particularly epic or eventful– no real moment that defined it, but there was a low, gray cloud that hung firmly over the whole thing. I worked out for the first time in <unspeakable period of time> yesterday and then you decided to grow some molars, so we were up at the crack of ass this morning. I was tired and work was boring and the FedEx lady was unspeakably awful (and had ankles like a pregnant elephant) and traffic was unreasonable and then dinner never happened. I just wanted the whole thing to be over from about 8AM on.
And then there was this article on my Facebook page. It was a beautiful young girl and she killed herself. And there was no amount of click-baiting that could get me to read it. Because I didn’t want to. I don’t ever want to. I don’t want to read about the ones who don’t make it, the ones whose sad becomes the only thing they know. Especially when they are young. So, so young.
And then your dad told me this story about an 18-month-old who survived a tornado because her parents laid their bodies on top of her. They both died. It was meant to be a sad story with a happy ending, but he trailed off from the telling because we’d both just started watching you and imagining a world where we saved you, but we’d never see you again.
So, like I was saying, today was shitty. Just because.
Today was also shitty because I was depressed. I hope that you see sunshine in every dark corner of the world, sweet boy, but I am also realistic. You come from a long line of world-class crazies, sads, and worriers, and the chances that you will emerge unscathed are not stoutly in your favor. I hope they are, but hope is a frivolity… But even if you do escape with a clear mind and a light heart, I still want for you to understand what it can be like. Because your compassion will fight the good fight. It might even save a friend one day.
For some of us, your Mups among them, the sun doesn’t always brighten the sky. We feel sad for reasons unknown or unseen, hopeless because we believe something the rest of the world cannot understand– maybe something that doesn’t even exist. There are days when–to me–there is no purpose, no reason, no motivation. My mind tells me things that I have no choice but to believe. I sometimes feel scared and sad. I sometimes forget which way is the sky. I forget that things pass, that the winds will shift the the seas will calm. In those moments, I am overwhelmed by the permanence of my darkness. I am convinced I have failed. I am nothing.
But I am always something. Though it may seem like a tiny pinprick of light, an illusion or trick of the mind, the belief that I am something– whether it be to me or someone– is enough to keep me walking forward. The feelings will pass. The darkness will subside. Nothing is permanent. Always remember, nothing is permanent.
If you every find yourself sad, remember that you are something. Visualize the tiniest point of light shining in the distant nothing and do not lose sight of it. Keep walking and waking until that tiny light becomes something– a new day, a friend, a hand, a doctor– something. Please, do not ever stop walking.
More importantly, remember that being sad is okay. Say something. Tell someone. There is no shame in being sad, scared, worried, or anxious. Always, always tell someone. And if someone tells you they are sad, make eye contact with them and then tell them how wonderful they are. Show them compassion and understanding. Imagine that you are their tiny pinprick of light. They are walking; walk with them.
I’ve learned something very valuable by writing things down here on this blog: all the people you think are sane, all the people you think are perfect, all the people you think have it all together– they are scared too. We’re all trying to figure it out– the optimists, the pessimists, the hopeful ones, and the depressed ones. Even the Republicans.
If you one day find yourself depressed, whether it’s for a moment, a few days, or a battle that you fight always, I hope you find the courage to open up. I hope you find a reason to find a person (or a pill) to help you. The path doesn’t always get easier and there are times that the sun stays hidden for longer than you think you can hold on, but if we are only here this one time, and we only have this one chance, you deserve your turn. The world should be so lucky as to have you for as long as possible.
Be kind. Be happy.
Because I love you and I will always be your light. Walk towards me.
May 6, 2015 § 4 Comments
Even though I say I’ll never write a book, the truth is that I would write a book were it not for two things:
1. The only thing I have (content wise) to write about is my life and my family
2. Because of number one, I neither have advice nor license to warrant an entire book
It’s not that I am necessarily opposed to writing scathing or unflattering things about myself or those I love. Given, those things are not always well-received (just ask my mother), but they can net some great stuff. To my own credit (go me!) I’ve never used the blog as a weapon or to arbitrarily hurt someone. (Though let’s be honest with one another, in order for that to be a possibility we’d need a healthy following of people to read said “weapon.” Alas, that is not the case.) But the point I am not getting at is that I feel disingenuous writing about, or even thinking about writing, a book about a group of relatively ordinary and unremarkable people. (In the best way possible.) And in order to make us seem interesting and entertaining, a lot of pretty objective truth has to come out. And no matter how true it is, it somehow manages to be hurtful. Funny how that works, right? The stated truth, emotionless and uncontextualized, makes people very upset. Layer humor onto that and I’ve basically waged war.
For example, here are a few of the Big Things that would make a book entertaining and worth writing:
My son has a three-year-old uncle.
I married a carbon copy of my father.
My step mother is four years older than I am.
My brother is a 28-year-old scotch-aholic with Tourette’s
I’m a hot mess.
My mother has her eyeliner tattooed on.
My sister-in-law got drunk and broke her neck.
I hate myself a lot of the time.
My step mother and I have twice been confused for my father’s “two daughters.”
My step-father sprays ag poison on your food– and makes a glorious living at it.
My step-mother-in-law is terribly bitchy and hates us all.
I’m currently 40lbs overweight.
These are all true and documented things, but try writing a whole chapter on any of them and still get an invite to the holidays. It gives me a huge respect for personal essayists and comedians. The choice to use your life as creative fodder is incredibly difficult. The “public” BEGS for you to make them laugh. They (you) love to hear the craziest stories and most unbelievable details, but what no one takes into consideration is how isolating it can be to be funny. What thick skin you have to have. What one personal considers hilarious, another person consider exploitative and hurtful. And being the one responsible for crafting stories that walk the fine line between the two puts you on a razor’s edge.
Be funny, but don’t be racist. Be funny, but don’t be hurtful. Be funny, but don’t generalize. Be funny, but don’t make it about me. Be funny, but don’t be too honest. Be funny, but don’t be rude. Be funny, but don’t be condescending. Be funny, but be compassionate. Be funny, but don’t use political sensitive monikers.
Making it harder is that I seem to have been born giving zero fucks. Any filters and parameters in place are the product of many years of observing and pulling back. As the years have gone by, my enthusiasm for writing a book has dimmed considerably because I dread the outcome. Even worse, imagine writing a hilarious book about your family that no one buys. Poor and all alone. That would be terrible. If I’m going to be a girl without a family, I’d at least like to be a NYT best seller.
The other part of the fame monster is how much of my own perspective I have to include in order for the content to be meaningful. I have to put myself WAY out there in order for people to connect. And, truthfully, I am a-okay with that, but it can get tiresome to hear what a terrible or selfish person I am. Eventually you start to believe the bad things. Especially when they come from people close to you.
In the ten years since I started blogging, I’ve pissed off many people. I’ve hurt plenty of feelings. But I’ve also admitted to a 17-year-long eating disorder, confessed to hardships with marriage, parenting, and growing up. I’ve confided insecurities about my body, lifestyle, and intelligence. I’ve been transparent about my political and social views. I’ve been honest and vulnerable, but I realize that it’s my choice to do and be and say those things. And I don’t get to make that choice for my friends and family. And in order to write the only book I’d know how to write, I’d have to make that choice. Or choose to do it no matter the consequences.
So, for now, a book is just not in the cards. Or rather, it’s not in the family.
April 27, 2015 § 22 Comments
The decision to get rid of a child is a personal one and you should talk to your partner about what is best for your family. For us, after much discussion, it was clear that the right choice was to get rid of our child.
We had a son in August of 2013. Like most new parents, we were excited. It was a new adventure, one that was sure to be full of ups and downs. When our baby arrived, he looked like most new babies: like a saggy, sunken, squashed old man. And a genius, of course. He came into the world quietly, scoring poorly on the APGAR tests because he simply refused to cry. He stared with wide eyed wonder at the buzzing delivery room, refusing to give any medical professional the satisfaction of a peep. Like Jesus hanging from the crucifix, he stared forward, forgiving, but knowing. He would not cry out. He would endure the shame of public nudity, shocking temperatures, and unfathomable cruelty silently. The battle would not be lost without his consent.
We should have known then that he was willful. We should have guessed that his silent entree to existence was a marker, not of his serenity, but his commitment to doing whatever it took to be contrarian. “You want for me to scream?” he said. “Beg. Beg and might consider it. Tomorrow.”
As the months wore on and he grew from a tiny babe into a sparkly eyed infant and then into a toddling smidge of wonder, his small personality began to emerge. Laughter, joy, and small acts of premeditative evil were his hallmarks. Eventually we began to tire of his pint-sized bullshit, but we pushed through. We continued parenting because we believed it was what was right. It was what society expected. You don’t just give up. You can’t throw in the towel.
We talked with friends and loved ones. We agreed that he was slightly too old to be a candidate for adoption and the risk that he would run off from the fire station before they found him was too great. Sometimes our decision would be delayed. It would seem that he had turned a corner and we would allow ourselves to believe, once again, that we could be parents. That we could have this life that society wanted from us.
But we were wrong. We were naive. In the end we could keep up the charade no longer. So we got rid of our child. We wanted to help others in our position by sharing our experience. We hope that by seeing that others are struggling you will be helped. We’ve documented for you what led us to making the right decision for our family. We hope it helps.
Fuck You and the Shit Stain You Rode in on.
The poop is unfathomable. The poop is so present, so pervasive, that you find yourself becoming desensitized. Poop on your clothes? Meh. Poop smear on your wall? It happens. Accidentally left a poop diaper in the diaper bag for an indeterminate period of time? Bummer. But okay. And then they start eating real food. And what was once just alien enough to be fascinating instead of full on horrifying becomes human. It becomes Poop.
And then they’ll shit in the tub. If you’re lucky they have some sort of bath game that has a net, or– though not ideal– some sort of scooping cups. If you’re not lucky, you’ll spend ten minutes fishing turds out of the tub with a water logged paper towel before you regain your sensibilities and scurry off the find your kitchen gloves. And you won’t even throw them out afterwards.
Poop seeps. It creeps onto organic cotton pajamas with tiny bears on them and ruins any chance those $45 pajamas have of seeing a second life with a friend of cousin. Poop hangs out on the crib sheet and no matter how much you wash it, Poop stains.
We lived like that. We communed with Poop until one day we realized we were slaves to fecal matter. He shit, we wiped. And the cycle repeated as we became less human and his Poop fiercer and less forgiving. And then we said, “STOP! We are humans with college degrees and HORN RIMMED GLASSES FOR GOD SAKE!” And we knew. Goodbye, child; Goodbye, Poop.
“Mine” is Not a Complete Sentence. It’s a Lie.
One day his tiny voice rose above the nonsense babble. “Mine!” it said. And we laughed and repeated the word over and over, encouraging him. “Mine!” we’d say and then laugh. “Mine!” We were fools.
Not everything is his. Truthfully, nothing is his. Not his room or his bed, his clothes, or his shoes. Not even that godforsaken piece of shit-smelling filth he passed off as a lovey was really his. We built this empire. This kingdom was built with our sweat and our tears and watching a two-foot-tall life terrorist run around like Christopher Columbus yelling “mine!” at every chair, book, and picture was not only inaccurate it was offensive. Not so much as one summer job or after school grocery gig of his went into the creation of this home.
And then it became about the food. God forbid the parents, the masters, be allowed to eat their pork tenderloins and nice cheese in peace. “MINE!” we would hear bellowing from the high chair, a nice bowl of pasta and sauce hitting the ground. “MINE!” he would squeal until someone parted from their moist pig meat. And then he would giggle. He would actually giggle. Because to him, this torture, this inhumane pageantry was funny. And then I found myself standing at the Whole Foods, picking out a piece of organic, wild caught, Coho Salmon and it occurred to me. “This is MINE, dammit! And I do not have to share it with you!” I felt liberated. I felt free. I knew that I was being treated unfairly and there was something I could do about it.
Hey, Halfpint, Where’d’ya Park Your Stool?
Children are short; and while we as parents try to help them adapt to the world, can we really be expected to wash, brush, rinse, reach, and put away every single thing in their lives until they are able to see over counters or to the top of the laundry machine? It’s barbaric.
In the beginning it was sweet. A soft, pudgy baby perched in a laundry basket was Instagram gold. But the reality of expecting me to wash all those tiny shirts? Seriously? And the stain removal is a full time job. There’s no end to the amount of crap that ends up on the front of those Boden shirts when the wearer has the dexterity of a moose. And we were expected to reduce ourselves to the level of laundry mistress in order to make sure they are cleaned and returned to the drawer, where they will most certainly be tossed out carelessly? No. No, I say! We have choices!
I Am Not Moved By Your Crying. But You Will Be.
Tears flowed like angry rain at any sign of even the slightest (fake) injustice. Just before our decision to get rid of him, our son had a full-on tantrum in the middle of a Toys-r-Us express at the mall because I would not allow him to take every.single.ball out of the ball bin and throw it down the aisle. To my credit, or rather, in my defense, I allowed it to happen three times before I realized what a schmuck I was. I actually thought I was picking out the wrong one and he what he really wanted was a very specific one. Rookie move. He wanted all the balls. All 8792 of them. And he wanted to throw them down the aisle of the store. And if I was going to try to stop him, I would live to be sorry.
He wailed and wailed and wailed. He did that slow, rocking, penguin/toddler walk where the arms don’t moved and the mouth is the size of a petri dish, the face flushed crimson. Photographed in black and white, it would have been captioned, “Young boy hears of his heroic father’s untimely death in a suicide mission to save a 342 Jewish children in WW2.” Photographed with the Nashville filter, it reads, “Entitled Barnacle Screams Over Loss of Balls.”
It wasn’t just the balls, though, or that specific tantrum. It was the inanity of trying to reason with the unreasonable. Did I mention my college education? How could I be expected to endure such ridiculousness? I couldn’t.
You Lack Respect; We Lack You
Sane adults can only be expected to chase after an oily-fingered toddler headed toward a designer couch so many times before they have to make a choice. An Eames lounger can only endure so many close calls with a Sharpie before someone needs to prioritize.
As we conferenced in the living room, my husband in the Eames, myself stretched out on the Muskoka blue couch, the newest furniture arrival perched in our periphery. It would never make it. Between the razor sharp fingernails and the crayons, the mini muffins and the tiny 990s, our furniture wouldn’t live to see our 40s. What were we thinking bringing a child into this home? The upholstery preferences alone should have been enough to convince us that we were being stupid. But then we realized we’d put our furniture at risk and there was no choice left to make. The child would have to go.
College is a Mirage
The college education was really what pushed us over the edge. We don’t even know this kid and we were expected to squirrel away thousands of dollars a year to send him to a four-year, young adult, education and promiscuous sex camp? All my shoes and dinners and fancy cars are being taken away so that you can have a “bright future?” What kind of bullshit is this?
So far I knew he could wield a Crayola and draw semi-recognizable circles. What about that was supposed to warrant a $1000/month college education nut? I was insane. It shouldn’t. The idea that we should invest in the future of something we love is not only wrong, it’s irresponsible. It defies human nature. Enough with the selflessness and bed time reading and learning the alphabet. We wanted our lives and our finances back and when we really sat down and looked at it, we knew that there was only one way to get those back. We had to get rid of the kid.
We called around for someone who would take him. Grandparents were out, they’d already done that song and dance once. Friends and other relatives suggested some good orphanages in Upstate New York where they’d heard the foster care system wasn’t so rough for blue-eyed white kids. We had a few responses to a Craigslist ad we posted, but no one that was very serious. We did manage to pawn off an old A/C unit on one of them, though. So it wasn’t a complete waste.
We finally decided to drop him off at the fire station. We’d originally been nervous that he would not stay put until they found it, but we solved that by putting him IN the actual fire truck. They’re sure to have found him there.
And now we finally have our lives back. We’re thinking of turning his room into an exercise space. It’s going to be awesome.