This Blog Is Awesome

Child free people are constantly bombarded with questions about when they will create their own genetic masterpieces and comments about how very wonderful children are and what amazing joy they bring to your life simply by being born. Then, in the very same breath, the questions and comments turn bitter. “How can you afford to fly to Vegas/go out drinking/go shoe shopping so often?” and “You’re so luck you get to do so many awesome things.” A friend of mine, faced with this phenomenon recently, posted on Facebook, “No, it’s not “lucky” that I get to go do awesome things…It’s because I chose not to have kids.”

Of course parents, including myself, jumped on that immediately, but I understand it in the spirit it was intended. It subtly (unintentionally) implied that being a parent somehow made life less awesome, but he only meant to defend his own awesomeness. It is easy for him to do the things he enjoys because having children is not on that list right now. And that’s cool, too. We seriously need to lay off people who do not want kids, whether they just aren’t ready yet or don’t plan to ever be ready. It’s not like we have a human shortage. There are plenty of people mass producing children. No one should have to defend their choice or how much they enjoy their child free lifestyle

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What kind of marketing tactic is it to tell someone how beautiful and amazing an experience is while simultaneously blaming it for sucking the fun out of your life, anyway?

I’ve been a parent my entire adult life. I have wondered from time to time over the last 18 years how my life would have been different if had not had children. (You know those people at the bar that are always there, usually a hot buttered mess slipping off their bar stool and slurring in your ear? I sort of fear I might be one of those without kids.) I’ve never wondered if my life would be better. I have an awesome life. I’ve gone to many of my dream concerts and I plan to go to more and dream up even more. I take the kids to some of them, but prefer to go to most of them alone or with friends. We travel with the kids because it’s something we both enjoy. I went on a road trip across the southwest with my family and can’t wait for the next one. We also travel alone and with friends. And more than once I have stood in a room full of my favorite musicians, both “famous” and local, and experienced a spine tingling performance, the kind that makes you close your eyes and listen, thankful to be there for that spontaneous moment and realize, “my life is awesome.”

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On A Pale Horse at Wooly’s

Maybe that’s not your thing. Maybe you’re thinking, “Meh, music. The southwest is hot. Boo roadtrips.” One man’s trash is another’s treasure. One man’s hobby is another man’s hell. You’d rather fly to Italy or get your master’s degree. I know those parents, too.  I’m not wealthy, I have a small home daycare. My friends aren’t loaded, either. We’re just normal people with normal jobs who choose to continue being awesome, even with children.

Parenthood gets a bad reputation because it is exhausting, expensive and time consuming. So is anything else worth doing! Immersing yourself in your hobbies, pursuing your career, following your dreams, all of it is mind boggling difficult if you are doing it right.  If you commit yourself to one thing it will make the other things more complicated, but not impossible. I have a friend going back to school right now so he doesn’t have much money left for going out as much as he used to and often doesn’t feel like it after hours of studying complex math. (I’m so with him on that.) That doesn’t make continuing education less worthwhile and it doesn’t have to make his life less awesome. If you are doing what you want to be doing then your life is awesome. If you are measuring your life against someone else’s idea of awesome it will never be awesome.

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My awesome family (before Little S) at the Grand Canyon

If you feel like having kids has made your life less enjoyable you may need to shift your priorities before you lecture your friends on all the reasons they, too, should reproduce. Logically you know your kids aren’t the problem, or you wouldn’t be trying to get others to join you in parenthood. The problem is that you are not doing the things that excite you and make you feel fulfilled. Don’t blame your kids for that and don’t be jealous of your child free friends. Find a way to make it happen. Create your own awesome.

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Let’s Go To The Mall

I took the kids to the mall last night. It was an accident. Beauty wanted to meet some friends there and Sharkboy needed a haircut and I needed to pick some things up on that side of town, so, I temporarily lost my sensibility and got excited about a trip to the mall. The Barkeep and I take the boys to “our mall” a lot. Our mall is on this side of town and hosts several inexpensive children’s clothing stores, as well as Target, which is where most of my money goes. There are 3 malls within 15 minutes of my house in any direction, but this mall is almost 30 minutes away in the subbiest of suburbs, our old stomping grounds, where their dad still lives and they still go to school. It’s new and big and shiny and it’s where all the cool kids hang out. There are two Abercrombie stores. I think they are designed to suck people in with their giant half naked men posters and perfumed, controlled temperature air but it does not have that effect on me. I actually repel just a little from the doorway. It’s that kind of mall and I’m not that kind of mom.

www.bodybuilding.com

Exactly what item of Abercrombie are these models showing off? The perfumed air? The guy you can get if you wear their jeans?

Plans got rearranged before the boys and I made it to that side of town and somehow I ended up picking Goldy up at her dad’s house and leaving Beauty. We drove by our old neighborhood to pick up diaper pail liners I had bought from a friend online but she wasn’t home yet so the four of us headed to the mall to get Sharkboy a haircut and shop for things I don’t need. Even though I attempted to leave immediately after work at 5:30 it was 6:45 by the time we actually walked into the salon. (Remember, when travelling with rockstars, one can never just walk out the door empty handed.) There was only one person working and she said it would be 30 minutes, around 7:30. I didn’t bother to correct her math. Maybe she lives on bar time.

We shopped at Crazy 8, where Gymboree clothes meet Target prices and rode the big, glass elevator. I managed to avoid the play area by buying a ride on the mechanical fire truck and we walked back into the salon at 7:25, just in time to hear her tell a woman at the counter she could get her in next. I, being naïve and ridiculous, really thought she meant after us, but no, the woman was seated immediately. Again, naïve and ridiculous, I think, “this will be quick, the boys will be fine.”

I know, at least half of you snorted at my silliness or let out an audible, “ha” at that.  My kids are reasonably well behaved in public but even in the best of circumstances most kids do not behave the way most people without kids would like them to. This was not the best of circumstances. The waiting area was tiny and there was already a rather snooty looking, terribly dressed woman with a well dressed, unattractive teenage(?) boy. He may have been in his twenties but I think he was with his mom. It was an odd pair and their behavior was similar. Odd. There were four of us and Little S was in a stroller, at least it was his umbrella stroller, though. I gave him a wonderful book to read, Baby Mix Me A Drink, and he immediately threw it on the floor, starting a fun game with Goldy where she would pick up the book and he would throw it again. Good times. Sharkboy was hanging out under the chairs, which I would normally discourage in an area that small but I honestly just wanted to keep it peaceful as long as possible. Little S threw his book near Mean Boy’s feet and Mean Boy kindly picked it up for him, or so I thought, but instead he gave me a disgusted look and stuck it in our diaper bag, thus beginning our fued. I get it, not everyone is a fan of “Drop The Book” but it wasn’t hurting anyone and it was keeping the baby quiet and happy. Why be a fun hater?

I’m not making this up.

I wish I could have recorded the tongue lashing that baby gave him. He furrowed his little brow and let loose with an angry string of babble that any sailor would be proud of. High five, Little S. Goldy and I both laughed inappropriately and she offered to take him for a walk around the mall while we waited. Sharkboy’s behavior deteriorated quickly after that and he mostly laid on the floor saying it was cold or stood next to a rack of things I told him not to touch, just barely not touching it. Mean Pair sighed a lot and acted irritated but I could see that Snooty Mom was mildly amused.

I know what you’re thinking. We should have left, and we should have. But you should also know two important things about me. I can be extremely lazy and highly vindictive. I was angry that Hairdresser let someone go ahead of us and I was pleased that our presence rattled her and I didn’t mind the side effect of making the Mean Pair uncomfortable. Also, there was nowhere else in the mall I was willing to pay for a 2 year old’s haircut and we were there and he had clean hair, which only lasts so long with a little boy who loves the sandbox. So, we waited.

Hairdresser did a great job on Sharkboy’s hair but she could not get him to cooperate. He would not look anywhere she told him to look, which is odd because he usually loves hair cuts and does what he is asked, but it had been a long night. I got him to cooperate by holding a hand mirror where she wanted him to look. This is why she cuts hair and I watch kids. There’s nothing wrong with that. I still tipped her.

“I’m so ready to go home.” I know you know exactly what I mean. Goal, accomplished. Feet, ache. Mood, shot. But I had this idea of a night at the mall with my kids, ya know, and it involved the play place and a pretzel and lemonade and good times, maybe even some new shoes. Sharkboy found the play place with his sense of hearing, because in this kind of mall there are only two noise centers, the play place for preschoolers and the food court, where the teenagers hang out. These teenagers are not the mallrats of our generation, though. If your children are still young you may not have noticed this. The kids hanging out at the mall now actually shop there. They wear Hollister and jewelry I can’t afford. Even in the mall in our own neighborhood the kids can outspend me. Where are they getting this money?

I didn’t expect the play place to be too crowded on a Monday at 8pm, especially since it’s huge, but it was surprisingly chaotic still. Little S was satisfied crawling in and out of log tunnels like he was doing laps and Sharkboy just wanted to climb so they were mostly safe from the inevitable game of murder-death-kill-tag being played by unattended kids, many much too big to be in there. There were at least 20 kids, two other parents and one grandma that was sound asleep. This is always the situation in mall play places unless you are able to go during the day. (I desperately miss being mobile during the day.) During the day there are usually tons of adorable toddlers and preschool kids with a rational amount of parents and plenty of awkward encounters when one kid hits another or knocks a baby over. Parents gasp and feel terrible, other parents brush it off. Kids, ya know. This is not like that. These are unsupervised, unruly kids. It’s a play place, though, you’re going to have that. I don’t worry much about Sharkboy, if he gets knocked down he just gets back up again and if kids try to bully him… it’s the only time I’m pleased with his self defense skills. Go ahead, back my kid into a corner, I dare you. We don’t call him Sharkboy for nothin’. Goldy and I switched on and off following the boys this way and that, attempting to keep them alive. It’s like a life size video game.

Buried With Children

I stole this photo from a cute blog about making friends at the play area. She is nicer than me. http://www.buriedwithchildren.com/how-to-make-friends-at-the-mall-play-area/

Then I saw Goldy talking to an old friend and overheard bits and pieces of her conversation. By old friend maybe I mean frienemy, I can’t be sure. She’s a girl I remember from junior high because her mother was unable to drive and I was more than happy to give her rides home, rides to hang out, rides wherever and she thanked me by telling me my car was a piece of junk. Not in those exact words, hers were actually worse. She said, “this reminds me of those cars that you see squeaking and bumping down the street to a stop sign and wonder if the owner is embarrassed.” It wasn’t the first time she had a made a remark but it was the last. I offered to let her out if she was uncomfortable being seen in my car and let her know that generally a simple “thank you” was all that was required when given a ride. That was junior high, though, most girls are a little snotty in junior high. Last night I heard Goldy telling her about the boys, she pointed out her brothers and you could see she was having fun playing with them. (And thank goodness for that because I needed the help.) They talked a few more minutes and then she was gone. Goldy rolled her eyes at me and shook her head. Apparantly after she told her what she was doing in the play place her friend sneered and said, “I can only imagine how much bacteria and germs and stuff are in there so I’m going to go now.” Still a snot. And her butt is getting big, so there’s that.

Why are people such jerks to each other? How hard is it to just be nice? I think many unpleasant things throughout the day and generally just bite my tongue. Like, “Wow, your butt has really gotten big since the last time I saw you.” I just hold that in. It’s bad karma to put that much negativity into the universe. Half a dozen people made me angry yesterday and I managed to swallow down my mean thoughts with a delicious buttery pretzel while laughing and playing with my kids. I wash it all down with that perfect pretzel stand lemonade and seriously, how can you not be happy when you’re drinking that stuff?

I guess that would make the moral of this story “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” but I’m not into clichés so let’s go throw them at things and pretend it’s Big Butt, The Hairdresser and Mean Pair.

Then we’ll make margaritas.

In The Company Of Rockstars

Going out with rockstars can be fun but there are some drawbacks.

They always need a drink. You can never just walk out of the house empty handed.

They’re messy. You never know when you might get puked on, peed on, drinks spilled on you… but you still have to dress nice because they are apt to draw attention your way at any moment, either by being loud and unruly or incredibly charming.

Everyone wants to talk to them, touch them and give them things and tell them how wonderful they are right up until all the attention goes to their head and they turn into a hot emo mess, then their adoring fans scatter, taking their trinkets and smiles with them.

Sometimes they’re weird and do weird things that don’t make any sense.

One on one they are okay people but in groups they become even more unpredictable and prone to hysterics.

Rockstars?

I’m seriously laughing out loud at what some of these stock photo companies consider rockstars…

Did I say rockstars? I meant toddlers…

I took Sharkboy and Little S shopping today. It was meant to be a quick trip but it is rare and exciting for us to be out during the day on a weekday and it is always an adventure to travel anywhere with young children. I wanted to pick up a Baltic amber necklace for Little S because he finally has teeth coming in, and they are coming in fast and fierce now. Sharkboy has one of his own that he was getting annoyed about sharing. I’m not going to advocate teething jewelry because I am still sort of shocked that it seems to work, I’m just going to quietly keep putting my boys in their necklaces everyday and if someone asks I will admit that it seems bizarre but they are more pleasant children in the evenings when wearing their jewelry. If you want to try it I recommend Inspired By Finn online. That’s where we got Sharkboy’s necklace. They were out of the kind we wanted when I went to order one for S and since I had the day off and access to the van we trekked over to the local natural parenting store.

The plan was to head straight home but then I saw it, a Block Sale sign! Sure you can go to block sales on Saturday… if you don’t mind picking through the junk all the stay at home parents and retired people left behind on Friday. The boys were loaded up on Burger King, (lettuce and pickles can be vegetables, right?) and we still had a little while until nap and I had cash in my pocket, perfect block sale conditions.

In case I have not previously mentioned it, my kids are unbelievably cute. They attract a lot of attention in public. Sharkboy is usually quiet but he has terrific manners and a killer smile. Little S is pretty noisy but he is charming and social. And they are just so incredibly handsome. It really is like going out on the town with rockstars. I also do a lot of weird, somewhat non-conventional things. We use cloth diapers, my boys wear jewelry and BabyLegs, I “wear” Little S in a carrier. Put all that together with a social butterfly mother and it’s hard to even get out of the car without someone striking up a conversation. Usually I don’t mind and I must have that look because people talk to me a lot. It’s not always friendly. I had an elderly woman tell me I was making life harder for myself by wearing my baby. It was July and she insisted he was suffocating in his sling, as if going from the hot car seat in the car to the hot car seat in a cart would be so much cooler and more comfortable… in July. Just today someone asked me if Sharkboy’s BabyLegs were knee highs. Maybe, dickhead, does it matter? They are keeping him warm in the rain, meanwhile your kid is shivering. I’ve had more comments than I can count or repeat about how gross and unsanitary cloth diapers are. They’re not, but I don’t bother to argue or correct, I just keep quietly saving money.

Maybe BabyLegs deserve their own blog! ❤

Today, though, we had almost entirely positive comments from the boys’ adoring fans. Sharkboy said he was hot so I simply pulled his BabyLegs off from under his shorts, immediately attracting the attention of other moms. I shared the code for the huge sale going on right this minute. (FAN50, 50% off of everything AND free shipping!) A young girl asked me a ton of questions about cloth diapers before I finally realized she was a mother and interested in switching. We always save the cutest prints for going out in public, just in case anyone is interested. Everyone oohed and ahhed  over Little S waving and gave Sharkboy cookies and kool-aid so he was able to impress them with his stellar manners.

(It rained off and on, giving me a chance to mention that we had our towels with us for Towel Day. In honor of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and many other amazing books and an all around brilliant man, I happened to be  carrying a towel today, which oddly, no one asked me about. Please refer to my comment section for an explanation. The towel made a nice umbrella for S.)

Then we found a slide. And other children. Getting Sharboy back to the van became a scene from Get Him To The Greek. We finally returned home three hours later with a new necklace, books about owning and running a bar, new toys, a diaper bag, empty cups, mustard stained pants, a shirt covered in kool-aid and two hot emo mess little boys. My little rockstars needed a nap.