Defending the Sisterhood

I generally watch The Today Show in the mornings while I’m getting dressed. Honestly (and sadly), I get most of my news from that 15 minutes around the 8 o’clock hour that I watch.

Yesterday morning there was a segment about nanny poaching. Whatever, it probably sucks to have that happen, but free market, blah, blah, blah. The thing that caught my ear was some talking head who said, referring to being careful who you hang out with lest they steal your nanny: “You meet people in your mommy group. But they’re not really your friend.”

Jesus, can’t we all just get along? The stay-at-homers hate the workers. The workers hate the stay-at-homers. The breastfeeders hate the formula-feeders. The disposable diaper people hate the cloth diaper people. The family-bedders hate the cry-it-outers. The Alpha moms hate the Slacker moms. And vice versa.

Me? Sure I’ve passed judgment on others, no matter how much I try not to. (For the record: work from home, but consider myself a stay at homer; mostly breastfeeder; disposable diaper person; cry-it-outer, no idea about Alpha v. Slacker.)

But mostly I believe in the sisterhood.

I was introduced to the sisterhood late, in college. A slightly older acquaintance of mine had a very heavy crush on a guy who had a long-distance girlfriend. And my acquaintance was hot. And the guy obviously liked her. But when one of my friends suggested that she go for it, she said something that has stuck with me ever since: “I don’t do that. If we women don’t look out for each other, who’s going to? Not the men.” And that’s how I joined the sisterhood.

Now, just to clarify, I don’t think all men—or even most—are worms. And I don’t think you betray the sisterhood by thought alone, as my acquaintance did not.

I do, however, think the sisterhood is powerful. Women united are powerful.

I have felt the sisterhood surround me as I enter the special ed world. They have hugged me in the hall at school when they caught me crying after one of Jack’s meltdowns. They have talked to me and they have listened to me.

I have joined the sisterhood in my actions. I joined a subset of the sisterhood by becoming a parent. And I have found that the mommy-sisterhood is strong. And that, yes, some will judge and hate and make fun, but the ones that matter will support.

I have seen the sisterhood bolster my friends as they drive over the bumpy road of parenting. They have given advice on sleeping, on feeding, on teaching our children. They have lent ears when a sister needs to cry or needs to talk or just needs to sit with a group that won’t judge her for wearing sweatpants and no makeup.

I have become part of the sisterhood in recently helping my mother go through a rough patch. We called her daily and we listened to her feel sad, then feel happy, then feel sad, then feel confused, then feel happy again.

I have watched my mother become the sisterhood in helping her friend whose adult son unexpectedly passed away less than a week ago. She visits her friend and calls her friend and doesn’t think badly of her because she is on the edge.

I have become part of a sisterhood at least partly made up of those “mommy groups” the talking head on The Today Show was so disparaging of. We are trying to form a protective circle around our good friend WhyMommy as she faces the biggest fight of her life. The sisterhood is with you, WhyMommy. Lean on it. I know we (I) have leaned on you in the past for support. And I know that once you’ve won this battle, and it is something we can look back on, then you can be part of the buttress for the next sister who needs us.

And that is perhaps the best part of the sisterhood: somehow what you support can support you as well.

My Little Junkie

This is one of the funnier things that has happened to me in my life. My children don’t get candy very often, so when Sam brought home a bag of it from a birthday party last weekend, it was a big deal. And when there is candy in the house, it lasts a loooong time because even when it’s in the house, I don’t let them eat it very often.

Today I let Sam have a piece, and he shared a piece with Quinn, who really likes candy. (“More candy please, Mommy. Have some more, Mommy? Candy please, Mommy?”) Well, after they ate their candy, I took a green Now and Later for myself. Turns out Quinn really wanted that green candy. (“Piece of candy! Have it, candy! Green for me!”)

Then, when I put it in my mouth, he literally started clawing at my mouth in an effort to get it out. After I swallowed and told him that it was all gone, I opened my mouth to show him, whereupon he hunched down and fully inspected the interior of my mouth.

This is unprecedented. I have a couple of older kids who really like junk food, and no one has EVER tried to reclaim food once I’ve put it in my mouth.

And he’s in the kitchen right now trying to find more candy. I can hear him in there moving furniture around so he can be tall enough to reach the candy bowl.

Here’s hoping Quinn’s tenacity will serve him well in his future life.

The Cassi-Doodle

In light of more serious events that have made most everything in my life seem trivial, I’ve decided to blog—dog blog, if you will—about something truly trivial: The Doodle.

You’ve met The Doodle before, but I’ve decided to temper my prior diatribe about this poor animal with some kind words about her Doodle-osity.

First of all, all of our pets’ names get completely bastardized into something they were never originally intended to be.

My first pet, Desdemona the Cat went by “Bony”. (Desdemona…Desdebona…Bony. Duh.) One of my current cats, originallly named Isabella before I discovered that that was far too graceful of a name for her, goes by Izzy, Izz-Bird, or more commonly: The Izz-Bot.

And Cassidy? Cassidog…Cassidoodle…Doodle Dog…The Doodle. Clearly.

Anyway, Cassidy is the best dog we could possibly ask for. Yeah, she barks, she jumps, and she licks, but she’s cute, she’s nice, she doesn’t much mind the kids until they yank on her fur over and over. And even then she’s a little cantankerous, but never bitey. And if Alex or I start to wrestle too roughly (according to her) with one of the kids, she will insert herself between us and them. She is a lovely, sensitive dog.

Due to some kids’ fear of dogs, and the fact that Cassidy is a herding dog that LOVES to herd things, specifically children that run happily through our backyard, we generally put her upstairs when kids come by to play. Her herding tendencies aren’t helped by the weird growling noise that generally accompanies this behavior. To her credit, she usually won’t jump on the children, but she does enthusiastically jump on their parents.

Wait. I take that back. She won’t jump on children unless they’re running and shrieking, which is what kids do when they are scared to death of a dog. And then she’ll knock them down. Sam has learned to stop and stand still if the dog starts running at him when he’s in the back yard. This, unfortunately, was a lesson learned the hard way.

Today, however, I had three different kids over at different times, two of whom have dogs at home, and who wanted to see and play with The Doodle.

The first small visitor, Darling Baby K, was freaked out by The Izz-Bot, but was so fascinated by the dog that she wouldn’t eat her applesauce at lunch. Child #2 was thrilled to meet Cassidy and was just disappointed that she wouldn’t come into the wading pool with him. (I think the splashing may have had something to do with it.) And sweet little Widget kindly petted Cassidy, who happily soaked it all up, as did my whole little troupe of dudes who was so happy that he stopped by.

It makes me very happy to see Cassidy coexist with children and that makes me hopeful that as she ages and gets calmer she may be able to hang out with more kids. Because no matter her weaknesses, The Doodle loves visitors and seems slightly heartbroken when I release her from upstairs after our friends leave. She tears around the house sniffing everything that came near a guest and you can virtually see her sadness that she wasn’t part of it all.

While I’m not looking forward to her old age, I am looking forward to her middle age when she is healthy and happy, but mellow enough to hang out without being a total jerk. Here’s hoping that day will come soon.

And as for those more serious events that led me to ramble on and on and on (and on) about my dumb-ass dog: Kick its ass, WhyMommy. We’re here for you and will do whatever we can to help you keep up your incredible strength and positivity that inspires so many. Not only can you do it, you will do it.

More on Bathrooms.

So here’s a new wrinkle: Jack won’t use girl’s bathrooms anymore.

When we went out to dinner on my birthday my mom took Jack and Sam to the bathroom. When they came back she told me that Jack had refused to pee because he wanted to go to the boy’s bathroom. Initially I thought this was something I would easily be able to remedy, so then I took him.

No go. Literally. He cried, started to scream, refused to listen to me or the other mom in the ladies’ room who tried to convince him that it’s the rule that four-year-olds go to the bathroom with their mom. Eventually I gave up, instructed him to hold it, and waited (successfully, thank God) until we got home. At the time I thought it was a fluke.

Not so much anymore. Because Alex is out of town, I had to take Sam and Jack to swim class today, something Alex usually does. And because I am a girl, we had to use the girl’s locker room. This was NOT okay with Jack. With Sam, when he doesn’t want to do something, I can usually reason with him. With Sam, he doesn’t want to do somthing. With Jack, it’s like he can’t do something. He’s not really expressing a preference so much as an requirement. For some reason that he can’t express, he has decided this is not an okay place to pee. And that is the end of that. You can lead a boy to a toilet, but you can’t make him pee. Or stop screaming. Or even stand up.

But now I’m worried. One time is a fluke; two times is the start of a pattern.

Today I dealt with it by using the girl’s locker room, but had Sam take Jack into the men’s locker room to go to the bathroom before swim class. Then by the time class was over, Jack seemed to have forgotten his objections. He wouldn’t shower in the girl’s locker room, but he let me get him dressed and he did eventually go to the bathroom.

I’m not quite sure what to do. I refuse to let Jack go into a public restroom by himself, for several reasons. I have this fear of predators hiding in men’s rooms waiting for unattended children. I don’t even let Sam go to the bathroom by himself, and he’s the responsible one. With Jack, even if there wasn’t a predator lurking in there, he would happily wash his hands for six hours, possibly stick his head in a urinal, and maybe never come out. He might even forget to pee altogether.

And even though I did it today, I’m not going to make Sam take him. Because, first of all, Sam is not exactly a defense against the evils of a men’s room. Nor should it be his responsibility to take care of Jack. That’s my responsibility. And if Sam did take him, when Jack got stubborn and refused to do what Sam said—and that would happen sooner or later, probably sooner—Sam is not strong enough or persuasive enough to drag Jack out of the bathroom. And again, nor should he have to be.

I guess my plan now is to wait and hope that the pattern doesn’t continue. And to take Jack to the bathroom prior to leaving the house. And then wait to see what little quirks pop up next.

Ah, the adventure of parenthood.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Except for Sam, we’re a family of spring and summer birthdays. Today was my turn. And don’t think I’m a-gonna tell you how old I am.

Okay, I’m 34.

And even though Alex is away in San Francisco having childless fun with our old friends, this was one of the better birthdays in recent memory.

No matter that she needs to get home to prepare for her imminent move to Australia, my mom stayed here longer than she probably wanted to so she could spend the day with me. Morning started with (yay!) presents, including a couple gifts that my mom bought for Sam and Jack to give me, including a beautiful necklace that Sam picked out. I won’t go into the amazing things people gave me, but suffice it to say, I have the best family in the whole world.

We spent most of the day at a petting farm playing with goats and chickens and going on hay rides with some friends from the preschool. First thing when we got there, we saw these giant horses. Jack was slobbered on seconds after this photo was taken. Then we got to milk a cow. And things were just getting started. After two hay rides; some time petting llamas, goats, sheep, and brahma cows; and a pig race, we broke for lunch.

Awesomely enough there was a giant maze for the kids to run through and little bags of chips for sale for a mere 50 cents. The only change I would have made would have been to trade the porta potties for running water. Although even the porta potties were pretty clean. I tell ya’, Kid Heaven! And if it’s Kid Heaven, you know it’s Mommy Heaven too.

After lunch, when we headed off to the barn, Sam was kind enough to wait outside the pig pen to finish eating his ham sandwich before petting this here pig that you see with Quinn:

“He feels like a toothbrush,” was his response once he ceased eating his favorite meat long enough to pet his favorite meat.

We were also able to view a 500-pound pig. Let me tell you, that’s a big pig. There was also a litter (cloud? school? swarm?) of baby pigs to look at and touch. Also not to be missed? Bins full of chicks and baby ducks to pet. And then on to the chickens.

Oh, and Jack? Turns out he really likes chickens. This was the kind of place that lets kids hold chickens. And although I’m not entirely sure that’s good for the chickens, Jack thinks he made a bunch of two-legged, pointy friends today. He even named one of them Coo-Coo and tried to cram her into her little metal nest so she could lay an egg. If we’d left him to his own devices, I’m pretty sure he’d still be there, curled up on the chickenshit-covered floor while the chickens roosted above him.

We used a lot of hand sanitizer today.

Naps for everyone on the way home, birthday cake after we got there, and quiet afternoon play in the basement led up to a fun, if chaotic, dinner out with my family and my excellent neighbor and her two kids. Who gave me chocolate. Rock. On.

I think I like being 34.