Twy Again, Mom

I’m not sure how it happened but I’m relatively sure I did it and that’s why I think I should be able to take credit. My son is now fond of saying, “Whoops, twy again” when things fall down or apart or don’t go his way. How’s that for resilience? I don’t need you, Parenting Magazine. I don’t need no Scary Mommy.

Now, I’m not saying he’s the most mellow toddler in the world and when he’s hungry or tired, it’s full on melt-down time if he drops a crayon or his sock is slightly askew. But when he’s well-fed and well-rested and playing in his own little world with or without me, he’s more likely to say, “Twy again” than he is to freak out when his block tower falls down.

I mean, I think that’s because of me. I remember saying “try again” to him before he started saying it himself. But it wasn’t an intentional parenting strategy. It wasn’t a mantra. It was just my way of distracting him BEFORE a meltdown occurred. Apparently, the kid has internalized that attitude and it’s made for much more chill play time.

So my next step, I guess, is to foster that attitude to include other things: putting clothes on by himself, using the potty, going to preschool, trying new activities, homework, cancer research, astronaut training, running for elected office. You know, all the important stuff.

And as proud as I am of my little can-doer, I have to reserve some of that praise for myself. This “try again” attitude I’ve infected my son with by accident was a long and painful process for me. I’ve never done well with rejection or embarrassment or … just things that seemed really hard. But the reality of life for a woman is that we have to keep trying, keep working, keep pushing if we want the things we want: again, the important stuff like equality and opportunity and equal pay and equal rights and equal representation. If we want to normalize women’s lives and experiences and health and professionalism, we have to keep trying. If we want the world to be a better place for our children, even for those little can-doers who don’t necessarily need our help, we have to keep trying again and again and again.

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Here’s where I SHOUT OUT to all the brave and bold women running for office in the next few years. She Should Run gives me hope for the future and inspiration to be a leader and a role model regardless of political aspiration (or lack thereof). Do your thing, homegirls, and if it doesn’t work out the first run, TRY AGAIN!

What To Do at Camp

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo hoping it would spark some creative thing in the depths of my brain and getting me writing something new. But the more I hashtag game my current WIP (which was last year’s NaNoWriMo WIP), the more I think it’s worthy of my full attention.

I’m so close to the end! I spent a small chunk of time outlining that B over the weekend and making a list of the things I knew still needed to happen to actually complete the story in a sensical way. I have an idea of how to move forward. I just need to get myself to do it.

And it’s getting a little easier. The kiddo is napping right this second (and I wrote half a page before jumping onto this blog post) and not only am I able to eat actual food in the mornings now, not only can I get myself off the couch and unfurl my tired body, throwing off the cocoon of blankets and oversized sweaters, but I can actually handle coffee again. Well, fake-flavored cappuccino K-cups with foam packets, but it’s caffeine nonetheless and I am starting to feel like a real live person again!

So perhaps instead of jumping into something new, I can spend my Camptime finishing up this WIP and starting on editing. Now seems like the best time anyway while it’s still cold out and before we make any attempt to move houses. I’m also very well aware of the hole I will fall into after the baby is born and survival mode will cut out any writing time.

That’s it, then. FinishThisWIP is where I’m at this Camping season. I’ve already been invited to a cabin full of fiesties who seem like a good time. I’m hoping that interacting with them will help keep me motivated too.

Guess it’s time to change my Camp project, then, eh?

 

 

Losing the Groove

Today my son napped for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Guess how many words I got written in that amount of time! Just guess!!

0.

0 words.

I ate lunch. I did the dishes. I napped. And that, friends, is a productive day for me. Being pregnant is seriously harshing my vibe, yo. It’s crushing my spirit. And my bladder. And with a minimum caffeine intake, there’s no more magic elixir to keep me up nights (or days, apparently) writing my heart out.

I’m over here like, thank God I’m not puking my heart out because that’s the best I can expect these days.

Any other pregnant writers out there losing their groove?

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Damn the Man Some Other Way

I’m a proud feminist so when I heard about Day Without a Woman, I was all, “Yeah! Let’s show them! Woo!” until… this morning when I realized that we’re out of cat food and mouthwash and not only was I not willing to NOT take care of my son, not only can I not just NOT go to work tonight, but it also turns out that I couldn’t just NOT spend money.

But I’m wearing a red shirt. At home. Where no one but my toddler can see me.

Friends, I’m starting to think that maybe Day Without a Woman is kind of bullshit.

I think the intent was good. I have a lot of respect for people who go to protests and stand up for injustice. And I recognize that doing what’s right is often inconvenient and that we must make sacrifices if we want to enact change.

But I’m not so sure Day Without a Woman was the best we could do.

Because yeah, our culture is kind of totally crippled when women don’t show up. If I’m not caring for my child, who is? All of my babysitters are female. Most child care workers I know are female. All of the people I see who work in the children’s section of libraries and indoor playgrounds are female. So either I’m watching my own child and failing to “not engage in non-compensated labor” or I’m making some other woman do it and preventing her from “engaging in compensated labor”.

How does this help women?

And how does this show men that they need women?

The men who don’t care about children and the care thereof STILL don’t care if I’m having a crisis of conscience over who is watching my child today because guess what! It’s not them. So they don’t give a damn.

Day Without a Woman means that WOMEN are missing the support system they need to get by. It’s not working for me.

Motivate Thyself, Woman

I am a lump. I am a boiled potato of wasted potential. I am a mass of blankets on the couch repeating, “Bud, mommy feels yucky. Can you play by yourself for a little while?” every morning for the past 8 weeks*.

To say I “haven’t written much lately” is a gross understatement and I hate myself just a little bit for it. I’ve been hashtag gaming the same WIP for months now because I have nothing else to draw from. I’ve written down ideas but can’t get the story to come out. I’ve opened blank pages, and unfinished pages, and notebooks and still, I end up on Buzzfeed taking quizzes about food that tell me I’m 18 and single and will never have kids. It’s pathetic. And I’m tired of it.

So I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo! I did it today. I don’t know what I’m going to write, but DAMNIT, I’m going to write SOMETHING.

Yeah! Take that, life! Take that low energy! Take that raging hormones and mood swings and that perpetual feeling of “am I going to puke or am I starving because I honestly can’t tell right now.”

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The Path of Moderate Resistance

I believe that taking the path of least resistance–while very Tao, maaan, VERY Tao–is usually the lazy path, the indecisive path, the path of fear and trepidation and the path least likely to lead to change or measurable results.

I also believe that taking the path of most resistance–of choosing to do something difficult for the sake of doing it or because it’s the accepted thing to do, or somebody bullied you into it–is pointlessly messing with the natural flow of life and will probably lead to failure, pain, fear, and loss.

By the way, this is not a political post. I feel like I always have to clarify that these days.

My son had a doctor’s appointment recently and when his snarky condescending doctor asked about his sleep habits, I told her (some of) the truth: he still wakes up at night but less often. Sometimes he goes back to sleep on his own, sometimes he calls for me and I have to lie down with him to get him back to sleep.

She didn’t say anything, but she did give me the wicked side eye. She’s a proponent of sleep training, you see. She has three children and she’s a doctor so she knows everything there is to know about children and sleep habits. Except for children who hate sleeping, of course, which is my child.

I know that if I had asked (and belieeeeeve me, I learned not to ask for her advice or opinion a long time ago), she would have chided me for not reading the 6 books she recommended to me forever ago and told me that I’m a horrible mother for helping my child fall asleep. She also once told me that if I rock my infant son, he’ll still be 13 years old and expecting me to rock him. I’m absolutely positive that’s true. All 13-year-old boys who were rocked to sleep demand their mothers rock them every night. That’s common knowledge, right?

But my son’s like me: busy minded. And it’s hard for us to fall asleep. So I lie down with him. We watch a couple of videos on my phone (also a no-no according to everyone who can sleep without help). We talk about what we did that day or about his toys or about the video we just watched. And I let him snuggle up to me and pull my head toward his for kisses until he falls asleep.

I don’t think I’m taking the path of least resistance. I don’t co-sleep (unless I fall asleep there which… happens but it’s not a parenting philosophy so much as a pitfall). I don’t succumb to every pre-bed time request (more water, more videos, more play time).

But I refuse to take the path of most resistance because of the damage I know it’ll do. He’s still a young toddler and I don’t see anything wrong with helping him get to sleep. I do all the things with him that I do on my own to help me fall asleep. When he gets a little older, I’ll teach him that he can do all of those things by himself. But I’m not going to leave him crying or screaming or helpless to get his body to rest when I know what the problem is and how to solve it. That’s just cruel.

I get the feeling that a lot of the “training” activities the “experts” are so fond of are just excuses for adults to be selfish and force their children to be more convenient. Potty training at 16 months? It’s because you don’t want to change diapers anymore. Cry It Out? It’s because you want to get more sleep. I like convenience too but I also enjoy not screwing up my kid for the sake of my ME time.

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Teen Love is Adorable and Insane

I didn’t date as a young teen so I never got caught up in that tragic, melodramatic, misinterpreting Romeo and Juliet kind of affair. Actually, I was a straight up dork for the majority of my adolescence and while I hated it at the time, I can tell you now as an adult I am grateful for the lack of opportunity to have been so very dumb. 1502383-980xI’m also grateful for the lack of social media. And for cameras that only got pulled out on special occasions. Because there are things… oh, there are some fashion choices and hairstyles I am very happy not to have recorded for posterity.

Not the point, Eda. Stop making that “bear claw as bangs” gesture.

Admittedly, my first love–which happened in my sophomore year of college when I was 18 and a very serious student who couldn’t afford a hit to the GPA–got a little forevery. There was mention of marriage… some day. Of futures and houses and children… some day. But that was never our focus so it never got out of control.

Then again, in the 90s, it was all Beverly Hills 90210 and Friends and Titanic and Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet so our media role models weren’t forevering it either. They were gettin’ busy and movin’ on or… you know, dying.

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That’s what makes me feel for all those Twilight kids. All those late 2000s teens with their vampire romance and their various shades of gray, the Teen Moms and The Notebookers thinking love is this magical thing that just happens and lasts forever, like the rest of your life is just a footnote in your love affair and everything after “I do” or “Bite me” is a continuing loop of the last dramatic kiss before the credits role.

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I’ve been married less than a handful of years and I can’t remember the last dramatic kiss. I’m stuck in the day-to-day, “How many times do I have to ask you to close the goddamn blinds so our neighbors can’t see us drinking out of the milk carton at midnight” kind of crap. The “I changed the last poopy diaper; it’s your turn” stuff. The “yeah, I want another baby but I literally don’t have the energy to take off my own pants right now” kind of romance reserved for family life post-movie credits. It’s not the kind of thing fanfic gets written about. Not accurately anyway.

ltot-book-coverWhen I wrote Like Two Opposite Things, I was very conscious of the FOREVER teen romance mindset, most especially as I witnessed the very public breakup of my teenage cousin and her 4-EVA boyfriend (of 5 months) and subsequent profession of 4-EVA and undying love of her NEW boyfriend… live on Facebook. (For real, I hate Facebook.)

Of the many “opposite things” in my book is a comparison of that kind of relationship, full of promises and passion, with a more realistic, “I like you but we’re 15 so… let’s see how things go,” perspective of a kid who’d been through the ringer already and isn’t interested in a second go. She’s a 15-going-on-40 year old and maybe the character who most represents the author’s (old lady) voice but I would never put it above an intelligent teenager to see through media portrayals and cultural falsehoods and act as the voice of reason in an otherwise ridiculous situation. And if there were more media portraying realistic teen relationships to consume, maybe more teens would have more reasonable expectations of how relationships work.

Because I took vows, man. I really did say Forever and For Better or Worse and while our worst has been pretty tame so far, forever gets harder to visualize when those goddamn blinds are open again and I can actually SEE our neighbor trying to peek in here. You know what? The next TWO poopy diapers are YOURS now as punishment.

 

Flip It, Baby

Within the last few weeks, a switch must have flipped in my son’s brain because suddenly, he is a word machine. Today, he learned how to say “cool” and “Oh, wow, cool!”

But my favorite is “down” because he pronounces it “dow-wan.”

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Of course, this is the end of the silence. He never stops talking now. And I’m expected to understand everything he says or he gets upset. Luckily, his favorite subjects are Star Wars, cars, and his grandparents so all I really have to say is, “Does Kylo Ren drive Nonno’s car?” and he’ll go off on that subject for a while.

Tame That Toystravaganza!

Buckets, buckets, buckets! That’s how I deal with the toystravaganza in my living room, in case anyone was wondering. I buy buckets.

And yes, I have tried organizing the buckets by theme or color or shape or character set and it doesn’t matter. The kid likes to dump out buckets. So my system of organization goes like this:

This gray bucket is for all the things near the gray bucket.

This white bucket is for all the things near the white bucket.

There’s a red bucket over here. It’s pretty big so it’ll hold the stuff near it PLUS some stuff from over there that doesn’t fit in the gray and white buckets.

These buckets are the trash/recycling cans. This is where I put all of the paper/cardboard bits of crap the kid often finds more exciting than the toys themselves. I let him play with them for a little while, sure. But then they find their way into these buckets and thereafter LEAVE the play area.

And that’s my genius system. I should put it on Pinterest. That’s what you do, right?

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Real Talk: I don’t have TIME for this

Listen, I was all for this blog-hopping thing when it came about because I figured it would be a handful of people I could, you know, like network with. I follow you, you follow me, cool enough.

But 400 people? I have to scroll through all these lists, clicking on each link, liking, backing up, scrolling down, clicking on the next link, liking.

I want to do it. If I could click a couple of buttons and follow all those writer people, support them by upping their follower numbers and whatnot, I would absolutely do it.

But I get 60-90 minutes a day when I’m not 1) working, 2) caring for the child, or 3) sleeping and I just spent an hour–AN HOUR–clicking and liking and I’m not even 1/4 of the way through ONE list.

I’ll try again, I swear. But I just gave up my entire writing time today for a bunch of people who, let’s be honest, aren’t planning on doing me any favors.

Because yeah… my son’s waking up now. I mean… this is not the best use of my time. There has got to be a better way.