humor

It’s Not About Cheetos

Can we talk about Cheetos?

Cheetos get kind of a bad wrap. Their electric orange color isn’t exactly natural, and the ingredient list reads more like a Chemistry 101 stock shelf inventory than something you’d willingly eat.

Because of this, some people don’t let their kids eat them, which I totally get. My kid didn’t have her first Cheeto until recently, but not necessarily because I was intentionally withholding them.

Well, sort of.

Recently I’ve noticed that in a quest to be a perfect parent (whatever that means) I find myself fighting with her about all kinds of little things. Wearing appropriate clothing, limiting screen time, wearing a coat when it’s cold, not climbing up the slide, not eating junk food like Cheetos… You know, all the little things you deal with when you have a three year-old who is going on seventeen, and wants to try things her way before ultimately settling on whatever you were recommending.

This conflict isn’t just reserved for three year-olds, but rather begins much younger with societal pressures to do the very best thing from minute one. Pressure to be the perfect vessel, who has a perfect delivery, who breastfeeds, and who successfully gets their perfect baby to sleep in their empty crib, allowing them to find time to exercise to get back to their pre-baby weight within 15 minutes of giving birth. Pressure to encourage tummy time, and independent sleep, and skin-to-skin, and exposure to 30,000 words a day, and a diverse palate of organic purees, and and and…

I spend so much of my day focusing on these little things that it’s easy to lose sight of the most important lesson of all: Kindness.

Above all else, raising kind children is the most important thing to me, as kindness is the glue that holds us all together. Kindness crosses cultures and genders and species, and gives us hope that all is not lost.

Being a perfect parent isn’t about withholding Cheetos. It’s not about successfully abiding by the AAPs screen time guidelines. It has nothing to do with how many tutus your kid wears to school that day, or if you co-sleep or sleep train. Breastfeeding or formula feeding or unmedicated births or every-drug-in-the-hospital births aren’t hallmarks of the perfect parent. None of this matters in the long run if your kid grows up to be an asshole.

Of course I’m oversimplifying this a bit, as we all are trying to make decisions that will benefit our kids in the long run. Like limiting their Cheeto consumption. But more than focusing on if the decision I’m making is best for my child based off some outside recommendation, I’m going to start focusing more on daily lessons of kindness, on celebrating kindness, and practicing kindness.

And sometimes that kindness comes in the form of a snack-sized bag of Cheetos.

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Cat vs Toddler

Before I had kids, I had cats. Cats who I treated as kids. In my tenure as a vet tech, I bottle-fed many a litter of kittens, as well as a few puppies, a squirrel, a chipmunk, and three glorious raccoons. Once they were old enough to feed and clean themselves, I’d find homes for them, or make arrangements for them to be rehabbed into the wild.

Or at least, that’s what I’d try to do.

The thing about raising kittens, and not being a cat, is it’s really hard to teach them how to be a cat. Without a furry mama, they don’t always learn about bite inhibition, or appropriate times to use maximum claw force, especially in relation to human skin and couches. But kittens have a saving grace, and that’s being cuter than most human babies.

This brings me to Enzo Bear.

About 5 years ago, I was at working at a vet hospital in Rhode Island when a flustered woman walked in carrying a shoe box. She explained she’d found the box while taking out her own trash, and when she picked it up to throw it away, she’d felt the weight shift and peeked inside. She lifted the cover, and revealed a tiny tuxedo kitten, scarcely bigger than a Twinkie. His eyes were crusted shut, his breathing was raspy, and he was dehydrated.

The woman was understandably upset, as she didn’t want a kitten, nor did she have the finances to attempt a rescue, but her kind heart forced her to bring him in. We agreed to take him, and, in an effort to at least provide him a warm, safe space to die (if he didn’t respond to treatment), I volunteered to take over his care.

Fastforward to now.

Enzo Bear didn’t die, though he did give us a few scares in the beginning, nor did he ever find a new home, possibly because he is mucho naughty, possibly because I fell in love with his adorable kitten face and silly antics.

He is now a thriving, handsome, wild, daring monkey-cat, who thinks he’s a real boy. He gives high-fives, and has his own “place” (a trick often taught to dogs). He loves his girl, and is warming to the newest edition of our family, the boy. He cuddles with us every night, and follows me around the house every day.

But of all of Enzo B’s defining features, the one thing that stands out (besides his proclivity to bite strangers) is his stubbornness. Now there is a chance this has less to do with being hand-raised, and more to do with just being a cat, but compared to the other cats in my life, of which there have been many, none quite compare to The Bear.

Recently that stubbornness has manifested in the form of regular stand-offs with the girl. Cat vs Toddler, round after round they go. He sits on her things, and gets in her way. She hoots and hollers at him, and he just stares her down with his his signature squint. It honestly feels like he is her older sibling, intentionally pushing her buttons and establishing his place. He was first. She must honor him.

Our family wouldn’t be complete without our first born fur kid. But sometimes I wonder if there’d be just a titch less drama.

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(This hilarious comic was created by the oh-so-talented, Adrienne Hedger, of Hedger Humor. Be sure to stop by, and check out her musings on modern day parenting and life.)

In Defense of Beautiful Pictures

 

Without a backstory, the pictures seem to be happy enough.

In one, our little girl lays stretched out in the summer grass, a freshly picked flower in her dirt-stained hand, an easy smile spreading across her lips. In the other, our grinning baby snuggles on a soft blanket, his dark eyes shining while his little hands fidget, fingers knotted together.

They are beautiful pictures captured at very precise moments of what was otherwise a difficult and abbreviated vacation where both kids were sick, and I spent nearly the entire time ping-ponging between whoever needed me more. When recalling the last five days, the adjective insufferable comes to mind, as does the vivid memory of my son throwing up inside my bra.

But my photo stream would beg to differ.

In it, a photo of my daughter at dusk, reaching through the dark leaves of a shadowy tree toward a glowing bulb on a string of lights. In another, she and I laugh while the wind whips our hair around wildly, a vibrant blue sky behind us. In perhaps the most ironic of all, a shot of my sleeping son, who, for all intents and purposes, didn’t sleep while we were gone (and continues to not sleep as I attempt to write this).

To someone who didn’t know better, these pictures make it seem like a pretty idyllic vacation, though I can assure you it was not. Now this isn’t to say it was all terrible. Far from either extreme end of the spectrum, the last five days were actually just pretty standard when living with two small children who are the human equivalent of heatseeking missiles for germs. It was busy and chaotic, and bookended by visits to separate pediatricians. We lost things, and found things, and got our fair share of new bumps and bruises. There were tantrums and tears, just as there was laughter and play.

It was just the latter of which I chose to capture and share with the world.

My reasoning behind this isn’t to broadcast my perfect life, with my well-behaved and always lovely children (sarcasm font). Far from attempting to fake anything, the purpose behind taking (and sharing) beautiful pictures is borne out of a desire to be more positive, and focus on remembering (and acknowledging) all of the tiny little moments that could otherwise be buried in bra barf and massive, back-arching, floor-thumping, red-faced screaming banshee-type tantrums.

Of course, for the sake of being “real”, as if these moments didn’t really exist, I could post a grainy photo of me laying on top of my daughter, pinning all of her flailing limbs to her bed, while I hum to her and beg (and plead, and pray) for her to stop moving and pleasefortheloveofallthatisholygotosleep. I could caption a blurry action shot of me bouncing my baby for the second straight hour in an 86 degree room “I have butt sweat and my armpits smell like the inside of a moccasin worn to Woodstock…and every day since!”

But I don’t. Because we all know how hard it is. And sometimes it’s really nice to remember how it can be easy too, even if it’s just for a second.

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All photos belong to HMDHM, except the cover photo, which I got online a long time ago, but can’t find the original source so if you know it, give a shout-out.

 

 

Reasons I Haven’t Brushed My Teeth Today

I was going to brush my teeth, but then the baby started crying. Then toddler wanted pancakes. Then I made pancakes. Then she decided she didn’t want pancakes. Then she decided she wanted yogurt. Easy enough.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth, but the toddler climbed out of her highchair and spilled yogurt on the carpet. Then I cleaned it up. Then the baby started crying for his second breakfast. Then I fed him. Then I fed myself. Moving on.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth, but then I noticed the time – T-minus 20 minutes to story time! Then I got the toddler dressed. Then I buckled the screaming baby into his car seat. Then I threw on dirty jeans and ran out the door. Hurry hurry!

I will brush my teeth when I get back, I said.

I was going to brush my teeth after we got home, but then it was lunchtime for everyone. Then fed the toddler. Then I fed the baby. Then I fed myself. Then I changed all the diapers. Then I put the kids down for a nap. Phew.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then I remembered the two lonely cupcakes begging to join their cupcake brethren in my belly, so I ate a cupcake. Then, fearing the remaining cupcake would be sad about being alone, I ate the other one. Then the baby woke up. Then the toddler woke up. Damn.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then the toddler wanted to go to the park, and knowing I would need energy to push her stroller up the hill while carrying the baby in the pack I decided I needed some protein to balance out all that sugar. Then I ate a hardboiled egg. Then asked the toddler to put on her shoes 98,000 times. Oooohhhhh for God’s saaaaaaaaaake.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

But then I decided brushing my teeth while there were still bits of egg in them was gross, and I couldn’t find my water glass to rinse out my mouth. Then the toddler was hollering to go to the park. Then the baby was hollering because he is a baby. Then I left the house to walk to the park with two hollering children and stinky egg breath. Here we go.

I will brush my teeth when I get back, I said.

But then I had to cook dinner. Then I had to eat dinner. Then I had to bathe the toddler. Then I had to bathe the baby. Then I had to get the toddler down. Then I had to get the baby down. Holy shit it’s late.

Now I will brush my teeth, I said.

And I did. But there is no way in hell I’m going to floss.

 

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Image credits: Cover image, floss.

Dear Brain: Thanks, But You’re Not The Boss Of Us

Dear Brain,

Ovaries here! You will be happy to know we received your cease and desist notice. We must say, it felt good to be acknowledged by you, even if at times you came off a little snippy about our contributions, as well as notably edgy with your comparisons. Flesh raisins? Has it ever occurred to you, with your oblong shape and abundance of crevices and folds, that you look like a large gray testicle? Moving on.

After much thought we felt it only fair for us to share our side of the story, before we retreat into the abyss of the lower abdomen, and silently watch as our supply of genetic gold is quite literally flushed down the toilet.

First of all, let us ask you a question. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Being ovaries, we are biased to believe it was the egg, which leads us to think perhaps you have taken on the role of master of this ship without merit. Now, this isn’t to say you aren’t important or without talents. We applaud you and your fine ability to quote every line from Ace Ventura, Twister and Jurassic Park, though we are unsure if all the time you spent -or spend- watching these movies couldn’t have been spent on better subjects. Like math, or say, following a basic recipe.

But onto more serious matters.

Your strong feelings about not reproducing further are both hasty and ill-timed. It comes as no surprise you and the body felt that way while nearly 10 months pregnant. Being pregnant sucks! But banning babies while pregnant seems a bit like a conflict of interest, no?

Look, we are going to be honest with you: The Nose is a liar. Sure, sure, it claimed it wouldn’t participate in any baby sniffing, but we know we aren’t alone in noticing how at every opportunity The Nose is breathing in the sweet sweet smell of baby breath. The Ears report that each time this happens, something charming, yet inherently stupid, flies out of The Mouth about how the baby smells like cupcakes, sunshine, and love. We both know once Baby 2.0 no longer smells like a combination of deserts, weather, and emotions, The Nose will lead The Body on a wild goose chase to find other babies to sniff, turning The Body into some kind of out of control baby-huffing human Bloodhound. We feel it is pertinent to point out this might actually get the body arrested, which would affect all of us.

The Nose isn’t the only problem. The Hands and Arms have both made it clear that nothing makes them happier than holding both of the offspring, though enjoyment is particularly high with the newborn. Cradling little Baby 2.0, feeling the warmth of his tiny squishy body, while The Fingers trace the cowlick on his tiny perfect head – this is hard, nay, impossible to beat. The Eyes, as if you haven’t noticed, can barely look away from his big brown peepers, and have been quoted daily stating “Eye can’t even HANDLE how tiny he is!” And The Heart? Exploding. With. Love. It’s equal parts admirable and scary, as there are only so many heart palpitations someone should have before contacting a cardiologist.

But you’re not alone in your quest for a Baby-Free future. The Bellybutton is absolutely devastated about her new look. We’ve tried to raise her spirits by telling her she doesn’t really look like the butthole of the neighborhood feral cat, but then again, we’ve never been good at lying. Similarly, The Uterus is on your side, and wants absolutely nothing to do with housing another child ever again. But she’s always had a flare for the dramatic, so we don’t feel her vote should be counted until we can be certain she’s not making a decision based off emotions.

We know receiving this letter will upset you, but before you direct The Mouth to start stress-eating dry cereal while you wait on hold to find out if insurance will cover an oophorectomy, hear this: We don’t want another baby either. At least not right now, and maybe never. But if you could stop being such a dick about enforcing your will, at least while we all come to terms with this *probably* being our last baby, that would great.

In the words of your good pal, Ace Ventura, we will sign off this letter with a mighty Alllllrighty then! We hope we are on the same page.

Best,

The Ovaries

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Now who’s ovary acting?


This post has been written in response to a post I wrote a few months ago, from my brain to my ovaries, requiring them to go into retirement. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already! You can find it here.

 

Honesty And The Art Of (Not) Sharing

They say honesty is best. That being an open book is a good thing. Speak your mind, they say. To share is to care.

I beg to differ.

Or at least when it comes to parenting at 3am.

You see, even the kindest, sweetest and most reasonable of people have the ability to Hulk-out and absolutely destroy their partner with creative and hurtful insults, slurred out of sleepy, foul-smelling mouths at 3am.

Being woken up sucks. Being woken up by someone screaming at you sucks worse. Being woken up by someone screaming at you every night for any longer than one night in your whole life sucks the most, which, unfortunately, is pretty commonplace in the circus that is parenting. And this, in large part, is what can make parenting so hard, as you and your exhausted, foggy mind, wrestle with what you want to say to your partner, versus what really needs to be said.

It is here, in the inky blackness of your nightly 3am wakeup call, where sharing isn’t really caring, and brutal honesty is unnecessary.

But as it is currently 1:38 on a sunny afternoon, and I haven’t just been woken up by the shrill cries of a hungry newborn (or the rhythmic puffing of my husband’s snoring), I don’t have a good reason not to be honest.

You see, I have been keeping a secret.

It’s been following me around all morning, haunting me whenever I see something that reminds me of my discretion (or discretions, if I’m being truthful). The guilt nibbling away at me with the persistence of a toddler who has come into possession of a too-big, too-hard cookie. The weight of it resting heavily in my stomach.

Before you get all judgmental, you should know, it’s not entirely my fault. How I came into possession of what would prove to be my undoing was innocent enough. A favor, even. Something that would benefit our family, if used correctly. But I got greedy. More than greedy, I became addicted.

At 10 o’clock, on more days I care to admit to, the urge overcame me and forced me to take action. To indulge. “You need this!” my brain would reason. “You deserve this.” And so I listened, never once really thinking about the consequences.

Until today, that is, when standing in front of my stash, hand rooting around blindly to properly hide the bag after getting my fix, I noticed something awful. The bag was empty. Reality set in as I realized that over the course of a few weeks, I had eaten all 20 of the incredibly delicious, homemade breakfast burritos that were given to us (let me reiterate the us part) to help with dinners after the baby came. There was no sharing. There was no caring. There was no honesty in my shameful actions, as I balled the tin foil up and shoved it deep down into the recesses of the trash to hide the evidence. (And if you’re asking why breakfast burritos for dinner, we probably shouldn’t be friends.)

The repercussions of this discovery are three-fold. For one, when my husband finds out, he’s going to be… disappointed, which we all know is actually worse than being pissed. Although he very well might also be pissed, but since he’s probably reading this while pooping at work, there’s not a whole lot he will be able to do immediately, which will give his brain time to think about what he should say, and reconcile it with what he wants to say. The second reason this is problematic is because, hello, I’m addicted! What am I going to do at 10am tomorrow when my body starts calling for the magic elixir I no longer possess? The third issue is nothing can replace what has been recklessly consumed, except more delicious homemade breakfast burritos. My upstanding morals, however, make it pretty clear there is a quota of how many homemade breakfast burritos you’re allowed to ask someone to make you, and I think that number falls well under 20, and is probably much closer to 1.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well I’m not, really. I’m actually writing this as a longwinded and circuitous way of telling my husband, Honey, I ate all the breakfast burritos. It might make you feel better to know that I burnt my mouth nearly every single time. It also might make you feel better to know that in a panic, I even considered going to Whole Foods to buy 20 of those Amy’s frozen burritos, then removing the plastic and wrapping them in little squares of foil to try to trick you. But I did’t because I didn’t want to spend $45 or screw around with our wonky foil.

I know we say honesty is best, but don’t forget how we also like to practice not saying something if it’s going to be inflammatory and dickish. So yeah. I’m sorry. And I’ll do baby duty tonight, without the side of silent sass.

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Oops, I secretly ate all of something you wanted again. At least this time I didn’t replace it with a raw potato (though I did consider this).