Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When I am an old woman....

When I was in grade school my mom hung a framed copy of Jenny Joseph's "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple" in our downstairs bathroom.

The poem was written in italicized letters and surrounded by pressed flowers and I hated it.  I recognized in the vaguely menacing tone my mother's frustration with some aspects of her quiet suburban life and I worried she wistfully anticipated the day when we were both out of the house and she was free to let loose the bat-shit-crazy.

I shared these concerns with a dear friend of mine who, bless her heart, tried to commiserate. "Oh, I totally know what you mean. We used to be a total tennis family, but now, my parents are into golf! It's ridiculous! There are golf clubs and putting greens in the living room! Nuts!"

No. Nuts (when you are a teenager saddled by a myopic worldview) is a mom who stenciled the exterior of her white pick-up truck while the other mothers drove either a minivan or a Toyota Camry, who boycotted the girl scout cookie drive on the grounds that not enough of the profits were given to the actual troops, and who would rant against the misogynistic aspects of organized religion while her daughters attended a Jesuit high school and she herself worked for Catholic charities.

Recently retired and entering her second decade of empty-nesting, my mom is settling into those years where what the neighbors think matters for nothing and one can comfortably sit on the front porch in a bathrobe and slippers, read the newspaper, sip coffee, and spit fruit pits over the side of the railing ("compost for the garden") without fear of social reprisal.

While I would never call her "crazy" (nor "old", and I suspect she would be more offended by being labeled old than crazy) the poem is no longer hanging on the wall in the bathroom. And that wall is now purple. As is the hallway, the living and dining rooms, the carpets, the accent pillows, the upholstered chairs, and the exterior of the house. The couch is actually green, but lined with purple trim. My dad...well anyone who has ever met my dad has probably noticed his wide assortment of mauve sweaters, dating back to when my mom made the fortuitous observation that her husband looked "regal" (her words) in what is conveniently also her favorite color.  In the front garden, every flower planted by her hand is....

And this is the sort of thing one discovers while looking for shampoo in her parent's bathroom.

Why do my parents have two plastic dinosaurs? Why do they appeared posed? Why are they posed in a soap dish?  Just in case the answers to these questions weren't as interesting as my speculations, I left them alone and didn't mentioned it.

So, now that I am feeling a tad guilty for making fun of my mom, I will- and want- to include a few pictures of her being a perfectly normal and loving grandmother.

At the Portland Children's Museum

At the Oregon Zoo

 Mom. You are crazy. And I love you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rule of Twos

A perfect repetition of years of age, pieces of cake, and hours past bedtime.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Suspect Parenting

Confession #1:
At the peril of identifying myself as part of the gauche social strata that over-seeps the tea and misstates cliches, I'll admit that after four months of sobriety, I really miss booze.

Its been a long hot week, certain parts of which I'd like to drown in a cold Hefeweizen. We are going to a wedding tonight and despite the fact that I love champagne and I am 100% certain that a single glass would bring no harm to my bun, I will refrain because, really, no one wants to see a pregnant lady get her drink on.

Confession #2:
I have started lying to my daughter. As we squabble over what seems to be every minute aspect of our lives ("No peas up the nose. Stop sucking the toothpaste out of the toothbrush.You don't need to change your dress for the fifth time this morning. You know you don't ride in the passenger seat. No cereal for dinner. Milk tastes the same no matter what color cup you have...), my will to fight is slowly waning.

When confronted with yet another battle over taking out her ponytail holder before bedtime (and for those without daughters, let me explain that the post-nap extraction of a matted and tangled hairband is equally painful for both mother and child) I opted for the easy path out. I told her if she didn't take her ponytail out before bedtime she would wind up bald.

Yes, bald. Your hair will fall out. Bald...(enter stage right moment-of-parenting-brilliance) Elmo's friend Gordon.
Yes, and now he is bald. Because he didn't take out his ponytail holder before bedtime.

Confession #3:
Did I hear you ask how I plan to get my toddler quietly through the upcoming wedding ceremony?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bye Bye Mamita

When Lincoln and I finally lay down roots somewhere, buy our first home, and (hopefully) put our nomadic lifestyle behind us, I want one of our first acquisitions to be a thick-planked picnic tables that can comfortably seat twelve.

I was five when my dad built the one we sat around on most August and September nights. We have a much smaller version here in Davis, and on my mom's last night with us she put together a outdoor BBQ dinner so familiar in tone and composition to those summer nights in Portland that I felt like I was twelve again.

My dad drove down for the weekend, and in happy coincidence my MIL was also in town for an upcoming wedding. Lincoln put up a badminton net for entertainment while "watching the coals".

Later we passed mismatched plates from one side of the narrow table to the other and tried to find space for large platters of grilled veggies, scallops, and salad amongst pitchers of wildflowers and wine glasses. Dinner was long and the conversation lingered past sunset.

Impatient for dinner
The pre- dinner entertainment

Bye mom. A many many thanks. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pregnancy gripes and first family run

I was four months pregnant and complaining to my co-resident about how miserably sick I felt when one of the cardiology fellows, whom I absolutely despised, turned around to say "That's because it's a girl! Girls make their moms miserable! Boys are much easier." he chuckled and turned back to what he was doing. I didn't realize this was an old wives tale, I thought this theory was unique to him, similar to his other theory (or perhaps just practice) that fellow-must-throw-sleep-deprived-intern-under-the-bus-should-attending-disagree-with-what-intern-says-on-morning-rounds with which I had became so familiar during the previous year.

Based on the old wives tale that women have more difficult pregnancies when carrying a girl, this must be a boy.  I've had less morning sickness, less debilitating fatigue, and haven't once had to urgently pull the car over to avoid puking on myself during those long post-call drives home. I have also not been compelled to send my close friends weekly pictures of my "bump", that I now recognize were just pictures of me in my underwear.  I am impartial to this last difference, although I am sure my friends consider it to be a positive change in comparison to the last pregnancy.

However, despite evidence to the contrary, I still think it's a girl because I secretly suspect that my uterus would reject a male embryo. I know. I know. It doesn't work like that. But Lincoln agrees my girl genes are too strong, so for the record we're sure it's a girl.

I have had to remind myself to be grateful this pregnancy has been easier as I watch the small dial on my scale shoot upward in the last few months. I will try to keep grousing about pregnancy weight gain to a minimum, except to say that at fifteen weeks I have gained more weight than I did in the first twenty-five weeks of my first pregnancy and almost twice what is recommend at this point.

And that I started wearing maternity clothes at eight weeks, rather than twenty.

And that when I lumbered up to the register at A Pea in the Pod, got $uckered into purchasing a tummy lube that is suppose to prevent stretch marks.

And that when I expressed concern over how much I have gained, the nurse midwife who works with my OB told me "well, you know, you really don't have to gain any weight during the first trimester", leading me to wonder what exactly she thought I thought I was worried about.

Because I have been complaining that is lack of time for exercise that is responsible for the accelerated weight gain, LD bought Munch her first pair of running shoes and today we went on our first family run.

So overall I am doing well and trying to enjoy what will likely be my last pregnancy. I have volunteered LD for the "snip and clip" club, but he has declined on the grounds that - ladies pay attention here- should the human species be struck by an environmental or health hazard that leads to widespread infertility, he might be called upon the repopulate the world. Margaret Atwood fans, think "The Handmaid's Tale", but in reverse and not so creepy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

our pretty pink princess

Munch will be a flower girl in my cousin's wedding this December, and as she has no real familiarity with weddings, my mom was introducing her to her ceremonial responsibilities by reviewing some photos in a magazine article on the recent royal wedding.

A very tepid interest in the white-clad flower girls vanished as soon as my mom referred to "the princess" Kate Middleton, at which point Munch enthusiastically slapped the magazine page. MUNCH'S DRESS. MUNCH'S DRESS. PRINCESS MUNCH. NOT A FLOWER GIRL.

So, in a second installment of what I hope to make a regular series, I am revisiting how much fun it is to be judgemental of how other people raise their children until such time that one is inconvenienced by a few of the disobedient little beasts oneself.

With every ounce of her thirty pound being, my radiantly clever daughter wishes to impress upon you that she 1. is of royal descent 2. can only wear pink 3. will not be confused with a boy.

Exhibit A
No, I did not buy this for her. A friend gave it to me to wear while we were in Las Vegas. It was recently unearthed and has found a semi-permanent new home atop her head. 

This is not my doing. Munch only watches Sesame Street, a show that was once criticized for, in addition to a predominately male cast,  showcasing solely androgynous female characters, the subtext being that there was something wrong with being female.  LD thinks the fact I wear mascara excessively vain and, prior to meeting me, thought "cashmere" to be the disputed region of the Indian subcontinent. (Yes, I realized it is spelled differently. I am trying to make a point.) Her wardrobe is largely unisex. In this town the little boys usually have longer hair than their mothers.

And before Munch came along, I would have accused the mother of such a pink-clad, tiara and tutu-wearing child of negligent disregard for the well-being of a child, especially a child who might just be a future supreme court justice. Everyone knows that while girls are playing house and applying lipstick, boys are memorizing the names of dinosaurs and eating bugs. Bug consumption builds character, whereas lipstick does not.

Once again I find myself at one of parenthood's many unexpected junctures. While I certainly don't want my daughter emulating a blue-blooded half-wit, I also do not want to convey there is something wrong with being a girl.

So I have made a decision. This will not be my battle. She can refer to herself as a princess and if she chooses something pink, I will not make her select blue. She can carry my chap stick around and think it's lipstick. At two and a half, we are not going to discuss gender stereotypes or Stepford wives.

I am saving my artillery for battles more strategic to the larger war- the battles against thong underwear, sexting, ditching class to hang out at the mall, lying, cheating, stealing, Abercrombie and Fitch, anyone who the honks outside rather than coming to the door, acrylic nails, and eye make up that makes you look like a burglar.

It is within these military theaters, any many more I have yet to anticipate, for which this mama is preparing. And mama's gonna win.