Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pro-Choice? Pro-Chance.

I was troubled this morning as I watched the Today Show, one of the delicious luxuries of my summer days.  It was not the horrific terror in Norway or the impotent inability of our elected leaders reach an agreement about the national debt crisis, though both are very disturbing.  The source of my bother on this particular morning was slightly more benign but unsettling nonetheless. 

It was a segment about the choice some women are making to remain "child-free," which incidentally does make children sound like some kind of exotic fungus...but I digress.  This Today's Woman segment entitled "The Choices We Make" looked at the statistics of women who have chosen a childless life.  The study found that 1 in 5 women ends her child bearing years without giving birth, up from 1 in 10 in 1970's. 

What bothered me about this segment was the notion that any woman who makes a conscious decision to remain "child-free" would be considered selfish. This just doesn't add up.  How can it be considered "selfish" to choose not to have children?  Responsible? Yes.  Mature?  Absolutely.  But selfish?  I think not.

I have met my fair share of "Mommies" who portray their lives as a hell of their own creation. Women who have given birth to one or more children and seem to be dying from the inside.

I will not for one millisecond discount the fact that EVERY mother who is being honest has moments when they wish they could be "child-free."  Some even have those moments everyday, and there is not a thing wrong with that. Judging that would be a post for another day, for another blogger.

But I will say that motherhood is not a "rite of passage."  It's really just biology.

Nobody is more surprised than me that I am about to be a mother of four.  Didn't see it coming.  Didn't think it was in the cards. 

Spent a fair share of time on my therapist's couch saying things like, "I just think I was meant to be alone."  "I'm not sure I was supposed to be married with children." 

To which she said, "Oh, yeah?  But you are." 

"These are the circumstances of your life as it is."  She said,  "The choices that you have made have lead you here.  This is the hand you have been dealt, so get in the game." 

And so I did. 

Motherhood didn't come naturally to me.  For a long time I felt like an actor.  I would study other "Mommies" as they interacted with their offspring to learn what I should be doing, how I should be behaving.

My natural instincts tell me that it is perfectly acceptable to stab the hand of three-year-old as she reached for the last bite of cookie pizza or take a baseball hat from your 5 year old because it matches your outfit. Turns's not.

My natural instincts tend towards the selfish side and it is truly something I struggle with even today. 

Do I want to fetch a "milky" at 5:14AM when I still have 40 minutes to sleep?  No, but it would be selfish to make the child wait...and so I drag my ass out of bed and make the "milky" happen.  Because that is what Mommies do. 

With every passing day I do fall more in love with my life and after almost seven years I finally think I have hit my stride. 

Do I live for my children?  Why yes, I believe I do.  Would I die for my children?  You bet your ass I would.

My social life is structured around activities that involve them.  Soccer, football, gymnastics, play dates at the pool, picnics at the park and I wouldn't have it any other way.   I didn't start out down this road looking for someone to "complete" me but it turns out...they did. 

I wear my "Mommypants" proudly now, but I don't take it away from those women who have chosen True Religion jeans over my Motherhood Maternity numbers with the "secret belly panel."

I would take my hat off to the "child-free" women but unfortunately my damn kid stole it back from cheers.  Here's to having choices, but remember they are all half chance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mother of the Year

There I sat on the hard plastic chairs in the waiting room of Quest Diagnostics waiting to begin my three-hour glucose tolerance test.  I sat sandwiched between the Monster and Middle Monkey, both fully engrossed for the moment in their Nintendo DS, only one wearing shoes. 

Upon realizing that Monster-Monkey was shoeless, I was already ten minutes late for my appointment and there just wasn't time to turn around and get his shoes. 

A perfect storm of events in days of late has found my family of five limited to one car, one debit card, one cell phone, and one very befuddled mother.

On the Friday morning before we left for vacation I received a frantic phone call from the Monkey Maker to report that he had just been hit by a deer head on.  Thankfully he was unscathed but the same could not be said for the car or the deer for that matter.

The harrowing deer hitting experience only made us more excited and thankful to be going away to the peace and serenity of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but more about that later.

After seven fantastic days of sand, surf, and family dys"fun"ction, we were equally happy to be headed back to home sweet home.

We eagerly packed the minivan and prepared for the six hours of driving that lay ahead.  We bid a fond farewell to the beach and off we headed, straight into a traffic nightmare from hell.

Now I realize that I should be more concerned about the victims of the accident that caused the four hour back up on Route 64 through Virginia last Friday but unfortunately the ginormous baby that I am carrying sat on my sympathy bone and made me a huge bitch.

At any rate somewhere in hour eight of our "shoulda been six but instead was ten hour" drive home my family stopped at a Taco Bell for some "sustenance." Upon stopping, I made a mad dash to the bathroom with Mini-Monkey.  The Monkey-Maker took the other Monkeys and procured for us a few "Party Packs" of tacos to-go and we piled back into the van to hit the road again.

Many hours later, long after we were home and unpacking I realized that I seemed to be missing my purse. 

Oh, f*ck.

Suddenly I had a very vivid memory of placing said purse on top of the changing station in the Taco Bell bathroom but I had NO such memory of taking it down when I left. 

Oh my God.  I did a quick mental rundown of the contents of my purse at the time of the pit stop. 

Oh. My. God. 

My iPod.  My Flip camera.  My wallet.  The Monkey-Makers wallet.  All of our medications.

My camera.  My pictures.  All of my beach photos.  I started to cry.

In the end, my purse was found by a Taco Bell employee and safely tucked away in a security box in the office. I was so grateful that my pictures were safe (er, I mean, the wallets....) that I didn't even mind the two hour return trip.

The Monkey-Maker, being a responsible and organized individual was deeply troubled that his wallet was being help captive in a Taco Bell in Maryland, but truthfully the contents of my wallet were the least of my concern. 

You see, I had misplaced my debit card a few weeks earlier and my drivers license was expired.  My social security card, which I know you are not supposed to keep in your wallet, was only there because I have been meaning to switch the card into my married name.  I guess I got a little busy during the seven years since our wedding...

Before we could travel south to retrieve my purse, I had to first take Middle Monkey to visit the doctor so that he could receive some treatment for the ear infection he seemed to have developed while on vacation. He very patiently allowed the doctor to poke and prod him, finally determining that yes, in fact he had an ear infection and drops would be needed.  She wrote us a prescription and we were on our way.

The trip for the purse was relatively uneventful save for the shuddering and bucking of our mini-van as the transmission in our one remaining vehicle threatened to drop.  So before heading, at last, to our homestead we hit the pharmacy to grab the ear drops. 

"Okay," said the sweet pharmacist assistant, "that will be $102.78." 

"What?!?!?" I nearly fainted. 

"Well," she explained patiently, "The doctor wanted to give you drops that you would only need to administer twice-a-day.  There are other less expensive options but they need to be given four or five times-per-day."

"Umm, thanks but I'll take the cheap drops and just kneel on the kid while I 'administer' the meds." 

I laughed but I don't think either of us thought I was joking. 

Several phone calls and 25 minutes later, I left Rite Aid with a $16 prescription for generic ear drops and minus one cell phone.

Turns out, the Middle Monkey is NOT a fan of ear drops.  I found this out when I had to actually "kneel" on him to put the drops in his infected ear.  His response to a 700lb. pregnant woman kneeling on him was to scream until he burst tiny capillaries all over his face.  Awesome.

Anywho....where was I? 

Oh!   Right.  There I am sitting waiting to drink luke-warm lemon-lime sugar vomit.  I have no phone, no debit card, no car, flanked by Shoeless Joe and Splotchy McSplotcherson.

Like I said, "Mother of the Year."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Least I Can Do

Like most of the world I followed the sad story of the death of two-year old Caylee Anthony and the subsequent trial of her mother Casey Marie Anthony. And like much of the world, I gasped when I heard that she had been acquitted of all murder charges by a jury of her peers in Orlando, FL.

It was with great shock and disbelief that I watched Juror #3 detail the lack of sufficient evidence and facts needed to convict Casey of the crime of Murder in the 1st degree.

And now as I sit in my bed, just a few feet from my own beautiful, brown-eyed beauty, I feel so helpless, so sad.

Is this really the best we can do for this sweet little girl?

Whether she was in fact chloroformed and killed as the Prosecution presented, or if she did indeed accidentally drown in the family pool as the Defense suggested, the fact remains that her precious life ended much too soon.   And I want to know how, HOW, she was left in limbo for 31 days?

How could this be?

How could anyone wait for 31 days to report a child, any child, let alone your own child missing?

How could you wait 31 minutes?

As a logical person I try to wrap my mind around this. Waiting for my child, not knowing that she was safe and secure. I can't fathom this.

Even right now, the notion that my daughter is anywhere but safe and warm in her bed prompts me to visit her bedroom to watch her sleep.

I can't reason it out. I can't justify the 31 day wait.

And so, in my own personal quest for justice for Caylee, I have found a way to do my part.  Even if it is "the least I can do."

A woman in Oklahoma, Michelle Crowder, wrote a petition to create a law that makes it a felony for a parent/ guardian to wait  to report a child as missing, beyond a reasonable amount of time.

How much time is reasonable, you ask?  I don't claim to know that answer but I am sure it is a hell of a lot less than 31 days.

Please click the link below and sign the petition.  It is, quite literally, the least we can do.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Mail Perspective

The nine residents of our cul-de-sac recently received a nasty gram from the local branch of the United States Post Office.  In this letter we were informed that mail would no longer be delivered to our homes if our children were outside between the hours of 9AM and 4PM. 

Oh.  Right.  Sure.

The letter went on to say that the mail carrier had recently had several "near misses" with tragedy by almost hitting small children as they played, unsupervised, in the streets. 

She paints a pretty vivid picture. 

The problem is that the picture is inaccurate. 

Yes, it's true that there are indeed children in residence on our street.  Nineteen point five to be exact.  And yes, it's true that they do indeed play in the street in front of our homes.  Games like kickball and baseball and basketball.  Truly terrifying stuff. 

But the whole, unsupervised thing is where I get hung up.  Because I am the one supervising them.  

Now, while it is true that I may not "be there" mentally, I am VERY much there in the physical form, and these days, my physical form is...well...rather large.  Not a physical form that can be easily missed. I take up roughly the square footage of an 8 x 8 outdoor shed.

And on the particular day in question my form was wearing a hot pink tank top that could be repurposed as a full sized fitted sheet with some clever stitching. 

So, needless to say when the mail woman pulled to the crest of the gentle slope that leads down to our cul-de-sac and then suddenly jerked the vehicle into a violent three-point turn and pulled away, no one was more surprised than I. 

Maybe she was called to respond to some sudden mail-related emergency? 

No, guess that’s not it, I thought as I watched her deliver mail to the houses at the top of the hill. 


Apparently she spied the children playing kick ball in the street but missed the gigantic pink pregnant lady watching them. 

At any rate we, the deadbeat parents in the lower end of the street were unceremoniously denied of our mail.

Let me be clear, NO ONE seemed worried about this.  NO ONE. 

The Monkey-Maker responded, “Good, she can keep all that effing junk mail.” 

My friend across the street said, “Just more bills I can’t afford to pay anyway.”

The only ones who were remotely worried about the injustice of it all were the Monkeys.

They were horrified.  “Why??  Why won’t she come to our house?  What did we do wrong?  We got out of the way, we sat on the curb when we saw her!!!” 

The Monkey’s angst prompted me to place a call to the post office.  In my most professional and courteous tone I laid out my concerns to the woman who answered the phone.

The woman on the other end, seemed prepared for my call, let's call her "Ann."

"Yes," she said condescendingly, "I am aware of the situation you are referring to."  Long pause.

She proceeded to tell me horrible stories of the scraggly street rats that run wild in the cul-de-sac.  She relayed to me accounts of half-clothed children darting in and out of cars, stories that would make the streets of Baghdad seem like Sesame Street. 

I laughed right out loud when she gravely recounted the story of a little girl, "about 2 years old" drawing chalk in her driveway.  "And there was no one there to stop her from running into the street."

"Well," I interrupted.  "Actually, I was there.  She is my daughter and it was my driveway that she was drawing chalk on.  And I was supervising the whole time." 

Ann answered defensively, "Well, my carrier said she saw no adults outside.  She came to me in tears because she was so terrified."

By this point I had just about enough of this mud slinging postal worker.  Lord knows I am not a contender for mother of the year but I am also not the neglectful parent that she is describing on the other end of the phone.

So I pulled on my "Mommypants" and up onto my soapbox I climbed. 

I explained to her calmly that the children, my children, are always supervised when they play outside. Perhaps she can't see me but that doesn't mean I'm not there.  I didn't realize that I needed to make my presence known to the mail carrier and if  she would prefer, I could sit on a lawn chair in the middle of the street so as to be seen.   I said I would be happy to arrnage that but I'll need a more narrow window of delivery time.  

I informed her that the reason that we built our home on this particular street was because of the safety that the cul-de-sac allows.  There are nine houses in the circle, everyone has multiple children.  We all drive safely and slowly.  Outsiders RARELY come down into our little world and therefore our children are comfortable playing in our street. 

I stated that any person driving at a reasonable rate of speed, especially a United States Postal Worker would be capable of navigating a street where children sat on the curb and waited patiently for her to pass by. 

And finally I let her know that under no circumstances would I be keeping my children inside between the hours of 9AM and 4PM during the summer months so that the hypersensitive postal worker can be accommodated.  I suggested several alternative remedies, such as a new route for this thin-skinned lady who can't take the pressure of a suburban tree-lined street. 

Following my rant there was another long pause.

She said evenly, "May I take down your number and get back to you?" 

I told her that would be fine and we disconnected the call. 

I waited for about an hour for the phone to ring but the call never came.  Instead the Monkey's burst through the door triumphantly waving a pile of bills in their grubby little hands. 

Guess I made my point.  Maybe she just needed a little "mail" perspective.