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I haven't slept in three days, I'm cradling a screaming baby in my arms. Oh, and the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow's character from Dexter) is TRYING TO SLASH OPEN MY SCREEN DOOR AND COME IN AND KILL ME. I know what you're thinking. Can it get any worse than this? Yes. But before I get to that let me backtrack a bit.

I'm a fan of murder mysteries so I'll begin by quoting Arnaldur Indridason, the Icelandic author of the Erlendur series. In Jar City he writes that "the past is another country." If that's true then raising an infant is another planet. And three years ago, when I was living on that other planet I did not sleep much. HAHAHA understatement. There's a ton of great literature and studies out there on sleep deprivation--it was my special interest for at least two years. And now I humbly add one more anecdote to the canon.

Our daughter was born awake and screaming (kind of like alive and kicking) and stayed that way until the first time she slept through the night--at 21 months. My husband and I lost weight, forgot dates and times and seasons. I tried everything out there to get our family some sleep. And I mean everything. All the books, methods, advice--even from my local fishmonger, who told me I had to keep her up later so she'd sleep through the night. HAHAHA. When I came to see him the next day at six a.m., I bought the freshest fish in the Deep South while giving him the freshest stink eye a mom could muster. After that I ate a lot less fish, but I got to know our butcher pretty well. She never gave advice, just fresh slices of ham to keep B. occupied while I shopped. And it's shocking how long one slice of ham can keep a toddler busy in a store. If only that worked in the middle of the night I would have lined the kid's crib with ham from stem to stern. Nothing but quiet, happy munching and blissfully sleeping parents. YEAH RIGHT.

I even kept a sleep journal. Want a sneak peak? Intellectual copyright applies because one day I might try to sell it to the military. Or a BDSM dungeon.

8p: Soothing lavender bath. Soothing massage w/organic calendula. Soothing sherpa-blessed non-gmo pjs. Warm bottle milk. Calming story about a little girl who grows up to be a rockstar princess neuroscientist captain of a space station. Soothing French A cappella lullaby about a little chicken who lays eggs in weird places.

8:45p: OMG SLEEP!!!

8:50p: Screaming. Wait 5 min, per this week's sleep expert. Lovey missing. Searched house while swearing through teeth. Found it under dog. Stopped swearing and calmly placed in B's hand.

8:51p: OMG SLEEP!!! I am SO going to bed right now!! Wait, no, shower! Wait, no bed.

10:00p: Screaming bloody murder. Wait 10 min. Blanket has fallen off of left foot. Cover left foot.

10:15p: More bloody murder. Wait 10 min. Blanket has fallen off right foot. Cover right foot.

1:30a: Yup, bloody murder. Wait 15 minutes. Blanket is covering both feet and child is too hot. Ugggggh.

3:00a: Omg could it be bloody murder again?? Yup! Wait another 15 minutes. What is it this time? NOTHING! Someone just felt like shaking their crib and howling! Should I call a sleep coach or a f***ing exorcist???

3:30a: THIS SLEEP TRAINING BULLS*** ISN'T WORKING F*** ALL THOSE STUPID EXPERTS AND THEIR STUPID BOOKS I BET THEY'RE ALL SLEEPING RIGHT NOW AND I REALLY WANT TO SET FLAMING BAGS OF DOG POO ON ALL THEIR DOORSTEPS.

3:60a: Does this hour of night really exist? I don't know. I hate everything and have to be up in a couple hours. Eff it. I'm binge-watching Dexter. Carpe Noctem. The season about the Trinity Killer is really good. John Lithgow is freaking the crap out of me. Maybe I'll fall asleep.

6:30a: Kiddo wakes up cheerful (WTF???). I might have slept, or I might really, trully be living in an episode of Dexter. I'm making a mental note to be wary of nice, normal-looking people. Especially those walking their dogs by my apartment. And even more especially those who look like John Lithgow. Duh.

The day goes fine, until naptime (insert more bloody murder). God how I wish it were cool to sit there and watch Dexter with a toddler. I even consider googling the AAP recommendations for TV viewing, but I pretty much know them by heart. And I know that Dexter is not cool. Fortunately neither is Barney. I decide to carry B. around and sing Smiths songs to her. She stops screaming. Hell yeah! And then there is a knock on the screen door.

BWAAAAAAAAHAAAA AHHHHHH AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Yup, that's both of us screaming. My heart starts racing. I'm not expecting anyone and I'm not really the kind of person you drop in on. More like the kind you let know a week in advance so I can cross-post it on my calendar app and configure my day around it. I check my phone. No texts from friends, our home-visit nurse or the hubby. I inch closer to the door and squint my eyes, trying to make out the face through the screen. The sun is too bright, but I can tell it's a gentleman. My heart pounds. Yes, a tall, distinguished gentelman in a button-down shirt and slacks. Which can only mean one thing.

JOHN LITHGOW IS AT MY DOOR AND HE'S HERE TO KILL ME.

He holds up his hand. The sun glints off a straight edge. Holy shit, it's a razor and he's going to slash the screen and come in and--wait a sec, HELL NO HE'S NOT! Because I do what any proud momma warrior rockstar princess neuroscientist space station captain would. I slam the door in his face. And yell, "Get the f*** off my porch!" For good measure. Then I barricade myself and my child in her room and call 9-1-1. Yes, this is all making 100% complete sense to me at the moment.

"9-1-1, what's your emergency?"
"There's a man at my door!"
"Okay, are you safe right now?"
"Um, yes... I think so...."
"Ma'am, is he still there?"
"Hold on." Cradling the baby, I peek through the curtain. And see that he left something on the porch.
"I don't think so. I think he's gone. He looked like John Lithgow. In Dexter," I add this crucial bit of information.
"John Lawho?" Hmm. Obviously not a fan.
"Ah, I think he left something on the porch."
"Okay ma'am, you don't have to open the door. We can send a unit by to make sure the property is safe."
Huh, huh you said 'unit', I think but don't say. My sense of humor cuts through the delirium, making me consider that perhaps I misjudged the whole situation just a wee tiny bit. Very wee.
"Um, thanks ma'am. I don't think you'll have to do that. I think it's going to be okay. I have a baby who doesn't sleep, so I'm kinda outta it."
"Okay, if you're sure. If you want I can stay on the phone with you when you open the door."
"Yes, please," I say. Because John Lithgow could really be out there.

Cradling the baby in one arm, I open the door and scan the street. No serial killers in sight. I look down at the porch. No straight razor either. I bend down and pick up a--

"Ma'am, are you still there?"
"Yes, he's gone. He left something here." I squint and read the inscription on the CD. "Merry Christmas, Love L." It's from a friend who drops off a new holiday mix every year. Not John Lithgow. Not a straight razor. I silently wonder how I can ever make this right. I don't know if I ever can. I briefly entertain the notion of asking the 9-1-1 operator for advice on the situation, but she's got better things to do. Lucidity returns slowly.

"Ma'am, if you feel safe now you can hang up. You can always call back if you need to."

"Thanks. I appreciate everything."

I hang up, call my husband and tell him everything. He starts laughing. "What's so funny?" I ask.

"L. just sent me a text."

"Ah, what did he say?" My heart starts pounding again and my embarrassement-o-meter kicks into high gear. Lucidity is back online.

"Here, I'll read it to you. DROPPED OFF XMAS CD. DON'T THINK WIFE WAS TOO HAPPY ABOUT IT."

I feel equal parts relief and shame. I ask my husband to offer L. my deepest apologies.

"No prob. And C. said she's going to come over for a few hours so you can sleep. Already set it up."

"Thank you." I make a mental note to bake him cookies when I've caught up on sleep. So, probably in six months or so.

"How's B?" He asks...casually.

I look down and see a perfectly angelic face. Two half-moon eyes and a relaxed cupid's bow mouth have taken the place of bloody murder.

"She slept through almost the whole thing. And is still sleeping."

"Heh, maybe John Lithgow should come to visit more often." I can hear him grinning.

I peek throught the curtain once more for good measure and silently reconsider the cookie thing.


Just here to drop off a little present.

You're not selfish if you don't want kids.

I want to go out "undercover" with a hidden cam and no food stains and pose as a woman of reproductive age who does not want kids. I wonder what kinds of nerves it would hit. But as you know when I'm not at work (where everyone knows kiddo) I'm with her, conducting experiments and research of other kinds. Like googling HOW TO GET STICKERS OUT OF DOG FUR. So for now I'll just go by what I've heard from several friends. And the verdict is that people can be downright rude when you tell them what your uterus does not want to do. Or what your S.O.'s uterus does or doesn't want to do. As in, "Omg, I know we were enjoying this lovely conversation and you thought I was a polite, civil human being but now that you mention that you don't want kids I'm going to tell you just HOW SELFISH YOU ARE."

To which, of course, you respond--"Wowzers, you're right! Let me grab my significant other...or any other body, really, and just start procreating right on top of the hors d'oeuvres table. Excuse me...."

YEAH, RIGHT.

I wish I could answer for other parents, but as a mom I cannot wrap my brain around it. It's just bad manners. I can sort of relate, though--when I went shopping for Paraguard (the copper, 10+ year IUD that has CHANGED my life) I did have one OB-GYN tell me that I might want to get something "easier to discontinue" because I "only" had one child and I "might change my mind." I was outta that office before he could realize that I'd just puked all over him. In my mind.

If you're a fan of traditional etiquette, the literature generally says that if an interlocuter doesn't bring up their own reproductive plans, then stay the hell away from the subject. Ok, it doesn't say hell but if I wrote etiquette it would. And there's probably a reason why I don't. But I get it. Having kids is currently the "normative" approach in our society--but it is and should always be a choice. That said, as a culture why don't we turn the tables a bit? Mom_after_ed would be thrilled to see this kind of conversational twist:

"I'm thinking of spawning."
"Oh, really! Have you answered The Questionnaire?"
"Huh?"
"You know, The Questionnaire!"

As in (drumroll):

1) State your parenting philosophy in 100 words or less and provide 17 footnotes and at least 3 personal references.
2) Answer the following questions, based on categories:

ACTING LIKE A HUMAN BEING: How do you function on 6 hours of interrupted sleep for 1 year straight with 1-2 people screaming at you?

FINANCES: Have you practiced living on, say, $3000/month less than you're used to? If no, put your penis or vagina away and reconsider everything.

BALANCE: Imagine that a cat just threw up on your foot while a dog was pooping on your bed. I don't care if you have a cat or dog or not. Parenting is all about imagination and invention. So, imagine the above scenario happening multiple times a week. What are you making for dinner?

MANAGEMENT: A child's naptime is from 2-4. You need to be at a municipal office at 3:30 OR ELSE. The child weighs 30#. You are out of clean clothes, laundry detergent, wipes, perfume and cooking oil. Plus the stroller is in the other car. How do you think your life will look 7 hours from now?

HEALTH: You're sick, your favorite nanny is sick, your favorite aunt is sick and your spouse is sick. In fact, they're all puking in your bathroom RIGHT NOW AND YOU HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP. Before having a kid, you swore you'd never be one of those parents who does X, Y, Z. So...how fast can you stuff your ideals in the diaper pail and click on the TV?

SOCIETY: How will you interact with people who don't have or don't want kids? Will you respect that most people who don't want kids have probably thought long and hard about it, as you have just done about your decision? Will you respond with the same courtesy, respect and open-mind that you're teaching your own children to have? Or will you be a complete a-hole and jump on the third rail?

Food stains for thought....

donkey.jpg
I've been a mom for the past three years, so of course I've got tons of experience and can tell other people what to do all the time. But when the tables are turned, hoo boy does it smart! Like today's inevitable trip to Whole Foods. Inevitable because two days of Halloween (thank you, Jefferson Parish and biblical rains) followed by daylight effing savings time. Which means ORGANIC COFFEE STAT. And, um, vegetables too.

So I bundle my beautiful baby girl into her stroller (compliant with all California flamibility and non-tox requirements). And of course she starts screaming when we head towards the store because that's what happens when you're 3.2 years old. So I stop, kneel down in front of the stroller and explain the sitch to her. Like dude, we don't have anything for dinner and I need some sherpa-certified eco-cert stuff stat because after two days of pizza and chocolate I am jonesing. To which she replies: "You took the wrong direction! You took the wrong direction! Go back to the car and DO IT AGAIN!"

Yes this is a literal transcription. I blame her fuzzy logic on my parenting shortcomings, which include totally turning my back last night when she started whining, then proceeded to raid the plastic witches' cauldron full of leftover kiddy-crack. Meaning that I staved off that meltdown until...exactly now.

Then from behind me I hear an agave-sweet voice,

"Oh, it's hard being a baby sometimes isn't it?"

Out of the corner of my eye I catch a Tory Burch pebbled leather tote hanging off a perfectly-toned arm that could probably kick my donkey at yoga. I opt for a neutral response. She did ask a question after all--and it would be rude not to respond, wouldn't it?

"Yeah. And sometimes it's hard being a mom too."

I hear her crisp Manolo Blahniks clicking across the pavement as she comes closer. The aroma of Bond No. 9 does battle with the fresh herbs display I'm desperately inching my way to. Bond No. 9 wins. She gives me a triumphant glance, then attempts to soften her eyes as she begins,

"Oh, honey the time goes by so fast. You're going to look back and miss these days, I promise."

"Huh," I mumble as I mentally calculate the amount of time I have left for actual shopping. Usually 15 minutes from the time I diffuse a tantrum to the time I locate the raisins (awesome toddler silencer) to the time I wheel my girl out of the store screaming (and by screaming I mean either her, me or both). I'm at 14:45 seconds and time is running out and she's still freaking standing there. So I nod and mumble a non-committal "Uh huh" that really means I'm done talking to you, k thanks bye.

The Manolo Blahniks click closer. "Oh, honey, I'm 62 and my kids are in their thirties and oh my goodness, there isn't anything I wouldn't do to have them little like that again, for just a minute--to have them screaming in their stroller you know what I mean?"

I give her one of my classic looks. If it had words, it would probably go something like this:



So much for neutrality, you know what I mean?

She shakes her glorious, keratin-kissed locks as if I'm God's most unenlightened creature. And maybe I am. Maybe I really should be farting rainbows about every single minute of parenthood instead of quietly, inconspicuously attempting to get my child to calm down so I can shop for one meal without a fellow shopper calling for an exorcist and/or shooting stink-eye at the lady with the screaming pram. Maybe I should drop to my knees, risk ripping my organic cotton yoga pants and thank this beatific stranger--nay angel--for reminding me of the gift of life and the way that gratitude conquers all. Maybe.

Instead, I just walk away. While wondering if I could possibly lodge a complaint with customer service. Uh, yeah, there's this chick in a Range Rover hawking sanctimony in your parking lot. And she was really interfering with my ability to spend my entire paycheck on your products.

Maybe.
It's the part of a regular doc's visit that an ED recoveree dreads the most:

"Ok, ma'am (or sir), hop up on this and we'll get your weight."



No problem for some. But for an ED/post-ED patient it's more like, oh, pick one....



Yeah, you got it. Torture. Why? Because that number--whatever it is--will roll around in your head for minutes. And hours. And days after the visit. It will start to affect the way you think, breathe, and yes--eat. And it SUCKS.

Plus it's medically unnecessary in all but a few cases. And today it was not necessary. I voluntarily choose to be weighed once or twice a year. I was weighed earlier this year, which is why I opted out today. Usually nurses ask why, and I don't mind at all. Because when I tell them that I beat the odds against anorexia, bulimia, exercise addiction, 5 hospitalizations and the brink of--ya know--personal doom--they almost always respond with, "Wow, congrats." Or, "Go you!" Or, "You look strong and healthy, good job!"

But not today. Oh noo hoo hoo. Ms. "Ratched" (as I'll call) her wasn't having any of that. So our conversation went like this:

Nurse Ratched: Ok, ma'am I need ya to hop up on this scale so I can get your weight.
Me: No, thank you. I'm not doing weight today. It's in my chart from last visit.
NR: Well I NEED a weight today. (yes, the emphasis was on *need*)
Me: I understand. But you see I'm a recovered eating disorder patient so....
NR: I NEED a weight. It's part of my job.
Me: I see. And I'll be happy to let you take all my other vitals. But weight is a trigger.
NR: Well if you (sic) in recovery, then we need to see if you gain or lost weight (sic, sic, sic).
Me: Um, no. I'm sorry, but for me recovery means I do mindful weigh-ins. I will not be doing one today.
NR: You trying to tell me how to do my job?
Me: Uh?

Realizing she's not going to get my (un)happy ass up onto the Detecto-nator, we move onto blood pressure. Which is about 1000/300. And pulse. Which is, oh, 179. Huh, wonder why?

As she's about to stick the thermometer into my mouth, she mumbles sotto voce, "I bet you think you qualified to tell me how to do this too."

Me: (*don'tsayitdon'tsayit*). Well, actually yes--I am. I'm a professional Standardized Patient Educator. So yes, I can safely say that I am qualified to tell you how to do this. And you did not do my blood pressure correctly. (*Ahhhh. I said it*)


OOO SNAP!

And she looks at me like this:


And I look at her like this:


Then she steps out and calls for help with her "uncompliant patient". I can clearly hear her mocking the way I asked her not to weigh me. And I can hear the other person laughing along with her. Welp, just like that I have a reputation up and down the hallway. Drama at the medplex, room 3.

Errrrgggggh.

Folks, this is what happens when you are a recovered ED patient and are forced to interact with a medical professional who has been...let's just say...very poorly informed on protocol when it comes to patients like you. I'm sure it can be like that for folks with other conditions--either the nurse/doctor/orderlies/specialists/etc. get it or they don't. And when they don't, well, see above.

In the end, the visit turned out well. I had the presence of mind (and two decades of training) to take a deep breath, center myself and speak to her superior. Who, in the small world of New Orleans, happened to have earned her masters in the same department at the same university as I did. Big living room much? All that aside, I calmly related the facts and my feelings. She could not have been more empathetic and promised to incorporate eating disorder awareness into training protocol, effective immediately. She also told me that if I were treated that way in the future (i.e. if the staff didn't adhere to the protocol) she would support me in filing a written grievance. She assured me that I was in the right and (literally) gave me a pat on the back for speaking up for myself and defending my recovery. SWEET!

You know how I said that today turned out well? It did--and given my history today was the exception. In the past 24 years (ever since my being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa) I have had interactions with medical staff like that dozens and dozens of times. Those times, I didn't collect my thoughts. I didn't lean in or opt out or speak calmly. Instead, I bit my tongue through torturous encounters and went outside in the parking lot and screamed like an animal with a spike in its brain (I'm quoting my 20-year-old self here). Or I screamed inside the office or hospital...and sometimes didn't leave for months. Or I kept quiet until I could lock myself in a bathroom and cut. Because back then I didn't have the words to explain what was going on. I didn't feel like I had the right to assert myself. I thought "they" must know better than I did. I could go on and on. But today I didn't do any of that.

Today I had the courage to say no. Repeatedly. Today I had the poise to engage in dialogue and strive to educate someone. Today I had the patience not to blow my top when it became obvious that that someone--a trained member of a medical team--had no interest in learning about a condition from their patient. And today I had the composure to state my case and--very likely--help to make some lasting changes. It was a small move on my part, but it was also my way of paying it back--to the 16-year-old in me who nearly ripped herself to pieces. It was also my way of paying it forward--to all those girls and boys who walk the halls of medicine with a mile-long file of Dxs that may or may not fit who they really are or what they really struggle with--as they talk to professionals who may or may not get it. Here's to hoping--and working--for more that do.

GROW LAWNS NOT FOOD!

Remember my last post? The one from 10,000 months ago the last time I had time to write? Short summary--it was all about how I was never, ever going to do bento because it just gets pooped out anyway so what's the point. Well...per my usual pattern of railing against something and then diving in headlong until it becomes a new special interest, I'm now proud to present:



OMG YES that is MY homemade bento on MY kitchen counter!!! (And yes, it is 1000% ORGANIC and blessed by the patron saint of goji berries. And a 5th degree sensei. Or something. And yes, one of the onigiri has 3 eyes because I made it that's why).

What's a victorious mom to do? First I go about congratulating myself, then I send pics to my BMFs (best mom friends)...and THEN I learn that HOLY CRAP I'm STILL not doing enough for the health and nutrition of my family because every mom worth her (imported Himalayan) salt has a yard that looks like this:



BTW, if you're the owner of the above foodlawn I mean absolutely no disrepect--and would be happy to credit the swiped image. But srsly, learning about the whole "Food Not Lawns" movement made me:

1) run for my bottle of eco-cert anti-anxiety herbs and

2) wonder HTF am I going to ever have time to do THIS while making bento every day and getting real in the Whole Foods parking lot every weekend. Oh, and the 10,000 other things I have to do on a regular basis so that the sky doesn't fall and the house doesn't collapse and I make it to my part-time job when scheduled and the kid doesn't (*perish the thought*) wind up accidentally swallowing a mouthful of GMO macaroni. Not like I have an inflated sense of my self-importance or anything. But I hope that at least now you understand why I keep that bottle of eco-cert herbal anti-anxiety medicine at the ready, right?

So--in revenge against this movement solidarity with all the other parents of toddlers out there whose lawns don't look like food, I propose the following pushback: LAWNS NOT FOOD! C'mon--someone with awesome graphic design skills make me a super cool motto and send it to my inbox. Yoo-hoo, I'll make you viral.

Why a LAWNS NOT FOOD movement, you ask? Because look at the above picture of the beautiful foodlawn (that, yes, I am growing increasingly envious of as I write--haha, get it? Growing? MOM JOKE!). But seriously--could it do this?:



Ooo nohoho, I tell you. And just imagine how awesome THIS is after the kiddo has played on it for 3 hours straight with mom smiling on lovingly while sitting beneath a patio umbrella and sipping mint juleps. Oh and--wait for it, wait for it...then when said kiddo comes inside and wants to--you guessed it--NAP for another 3 HOURS STRAIGHT! Lemme tell ya, that is the mom JACKPOT. Can a pile of heirloom rutabaga do that? I don't think so.

Or, now that we're on the subject, this?:



Wait--WTH are you looking at, you may ask?? Well, I'll tell you. It's my dog, a high-energy mutt who is NOT inside licking holes in the couch. Yes, he does that when feeling pent up. (Note to self: google eco-cert herbal pills and see if they're safe for dogs). Here you see him doing what he does best. Run and runandrunandrun. Which, btw is why I only have like, 3 pictures that are not blurry captures of his butt and happy tail in the air. And I think all 3 of them were taken after sedation when we had him neutered 10 years ago.

Oh, and if you're wondering OF COURSE I'm still sitting here sipping my mint julep while watching his happy butt. I think I'll pour myself another and stay outside all day. Because drinking in the shade while two of my kids (human and canine) gleefully wear themselves out, that's why. Oh, and this:



*Disclaimer: Knowing my typical M.O. organic-heirloom-eco-cert-nitrogen-fixing-survival gardening might just eventually become a special interest of mine. I do already grow my own mint. But mint, of course, is sooo easy (she says while reaching over for a sprig to freshen up her drink).

Holy crap. I'm not even going to count the months--yes, months since I've updated. But, due to an amazing trifecta (i.e. B. is napping, housework is done *and* I'm not at work or exhausted and napping too) here I am. And I'd like to talk about a subject that has become near and dear to my heart. Bento. Yes, apparently it's not enough to just be the obnoxious organic mom who feeds her kid 100% pure, Sherpa-certified everything. Oh noooo. I'm now informed the really super-best way to teach your children a love and lifelong appreciation of healthy food is to anthropomorphize it. As in, like, this:

                                                                    imgres-1

                                              The website is something like supercuteideas.com but I don't see it that way.
                                  I see it as "30 minutes I could have been sleeping before making a peanut butter sandwich".

As an aside, I've decided that the mom-categories out there are a bit limited. Permissive mom, authoritarian mom, helicopter mom, etc. I am kinda the "etc."--and I need a category I can really feel at home with, so from now on I dub myself NERD MOM. If the name seems random to you, read my other entries. What other kind of mom would list every dinner she fed her family for 4 weeks running? Yup, NERD MOM.

Soooo..being the nerd mom I am of course I googled the s*** outta bento and learned about its place in the various socio-cultural aspects of Japanese culinary history and...oh, forget it. I went to the library and got a book. There. And in this book almost every single recipe has one of two words: QUICK and EASY (uhuhuh yes, the junior high kid in me is laughing. But the rest of me WANTS TO SUFFOCATE THE AUTHOR SLOWLY IN INTERTWINING BEDS OF LETTUCE AND NORI).

However, I'm not one to back down from a challenge so I drowned my hatred in a nice, fizzy LaCroix and came up with a brilliant idea. I would walk the bento "middle road" (sounds zen, right)? You know, dip my toe in the stream of bento and see if...aw, never mind. I have no idea where I'm going with this metaphor. I just wanted to make lunch and see if I actually should be investing more time and energy into this path, because if it made my daughter eat like 75% more vegetables and clean her plate every time then I would. And one day I could assert my dominance over other moms come pre-school lunch. Always a plus. Honestly, I usually just kind of lump (super healthy non-GMO) food onto a plate or whatever 5 minutes before mealtimes but I thought, eh why not try to make it pretty?

I trotted out a cookie cutter and got wheeling and dealing and here is my very simple "transition" bento meal:

                                                                20141009_114502

                                And yes, that is a Bride of Frankenstein platter. Just because Halloween is coming up don't
                              think I'm getting all festive and s*** and that I decorate for every holiday. I don't. It's just
                                                          pretty much Halloween every day in our house.

Ta da, that there is pulled quail, julienned green apples with fennel and a homemade sauce, and--the pièce de résistance (literally, har har)--a piece of bread, cut into a heart. A heart! And it's all 100% ORGANIC ORGANIC ORGANIC. I proudly placed my masterpiece (well, not masterpiece but let's just say "étude") in front of my DD. Which, for those of you who don't have a masters in arcane internet abbreviations means "dear daughter."

Ok, 15 minutes later here's what the plate looked like:
                                                               20141009_114544

Wow! She ate the whole..bread! OMG!! And before you think, "Whoa, you cook quail and stuff just for a regular Thursday lunch at home??" No, no I do not. That was my riff on a dinner we had two nights ago and it was the first thing I pulled out of the fridge because it was teetering on the edge of the middle shelf. Which is usually my husband's way of saying, "I put this here so it would fall on you because YOU HAVE TO EAT IT, LIKE, TODAY OR IT'LL START TO STINK." Except he wouldn't say "like." Anyhow, guess what? SHE ATE THE WHOLE THING TWO NIGHTS AGO. The same. Freaking. Meal. Yes, when I just kind of lumped food onto her plate or whatever.

But I was still determined to forge ahead with this experiement. Calmly and serenely, with my fingers in prana mudra, I asked her if she wanted more. This is what I got: "Mo' pain, peez" (we speak toddler Fran-glish in our house, so she was not asking me to hurt her). You got it, she was asking for more bread. Which I pulled straight out of the bag and handed to her. Which she took and ate heartily, saying "Miam miam" (which is French for "this doesn't suck, mom").

I then asked her if she wanted more of her food.

"Non."

But what if I shape it into Mary Poppins or kitties...or hell, Leatherface?? (I think pulled quail would be great for Leatherface).

She told me that she was done eating and wanted to go into the house. And you know what she did when we went in this house? This:

                                                          20140820_155956

                              Yeah, there's a reason why I don't include any of my family's names in any of my posts.
                               Because when she's in high school or whatever I don't want her to have seen any of these pictures.
                               Nope, I want to be the one to trot the above out when she brings her first real significant other home.

Okay, you might be thinking--haha, that's so cute. But you wanna know what's even cuter? While she was "hiding" inside the Mardi Gras bag she was saying, "Bye bye mama." Which really means, "Get the h*** outta here I'm pooping and no you can't see me la la la!" A few grunts, and that was it. QUICK and EASY. As I left the failed remains of my pseudo-bento plate behind for the dog to dig into--oh wait, my husband reads this sometimes--for making beautiful, deconstructed salads later on another flash of brilliance occurred to me. Meh, it all looks the same coming out, anyway. Still, I got on amazon.com and put a seeweed puncher in my cart. But only because I liked the name.

How evil pushes me to be a better mom

I've been taking my now-ambulatory daughter to local playgrounds because I want her to experience the joy of frequent outdoor play. I spent weeks anticipating and preparing for this exciting step. The night I ordered her first pair of rainboots--oh, visions of rosy cheeks, vigorous stomping in puddles, peels of laughter going down the twisty slide all went through my head. Then we got to the park and--wouldn't ya know it--there were dudes like this lurking everywhere:

gacypogotheclown


And the jungle gym itself started to look less like something conceived by Little Tikes and more like this:

Cornucopia_Supplies

Yes, that's the Cornucopia from The Hunger Games


Ahhh!!! I ran through a quick catalog of all the parenting styles and theories I knew about and settled on this one:

7dda215ae0cb3b5d9d47cd7ea32272af

Helicopter Parenting. Aka "Step near my spawn and I'll show you what napalm smells like in the morning. Yes, I do have "Ride of the Valkyries" on my ipod."


I spent a few minutes hovering, wincing over every potential fall and constantly scanning the horizon for predators--and then I realized that everyone would have a lot more fun if I unclenched just a bit. So I let her know I'd stay very close and would help anytime she needed. She was totally cool with it and toddled off to the twisty slide, our trusty dog following a pawstep behind.

BerlinKlaus

B. travels with her own personal body guard, Klaus. He has a special set of skills that include the ability to lick evil-doers to death at a moment's notice


Watching her run to and fro I had one of those moments of mom-zen--you know, when all of a sudden the here and now just makes sense. The realization came from thinking back to my own childhood in Michigan. I was born less than two years after the Oakland County Child Killer's final documented crime and the parents around me were still spooked--I didn't really get much of it at the time, but I remember the worry being palpable. Rereading the cases makes it more than clear to me. I won't go into detail but if you google the events be prepared for a heartbreaking story. As a mom revisiting the topic I began to understand so many aspects of the atmosphere I was brought up in. I know why I was taught about "stranger danger" before I learned how to cross the street. Why every family had secret codes in case of emergencies, and why stuff like the buddy system was the rule of the land.

Will all this be important to the way I raise an early adolescent? Oh, you bet your downloadable FBI child safety app. But even though I know that helping my daughter learn how to navigate the perils of the external world is crucial, I'm of the opinion that where I need to focus most is right here in my own home--and that includes my own head. The way I interact with her--and the way she sees me and her father interact--carries so much weight. I can teach her to avoid suspicious characters and I can teach her how to kick like a Russian girl in a subway...



No doubt that's all good stuff. But the most important thing is that she is surrounded by mostly positive interactions most of the time, especially in the home. According to John Medina (author of Brain Rules for Baby) that doesn't mean never fighting or even disagreeing with my spouse or child. It means that make-ups are immediate, genuine and out in the open. It means that my having made a commitment to continue my own self-work--practicing empathic communication, learning better ways to react when I experience anger, hurt or disappointment--will go much further towards raising a strong, safe daughter than any amount of self-defense classes or pepper spray (though if they made pepper spray in toddler size you know I'd at least google it...). It also means that as a mother I need to take care of myself--accept offers of help, rest when I can--and yeah, put myself in time-out when called for. So in a series of causal connections stemming from a dark past to a brighter present day, that is how evil pushes me to be a better mom.

Why organic moms are so f*%$#^% obnoxious

"Would your daughter like some candy?" the receptionist proffers a bag of treats. The kind that look like cute little fruits but...(I sneak a quick glance at the back) are really made of:

BLUE 1 LAKE, RED 40 LAKE, YELLOW 6, YELLOW 5, RED 40, BLUE 1. And...

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP!!!! OMG!!! NOOOOOO!!

A million thoughts go through my mind. "Haven't you seen King Corn?? Don't you know those things will cause my daughter to get irreversible uncontainable degenerative metabolic thrombophlebitis?? And: Can't you see I've been trying to keep her diet 100% freerangeorganicgrassfinished??"

"Oh, no thanks," I say, putting the package back in the bowl. "Wouldn't want to ruin her lunch." I smile. The receptionist smiles back. She has no idea what just went on in my mind. Nor how I feel at the moment.

Sub-Zero_Flawless_Victory

This scenario is repeated several more times over the course of the weekend. Meanwhile, I go about planning and prepping a week of (freerangeorganicgrassfinished) dinners for my family because I have commandeered the cooking this week.

So here's how the meal planning thing goes. I brainstorm 7 or so meal ideas, jot them down on a dry-erase board, cross-reference them with my favorite cookbooks (so far Dinner A Love Story, How to Cook Everything and Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes), tabulate them, highlight where needed, research ingredients that are new to me (I recently learned what Arrowroot flour could do...and got a call from the Post Office special police force because the package leaked). I then put the various ingredients on the multiple shopping lists I have through my phone's Mighty Grocery shopping app. Then (still with me here?) I write each on a calendar dry-erase board, which means that I can move them around easily when things change--as they invariably do.

-5
See the recipe for Moscow Mule? It totally calls for organic vodka.
Sure it does. And that's what I pour myself after a day of meal prep.


On a good day I will usually hit up the stores in order of expensiveness, and I usually buy almost everything from scratch. It is more work that way but it does save $$. That said I often think about how much more would be going into my daughter's college fund if we could just go back to eating how--well, both of us ate in college. Yay shrimp flavored instant ramen! And no, they don't have an organic version of that. I checked.

BTW I never cooked regularly before B. was born and forced myself into a trial-by-fire introduction because I really, really wanted to learn how to do it. I feel that it has gone pretty freaking well, all things considered. The picture below eloquently describes how I felt the first few months, though.

batshitcat

Now that I've gotten my pattern down--and now that I see the benefits for myself and my family--I'm very glad that I did. But when I'm at the park or at work and I pull out my humane-certified bread loaf and artisanal mozzarella and home-brewed kombucha I don't want eye rolls, or a reference to how I'm one of "those". I want cheering. Hearty congratulations. Biodegradable balloons. Organic kudos. Hey, I'll even take commisseration. Why? Because it takes a whole lot of g*##@^% work to be this f*%$#^% obnoxious, that's why.

Cheerios
Hmm, I wonder if those uniforms are free-trade and dyed with beet juice?

I'm interested in hearing from you--do you consider yourself an organic person? Or do you feel like punching crunchies in the throat every time you hear the word?
Oh, parenting. Such a lofty occupation with lofty opportunities--like bettering oneself in ways that resonate for generations and generations, right? Yay therapy! So noble!

…and then there’s the rest of day-to-day life. Which often calls for a drink.

So if you are or have ever been the caregiver of a small child I’d like to invite you to play a modified version of a game that was a mainstay of the college parties I went to long ago, when my glass was filled with something other than LaCroix (I am currently not drinking at all. Insert world's smallest violin here). Anyway, the game is called “I Never.” As in: someone says something that they’ve never done and everyone around the table who has actually done that thing has to take a shot.

For example, “I never went to a male strip club and blew all my money, tee, hee!” (Then the table resonates with laughter and the sounds of empty shot glasses slamming down authoritatively.) If anything, it’s a great way to get to know your classmates.

Go ahead and pick your poison. If you see something on the list of things that I have absolutely never, ever done--down the hatch. And if you want to continue the game and share something you yourself have never, ever done I've enabled anonymous posting.

Ok, here we go! As a parent:

1) I never considered buying Adderall off of a college student because it’s cheaper than a night nurse.

2) I never packed the car with baby stuff--even remembered the wipes---and got halfway down the block and realized that the baby was still in the house.

3) I never ate food that fell out of my daughter's clothing because the garbage was out of reach/out of bags/too far away and we get ants if everything isn't cleaned immediately.

4) I never farted audibly in public and then looked down at my daughter with a bemused maternal expression so that all the people looking at us would totally think she dealt it. And rationalized it by telling myself that she can do the same to me when I'm old.

5) I never put my baby in a high chair, rolled her into the bathroom and then took a shower while “entertaining” her by singing about what body parts I was washing. Just so I could get a shower that day.

6) I never claimed that #5 was good parenting because it was “educational.” (Anatomy is important though).

7) I never peed in the shower as a way of multitasking.

8) I never hate-cleaned the house. 8.1) I never spent hours reading twee-ass parenting blogs and then felt like an utter failure because I was not hate-cleaning the house.

9) I never used a curse word to implore my husband to stop f****** swearing please.

10) I never said that I was going to “hit up” the library or the playgroup just so I could sound cool. About going to the library. Or the playgroup.

Berlin bottoms up rock on
Bottoms up, y'all!

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Me and B.
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Life on the other side of twee

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