Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Busy Black Woman on Vacation

I am currently sitting in a rented house located about half a mile from the beach. The Toddlersaurus and the Hub are napping. I am finally getting over this cough, after having spent nearly three weeks with bronchitis. But I am determined to enjoy this week. I am finally on vacation!

Let's go back a few days to Friday night, when I was on the phone procrastinating as usual before the big trip. I had been doing laundry and packing all day, but I took time to visit my parents and then to chat with my BFF. During the course of our conversation, she mocked me for over-packing. I laughed and agreed that I have been known to pack more than enough of everything for every conceivable vacation worst-case scenario. But that is because the Hub packs nothing except for his own clothes, usually in an oversized bag because he doesn't fold anything...and then he completely underestimates our needs. Anyway, I took my antibiotics and declared how happy I was that it was my last day of treatment. Then I did a little more packing before turning in for the evening.

The next morning, I woke up feeling okay, but not better. Still I soldiered on, finished the laundry, packed our stuff, then I had a sudden sneezing jag and it went downhill from there. We left the city two and a half hours after we intended. I didn't exactly over-pack, but I did empty my fridge of perishables. Yes, I know that we can afford to shop for whatever I forgot, like the correct cough medicine, more cough drops, and probably some whiskey when that OTC crap proves ineffective. And of course we plan to hit the outlets before heading home.

But so what, I am finally on vacation!

We are the only brown people in this neck of the woods, and apparently we never noticed that on our previous trips. I am still picking up after the Hub who drops his clothes wherever. The Toddlersaurus has been extra hyped. She is not even close to being potty trained (in fact, she might be regressing) which probably explains that unfortunate poopie incident on the beach.

But I don't care! I am on vacation!

I am still coughing. And taking cough medicine...and drinking alcohol! I still have Father's Day cards that I brought with me to mail, but haven't. I also have a check in my wallet that I should have delivered before I left home. I spent an entire evening binging on reruns of Star Trek Voyager. I am out of shape but I wore a bikini anyway.

Maybe I do over-pack, but so does every other mother who takes a beach vacation trip (yeah, I've embraced the change). Apparently that rechargeable pump for the inflatable pool was a good idea. So was that sunscreen in a spray can, since husbands are like children when it comes to reapplication and treating the resulting sunburn. And yes, I plan to get another ginormous designer Mom bag from one of the outlets. I might even get something else for myself since the next time I'll get the opportunity will be at Christmas.

I haven't gotten through half of the wine I brought along, but no worries, I am on vacation!!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

You're Welcome to MYOB

A friend posted this article the other day and I admit that I only skimmed it before I read through some of the comments (I went back to read it later)...but here is my public service announcement issued on behalf of all harried, rookie parents everywhere:

Veteran parents, anti-parents, grandparents, in-laws, etc. before you judge the actions of those other parents who might be bribing or bargaining with their children to behave, please take a moment to remember what life was like for you when your cherubs were young. And then, unless you need to intervene to prevent the commission of a crime, take a seat. You weren't always an expert.

Remember how your kid once embarrassed you in the middle of the bank with an unnecessary tantrum? Or how your child wouldn't stop crying while you were on the phone? Or that time when those important papers were covered in crayon scribbles because you forgot to move them? Not to mention the potty accidents, the restaurant messes, the playground disasters, etc. Then recall how you felt when some other veteran parent, anti-parent, grandparent, in-law, etc. said something to you about how they would have handled the situation.

Children are different. Not as in these days children are different, but as in every child is different and not all tactics, advice, suggestions are appropriate. Not even among children in the same household. And parents are different, so some of us feel quite comfortable doing certain things that others of us wouldn't dream of doing. And that is okay. So please, instead of saying something hurtful to another parent, or posting self-righteous commentary on social media about how successful you were at raising productive members of society, remember the old adage that if you cannot say anything nice then say nothing at all.

So yes, some children need a leash. If the parents need to keep their little guy within eyesight and those backpacks are the only means of doing so without causing a massive public meltdown, then just let it be. Children are going to need some form of entertainment during the wait time from placing an order to receiving the food at most non-fast food establishments, so if a parent decides to hand over a phone or a tablet to keep the peace instead of schlepping a ginormous Mom bag full of knick-knacks that end up all over the floor, then so be it. Yes, that kid might be too old for a pacifier, but would you rather that she screams at the top of her lungs for the next ten minutes of this bus ride? Sometimes a kid needs to wear a costume to the grocery store, because Mom would rather fight bigger battles, like eating vegetables.

Everyone tells you to enjoy these precious moments of childhood because they pass so quickly; yet, some of these same people expect for children to act like perfect little angels in public. These same people critique every decision because "back in the old days, we blah, blah, blah" which might have worked back then. But we know that when you were raising children, we survived by the grace of God (ask anyone who grew up not wearing seatbelts). So don't criticize me for choosing to take advantage of modern conveniences that allow me a few moments of sanity.

I have never gotten over how judgmental folks were about that incident involving Harambe the gorilla and the kid who fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Folks were blaming the parents for the gorilla being euthanized. Yet, if the child had been killed, as was the case with the little boy at Disney World...and I am not even going to address the obvious differences in those cases, except that one child is dead. So spare me your B.S. in child psychology from Troll University.

And that is pretty much all I have to say. Feel free to take note of the fact that I am out in public wearing matching shoes or that my husband has buttoned his shirt correctly. But unless you are offering to babysit or are asking us what we drink because you are buying the next round, please keep your feelings to yourself.

PS: The kid likes ice cream; I like vodka.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Not Ready for Reruns

So this is one of those pieces that has been percolating for months, bouncing back and forth between the two blogs, ever since The Cosby Show ("Cosby") quietly returned from syndication purgatory last fall. And this is my umpteenth attempt at writing it, which now seems timely given the events of the past week. But here goes:

I was not eager for Cosby to return to the airwaves, even though it was is a beloved sitcom with many memorable episodes and characters. I missed the show, but only to the extent that one misses a show that could be on TV but isn't. Like What's Happening, which makes periodic returns every few years for about three months then disappears again. And when it returns, I act like I really missed watching it until about the second rotation of reruns and then I remember why it's OK for it to go away again (because those episodes from the last season really sucked).

Well, except Cosby wasn't that bad...although there were plenty of corny episodes that we prefer not to remember, like any episode that featured Sandra and Elvin (except maybe the one when Cliff prefers the guy that comes back several seasons later as Denise's husband or the one when Claire reads Elvin for implying that she was too good to serve her man).

And that's the thing about Cosby...we know all of the episodes, just like we know all of the episodes to Good Times, which is the only other black family sitcom with memorable episodes. (Nobody, and I mean NOBODY remembers a single specific episode of Family Matters, The Parenthood, Moesha, or Sister, Sister.) How many of us remembers much from family sitcoms anyway? Quick, in ten seconds, tell me the name of those later in life kids from the final seasons of Family Ties, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or Growing Pains. I think we can all admit to watching the Olsen sisters on Full House and forgetting that they were portraying one character and not a set of twins. And if you can name five episodes of The Brady Bunch not including the scene when Jan cries "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha" then you get a gold star.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Father's Day Tribute to My Dad

It occurred to me earlier this week that I rarely mention the existence of my Dad on this blog...and just in time for Father's Day, I need to remedy that. For all who might not know, I have a living father, we are close, and I am extremely protective and proud of him!

My mother has been an over-shadowing figure in my life for a lot of reasons, some of which I have addressed here as we have traveled on this journey through Alzheimer's disease. Ironically, I was working on a piece about caregivers that would have been pretty much all about my Dad, which I intend to finish, but I wanted to write something more lighthearted first.

So let me start with offering how my Dad often demurs that my Mom was the more present parent and how his absence during my formative years makes it difficult for him to be of much assistance to me now as I navigate parenthood. Well, that is just a convenient excuse. It isn't like he was totally missing in action during my toddler years, since I have a brother who is three years younger than me, but yes, it is fair to note that he was preoccupied with graduate school. So my Mom did handle all of the day-to-day parenting stuff like feeding, bathing, and clothing us. And I had grandmothers, aunts and cousins around who were not interested in permitting his active involvement. It was the 70s for heaven's sake.

By the time my youngest brother was born in 1980 and fathers were encouraged to be more engaged, my Dad still had the excuse of school to keep him sufficiently detached. But I still have a pretty good memory, and there were specific occasions when he took us on solo trips to events and activities, so he cannot claim that he was totally uninvolved. He enjoyed the luxury of being surrounded by a close-knit extended family that made it unnecessary for him to step in unless there was the need for strict Daddy-discipline. So his recollection isn't faulty, circumstances in those early stages were just very different.

Because in truth, my Dad was around and involved and present for plenty of our milestones. He was the one who pitched a tent in the basement to allow us the experience of "camping out" when we were kids. He was the one who played with us in the sand at the beach and even waded into the murky waters of the Chesapeake Bay with us. He was the one who taught us how to ride our bikes. He was the one who faithfully took us to Sunday School with our grandmother. He is the one who drove the van just at the speed limit so that we arrived on our college campuses safely. And he paid our tuition bills from middle school on and refused scholarship money that he thought would be dishonest for us to accept since we weren't Catholic. So to suggest that his role in our lives was ancillary is an inaccurate re-envisioning of our family history.

My father was there. He made sure that I enrolled in STEM-based summer enrichment programs back when no one was all that concerned about STEM. He bought me a computer and connected me to the internet back when the only folks who had access to that type of stuff were the academics or the military. He made me listen to jazz and NPR whenever I rode with him, which was often enough that now I listen to both jazz and NPR whenever I drive.

He took a back seat to my mother in the sense that he didn't cook or clean or buy our clothes or do any of the stuff that mothers typically did. But he did the stuff that fathers do, like attending my dance recitals, going to my youngest brother's basketball games, and beaming with that father-to-son pride when my brother took up playing the trumpet (like Daddy did in high school). He is proud of the fact that his sons attended his high school alma mater, and I think he would be proud if they decided to join his fraternity. He is happy to finally be a grandfather...even though he is more like his father which is to spoil them through his actions and deeds, not through affection and stuff.

And he is a devoted husband to our mother. He has been present for her by being there and caring for her as best as he can. He retired to be at home to care for her. His life revolves around her care.

I know a thing or two about absent fathers from my law practice, so my Dad is wrong about not being as involved in our lives. An uninterested father doesn't stay up all night with his procrastinating daughter to make sure that she finishes a ridiculous homework assignment. An absent father doesn't build the world's most complicated science project for his sons and then keep it intact for 25+ years. The distant, detached father doesn't take care of the family dog that he didn't want for years while we each went away to college.

I guess I can forgive him for not offering to change any diapers. But he will throw them out for me, so that is something.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Day I Almost Lost It

Edited repost from the Cafe:

Can we start with the fact that I have some kind of terrible cold, the first one that has actually slowed me down since I gave birth to the Toddlersaurus? So I was in no mood for two-year old drama, yet that is apparently all she had on the menu today.

So I almost lost it when I dragged that child outside with her stupid rain boots barely on her feet to let her scream on the front porch for about five minutes. This was after she spent the morning climbing all over me, not eating her lunch, refusing to nap, dumping all of the clothes out of her drawers, scattering her jewelry, biting me (twice), and generally getting on my very last fucking nerve. If I had yielded to temptation and shut the front door in her face, then I think you could declare me lost. Luckily, one of my curious neighbors happened to walk up to check on things...

My bff called right around the time I let the kid back in, and when I told her that I sent the Hub to work because it wouldn't have made that much of a difference having him here catering to her instead of me, she offered to come rescue the kid tomorrow after work. That was not exactly a firm offer.

When I first wrote this piece in frustration that I could not catch a break, it was also while I was wallowing in my self-pity pool of failure. Having been a perfectionist for a while, I know its pitfalls. I could be exaggerating, but in all likelihood, I'm grading myself on a curve. Barely passing is only the difference of a few points.

Because the fact that she is not even interested in the potty, is just starting to speak jibberish, still addicted to the pacifier, cannot go down for a nap on her own except when she's in her car seat, and it is a month before she is supposed to start at camp...yeah, I might not be hard enough on myself. And that village that I should be able to rely on feels deserted.

And on top of all that, I am writing yet another piece on motherhood and THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE MOMMY BLOG! And because I have no idea how to import a Kermit gif to illustrate my frustration at this moment, I guess this will have to suffice: