Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Toddlers Don't Give a F***

I need to be doing any number of things right now, but I just had to write this down for posterity. I want my daughter to read this in twenty years to know just how much of a pain in the ass she could be at the worst possible moments.

I have been pushing through life these past few weeks on fumes. No chance to reset before the next intervening crisis or situation. And in the midst of that, I have a two year old who sincerely acts like the world only came into existence at the moment she became aware of it. Which occurs exactly at the moment she wakes up every morning.

Today is Halloween. I had intentions, but isht happens and while I was expressing my frustration with the Hub (a rant for another day or for someone who gets paid to keep me from going to the pokey), this child started running around in circles, standing on her head, and just doing any and everything to get my attention. I woke up with a headache. I was in a bad mood. I just wanted to sit still to drink my coffee. And she kept spinning.

I went to use the bathroom. She was attached to my leg as I climbed the stairs. I searched for some aspirin. She was pulling on my clothes. I sat down on the sofa. She got all up in my face and started pulling on my eyelids. I pulled a blanket over my head. She climbed into my lap, yanked at the blanket, and screamed "peek-a-boo."

I told her that Mommy isn't feeling well, and she looked right at me as if she understood every word, and then thrust her face into mine and yelled "trick or treat". Then she slid down my legs like a sliding board. Whee...

She's asleep now. The aspirin kicked in at some point during a repeat of Sesame Street. I wanted to get something to eat, but when she got all quiet in her car seat, I decided to drive until she went to sleep. I'm still hungry, I still have laundry to wash and fold, and I still need to get her ready for a Halloween party at the library this afternoon.

I feel like someone should have told me that toddlers don't give a f*** about anything. That we are duped into believing that they love us because they smother us in kisses and choke us with hugs and say our names incessantly, until we realize none of this is what it seems. Hugs and kisses are manipulative devices to distract from the pile of Baby Bell cheeses that are all over the kitchen floor. And saying Mommy over and over and over again is so much more effective than crying (even though not telling me what the f she wants is just as ineffective as crying).

I am also perplexed how any of us have siblings.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Red Beans and Rice Monday: Tricks, Treats, and Other Scary Stuff

(In the modern age, the equivalent of "the dog ate my homework" is "I forgot to save my file" so this is an attempted rewrite of what was much funnier last night. It may be only slightly funny several hours later.)

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year, right before everything gets super hectic and stressful in preparation for my least favorite time of year (Christmas). And over the years, I have come to love this holiday as the symbol of everything I love about Autumn. I love going to the pumpkin patch. I love picking apples. I love seeing children in costume. I love passing out candy. I love making chili and drinking beer. I love wearing sweatshirts and long sleeves and jeans and boots!

I could go on, but you are reading this to learn about all the things I don't like about this time of year, such as:

1. Sanctimonious religious folks who rail against the pagan origins of the holiday. A few years ago, we took my young cousin trick or treating in our neighborhood, and someone had posted a note on their door about how they were Christians, and as such they didn't celebrate Halloween. And then the note went on to quote several Bible verses and honestly, I kinda wished that I had brought along a carton of eggs...

Because seriously, there is no reason to proselytize by shaming people and their children who just want a few pieces of candy. Just keep your light off. Problem solved.

2. Teenagers who "chaperone" younger kids and expect candy. So that was me, about 20+ years ago, so I am not really in a position to judge. Except, I am judging all 6'4" of you, as you stand there without a costume or even a clever tee shirt. I bet you don't even know these kids. And yes, I saw you push past the smallest kid to thrust that old plastic grocery bag you found in the street in my face. So no, I don't believe that you have a sick sister who isn't with you, and you only get one piece.

3. Houses that have decorations but don't give out candy. For years, one of my neighbors put out plastic jack-o-lanterns on her porch for several days leading up to Halloween, which then mysteriously disappeared the day of and it always left me scratching my head. If you want to decorate for the season and not distribute candy, just put some mums on the porch and call it a night.

4. Trick-or-treating past 9pm. Again, I was guilty of that 20+ years ago, but when you know better, you do better. Halloween is always on the same night folks, which means it is usually on a weeknight. I know it doesn't have established hours, but I would say that a good two hours, from 6 to 8 is just about right. That way the kiddies can get home before too late, it isn't too cold out, and the hipsters can head out to the adult festivities. And I can get down to eating my chili and sorting through whatever the Toddlersaurus won't need to eat.

5. People who drive in from the suburbs to the city with their children. I see you idling in the car with those out of state tags. I thought the reason why you moved out there was to get away from us city folks, so what's up with that? Y'all living in McMansions and driving Escalades...I know someone in your cul-de-sac went to the Costco and bought that same big ass bag of candy I bought. Don't those mega churches out there host Trunk or Treat in those massive parking lots?

6. Howl-o-Ween. I am allergic to every animal except goldfish, but since it would be stupid to put a costume on my theoretical pet goldfish, please tell me why this is okay?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Yes I Am A Nag, And Here's Why

Years ago when I first got married, I wanted to be the cool wife. I wanted to be the type of wife that didn't get accused of being a nag because I assumed that the Hub and I would just be able to talk about the things that bothered us. If we had a disagreement, we could come to some kind of mutual solution.

Phuck that. After 16 years of marriage, I am going to embrace the title of NAG. Because if that's what it takes for him to finally pay attention to something that I tell him, instead of having to go behind him to fix stuff or listen to another one of his numerous excuses, then that's what I'll be. And if he doesn't like it, then either he will get it together, or he will start drinking brown liquor like every other middle age married man and that's just fine with me.

I am tired. And not just tired of the emotional labor, but sick and tired of it ALL. Like many women, I found the word nag to be disempowering and accusatory. It completely took the focus off the issue that I was raising and shifted it onto me for confronting him. And still the issue itself didn't get resolved unless I did it myself or until it bothered him. And apparently, almost nothing bothers him.

So now I'm convinced that has been the point all along--to only do the things they want to do and then to use the word nag to make women feel bad for having expectations. And we're not talking about extraordinary expectations, like exotic trips and jewelry. But basic stuff like putting down the toilet seat or noticing that I have carefully labeled where things ought to be so that I know where they are without having to search all over the damn house for them!

Basic isht.

Ladies, reclaim the word. Own it. And daggonit, NAG 'em!

Tell that man that your living room is not a damn clothes hamper. There is an actual clothes hamper up those stairs, so march yourself up there and put those nasty, sweaty clothes in there.

Tell him that if you went through the trouble of setting out the child's clothes, while he was sitting on the bed with the half naked child, the least he can do is put those clothes on the child. And don't swear on any dead parent that I didn't do it, because THE CLOTHES ARE RIGHT THERE ON THE BED WHERE I PUT THEM.

Tell him that you can bring him his forgotten wallet/phone/keys again for the umpteenth time, because that non-system for remembering his stuff still doesn't work.

Tell him that there is a right way to change a diaper and that it is not a "matter of opinion" especially since he isn't the one who does the laundry.

Tell him that it is ironic that he would rather listen to the advice of the random folks on his job who don't know his child. Because I would gladly switch places with one of those work-wives to have her come live here with the both of you for just a day.

Tell him that when we are trying to get out of the house to be someplace, that indecisive-hesitant-confused moving slower than a snail crap is going to piss me off and yes, I am going to tell you to move your ass or get mowed down.

Tell him that it has been more than two years, so in the name of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, for goodness sake get someone in here to FIX THIS DAMN LEAK!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Brand New Brand

You might have noticed a few changes around here. I hope you like them!

I am trying to solidify a consistent theme and "brand" for the Busy Black Woman which I hope will help to bring consistency to the look and feel of the blog.

I know, (I know) I have written out grand plans and ideas about this blog before. I chose a new template just last year. I said that I wanted to start a podcast. I posted one FB Live video last year and thought it might be the start of something new. I tried to launch a new fundraising campaign to support HBCUs. I've been posting a lot more to my social media platforms. And earlier this year, I sold a few more shirts.

I've made some progress, but I'm restless again. I'm disappointed by the ideas that I didn't get to implement. And I get into my feelings whenever it seems like I've had to make adjustments for circumstances in real life that impact my efforts here. Best made plans...lemons and lemonade...blah, blah, blah.

Another issue is my own confusion and lack of clarity at times. What exactly am I trying to do here: Is this a hobby? Is this a business? Is this a movement? Well, that is still an evolving question. 

So please stay tuned as I try to provide a few of the answers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mom in Charge

I had an epiphany this morning in the midst of an untimely Toddlersaurus eruption. And several hours later, I am thankful to her meltdown for my sparkly cool fingers and toes. As for my great awakening--I am DONE with feeling like I'm one of the worst mothers in the world. And I am done with feeling guilt that because the Hub has more patience, he is the better parent. Because that's bullshit. He is the indulgent parent, and this morning before I left him at home with a half naked child who should have been on her way to dance class, I told him as much. Because if she climbs up on my television set one more time...

This morning began with me doing dishes, making coffee, setting out her breakfast, fixing her snack, and then getting myself ready to dash out of the house to take the kid to her "dance class" (which is really just a movement class where I get to dress her up in a tutu and watch her run around for 40 minutes). The Hub was working from home today. So as I was busy in the kitchen, they were in the living room together--he at his computer and she at her table. I announced to both of them that we needed to get ready for dance class after I finished up in the kitchen. Which was the first mistake I made, but we will revisit that a little later.

Fast forward to the point when we had only a 15 minute window to get her dressed and strapped in the car to leave, and I had to call downstairs for a second time for her to come up to her room. The Hub carried her upstairs, then she hurled herself onto the floor while he was standing in the doorway asking her to calm down. Of course because Mommy was already annoyed that we were behind on time, I barrel into her room to tell her that we need to change her clothes for dance. Her response was to bite into her pajamas and collapse into a pile of clothes in her closet. You get where this is going...

In response, I told her that if she refused to get dressed, then we would not go to dance class. Then I turned to the Hub to add that I could go to the nail salon instead. She calmed down a little so I ask him (who was still watching from the doorway) to hand me her special light up shoes that matched her tutu. But she got a second wind and began to kick me, so I declared that we would not be going to dance class today, nor would she be allowed to watch any of her favorite TV shows. And then I went downstairs to gather my things. I can't recall how she ended up downstairs with me, but she noticed that I had made good on half of my threat, so she began to moan the name of her favorite show and then climbed onto the TV.

Then the Hub came downstairs with her tutu and her special shoes. She was still screaming at the top of her lungs and had worked herself into a frenzy. He intercepted one of her trips from the living room to the kitchen with a pacifier, and the next thing I heard were pleas to allow him to dress her so that he could take her to dance.

I was livid. The color I chose for my hands was called Cosmo with a Twist.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Insufficient Bandwidth

My BFF and I were talking recently and she used the title phrase to describe her inability to manage the constant changing dynamics of unmet expectations. And I got it. I might have been one of the people who had made a promise that I was unable to keep.

It is how I would describe my mood today (Saturday) after realizing last night how full my emotional plate had become. I was getting hit with unrelenting sad, tragic, and senseless news about others, in addition to some of the remaining psychic trauma I have been carrying from back-to-back natural disasters and living in the Era of the Trumpet. Add in my many personal disappointments and shortcomings, my high-strung daughter for whom every little thing is a crisis, my own unmet expectations, and just being 43 years old with a high-strung Toddlersaurus...

I can relate. These are a few of the things that I will no longer manage because I have insufficient bandwidth:

I will no longer worry about folks who do not show much concern for my Mom. I will not bother with staying in touch beyond holiday courtesies, and since I will probably take over the Christmas card list for my Dad this year, I'm guessing that I will be doing some heavy editing or they'll be getting the cheap cards.

I will no longer worry about the feelings or concerns of family or friends who don't respond to my generosity or outreach. I don't think it is too much to receive a text or a even a FB shout-out if I do something nice.

I will no longer expect that people will act out of appreciation for past generosity or respect. All debts are officially wiped out, so I don't expect anything from anyone anymore. And I hope you will do the same for me.

I am not taking on anyone else's children.

If we don't really know each other, my parting shot in any divergence of opinion will generally be "bless your heart". I have opinions and I don't like to be challenged, so even if you are a supporter of the current President, I will not attempt to shame or dissuade you. Bless your heart.

I will not tolerate anyone coming for any of my friends on my FB page or Twitter timeline. Meaning, I keep a jar of Vaseline by my keyboard. Don't do it!

I will try to overlook assaults on the English language caused by constant misspellings or poor grammar on social media.

I am not offended by being called a snowflake since I got a crew, and all of us coming at you is called a snowball, or perhaps even an avalanche.

I've got a toddler and a parent with dementia. I'm doing my best to keep my head above water with them, so I probably can't help you beyond a certain point. And I can't manage your issues.

I don't have Messenger on my phone. I am over GroupMe. My cell phone carrier charges for conference calls. I rarely check my email. I might miss the meeting. If you need to reach me, you've got my number. If you don't, then you don't need me.

Eyes on Me, Please

Blackish is one of those shows that I intend to watch, but rarely do for whatever reason. For example, while everyone was all excited about the premier episode and it's clever nods to School House Rock and also to Hamilton, I was watching This is Us (because Randall, duh). The same thing happened again this week, but someone posted this clip from the week's episode that dealt with Bow's postpartum depression, and I got lucky to see the entire episode shortly thereafter.

And well, my initial reaction is how significant it is to see this issue addressed on television, especially featuring a black woman. I give show creator Kenya Barris credit for confronting the various aspects of postpartum depression; but (and of course there is a but) it might have been nice if the entire episode had been written from the perspective of a woman going through postpartum instead of how it feels to be the guy watching it happen. Save for the showdown scene between Bow and Ruby, the show was focused on how everyone else dealt with Bow's malaise.

Does anyone else think life for women would generally improve overall if the men in their lives stopped focusing on how our issues affect them?

That scene between Bow and Ruby was shocking and perfectly captured a lot of the angst legions of women probably feel about confronting others when they overstep boundaries. It also addressed how debilitating the anxiety can be for new mothers surrounded by well-meaning people who offer help in the form of judgment (ask me how I know). I certainly could relate to feeling like new motherhood was a bad ride at a crummy amusement park and that the people around me were so much more focused on making sure the kid was strapped in properly. My husband took two months of leave from work, which is absolutely fantastic when one considers how men rarely get that much leave. Yet, he drove me nuts!

I assumed that it was just his exuberance over having a baby, and then all of the anxiety of being a first-time father, so I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I was experiencing all of the same euphoria and nervousness in addition to all of the physical and psychological issues that come with having a baby. But somehow, my husband forgot that other stuff.

I will not recount all of my ailments, the issues with breast-feeding, the changes in my body image, the pressure to adjust to my new normal, or the fact that I had no meddling mother or mother in law to offer me any respite. But watching that clip reminded me of how frustrating it was to feel so alone and unsupported. Which you might read and wonder how could she feel that way since her husband was at home for two months??! And my response would be yes, he was physically there to assist with the baby. But I did not feel that he was there for ME.

This is not an isolated experience. I have read accounts shared by plenty of other women that reflect this same reality--how we are there for our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends, etc., but struggle to see how many of those same people are there for us.

Need proof? Consider that when Dre first realized that his wife might have postpartum, he discussed how to diagnose it with his male co-workers. When Dre continued to feel powerless about his inability to solve his wife's issues, he discussed it with his Dad. I'm not picking on him unnecessarily, because he genuinely tried to talk to his wife and offer her empathy. Ultimately, his goal was to return things to normal...but for whom?

I'm not a therapist so I have no automatic answers for how I overcame my own postpartum issues. I sought treatment on my own and received a prescription. I tried to connect with other mothers. I participated in an online community and found a few women in my circle who were very supportive. I wrote. I cried. I prayed. I got my nails done. Eventually, I did have the BIG confrontation with the Hub, and I think he bought me some flowers from the grocery store.

I still struggle with feeling that my issues cause more discomfort for him, instead of feeling sufficient empathy for what it must be like to be me. I know I'm not alone, but no one has invented an empathy machine yet. So until that time, there are other comforts: new shoes, Sephora, Amazon Prime, whatever show everybody is watching, different nail colors by OPI, podcasts and audio books, New Edition, girls' nights, meal delivery kits, and this handy carrier. You're welcome.