Irreverent Mama

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Conversations, Then and Now

Fifteen years ago, first husband.

Me: The doctor discovery an anomaly when I had my last physical. He wants to do a laparoscopy.

Him: What's that mean?

Me: He's going to make a small incision just below the navel, under general anaesthetic, inflate the abdomen with gas, insert an optic probe, and have a look around.

Him: So, can you get yourself home from the hospital? This is a really bad time for me at work right now.

Three weeks ago, current partner.

Me (on phone to partner, who is at work): Hey, sweetie. I just slipped and fell, and my head hit the floor really hard. I'm okay, but I just want to talk to someone for a few minutes, until I'm not quite so shaky.

Him: I'm on my way.

Even after ten years with this man, every now and then I am hit anew with the realization: My GOD, have I traded UP.


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Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Inner Hero - Wizard!

I'm a Wizard!

There are many types of magic, but all require a sharp mind and a cool head. There is no puzzle I can't solve, no problem I can't think my way out of. When you feel confused or uncertain, you can always rely on me to untangle the knots and put everything back in order for you.

A bit more: Above all, you're a mastermind and a great thinker. You see the unknown as territory to be conquered, and the mysterious as something to be systematically unraveled. You don't have time for fools; you only spend your time with people who can comprehend your obfuscatory convolutions. You enjoy amassing knowledge, both useful and trivial.

That's me. A mastermind of bits and bobs of this and that, just because it's fun to know stuff.

How about you? Click here to find your own inner hero.


Monday, January 08, 2007

So, you're driving down the road with one of these on the passenger seat beside you, or worse, the whole rainbow cluster of them. Better hope you're not in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, or Virginia...

"No, officer, it's not a vibrator. It's my Banana Guard."

"Yeah, right. I've heard that one before. Out of the car, please, ma'am."

Vibrators illegal? Yes, indeed. Not guns. NEVER! There's a constitutional right to bear arms, you know. Because goodness knows, it's better to be able to kill someone than let them have an orgasm...

Illegal? Illegal?? This means legislators in those states (and in S. Carolina and Tennessee, where such laws are being considered) believe that, somehow or other, sex toys are a threat to society.

-- Well, yes, indeed, little lady. Think of all those innocent children have been killed by dildos!

Now, now, Mr. Misogynist Legislator, please rethink. Remember! "Dildos don't kill people; people do."

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

By and large, I am a live-and-let-live person when it comes to parenting styles and techniques.

With my own kids, I used a bit of this, a bit of that. I co-slept for the first few months and breastfed on demand for over a year. These are all "attachment parent" values. I started out as a spanker, but discovered that it was unnecessary. More attachment goodness. However, I am a total hardass about sleep, believing that it is just as essential as food to my child's health. I would no sooner let my children go without food, or feed them only one meal a day than I would let them go with inadequate sleep. So, with the one child who would not learn to sleep any other way, I let her Cry It Out - which puts me in the Seventh Circle of Hell, as far as Attachment Parents are concerned.

So, no ideologue, me, and willing to let people do what's right for them and their family.

But some days...

I have a friend whose youngest, almost three, is still breast-fed on demand and still co-sleeps. I'm fine with that. When the friend complained that middle-of-the-night temper tantrums have been robbing her of hours of sleep each night for weeks, I did not go all holy and superior and self-righteous and rhyme off all the things that others would be too pleased to 'share': all that child needs is a Little Discipline; that mom should just put a lock on the damned door; that it's the fault of the extended nursing, and she should just wean the child; that the child is spoiled; that she should just...

No, I offered a sleepover. Because I am her friend, and she needs some practical support. I picked a night when the Man was away, so tot could co-sleep with me, give her that security.

You understand, this is the first night in almost three years that she would have had to herself. The child still nurses in the night, but it wouldn't be a problem at my house. No mummy, no yummies. The tot has made that adjustment lots of other times during the daylight. Besides, I was willing to make this sacrifice for my friend's health. She's beyond exhausted.

Dad was ecstatic. He went right out and bought a box of condoms. Twelve of them. Such a man. Heh.

So, tot comes to me, and though it's not a flawless night, it's not so bad, either. She was up talking to herself WAAAAAAYYY too late - till almost 11:00, well past MY bedtime - but when she woke at 6, I was able to tell her "it's not daytime yet" and she went back to sleep for another two hours. NOT a given, as any parent of a toddler knows.

So, I'm a little sleep-deprived, myself, but not so bad. Mom comes for tot at 9:00.

"So, how did it go? Did you have a good night?" I ask.

She sighs. "Well, kids. They have a radar, don't they? No sooner had we gone to bed than Max (her seven-year-old) was in bed with us."


Do NOT tell me I did this (because it was a LOT more effort than my nowadays night parenting!) for a woman who can't say - to a SEVEN year old - "No, son, this is my private time with daddy, and I'm desperate for a solid night's sleep. You can be in my bed any other night, but not tonight." Her first baby-free night in ALMOST THREE YEARS, and she can't defer the kid ONE night?!?!?

She sighs again, "What can you do?"

Oh, I don't know: tell the kid NO, perhaps? Assert your right to your own valid needs?


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Monday, January 01, 2007

I hosted the Family Christmas Dinner this year.

Conversation with my brother, who lives in town, three weeks ago, in which I volunteer to host Christmas this year because his wife, the previous host, has pneumonia. I called to speak to the wife, of course, but she was sleeping, because, hey, she has pneumonia. "That would be wonderful!" he declares. "She's been wondering for weeks how on earth she'd cope this year, she feels so weak."

Chat with my sister two weeks before Christmas, asking what she might bring. Since they face a six-hour drive, I pick something simple. Christmas crackers. Simple and dispensable. "Great! We can do that! No problem!"

Two days later, a call from my brother, feeling patriarchal. His wife is upset. "This is her contribution to the family, and she feels like it was taken from her."

"You do know," I observe to my baby brother, "that your wife enjoys being the martyr, don't you?"

"Now, now, now." He'll get burn marks on his butt, he's backpedalling so hard. "I'll just leave it between you girls. Just don't tell her I called you! She'll be mad at me for interfering." No trouble. If she doesn't call me and you haven't called me, I don't know there's a problem, do I?


She didn't call. No problem.

Call from my sister, on the 29th, two days before the event. "I won't be bringing the crackers. I went shopping for them yesterday, and you can't find them anywhere."

Imagine that.

The preparations for The Meal started early in the week, each day with its household chores and dishes to prepare, leaving only mashed potatoes and turkey to prepare on The Day. Nonetheless, every minute, from 7 a.m., when I popped the turkey into the oven, till 1:00, when dinner was to be served, was carefully mapped out. The family was to arrive no sooner than 12:30.

11:30, I get a call from my sister and her contingent. They are en route, about 45 minutes out. Perfect, say I! You'll be here right on time!

"Yeah, but we were only an hour out of town at 9:00. We were going to surprise you by dropping in early!!"

Because that's how my family thinks. Or doesn't think. And don't YOU be thinking an early arrival means that they'd pull up their sleeves and plunge right into the preparations, either. Oh, no. Arriving early is so that they can visit. "Visit" means "sit on our asses and talk your ear off while you bustle around us". (But if you "ignore" them in your bustling, they, particularly your mother, will be offended.) Indeedy.

"We thought we'd be there by ten, but there were a couple of accidents on the 416, and traffic was crawling. Thirty km/hour, if we were lucky."

Thank heavens for small mercies, say I.

All guests have assembled by 1:00. My sister's small grandson (he's three) opts not to eat, seeing terrorizing my poor old 15-year-old cat as a preferable activity.

"Isn't he so cute, the way he loves animals?" my sister gushes, as wee Brennan grabs fistfuls of the cat's fur and hauls skyward.

"Isn't he so observant, the way he catches sight of small details?" she coos as the little man hauls ornaments from the tree.

"Isn't he so clever, the way he figures out mechanical things?" she bubbles, as Bendy-brendy bypasses the latch on the piano so as to pounds on the keys with gravy-spattered fingers.

My mother tries to remonstrate. My niece leaps to baby's defense. My sister leaps to baby's defense. My niece objects to her mother's interference. My mother subsides into silent dudgeon.

I start to slice dessert, provided by SIL - three-layer black forest cake. "I wanted four layers, but your brother wouldn't let me." She offers him an arch smirk, me a superior "the-things-we-girls-have-to-put-up-with-from-our-men" sneer. "He thinks he knows so much about cooking." More smirking. The top layer of the cake suddenly gives way, and slides in an avalanche of whipping cream to the tablecloth.

Small silence, into which my brother leaps. "I guess you forgot to slice the third layer flat, dear!" His voice rings triumphant.

My Zoe fills the gap before outright war breaks out. "Isn't this great? It'll be one for the family history! 'The year Aunt J's cake went skiing!'" Nice try, but not good enough. Aunt J. the Martyr joins my mother in silent dudgeon - whereupon mum promptly hops out, proclaiming that "Not to worry! It'll look worse by the time we're all done with it!"

Next Christmas, I'm sure my SIL will reclaim the Family Dinner.

Thank God.