Flying by the seat of my pants

I was that Mother.

The one you stare at and hope will keep on walking up the aisle, past the seat you so carefully chose when you booked your ticket online, thinking you could insulate yourself from me.  I was the Mother who is whispering to herself about Calgon, wine, and corporal punishment.

The one with the VERY LOUD, VERY ANNOYING, extremely WHINY and BEASTLY children.

I should have seen it coming that morning, when my two-year-old savage got up not just on the wrong side of the bed, but clear in the OTHER room, on the wrong side of THAT bed.  The wild thing proceeded to stomp, protest, and scream his way through the morning, electing to cleave to my side at the playground rather than run and frolic on the slides and jungle gym.

Yes, that should have been the BIG RED FLAG.

Of course, what could I have done with that flag?  It's not like we were going to the movies and staying home instead was an option.  We had to get on a plane.  We had to get to Kansas City, where my little sister was going to graduate from high school the following day.

So off I went to the airport, cranky toddler and wayward first-grader in tow.  In the taxi, I actually started to wonder if maybe the worst was behind me, as the spawn were lulled by New York City traffic into a bit of a lumpy haze.  Seeing as how I hadn't just adopted these children from the local orphanage the day before, but rather had been a parent for SIX years, I'm still unclear from whence that cute little Pollyanna moment emerged.  It's not like I'm optimistic by nature.  Maybe my fight or flight instinct kicked in, and the universe intervened to head off another incident of child abandonment.  

Whatever the genesis, we rode in mostly peaceful silence to LaGuardia, got out at the Delta terminal, and got through security with nary a peep.

What happened next should have been documented through video, as it would be a really good form of birth control for teenagers thinking about having unprotected sex.  Alas, I had forgotten to pack the camera in the craziness of the morning.  Maybe this anecdote can be dramatically re-enacted instead.

Following a coffee & magazine stop for me (ahh, the wishful thinking continued), and a muffin and activity book break for the boys, we sat down near the gate, otherwise known as The People-Filled Space Where All Children Feel the Need to Spill Juice, Fight with their Siblings, and Generally Act Like They Are Being Raised By A Lush Mother and the Feral Cat Next Door. Are you with me?

The flight, horrifyingly, was delayed.


By the time we got on the plane, I needed Xanax or wine.  Preferably both.  Again, wishful thinking for my woefully unprepared ass.

Since my younger is over two, I had to purchase a seat for him.  Which meant he had to sit in it. Because the minute that second birthday hits, it turns out, it's illegal for the child to ride in your lap for takeoff and landing.  Of course, how does one explain the vagaries of NTSB rules to a screaming toddler?  So taxi and takeoff were an exercise in lung capacity for Dash.

Note to self: on return flight, lie about little one's age.

Muttering obscenities and sounding like a crazy lady, I went to my happy place in my head until the plane leveled out in the air and I could move seats to cradle my half-insane-with-misery child without incurring the wrath of the flight attendants, whose moods with me were already in the toilet.

The rest of the flight went like this:

No, we're not there yet.
Stop kicking the seat.
We aren't allowed to use that bathroom; because it's for First Class.
Stop kicking the seat.
First Class is for people who pay more to sit in bigger seats.
No, I can't give them my debit card so we can sit up there.
Stop kicking the seat.
Sorry, sir.
We'll be there when we land.
No, you can't have more ginger ale.
Put the window shade up.
Stop hitting your brother.
Put the window shade up.
Stop hitting me.
Stop kicking the seat.
No, really, stop hitting me.
Sorry, miss.
We still have two hours to go.
No, Kansas City is not in Canada.  No, it's not in Brazil either.
It's in Missouri.  No, Missouri is not in Canada.  Brazil either.
No, I don't have any M&Ms.
Put the window shade up.
I don't know how fast we're going.
Stop kicking the seat.
No, we can't call your father.
I don't know why I didn't bring the portable DVD player.
No, I don't have my iPod.
There's an hour and 55 minutes left.
Leave your seatbelt on.
Stop kicking the seat.
We'll be there in an hour and 45 minutes.
I'm so sorry, sir.  Can I rock your baby back to sleep?
Leave your seatbelt on.
We land in an hour and a half.
Do you have to go number one or number two?
Can it wait?
We'll be there when we get there.
Stop kicking the seat.
I don't care if you're thirsty, it's not my fault you knocked your cup over.
I'm so completely and totally sorry ma'am - can I pay to have that drycleaned?
Put your seatbelt back on.
Sorry, miss.
We have an hour and 20 minutes to go.
Stop kicking the seat.
Put the window shade up.
Stop hitting your brother.
Do you hate me?  Because you're acting like you hate me.  Otherwise, you would listen.
I know he smells, I can't get up to change his diaper right now.
Stop kicking the seat.
Stop kicking your brother.

Multiply that times eleventeen; and imagine for a second that the spawn are, intermittently, playing the I'm-Not-Touching-You-Game.  And exchanging bad Knock-Knock jokes with me.

Upon arrival, I think I saw a couple of people weep with relief.  Or maybe it just seemed like it through my own tears.

And then be advised that I had a two-hour drive to the middle of the state of Missouri ahead of me.

Donations to my therapy (drinking) fund may be sent to my home address.  We take credit cards, money orders, checks, cash, and American Express gift cards.

Thank you.


Child-free and (almost) guilt-free

So I managed to guilt my ex-husband into taking both my kids for a long weekend. For those of you who haven't been following along, this represents a rather extraordinary occurrence, since my younger son isn't even his. Which he knows, of course, making his gesture all the more amazing and generous.

I'm trying so hard not to feel guilty, and to remember how the little turds I spawned have taken me right to the edge of insanity, only to smile with such joy and innocence that falling off that ledge seems ill-advised, not to mention badly timed.

So every time one of them calls me, just to say hi, just to say goodnight, just to say, Mamae, I miss you, I say that I miss them back, that I love them so much, and when the anxiety starts to rise and threatens to choke off my good mood, I take myself back to last week, when Dash was up all night throwing his little body all over the bed, and Luca was taking the fucking Hot Wheels cars from Dash's clenched fists just to see how loudly he could get his little brother to scream.

And the anxiety recedes, and the guilt settles down to a low simmer, sometimes even disappearing completely. And I wonder why I didn't book a longer stay while my ex was in such a giving (perhaps dissociative) mood.

It is a funny-feeling thing to want time away from your children. It is something I want when I want it, a reprieve from the daily and nightly groundhog-day grind that, if timed well, can help me be a nicer mommy. Because being a mother is the single most rewarding and epic thing I've done yet in this life. It's also, quite frankly, the most bone-headed, idiotic and mind-numbing wagon I've managed to hitch myself to. And remember that I've been married.

I mean, who in their right and rational and sober mind would knowingly give up sleep, sex, time for oneself, light-colored upholstery, long showers, and disposable income, to mention just a few things, in order to be enslaved to a demanding, insatiable, selfish, boob-sucking, assplosion machine?

And yet.

Who in their right and rational and sober mind would forgo the life-changing love one feels for one's child? The naked tushies; the tooth-less and toothy smiles; the sweet, unconditionally given hugs and cuddling; the joy in their faces when you show up at the end of the day; the chance to love someone in a way you don't even (admit it) love yourself.

It's maddening.

And lovely.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


The Silver Surfer teaches a Mother's Day Lesson

I suppose I was setting myself up for disappointment when I told my six-year-old to go get dressed and didn't include specific instructions about the sartorial guidelines I expected him to follow on Mother's Day.

On any other day, particularly the school mornings when it's all I can do to get myself and my flailing toddler into street clothes, the fact that Luca managed to get dressed in under five minutes would have been cause for a minor celebration. HOWEVER, I am very Brasilian in some ways, one of them being that I am slightly neurotic about how my kids are presented to the world, especially on a day that is supposed to be all about ME, and for a party at which all the little girls will have on pretty toile dresses. I would like my boys to measure up in the threads department, you know what I'm saying?

So when Luca came downstairs in a Silver Surfer orange tee, and frayed jeans, and proudly showed off his having dressed himself so competently and efficiently, what could I do but smile wanly and offer up praise for the speedy change from pajamas?

Except then I remembered the impending onslaught of toile, and tentatively suggested to Luca that he either put on a nicer shirt or fancier pants. Sensing the weakness in my voice, my six-year-old, who was perfectly happy, as he should be on any day OTHER than Mother's Day, with his choice of clothing, very strongly and in short order declared he was fine with what he was wearing and we should get going to Stellie's house. Having the excuse of not being quite done getting myself or the resident floundering two-year-old ready, I said in a slightly more insistent tone that he should seriously reconsider his tee or his jeans and that I would prefer him to don something nicer for Mother's Day.

It was a no-go.

I even tried to explain the vagaries of a quid pro quo, going so far as to suggest that should he ask something of me in the future, near or far, that he should not be shocked if I declined to fulfill his request.

Still a no-go.

I tried one last-ditch effort, as now we were getting dangerously close to being late, and if there's anything that irritates me more than being improperly attired, it is arriving late to someone's house for a celebration. I asked that, for me, for his Mother, on this Mother's Day, that my son switch to something more appropriate for a Mother's Day dinner.

Again, I must have tipped my hate-to-be-late-hand a bit too far, because my underdressed son turned to me and asked, in a not-quite-whiny voice, "But Mamae, what does Mother's Day have to do with fancy?"

And for that, dear reader, I had no good answer at the ready.

So my now-finally-dressed thrashing toddler and I headed downstairs and out of the house, with the Silver Surfer happily bounding along at my side. Beat-up sneakers and all.

Happy Mother's Day, he said. And he meant it with all his heart.

So I did - have a happy Mother's Day, I mean. And decided that the clothing does not a good mother make. Choosing my battles does.


Lessons from the modern economy

I had been thinking about getting my master's degree.

Am having second thoughts this morning.

Parenting tip for the day

Instead of having to deal with the discomfort of the Birds and the Bees talk, I might just wallpaper the boys' room with this:

Maybe if there are enough takers, we can do a bulk order?



So I'm doing laundry and mostly minding my own business in the boys' room. I was raised by a pathologically suspicious mother, so my genetic and nurtured tendencies bend to the paranoid. (Mom once went through my purse in my senior year of high school and came up with the little plastic tube one finds in tampon applicators, the part used to push the tampon in, and stalked into the living room, where I was, with a triumphant look on her face: "I knew you were doing drugs," she said. As soon as I could pull myself off the floor, where I had crumpled in hysterics, I pointed out the real and true use of the tube she was holding in her prying hands, and watched as that realization dawned.) However, since I started taking a pill for that, I've managed to get through the day without having a dozen delusions about what my innocent little kidlets are up to when left to their own devices.

I mean, they are six and two point five, so there's not a whole lot to worry about yet, right?

I figure I've got a while to go before I have to start checking for crumpled up socks stuffed into corners of the closets, although an episode of "Weeds" has me a bit paranoid about how soon I should start my searches.

Back to the laundry-doing, though - I decided it was time to wash the snot-ridden pillow case Dash had been sleeping on after a week-long cold sent his nose into overdrive. Upon lifting up the stinker's pillow, I found the following still-life arrangement on the mattress underneath:

Three wooden knives, the very ones I had been searching for a couple of days before because the boys and I had been playing kitchen together.

And a Hot Wheels car with a fist graphic on it.

What demons has my toddler been slaying in his dreams that he felt the need to arm himself with wooden carving implements? Every one he could get his devious little hands on, no less. And what connection and/or correlation should I make to the miniature graphic reminiscent of the Black Power sign?

I'm wondering if this is how PeeWee Herman got his start?