The Awesome Part About Having a Super-Intense First Child

K-Pants, Angry Reindeer. MomsicleBlog

If you hang out around us, I’m sure K-Pants has insulted you, refused to say goodbye to you, screamed and grimaced in a menacing Joker face at you or your kid.

I’ve dragged my five-year-old back from the park so many times while he’s yelled, “You’re a BAD MOM!” that I’ve crossed parks off my list of kid activities. If you come over, you’ll probably be tempted to “help” me parent him, coaxing him to be polite or talk to his parents or his brother in a nicer way.

It comes from a loving place. And these are issues that you’ve probably managed to work out with your child. You’re wondering why I’m not just a little bit stricter, or more consistent, or better researched with my own parenting.

I stopped to reflect on this the other day.

I would have assumed from the outside looking in that I would be developing an inferiority complex given that, for all my efforts, I haven’t turned the wildling into a compliant subject of the realm. I would guess that the incessant application of the outside judgment chisel would be hurting my mojo.

Strangely not.

Here’s what I figure: The awesome part about having a super-intense kid is that I don’t have time to notice much judgment or dwell on it. I’m too myopic about getting through the day, feeding people, and trying not to turn into a screaming banshee lady as I’m put down over and over.

Also, I have a nose like a hound dog for finding other parents whose mental energy is constantly drained by kid insults and miniscule negotiations for social acceptability, and who may have household items thrown at them with regularity.

Plenty of people have thoughts or advice for me, but I’m very good at avoiding conversations with them. I only talk about parenting with about five people who have suffered the kind of total debasement that has left them hollow and humble.

Had K-Pants succumb to my parenting strategery, I would post way more cute pictures of us pretending to drink cappuccinos at Starbucks and talk about how blessed we are. We are blessed, undeservedly so, but all the time I would spend posting these adorable, wonderful things for you to see is spent finishing up lessons including:

  • When you hide under the covers before bedtime you can’t punch me to let me know you’re there and then tell me, “I never have fun at this game.”
  • When we say prayers we don’t say “amen” in a hissing, clawing, feral cat voice.
  • This day is not “the worst day ever” because your brother won the race to the car and then you shoved him onto the concrete and got a time out—it’s just another day.

Had Boy Woww been the first child, I would have thought I was the sh*t at parenting, and you and I would have shared knowing superiority glances as we watched another parent take a beating and then drag a screaming child to the car while the kid shouted, “I HATE YOU, MOM!” We would whisper to each other, She should read 1-2-3 Magic or How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, it would save her so much energy and embarrassment!

If K-Pants would have been the second-born, he would have stolen all of my imaginary gold parenting stars that I’d plastered all over myself. And my skin would have been itchy and red, with no reward in sight.

So even though you might think, rightfully so, that K-Pants can be rude and sullen and hurt everyone’s feelings around him with reckless abandon—I have a long-term strategy to win the war. Endurance. And because endurance takes all of my energy, I’ve been generally unaware of both outside awesomeness and outside judgment for years—and I’m left thinking my kid is pretty cool.

“Evelyn, You’re A Mess.”

I’ve been getting nosebleeds for the last couple weeks. This is a first. But a lot of things this pregnancy are firsts: nausea, international flights, girl child

One morning, my husband had the kids in the car ready for me to drive them to school, and my nosebleed from the hour before started again. I grabbed a fistful of tissues, but as blood started dripping onto the garage floor it became clear that this scene from CSI really shouldn’t travel.

A nosebleed seems like a misdemeanor-level injury. You should be able to go about your business without too much interference. I mean, the nose is small, no bones are broken, a little bleeding should stop on its own.

Twenty-five minutes later, I was in bed still working on getting my nose to behave normally. You’re supposed to keep constant pressure with one hand, which makes it very easy to have a pity party, but strangely difficult to do any other activity. Like eat. Or get dressed.

At this point I went to ZoomCare.

Jenn, the physician’s assistant, stuck a light up my nose. “Your membranes look angry: Pregnancy gives you way more blood flow, you have allergies, the air’s been really dry. Apply pressure, use an icepack, buy tampons to stick up your nose… I don’t think we need to cauterize your capillaries yet, which is good news, because that’s painful.”

Great!

“Jenn, while I’m here, can you take a look at the scaly skin around my eyes and nose?”

“Sure! Exczema. Normally I would prescribe a steroid, but that’s not recommended during pregnancy. You’re a mess, huh?”

Jenn was not like the yo mama midwife. As she gamely told me what a wreck I was it felt like we were in on a little joke together. I know, I’m a disaster! And there’s no hope except to push this baby out in June. Until then we’ll watch as my body falls apart from the inside out! Ha ha ha ha ha!

As I was leaving, I picked up my purse, and Jenn saw the giant pound of strawberries sticking out in its grocery-store container. “I couldn’t eat breakfast, so I just shoved those in my purse,” I said.

“Evelyn, you’re a mess!” she laughed.

It’s nice to have an official diagnosis.

***

Epilogue:  Last night at dinner I got another nosebleed in spite of my precautionary work. It was a bad one, and I got really overwhelmed. Having blood spurt uncontrollably out of your nose and onto your clothes will do that to you.

“I should… have bought… tampons,” I sobbed to my husband, hoping he would run out to the store to brave the feminine products aisle so that his incredibly pregnant wife could shove tampons up her nose.

He would have, but we located a box at the back of my cabinet, and now we’ve stashed them around the house ready for my next nosebleed. So if you come over, that’s why three men and a pregnant lady are using tampons for home decor these days.

Tips for Long-Haul Air Travel with Young Kids Featured on Parent Hacks

Would you rather spend 24 hours on three flights with your young kids while you try not to throw up again, or…

  • replace your right hand with a monkey?
  • shower with Red Bull as the water and molasses as the soap for a week?
  • open a consignment store for slightly used feminine products?

Luckily the monkey types well, the molasses is keeping my left-hand stuck to the computer, and the consignment store doesn’t open until 11 p.m.: I can still blog!

I would choose anything over a full day’s worth of being cramped in a flying machine with young children, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get where you want to go. My husband and I were very, very grateful we sucked it up and took off for India over New Year’s 2014–2015. …and we will do it again!

It has been a pleasure to share my 10 tips for long-haul travel with young kids with Asha Dornfest over at the incredibly useful and well-written site Parent Hacks

Click over to see the full list, including how to be the boss of potty accidents and throw-up in the air, what kinds of melatonin worked for our family, and when and where to septuple check your seat assignments.

India 2015. MomsicleBlog

Want more travel tips?

Here’s a great list of guest posts and additional writing on travel with young kids here at Momsicle.

And here’s a great article on Science of Mom with more tips about international travel with kids.

Bon voyage!

Sometimes the Easy Kid Goes Unnoticed


Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

I worry that Boy Woww gets overlooked. He’s about to become the middle child, and K-Pants is the one who brings TNT to the parenting party. Boy Woww is mellow, and incredibly snuggly, and almost every time I come into a room he beams and says, “Mom! You’re back!”

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

I talk quite a bit with my boys about how I don’t love anyone more: I love them differently. (This conversation often comes up because K-Pants has a tough time with any kind of reprimand and will lash out by saying, “You don’t love me!” or “You love Boy Woww more than me!”)

Well, I love Boy Woww because he has lavish imaginary worlds and a strangely mature sense of humor and a remarkable way of affirming you when you need it. “Mom, I love this day,” he’ll say out of the blue.

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

So this post is for him.

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

I hope he knows how much I love to snuggle him.

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

…and watch him grow, even when I’m tired, and overwhelmed, and short-tempered.

Ode to Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

Here’s to you, our wonderful boy.

The Tyranny of Mrs. Pepper

Boy Woww. MomsicleBlog

Baby Woww has a lot of pretend friends. He’s not really a baby anymore. He’s three-and-a-half. We should call him Boy Woww. (Thank you, Lauren, for pointing this out.)

I love his pretend friends. Except for Mrs. Pepper.

K-Pants enjoys hearing Boy Woww list off his friends: There’s Pepper, the ring leader. Pepper is a large mouse who drives a two-story minivan. Even though he’s a mouse, he’s considered a person because of his size.

Then there’s Berry. And Cherry. And Pizza. And Tootie Pig. And Cuckoo Head. And the bald-headed kids. K-Pants always laughs at Tootie Pig and the bald-headed kids.

“What do your friends do?” K-Pants asks. “They poop and pee and have gardens,” says Boy Woww.

So they’re all normal kids, except for Tootie Pig, who is a normal-sized pig who passes lots of gas.

All the friends ride around in Pepper’s two-story minivan.

I really like Pepper because anyone who follows us around in a two-story minivan so that I don’t have to worry about more seatbelts to buckle is a friend of mine. The problem is Pepper’s mom. I don’t know how she’s raised such a great kid with so few legitimate rules.

  • Me: You have to listen to the teacher at swim lessons.
  • Boy Woww: But Pepper’s mom says you never listen to the teacher at swim lessons.
  • Boy Woww: [Fake coughing.] Mama, can I have a cough drop?
  • Me: No. You’re not sick.
  • Boy Woww: But my friend Pepper’s mom always gives him cough drops, because he needs them.
  • Me: It’s nap time.
  • Boy Woww: My friend Pepper’s mom says kids don’t ever need naps. They just need play time and treats.

The conundrum here is that I really love Pepper, so I don’t want to insult his mama, because that’s bad manners.

But what I want to say is, “Mrs. Pepper better stop feeding Pepper only treats and cough drops and letting him stay up all hours while encouraging him to rebel against authority. If she doesn’t, your friend Pepper is going to be toothless, selling meth out of the back of his two-story minivan, if he’s lucky enough to get out of prison before 40.”

Yo Mama So Fat…

Treats! MomsicleBlog

Weight gain during pregnancy is a touchy subject.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember the fruit midwife from Baby Woww’s pregnancy. She was worried I was having too many milkshakes. So she did a little PSA about how fruit grows on trees and that in Oregon they sell it at these magical places called farmers markets.

“Maybe you could try boysenberries…?” My response was something like, “Maybe you could stick your wet fingers into a light socket.”

I eat a really healthy diet, and I figure when you have the duty of carrying around a little gremlin, or Furbie, or Fairy Pig for a while, you should be able to treat yourself.

Not surprisingly, in this wild and crazy round three, we’ve upped the midwife ante.

I didn’t gain much weight the first twenty weeks; I was really nauseous. I also started the pregnancy kind of underweight. Anyhoo, the last four weeks I’ve been feeling sloth-level tired, and emaciated-lion-level hungry. Still, I maintain my low-grains, low-dairy, low-sugar diet that is high in veggies and protein. I started this diet overhaul last year in the throes of recurring bronchitis.

But Midwifey’s scale don’t lie. And when I went in last week it said I’d gained 12 pounds.

I was seeing this particular midwife for the first time. Let’s call her Minka. “Twelve pounds in four weeks,” she said. “You know, when some people stop being nauseous, they start eating everything in sight. Have you been eating a lot?”

It was kind of like her saying, “So your husband likes a little meat on his bones, eh?”

I was taken aback. I imagined the midwives at their midwife meeting, discussing the question “What do you tell a patient who is gaining too much weight?” Minka answers, “I start telling ‘yo mama’ jokes. She gets the point.”

I answered her: “Yes, I’ve been eating a lot: I’m hungry. But I eat a really good diet, and I don’t eat a lot of sugar.”

At this point, K-Pants, who along with Baby Woww, make the most terrible tag-along medical appointment team in the world, shouts, “That’s not true! You eat treats!”

Like what, man? Granola and vegan cashew cream? The one ice cream sundae I had in March? Please! Stick to fighting with your brother in the corner instead of ratting me out.

“I do eat a lot of fruit,” I admitted.

“Fruit has lots of sugar.” She decided my high intake of apples and oranges probably wasn’t the problem. It was bananas. “They’re very high in sugar.”

“But I eat them as part of kale smoothies.”

“Well, be careful. We don’t want to see this kind of weight gain again.”

At this point I was mad. I’d just had to do that horrible gestational diabetes test where you drink a disgusting sugar syrup so the medical team can measure your blood sugar. Now I was being told that I was ballooning out of control because of the four bananas a week I eat.

“I’m not changing my diet,” I said.

“Well, maybe you could exercise,” she countered.

“I have a bad cold and I’m constantly exhausted,” I said.

“Well you do have to kick that, first.”

Ha! I’d won!

This being March still, I felt like we were in the last 45 seconds of the second half of a Sweet Sixteen game. It was all stategery and a well-placed zinger. I was going to keep my unsweetened kale, tofu, zucchini, banana, and apple smoothies, dammit. This woman was cray cray. It helped my cause that the gremlins were frothing in the corner and she knew that with a word I could unleash their snotty noses and sharpened incisors.

But when you see me next, feel free to say, “So Evelyn, when you sit around the house, do you sit around the house? [Nudge, nudge.]” According to the midwife, this kind of thing is a sure winner where pregnant ladies are concerned.

Will You Still Be My Friend?

I was that pregnant lady six years ago.

The glowing one. Easily knocked-up, easily growing, plenty of energy, cute and adorable in stretchy outfits. We should have done one of those baby bump photo shoots to memorialize the whole magical experience.

Did you know me then? Wasn’t I irritating?

I’m sorry about that. But don’t worry, karma is a bitch.

Back in October I was so worried about the baby and my health that I thought my anxiety was causing intense nausea. Luckily I have a therapist. “I don’t think so,” she said. “I think you have morning sickness.” I get it now. That sh*t sucks. I tried vitamin B6, Unisom, prescription meds, ginger pills, fresh ginger, ginger chews, sea bands, and a million naturopathic remedies. Nothing worked, except waging a war of attrition in which I was always losing.

There was a brief respite around twenty weeks when the nausea was gone and I had some energy. Now I’m just excruciatingly tired. I look at the dishes and think, I should let those rot and add paper plates to the grocery list.

You might have my phone number and wonder if I’ve changed it. No. I just don’t return your calls, or listen to your voicemails. There’s sort of a text-message-roulette thing I have going.

Am I supposed to send you a reply to something you asked me about a few weeks ago? Did you invite me to do something after 2 p.m.? It’s not happening.

Recently the boys and I came down with colds. Then my husband started to get a sore throat. I was irrationally angry: Who will take care of us now?

I need to rent a wife for the next few months. No sexual benefits, just chores and cooking. I’m working on making the description more appealing. “We provide room and board. You make food and tidy-up. Desired experience: Culinary Institute of America, U.N. peacekeeping forces, downstairs employment in British manor house.”

Until I hire my new wife, please forgive the way I seem to be stomping all over our friendship. I would love to stop alienating you, but I have to take a nap and then get ready for bed.