Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mother's Day

The day began at 10am and as it was Mother's Day I was given the rare privilege of sleeping in. I awoke to the scents of coffee and breakfast. I got up, put on the fluffy robe that had been thoughtfully laid next to my bed, and walked out of my freshly vacuumed bedroom, pausing only to blow out a cherry scented candle that had been lit for me. I went downstairs into my gleaming clean kitchen to see that the table had been set for me with fresh flowers. My 2 beautiful children ran to hug meand give me hand made cards and drawings that express their love and gratitude for their one and only "Momma". I went to take a bubble bath, with only the sound of Mozart softly playing in the bathroom. I came out and effortlessly pulled on my size 4 jeans and a top that made me look adult and cute at the same time. My family was ready to go when I came out, with a fully stocked diaper bag and plans to head to the Art Institute and lunch at a trendy new outdoor cafe. After a pleasant day out, I returned to my home to watch a Disney movie with the kids while my loving husband said "Don't worry about laundry or bills or anything today. I've got it covered. Oh, and dinner will be ready in 20 minutes."

In actuality I will wake up to the shrieks of my 18 month old as he tries to escape his play pen/prison. My 7 year old will whine about not being able to play video games, not having his friends over, and not being leader of the free world. My husband will burn the coffee and my room will be covered with whatever my dog decided to shred in the 5 seconds she was left alone in there. I will get 1 Hallmark card that no one remembered to sign. Bubblebath will be replaced with showering 2 small children and then being left with only cold water for myself. And wish as I may, those jeans will still be a size 10. After an hour of standing at the door shouting "Come on guys LET'S GO we don't have all day" we will finally leave, only to get 2 blocks away and realize there are no diapers in the diaper bag, and my 7 year old has to use the bathroom. Sidewalk cafe lunch turns into Denny's, and all our orders will be wrong. Frustrated, I will walk into my house and realize I have no clean clothes, the kids have no clean clothes, and the dog has shredded my checkbook. I will have thrown dishes in the dishwasher and forgotten to start it, so there will be no clean dishes either. My toddler will be overtired and threatening to blow up, so I will collapse into bed with him,thankful that Mother's Day is only once a year.

You want fries with that?

My favorite uncle used to warn me about dead end jobs. Over and over he said that any job that requires you to ask "You want fries with that?" was not where I wanted to be. He told me that at McDonald's the workers were so moronic that instead of numbers on the cash register, they have pictures of the food. That must explain why I can never get anything without cheese. The pictures are probably chock full of cheese.

Having worked my share of menial jobs - McDonald's not being one of them, thank you Uncle Sol - I must ask: Is office work really any better than being a fry cook? At least people in burger joints are providing a real service. I repeat corporate buzz words. I speak cordially with people I hate. I smile and nod and drink bad coffee. I say to angry customers “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” when really I couldn’t care less. During meetings, I stare at my shoes. I stare at other people’s shoes. When I’m told to Make It A Great Day! I resist the urge to retch on some head honcho’s shoes.

At McDonald’s, you get may have someone yell at you for putting pickles on their egg and sausage burrito muffin meal or whatever they’re making these days. Or you may get the balding guy from Accounting who knows what days the cute girl works and he comes and flirts shamelessly while ordering 12 fruit and yogurt parfaits. Me? I get characters straight out of SNL. Characters like Yelling Guy. No kidding, he yells everything. And Viagra Guy. I’m in customer service for Pete’s sake….. if some guy’s going to tell me all about his ED and the side effects of Viagra I’m going to start charging $3.95 a minute folks. And the best is the one who forgets that he has spoken to me a hundred times already and keeps asking if I have a boyfriend. When I tell him –again- that I’m married, he replies “Oh, good for you!” What?! Good for me? Do I have a peg leg? Am I damaged goods? Did my husband pull me out of the reject bin at Wal-Mart???

The final insult when it comes to office work are the team builders and holiday parties. Forced to act jovial and cheery with people you wouldn’t be caught dead with in public. Being forced to do things like Wacky Bowling and scavenger hunts should have stopped after we dropped out of the Girl Scouts. Is it any wonder people get shit faced at these events?? I mean honestly we’d get hammered at work Monday through Friday if we thought it would make it more bearable. Then you go back to work on Monday and pretend you weren’t hitting on that guy from IT after your fourth gin and tonic.

Living la vida boring over here in cubicle hell, wearing the corporate America suit of armor a/k/a “slacks” and a button down shirt. I’m looking like Annie Lennox circa 1985. Androgyny anyone? I’ve sold my soul for a 50% 401(k) match. What? What was that? Do I want fries with that? Yea, I guess I do.

Superman AKA Toddler Fever

Alllright, I was totally inspired to start this by Dawn, the ebay ranting, Pokemon card selling mom from CA. To begin I'll put up a few things I've written. After that, you're stuck with what's going on in my mind from day to day. Honestly, some days it just isn't much.

Superman AKA Toddler Fever

Having a second child is a lot like having a second lobotomy. The first one makes you weird, the second makes you certifiable. My first son, darling boy that he is, was a bad starter child. No terrible twos, no bed wetting, never hurt small animals for fun. Almost five years into being parents we said, “We must be good at this!” and tempted fate by having another. After all, we’d been asked to be god parents after being told a certain someone hoped our influence would steer her child to be like our precious golden boy. Other parents asked our advice and we gave it, secretly wondering what was so hard about raising a small child. Ha.

My second child is… well… bad. Okay maybe not bad, but his prospects for the Nobel Peace Prize went out the window when he hit his brother in the head with a 2X4. And laughed. He looks so much like our other, sweet child, but then he looks me in the eye while stabbing the cat with a Play-Doh knife and I wonder, “Who is this little sociopath?”

I used to think bad things about women whose children threw tantrums in stores, pitched food on the floor in restaurants, and punched other kids in day care. Now I’m eating crow because my own little one is doing those same things. Only he puts his own twist on it. He doesn’t just throw food. He launches it at the waitress with a makeshift catapult. He eats apples at the store and throws the cores at other kids. He kicks trees while telling anyone who listens, “Gotta kick the tree, gotta kick the tree.” I’m not sure if he’s like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man or like Mike Tyson off his meds. One recent evening he answered the phone and announced, “No more phone calls!” and hung up. My frightened friend – who has seen the dangerous side of the little tyke – almost called the National Guard for fear we were all locked in the basement and a 3 year old was now in charge.

All this time I tried to shrug it off by repeating Kids Will Be Kids as if it were a life (or at least sanity) saving mantra. Who cares if people run from him like a capitol hill page runs from Mark Foley? Well, embarrassment came recently, along with an attempt at gender reassignment. You see, at a birthday party my little one was playing –unsupervised- in a bedroom with two other small children. I figured they’d get along well since one of them seems to be the reincarnation of Mengele. I’m making nice with other parents in another room when my bundle of willful defiance came running out … with a negligee. He had it around his neck and trailing behind him, a la Superman, and ran through the living room and into the kitchen, where owner of said nightie was doing the cake and ice cream thing. I’ve never been so embarrassed as I was fighting to take it off him and handing it back to the mortified owner. In front of 20 of her closest friends and neighbors. Later that night, back in the safety of my own home where he can kick trees and throw food without the fear of social rejection (just numerous time-outs and threats of being sold into slavery) when he ran into the kitchen and said “I’m just like you, Mama!” I cringed before even turning around this time. There he was, smiling the smile of the deranged, with my $25 NARS lipstick applied so heavily around his little cherub looking mouth that it made the Joker look tame. (I have a pic of this, if only I could find it)

At that point I poured a glass of red wine, and told him, “Great job, kiddo. Go show your daddy!” and locked myself in my bedroom. I came out again when the house was quiet, much later in the evening. My husband stood in the kid’s room looking lovingly into their sleeping faces. I’m afraid the little one threatened to break his knee caps if he sensed any foul plots afoot, like military school applications, because all my husband would say was “Aren’t they beautiful?”