The [Toddler]

Once upon a midnight dreary
As I Netflixed, weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious series, watching seasons one through four–
While I nodded, nearly sleeping, suddenly there came a peeping
As of someone gently weeping, weeping through the nursery door–
“‘Tis just the wind,” I muttered, “howling through the nursery door–
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly in denial it had been quite a while
And each episode’s conclusion begging me to watch some more.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;– vainly I had sought to borrow
From my Netflix surcease of sorrow–sorrow for pre-parenting days of yore–
For the rare and radiant indulgence of going solo to the store–
Sadly gone forever more.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each IKEA curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the pounding in my head, I stood resounding
“‘Tis some broken toy with dying batteries at the nursery door,
Some failing plaything in its death throes at the nursery door;–
That is it and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Toy,” said I, “or toddler, truly your abeyance I implore;
But the fact is I was sleeping, and so gently you came weeping,
And so faintly you came peeping, peeping at the nursery door,
That I scared, was sure I woke you” –here I opened wide the door;–
Silence there and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no child-free person ever dreamt;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken were the whispered words, “I’m spent.”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, “I’m spent.”
Merely this, and diaper scent.

Back to the TV turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a peeping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something I’ve imagined;
Let me see, then, what is pageant, and this mystery explore–
Let me check the nanny-cam a moment and this mystery explore;–
‘Tis a toy and nothing more!”

Standing there my heart did shudder, as only known to tired mother,
In there stood a pissed off toddler, favorite bear thrown on the floor;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of feral beast from Hades, standing tall in crib beside the door–
Standing tall in fiercely gnawed on wooden crib just by the door–
Poised, and pissed, and nothing more.

Then this pouting tot beguiling my scared fancy into smiling,
By the pissed and stern decorum of the countenance he wore,
“Though thy bear be tossed and yonder, thou,” I said, “aren’t free to wander,
Tis your bedtime and lie down and go to sleep young one, I must implore,
Lie down and close your eyes as you were before!”
Quoth the toddler “Sleep no more.”

Much I marveled this unruly child to hear discourse so plainly,
Though it’s answer, though frustrating–little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet gave toddlers power, power over bedtime’s lure–
Stubborn toddler standing tall in crib just beside the door,
With his declaration, “Sleep no more.”

And the child, standing lonely in the unmade crib, spoke only
Those three words, as if his soul in those three words he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered–not an eyelid even fluttered–
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other kids have tried before–
In a minute he will be sleepy, watch my show will I, once more.”
Then the spawn said, “Sleep no more.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what he utters is precursor to a snore
Exhaustion will come fast or else this spells disaster
Oh Sandman come and cast your spell, let us end our mental tug of war–
Give me this, glimmer of hope, let this not become a nightly chore,
This game of, “Sleep no more.”

But the toddler still beguiling my frustration into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of child, and crib and door;
Then, with smartphone’s browser blinking, I betook myself to linking
Google searching, “How to lull this f$&@ing child to a snore”
End this game of “Sleep no more.”

This I sat engaged in browsing, willing tot to start his drowsing
While his fiery eyes now burning a hole right through the door;
This and more I sat there typing, tears of laughter I sat wiping
Fleeting ghosts of sanity scurrying out across the floor
Ah these last few bits of sanity scurrying out across the floor,
I shall have, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew riper, perfumed by an unseen diaper
Hung from derrière of toddler tinkling just beyond the door.
“Ugh!” I cried, “why God this scent, please–by this toddler’s working kidneys
Respite–respite and no more pee and forget this foul odor;
Barf, oh barf this does kill me please forget this foul odor!”
Quoth the toddler “Sleep no more.”

“Stop it!” said I, “thing of evil!–stop it kid, I fear that we will
Weather diaper’s scent, and whether tempers tossed that bear to floor,
It’s so late and I’m exhausted, it matters not, the bear, who tossed it–
The edge of lunacy, I’ve crossed it–tell me truly, I implore–
Are you–ARE you getting sleepy?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the toddler, “Sleep no more.”

“Dammit!” said I, “thing of evil!–dammit kid, I dread that we will
See the Heavens dawn before us– as that sun ascends the shore–
Tell this mom so sleep-debt laden if, these memories will fade and
Night shall pass with my bed lain in with resounding bark of snores–
Get a rare and radiant dream in as I loudly start to snore.”
Quoth the toddler, “Sleep no more.”

“Say those words again I dare you, crotch goblin!” I spoke and glared, too–
“Get thee back into the covers and the nightlight’s gentle glow!
Leave your dreamscape so unbroken you’ll forget these words you’ve spoken!
Leave my Netflixing alone!–quit so I can watch my show!
Take thy bear from off the floor, and take thyself to dreamland, go!”
Quoth the toddler “Sleep no more.”

And the toddler, never bending, still is standing, STILL is standing
In the fiercely gnawed on wooden crib just beside the door;
And his eyes have all the gleaming of a demon who is scheming,
And the nightlight ‘side him beaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul so weak and weary await that toddler’s subtle snore,
Until then–I sleep no more.

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Feats of Strength

Most of the people who know me in real life can be divided into two categories. Group A met me Before Motherhood (or BM, slightly unfortunate), while Group B met me During Motherhood (DM). I was going to say After Motherhood, but there’s no real “after” in motherhood. Except death, I guess. When you can actually lie down, undisturbed for all eternity (bliss!). I like to think that there aren’t too many differences between BM Carly and DM Carly, except maybe a larger sleep debt and less time spent writing bad poetry on LiveJournal (now it’s on WordPress!). 

The major difference between these two groups of friends is that when I mention something about exercising and/or training for a race, Group B doesn’t bat an eye, while Group A dies from laughter induced asphyxiation. (RIP Group A.) Since having M, I’ve run a few 5Ks, and a half marathon. I worship at the altar of Jillian Michaels’ DVDs, and even asked for kettle bells and weights for my birthday one year. Group B knows me as the “Carly Who Occasionally Does Active Type Things.” I go through periods of inactivity, sure, but overall I’m fairly fit and even (gasp!) enjoy working out.

My pre-children athleticism however, was non-exist at best, vomit-inducing at worst. Literally. I would throw up almost every single time I was required to run a mile or more in PE. (Bonus points/puke for having to run immediately after eating lunch.) I don’t even think I owned a sports bra until I was 23 years old.

During my brief foray into post-High School academia, I was asked to relate the story of a defining moment in my life. (Before any of you ask, it was an acting class, because of course I took acting classes.) As everyone went around the room, I heard stories of suicide attempts, car crashes, death, adoptions…very intense and moving. As for me, the moment that was rattling around in my soul, strangling all other memories, was the moment I finished an excruciatingly long bike ride in southern France when I was 16 years old. I felt like an ass for even considering telling such a benign, frankly boring story after these people bared their freaking souls in front of a group of people who were essentially strangers. I stuck with it though, not really understanding why. I get it now. 

When I was 16, I started my downward descent into over a decade long struggle with depression. I had no idea at the time, and frankly it could have been written off as your typical teenage angst were it not for the glorious telescopic lens that is hindsight. I had incredibly low self esteem. I was tired and sad and angry and indifferent all at the same time, and thought my self worth was intrinsically tied with the approval of others.

On a school trip to France (I know, fuck me, right?), our group decided that we would bike from Arles to Nimes to Aiges-Mort over the course of three days. According to Google maps, this is about 150 miles. In incredibly strong headwinds. On shitty, half broken rental bikes. (For those folks thinking, “50 miles a day on a bike isn’t so bad!”, please remember the barfing anecdote. kthxbai.)

There were cars, of course, to transport our luggage and whomever found themselves unable to ride. To be quite honest with you, I don’t remember most of the trip. I’m pretty sure my brain blocked it out. I do, however, remember very clearly being told I should quit and take the car the rest of the way. I was almost always last, sobbing as my comically ineffective leg muscles cramped and shuddered with every push of the pedal. (I also remember eating an entire large pizza by myself when we stopped for lunch that day, because it was the best goddamn pizza I’ve ever had.) I was a wreck. It would take 20 minutes for me to get enough feeling in my legs to stand up and walk back to the bike whenever we stopped to rest. And every day multiple people said it was ok to stop and get in the car. But I never did. I will never forget getting off that bike when we reached our destination. Even the teacher came over to me and gave me one of his strange little bows. 

I did something over the course of those three days that I hardly thought I was capable of. I didn’t do it for my friends, nor my teacher, nor for bragging rights, I just did it. It sucked. I felt broken. But that moment I stepped off the bike, I felt this wave of appreciation for my body and my brain that I had never felt before. “I JUST EFFING DID THAT!” my muscles wheezed, before I collapsed to the ground like a liquified Alex Mack. No help, no shortcuts, no quitting. It was my Andy Dufresne emerging from the sewer moment. There are very few times in my life that I have felt that same sense of pride and gratitude. There are some that come close, most of which are connected to feats of strength or endurance, physical and/or psychological.

So what I’m trying to say is, Group A and Group B? You both know the same Carly. 

One just happens to have kids. 

-C

***Special shout out to my dear friend Brian for helping me remember the names of the towns, and for being my Google slave. He’s also an incredibly talented (and hilarious) author, you can check out his blog here

First World Post

What a strange social turn we’ve taken that most of our complaints start with a disclaimer. “I know this is a First World Problem, but…” or, “I know this is trivial, but…”  We like big buts (and we can totally lie). I don’t know about the rest of you, but I do it mainly so I don’t incur the wrath of militant Social Justice Warriors and/or that one annoying fried who doesn’t understand hyperbole and thinks “counting ur blessings!!1!” is a legitimate replacement for anti-depressants. 

The fact that I have a shit time almost every time I drag my ass out of the house to go to the park with my two healthy kids on a beautiful day does not mean that I think it’s on the same level as living somewhere with no clean water or wifi (the horror!!!). And neither does the fact that there are seriously horrific things happening in the world mean that I didn’t feel any less shitty sitting in that park, trying to keep S from eating rocks, worrying that M was going to (once again) get stuck on top of the climbing structure and require assistance getting back down, and listening to the trio of women next to me talking about withholding sex from their husbands until they do more around the house. (…wut?)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given grief for being honest about feeling sad or frustrated or angry about something that, in the grand scheme of things, is incredibly trivial. Or even for waxing vitriolic about something that, at its essence, is fairly benign. I still remember my claim that “Yo Gabba Gabba is the worst thing in the history of ever!” was met with, “Really? A children’s show is worse than Hitler?” To which I say, golly gee, you’re right! Giant dancing puppets on crack are NOT worse than a genocidal maniac with ridiculous facial hair. Thank you so much for showing me the error of my ways! Here’s a special gift from me to you! Also, I think you’ll really enjoy this. Thanks again, friend!

I tell M that he should never apologize for how he is feeling at any given moment, and yet I find myself doing it all the time. I have friends apologize to me for expressing their feelings all the time. I see and hear it everywhere, and it sucks. I also see and hear people laughing at the “problems” of those more fortunate than your average First World inhabitant, and that sucks too. A feeling is a feeling, and yet we question the legitimacy based on privilege and circumstance. It’s become a vicious cycle and it’s getting old. So please, don’t ever feel the need to apologize to me about having a shit day. I get it. We’ll get through it together. 

Just #CountUrBlessings!!1!1!

-C

Blocked

So about a week ago, a friend of mine alerted me to this amazing blog post that I’m 90% sure I wrote via subliminal telekinesis. It speaks to me on a mitochondrial level. What really stuck out to me (other than the amazing relevance to my life) was the bit about what she chose to disclose on various social networks.

Now, I don’t have a Twitter account (because I still don’t understand how it works and help me, I’m old) but I am totally guilty when it comes to censoring myself on other forms of social media. The question I’m finding myself asking is: why? Why do I do this? Why am I comfortable posting things on Facebook, but not Instagram? Why do I feel comfortable sharing some pictures on Instagram, but not on this blog? Why am I even thinking about this trivial bullshit when I could be reading that library book that needs to be returned tomorrow? (Priorities.)

I’ve also been thinking about how the different people in my life use THEIR social media, and how I respond to what they choose to share. I appreciate honesty, but not overshare. I don’t mind bragging about accomplishments or life events, but humble bragging makes me gag. I kinda like selfies, but I find selfies used for compliment-fishing to be block-worthy. I appreciate thoughtful discussions and debate, but dogmatic parroting makes me want to claw my eyes out. So I find myself trying to carefully walk the line of what I find acceptable and be as unirritating (my autocorrect tells me that’s a real word, so deal with it) as possible. That being said, one man’s status update is another man’s eye roll, so I’m sure people see I’ve posted something and wonder why in the hell they’re still following me. 

Which brings me back to my original question: why? Why do I make such a distinction between my various forms of (arguably masturbatory) social media? I am either censoring and editing myself for my sake (so I don’t get unwanted comments/replies) or for yours (so I don’t irritate the shit out of you. YOU’RE WELCOME.).  I’m still not 100% sure which. 

There are so many new words in our vernacular nowadays: fakebooking, vaguebooking, selfie, retweet, Kardashian… words that didn’t even exist a decade ago are now ubiquitous. And our relationship with tried and true words (block, ban, friend, follow, post, Furry) has changed. And so many of us have different permutations of ourselves we present in various forums. It’s bizarre. I’m trying hard to both keep up with the ways we are given to express ourselves, and finding the balance between shareable  truth and appropriate secrecy.

So to all (3-5) of you reading this, do you struggle with the same issues? Do you edit yourself on your social media? Will you guys return this library book for me? (Seriously. It’s due today.)

-C

Mr. Sandman

Quick! Think of a scary scene from a horror movie. Think, damn you, THINK! Have you finished? Sweet! You guys are officially my mind slaves!

I bet at least one of you pictured that scene from The Shining with those two girls in the hallway. “COME PLAY WITH US, DANNY.” Those girls were creepy as hell, right? Same with the kiddos from Village of the Damned, Regan from The Exorcist, Damien from The Omen, Samara from The Ring… you get the picture. Children are straight up nightmare fuel. (I think it’s their little teeth.)

Speaking of abject terror, M sleepwalks. And sleeptalks. With his freaking eyes open, staring into the depths of my soul.

So Joe, being a nurse, works weird hours and/or long days, which means that my nightly routine consists of:

  • putting the children to bed
  • ignoring the dirty dishes/laundry/pile of duplos/mound of unswept dog hair/etc.
  • browsing Netflix for 15 minutes trying to decide if I want to watch something I’ve already seen eight thousand times, or take a chance on something I’ve had sitting in my queue for ten years, until I decide on nothing
  • having an existential crisis about the fact that I just wasted 15 minutes of my life browsing Netflix when I could have been doing something productive, oh god what am I doing with my life, I am 30 years old and still have no real answer when people ask me what I do for a living and HEY REMEMBER THAT TIME SEVEN YEARS AGO WHEN THAT SUPER EMBARRASSING THING HAPPENED? LET’S ANALYZE THAT FOR TWENTY MINUTES!
  • passing out, alone, at 8:57, new worry lines permanently etched in my brow from the previous activity

Point is: I go to bed earlier than your grandparents. And (fun fact!) sleepwalking usually occurs during the first two cycles of sleep. So right around the time I’m entering DreamLand, M is booking his trip to Crazy Town. Choo choo, motherfucker… all aboard the Sleepwalking Express. Next stop: Terrorizing Your Mother-ville!

The first time M sleepwalked, he was about three or four. Ever since becoming a mother, I am easily awakened by the slightest noise, because evolution and motherly instinct are dicks. So when I heard the sound of breathing near my ear, I woke up, heart racing, to discover M’s face inches from mine. In the dark. Eyes wide open. “FUCK!” I cried, because I was still half asleep, and also a terrible influence.

“Mama.”
“M, what is it, what’s wrong?”
“Mama. There’s a man in the corner of the room. He’s looking at you.”

Pants: shitted.

The fact that I’m still alive and writing about this means that no, there wasn’t really a man in the corner of my room waiting to murder me and wear my skin as a suit. (Huzzah!) I somehow managed to get M back into bed without stroking out from fear, and things were pretty quiet for a while.

Until about two months ago.

I’m in bed, passed out, probably drooling. (Definitely drooling.) Once again, my Spidey-sense starts tingling and tells me that there is a smallish creature next to me on the bed. So I open my eyes. There’s M, laying on the bed, facing me, with his eyes wide open.

“M, what are you doing in here?” (Notice I didn’t swear? Progress!)
“OKAY.”
“M… go back to bed.”
“OKAY.”
“M… dude. Seriously. GO TO BED.”
“OKAY.”
*shakes his arm* “M, SERIOUSLY. GET BACK INTO BED.”
“OKAY.”

In my just-rudely-awakened stupor, I didn’t quite figure out what was going on. His eyes were open, he was responding (kind of), and when I finally managed to get him out of my bed, he walked into his room, shut his door, and climb into his bed completely on his own. It was only after a few minutes of muttering “wtf” that I made the connection. So, like any normal person would do, I laughed softly to myself and went back to sleep.

Just kidding. I googled that shit, eventually landed on the Wikipedia page for sleepwalking, which you’ll notice has a “crime” subsection, and I never slept again.

And now that you’re my mind slaves, you never will either.

(Suckerrrrrssss!)

Nighty night!

-C

Choke on These!

Do you want to know one of the best things about babies? You can throw anything on them, and they have to wear it. Example:



My friend (hey friend!) bought this for S because LOOK AT IT. IT IS HILARIOUS. He needs a patch that says “Otis” and he’ll be all set to change your car’s oil and use old timey words like, “dadgummit!” or “hootenanny!”

However, as your kids get older, they start to have these really obnoxious things called “opinions.” You have to let them dress themselves. (Or don’t, I’m not a cop.) And sometimes, they like to dress themselves in things that are physically painful to look at day after day after day. Thankfully, there’s a company that makes rad shirts for kids (and adults!) that A) my very opinionated seven year old loves, and B) I love to see him wear (and frankly, I want to wear, too). I first found out about Choke Shirt Company because my friend’s adorable dog Reuben Wrinkles is featured on one of their shirts. (Um, awesome.) 









Laser cats! Super Mario Bros Shrooms! I die!

Uh, they also have baby sizes. Hashtag… dangerzone (for my wallet). 





[Fun fact: trying to get a decent picture of either of my children was about as pain-free as getting a massage from a bobcat.] 

Bonus for you localvores in the PNW (West SIIIIIIIDE!) they are based out of Seattle! So you can feel all warm and fuzzy for supporting your city (or at least the one you claim to be from when an out-of-towner asks where you live).  

So as part of trying to make this blog legit, I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to do a shout out to a company/brand I love. A Shout Out of the Month. A ShOot’M, if you will. And Choke Shirts, this one’s for you. 

-C

***Special thanks to Joe for helping me keep S from eating those post-its I used for his picture, and for not rolling his eyes when he saw I spelled “rad” with post-its. You da real MVP, Joe. 

Set Phasers to Son

Ugh. Parenting.

When I first became a mother, I had no idea what I was doing. Literally, no idea. I know I tend to wax hyperbolic, but I am not exaggerating when I say I was completely in the dark when it came to children. I’d never changed a diaper, I’d never given a baby a bottle (or breastfed, I’m not that chick from “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” for god’s sake [spoiler alert!]), I’d babysat only when necessary (read: when I was desperate/broke beyond imagination) and generally had no idea how to keep myself alive, let alone a tiny, helpless, fragile human being.

Now that I’ve had seven and a half years of practice… years of diaper changing, years filled with nursing, love, encouragement, inspiration… I find myself STILL not knowing what the fuck I’m doing. And the worst part is, I’ll have no real idea how I did overall for another 10-15 years. It’s all a guessing game at this point.

Sometimes I find myself getting cocky, and deluding myself into thinking that I am A Great Mom. My ego gets stroked with every social media like, or comment about how cool my kids are, how happy they seem, how rad it is that I put sprinkles on their yogurt or that they’re reading certain books, liking certain music, or saying ridiculous things.  I get lulled into a false sense of security. Then I get punched in the face by Shrieking Clinginess. Or slapped by the furious palm of Talking Back. Or kicked in the babymaker by the foot of Assholishness and Angst. (Those bastards wear steel-toed boots.)

These periods of horrendous behavior are normal, I get it. Kids go through more phases than the moon, and sometimes in a shorter amount of time than your average lunar cycle. But there’s straight up cognitive dissonance going on in my brain. Yes, these phases are normal! Kids test boundaries! They push limits! It’s how they start to self-actualize and grow up and become functioning human beings! But also: You are a worthless parent! Your kid screamed “SON OF A BITCH!” at the bus stop and scandalized some kindergarteners! You can’t even get your child to brush their teeth without a complete emotional breakdown (them) or complete psychological breakdown (you)! Why is there a post-it note in your kid’s binder that says “I WILL NOT SCREAM IN PEOPLE’S FACES” or “REMEMBER: KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF” or an email from his teacher asking to meet up because M is being disruptive in class? (Fun fact about that one: when asked why he was being disruptive, his reply was, “I want to be voted ‘Class Clown’ in the yearbook!'” …Goals. He haz them.)

Now, I’d like to be very clear that this post is not an attempt to fish for compliments. I know that overall, I am A Good Mom. But the reality of parenting is that sometimes, even if your kids are well fed, warm, happy, healthy, overall well adjusted people… you can still feel like a monumental failure. Maybe it’s nature’s way of keeping your ego in check, or just keeping you on your toes. Who the hell knows. What I do know is I have a lifetime of choices, and doubt ahead of me.

And many phases yet to come.

-C