Children in Tragedies

Explaining the bad things about the world to my children is something I grit my teeth over. Who wants to tell their children that the world is ACTUALLY dangerous and scary? It is amazing and magical, but it is also pretty terrible. Thankfully I haven’t had to do it yet.

This dad, though… does a pretty fantastic, age appropriate job. Something we can all cling to.

Professionalism, I have it.

I’m starting to get ready to go back to work. I’ve been applying for jobs and last week I had 2 phone interviews. While prepping for the first one I experienced a wave of hot white rage washing over me. I had not had time to shower that morning while trying to get everyone successfully out the door. Gabe had not picked up his toys from the morning, there was still half eaten breakfast to be put away that was still sitting on the kitchen table. Kamel had taken his sweet time in the bathroom while I was still in yesterdays nursing tank and was wrangling an obstinate toddler to, “C’mon Gabe, we need to change your diaper. One… Two……….” When Kamel and Gabe finally left for the day I surveyed my mess of a domain and recounted my plan of attack for the first phone interview I’ve had in over a year.

First up, ignore that I was in maternity yoga pants and a dirty nursing tank.

Second, plan to nurse Fae an hour before the interview.

Third, plan to strap her into the lillebaby where she would be guaranteed to fall asleep so that I could…

Fourth, stand in the corner of the room where we get the most reliable* cell service.

But, as I was pacing the floor with a PISSED Fae who was having none of being strapped into the lillebaby, I began to bubble up with frustrated indignation.

How many men are home trying to apply for jobs and stage interviews while juggling childcare? Did Kamel ever have to consider the feeding schedule of his infant as he considered how to ace the first stage of getting a job? I wonder who has to start off an interview with, “oh and I apologize for the baby sounds, I have my infant home with me,” men? or women?

At work I try to not wear my mom hat. I don’t want to be seen as a MOM, I want to be seen as Professional Lauren. Lauren Who Is Competent and Awesome. Talented Lauren. Funny Lauren. And especially in an interview of ALL PLACES I do not want them having in their minds: MOM. I want them to be thinking: Experienced and an Asset to Our Team.

I enjoy my time away from my kids. It makes me a better parent when I am home. It makes me awesome. At work I am not the one blaming lateness on a sick child, or making excuses for my frazzled appearance with the fact that I had to switch shirts three time due to spit up. It may be true, but I don’t talk about that at work. As much as I would appreciate a more family friendly work mentality, the choice to not wear a loud and proud mom hat at work is not out of fear, it’s because I need to have a space where I am not mentally or physically attached to my kids. I need a space where I am viewed as Lauren.

The truth of the matter is: women do most of the child rearing, women are most often the primary care giver. In many, many households it is the woman who takes a career hit to handle sick days and doctor appointments and the inconveniences of parenthood. That’s not even talking about the career hit of actually birthing a tiny human, but that’s like… a monumental post that has no resolution in the foreseeable future. Weee!

I try very hard to maintain equality in my house. I have no interest in being a stay at home mom. I do not want to be the primary care giver. I want a partnership in all house things. I, unfortunately, have to remind Kamel fairly often that he is not “helping me” with the kids or the chores or whatever. I am not Parent 1 and he is backup Parent 2, I am not Home Caretaker 1 and he is back up Home Caretaker 2. We are Parents and we Share a House. Done and done. But things don’t always shake out that way in the real world of my life.

I would like to think that we take turns. And for the most part this is actually very true. Sometimes Kamel is peacing out of work in order to run the kid(s) to the doctor or working from home to deal with a sick one. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes he has on his housemaid mental uniform and is moving the couch to vacuum and mopping the kitchen floors, sometimes I’m baby wearing and doing 3 loads of laundry.

Currently, though, things are not even. And the argument could be made that it’s because I’m not working. But – fuck that, fuck it so hard I don’t even want to talk to the person who is saying that right now. I had a fucking baby. And at 6 weeks postpartum I started frantically applying for work, while also being the primary caregiver of that baby. While also being the primary food producer of that baby. While also, because somehow it became some annoying default, being the primary house MAID for this goddamn house. Laundry and breakfast dishes and restocking diapers and wipes and picking up toys and shoes and napkins-a-plenty. And this explains my white hot rage while I was transitioning into PROFESSIONAL LAUREN while living in the world of exhausted, sore, and unwashed MOM LAUREN.

And what happened with that phone interview, anyways, you may be asking…

I nursed on time as previously discussed, I lillebaby-ed, but Fae would not stand for that shit. She would not stand for it at all.

So 10 minutes until interview time, with a crying baby, I took her out and held her with one armed and bounced and she quieted. But how sustainable is holding a baby with one arm? Until said arm falls off? Not so very sustainable.

Fae refused to fall asleep.

I apologized initially for any baby sqwacks, explaining I was home with an infant.

Within 15 minutes I was completely covered in sweat, spit up had splashed on my leg, but I had no time and not enough hands to remedy it. Fae started to fuss again. I tried to switch arms, but that just pissed her off even more. While trying to stay as composed as possible on the phone, I managed to put my interview on HOLD for a second while I shoved a boob into Fae’s mouth so she would STFU.

Overall the interview was a total cluster fuck.

Total emergency nursing moments: 2

Total dropped calls: 1

Total spit ups: 4

Total time of interview: ONE HOUR.

Total moments of sleeping baby during the interview: 0

Total beers consumed post interview: 758475. No, really: 1

Total jobs torpedoed: probably 1.

Towards the end of the interview the lady actually asked me: So…. is that….. YOUR baby? YES, YES IT IS.

Did she think that I would decide to babysit while also trying to convince people to hire me for work??

Professionalism, I have it. Allegedly.

 

*Still not super reliable.

The 90% of Parenting

Parenting is 90% deciding what the next steps are in the middle of a situation you have never experienced and have no education in. It’s troubleshooting with minuscule information where the ripple effects directly impact an entirely separate person’s life.

It can be as small as creating boundaries for your tiny human or establishing positive body image practices by teaching them the proper names of private parts. These things end up being 1 choice made in a life time of choices that may ripple into a WAVE of adult behavior in 20 years. Who knows.

And sometimes parenting is about making decisions when your kid collides with another kid at daycare pickup, like what happened to Kamel on Wednesday. A normal pickup routine. He was chatting with the daycare lady about Gabe, getting the skinny, as you do. The kids were playing, running about, and Gabe smacked into another kid, their knees banging on each other and they fell to the ground. Gabe went into that wide mouth silent cry before his eyes rolled back into his head and he went limp.

Kamel was right there. Our lovely daycare lady was right there.

“Gabe wake up, wake up, Gabe. Gabe!”

And he did after a moment. And Kamel scooped him up and after another few moments Gabe went limp again, passed out again, but this time on his shoulder. Kamel pulled him off of him and saw his limpness, his head loose on his neck. Gabe was pale and sweaty and when he came to he cried and cried for water.

So what the hell do you do? Do you call 911? This all happened in less than 5-7 minutes. Once Gabe had some water and Kamel took him outside he seemed normal. Super sweaty, pale but his color was coming back, and normal. He looked at the ants on the sidewalk like he always does. He held is tiny plastic cup of water and sprinkled it on the cement while Kamel called me and they sat out on the curb.

“Ok….” was my initial response.

“Did he throw up?”

“Is he disoriented?”

My brain was visualizing the situation like a movie, trying to see if there were any pieces Kamel maybe hadn’t noticed.

“Well, do you THINK you need to call 911?”

“Well, SHOULD we go to the ER? I feel like it wouldn’t hurt…”

“But he seems fine?”

“I think you should call the pediatrician, explain everything that happened and let me know what they think.”

Meanwhile I’m texting people I know who know more than me about these things. They are giving me more questions to ask, but also reassuring me my kid probably doesn’t have a brain bleed. Me and head wounds – my biggest parenting irrational (rational) fear. We all have them. For you is it drowning? Is it choking? What are your worst dreams about? Mine involve head wounds, the kind that change you forever. The kind that aren’t very visible. The kind that sneak up on you later and have permanent consequences.

The pediatrician sent us to urgent care at Children’s. My parents were kind enough to jump in the car and pick me up and we met Kamel and Gabe there. They were already in an exam room when I walked in. Gabe had a tiny medical bracelet on and I could tell he had been crying. He was nervous and sitting on Kamel’s lap while the doctor talked to them both. She was the third person to examine him since they arrived, and for that I am very grateful.

They explained that sometimes toddlers hold there breath or can’t catch their breath when they are really upset and they pass out. She felt his head, she checked his eyes and ears, she observed him walking and interacting with us and her. The telltale sign of the diagnosis? That Gabe fell down, pulled his knees up and went into a silent scream before going limp. There was no head tenderness, there was no bump. His knee where he had collided with the other kid was fine. We said thanks and we walked out the door.

I mean, what the fuck parenthood? No one tells you that sometimes your child will just… be upset and not breath. And then pass out in a scary way! Twice!

No one could possibly explain what it feels like to go through all of the worst case scenarios trying to figure out which one matches up with what’s happening right in front of you.

No one tells you about all the times you’ll go to the doctor thinking one thing and then walk out with oops a double ear infection – didn’t realize that! Parents of the year… that explains his insane grumpiness lately. (Happened to us… oh, I don’t know, a million times.) No one talks about how little you know and how much of the time you don’t know it. You think one thing and it’s another, you are going about your day and then wham, blindsided by whatever it is that you now have to deal with, something that wasn’t even remotely on our radar 5 minutes before. “Did you know that your son has a yeast infection?” No… How about a double eye infection and croup? How about food allergies or skin issues or a million other relatively benign things that you could never expect. What about the not benign things that you can never expect?

And even if they did tell you, if you’d been properly prepped and warned that this was parenthood, you’d probably laugh and shrug it off. It can’t be that crazy. You’d know, you’d see some of it coming, you’d see MOST of it coming. I mean, you’re the parent! You’re with them all of the time, you know them better than anyone in the entire world.

And then your kid bangs into another kid and is suddenly limp on the floor in front of you. It happened in the space of a moment. And we’re back in the 90% of parenthood… troubleshooting situations we have never seen and have no training in. What do we do? We call people who know more, we use our resources, and maybe we have an unnecessary bill from urgent care that says, “Your child passed out because he held his breath too long, bet you didn’t know THAT was a common toddler activity, did you? That will be $200.” And then we go home and eat crackers and have bath time. And that’s just how it is.

Puff

You guys.

It is hot. I am hot. I am bloated and hot and melting – no I’m not melting, I’m WORSE, I am puffying up! Puffing up everywhere! my fingers and toes and knees! MY KNEES ARE SWELLING OMG did you even know that could happen to a person?

But guess what! We finished the nursery nook last Friday. Even untangling the mobile. There are sea horses, they have curly tales, they don’t know how to keep their hands to themselves. Once we get our little night time changing station all set, it will be reveal-palooza!

We went to a splash park yesterday. Here is a photo of my child not splashing because water shooting out of the ground is scary?

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I was very excited to go because I figured seeing my kid running around in water might cool me off by osmosis? One of us needed to experience some relief. Might as well be the tiniest among us. But very little splashing occurred. A lot of walking and running in circles, which seems very counter productive to the cooling off goal we had in mind.

I want to say that a perk of the heat is the epic nap times that are bestowed upon us by the white noise machine that is a fan and heat exhaustion. But it mostly makes me feel trapped in our dark cave of an apartment (for the love of god DO NOT OPEN THE BLINDS and let the evil sunlight IN!!), bored and moaning about being hot and bored and bored and hot and when will the baby wake up so we can do something?! What do i want to do? Nothing! It’s too hot!!

My world is a fun house of emotions and needs.

How was your weekend? I had a raspberry/lemon/strawberry Popsicle and it made my LIFE whole. Did you get to have any moments like that? I really hope you did.

Today’s Rant Brought To You By: WTF EVERYONE

When do people, as whole, start being grown ups? As in: Start taking responsibility for their own actions and feelings, understand what is socially acceptable and polite, respond to RSVPs, say thank you, apologize occasionally? Is this the great unicorn of human existence? Are we doomed to wander as pseudo-toddlers for all eternity? I’m sure there are some higher evolved humans who have mastered at least some of these things.

In a related rhetorical rant-question: Why are cliches so unavoidable? It’s like we see a big flashing sign in the sky that says, “Don’t be that guy!!” and we keep repeating it to ourselves, don’t be that guy, don’t be that guy, don’t be that guy… until somehow the words get twisted into “be that guy, be that guy, be that guy.” And before you know it, damnit! WE ARE THAT GUY. Being entirely original is obnoxious but jesus, maybe as a whole we could cool it on the Lifetime Movies, Days of Our Lives, non-reality-reality.

People are the worst. It’s too bad we’re one of them.

Care to share what’s got your goat lately?

Dear Internet

This has been my motto about the internet this week.

(Thanks Kelly)

PS. Do you have any shitty troll and/or mean comment stories? Please do share. In hindsight they may become hilarious.

Friday Video: In Honor of Veterans

Tuesday this week was Veterans Day. There is a vet who sits behind me at work and it embarrassed me that it was so business as usual. I think we should show respect to those who have sacrificed for others and Vets often sacrifice more than I will ever understand. There should be parades and at the very least they should be able to take a paid day off.

Under Gunders The Saga Continues…

Did you know that I still get comments on this post about the Old Navy mesh hipsters (AKA the JESUS of underwear!!) even now, years later? I think I got one last week even. So many women are out there, frustrated about the loss of the perfect panty.

OLD NAVY WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

So many ladies are asking, “Where is the replacement? Where can I find the perfect mix of full coverage and panti-line-free-ness that were (and still are for many of us, oops) the mesh hipster?”

And I’m here with a semi-answer. There is no replacement. There just isn’t! And we need to stop searching and give up. Sometimes, in life, you have to settle! I’m sorry! Real talk, right now ladies… it’s true. Sometimes we settle. I’m tired of spending too much money on underwear that is only so-so, that doesn’t live up to the cheap perfection of Old Navy. I’m actually totally gun shy to even purchase underwear to try because the brands that promise me the world are so expensive!

I tried Gap – not enough coverage, Target – no staying power and too cheap for me, Natori – too expensive and they cut in on my hips, Victoria’s Secret – wedgy and Aero – too young for me + panty lines.

So I stopped caring. I had a kid, I like to feel like I’m wearing something, you know what? I fucking love granny panties. I DO. Ok? I really do. But I don’t want to LOOK like I do. So one day at Target I said fuck it, if I have to wear my totally stretched out, holy mesh hipsters for life then at least at night I can be cozy in the full coverage. So I wandered over to the hanes and fruit of the loom wall of underwear and snatched up a few packs.

Guess what?

Not only did I spend 30 dollars on NINE PAIRS of underwear (Whhaatt?!), I also found a pair that are pretty seamless and also cozy!!! There will never be another mesh hipster. Let’s all say it together, There Will Never Be Another Mesh Hipster. It is time to let go and move on.

But you know what? The Hanes Premium Invisible Smooth Bikini comes close enough for me. I even wore them under yoga pants and didn’t embarrass myself. So, there’s that.

I don’t have time for this journey anymore. I just need some underpants that don’t suck. And these don’t suck!

Who else has underpants that don’t suck? I want to hear from you!!

The Inevitable Woes

I was supposed to write about writing today – well it was supposed to happen yesterday, but I was tired and… life so anyways – I was supposed to write about my writing season, but instead I’m writing about this.

I feel so dumb even admitting this.

I am really having a hard time turning 30. And I’m not even turning 30 until April!! Which means I’m not even half way through my 29th year! Gah, Dupuis, get a freaking grip.

But there it is. I’m having a hard time with it. I don’t want to get older. I want to stay a young grown up forever. I want to have all the time in the world. I don’t want to admit that some ships have sailed.

I am sprouting greys and I will not be dying them. I just don’t feel like handling that kind of up-keep. So I will go slowly slowly grey and whatever, I don’t care about the color so much but fuck, the texture. All wiry an sticking out in fucked up directions, WHAT IS THAT? WHY? Ugh.

I feel wrinkly and like my skin is dry and papery. This is maybe kind of harsh considering, but I am seeing the beginning signs of aging and it is not all misty reminiscence.

Also it’s my dad’s 59th birthday today. So that adds to this post’s ridiculousness. Because hello…. if anyone is old, it’s probably him (except not, he looks 40 and probably always will). Happy Birthday Dad!

But then there is this other thing where I can’t stop making lists in my head of all the other jobs I could have chosen, and what is wrong with me? Why didn’t I choose THOSE? Why didn’t someone tell me I could have been a voice actor or a zoo keeper or a photographer or a librarian? I mean I almost went to grad school for BOOK PUBLISHING, and we all know how that worked out. Good thing I picked writing instead. HA. HA. HA… hurumph.

Mostly I feel like I am kind of a mild, mediocre, failure at my current situation, my current job trajectory. And yeah, I’m about to start a new decade, and I’m feeling stalled out whereas the grass is always greener on other people’s lawns, that they own, in front of their house and stuff (or at least maybe like a townhome?), and people are movin’ on up while I am sort of crossing my fingers week to week that this place still finds use for me and my job doesn’t become obsolete and/or taken over by robots.

And did you know that I am writing a book? A book that will take me 10349302745834 years to finish. I’ll be dead and the book will still be but a few sad pages on a computer somewhere that no one can even access because tech has moved so far forward they use computers as coasters. I’ve been working on this book for a month now and do you know what my goal is this week? To get to double digit pages. Why is this the sad state of my creative life? Because I wrote a bunch and then I deleted it and started over. Which is a legit creative strategy if you want to get almost nowhere – almost because it’s a better nowhere than the previous version of nowhere 1.0 since the reboot.

You know when I was 23 I told my advisor that I wanted to have my first (my first, as if there would be many many more) book published by the time I was 30. She said, “you totally can. absolutely” and I was genuinely surprised she saw that much possibility in me. Unbeknownst to her I had just sort of pulled that nice round number out of my butt. Far enough away to give me time, but legitimate enough to make it reasonable. I remember exactly where I was when I said it, I remember exactly what I was wearing and the tea I was drinking and the notebook I was writing in as if it had happened last weekend because that is exactly how it feels. And now I am 29. Have been for a minute or two. What of it?

I guess I didn’t also think I’d have a kid or be married or have as many interesting/strange jobs under my belt or have as many interesting/strange adventures. I guess that stuff is what happened. I just didn’t expect the greys or the amount of unrelenting chin hairs, my slowly failing eyes, and my intense longing for a backyard with a kiddy pool and a barbecue to come along with it. Or you know, how nothing professional happened like I thought it would.

Ugh 29. You’re the worst.

So The Fish (Almost) Died

I had planned to write a blog about how the fish is dying and wtf, but it has magically perked back up! So spoiler alert: not dead… yet. But let’s talk about it anyway.

So you all remember that this is the situation in my house:

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Not only does my kid love the fish, my kid LOOOOOVES that freaking fish. And because Kamel has washed his hands of all of my pet adventures since in his words, “everything dies,” I am the one left to care for, feed, clean, and stress over the goddamn Beta. Which we bought a tank for and a filter. Which I know virtually nothing about. Which I am mildly terrified of because of my certainty that any contact with the fish tank will immediately breed some sort of salmonella and give us all the unforgiving squirts.

Yay fish!

So after tending to the tank water and cleaning it and feeding it almost regularly, I noticed that the pretty flowing fish fins were all sucked into each other and sad. And that the fish kept hiding behind the filter, staying very still, making me think it was dead many many times. I’d shake the tank and it would come out of its stupor and swim around for a second.

At first I thought: Oh, it’s sleeping. Ok.

Then I thought: Oh, this is not good.

Then I googled and realized that my fish had a lot of those characteristics – the fin thing and the hiding in small places thing. So I figured, well shit my fish is sick… must be water quality. And even though the last time I cleaned the fish tank I did add the water cleaning pellet in and followed all of the (VERY BRIEF AND SPARSE) directions, maybe something was amiss! So I decided to do an emergency clean immediately.

Kamel: You’re doing that RIGHT NOW?

Me: YES. The fish is DYING. I have to FIX IT.

Kamel: So you’re doing that …. right now….?

Me: Look away, pretend you can’t see me.

So I set to the task at hand, dumped out half the water, put the fish in a bowl, probably traumatizing it to an inch of its life, filled up the bowl with lukewarm water as they are tropical fish, and plopped in my water cleaning pellet. Which made the water SUPER blue. Bluer than I had ever seen ever. But wtf? Maybe that meant something about the water, maybe that meant that it was fixing something, maybe the blue would be good for the fish? Worst case it would kill it quick and we could get a new one? I am a terrible owner of fish.

After I put our poor Beta back into the now blue water and fretted over it, the fish stopped eating. It also started wiggling around all weird and terrible which, honestly, kind of grossed me out. It stayed in this terrible terrible icky state for over a week. I still tried to feed it once a day, or when I saw it NOT in it’s little corner being perfectly still, but nope. He was uninterested. Every day I’d come home from work and be SURE the sucker was dead, but it never was.

Watching it struggle was nauseating. I even wondered about ending its suffering early, but Kamel kept saying, “Hey, maybe it will get better.” My response to that was, “What fish have you ever known to GET BETTER.”

But then! One day it’s fins were less tight and mangled. One day I noticed it was not hiding in its little nook, it was swimming around the bowl. One day it actually started eating like a normal fish!

Holy shit the fish got better. The fish didn’t die… yet.

Kamel’s response to this whole thing: That’s why we can’t have a dog.

Hurumph…