Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My boy's birthday, Mommy guilt and a muthafuckin' pie.

     My first born child, my only son, and a wonderful person was born 15 years ago this month. Gage was 21 inches long, and 7lbs, 4oz, the same weight his sister would be born at 13 years later. What a trip this birthday is for me! I mean, think about YOUR life 15 years ago! It was 1998. While I was still in the hospital after having him, I was watching President Clinton lie to America during his testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinski. Gas was $1.06 a gallon. I had long, dyed black hair and Betty bangs. I was married to his father. It was a different time.

     Gage is the light of my life, truly. He is empathetic and socially conscious. He has great taste in music. He's smart. He doesn't argue with me about chores or anything else. He is helpful and generous. We crack each other up. We like being together. He's disgusting and funny and I love it. He can tell me when I'm being an ass and I know he's being honest and can take him seriously. We have been through so much together, good and bad, both circumstantial and due to both his parents being idiots at one time or another. We have come out of each event like champions though, because as he told me once when he was 8, "We are a team". And we are. Always have been. Always will be. I will support and love that little shit no matter what ridiculous thing he does, and I know he will do the same for me. It's a funny thing when you have your kids young; you grow up together. Even though I was 21 when I had him, in many ways I was still 16. My Mom has expressed similar things to me about having my brother at 21, and me at 33. Totally different parenting styles.

     Gage was always sweet, and pleasant. He was the easiest baby ever on Earth. His little face was irresistible and precious and hard to see because he was constantly being covered by kisses. Even as he grew older, he was kind, nice and thoughtful. He never misbehaved. If he did something wrong, it was because he didn't know any better. I often wondered if he was real!

     Nowadays he is still cooperative and sweet, although he DOES try to get out of his responsibilities from time to time. That's normal. I don't wanna do the dishes either, so I can't blame him too much.

     He is trying out different ideas. Learning new skills. Looking for his "calling". His school counselors are starting to ask what his after-graduation goals are. So I am trying to give him the opportunity and space to figure that out.. It sucks being the kid who doesn't know what they wanna be when they grow up, so I figure, the more you try, the more you know! At least he'll learn what he DOESN'T want to do, right? I mean, it's his future, he should spend his life doing something he doesn't hate, at the very least!

     The future....HIS FUTURE. What a terrifying thing to give him advice on. I can't possibly give him the perfect armor to protect him from every harmful thing he could run into! Or even half of them, honestly! The advice I give him comes out randomly, as I think of it, or as it comes up. I hope he's listening and heeds my warnings, but I also wonder how it all plays out together. Am I contradicting myself? Is the overall message something I would support? When everything I say is so fragmented...I wonder if I'm doing all the right things. I guess that's when my example comes in.
     But he's seen me smoke, and drink, and work in a strip club... be oblivious for 8 years to the fact that his father didn't even feed him at night and then date a drug addicted idiot after we left him. Did I teach him to be a doormat? To smoke cancer sticks and work too hard and misunderstand his son's pleas for him not to leave him with his other parent? To believe everything a pretty girl tells him and ignore the obvious signs of drug abuse right under his nose?? I really, really hope not. Mommy guilt is a bitch, and as well adjusted and smart as he is, I worry. Of course I worry. He's my baby.

     I hope the example I have given is that when fucked up shit happens in your life, when people turn on you, when you lose your job, when you get evicted, when your parent gets sick or dies unexpectedly, if you get a divorce, lose your friends, make mistakes.. whatever things that can make you feel out of control and desperate and miserable... when those things happen - KEEP GOING. Get your sorry, sad ass up and keep fucking moving because if you don't, the world will roll over right over YOU. And if something isn't working for you, no matter how enmeshed you think you are, be brave enough to try something new. If your job makes you physically ill with stress; quit. Do something else. If your wife is abusive; leave. Find someone else. That's the best example I can give. If Husband can teach him to pay attention to his surroundings, and I can teach him to keep moving, I think that will be a pretty good base. The rest of it...what he should be when he grows up, how he should conduct himself...that's for him to decide. He knows right from wrong. I just want him to THINK. Not just do what he's told. Question authority, question everything, but also know how to play the game. The game is what keeps you from telling your boss to eat shit, because you need the paycheck for the time being. It's understanding that if your college professor tells you the sky is green, then you better damn well mark: C. Green, on that test, just to get you the fuck outta that class and on your way to your goal. It's a balance that took me too long to grasp. I hope he gets it sooner than I did.

*sigh*

     For his birthday we took him to dinner and a movie. We had fun! He tried sushi for the first time, too! I forgot about getting him a California roll and just made him dive right in. He tried tuna, salmon and yellowtail. He liked the first two, but said it was weird because his tongue told him it tasted good, but his brain said it's raw fish and it's disgusting. Hahaha!!! I totally remember that reaction the first time I tried it! I think he'll love it one day. His father doesn't care for fish much, but will eat a butt-load of sushi. Some people are like that.

Candles on his strawberry rhubarb pie. Recipe later ;)

Total awe over his big gift. His own pool stick.


     I must mention that once again, the service we got at the restaurant was sub-par. I think after this many poor service experiences in NW Florida, I've come to accept it as a regional issue. We're at the only upscale Chinese/Japanese restaurant in town, and the server didn't even know the menu. What the fuck?? How do you not know what's in your seaweed salad? His answer was, "It has the same things in it as any other seaweed salad you've ever had." Really? Well thank you, you 20 year old shithead with no work ethic, I'm so glad I asked. I tipped him 15%, which to me is a big fuck you, but he was waving at me on the way out. Then I felt kinda sorry for him, cuz if that was a good tip in his world, he must be eating cat food in his studio apartment at night. Whatever, not MY kid! Hahaha!


Oh! Here's the recipe for the strawberry rhubarb pie. Everyone LOVED IT! (NOTE: I used frozen crusts with rave reviews, just so you know and don't have a panic attack over the idea of making your own crust like I did.)


Grandma's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Recipe courtesy Valarie Enters, Sanford, Florida

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
--
Cook Time:
1 hr 5 min

Level:
Intermediate

Serves:
1 pie

Ingredients
Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour as needed, up to 1/4 cup
1/2 cup cake flour (recommended: Soft As Silk)
3 teaspoons sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup salted butter
Pinch salt
1 egg
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/4 cup ice cold water

Filling:

2 1/2 cups chopped red rhubarb, fresh
2 1/2 cups de-stemmed, washed and cut strawberries (in larger pieces)
1 1/2 cups sugar (1 1/4 cups for high altitude)
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, cubed small
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Large granule sugar

Crust Preparation:
Directions

Using 2 pastry blenders, blend the flours, sugar, shortening, butter and salt. Whisk the egg, vinegar and water in a 2-cup measure and pour over the dry ingredients incorporating all the liquid without overworking the dough. Toss the additional flour over the ball of dough and chill if possible. Divide the dough into 2 disks. Roll out 1 piece of dough to make a bottom crust. Place into a pie dish. Put dish in refrigerator to chill.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Filling Preparation:

Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, zest and juice of lemon, dash of cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix well in a large bowl and pour out into chilled crust. Dot the top of the filling with the butter. Brush edges of pie crust with egg white wash. Roll out the other piece of dough and place over filling. Crimp to seal edges. Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar. Collar with foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling. Higher altitude will take 450 degrees F and 400 degrees F respectively. Also, you can use a pie bird for extra decor. Let cool before serving.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-challenge/grandmas-strawberry-rhubarb-pie-recipe/index.html


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Yay! You found it!

     We play a game with Bug where we ask her, "Where is Mommy's nose?", "Where are Bug's hands?" and so on down the list of major body parts. We clap and give high fives when she gets them right, which is pretty much all the time. One of her favorite parts of the game is, "Where is your belly button, Bug?". She loves to lift up her shirt and show everybody the teeny little indent on her round, full of mac & cheese belly.  And then, just like if we had asked her about noses, or ears, she wants to find everybody else's belly button after she found her own. That's when I get a little nervous.

     I don't want to show ANYBODY my belly button. Not my kids or my husband, and especially not anyone outside my immediate family. It is also round from too much mac & cheese, or beer, or from being pregnant at 35 and not trying hard enough to recover my pre-pregnancy weight, and I hate it. It makes me too nervous to wear certain shirts or dresses, stops me from wearing a bikini top with my trunks no matter how hot it is outside, and makes me want the lights off during sex. I have never in my life felt that way about myself, until now. It is foreign and uncomfortable. The worst part is that my logical brain tells me I am still beautiful and sexy, my husband is just as into me as he always was, and my son still tells me I'm pretty when I get dressed up, and I'm within the medical guidelines for height and weight at my age, which when added all together, makes me feel ridiculous and silly.

     The "funniest" part is that the women I find most attractive are women who have at least one child, and who are a bit...soft. Women who are natural. They have hips! An ass! Life experience! They are at Least over 28 and have a backstory. So why am I so hard on myself?? Is this one of those "society fed me a cookie cutter ideal of femininity and attractiveness but I am better than that" scenarios? The stuff Dove commercials are made of? UGH. No thanks. I don't want to be an after school special, or a public service announcement. I just want to exist without misery over the body I'm in. But, here I am. I'm...a little lumpy. And unlike my 20's, five sit-ups won't fix the problem anymore. And honestly, I'm so worn out and busy that I can't imagine where I'd fit in an exercise regimen. Even more that that, I DON'T WANT TO. I want to be Mommy all day and most of the night, then eat a shit ton of pasta and drink beer and shoot the shit with my husband until I want to sleep.

     Enter GIRL WORLD. No, it's not just a term used in "Mean Girls", it's real shit. In girl world, if I am sitting in front of a random pretty girl and she is bitching about her looks, I will think that either A) she has no self esteem and is annoying and shallow, or B) She needs attention and is annoying and shallow. The end. Because of this, I am usually very careful about my own behavior. I try hard not to ever complain about myself in public. I operate with the confidence I think I SHOULD have. Because contrary to Husband's belief, I am fully aware that reality and my emotions sometimes exist on different planes. However, when my girlfriends express discontent with their bodies and I disagree with their assessments, I keep it to myself as much as I can stand to, because I want them to know I acknowledge their feelings, but also support their endeavors. It's complicated! Girl world is rough, dude!

     Back to Bug. So, here I am, teaching my sweet baby girl about body parts. Nose, ear, legs, hand, feet, belly button. I feel the panic in me rise up. And in a split second I think about these little memories she will have of me, the brief impressions. I don't want her to think it's okay to hate your body. I remember my mother working out at an anorexic pace before a family vacation. She told me she HAD TO fit into this bathing suit. And in my 6 year old innocence I asked her, "Why don't you just buy a bigger bathing suit, Mommy?" So when Bug wants to find Mommy's belly button, I smile and lift up my shirt for her, and she sticks her WHOLE finger in my belly button, and no matter who is around, I smile, swallow all my pride and say, "Yay, you found it!!! High five!"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is she just a bitch?

     For a few days, Bug wasn't sleeping well, waking up every hour or two screaming or just calling out for attention. Nothing calmed her down enough to sleep for very long. Not rocking her, or singing, or even a bottle of milk. I just had to keep getting up and going to her, over and over, until I was mad with sleep deprivation and ready to throw her out a window. This went on for 3 days. The last day I was so fed up that I let her cry it out when she didn't want to nap. It worked, but that night she made me pay. She screamed so loud when she woke up that she woke up the whole house, calling for Daddy, and screeching like a pterodactyl. I tried to let her cry it out. That made it worse. So I went through the motions...Rocked her... Changed her... Fed her.... More screaming, and now Husband is trying to stop her. No luck. Finally I went into her room, asked her in my snottiest voice, "Oh do you want to get out and play?", and she said, "YES". Oh HELL no.

     So I picked her up, plopped her on the floor, and went to sit on the couch, in silence, in the dark. She babbled happily for a minute and tried to give me toys and books, but I sat there with my arms folded and looked away. I was on strike. I'd show her that there isn't a goddamn thing going on at night and bore her back to sleep! And you know what, it worked! That chick got OWNED! Aaaannnd WHAT.

     Oddly enough, Friend called me the next day and the first thing she said was, "I want...to hit...(Princess L)." I laughed. I told her to step away from the baby and go have some alone time for a minute, because that's what you're supposed to say to a mother who has a tyrannical infant screeching and whining and biting her all day and night to the point of insanity. But I knew that was bullshit. There is no taking breaks, or bubble baths, or alone time for Mommies, and if there is, it's only brief enough to get you breathing again, not nearly enough to make you feel normal. It just gets you to the next super adorable thing the kid does so you have a reason to keep going. Like this:
Walking (unsuccessfully) in Gage's shoes

   
Attempting to nap with the cat
Just being stylish

    In fact, Bug is yelling her head off in her crib right now. She is dry, fed, the perfect temperature, has a paci, and is exhausted. She fell asleep during her bedtime story. The girl is pooped. I'm gonna try to let her cry it out. But like Friend reminded me, our baby's cry causes a physical reaction in us. It's a primal reaction we can't help. We feel ill, get defensive, feel sad, get angry...it's all part of our animal instinct to protect our young. Husbands don't really get it. When Bug is whining all day or crying over nothing, he just gets annoyed and walks away. He can address the need she has, or tell her to "calm down right now", and move on with his life. But I feel the need to fix it. Is she okay? Am I a crappy Mother? Does she have a need? Is she just a bitch? These questions turn over in our minds in big circles of self doubt and frustration. Oh....she stopped yelling. Whew! I hope she can sleep, poor thing..

     Friend keeps wondering what's wrong with her, because she is on edge all the time. I don't think it's hormones (the go-to we women have for unpleasant emotions), I think it's Motherhood. Being Mom is like nothing else, and it is enough to make weaker women insane, or into a pill-popping, wine in a sippy-cup mess. We are NOT going down, I say! We will at least save the questionable sippy-cup until AFTER story time at the library, because we are MAMA BEARS. We got this shit, yo.