Saturday, April 02, 2011

It's A Hard Knock Life And/Or The School Plays and Musical Memories

Last night we went to see Annie at the MG's school. She was on stage crew. It was pretty much exactly what you would expect out of a middle school musical, but thankfully, they had a music track and not an "orchestra" full of squeaking clarinets. Zygote sat, transfixed, for most of the time which made it a pretty enjoyable evening for everyone.

Random musical memories:

* I was obsessed with Annie when I was little. I saw the musical on Broadway, watched the movie multiple times, and had the record for my Fisher Price record player. My friends and I decided to put on our version of Annie in our driveway, and my mom painted all the backdrops of NYC on sheets that she hung up. We all fought over who got to play Annie, so basically there were about 6 little girls dressed up in red Annie dresses and no supporting characters. I have Albert Finney's autograph. My parents ran into him in a restaurant in the city, told them their kid adored Daddy Warbucks, and he gave them an autograph. I still love Annie.

* In middle school, I had a speaking role in Meet Me in St. Louis. I wore an electric blue satin dress that my aunt had worn as a bridesmaid. We had to change the character, Dick, to Rick because all of the boys would laugh every time they heard the word dick. And, me too.

* My parents gave us tickets to a musical every Christmas. The first one I went to was 42nd Street, which in retrospect is probably not the best show for an 8 year old. I remember driving in a snow storm to see Fiddler on The Roof, and showing up at Rent on the wrong night, but getting seats anyway due to the kindness of some ushers. And the night of my grandfather's funeral, we saw Aida.

* Freshman year of high school, I decided that would try out for the role of Lola in Damn Yankees. Lola is the "seductress" sidekick of the Devil. If you know me, you are already laughing. Me? Seductress? And remember, I was FOURTEEN. I had to do a dance solo for the rehearsal and completely froze up and cried on stage in front of everyone else trying out. It was mortifying. Thus began my long and illustrious career as part of the chorus and stage crew. Stage crew proved useful because you always had to stay late, and I took advantage of that excuse to stay out extra late with my boyfriend of the time, assuming my parents wouldn't notice. They did.

* Sophomore year, I was in Can Can. I was a frog in the Garden of Eden ballet scene. Telling. One of the lead actresses was a "real" actor, meaning she had done some shitty commercials and maybe a Flowbee spot or two. Everyone was super impressed by her shining intellect and the fact that she always wore high heels and didn't take gym. She told us that she related deeply to the characters in Les Miserables. I realized she was a bit of a douche.

* I can't remember what came next: Annie or Sugar, the musical based on Some Like It Hot. Despite my earlier obsession with Annie, I skipped that one and just did crew for Sugar. I really don't remember much of either.

* You had to sing a song to try out for the musicals, even just for the chorus. I always sang Send in the Clowns. Good lord.

* I also took two years of "Theatre Arts," taught by a slurring, drunk aging "actress." I remember doing a monolouge where I was Anne Boleyn at the Tower. I also did a dialouge playing Eliza Doolittle, yelping in my terrible imitation of a Cockney accent, "what's to become of me? what's to become of me?"

* Looking back and realizing how ridiculous the musicals were and how not talented I am in the music/theatre realm, I still really think that I was made to be Effie White from Dreamgirls despite my problematic whiteness.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Good Mom Moments

Chris Jordan wrote another pretty great post over at AlphaMom, Mothering Meltdowns, Keep Them To Yourself. She starts off by talking about not being her children's friend (something that I FULLY support), but then moves into talking about how the trend in the blogosphere is to share 'bad mommy' stories, to only talk about the bad parts of parenting. Guilty. And it's not just on the blog -- the 'it's very hard' talk tends to creep into a lot of my everyday conversations as well. Everyone likes a reminder that they are not the only person not enjoying every special moment with their kids, but I am coming to the realization that a lot of my posts, and the vast majority of what comes out of my mouth, is an account of all my crushing insecurities and neuroses -- that I don't talk a lot about being HAPPY.

Jordan's challenge:

"I want to challenge everyone to write something good about mothering. It is tough, we all already know that. But write a poem, a song, a post, a story or even a photograph that tells what is awesome about having kids. If 15 years from now this is the one and only surviving thing that your children get to read about this time in their lives, what you want it to say? What would you want them to know? I know that I would want my children to read my blog as a whole and feel that I delighted in each and every one of them beyond measure, even when things were challenging. That is the legacy I hope to leave them."

* I like the silliness. I don't particularly enjoy being a grown up. I would much rather be riding around, blaring my radio, and acting goofy. I get to do this with Z. She likes dancing and hide and seek and being tickled. This morning, she was slamming her head around in the car seat while I had Joan Jett's 'Hate Myself for Loving You' on at full volume in the family car. It made me laugh pretty hysterically. Nothing is too serious yet.

* I like her bossiness. She wants what she wants when she wants it. This irritates me, but also impresses me. She is all Dada, all the time, but bedtime is MY time. I get the weight of her on me, and we sing songs. I have tried to introduce new ones, but she yells "nooooooooooo," so it's a loop of 3 songs that she has deemed acceptable. Then she grabs her doll and blankie and points at the crib. She always goes down fairly easily, but we will be up, sometimes almost an hour later, and all of a sudden we hear some blathering, followed by a "YAAAAAY!" It's really funny.

* The way kids smell, and their skin and the tiny feet and hands. Walking down the street hand in hand, letting her point out various things.

* She loves my parents. She loves my siblings. She gets her own relationships with all of those people, unfettered by our baggage.

* She is my husband's daughter. I have heard that expression, "father of my child," before, and yes, it's a fact. YG is the father of my children. I never really think about that, but we were on a flight to California recently, and as I was making my way back from the bathroom, looking for my seat, I spotted the back of YG's head and giggled because it is round and distinctive and Z has the exact same one -- shape and everything. I just had this feeling. Sort of an overwhelming sense of happiness and peace that this dude was my kid's father. Relationships take a beating post kids. I am not arguing with that, but I just had this good feeling that I had chosen my other half wisely. Seeing YG with his kids is always a positive for me.

There's more, but I try and reserve those just for her. I write Z a letter each month, and my hope is that someday, after I am done being her "benevolent dictator," she will see me as me and not just as Mom.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


YG makes fun of me for getting really attached to my things like furniture and clothing, even when some (okay, most) of it is not very good stuff. Prior to YG, almost all of my furniture was hand-me-down stuff with the exception of a futon I bought after college and a couch that my ex-husband and I bought together, or he bought, and I was all, "oh, hey, you bought a couch."

I have no real eye for home decor or furnishings, even will all the designer-type people I am friends with. For example, I had no idea that window treatments or wall-to-wall carpet or track lighting were considered tacky, and even though I see things I like in catalogs, I have no real desire to improve my furnishings. Don't even get me started on how boring your kitchen renovation is. I've been content surrounding myself with three-legged dressers and hand-me-down tables and even beds because it has saved me the trouble of having to find things myself. And when I started living with YG, I was just grateful that he had some nice stuff.

We're currently in the process of making space for Z2 in Zygote's bedroom. To do this, we need to get rid of a large armoire that I inherited from my grandfather when I started living in my grandparents' Brooklyn apartment in 2001. It's not very pretty:

It's not real wood. It probably wasn't very expensive. And it's HUGE. But it's mine. And I remember it when it was in the Brooklyn apartment, caddy corner in the bedroom, filled with my grandfather's flannel shirts and polyester pants, always smelling like mothballs and cigars. I remembered when we left that place, my dad and I dragging this enormous piece of furniture out of his childhood apartment, to my new apartment in NJ. My ex-husband used it for his clothes, because the armoire was for the boy and the dresser for the girl. It was caddy corner in that apartment too because that was how it was supposed to be. It followed us to the condo we bought, and then it followed me up here to Massachusetts post-divorce, where it was caddy corner in my first apartment too, but finally filled with girl's clothes. Then it landed here, housing a could-outfit-an-army collection of ironic t-shirts I am too old to wear and baby clothes.

We posted it on Craigslist. Someone is coming tomorrow morning to pick it up. It seems silly to be sad about losing a piece of furniture you don't even really like, but well, I am.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Perched Atop Shit Mountain

And I can't even talk about it yet. Excuse me for a bit while I go feel sorry for myself and work a little bit more because I love it so much.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whose Turn Is It? ran an article today about whether men or women stay home with their sick children. I love these kinds of articles because I get to experience the whole mountain range of my emotions.

I start off relating. It's a problem a lot of working parents deal with. YG and I often have the schedule discussion when daycare is closed and we’re frantically whipping through our calendars trying to figure out who can watch Zygote and during what hours. Thankfully, we both have relative flexibility at work, so we usually end up splitting our days. I’ll watch Z in the morning while he works, and then we switch. Or we find a way to make it work.

Then I start to get irritated. “The lousy economy and mothers’ increasingly high-powered participation in the workforce have combined to heighten the tension over something as simple as a child’s sore throat or a few inches of snow.” Meh. Yes, now that mom has a REAL job, dad has to actually help with the kids. If mom didn't work, this tension simply would not exist.

Then I sigh. Article inserts fancy data about participation rates of mothers in the workforce. No way.

More sighing. Blah, blah, blah. Insert It’s so hard whining. Note: it was always hard when two parents worked. More people do it now, though, so it’s harder for more people. Therefore, a CRISIS.Also, ask any SAHM how easy her life is. I love the idea that things would be so much easier if one person was at home. Do people really believe this? Different, yes. Easier? No.

Then some more relating. “Rather than get angry, Jenny Anderson, coauthor of “Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage and Dirty Dishes,’’ suggests couples do a “coldhearted, realistic cost-benefit analysis. You have to figure out where the family can afford it the most.’’ “The most important thing is not over-weighting fairness,’’ she said. “Don’t say, ‘Well, I stayed home yesterday, so you stay home today.’ “It seems counterintuitive to everything we’ve learned about marriage, but if you have a marriage that’s predicated on love and respect, then it will balance out in the end, and I don’t mean the end of the school year, but the end of your life together.’’ Marathon, not a sprint type stuff. Okay, agreed.

Then barf. “But you are gaining a day that you will probably remember much longer than whatever meeting you would have been doing.’’ Yes, because every moment spent with children is right out of A VERY SPECIAL EPISODE of My Life With Kids.

Then abject terror. Never, ever read the comments section if you want to have any faith in humankind.
A sampling of my favorites:

Let's start with I Have To Work Harder Because You Have Kids,

“we childfree workers resent this. You wanted children, now take care of them! The one who gets paid less stays home with the sick kid period. If you both make "good money", get a nanny”

Followed quickly by People Without Kids Are Bad People,

So, if you have chosen to be child-free, don't delude yourself that your choice is some how noble and progressive. You will end up picking up the slack, and no one will feel bad for you. No one, well, except maybe, your mommy!

Followed by You Are A Horrible Person Who Can't See The Real Beauty In Kids and Obviously You Are a Consumerist Whore, I Make All My Kids Clothes From Recycled Pandas And I Live In A Carbon-Neutral Cardboard Box,

Really? "Stuck at home." IT'S YOUR CHILD WHO DOESN'T FEEL WELL. You should WANT to take care of them!! If you are willing to make some sacrifices, one parent can stay home to take care of the kids/house/errands etc. Give up the two cars, 2000 square foot house, vacations, nice clothes and take care of your family. My husband and I have done both scenarios and CRAP ROLLS DOWNHILL. Thinking both parents working full-time doesn't affect your kids is the biggest elephant in the kitchen in our society.

Followed by No Shit,

Maybe parents-to-be should have this discussion before having children.

And then, You May Be Okay With Having A Murderer Or Pedophile Watch Your Kid While You're Out Realizing Your Dream of Becoming a Dance Therapist/Raw Foods Chef But I Think Children Should Be Tended To By A Real Parent

I prefer to have my children raised by their parents. My wife and I get by on less but there is a parent home when they come home from school. They are not dumped in some warehouse after school program so mommy and daddy can feel complete about themselves. I know this is a radically idea, but I have seen some parents treat their children like pets.

I'm fairly certain that the reason I am a terrible blogger is because I'm really in the middle on everything. I abhor fundamentalism in all its forms, and a lot of these people just sound like freaking nutcases. That said, I'd probably read their blogs because I do love a good train wreck.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Am A Cartoon Like Version of Myself

My friend, SKB, is making these hilarious caricatures of her friends. This is mine.

Awesome because:
* SKB is awesome.
* I really did say "how about I beat your ass?" to someone on the T, but in my defense, it was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED. Really.
* I have that blue dress. SKB has it in purple. Old Navy clearance yo.
* I really do get that big ol' line of cleavage due to Old Navy clearance being a wee bit low quality.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Choose Z2's Team Affiliation

I live for the Yankees. YG loves the Red Sox. Zygote is being raised in the Yankee tradition. The MG wears a pink Red Sox cap. Right now we are somewhat equal. I say somewhat because you try living in Boston as a Yankee fan. Z2 is going to break the tie...

OR Z2 gets to be independent. We're thinking of doing a Facebook poll to help him or her choose. I wanted to do a Top 5 choices, but YG thinks it should be narrowed to three. Right now, our picks are:

1. NY Mets
YG: They are not the Yankees
JM: 1986

2. SF Giants
Both: We hope to live there someday
Both: Bandwagon

3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
JM: They suck
YG: They are like a real team now.
Both: Contenders to keep friendly family rivalry around.

Your thoughts?