Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Team Attempt

Next week, the hubster and I will attempt something that could make or break our relationship. In hindsight, I'm not sure that I'm ready to take this step with him so soon after all of the paperwork is done, but it's too late to back out now. An old friend (again, that's a comment on how long we've known each other, not her age) is getting married, and she asked me over a year ago if I would watch her son after the ceremony is over. She sent me a text last week to confirm that I was still in.

My reaction?

Oh crap.

She's getting married on a Saturday, which is one of hubby's days off. This means that he will be bored while I am watching the kid. This means that he will probably want to come hang out with us. This means that he and I will have our first experience alone with a kid. This means something else that I'm not sure of. 

I hadn't put two and two together until my friend commented while I was going over the details with her yesterday. "Oh! this will be an adorable trial run for you two!" 

Keep in mind that very few people in my life even know that this blog exists. I'm still too much of a weeny to admit to any of them that I actually have feelings about children of my own. I would prefer that still believe that I'm a heartless, soulless, childless future cat lady who doesn't need so stinkin' adorable baby. 

Needless to say, I had the same gut reaction to her that I had prior to this whole blog-inducing shift in though processes. "Shut up! I hate you!" She laughed and said, "Well, someday." 

She's right. Someday. 

In the meantime, I am going to spend a Saturday night chasing a two and a half year old with my new husband and see how it turns out. I assume that everything will go well. The act of this simple night seems daunting, though. I know my husband is good with kids. I've seen him with our nieces and nephews plenty of times. We've never been alone with a kid, though. There were always parents near by. This time, we're on our own. We have an entire night to do our best to mess this kid up for the rest of his life.

Maybe this will actually be fun.

At very least, I can teach him that it's hip to be square, kids.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Manny Plays House

When we last left off, dear readers, I had haphazardly awoken one day to find out I was going to have a baby. Despite not being married, not financially secure, not mature enough, or not part of the couple having said baby, I had embraced the idea of having a wee one running about. I was excited at the prospect of there being a small version of my friends, and curious to see how it would change us as a family. Yeah. We're a family.

Please recall (and how can you really forget with how many times I've said it) is that this was NOT MY BABY. I felt like this was a Talking Heads song: "This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife! And I think to myself how did I get here?" I had been living with my married friends for about a year at this point, and had known them for way longer. There were few secrets between us at this point and nothing was really taboo. 

In other words, the awkward passing by in my underwear was LESS awkward. 

We had our routines. We had our norms and traditions. 

For example, I'd come home from a day of tutoring, and I'd make dinner at around 6:30 or 7. We'd eat while watching recorded tv or while sitting at the table, and we would talk about our day. Despite our busy schedules, we tried to make this a nightly thing during the week.

I remember the first time this was interrupted on account of the baby. They had a meeting with a "doula". I had zero idea what that was, and I still really don't. I guess it's a birthing assistant…? Let's be honest, I didn't care. I was making shrimp and pea risotto and… what? We aren't eating shrimp anymore? Or any fish? Well fine! I'll just throw it all out!

This baby wasn't even born and it was already tearing us apart! 

In fairness, playing Manny was actually pretty easy. At first. All I had to do was carry things that Mom otherwise couldn't carry. Then came slight changes to our groceries like no more fish. Or cured lunch meats. Or was it uncured? Then I had to stop buying wine and beer. 
I changed my eating habits to "pitch in" and make it easier on her. 

Then the bigger changes came, and not in gentle waves. These were soul-crushing tsunamis. The first came when I had to change rooms. I was situated in the guest bedroom upstairs, next to my friends' room. That, obviously, would make an ideal nursery. Only problem is there was no other room for me to go to. Solution: turn the loft into a third bedroom. A third, much tinier bedroom on the second floor that had no bathroom. I now had to walk upstairs to my old bathroom or downstairs to the guest bathroom if I had to pee in the middle of the night. I know I could  could use the exercise, but these stairs didn't agree with me. I thought I should not constantly fall down them, and they thought otherwise.

I had to move all of my stuff, including my bed, dressers, etc. down a narrow flight of said treacherous stairs into said tiny room. I also had to paint my new room. But this nursery also had to be painted! We sat and painstakingly picked out the color scheme, procured the materials, and got to work. 

Did you know paint fumes are dangerous to pregnant women? I did not! So we kept her off of that floor. And turns out that my buddy also deemed that dad shouldn't be around the fumes, leaving me to finish it up on my own (note: we eventually hired professional painters to come in and finish it all up, and redo the whole house as I was not skilled on a ladder or at corners).

The next few months were full of reorganizing, baby proofing, baby prepping, assembling baby furniture, and otherwise being the best goddamned manny money could buy.

I wasn't being paid. 

Seriously, if this baby came the next day, I could be bags packed, in the car, and at Cedars Sinai in twelve minutes flat. But the baby was NOT coming the next day. There was nine months of this waiting around with my thumb up my ass. Not literally, of course. I needed all ten fingers to help out. 

The worst change of all resided in my friend, the mom-to-be. She was obviously growing more, well, pregnant. And she was not your ideal pregnant woman. I'd have been happier with a woman who got emotional, and teary, and loafed about watching TV. You know, how a man who has never seen a pregnant woman might write her into a movie.
No, instead she would waddle about, trying to do everything, while bitching about how "dumb" being pregnant was. A surly pregnant mom. The only joys she got were taking jabs at me. It had to be funny to outsiders looking on, as I was not married to this woman. Hell, we didn't even get along half the time. We were like a brother and sister, constantly insulting  and berating one another.

It would go something like this: 

Mom: Ugh, this is dumb. 
Me: What is?
Mom: Other than your stupid face? Being pregnant. 
Me: Okay. It's dumb?
Mom: Yeah. It's dumb! You try it. 
Me: I can't. 
Mom: Yeah you can't. You'd have to get laid first, dummy. 
Me: But even then, I --- what are we even talking about?! What do you want? 
Mom: A beer. 
Me: You can't have a beer. And this is Starbucks. Try again. 
Mom: … I don't know if I like your attitude! I will slap you in front of all these people!
Barista: Do you guys need a minute?
Mom: Hiiiiiii. No, we're fine. I'll have a latte and this idiot will have an iced coffee. 
Me: Help me. 
It went on like this, for months in my friend's absence. He was gone on business and all of his responsibilities were now mine. 

Wait. Not all of them. Ew.  

And as she tried to carry something, or stay up late into the evening to do some work, or otherwise be on her feet all day and not eat, the burden of telling her to knock it off fell on me. 
We carried on this way for nine solid months. She'd fight the notion of being incapacitated by pregnancy, and I'd fight her and cook, clean, and build. I was nesting. 

It was a weird feeling. I didn't HAVE to do any of this. But I took it upon myself. Was I just a good friend or was there something else to it? Was I growing up? Was I tapping into some neo-paternal instinct? And when the hell could I have a glass of scotch again?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

There is no pill that cures teenager

The fact that I constantly consider having kids is not a fact that makes me seem crazy. The desire to procreate despite what I do for a living is what makes me more than a little nutty.

I work with children and adolescents in a psychiatrist's office. I see kids with real behavioral health problems as well as kids who will probably grow out of their issues but are driving their parents insane in the mean time. 

Newsflash: There is no pill that cures teenager. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up, take away the cell phone, ground them for real and hope they don't do it again. 

Other times, there are real issues that are out of control and require professional help. 

Navigating the developing brain is exhausting. I get worn down explaining that "Because I said so" is a perfectly legitimate reason when it comes from the person who is feeding you for free. I love everything about my job. I just get tired sometimes. 

I see what kids can do to their parents. I have seen parents so exhausted from chasing their defiant children that they can no longer form sentences. I have seen families torn apart by parents with different philosophies and a kid who knows how to work them against each other. I watch parents become patients after spending so much time trying to rehabilitate (or habilitate for the first time) their child that they forget that they are people too. I have seen parents call the police on their children because there is just no where left to turn.

Behind all of it though, is this amazing, powerful love that cannot be put into words. There is no dictionary large enough to hold the number of terms necessary to fully explain the extent of what that parent would do for his or her kid. My job should be enough to shut my ovaries down for business. What it really does is help me put my own life in perspective. When it's time, it's time. And when they make me crazy, it will pass. I'm going to think back over my experiences with my own family to remind myself of that. No matter how hard they have tried, they haven't taken the small drops that are left of my sanity. I've been told that it's illegal to kill your own children. I suppose that's a good thing because I call it job security. When they get to the point that they have to remind themselves that they can't bludgeon the kids, the kids end up in my office.

And always remember, it's hip to be square, kids.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I hope that of I someday have a daughter, I can give her awesome random gifts like my mom gives me.


These are no work appropriate in any way.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blissful Ignorance

I have this idealized version of motherhood. I know about all of the smelly and poopy and loud things that come with and out of babies. Even though I'm fully understanding of the icky reality that children provide, I chose to imagine it as an idyllic and peaceful time where we quietly bring life into the world and then still have time to clean the house and shower. I imagine a child who lacks a gag reflex and smiles all the time for reasons other than gas. I imagine pregnancy to be a time of happiness and euphoria. I ignore the possibility of swollen ankles and bladders that will never be large enough. I feel like I've earned that right. I'm not sure what I did to earn it, but I did. I have no interest in gathering more information prior to the possible experience. I want to sit here in ignorance until I get punched in the neck by the realities of screaming babies and diapers filled with things that I can't even really place. 

...And I've grossed myself out. 

Idealism, remember?

I'll go back to remembering that it's hip to be square, kids. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

News Feeds

Since this morning, another gazillion people announced to my news feed that they are pregnant. Some of them have kids, and others are expecting their first. I am definitely happy for all of them. And while I know it makes me the worst kind of person, it also irritates me. 

I can't say that we are actively trying to get pregnant. I think we're both so freaked out by the idea (and our strange and sudden acceptance of it) that we're in a holding pattern. I think we're standing still, but I need to try harder to understand that every day we really are moving forward. Every day that passes is more time that we've spent trying to make the best decision possible rather than a rash decision based on my need to do the logical next thing. The old-fashioned ideal of creating booger eaters to help in the family trade is not applicable anymore. I have more than enough help to run the farm, and the harvest isn't for quite some time. Besides, I don't even own a farm.

Sigh. Maybe the answer is to just stay off Facebook. 

HAH. Just wanted to see if I can say it with a straight face.

Keep in mind though, it's hip to be square, kids.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Real and Fake

I have two husbands. It's not all Jekyll and Hyde or anything. I'm talking about two separate men who take me to dinner, watch movies with me and occasionally operate at my every beck and call. It's not some strange polyamory thing. That's not my style though I am totally obsessed with the show "Sister Wives". (Seriously! To steal words from Tina Fey, it's like watching a dog walk on it's hind legs! I'm waiting for them to do something weird or something that makes me uncomfortable, but they're so NORMAL. I mean, when you remove the whole "we sleep with the same dude" thing, of course.)

...but back to my own strange situation.

I'm not married to both dudes. I have a real husband and a fake husband. My real husband is the man that I'm actually married to. I love him like a lot. He makes me laugh all the time. He puts up with my craziness. He ignores me when I ramble on about ridiculous non-sensacle things like dogs with wings or duendacitas. He's wonderful.

Then there's the fake husband. How he came to be called that is a fantastic story. My husband and I would not be married if not for my fake husband. The fake husband and I were friends before the husband and I started dating. We all worked at the same place, and real hubby saw fake hubby and I go to lunch together a few times. He assumed we were dating and, as a result, didn't ask me out. Several weeks later, the hubster asked me at a party  if the Fake Hubby and I were official. I raised every eyebrow that I had and said "WHAT?!" That night, hubby and I became a "thing".

Fake Husband is an amazing friend. He is straight, but there has never been chemistry. He might as well be asexual. He would be my gay husband, but the whole "liking chicks" things get in the way. He does like girl drinks and chick movies. He also likes blowing things up on video games, but I'm not actually married to him, so I don't have to listen to it in the other room while I try to do more civilized things. Fake husband can be dragged to stores that real husband would endlessly whine about. It's the perfect arrangement. 

I am a lucky, lucky lady. 

And remember, it's hip to be square, kids.

Monday, February 13, 2012

World, meet The Manny.

I am blessed to have many friend who are in the same place as I am in life. We're all hovering in this strange in-between. We're adults, but we certainly don't act like it. None of us have children, and we all kind of feel like we're the last people on earth who haven't spawned. It, of course, doesn't make sense considering that we're surrounded by friends who have very clearly not spawned. BUT THERE ARE BABIES ALL OVER FACEBOOK.

I asked a very close and very old friend of mine to throw together some words about his experience in the in-between. (To be clear, "old" is not a comment on his age. We've known each other forever. Oh, he's also ANCIENT.) He'll be stopping in occasionally to give a male perspective on not having kids while not knowing what exactly the next step is. 

World, meet The Manny. 


"We gotta talk." 

Those three little words always carry a lot of weight, especially when followed by the words: "We are pregnant." They can come as quite shock to any guy, but were especially a metaphorical kick in the nuts for a guy like me.

For one, I was very young, twenty-six at the time. I had no immediate plans of fatherhood, let alone adulthood. I was more of a "see every movie, go to every concert, and play as much Xbox as I can" kinda guy. I was also unemployed. I was tutoring part-time, which would free me up for the many duties that lay ahead, but, obviously, didn't cover the necessary expenses. Things were being thrust into perspective. I didn't plan for this. I was not ready for this. 

My life had come to a screeching halt in that moment.

Oh, and I was also single and not married. And the aforementioned "we" didn't include me. I was living with my best friend and his wife, and they had brought me downstairs to tell me THEY were pregnant. I was included in that "we" because, well, I was the live-in chef. 

You'd think "we are having a baby" is cue for me to leave; that the high life in West Hollywood had come to a close. Pregnancy is one of the most intimate and personal times a couple can share, so why would they want some unemployed, scruffy bum hanging around and invading their privacy? Which begs the question: did they make the baby when I was there? Because… um...

"Two questions," I said. 
"We were on vacation. It wasn't when you were asleep." 
"Oh great! Question, number two…"
"We'd really like you to stay. To help out. It's going to be tough, and you're already such a big help." Cue the big puppy dog eyes. 

Three reasons kept me there:

1. Necessity. I was in it for the long haul. See, the husband (my best friend of many years) was leaving town on business and would be in and out for months at a clip. I was the answer to his problems: a person he could trust to look after his wife. I cooked, cleaned, built stuff, and had very long arms to reach cabinets. Not to mention, as Richard Gere (or Chris Farley) so eloquently put it : "I got no place else ta go!"

2. Street-Cred. Like in a video game, I was leveling up. I was looking at this as a cheat code for life. I was getting the crash course in parenting long before my own kids. Forget having been a teacher, camp administrator, and uncle prior to this. I was going to be de-facto Dad. And as I learned, dad-skills are very attractive to women. Nowadays, being a single dad is like being able to take down a mammoth single-handedly in the paleolithic era. Instant loin cloth dropper. (Note to self: Why are the girls I am dating wearing loin cloths? Evaluate life choices).

3. Curiosity. I was in for some freaky shit. Yeah, yeah. I'd seen the movies. I'd heard the horror stories from friends and relatives. But I had no REAL idea what I was in for. My friend had something growing inside her, and it was changing her, and I was able to study it. I was like a crew member in "Alien." Or the Doctor in "The Thing." I didn't want to die… but it was a risk I had to take. 

I really over thought this.

What I underestimated, however, was what the next nine months had in store. 
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” -HP Lovecraft

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's none of your damn business

I hear a lot of noise about Baby Mama Drama that has nothing to do with anything important. Am I out of line for saying that I really don't care if Newt Gingrich had an open marriage or if Clinton had an intern under his desk? We aren't electing robots, and people don't usually get named a saint until after they've died. (WHO DAT?!) 

People do stupid things, but the reality of it is, it isn't any of my business. Your moral compass doesn't matter to me unless we're friends, and I don't make fast friend of people who run attack ads and kiss stranger's babies. If I politician ever tried to kiss my baby, I would karate chop him or her in the neck. I don't know where that mouth has been. And since he or she isn't kissing my baby, I don't care! 

Stay out of everyone else's bedroom. Social policy does not include martinis and TMZ. 


And remember, it's hip to be square, kids.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I just logged in to Facebook to see a blissful announcement: My best friend's sister is having her first baby! It's exciting and only the 345369813490834* announcement this week.


My Facebook is flooded with ultrasound pictures, announcements of gender and pictures of newly decorated nurseries. It's all adorable and a little overwhelming. I know, of course, that it isn't nearly as overwhelming for me as it is for those who have to carry and raise the little bundles of joy and snot, but for some reason, it seems to raise the stakes for me. I am a naturally competitive person. I don't think child-bearing should be a competitive sport, but it does make me want to join in on the fun even more than before. 

For the record, I know someone who really did use child-bearing as a competitive sport. My mom's best friend's husband is the oldest of 16. His mother and her sister tried to out-child each other, and it resulted is 16 for one and 15 for another. Thankfully, my competitive streak stops well before that. Also, I don't have any sisters, so I don't need to worry about the damage to my nethers that over-reproduction can cause. 

But, I digress. 

Anyway, I know I'll just have to deal with the pangs and the frustration while hubster and I work out the right time and how this all will work. I don't even think they're jealousy pangs. Maybe they're born from indecision. Is it right to want something just because someone else has it? Obviously, it's more than that at it's core, but I probably wouldn't be having such a pronounced struggle if it didn't have it rubbed in my face fairly frequently by those bastards that I call friends. How dare these so-called confidantes have their own lives where they get what I think I want before I do. How rude! 

Yeah, Okay. Maybe not so much. I'll return to being terribly happy for them and leave the self-centered crap behind. I get a few moments (and a blog) of self-indulgence, then it's back to being my awesome, giving, endlessly humble self.

It's hip to be square, kids. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Different Folks

Little E has a friend whose parents I have known for quite a while. They are wonderful, sweet people who happen to have a daughter who is exactly the same. She is precarious, outgoing and fearless. We happened to run into them at a restaurant the other day, and Little Bro called them over to say hi. Their daughter saw Little Bro and ran to him with every ounce of strength she had in her tiny little body. She hugged him like I have seen no child hug him before, and then ran off to the bathroom before bad things happened. I thought the interaction was over, but I was very wrong. Just a few minutes later, there was a boisterous 4-year-old in our booth crawling all over Little Bro and having the time of her life. She made no indication that this was unusual behavior for her. She started by sitting on Little Bro's lap, and then immediately crawled over to mine. Then, she hugged my mom and dad while her father stood there with a look on his face that said, "Why yes, we have tried to explain to her why this is not socially appropriate, but it is a lost cause."

She continued to climb.

We were all laughing too hard to care. 

Shortly after, she planted herself between my mother and myself in the booth and grabbed my phone. Within 30 seconds, this 4-year-old brainiac found the games and started beating my high score on StoneLoops. Her father said, "Alright, we have to go. You can climb under the table this one time. You love doing that." She looked at him with no intention of leaving and said, "I don't like to do that anymore. I'm gong to stay here."My mom told her that she remembered her when she was just a tiny baby. The little one replied "Yeah! When I was just an egg!"

This child had more energy than any human being I had ever seen. She clearly has never met a stranger, and she is flipping cute. She is the exact opposite of Little E in absolutely every way. Not better or funnier, just totally different. It's not that I didn't know that kids come in all energy levels and personality styles. It's just that it's really cute when you have two totally different examples right in front of you.

The juxtaposition between the two children reinforces why I think I want to have some of my own. I'm excited to know who they will be. I want to know how they will push my buttons, and how I (and the hubster) will manage to handle it. Will they bring out the best or worst in me? I feel like Little E brings out the best in me, but that's because he isn't my responsibility 24/7. It's like a whole world of unanswered questions, and the only way to figure them out is to just... start.

Also, I'm just glad that I don't have to put Little E's friend to bed at night. How do you tuck in a walking combustion reaction?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

No, I don't want to hold your baby.

I don't hold other people's babies. I made this conscious decision that day that I got engaged. My struggle with whether to have children now or not is no one else's business. The mere act of cradling your little miracle in my arms means that you want to know when I will be doing the same. That stopped being your business when... Oh wait! It was never your business. It's like my own personal version of uninvited guests patting my baby bump. Stay away from my impregnated thought tummy! I have no proof that you washed your hands recently.

Also, your baby becomes infinitely less cute when it spits up all over me. I didn't get to enjoy the creation of the little booger eater, so I don't have to clean up his or her vomit. I'm also sure that that will be the day that my hair looks cute, and I don't need teeny tiny cracker-covered fingers pulling on it. 

Okay, I'm not that heartless no matter how hard I try. And you're right, I may actually even want to hold your baby. I'm just all for avoiding awkward situations that I see coming. The possibility of an awkward situation registers as a big stop sign of social interaction. I'm not a good liar. So, when I hold your baby, and you ask me when I want to have one of my own, I have to lie to you to avoid getting your input. If I say, "Well, we're considering it," you follow up with a two hour story about how you were so excited to get pregnant and you knew the second that this little one was conceived that he or she would be totally perfect in every way. 

1) I don't need the mental image of you and your husband/boyfriend/fling/whatever in the act of creation. Even with all of the dirty jokes that I make, I stop at the act of actually considering your private time. 

2) It really isn't any of your business. I know you're trying to help and be supportive, but you're not the one that starts getting fat the second that the universe decides that it's time. You're not the one who is already stock piling anxiety about how and when to let people know. And, let's be honest, I don't want you picturing me doing whatever I just pictured you doing. Ew. 

Instead, I respond with "No babies. Just puppies." It's not really a lie. It's just an omission of the possible future. Luckily, I doubt you're a soothsayer or mind reader, so I think I'm in the clear with that one. Rather than subject myself to that awkward and unrequested conversation, I steer clear of infantile human life forms. 

For the time being, at least. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Writer's Block

I most certainly have writers block. Not the kind that gets me stuck on a blank page for days, but the kind that comes from a flu-induced haze. I've been on the couch since this morning. I did do some errands and some laundry. Oh, and some dishes. And I've watched almost a season of Gossip Girl. Hubs should be home soon to offer some TLC. I can't even come up with Twitter brilliance, and I'm usually so good at that. Very shortly, I am going to settle for passing out on the couch with GG in the background and a pup snuggled up next to me. It's basically all I've got left. 

Sorry Interwebz. It's just not my day. I'll be back with more scintillating pearls of wisdom as soon as I can. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How much is too much?

Sometimes, I feel silly for struggling so much with all of this "stuff". I'm so happy with my life. Nothing should be a struggle at this point. It is, though. I had an incredible day with Little E today. We made huge progress on some behavioral things and it was nothing short of inspiring. I would do anything for that kid. Really. I think of how much I love him sometimes, and it seems totally unreal. He isn't my kid. I call him my nephew, but he isn't really. I mean, he is. No one will tell me otherwise. Biologically, however, we aren't close to related. My brother isn't married to his mother. He's not even really his stepfather. This is yet another circumstance where a law is not going to tell me what's real or not. Little E will be part of my life regardless what the marital status of his mother is to my brother. I love him that much.

It scares me, though. I mean, I sit here and ponder whether I want to make one of my own and go "Uh. How exactly am I supposed to love anyone else as much as I love him?" Then I think about what I know is true-- that you love your own kids in a way that you can't imagine until you have them. I know this is supposed to be an amazing thing, but it actually totally freaks me out. Where can this love possibly come from? What can it pour out of that I don't already have love bursting from for this existing tiny little man? I would drop everything and run to Little E's side if he needed me to. What is they both need me at the same time? What if he gets jealous? What if I give myself things to worry about that I have no control over until they're actually real?

Oh, right.

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