Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'll Take the Tea Set

My mother recently asked what He'en might like for her birthday. Feeling quite cheerfully smug, I whipped out my Magic Phone, activated the Memo app, and rattled off the list that I've been keeping thereon.

When I got to "Tea Set or Similar Pretending Toys," my diplomatic mother paused and delicately posed the question, "Now, are you sure you are good with her having a tea set or, er, a pretend kitchen stove, or things like that?"

This brought me up short. Well, of course little He'en could play with a tea set!  But then I realized that this question was justifiably loaded.  I had been quite a stinker about waving the Women Can Do Anything banner in my teens and twenties. I also probably had been quite a stinker during the same timeframe about my mother's choice to be a stay-at-home-mom.

Now that I've checked out of the rat race to spend my own days cutting sandwiches into triangles and stringing Cheerios onto necklaces, I have a completely different perspective . . . and here proffer public apology to my mother, who was a terrific SAHM.

So I mused over her question and concluded that, yes, I was OK with He'en playing with a tea set. After all, as I told Mom, I spent nearly ten years playing with my Little Lawyer Activity Kit and found it sadly wanting:

One (1) law diploma
One (1) bar admission card
One (1) very heavy desk
Forty-two (42) partially-written letters, briefs, and motions
Two (2) computers

For all this, you pay only $140,000.  Expansion items in the same set, sold separately, include:

Crazy Opposing Counsel Talking Doll:  threatens sanctions when you pull a string in its back!

Grumpy Judge Action Figure:  lifts and lowers a magazine during hearings and repeats, "Denied."

Assorted Business Cards

I know every generation needs to find its own way. But since I've been asked my opinion, I'll say, for the love of God, yes, please buy my daughter a tea set.

Sleep Junkie

"Anything else I should know?" asks another angelic nurse as she arrives for shift change.

"No . . . oh, yes, I am due for Percoset in another two hours."

"Okay," she chirps, marking the chart, "I'll be back in two hours! If you need it sooner, we can do that a half-hour sooner, so just let me know."

Off goes the nurse, and into the resultant void comes a husbandly grumble: "I'm not sure I am too thrilled about you asking for painkillers."*

"Well," I sighed, "with the last C-section, I was all trying-to-be-brave and I was absolutely miserable. And since nobody handed me a medal for that, I am taking all my painkillers on schedule this time."**

"That's drug-seeking behavior," declared DH, unmoved.***

But he ain't seen-ed nothing yet. Two months down the road, I am in full-on sleep deprivation mode. Dragon Girl is still taking three (3) night feedings, at three (3) hour intervals. Occasionally we get lucky and stretch to four hours. That is a banner night. We remain, however, nowhere near the blissful five hours that He'en enjoyed like clockwork the moment she got home from the hospital: the ones that had me smugly thinking, "I don't know what everyone's complaining about. This newborn thing isn't so hard." (Isn't it great how the universe rubs your nose in snotty comments like that?)

Enter the sleep addiction. I crave sleep. I seek sleep. I stash sleep. I've fallen asleep on the exam table at the doctor's office. I was actually excited to get a filling because I could lie horizontally in the kid-free dentist's chair for an hour.

I sneak a catnap wherever I can. In classic addict style, I'll even fib about it, "Nope, wasn't sleeping," when DH finds me prone on the couch with the preschooler in a Barbie movie coma and the baby firmly tucked into my armpit.

Likewise classically, I am ruthless in my treatment of those who may interfere with my next fix. Poor He'en has only heard half the words of "If I Ran the Circus" because I skip from couplet to couplet on the fly at bedtime.  Even the baby has suffered, since I gave up pumping breastmilk at night to eke out another hour of sleep in the small darks.

In 30 years, at the request of their therapists, I will let my kids read this entry. Until then, they are stuck with a sleep junkie mama.


* DH is charming this way. He isn't too thrilled about my drinking coffee (caffiene), and he has extracted from me a promise never to give the kids soda (chemicals).  Once, in a strange city, I saw him reduced to steering-wheel-pounding fury by my search for a Starbucks: "An entire nation of people! My God, all of them addicted to this stuff!?" I think he did accept a sip of latte when we got there, however.

** Second best advice I ever got: take all the drugs they give you after a C-section. (The first best advice was, "He is gonna propose and you are gonna say yes. You can always change your mind later.")

*** My sister's response to this story was to ask, with deeply gratifying exasperation, "Did you tell him you were twenty-four hours out of abdominal surgery? Of course you are engaging in drug-seeking behavior! You'd be crazy not to. Man, I would have taken those painkillers and then crawled out of that bed and smacked him one. Next time let's take out his appendix and he can lie there with you and we'll see who's asking for drugs! Pffhht!" (Sister Mine is pleasantly sparky.)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Party Girl

I have promised DH that I will not expose the children to hip-hop or rap. Stated mildly, DH does not care for these genres of entertainment (he will not deign to call them music).  Even though He'en writhes in her carseat protesting she does not "yike" the classical music on the radio, he persists.  His kids are going to get some decent cultchah come hell or high water.

In this, I fear, he finds me a sloppy ally. For several years now, I have been carefully avoiding the issue of whether "club" falls into the "hip-hop or rap" category of child-poison. 

Poor DH. When he met me, he thought he was getting a refined intellectual type who would be a fit mother to his heirs. I had a reasonable command of current events, a bluffer's knowledge of opera, several years of ballroom dance experience, a basic ballet vocabulary, and enough classical music moxy to prove acceptable to a man who had grown up with the kids of Philadelphia Orchestra musicians and had studied piano at a conservatory in his youth. Little did he know that, ten years down the road, his wifely prize would disintegrate into a 40-year-old hip-hop-loving mall rat. 

The warning signs were there, of course. During our early dating days, we had some stellar squiffs over my tendency to be unavailable on nights when a good drag show hit Fort Lauderdale.

"You can come," I cheerfully invited him by phone between applications of black-cherry lipstick.

"Go there with you? I can't believe you would go to those . . .  things!" he huffed. "What if you want a judicial career someday? Someone might see you!"

"If they see me," I would counter, holding the phone with my chin to tighten my leather dog collar choker, "It would be because they were also there."

Well, we never did really resolve that issue. We just moved away from the scene, settled into quiet coupledom, and then I got too old and too busy for such delicious pursuits.  Days turned to weeks, then months, then years, and along came Offspring #1, which permanently ended any chances for such foolishness.

When Offspring #1 was about six weeks old, I wistfully noted that the last time I saw such early-morning numbers on the clock, I had been clubbing in Miami. 

From my mouth to God's ears: Offspring #2 was inconsolable tonight until I moved her into the kitchen and put fired up my "Shakira Channel" on Pandora.  As soon as the dance beats began, she quit thrashing in her lounger, spit out her pacifier, belched peacefully, and settled into a blissful sleep.

That's my girl, my little party girl.