Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An open apology to one and all

I have an apology that I feel compelled to make, which some may take a rant? I think I may post this to my blog, too. It applies to many of those new moms out there:

Hi, my name is Alicia and I am the mother of infant twins & a very jealous/angry 11 yr. old step-son. In addition I am currently pregnant & expecting the newest addition to the family in March of 2012. Add to that the fact that I am pet-mom to two pugs, a Great Dane & two cats. Did I also mention that my husband works so much to make this whole family thing work that I am in many ways essentially doing this as a “single mom?” Well, consider it mentioned.

You would think that this fact alone would get me a “buy” when it comes to being out of touch for weeks at a time. Apparently it doesn’t.

So, it has come to my attention that there are people in my life who feel that I am either purposely ignoring them or perhaps I am not available enough to warrant being considered a true “friend.” This is for you and for anyone who has a friend (or friends) who have children of any age or those who have loved ones to whom life has dealt some not so great hands lately.

Please keep the following in mind: This is specific to MY situation but feel free to apply it to anyone else you may know. This is not my fishing for kudos or complements but is simply this: my attempt to let you all know that there is a pretty damn good reason why I may not be able to do any or all of the following:

  • - Make a phone call
  • - Return calls for weeks at a time
  • - Respond if you see me on Google chat/Facebook chat
  • - Send newly minted emails or replying to an email with a response >160 characters which you may send me first
  • - Respond to a text message in a timely fashion (yes, even to ones that I may have initiated)
  • - Visit if you live more than 30 minutes away

Now, I understand what some of you may be thinking. I would like to answer those thoughts in my own special way. Since I seem to love lists (as you can see from my previous blog posts):

- Really? How hard is it to answer a phone when it rings?

o Let me tell you something. It’s really f&@*ing hard. Please follow these easy steps to experience what it is like to try to answer the phone with two infants whom you must keep an eye on and 3 dogs who are pissed off you aren’t paying attention to them:

· Call ahead to the local neighbors and ask them if they would mind listening for your phone to ring and choose that exact moment to walk past the house. This may seem like an unnecessary detail but trust me on this one.

· Turn on the TV and set the channel to Handy Manny or Yo, Gabba Gabba!

· Find two howling chimpanzees with excellent pincher grips and great prehensile tail control

· Take the howling chimpanzees and Velcro one to your chest and one to your legs

· Call your house phone and let it ring just enough to alert your neighbor it’s time to start walking by the windows and to get the attention of the chimpanzees.

· Commence fighting off the chimpanzees, yelling at the damn dogs to “SHUT UP – YOU KNOW THE NEIGHBOR LIVES NEXT DOOR!” all why trying to allow yourself to be heard over the cacophony of insanity and the children’s programming that is playing in the background.

· While applying First Aid, silently pray for a successful naptime to return the call. You know, because you probably forgot that you were calling yourself in the midst of all this craziness.

· If the friend you are questioning has toddlers, please multiply the chimpanzees by 2.

- Ok. So you can’t answer the phone. What’s so difficult about returning calls?

o In theory, returning a call should be easy. Simply wait for when the twins take a nap, have a seat on the ole sofa, dial and chat for an hour or so then say “Ciao, talk tomorrow!” as you hear the cherubs stirring in their cribs. Repeat during the afternoon naps. See? Easy.

§ This is easy ONLY is you have a child that actually, you know, naps. Now add in the fact that I have two VERY different babies, neither of whom really naps. One falls asleep right away and then wakes up screaming after 20 minutes. One takes 20 minutes to settle down and falls asleep just in time for their sibling to start screaming. They may sleep through the screeching but wake up after their own 20 minute cat nap - usually as I am halfway down the stairs with the first twin awake. Oh, and it’s never the same child who has this kind of schedule – I swear they compare calendars when I leave the room and decide who is going to do what when. And it doesn’t matter if it’s morning or afternoon nap time. The game is always the same. And during that 20 minute reprieve I am trying to wash breakfast pans, unload the dishwasher, reload it, take the dogs outside, run into the basement with a full hamper, sort and start a load of laundry, run back upstairs to let the dogs in, fill water bowls, check cat food level, wipe down counters from Dane drool and mysteriously appearing cat fur… the list goes on and on. You’d be amazed what I can fit into 20 minutes – problem is, a phone call just isn’t something I can handle in addition to everything else.

- Facebook chat and Google chat show you online all the time. You really can’t take a second to answer me back when you’re online?

o I can’t tell you the last time I logged into either FB or Gmail on a real computer. Instead, I have a (not so smart) phone which makes it look like I am constantly online. Texting a chat response is almost as impossible as talking on the phone because one word answers are never enough for people. One word, consisting of 2 or 3 letters is about all I have time to respond with before little hands are grabbing for the phone and putting it in their mouths or wailing because I have an object of power I am refusing to share with them. More often than not I never actually see the chat message/request because I am:

· Feeding my short roommates.

· Doing another diaper change for the umpteen millionth time today.

· On the floor working on sitting up or crawling skills.

· Trying to put away laundry while entertaining my charges

· Sneaking out of the room for 15 seconds to go to the bathroom with the door open and therefore fending off pug requests to be petted and loved while I am in the “executive lounge.”

· Doing the chores the 11 yr. old who lives here either “forgot” to do, lied about doing or did incorrectly. Either way, I have to do it.

· Watching an 11 yr. old do his homework while keeping the twins entertained

· Attending yet another parent/teacher conference dedicated to the poor behavior of said 11 yr. old.

· Supervising tooth brushing and other basic hygiene topics for the same 11 yr. old.

· At one of many doctor’s appointments for myself or the other children in the household.

· Driving.

§ Oh, and any FB posts & responses to posts are usually done on the fly. I respond to things and comment on pictures to let people know I am still alive. It’s kind of like my version of a smoke signal.

- You have a smart phone? There goes your sending/responding to email excuse!

o I don’t think so. Akin to texting are emails. They take time and thought. I have no time to put much thought into anything that doesn’t involve diapers, feedings, supervising an 11 yr. old who does anything and everything to pull what little attention span I have left in his direction and keeping up after the sundry critters in my household. There are lots of things I don’t have time for:

· Eating more than 2 bites of anything at a time

· Showering

· Taking care of my OWN basic hygiene, never mind the 11 yr. old

· Wearing something that hasn’t been worn for the past 4 days in a row

· Putting on shoes

· Eating

· Sleep

- Texting it easy. Just send one.

o I do. Often. I just can’t respond right away when you send me a response. You’ve read this far – CUT ME SOME SLACK! Usually I will send one back when the babies are distracted by something shiny, in those first 20 minutes of naptime, or at midnight when I finally fall, exhausted, into bed. I hate sending the midnight ones because I am always afraid that I will wake you up. So I say to myself “Self, you’d be pissed if someone did that to YOU, right? You’ll have time tomorrow to send a txt back.” Then tomorrow comes with its chaos and the next thing I know it’s midnight again and a full day (or two, or three) has gone by with no response from me. I’m sorry.

- So just drive. The kids can sleep in the car, right? No big deal!

o This works if you are roughly half an hour away. If it’s more than that I need to pack the whole car for a damn weeks’ vacation with all the gear I need. Also, remember that angry/jealous 11 yr. old? He gets off the bus at 3pm. It’s kind of funny – it doesn’t matter where I am, I know when it is 3pm because my stomach gets tied in knots and my head starts to hurt. At 3pm in addition to the little bit of crazy we experience here during the day I now have to deal with:

· Homework supervision. And I do mean supervision. If I don’t watch every move it doesn’t get done.

· Chore supervision. (See above)

· Starting the evening meal and trying to finish it without meltdowns from either the twins or the boy

· Feed the twins and the boy while trying to get some food in my own mouth (it often doesn’t happen)

· Getting the boy to stop dragging his feet and get ready for/take him to karate twice a week

· Get the twins and the boy in the car to take dinner to the husband so he has a chance to at least see me and the kids awake during the week

· Come home to commence the evening arguments over getting ready for bed-is your homework really done-why did I get another note in your agenda from your teacher about you not doing your work-did you really take a shower-did you really brush your teeth-do both again, I know you’re lying to me all while trying to bathe/change put to the bed two wiggly little weirdoes that I love dearly.

- So why can’t you do all of this at night? They do sleep at night, right?

o Yes, the tradeoff for not having nappers is that I am blessed with babies that actually go to bed at 7pm and sleep until 6pm. No wake ups. I have a step-son who goes to bed at 8:30 in theory but usually, by the time we finish up with the chore/homework/bathing issues it’s closer to 9pm or 9:30pm by the time I say goodnight. Now, because those silly babies don’t nap I don’t have a chance to do really anything housework-like. That leaves me from 10pm to midnight to finish housework, finish the laundry that I started in the morning and forgot about in the washing machine/dryer, track down the laundry the 11 yr. old has created, verify chores have been completed, do the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning out the fridge, and work on my own “to do” list. I am guessing that you really don’t want a call from me at midnight, which is the only time I have to breathe. It’s also the only time I have to sleep and, well, 6am comes really early in the morning so sleep usually wins out.

So there is my apology/rant. I am sorry that I just don’t have time to chat. Please don’t take my lack of availability for lack of interest, though.

I miss my friends. I miss my girl’s nights out and my phone calls with long distance friends. I miss being able to just jump in the car and drive 3 hours to visit people and come home the same day. I miss being a part of everyone’s lives. But right now, I have little people who need me. I have a house that needs caring for and pets that feel neglected. I also have no problem throwing the babies in the car, getting a sitter for the boy and being at your doorstep should you have an emergency (hell, did it this weekend when I drive to Long Island with my mom because my Great-aunt had a stroke) and need me there for you.

I’m sorry that I can’t be as available as I used to be. It’s only going to get harder in the next few months when the newest member of the clan arrives and then I will have a newborn, two toddlers and an angsty 12 yr. old on my hands. Never doubt that you are always in my thoughts, my heart and my words. And any time you feel slighted or neglected or upset that I am not around just remember this:

You don’t have chimpanzees strapped to your chest or legs. That means that you have nothing but time for me to find a moment to take a breath and reach out to you to see how YOUR day is going. I’m not going anywhere, trust me. I hope you don’t, either.

PS – it took me ALL DAY to write this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mini-van life. It hurts.

Wow. Has it really been over a year since my last (and only) posting? Yes. Yes it has.

Since August 2010 the twins were born (January 2011) and now are 9 months old. We are currently expecting another addition to the family in March of 2012. Oh yes, we're doing it all again. Only a single baby this time. Talk about a surprise! I found out I was expecting again when I asked my husband to take me to the hospital because I thought I was dying. Heh.

I am now a SAHM and trying to juggle babies, dogs, cats, my step-son who is a 'tween, the household and a new pregnancy. I am also struggling with the fact my cool card went totally out the window when the Mystery Machine (mini-man) arrived the weekend the twins came home. I was still recovering from the c-section and therefore too weak to really comprehend the gravity of the mini-van situation. And it's heavy.

There is nothing cool about mini-van livin'. You can try to convince yourself otherwise but the truth of the matter is you are still driving something akin to a refrigerator on wheels. It's like when I was in the middle school band and I tried to convince myself that that playing the clarinet was cool. That was a questionable argument, too. There are things I have tried to do to elevate the mini-van into sexy SUV status. While amusing to some they have all proven futile attempts at rad-ness in the face of soccer-mom-ness. Here are my top 5 things to try and my prayer is that they work for you better than they have for me:

1. Buy the biggest sunglasses you can find in an attempt to be trendy
When I say big I am talking HUMONGOUS. Big ole sunglasses that make you look Mary-Kate and Ashley waiflike. The bigger, the better. Who cares they are so big your entire face becomes a blind spot? No one ever said being cool was easy. Or smart.

2. Download ├╝ber-trendy music on iTunes and blare it with the windows down.
It doesn't matter that you have no idea who the lastest pop peeps are; what matters is VOLUME. Just be careful what you choose and keep it current or culturally relevant. Blaring anything sung by a recent or current Disney or Nickelodeon star will get you labeled as a creeper. TuPac or Eminem will get you tailed by the po-po. Barry Manilow will get you giggled at.

3. Sticker the windows.
So I thought I would take the "green" route in my stickering by putting a "I <3 My Farmer" sticker on my rear window. You know, because I legit (heart) my Farmer. But let's be honest here: I am driving a vehicle that makes a Hummer look fuel efficient. This sticker is a slap in the face to our dirty hippie/farmer hugging friends. The "member of the NRA" sticker that some guy who lives here slapped on the back window next to my farmer sticker doesn't really help me make many friends, either. But that's ok - I have a "Breastfeeding is Natural" sticker that will be going on a certain someone's Mustang GT when they are not looking.

4. Get your ride in a cool color.
FYI: White is not in the cool color spectrum. How do I know this? My father owned a white Dodge Caravan, circa 1991. I now own a white Dodge Grand Caravan, circa 2011. See? I know things ad have seen things you can't even comprehend.

5. Spinning Rims.
I haven't tried this one yet. I really want to see someone else try it, though.

And for the record, even though I like to complain and poke fun at the Mystery Machine it can be fun to watch the looks on people's faces as I fly past them on the highway. I love that "was I just passed by a mini-van?" look on their faces. And though I do rock a van, I have resisted the need to wear mom-jeans. So far.