When I was 13 years old, I remember my mother standing with her hands on her hips looking at me with a combination of fear and anger. We’d been having another argument over something (I honestly can’t remember what) and as she got more and more angry, I watched her face turn red, then magenta, and finally flames started to boil out of her ears. “I’ll see you on the other side!” she yelled and walked off.
I was baffled.
I made it to the other side some time in college. I grew out of the teenage angst and in to the “much more mature” early 20’s angst. I progressed through my twenties, got married, had a baby, and realized exactly what my mother was talking about. And just yesterday, as I slammed on my breaks to avoid a horrific accident, I realized I am not only on “the other side” but I’m a few cusswords shy of yelling it out the window to some teenage punks that could’ve killed us.
I also have a clear vision of me saying those exact words to my teenage daughter in about 10 years. A very, vivid, realistic image of that same day. I’m on the other side now.
Yesterday LB and I were on our way home from a wonderful playdate. We sat at the red light exiting off the freeway just a mile or so from our very tiny house. LB was singing Twinkle Twinkle (it’s all the rage) and I was talking to her in the rear view mirror. I looked up and saw the light turn green. I put the car in gear (note that the cars are stopped on the other side of the street at the red light as we pull out) and glance to the left just as a white sadan comes toward us at least 55 mile an hour. I slam on the breaks, the car rubs and ricochets off the front bumper and speeds away. I glance two teenagers in the front of that car probably oblivious that they just blew through a red light and could’ve very possibly, one second later, killed or seriously injured a pregnant lady and her toddler. (Illustrated for you visual types.)
I alternate between breaking down in to tears and cussing wildly at all teenage drivers when I think what could’ve happened.
I’m trying not to think about what could’ve happened.
Had I put the car in gear as I sat there, had I not been talking to LB, had I gone the second the light turned green, we would be in the hospital, at the very least, right now. CB could be gone. LB could be seriously injured or dead.
It was one of those moments where you don’t even have time to see life flash before you. I didn’t break down crying until about two blocks later when I finally pulled over to check my car for damage. I lost it and took LB home and didn’t leave the house the rest of the day.
These are the types of encounters that make mothers seem like complete spazes to their teenage daughters. These are the reason moms get so damn paranoid, get so angry when you don’t wear your seat-belt, yell as you walk out the door to be safe and watch for other cars. I’ll be the first person setting out “SLOW DOWN” signs in our neighborhood now. You know, those very uncool people that would yell at you, the teenager without a care in the world, to pay attention and drive slower? That’ll be me. I’ll be the one sitting in my rocker on my front porch telling the entire world to just knock-it-the-fuck-off and start paying attention.
Life is too short to be caught up in your own shit. You never know who you could potentially be hurting. Please pay attention. And for the love of god, look both ways before going through a green light. Always.
The amazing Vanishing HayHay.
Damn, cleaning up down there is starting to be a lot like letting a blind woman in a crowded market with a machete.
Do you suck at memes? I know you don’t because I see you doing them. I SUCK at memes. So instead, let me tell you about this time I went to a party and told a roomful of people I just met six weird things about me.
Friday night I went to a mom’s night out gig with a group of women from the Yahoo group I joined. It was fun and I got to meet a group of women without a child attached to the hip. I think it’s amazing that a group of women can get together with nothing else in common but the fact that they spawned children and talk for hours in the kitchen about everything from boobs to episiotomy stitches to baby food. And somehow, I was able to come up with six freakish things to share in the first two hours but I’ve been sitting here with this meme in draft form for a week.
So, here it is. Six weird things that I can’t think of when I am supposed to do a meme but am perfectly able to spill to a roomful of moms I met hours before. (Dedicated to Emily and Mamma A and Domestic Diva. )
1. I didn’t have my first alcoholic drink until I was twenty-one. It was a nuclear Ice Tea from Red Robin with my college roommates who took me out to celebrate. These are now the same gals that I drink with still.
2. I was never offered any sort of drug until I was twenty-five. I was at the hanger with a bunch of sky divers camping out when I was passed a joint. I nearly laughed at them thinking “y’all, I’m twenty-five and I’m just now getting my first offer at a joint?” but instead I passed feeling enough buzz from my wine and hearing the decades of “just say no” from the after school specials and DARE officers from the 80’s. And oh-my-god I mean the EIGHTIES. (I was offered my first joint in the year 2000)
3. I went to the ER when I thought my water broke at 31 weeks with my first pregnancy. You see, I sat on a chair outside my In Laws house and when I stood up, mine was the only chair wet. My shorts were soaked all the way through. Mine was The Only One. Naturally, I considered a) my water broke or b) my water broke.
I never considered c) the chair was the only one not under the deck cover and may have been the only one wet.
4. I also thought I’d wrap the umbilical chord around LB’s neck if I rolled over in bed too much. In fact, I even asked my doctor about it. I won’t repeat the face she gave me: a blend of sympathy and look of complete astonishment.
5. I’m hoping recent keyword searches from google are not like TiVo. You know how TiVo will suggest TV shows you should watch based on your scheduled programming? Google searches aren’t like that at all.
6. I have this website. I write a lot of things for people to read. And the funniest thing about it? My name is not really Flinger. But I get mail to that name all. the. time.
If you wanna do the meme, drop your link in the comments. I won’t make you participate. I know how much harder it is to write with all that pressure. I mean OH-MY-GOD-THE-PRESSURE. Or, maybe that’s just me.
This is usually the sentence we get immediately after answering the question, “So what brought you to Seattle?” People gasp and make frowny faces as they eye us up and down at how-in-the-world-stupid-do-you-have-to -be-to-live-three-and-a-half-hours-from-your-closest-relative. We smile, sometimes explaining further and sometimes not, and wait for the conversation to turn toward the incredibly high housing market and cost of living followed by the extreme liberal politics with people assuming things wrongly. We’re used to it now. It’s happened a lot.
It’s hard to explain to people that we moved to Seattle for a daydream. We moved to Seattle because we idealized the location and realized we will forever hate ourselves if we don’t at least try to see if it lives up to our high expectations. We moved two hundred plus miles from some amazing and dear friends and from LB’s first home and support system.
But we did not move to Seattle alone.
It’s hard to explain to people that while we do not have blood family near, we do have friends that are as good as family or better. We have people from our lives that we’ve known for 10 or more years that live near by and offer to help with the new baby and LB. We have the convenience of having their moms and dads close, adults you can turn to when you are so drug down by being The Adult yourself, who lovingly allowed us in to their lives years ago and feel so much like a Cousin or Aunt that you’d be happy going to their house for Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July (and we often do.)
I’d possibly be much more at home in San Antonio or Austin, near relatives and the kind of southern folk that made my formative years a classic childhood. I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t be happy living near my Mom and Dad where the houses are 70% off (with “Buy now and get 50% more!” tags on them) and the people that I’ve known my entire life. I think these thoughts during the long, long winter and the often cloudy and cold, rainy days.
Then a miracle happens and the sun breaks, the clouds part, the day warms and we take LB to the water to toss rocks into the Sound. We spend time as a family climbing over driftwood and marveling at the Ferry boats. We sit by the water and feel the strength of a million people who have sat by these same waves watching the same scene, breathing the same mountain-fresh air.
It’s hard to put in to words why we moved here. I’ve almost given up trying to explain it to people now. Instead, I will just say:
I appreciate everyone’s responses to my previous post. I found myself thinking about this for several weeks and just Monday, when we were able to see the little man who is making his June debut, it became a solidified fear. The day we found out we were having a boy, I was not only thrilled beyond belief but terrified to a catatonic state. He became real. He became mine. He became both a symbol of struggle and happiness.
He also reminded me of the answer to the question Laura asked in response to my aforementioned post:
Why we would do this all over again…..
(Video taken in poor light on our p.o.s. camera. LB is three and a half months old here. Also? Next time? Turn off the farking TV. Jeeeze.)
Recently, a really good friend of mine asked about the “joy” of motherhood. She asked when, exactly, it hits because nursing every two hours and not sleeping for four months is not exactly “joyful.” And it’s not. I think people who tell you those first few months were a joyful time in their lives are either lying, don’t remember, or they’re God.
I sure as hell am not God.
Her question stuck with me for a long while. It found its way in to the pit of my stomach and sat, festered, and grew in to fear. I was honest when I answered her. I was honest to say that to this day I do not exactly embody a “joyful” mom. We have joyful times. We enjoy life more now as she’s older and can interact with us. We mesh a little better. But joy? It’s kind of a stretch most days. And, honestly, the days I find “joy” are the days LB takes a long, long nap after having a lovely morning out with fresh air and playing.
Does it say something that my most joyful times are after an hour or two of alone time? Does that mean I am an awful mom? Does that make me a selfish person who should never have procreated? These are the questions I struggled with after I initially answered her weeks ago.
To women who do not have children yet, and I speak from my own thought process as I transformed from woman to alien incubator over two years ago, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to find joy in your children. There is pressure to have children because that is the meaning of life. To procreate. To be a MOTHER. Everything maternal is idealized and you feel the expectation of society breathing down your aging uterus. I struggled with my own fear of being able to conceive a baby, having never even tried. I struggled with waiting too long, with being too selfish, with enjoying the “pre-kid” time too much. I felt that if I didn’t jump on the mom wagon, I might miss my chance. So I jumped. I got knocked up. Then I really fell to bits.
Even as I waited, in those later weeks, for LB to arrive, I had a preconcieved notion of how life was going to be. I was going to glow with pride. I was going to have my daughter, my go-baby, and we were going to be out doing together. She’d be an extension of who I was merged with my husband and I couldn’t wait to take her out to see the world. Reality was such a slap in the face that I reeled for months struggling with post partum depression and wrestling with the demons of expectations. I had to distance myself from friends and family to keep from hearing “She’s so wonderful!” and “What a blessing!” I remember visiting an old church of mine and introducing LB, at nine months old, to the Pastor. He looked at her and said, “I bet she brings you so much joy.” That sentence struck me so hard I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach to this day. “Joy?” Interesting.
Joy came. Joy left. Joy came back. And left again. We’ve enjoyed times in her life more than others. There are honeymoon phases in her life where she seems in balance, were we seem in balance, and things click. There are other times we all seem to clash and the lack of sleep or growing teeth or tantrums cloud the harmonious memories. Just last week I turned to Mr. Flinger and reflected on how much more fun she is right now. We’ve turned a corner. I don’t know if was finally getting over the hump of turning two, adjusting to our new home, or climbing out of the exhaustive first trimester, but we both seem to have a little more patience for one another and find things a little more funny than we did two months ago.
I’m trying to be realistic with coffee bean. I’m trying to not put so much pressure on myself to have to tell everyone how much I love new babies. I’m trying to remind myself that the bad times don’t last just like the good ones wont. Motherhood is about more than showing off your children. It’s more than bragging about them, about telling everyone how much you love them, about the mask you put on when you step out the door. It’s about being someone your children can count on, depend on, find strength from. It’s about being real to your children and showing them how to deal with hard times as well as happy times. Mr. Flinger reminded me once that LB is going to see me depressed, and angry, and crying. If I try to hide those emotions from her she may grow up just as disillusioned as I was when it’s time for her first child. Instead, I try to show her emotion, allow her to have her own emotions, and find a way for us to be individuals sharing a daily routine that sometimes doesn’t mesh.
And even on some days, to find joy in each other. Because even if I’m not June Clever, I still enjoy my child. I’d like for her to know that because she feels it, not because I tell her.
Our kids are images of our inner selves. I noted that in the past, when I saw so much of my own personality in her. But now that she’s older, I see how much of our mannerisms, our quirky characteristics and our obsessive/compulsive behaviors rub off on these impressionable little people.
Here I have documented the color coding our two year old has recently taken to. One day, blue became Daddy’s, red became LB’s and everything green became Mommy’s. We try to ask her what color the baby gets but her head spins in circles, her eyes glaze over and she starts to drool. We try to persuade her in to mixing up the colors and handing the wrong color to the other person but she’s way to bright for that. (Is it bright? Or anal like mommy?) And, in the end, she not only catches me asking for coffee, but steers me toward water. Then my choice is milk? Or water?
Not that she hears that all day long.
*note: There’s an uncut version on the podcast site. I just figured some of you nice people might have other things to do with your time than watch our home movies. No? Swell. I made popcorn.
The thing about the Internet, is that sometimes it can be a sour place with hate and darkness. At other times, like today, when all of you are clamoring to hear the news of our next baby, to share in the gender war, to be here with us when we hear great news, I think I fall in love with The Internet like it’s the first day we met and you are wearing the same suit you wore that one night we walked down by the pier and talked all night.
Good times. Good times.
I know you want to hear that CB is healthy. CB’s spinal chord looks great and baby’s heartbeat was strong and wonderful. CB was moving around so much that at one point the technician says, “Active little bugger. Just like the older one there, hu?” as she glances up at my toddler who hasn’t been able to stop talking since she walked in the room OR sit down in a chair without sliding off. She looks at me with sympathy and a knowing look. “I have two very active kids. They’re fun. But I went gray early.”
LB kept saying how she wanted a baby sister. BABY SISTER! She watched the baby on the TV and asked every thirty seconds, “Baby sister?” We
got to see all the healthy bits first before she tried for the between-the-legs shot.
When she tried, CB wouldn’t cooperate.
She tried again. CB wouldn’t budge.
She jiggled my belly and rolls of new baby fat rebounded against the ultrasound wand. Finally, CB lifted the legs just enough…
And that*, ladies and gentlemen, are what little boys are made out of.
(*note to my son: This is the last time EVER that I will post a picture of your junk on the Internet. I promise.)
I knew when I became a mom my life would never be the same. It was an intangible thought, though, one I would not fully grasp until well after LB’s first birthday. Perhaps even then, I struggle at times with how complex and deep these changes go.
Life changes beyond the obvious sleep deprivation, spit-up, baby crap that now resides in your living room/car/den/kitchen/coat pockets. It’s something that lives and breathes in your mind as you worry about fires, car accidents, illnesses. You cringe when they hurt and you cry when they cry. And you wake up running when they call for you at 2AM.
But most certainly the most glaring change of all, as I sit here trying to work while LB is at school and I listen to my iTunes library, is that somewhere after Nora Jones and Amos Lee I hear “Five Green and Speckle Frogs” by Rafaii.
Life will never be the same.
I recently let my blog back on google after a three year lock down from all things search-able.
Holy effing hell, y’all.
It’s been two days and already I see why the Internet is a scary scary place. I see why I won’t let my daughter cross the street without looking both ways and why I will NEVER EVER give her permission to do a google search for something as innocent as “how to insert my tampon” should she ever feel the need. Do what any self-respecting seventh grader would do in the days before google, go to a friends house and ask HER. Like we did back in the 80’s.
I’m struggling a little bit with my decision to open up the site because I thought perhaps the world of wide webs would prefer not to hear about butt dimples and pregnant sex (oh, joy, the searches I see coming in for that one). But I want to know, do you allow google to sift through your archives like the tattle-tail he is? Or so you prefer to keep up a robots.txt file so it’s mostly hand-off?
Because after two whole days of keyword analysis, I’m starting to have my doubts.
13 guests here now.