I never tried co-sleeping with my older children. I was very scheduled, and so were they. I was terrified to let them in the bed with me. I don’t know what started it with my youngest, except I was clinging to every aspect of his infant stages knowing he was going to be my last. I’m not proclaiming that one way is right or better. All I know is that I’m on step four and I’m too exhausted to ponder the greater values of sleep systems for babies.
Excuse me while I drown my woes in coffee. . .
1.The first few weeks – Your boob is like. . .right there.
You’re nursing and he’s happily latching on every two hours on the dot. You, however, wake up every fifteen minutes to watch his chest and make sure he’s breathing, that there is nothing near his face, that he’s not too close to your pillow, that your husband hasn’t rolled over on top of him…You get zero sleep.
2. The next two months – Utter exhaustion.
You find that you’ve passed out for three hours at a time, only waking when he does to eat. Initial panic sets in and you feel around the bed to make sure he hasn’t magically disappeared. You check to make sure he’s breathing…while he’s screaming for a bottle. As you’re feeding him you think, Why the hell am I doing this? Then he falls asleep in your arms, and the crib seems so far away, and so you lay down for just a minute…
3. Months three to six – Sharing sweat.
You wake every four hours with one side of your body drenched in sweat. He’s drenched in sweat. You change clothes, feed him, and lay down with your personal mini heater…which just plain sucks in June, July, and August.
4. Months six to twelve – Good luck, you brave, brave woman.
He can roll. He can crawl. He can use you as his personal jungle gym. You’ll find his preferred sleep position is draped across your body like the heaviest, sweatiest, drool-covered blanket ever. He will wake up long enough to burp in your face, kick you in the crotch, and then pass back out in a pile of the drool that’s collecting in your cleavage (or what’s left of your cleavage, because c’mon, darling, you nursed…we all know better). You look at the crib and realize somewhere over the last year it has transformed from that adorably decorated thing you posted all over Facebook to the world’s most expensive clothes hamper.
I went through a year of horrendous online dating before I met the man who became my husband. I wasn’t exactly a poster girl for the most eligible bachelorette, but none of my hold-ups were much excuse for the sort of men I met. I was 24 years old and a full time student. I worked part time, lived with my parents, was divorced, and had two children under the age of five. I’m not an unattractive woman, but men weren’t exactly beating down my door to date me. More so, I knew that I needed a companion, not just a boyfriend.
I couldn’t seem to even meet a normal, down to earth man. Things became enough of a joke around the house that my mother would sit up at night and wait for me to get home, collapse on her bed and giggle while sharing all the terrible details of my odd nights out.
Then there was the guy who asked me to hold his belt while in the mall so I wouldn’t get lost.
The man who took the menu out of my hand and ordered food for me like I was three.
The guy who took me to a movie and proceeded to move down to the front row where there was only one open seat to “see better,” leaving me alone.
The man who figured out where I worked and spent an hour walking around the store trying out different women’s lotions before finally admitting he was one of the men I had denied a date request from on an online site.
The guy who took me shopping and then proceeded to tell me how I should dress.
The gentleman who stripped naked in his parent’s living room while I used their restroom.
By the time I got around to talking to Mak, I was pretty wary of dates. A whole year of these kinds of dates will do that to a woman. I had a whole safety set-up – complete with emergency friend phone calls lined up and pepper spray.
Mak invited me over for dinner. I had such a good time that I ended up coming home and looking him up on Google and the case search program to see if he had some shady criminal past hiding. There had to be something wrong, considering my past history with online dating. He had a speeding ticket. That was it. Needless to say, I was impressed.
The next morning we had a quick conversation.
“I’m not really interested in playing around,” he said. “I like you. Let’s make this serious.”
If any other man I’d gone on a date with had said that to me I’d have gone running for the hills.
“Okay,” I said.
I don’t know why. I’d hate to chalk it up to some sort of fate thing, but maybe part of me knew he wasn’t a psycho killer. Maybe there was some deeper connection. Maybe I was just really brave.
Within a few weeks he had met my children and included them in our outings.
A few months later was Easter and I was scrawling ‘I love you’ onto an egg and hiding it in the fridge.
“Go get the orange egg out of the fridge,” I told him.
He got up and I heard the fridge door open. After a moment it closed again and he came back to the couch.
“Well…” I started.
“Well what?” He asked.
“What did you think?” I asked. It was the first time I’d attempted to tell the man I loved him and he was being completely stubborn about the whole thing.
“It’s cute,” he said.
“And…” I lead him.
“I love you, too,” he said. “You know that.”
By the end of the year he had moved in. We were blessed in our relationship. There hadn’t been many of the big challenging moments. His father passed a few weeks before our wedding, but it was expected, and while we mourned it hadn’t surprised us. Their relationship had been so strained, for so long. It was the first time though that I ever saw him cry – a moment that I think is imprinted in my memory. There is something about seeing a strong man mourn, something heartbreaking and frightening and so real it hurts that one simply doesn’t forget it.
I remember standing by his father’s bed. He sat in a chair across the room from me. I went to him, but he didn’t reach for me. I stepped back – gave him space. I didn’t know how to handle his grief. He took a few moments to himself and I watched him. I watched the years, the pain, the neglect from that relationship wash away. For those few moments there was love.
There hadn’t been many of those bring-you-to-your-knees moments. We didn’t even really fight or argue. We were thankful to have found a companion in one another that shared a similar sense of humor. Laughter got us through any time things seemed to be getting dark.
He stepped into the role of father as if it were all he’d ever known. It was never a look-at-me exercise, but came naturally. There was a gaping hole in our little family and he saw it, stepped into it, and never looked back. It was in the quiet way he made that transition that still never fails to amaze me.
He has a silent strength in him. A code of ethics that can’t be argued or even discussed. They simply are.
Perhaps it’s because of his quiet nature that people find him intimidating. Combining that with the sleeves of tattoos and long dark hair, it’s quite understandable. However, anyone watching him drink tea from a tiny porcelain cup with my daughter would realize how wrong they are.
Four years after that first date and I was talking to my brother in California, planning his trip home to visit.
“When is he coming home?” Mak asked.
“The end of June,” I said.
“Good,” he said. “We’ll get married then.”
Proposal. Date set. End of discussion.
I had a month to get everything planned and ready.
I love you, too. You know that.
After our wedding we decided to have a baby. A few short months later and I was excitedly waving those little pink lines around in the air. We were so excited we told everyone.
We were at his mother’s for a belated Thanksgiving dinner when I started miscarrying. My husband had the kids in the car while I stood white knuckled on the phone with the emergency room and watched my father-in-law toss the kids’ toys into their book bags. Hours and many tests later the doctor gave us the news.
“There’s no heartbeat.”
I’d known when I saw her face. I’d been crying since she came into the room. I looked across the room at my husband. I expected him to get up, to come to me. The doctor left and he still sat there for a few moments. In that space between us I watched him break, hit his emotional knees, mourn, and grieve. I watched him as he cared for himself and then he came to me. He put himself behind and cared for me.
For the following days he held me while I cried and found whatever ways he could to make me smile. We found laughter in the darkest moments. We suffered. We healed.
We spent months talking back and forth about whether or not to try again. The entire process had frightened him so badly. I learned to appreciate what pregnancy can do to a man. It’s a terrifying situation, especially for one who tends to like to be in control of things. There is no control with pregnancy.
He couldn’t see what was happening inside my body.
He couldn’t control what was happening.
He couldn’t stop me from being in pain, from hurting.
All he could do was be there and hope that I would heal.
“I’m not sure we should try again,” Mak said.
We were lying in bed, the lights off and waiting for one or both of us to become too tired to keep talking.
“We’ve got a girl and a boy,” he started. “You know? Maybe that’s enough.”
“You don’t want one of your own?” I asked.
“They are my own,” he said.
A few nights later we were repeating this whole thing again. It was like a record skipping, playing backwards, flinging all over the place. I never knew where we’d end up.
“We could try again,” he said.
“We’re not doing anything to stop it from happening,” I answered.
“If it does, it does,” he’d agree.
Three months of this back and forth indecision plagued us.
Finally he said, “I don’t think we should try again.”
“I’m pregnant,” I said.
We collapsed against one another laughing. For weeks we were quiet. We were so careful not to tell people too early. We went to each appointment with our heart in our throats. Every test was a negative, dangerous thing. Every symptom I had was cause to worry. We struggled to find joy.
Mak kept warning me not to get my hopes up.
I kept countering that he needed to not think so negatively.
We flew past each other, both of us on separate ends of our own emotional roller-coasters.
“Are you happy about the baby?” I finally asked him.
“Of course,” he said. “You know that.”
I love you, too. You know that.
I am five months pregnant today. A few weeks ago we went to the doctor and we got to hear the heartbeat. The tiny whomp whomp whomp sound filled the room. I was laid back on the bed watching my husband. He didn’t stand up and come to me. For a few moments, he sat there and smiled. I watched him in this moment of joy and excitement and relief. I watched him take that moment for himself and then he came to me.
He kisses me every morning before he leaves for work. He tells me he loves me before we fall asleep. He doesn’t have to say that he loves me. I know he does. All I need are those few moments, where there is space between us and I have the chance to really see my husband. It is in those moments that I get to watch him love.
By the end of it though, we got to see baby and find out that everything looks good. Baby is healthy and active and looking just right for 12 weeks.
I showed the husband the pictures and he laughed and said it still looks like a mutant. I told him that he wouldn’t be very pretty stuck in water for that long either.
In his defense, the 3D images of the baby were relatively frightening (hence why I am not posting them). Baby will be beautiful…in a few more months when it gets here and we can dry it off and dress it and such things.
You want me to be one of those women who “Ooo” and “Aahh” over little grey film of something I still need help deciphering as to what part is what of this amazingly ever-changing little being?
That’s not me.
I’m not even the happy pregnant type.
I’m the…give me my baby and let me get on with the mommy thing type.
It drives me nuts to keep saying “baby.”
I’m ready to say a name. And we’ve got names picked out. So let’s have some fun with this, since I can’t find out for six more weeks if this is a baby Lily or a baby Tommy.
I want you to guess!
Leave your guess in the comments below and in six more weeks all those who guessed right will win a free ebook copy of my newest book, Perjury.
I was sitting here thinking today about all the things I wanted to make sure I tell my daughter at some point. I’m not talking the ooie-gooey things like, “I love you” or “You’re beautiful”. I’m talking the real, down and dirty tricks that I’ve picked up over the years.
This post may be full of generalizations, profanity, and of course sex. We’ll rate it “R” for Ridiculously Awesome.
1. Ignore every commercial you see for those fancy women’s razors. Skip that department completely and go straight for the men’s. Regardless of what they say, men’s razors always work better.
Also, it is perfectly acceptable to go without shaving your legs, as long as you are wearing pants and/or the hair is short enough to not poke through your pantyhose.
2. Speaking of pantyhose…it will never be comfortable. Ever. You can save yourself a bit of pain and buy one size up from what the little box-from-hell says you need. Doing this will not, however, pull in nice and tight all the areas you may be wanting nice and tight. For that, you’re going to need Spanx.
No need to be afraid. Spanx are basically like packing your own sausage.
3. Oh yes, home-made sausage and fresh pasta and God only know what else his mother makes that you never quite manage to get right. Give up. Give up now. He will always compare your cooking to his mother’s, and she will win in almost every category. There is something inside a man’s head that makes him nostalgic for the meals he had growing up (even if his mother could barely manage Kraft in the blue box). There are ways to combat the feelings of anger this will cause you.
– Do not ask for your mother-in-law’s recipes, or to teach you how to make a certain dish. In fact, compliment her always on her food (Wine helps). This will do two things: irritate her and confuse the balance that she expects to be in place.
– Take comfort in knowing that if you have a son, somewhere out there is a woman who will feel exactly like you when your son says, “It’s not like my mother’s makes”.
– Offer to house-sit for your in-laws and have sex with your husband in their kitchen. Then when you are over for dinner, just think back on that experience and smile. (Pass the wine.)
4. Instead of worrying about his mother’s cooking, focus on learning one meal really well. I’m talking entree, at least two sides, salad, soup, bread, and desert. Master that meal. Work at it until it is perfect. This will be your go-to meal. Your company is coming over meal. Your his mother is visiting meal. Your time to give the husband the credit card statement meal.
5. Learn to walk in heels. Go out and buy six inch stiletto platform hooker shoes. Put them on and walk on them until you have nailed those monsters. This way you will be prepared for whenever the husband (or anyone else) gives you a pair of heels. If you can master those, you can handle any, and are therefore less likely to spend weeks walking around in your new gift like a drunken flamingo.
6. Your children will hit an age where they practically become a parrot. And like any wild animal, you either muzzle them or toss food bits at them until they shut up.
7. Your body is your own, guard it. Until you have children, then anything you might be delirious enough to believe is still yours, isn’t.
8. At some point, someone in your life is going to offer you drugs. There are certain steps I want you to take before you accept them.
– Look at the person giving them to you…very carefully. Pay attention to detail here.
– Imagine yourself having sex with them in the next hour.
– Imagine your having sex with them without protection.
– Imagine getting pregnant with them.
– Imagine them 50, balding, and changing the diaper of your sixth child on the ripped couch in your trailer, while the rest of your kids are in the backyard shooting BB guns and attempting to tie each other up with duct tape. Oh, and you’re in a floral moo-moo.
– Turn around and walk away very quickly.
* The same applies to alcohol in excess. Except when you grow up. Then flip the image and imagine all your housework. Drink wine until the image disappears.
9. Finally, before you ever consider some life-long venture with a man, consider these things:
– Sex sucks the first time.
– Sex sometimes sucks the first couple of times. There’s a reason one-night stands normally stay that way. It takes a bit of time to actually learn one another well enough to have amazing sex.
– That didn’t apply to your father and I…and yes, we were a one-night stand turned marriage.
– Your father and I are NOT the role model in this situation.
– All the sex stuff aside, if they aren’t the kind of man you’d want to introduce to your father…best to just let that one go.
– If they don’t treat you the way you see your father treat me, run.
– If they put their hands on you, experience tells me crock-pots can be dangerous as hell. Make your way to a kitchen and it’ll be like running into the Matrix armory.
– If they cheat on you, they will do it again. If you’re the girl they cheated on someone with, they’ll cheat on you, too.
– If their pants sag, I WILL make them a soprano for life. You’ve been warned.
– If you can’t laugh with them, lose them.
– If you can’t laugh at them, trip them 😀
And finally, let me just say…
You are not allowed to look at your body and say, “I don’t like -insert body part here-“.
Like I started the other day, I am sharing the reader’s choice from my second book, History of a Woman. Enjoy!
The check came once a week and on it, in the tiny, informal script she could see the statistics. She saw the demographics, the signatures, the dates, the times, the dollar signs and the cents. The sense. Pay to the order of the single mother, the broken hearted, the lost and struggling. Pay to the order of that bitch who walked out, that gold-digger, that useless leech.
Twenty dollars and thirty-two cents. Thirty-six dollars and seventeen cents. That was the breakdown. That was division at work. That was the price tag, per child, per absent father, per paycheck, as order by the court.
So her son was worth $20. 32 a week. He was worth one pair of sneakers, plus tax. He was worth a family dinner from KFC. He was worth two Wal-Mart brand t-shirts and a pair of jeans with the little buttons inside to adjust the waist so they wouldn’t fall off his thin hips. He was worth one pack of the good brand of nighttime pull-ups and a fruity flavored Tummy Yummy.
$36.17. She was worth fifteen dollars and eighty-five cents more than her brother. And why was that? Because she is the older of the two? Because she came first? Because she was left behind first? That extra fifteen dollars and eighty-five cents makes her worth ice-cream at school for an entire month. She is worth two of those scarves from Target that she wants, because all the other little girls are wearing them. Thirty-six seventeen means she is worth one new dress and stockings to match. She’s worth a movie date with her mom and maybe, just maybe, she’s worth popcorn with extra butter.
She stares at the names and the dates and the amounts. She pulls out her calculator, because she’s logical, because she’s sane, because she knows there must be some algorithm in play that dictates the price attached to another human being’s name, date of birth, and social security number. Somewhere inside her children’s DNA is the bar code that is engraved with all this information. That’s why she couldn’t find it. That’s why the numbers never came out right.
One month is $81.28 and $144.68. That’s school supplies for both, new book-bags and lunch boxes, and for her daughter, that means she’s worth a new pair of dress shoes where her toes won’t hang over the edge.
One year makes them worth $975.36 and $1,736.16. He is four, so that means he’s worth $3,901.44. She’s six, so it’s $10,416.96. Right? That makes sense, she figured. I mean, by the time they are grown, their price-tags will be immense. They will be worth so much…so very, very much.
And that was the game. It was all a gamble. They had set the bet and she had called. Not only had she called, but she’d raised. She’d raised and raised and raised. She met each of their bets and doubled and tripled them. She’d paid in her part, and not only with money, but with her time. With her kisses, her late night wake-up calls, her trips to the family doctor, her white hairs, her once a month new toothbrushes, her story times.
So when those men would show back up, she’d be able to look them in the eye. She’d be able to say, “Hey, I figured it out.” She knew her child’s worth and she’d raised the bet. “It’s on you now. Call or fold.”
Remember the contest is still going on until December 15th! Visit http://facebook.com/HistoryofaWoman and LIKE my page for your chance to win a copy of one of my books! Your choice!
It may be hard to tell here, but you can almost see the Eyebrow of Doom.
Now, I get the raised eyebrow a lot. Normally it means one of three things:
1. I’m getting ready to get scolded. -In my best the husband voice-
The foot is down.
2. I did something stupid, which means the eyebrow raises only long enough for him to let me know I did something stupid. It’s like the warning shot before the laughter and endless teasing follows.
or 3. I was wrong.
I don’t like that last one.
See, I can handle when “the foot is down”, because this white chick and her lack of rhythm can pull off some fancy dance moves to get around that one. Hence why the daughter is getting the One Direction bed set she asked for…regardless of the many “foot downs” that took place.
And I can handle doing something stupid, because…it’s me. I’ve gotten used to that about myself.
I don’t like that last one. I don’t like to be wrong. I like it even less, because when I finally have to admit it the eyebrow goes up, as does the corner of the mouth in that little I-knew-it smirk, and I get the silent, twinkling of the eye that is the equivalent of some Greek grandmother wagging a finger in my face and yelling “I told you so!” It’s the cone of shame, dammit.
So, when we went to Walmart and I see a lady standing at the end of the row where the cash registers are looking all friendly and helpful like the Walmart people do standing there when they have no costumers and are ready to wait on someone…
Me: Oooh, look there’s a lady open down there.
The husband: I think that’s self-checkout.
Me: No it’s not. C’mon. -To the Walmart lady.- Are you open?
Oh! And that’s AFTER he found the shirts that I swore they were sold out of, because I couldn’t find them anywhere, except I neglected to look in the main aisle where there were stacks of the neon horrors.
Or when we argued the whole way home about this video for Adrenalize by In This Moment. We both might have a bit of a girl crush on the lead singer…
And so I swore that in the beginning of the video she was walking out in her nurse outfit with a rabbit mask on. He said no, it was some almost faceless, nude colored mask.
I pulled up the video on my phone, but the screen is so small (not small enough that I couldn’t tell it wasn’t a rabbit mask, but small enough that I shoved it back into my pocket and thought to delay until we got home)…
So he pulled it up on his bigger, fancier phone.
Yeah. But there are rabbit masks…later in that video. If you watch the whole thing.
And then tonight happened. You see, while we were at Walmart I grabbed The Dark Knight out of a $5 bin thinking the kids would love to see it. It’s Batman. Of course they’d love it.
The husband: That’s a little old for them.
Me: It’s Batman! It’s fine.
The husband: It’s violent, and the Joker is a little intense in that one.
Me: Oh, pfft. They’ll be fine.
The Dark Knight came on TV today, and so I let the son sit down and watch it with me.
The son: The Joker is killing a lot of people.
The son: He said son of a…
Which is when I slapped a hand over his mouth, shook my head no repeatedly, and turned on SpongeBob.
I forgot how scary that guy was.
And then my mother…my traitorous mother (I say that with love and affection) TOLD THE HUSBAND about the Batman catastrophe…