Sunday, April 16, 2017

Yard egg hunt 2.0

Yesterday I participated in the "show us your taxes" anti-Trump march. Here is the sign the BF made for me: 


As with all marches, it was awesome. Next week is the science march. I wish I could do this every weekend. Every. Frickin. Weekend.

Unfortunately after a cold, a Friday night shouting over a loud band (our drummer's solo project), and marching Saturday and talking and shouting, I have now completely lost my voice. Have you ever tried to be a parent to two small children with no voice? It fucking sucks. Still, we survived another yard egg hunt and a long day at a national park with some aplomb. Now I would like to collapse in a pile of peanut butter cups, s'il vous plait.

 


 
 
 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Big boys

A delightful development has happened since the time change - every day after school (we get home at 6 PM), the boys insist on playing outside until dinner. It's something I always dreamed about - children frolicking in the yard, me pushing open a screen door to yell, "dinner!" and children scampering in to wash up and devour. Yes, that moment is here. I have two boys who can talk, play, and (kind of) use the potty on their own accord (after weeks of accidents, yesterday Theo started using the potty on his own without prompting).

The yard playing is not without peril. The front yard is on a steep slope and full of pointy cacti and succulents; we live on a busy street with a seemingly endless stream of homeless sauntering by to pick through our garbage. There are sharp drops into concrete stairs. The back is no better - a dirty strip of concrete next to a very climbable wall next to a pool. In short, my yards are pretty much the most non-kid friendly imaginable. However, so far so good (except that one time the kids pushed furniture up to the wall and played around the pool after I told them not to - let's just pretend that never happened). Being hyper vigilant, every time they're out there I run and check on them every two seconds. I might even re purpose my baby monitor to keep an eye on them more effectively. But, they love it, it's good for them to have little adventures in nature (or yard is teeming with native plants, humming birds, lizards, citrus fruits and trees), and I feel like this is one of those times I need to give them a little freedom. And it doesn't hurt that them expelling energy outside is way better than inside.

I performed in DC this weekend, the same event that marked my return to "the road" this time last year. I had a lot of anxiety around it - intimidating ballroom, big crowd, singing with our big band which I rarely do, new songs, one song with a scary high note that could have gone either way. But I got through it, met up with a blog reader friend one day and my old mommy & me friend who moved away two years ago on the next day. Damn, I miss her. She was my compatriot from when Bobby was just a baby, providing solace and commiseration and support and friendship when I needed it most. And she's really fucking cool. Sigh. Well, at least if we keep this gig going I'll get to see both of these ladies once a year!

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joint birthday in the bag

We celebrated Bobby and Theo's joint 3rd and 5th birthdays on Saturday. I'm not sure how much longer I can get away with joint birthdays - but boy is it convenient! I used the same indoor play space as last year, which meant a quick in and out with minimal effort other than making the cake (which this year I made from scratch using a 1930s devil's food cake recipe) and assembling the goody bags. Bobby requested a Nightmare Before Christmas theme which was a huge hit among my artsy friends' kids.

 

My sister came to visit for a few days. The boys were so excited about her visiting and the party that it was a bit like having two Tasmanian devils in the house all weekend. After we dropped her off at the airport they were a mess of torturing each other in the car - stealing toys from their car seats, crying, screaming. It was awful. Finally taking Theo to school he broke down in sobs, and I asked if he was sad because his aunt went home, and he pitifully nodded yes as tears rolled down his cheeks. Oh, these little kids. It's so easy to forget that they can't regulate their emotions yet. In my better moments I remember this and am kind and gentle; in my worse moments I bark at them to stop driving me crazy. Sigh. And so it goes. 

In other news, despite my decision not to invite any preschool friends to the party, Bobby has received an invitation...from his "frenemy", the class bully who's parents voted for Trump. What to do? Do I really want to spend the day in the presence of these a-holes and their rotten kid? No, but I must, because it's not about me, it's about Bobby, and he wants to go, and so we will. Can't say I won't wear my Uppity Women Unite pin, though. 

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The factory is closed

It dawned on me the other day that my mother's third marriage - the only one of four I was present for - happened when she was 45, which I will be in a few months. I remember my sister and I joking with her about having another baby. She would wryly respond, "the factory is closed". Which is my current response when people ask me if I'm going to try for a third. That and the standard Californian, "yeah, no."

Lately I've had lots of occasion to talk to single mothers of one toddler about their desire for a second. All are, as I was, very apprehensive about taking on a second child. And I am far too honest a person to try to bullshit them into it with stories of adorable toddlers holding hands or amusing each other or riding seesaws together. Oh, if it were only that all of the time. But it is soooo not.

As the more jaded of my friends warned me, almost all of your time is spent refereeing fights, largely over toys and who gets to do something/have something first. To be brutally honest, I find I have fallen into the habit of just letting Bobby do things first because it's just easier - Theo doesn't seem to notice or care (probably used to it), and Bobby puts up a royal fight if it goes the other way. Often times I wonder if I created a monster by doing this - but oh my god, the sheer exhaustion of each day, adding into that arbitrary things that are going to cause my soon-to-be five year old to completely freak out, make me have to threaten and/or enact punishments, and invariably make us late for something? Fuck it. Bobby learns all about sharing and taking turns at school. He's awesome with other kids, especially little ones. So I must be doing something right. 

I was honest with the women contemplating two children and told them I'm not sure I'd do it again if I knew how hard it would be. This is the ugly truth. It doesn't mean I wish Theo away - he's amazing and lovely and awesome - but parenting two young children alone is fucking brutal and exhausting, and I say this even with preschool giving me much needed free time and at the end of a rare and delightfully illness-free winter. 

Of course, I have no idea what my life would have been like with just Bobby. Would I be full of regret that I didn't provide him with a sibling? Would whatever issues I have with him fill the space and be just as exhausting/exasperating as the issues I have with two? Would he be needier or more selfish with no brother? Would I be a different, worse parent? 

I mentioned to one friend that I had two mainly so I wouldn't regret not doing it. She made the point that maybe living in fear of regretting doing or not doing things isn't the best strategy, and I have to agree. Then again, many women have confided in me that they wouldn't have had even one baby if they'd really known how hard it is. I believe I fall into this category a lot of the time. Still...I understand the kind of emotional/social/societal/hormonal pressure I was under in the fall of 2010 when I made this grand decision. I couldn't not have done it, really. And so here we are

I once asked my bandleader friend, who was bemoaning his wife's torrid baby fever, "do you have any idea what it's like, being a woman, being absolutely compelled to do something that you know is going to fuck up your whole life?"

I still cling to the concept that children are all about long-term investment. Not much going on in the early years - a whole lot of stress and worry and exhaustion - followed by hopefully the joy of having raised fine human beings who might even bless you with some ego-satisfying grandchildren. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!


 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Theo is three

What a difference a year makes, huh? This is the difference between two and three - and also, a child that's had help socializing at preschool and one who had yet to have that experience. It's going to be a rough year with my newly minted threenager, but we'll make it! Onward we go to four! 

 

 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Kindergarten tour

Today was the day I've been anticipating with bated breath for years - the day I get a registration packet for and a tour of the kids' future school, which Bobby will join in just a few months. 

Walking on to the campus I've walked by countless times (it's on a main drag that I used to walk a couple of times a week) was surreal. Can it be I am the parent of a *gulp* school-aged kid? At last? And that by the time both kids leave this school, I will be in my late fifties? Who knows what will be going on in my life then? Will I still be running this camp, living in this house, in this relationship? Who knows?

I started the orientation with that vaguely panicky and overwhelmed feeling I get whenever I'm embarking on a new social experience...I feel entirely unprepared for the rigors of "real" school; helping with homework and school projects, fund raising, having to get up early and be places on time. I feel like I've just been playing at being a parent all this time...now it's the real deal. Am I up to the challenge? Still, my level of discomfort with all these new responsibilities can't possibly match my son's. This is a big leap for him. I'm going to try to be there for him emotionally as much as possible. Big changes!

In other news, my estranged father left me a voicemail tonight asking me to call him. So often I give thanks that I don't have the burden of both young children and ailing parents at the same time; then things like this happen and suddenly I'm thrust back into the role of Adult Daughter of a Crazy Person. Good times. 

 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

School Daze

Bobby's future elementary school is having tours on Thursday. It's a good thing I randomly called to find out when the tours are, otherwise I would have missed it. It's at 8:30 AM so I will most likely go by myself rather than hauling two sleepy kids out of bed. It's a big moment. These kids will hopefully be at this school until 6th grade (I say "hopefully" because at this moment I'm not entirely convinced there will be public schools - or even any living things on earth - by the end of this administration that shall remain nameless). I so hope both the kids get good groups of kids in their grades. There's one little bully in B's preschool class - who at the same time is kind of B's friend - who I notice messes up the dynamic of the whole class. B tells me whenever this kid is absent all the kids have a much better day and behave better. Sigh. I remember that from when I was a kid - the charismatic "leader" who was nonetheless an instigator and trouble maker, and how we were all oddly afraid of and yet seduced by him/her. I've explained to B what a "frenemy" is. Again, the current president comes to mind.

The kids' zoned elementary school is one of the best in Los Angeles, and for that I am profoundly grateful. I remember buying this house at 29 and my realtor singing the praises of the school district and how people come to the neighborhood just for that school; at the time, children seemed centuries away, and yet here we are. Based on the neighborhood demographics, the school should be made up of largely white affluent hippies and Hispanic immigrants or children of immigrants. Sounds like a good mix to me. I love that already most of B's friends are non-white. It's a good start to a hopefully diverse experience for him, even though he already is way more sheltered and privileged than I was at his age. 

So Thursday I get a glimpse into my future - the kids' teachers, environment, and other important information, like is there a school bus? What are the options for after school? And what about PTA involvement? I'm sure I'll be a very involved parent since most of the year I have the free time. 

Our leisurely preschool days are coming to a close. Three and a half more months left there, then swim camp at the Y for summer, then kindergarten in August. Here we go!