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!

 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Take No Prisoners

Theo's first day in underpants didn't go so hot. I walked in to school and saw his pants and underpants wadded up in a plastic baggie on top of his stuff, and said to him, "Theo, did you pee in your underpants??" and he gleefully shouted out, "yeah!!!" Uh boy. This may not be the slam-dunk I was hoping for!!!

In other news, I got slut shamed on Facebook late Tuesday night. Yep. It was my old "friends" at it again - the two guys who have had a hard on for me since one of them didn't make finals in my contests in September. In this episode, it was a picture of them and an old boyfriend of mine that I dated about 17 years ago, who later became a real menace and is the one I just had to ban from my event for sexual assault. Although he's been around I haven't actually spoken to him since about 2001 because I think he's just a big jerk (and apparently a sexual assaulter now too). We were never really together - it was a kind of dance partner/friends with benefits type deal. So anyway, my "friends" focus on this guy in the picture and start talking about how they'd never seen me happier than when I was with him, maybe I need to get with him again so I can be happy again, and a variety of other wink-wink nasty put downs of me, how they have video "evidence" (of some dance routine we did but the implication of something else), and of course bringing my event into it to trash it again. 

I got on and told them what would make me happiest is if they would leave the scene permanently. One of them said "we were talking about Hillary Clinton". Then I told them I was officially dropping them from my Hall of Fame - which I followed by immediately taking them off the list of Hall of Famers on my website. Being a Hall of Fame member also means lifetime free entrance to my event. Like I'm going to keep that privilege for people who treat me like this? What kind of a fucking doormat do they take me for?

At this point it was 2 AM so I just went to bed. The next morning the entire thread had been deleted, but some friends in my feminist group shared screenshots with me in which their stupid brain dead girlfriends vilified me for taking away their status that they "earned". Whatever. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. 

One of the guys involved sent me a groveling private apology, which I answered today in very harsh tones. He's done this many times - gone off online and then sends a private apology that his friend, the other guy, will never know about and think he's a pussy for sending. I told him it means nothing unless he makes it public. Which he won't. So that's that.

This whole situation to me is very similar to that guy who emailed to tell me I need to be removed from the stage when waiting to sing because I'm not constantly smiling. It's not about not being a good performer. It's about men desperately needing to control women - their appearance, their bodies, their sexual lives. These guys know how embarassed I am that I ever dated that asshole, and they know I banned him, so they did this solely to humiliate and discredit me (hence the term slut shame). It had nothing to do with kidding around. It was an intentional jab and character assassination. 

So I hurt them in the best way I could - took away the one legacy they could have left this world, their Hall of Fame status. Oh, they can still come to my event. But from now on they fucking pay me.

So I'm continuing my post-election Take No Prisoners attitude. I created a playlist for music on my phone called "Rage" and it's been my soundtrack. Here is my new FB profile picture:

 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Potties and Hotties

Today Theo's preschool teachers asked if I'd be willing to send him to school in underpants starting next week. Woo-hoo!

Truth be told Theo has been peeing and pooping on the potty for some time now, but I've been pretty inconsistent about keeping it going, partly because every time I ask if he wants to try he says no, and I don't want to force it, so I just leave it alone. But the babysitter has him on the potty every time she's here and he does great. I need to really commit to making potty training happen. I want to make sure he's able to advance to the next class at school which can only happen if he's out of diapers. Here we go! 

The craziness of my opening night settled pretty quickly - a few days of intense paperwork and all 340 people were manually typed into the system by me, and now I can go back to focusing on preparing for this year's taxes which is going to be extremely complicated. 

So tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I have a singing gig so there will be no big romantic plans, but I'll say things are really good between me and the BF and I'm really pleased with the way things are going. This time last year I was not in such a great place - I was seven pounds heavier and none of my clothes fit, I was fed up to the gills with his smoking, and not feeling very good about us. I never would have imagined a year later he'd be a non-smoker, living with me, and that I would feel really good about it all. So for that I am truly thankful.

 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Opening night, part XX

So I opened for registration on Wednesday night.

The good news is, as opposed to last year's record of 125 people, this year I got over 300 people, about 200 in just a couple of minutes.

The bad news is, I was offering tiered pricing (as I have for the past few years), and the first two tiers sold out in about a minute. And people freaked out. I spent the entire night until about two AM fielding furious emails, phone calls and Facebook messages accusing me of running a scam, because "there's no way they sold out that fast". The meanness and conspiracy theory nature of these people seems to be coming from our general political environment. I had to offer several refunds, and offer many explanations and some apologies. About 50 people were happy (they got the big discount), and then another 300 or so were pissed off. And all I got out of it was a loss of $5,000 in how cheap those early prices were. So what, exactly, is the point?

Next year I think I'll offer a "24 hour sale" - think of a price I can live with, and offer it for the first day only, which is something people grasp a lot better than a tier that sells out. That way I'll get the money I need up front and people won't feel cheated. Win-win. 

So opening night was great and it also fucking sucked. Which I think is going to be the mantra for this difficult, giant year I have ahead of me - my big 20th anniversary - it's going to be huge, and it's going to be insanely stressful. 

I went to a march for healthcare on Saturday. Is there a chance California could enact its own universal healthcare? It's a long shot, but I am interested in the possibility. I met some interesting people, and one weird woman who hated the women's march and thought our pink hats were stupid. Pffft whatever, lady! Nobody asked you.

Today we had a fun day at a kid's birthday party. The boys' party s set for April 1st, since every weekend is booked at the space I want until then. Luckily the kids are too little to understand when their actual birthdays are, so hopefully they won't mind. Here's a pic from the party today that the boyfriend took while spinning him around. It's pretty much my favorite picture of him ever.