Sunday, May 25, 2014

Just Say Yes

I'm writing this post against my better judgment and against the advice and my very private husband...and probably any mentor or former boss I might ask...or current boss...I'm probably going to destroy my entire career and my husband's presidential ambitions, but so be it.  I'm going to write this post for 3 reasons: 1) I'm running out of other things to write about;  2) If I can make this even slightly funny without offending anyone, I will be very impressed with myself; and 3) I really really really REALLY hate taboos that are based on nothing but people needing to convince other people that they are "normal," whatever that means, as opposed to being rooted in actual morality.  There are legitimate taboos--racism, sexism, child abuse, breastfeeding (kidding! geez, lighten up people!)--but what I am about to disclose should NOT be one of them.

So here it goes: I take drugs.  Not street drugs, mind you, even if I were that stupid and self-destructive, I honestly would not know where to even get them, and the people from whom one must get them I'm assuming would scare the crap out of me.  Seriously, I don't open the door for the UPS man, and I'm certainly not going to go trolling for crack.  No, my drug of choice is a tiny blue miracle called Zoloft, and without it, I probably would be living under an assumed name in an abandoned shed in Montana training squirrels for the circus.  You see, some of you think I am just joking about motherhood kicking my butt, and others of you think I am just being overly negative or dramatic and I should just be thankful for the precious children God has given me (which I am, by the way, you can be grateful and mentally ill at the same time, it just doesn't look as pretty).  Let me be clear: MOTHERHOOD IS KICKING MY BUTT.  To the point where I need medication just to avoid injuring anyone.  You may not understand that, and you may judge me for being a ridiculous and/or wonder what my problem is, but the fact remains.  If it's not kicking your butt, I'm honestly very happy for you.  Heck, I really wish I WERE you.  But I'm just not, and that is too bad for everyone, except for you, of course, because this way you get to feel superior to someone, and that is always a good time.

Let me address those who think I am being "negative" for a moment--not that any of them read this blog.  Yeah, I drove those girls off a really long time ago.  But in case any of them have dropped in so they can have the pleasure of judging someone (feel free, ladies, I honestly don't mind, as long as you are entertained!), let me explain my perspective a little bit.   Deeming American chocolate inferior to European chocolate or calling Taco Bell food inedible or saying that Bono is anything less than a creative genius and a servant of humanity--that's being overly negative.   Now if American chocolate made you vomit for 10 years or the FDA banned Taco Bell for causing cholera or U2's music gave you a stroke or Bono beat you to a bloody pulp--then you would be entitled to your opinion.  And if a life experience drives you to mental illness, well then, I think you can call that spade a spade.  Maybe that's just me.  I will say, however, that if Bono ever beats you to a bloody pulp, then it probably is your fault because I don't think that man is capable of anything but love, inspiration, and multi-dimensional lyrics that manage to capture the meaning of the universe.  You need to get some help.  Maybe some Zoloft.

So, seriously, how did I end up on drugs.  Well, as best as I can figure--I had some strikes against me going into this whole motherhood thing.  First of all, as I have ruminated before, I think those who are Ns on the Myers-Briggs scale are not naturally well-suited to motherhood.  While I don't think any woman particularly enjoys trying to simultaneously cook dinner, talk to their spouse, break up a fight, avoid toys underfoot, and dislodge the child clinging to their leg, for many Ns, whose minds left to their own devices are happiest living in another dimension--preferably one in which there is no need to plan or prepare meals because we are all just energy anyway and we can simply rearrange our molecules every so often to recharge our cells--this scenario feels like being in a war zone. Then you have my rather bizarre upbringing.  Let's just say that when you've been taking care of yourself since age 10, you're really not too excited about taking care of a bunch of other people.  And why should you?  Seriously, kids, if I could manage a crank phone and a cranky Kenyan operator just to call my parents once a month, I think you can get your own milk, like, from birth.  Lastly, you have my natural,  sparkling personality, which quite honestly is a little crazy, I don't know why, but before I had kids, it was nothing a good pedicure couldn't cure and maybe a moody evening listening to Sarah McLaughlin every now and then.

Then I had Charlotte.  I kind of knew going in that motherhood would be a challenge, but still, it was a shocking transition.  She is quite literally the easiest child on the planet--she slept 13 hours a night from 8 weeks old, complained of how rowdy other children were at 2 years old,  potty-trained herself (and I am not exaggerating, the child calmly informed me she was done with diapers) at three years old, and now advises me of the speed limit when I'm driving and reminds me that it's time to reapply sunscreen.  No allergies, no diseases, no disorders. Never, ever vomits (and that's a big deal right there, let me tell you).  There is absolutely no reason I should go crazy while parenting this child.  And I didn't, not yet.  But then I had Lawson, who, although male and therefore bent on global destruction and chaos, is also a pretty easy child.  But he and Charlotte are both CHILDREN.  The nerve. AND there's TWO of them.  They BOTH demand stuff from me every minute of the day, they BOTH barge in on me while on the toilet (and when you've spent 9 years of your life living in dorms, you are kind of done with that), they BOTH whine when I do something as terrible as take them to a horrible, disgusting place like a park or pool or--God forbid!--the zoo.  They are two people who are 100% committed to their sole ambition in life--which I am convinced is the same one for every American child--and that is to make their parents as miserable and insane as possible.  I don't really understand it--Maybe when you haven't fully developed a keen sense of empathy yet, making people miserable is really fun.  Maybe your millions of toys just can't compete with psychological experimentation.  Maybe Elmo secretly drives you out of your mind but as with any toxic relationship, you just can't extricate yourself, and you don't have the strength to ask for help either.  I don't know why, but my theory is the only one that satisfactorily explains the bizarre and maddening behavior of small children.

The ultimate trigger was probably post-partum depression.  This is what I always mention when explaining why I'm on Zoloft, anyway, because it sounds more refined.  As in, no, I'm not just a crazy weakling who has somehow been outwitted by two people with no money, no power, no education, and who weigh like a hundred pounds less than me.  That would be pathetic.  No, I am on drugs because the magical, wondrous birth process is just so complex and amazingly body-shattering that sometimes you just need a little help recovering, you know like a tummy tuck for the brain or something.  That is way more acceptable.  But deep down I don't think it was post-partum depression.  I think motherhood just kicks my butt. If there was any doubt, my recent efforts to get off the drugs (which, granted, were foolishly attempted during Kevin's absence. I mean like seriously, do you think you are Wonder Woman or something? So dumb) ended with me locked in my room binge eating chocolate-covered almonds.  And you know what--that is OK.  I am owning it.  If that makes me a ridiculous weakling, so be it.  Better I admit that to myself and take a pill every day than to put my children through me in my natural form.

But seriously though--these children are formidable, are they not?  I don't know how you are doing this without drugs. God be with you.

Monday, May 12, 2014

March-April: The Nutrition Revolution

OK, "Revolution" is a bit of an exaggeration, unless by "revolution" you mean change on the level of Rice Krispies now having even more snap, crackle, and pop, if you listen really really close.  So, yeah, in American marketing terminology, we've had a revolution around here.   As a refresher--according to the original plan, which has of course been all but thrown out the window, February was meant to be the month I was going to get my kids to get something other than chicken nuggets.  February was reassigned to potty-training, March was taken up by my marathon and recovery (hey, if I'm gonna run 26 miles, I should not be expected to accomplish anything else for at least a month), so April was nutrition month.  And probably May, too.  Yeah, it's gonna require May, especially since May is somehow half over (how does this keep happening?)

And I don't have a whole lot to report, at least not on the kid front.  I, on the other hand, have discovered kale.  And quinoa, no less.  The yuppie pressure finally got to me, just like it did with Downton Abbey and House of Cards (I refuse to watch Game of Thrones, however. I don't do the fantasy genre, there's too many details to keep track of.  I need everyone to at least be human).  And guess what? I adore kale.  I have been eating kale almost every day.  Smoothies, sautees, salads.  KALE.  I do like the taste, but what I really like about it is that it stays somewhat perky in the fridge for much longer than other kinds of lettuce, which gets that slimy, wilted look that is just yuck.  And when it does start to go limp, you can always cook it or blend it.  Anything that saves me from going to the grocery store every other day is my friend.  Quinoa is also pretty cool, although I am not finding it quite as versatile.  But I do feel very healthy and hip when I eat it. I even know how to say it properly.  Keen-wah.  Wow I am successful.  Unfortunately, I have also discovered Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered almonds, the consumption of which began as a healthier way to indulge my sweet tooth but which has now become a raging addiction and 3 extra pounds on my butt.  Once again, I have proven myself to be a sugar addict for which complete and utter deprivation is the only remedy.   

Sadly, Charlotte nor Lawson have eaten neither kale nor quinoa (Charlotte does like the chocolate covered almonds).  Well, they might have eaten one bite of an egg casserole I made that had quinoa in it, but then they realized it was not chicken nuggets and that was the end of that.  I have been cooking more, and I may have permanently added a couple of things to their repertoire.  Charlotte shockingly scarfed down shrimp tacos--Seriously, the kid will not touch mac-n-cheese but she just can't get enough of shrimp tacos.  Lawson is holding out for chicken nuggets, and he can go days at a time, too.  The boy really needs to join a protest movement of some kind because he would be amazing at it.  

I got a huge boost in my efforts from the Nazi pediatrician, the same one who is all judgy about television watching among other things.  We went for Charlotte's 6 year check up, and he asked her if she ate her veggies.  She looked sheepish and admitted, no, she had never met a veggie she would actually eat.  He said, "Well, OK, that's fine.  But just so you know, I'll have to give you a veggie shot next time you come in here.  Yeah, they hurt really bad too.  But I can do that."  Her eyes just about bugged out of her head as she desperately inquired what she needed to do to avoid such a horrible fate. He told her she needed to eat at least one serving a day.  She took it on board, and guess what? She is still eating a few veggies a day.  Not kale, mind you, more like carrots drenched in butter and sugar, but still.  Thank you, Dr. Goldman.  It's about time you stopped judging me for doing things that you yourself would totally do, too, if you were a stay at home mom because you would be losing your freaking mind, and actually started being useful.  

We are going to keep trying.  One of these days, after the kids have seen me eating a kale salad for the two millionth time, they are going to cave.  Mark my words.  

An update since I started writing this post like 3 weeks ago and am now too lazy to rewrite it: 
My friends, there are signs the tide is turning, and the allies have gained the upper hand in the Food Wars.  Last week, my children ate broccoli AND cabbage AND, even more miraculously, declared it "delicious."  I haven't been so moved since the Oprah show finale.  I shed tears.  Of course, there is the distinct possibility that they were toying with my mind in their ongoing denial and deception campaign that aims to...they actually have no aim that I can make out, they seem to just enjoy torturing me for its own sake.  Tonight I made cabbage and broccoli again and got no such rave reviews.  But I will persevere my friends.  And I. WILL. WIN. THIS. WAR.