there comes a time in every marriage when you just gotta go out and flirt. with other people.
my married girlfriend and i were talking today and she was expressing a strong desire for a girls night out. now, i can’t speak for everyone, but any girls night out i’ve ever been involved in there’s been flirting. and lots of it. my friend was saying that she’s been feeling kinda crappy about herself lately, her husband tells her she’s beautiful and yada yada yada, but it just wasn’t making her feel any better. sometimes we women have a lapse in self-esteem that only drinks bought by Nameless and Faceless can cure.
i mean, let’s be honest. when you have little kids your marriage becomes about them. this becomes your conversation after you’ve put them to bed:
“what did colt eat today?” “has jett rolled over yet?” “what color was their poop after lunch?”
is it any wonder you start craving for a stranger to tell you your shirt brings out the color of your eyes? after all, when your husband sees that shirt the only thing he tells you is how many times he’s seen your son puke all over it.
now please understand i am talking about HARMLESS flirting here. there is such a thing. i’m not condoning affairs, i’m not encouraging you to exchange numbers or room keys. unless of course your hubby has pissed you off and then i suggest you and the kids dress up super cute and hit the town to play a little game i like to call “are you my stepfather?”
i can talk the talk but my husband knows i’m totally out of the game. after all, if i did get any stepfather offers what would i say? “wanna come back to my place and count my stretch marks?” gil affectionately calls the aftermath of my stomach ‘the anti-cheat’ so he can rest assured i’m not sneaking gentleman callers into the bedroom.
when i go out for girls night i am finding it hard to have fun now. ‘fun’. interesting word. it’s constantly transforming itself throughout your lifetime. it starts out meaning swing sets and chasing ice cream trucks. then it becomes too many long island iced teas and a walk of shame, and now it means catching bubbles in your hand with a ten month old.
i notice it’s my childless married friends who choose to get their flirt on at the bars. when they give me shit for not wanting to go out i tell them to go out drinking, get home at 1:00am, set their alarm for every 15 minutes until 6am, and then run on a treadmill until 6pm. THEN come bitch at me for being a boring friend.
many of my equally exhausted married with children friends opt to do their harmless flirting at the gym during daylight hours. i find this location even less appealing than the bar. i feel my most unattractive when working out in a gym. gorging myself in a restaurant is pretty high up there too. if you happen to find me doing either of these please do not make eye contact with me, and just walk away.
the gym is a horrible place where the devil is your spin instructor and every work out is an audition.
men comparing and contrasting the row of spandex asses on the elliptical machines in front of them. women stretching out their bodies on mats to prove how limber they are. i can always tell the single or unhappily married women at the gym, they are the most stretchy. i, however, work out in my husbands sweatpants (i prefer looser quarters for my jiggle to wiggle) and find nothing sexy about sweat pouring off everyone’s bodies stinking up the equipment. not to mention i run awkwardly at best. i run like elaine dances. it should never be done in public but being in shape is important to me so i must endure the humiliation.
speaking of humiliation, a few days ago male perfection stepped onto the treadmill right beside mine. automatically i pushed back my shoulders (aka stuck my boobs out), slowed to a brisk walk because he can’t see me run, and reached to turn the volume down on my ipod cause i’m sure he could hear the show tunes blasting from my headphones. too bad my hand got tangled in the headphone cord which pulled it out of my ipod and sent it flying over to HIS treadmill. the ipod landed just horribly enough to prominetly display the blue, pink, and yellow orignal broadway cast of THE WEDDING SINGER album cover. he stops his workout to pick it up, gets enough of a glimpse of it and hands it back to a very flushed faced me.
suddenly the treadmill is a time machine running me back to junior high where i am the most unfortunate looking girl in the school.
i mumbled “thanks” without even looking at him, faked an exhausted exhale, reduced the speed to snails pace and hopped off. never mind my entire workout had been 3 minutes and 42 seconds. i wonder if he noticed the time displayed on the screen? WAIT A MINUTE! I AM MARRIED! not only do i not need to care about what this object of perfection thinks about me but i’m not even allowed to care! i am legally and morally required to be my show tune loving self because i was already cast as a wife in someone else’s script so i don’t have to audition for his! the awesomeness of marriage finally hits me. it’s like permanent permission to be as dorky as i am. how comforting that i have already tricked somebody into loving me forever so i don’t even need gym guys approval. but it’d be nice to have it….
i don’t seem to be a good candidate for gym or bar flirting, but i think it’s important to keep looking for places to exercise this right as a wife and mother. i believe flirting should be a lot like ‘fun’; the way you do it changes once your married, it shouldn’t end, but it best be altered!
colt and jett play the missing baby on tonight’s episode of “The Glades”! 10/9c on a&e, hope you can watch 🙂
when i was a little lauren i would twist the stems of apples to find out the letter of my future husband’s last name. i doodled my first name with the last of the boy i had a crush on all over my junior high notebooks. i remember being 12 years old fantasizing with my girlfriends about where our future husband’s were at that exact moment: did we already know them? did they live in a different state? would we know it was HIM the moment we first saw each other?
even with all the creativity my 12 year old self had, i’m pretty sure i never thought “i wonder if HE is 33 years old right now, married to someone else and will already have three children by the time we meet?”
shockingly, that scenario just wasn’t part of my girlish, or womanish, fantasies. but reality has a way of kicking the ass of those fantasies. a been-there-done-that husband was not at all what i was looking for, certainly not at 23 when we met. but by 25 i moved in with him anyway and, voila, got a ready-made family. casey was 10 when i met her and chris and cam were 6. i was certainly in no position to be anyone’s parental figure so i became their oversized playmate instead.
casey and i hit it off amazingly well from the first second i met her. i had an instant bff. it was kind of scary the amount of things i had in common with a ten year old. we drank a shirley temple at every restaurant, liked the same foods, even decided to be vegetarians together for about five minutes. we are both very emotional creatures stifled in a german family but we had each other to cry with over animal cruelty and movies. okay, i’m not naive, i realize that the only reason she accepted some young chick with her daddy this effortlessly was because she wasn’t a teenager when i met her. we got some precious years of bonding in before the hormone induced extraterrestrial years would start which no doubt would have made things a little harder to swallow.
the boys were a bit more challenging. i had taught preschool just before i moved to florida so i was used to conversing on a 3 year old level. i don’t think i’d ever met a 6 year old before them. and besides, they were BOYS. what the heck was i supposed to do with two boys who were too old for preschool games but too young to drink with?
they always seemed to find me entertaining and got some good laughs at my expense, but when it came down to who would sit by me in a restaurant, or who would drive with me if we had to take two cars, it was always casey. the boys were never rude when declining to be within 10 feet of me, it was just as if they were saying, “Look, you’re nice enough. We like that you make daddy happy. It’s okay you live in our house. But you are not our family. So we are gonna keep our distance for a while.” who knew you could get your feelings hurt by a 6 year old?
thankfully, it was not long before all three of them accepted me into their family. five years after meeting them I still really, truly, have no “My skids are SUCH assholes to me!” stories. even now that casey is 15 we still have yet to have a step-fight. oh, wait, that’s not true. we had one several months ago that i have chosen to chalk up to my severe sleep deprivation and her being part of a terrible species called ‘teenager’.
step parenting is a really weird freaking thing. and anyone who expects you to be able to do it well obviously has never been one. the role is too bizarre. i don’t even understand it. you are not the parent, and yet are expected to act like one sometimes but without stepping on the parent’s toes. it’s never even clear when those sometimes are until it’s too late and your spouse is yelling at you for failing to ‘step’ up. and how the hell do you parent someone’s kid without stepping on their parent’s toes? seems to me stepparent means: the child/rens friend with parental obligations without parental responsibility, authority, or any kind of say whatsoever.
more terrifying than being 25 in a house full of kids you weren’t sure were going to accept or love you, was being pregnant with their half siblings not sure whether they were going to accept or love them.
gil and i knew they were each going to go through about a zillion emotions before the babies were even born (join the club!). we encouraged communication always and i told them they were allowed to feel whatever they were feeling; good, bad, or criminal. we heard all of it from jealously that ” ‘these kids’ are gonna get to live with dad every day” “babies suck because they get all the attention” “we have to share our dad with two more people” “is another set of twin boys going to make us less special or less unique?” “you’re a selfish bitch for wanting your ‘own kids'”(okay they never said that but at times that was certainly the vibe i was getting!).
i’ll be honest and tell you that sometimes the selfish side of me took over and i would feel angry at all of the negative energy being thrown at my unborn. it’s difficult when the happiest time in your life is one of the hardest for people you love. you want everyone in your life to feel as peaceful, elated, and grateful as you do. it took everything in me to be understanding when the arrival of the two treasures i’d waited my whole life for was being tainted by fear.
just as it always does,the fear turned out to be far worse than the reality. the day the babies were born christian and cameron held them in the hospital and you could see the pride oozing out of their smiles. their very important role of BIG BROTHERS was now 100% into effect. they would forever be 24/7 ROCK STARS. that those little people in their arms would be looking up to them throughout their entire lives.
while casey accepted and loved me right from the start, it took a lot longer for the babies to win her approval. after all, how many 15 year olds want to deal with not one but two crying, puking, creatures demanding all of your stepmother’s time and much of your fathers? casey and i used to hang out together all of the time before the babies were born. as the only girls in the house we jumped at any opportunity to get out and do ‘girly stuff’. i think it wasn’t until colt and jett were 8 months old that she and i got to go out for an hour without them. so i’m the first one to admit it’s been a challenging adjustment.
as soon as they started morphing from their wretched alien looking early days into- even she had to admit- super duper adorable identicals, i think she started to get less embarrassed about having her friends over. she even started to hold them in public once in a while. i asked casey to be jett’s godmother, not to try to force a bond between them, but because i knew she’d grow into the role beautifully. i was right. her family has changed, it’s hard to find security in that until you notice that change doesn’t mean it’s for the worse. we’ve worked very hard to prove to all three kids that the babies aren’t more or less special than they are. that the babies could never, will never replace them. that they all have just as huge a chunk of their dad’s heart as they always have. and that we have not created a new family, we just expanded the one we had.
cameron and christian graduated 5th grade last week. when they went up to receive their diplomas, gil went rushing to the front row snapping pictures on his iphone. he was quite the picture himself, of a father glowing with pride. i felt proud of them and i have only known them since 1st grade. what a feeling of accomplishment it must have been for him. to see the babies he taught how to walk, walk onto a stage and receive a diploma.
nothing made us prouder that day though, then what happened following the graduation. we met the boys in the reception room. they immediately ran over to us, not to hug or acknowledge us, but to grab colt and jett from their stroller and bring them to meet their classmates. within seconds colt and jett were ambushed by 70 something 5th graders oohing and ahhing over chris and cam’s little brothers. every time we blinked someone else was holding the babies. i stood off to the side with gil watching this scene unfold. we couldn’t help smiling every time we heard chris and cam’s voices proudly say “These are our brothers!” “This is Colt, he’s my little brother.” “Can you believe we have two sets of twins?!”
although i was almost brought to tears over how beautiful this moment was, i was completely skeeved out and silently freaking over the 70 walking germs passing my babies off to one another awkwardly. casey, knowing me all to well, walked over to me and said “You’re having a heart attack right now aren’t you?”
through a clenched smile “Yeeep.”
she laughed and went into the mosh pit to rescue one little identical who looked like he’d just been ravaged.
so there they were. the three beautiful kids we were so worried would not accept a step mom, now showing off the babies we were so worried they wouldn’t want to love. if anything should, THIS should teach me what a waste of time worrying is and that these kiddos deserved a lot more credit than we gave them.
i laid in bed that night after sanitizing the hell out of the babies, thinking about all the names i doodled, all the apple stems i twisted, all the fairy tales i starred in inside my head, and how none of that worked out for me. but what i got works because we work at it. nothing comes easy and without diaper baggage when you have a blended family. but i’ll marry my been-there-done-that husband and his kids any day because i don’t think i could feel as proud of my family if i were in anybody else’s. and that’s why it doesn’t matter to me that we aren’t a conventional (aka boring) family, or that gil and i look like a walking stereotype. if you want to judge us, have at it cause not only was i absent the day they taught the ‘how to give a shit what anybody thinks’ course, but i’m a stepmother. i live with a teenage girl, a husband who has the sensitivity of a fork, and FOUR boys. my skins a helluva lot tougher than anything you’re gonna throw at it!
my stepdaughter listening to her baby brothers refuse to sleep:
i despise the phrase “stay at home mom”. it pains me to type it. it sounds like a prison sentence. unless you happen to live at neverland, or a bar, how much does that suck? the four walls start to turn on you after a while and you know it’s time to call for backup, otherwise known as: The Nanny.
if you happen to be a “____ __ _____ mom” who doesn’t need or want to work but needs and wants to go to the gym, get a manicure, work on her blog, or have lunch from somewhere other than a drive thru, you’ll need a nanny.
and as only a true “____ __ _____-er” knows, the nanny is for you, not the kids. you’re the fully developed human in the house having to basically co-parent with this stranger so just like the kids didn’t have a say who you picked to be their father, they shouldn’t get to decide who their nanny is either. sure it’s an added bonus if the kids happen to like her but it’s really not the priority. you’re there most of the day with them so the couple of hours a week you step out for yourself it’s not the end of the world if they find her boring or think she smells funny. so long as she doesn’t smell of alcohol…..
i realize my entire blog could be titled ode-to-a-narcassist.com since i can even twist the nanny to being more for me than the kids but if it weren’t for me the kids wouldn’t even exist so i feel my point is justified.
too bad gil didn’t. he insisted i stop being selfish and hire someone for the kids, not a “friend for me to hang out with all day”. well god forbid i should be able to enjoy the company of anyone older than an embryo.
i gave in and did it his way. at first. please note it was easier to find a husband than it was to find a nanny. five minutes before i delivered the boys i finally found one. an older woman with 26 years experience. she was a mother herself, took excellent care of the babies, kept a very organized nursery, blah blah blah. by the time the boys were three months old she and i were having a personality conflict. she didn’t like mine. and since i only like people who like me, she had to go.
i decided to do it my way this time and hire the perfect person for ME. no more of these people i only knew about through the recommendations of strangers. no more craigslist searches. yes, gil MADE me post an ad for the caretaker of our children on craigslist. i wrote one that only jesus was qualified for. i got two responses, one from a man saying he’d like to cook for me in a loin cloth, and the other from a woman who requested a picture of my husband before she sent her resume. i sent her a picture of a friends husband and deleted the ad.
this time i was going with who i knew in my gut was the only perfect person to raise my children with me.
a nineteen year old, former high school student of mine (yes, i taught high school. that’s another story).
this probably doesn’t sound like the best candidate for a new mother with infant twins and three stepchildren but i chose her because i know her. (and because babies fall asleep within 30 seconds of lying on her chest which was a huge selling point for me.) i know where she comes from, i know her family, i know all her stories. i know her husband. yep, she got married at 19. to a south african. but he’s a pretty great guy who’s not entirely in it for the green card so leave her alone about it.
she’s young. she hasn’t nannied for 20 families and she doesn’t have her own children, but what she gives me no one else can. peace of mind. i can leave my babies in her care and have PEACE OF MIND. the ‘mama traumas’ never once enter my mind- is she beating them? does she neglect them? does she ignore them when they beg to be held? does she leave them in front of a tv and read a magazine? is she stealing from our home? is she sleeping with my husband? all these worries that moms can’t help but wonder about since they never REEEAALLLY know their nannies, i don’t have. which is a great relief considering all the other things i’m busy worrying about.
the downside to this familiarity is that she argues, okay, fights with me. a lot. but in the way a couple who have been married a really long time do. this is different from fighting with a strange bitch in your house who is trying to tell you how to parent. that kind of fighting makes me shout: “i don’t care if you have 36 children and gave birth to them all by yourself in the back of a van in the middle of a shark tank. NO ONE knows MY children as well as i do!”
except for sami. and she just might love them as much as i do too. okay, impossible, but she’s pretty close.
the reason sam and i fight is because she parents colt and jett as gil does. like they are her fourth and fifth children. she doesn’t agree that they need to go to the doctor every time they have dry skin. she doesn’t rub their head for 45 minutes after they bump it on the side of the crib, and she thinks it’s perfectly safe to feed them chunks of food bigger than a fingernail. she thinks i’m a huge pain in the ass but we are far more similar than she’d like to admit. her husband even calls her the “younger, blonder version”.
at the end of each day i decide to let her live because i see the boys smiles and hear their squeals when she walks in the door in the morning. i watch them reach up for her and give her kisses during the day, and i wipe their tears away when she leaves in the evening.
as incredible as she is with them she is even better with me and doesn’t know i appreciate that. i am so blessed to have a friend like her during the most challenging, transforming year of my life. to know even when she doesn’t agree with me she always supports me because we have the same objective: to make sure these boys are safe, happy, healthy, and not jerks.
for the record it looks like my selfish quest for a nanny happened to be the right fit for the whole family so everybody wins. i know she is perfect for us because she knows that the sun rises and sets in those little boys eyes and we parent better together than any couple i’ve ever met. if she sticks around she’s going to be directly responsible for two beautiful men with gigantic hearts, charismatic personalities, confidence and open minds (thanks to the pink pacifiers she insists on buying them).
sam’s own mother died very unexpectedly this past january. her death is teaching me to let people know how much they are appreciated and loved. i’ll start with her daughter.
thank you sam for being an irreplaceable part of our family. i find it very ironic that at a time in your life when you need to be the one being taken care of you choose a job taking care of an entire family. this is either the most unhealthy thing i’ve ever heard of or a testament to the strength, perseverance, or sheer beauty of your character.
perhaps it’s all of the above.
you’re doing great kid.