well, today is our fifth and likely final wedding anniversary. as nostalgia sets in and i reflect on our years together, i can’t help but wonder exactly what caused our marriage to take a turn straight into the flames of hell.
after careful thought and a great deal of chocolate eating, I’ve come up with a number of possible contributing factors. right out of the gate we had challenges that even the cast of “SURVIVOR” wouldn’t have made it through. a twenty-one year age gap, three kids who didn’t want a stepmother, and my husband’s decision to move us a mile down the road from his first family (in what i can only assume was an attempt to play out some disturbing mormon fantasy), just to name a few. we probably have to factor in that our wedding day itself was a volatile disaster. it began with no one knowing whether or not the groom was even gonna show and ended with us almost getting kicked off the island for disturbing the peace when i screamed several obscenities during our wedding reception for four and stormed off to our bungalow without getting to eat a bite of my damn wedding cake. or perhaps it was deciding to get pregnant five minutes into the marriage and gaining fifty-two pounds as a newlywed that doomed things from the start. i don’t think I’ve ever been able to forgive him for leaving me at home during most of my pregnancy unsupervised with all the ice cream.
clearly we didn’t think much through. i mean, i married a successful man TWENTY-ONE years my senior and never even got to experience my rightful reign as a Trophy Wife for christ’s sake. surely i was entitled to at least a year or two of parading a new pair of boobs around town and doing nothing of any substance.
however, instead of living in superficial bliss, by our first anniversary our twins were over 2 months old, i was still wearing my maternity pants and we were too freaking tired to celebrate surviving the year so we went to Duffy’s Sports Grill with my stepson for an hour and called it a night. i was hardly anyones trophy wife constantly covered in vomit, piss and stretch marks. instead i crowned myself Queen Frumpty Dumpty and scheduled a tummy tuck STAT.
whatever the reasons may be, we’ve found ourselves in the ‘one of us has to change or one of us has to die’ predicament that so many married couples face. though i fear we’ve reached this milestone at a much faster rate than is healthy. technically we’ve been together for ten years but the first five were by choice so we really shouldn’t be at this point just yet should we? we recently had one of THOSE talks where nobody cried and nobody yelled. i think the adults call them “mature discussions”. we decided to give our marriage some serious effort and agreed to make a list of what changes we needed the other person to make in order for us to be happily married. to each other. we would meet the following night to read our lists and the rule was that we were not allowed to say ANYTHING until the person reading had finished. then we would each decide what we were realistically willing to sacrifice or change and go from there.
the next night i sat myself on the couch with my “why i can’t fucking stand you” list handwritten about a page long. he hadn’t even walked in the room yet but i knew exactly what was gonna be on his list. the same three wifely “shortcomings” he’s been complaining about our whole marriage; i don’t cook, i don’t clean, i spend too much money. each time he brings these up i remind him that he’s always known i was a reckless spender and have zero skills or interest in anything to do with a stove or sponge. I made very clear to him i would be his wife, not his chef or his maid and he chose to marry me anyway. so as far as i’m concerned he forfeited his right to bitch. i wonder how he would feel if i woke up one morning suddenly resentful that he is older than me and was shocked and disappointed he hasn’t gotten younger every year. to make his argument lose even more validity we have a full time housekeeper. what does he want me to do? follow her around the house with another broom? since i knew we’d have to go through this same tired argument yet again, earlier that day i told him he could go first with his list. i wanted to get his out of the way so we could focus on the real issues i wanted to bring up.
he entered the room shortly after me armed with a laptop. sat down, and opened up a microsoft word document containing his “why i can’t fucking stand you” list. typed. THREE PAGES. SINGLE. SPACED.
just as i was about to let out a gigantic “WHAT THE FUCK?!” and break the no talking rule, he began:
- “You’re incredibly high maintenance.”
- “You don’t let me parent our children the way I want to.”
- “You became a private investigator.”
- “You keep adopting pets.”
oh thank God! although i was relieved, i really did wish he would stop complimenting me and move on to the areas of concern. after all, it was already 9pm, my bedtime was an hour ago and we had a shitload to cover. as if he read my mind, without warning, his list took a turn for the infuriating.
- “You spend a zillion dollars on these pets you insist on having only to hate them an hour after they move in. And then we all suffer through the havoc they wreck on our lives until their inevitable mysterious disappearances. Remember the pig?!”
heeere we go. again with the FUCKING PIG! in our marriage this pig is the equivalent to an affair. you know when someone cheats and their spouse decides to forgive them and stay with them but EVERY time they get pissed about anything they bring up the affair? it ALWAYS goes back to the affair. well in our case, it ALWAYS goes back to the fucking pig. i bought a piglet that was supposed to stay adorably small. i had it flown here from some farm. during this time we were renovating our home so we had moved into a condo with minimal living space, five kids and three huge dogs with no yard. i didn’t even know if pigs were legally allowed there but who would notice the tiny thing? well in a few short months it was gigantic, repulsive and the fifth worst mistake I’d ever made. that hideous disaster tried to eat EVERYONE it came in contact with and destroyed everything we owned in its constant obsessive quest for food. our nanny had a nervous breakdown and threatened to quit over the beast. my husband drop kicked it every time it blocked the TV and it screeched like a demon from the pits of hell if you tried to touch it. it almost ended our marriage so i gave it to a friend by telling her it was a darling little thing and then it almost ended her marriage. shortly after that it boarded a plane never to be seen or heard again. and i’ve yet to get any appreciation from gil for removing it from our lives or for naming the damn thing after him…
hated by all….
in happier times….. he continued,
- “Most women will attend their husbands work related events even when they happen to be pissed at him for something. They will put their feelings aside and support their spouse for the evening. I would like it if you would do the same.”
if i do not like you in the house
i will not like you with a mouse
i will not like you here or there
i will not go with you anywhere
then came an oldie but goodie:
- “Would you PLEASE agree to take a cooking class? I’ll even go with you. It will be fun!”
He sounded like a parent trying to convince a toddler how great it would feel to put on a shirt that itches the shit out of him.
WE HAVE A CHEF! i silently screamed. i’m not sure whether he read my mind or my expression when he added,
“Having a personal chef is costing us money we shouldn’t have to spend.”
well a divorce is gonna cost you a helluva lot more so i suggest you not bring this up again. bullet point number 76:
- ” I value my privacy. I would REALLY appreciate it if you kept our private life private.”
“I mean, you even air our dirty laundry in our family christmas cards!”
i don’t care what anyone says. it was funny as shit.
- “I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to get the kids ready and drive them to school every morning when I’m in town. “
you don’t think that’s fair? you know what i don’t think is fair? that i am going to be spending the prime of my life changing your diapers, carting you around to doctor’s appointments, making sure you get your medications and checking you in and out of hospitals. so forgive me if i am less than sensitive to your great inconvenience of driving 3 miles to the school so i can sleep an extra hour.
just as i was about to say GAME OVER he went where no man should ever go:
- “And honey… PLEASE…Once in a while would it kill you to wear something sexy to bed? I mean, if I have to look at those fluffy socks one more time…..You dress for bed like you’re about to go sled riding during a blizzard.”
FUCK THIS! i have a thyroid condition! THAT’S IT! your ass is gonna be in a nursing home before breakfast tomorrow.
i started to drift off to sleep at 1AM somewhere around the beginning of page two. my final thoughts before i welcomed unconsciousness was how i could have ignored all of gil’s attempts to get me to recognize that i’m the world’s WORST wife. there’s hardly a week that goes by when he doesn’t tell me that living me with is like being trapped in an “I Love Lucy” episode you can’t turn off. i always thought it was a compliment. and looking back, maybe he was trying to get my attention through instagram. the pseudonym he chose for his account that’s filled with photos of our family is ‘slowpainfuldeath’ and still i had seen no cause for concern.
after what seemed like a week it was finally my turn to read my list which took considerably less time. we had an eerily peaceful 48 hours after that when we didn’t piss each other off. while i still refused to change really anything about myself i did try my hand at something new called ‘compromising’. for example, although there was no way i would ever turn on the stove, i promised that i would stop ordering take out when he pays someone to cook for us. that’s the best i could do. everybody’s got their limitations. imagine my gratitude when three days in gil fucked up on one of his promises to me so i got to use it as an excuse to call off the whole experiment and return to my argumentative, inconsiderate, happy self.
i am proud to say that we didn’t give up on each other even though our efforts failed miserably. instead we decided to try to rescue our marriage another way. couples therapy. turns out i’m a huge fan! it truly DOES work! after just one session i already feel incredibly motivated to strengthen some of my wifely weaknesses that gil repeatedly felt inclined to mention during the hour. for instance, i am FINALLY going to start cooking!
Dinner is served Your Majesty! Enjoy your side of arsenic! if my husband and marriage survive the day (and this blog post) we’ll be
mourning celebrating our five year miracle tonight at and who knows, we may even renew our vows while we’re there…..
in closing: while i’m certainly not a good wife, and i never got to be a trophy wife, i’m sure all would agree i’m the World’s Worst Wife and to achieve that status with only five years under my belt is accomplishment enough for me. it’s empowering to know the reason our marriage exists is so everyone else can feel better about theirs.
*I’m Lauren Anastasi-Peter and my husband approves this message.
forget me not
once upon a time in the very near future a mommy named Me will open the most important school in all the land. a school that will save all the parents like Me from being total fucking failures. this school will be named ‘forget me not’. it’s logo will be a naked child with an empty lunchbox. the logo will read: “you supply the kid, we supply everything else.” okay, maybe the logo kid should be wearing undies since the school doesn’t plan on supplying the pedophiles…
it matters not what district you’re zoned for and there is no tuition so cost won’t be an issue. the only criteria you have to meet in order to be admitted is that each and every student must have parents who can’t get their shit together. every parent needs to be just like the mommy named Me.
below is the checklist to determine whether you are a candidate for the school of ‘forget me not’. if you meet at least six of the ten qualifications you are eligible:
1. You send your child to school more than 3 days a week without brushing their teeth.
2. Someone comes to the school at least twice between drop off and pick up to bring your kids shit you forgot.
3. You haven’t signed up for classroom snack in at least four weeks or you’ve signed up for snack in the past month but forgot to bring it.
4. Your child comes to school in shorts and a t-shirt because you’re apparently the only parent that doesn’t check the hourly weather forecast each morning to know that between the 10:30-11:30 playground hour the temp will drop from 74 to 70 and you didn’t pack a sweater or snow suit. You also wonder how everyone else knows when playground time is. Did they email a schedule???
5. Your kids are sent to school in something that hasn’t been washed yet (bodies and/or hair counts).
6. You believe pajama day, bring your favorite bear to school day, striped shirt day, halloween parade day, pizza fridays, graduations, lunch in general, paying tuitions on time or at all, creative projects the kids are too young to do on their own, getting to school by 830am, homework and all the other school related things you have to remember and prepare for are purposely designed to reveal the failure that you are and that the only “good” parents HAVE to be functioning on some serious stimulants or NEVER thinking about ANYTHING else.
7. You can’t ever remember which days you signed up for school lunch and which days you are supposed to pack it. Or you leave for school without their lunches that were sitting in the fridge, completely packed, staring at you when you reached for the milk ten minutes ago. This results in frequent trips back to the school or very hungry kids.
8. Your kids grew out of all their school clothes six months ago and you keep forgetting to buy bigger sizes even though the uniform store is INSIDE their school. you actually have to walk right by it EVERY day in order to get to their classroom.
9. You’re ashamed to admit you have been woken up at 9:15am by your fully dressed toddler standing beside your bed pulling on your arms while wearing a backwards t-shirt and shoes on the wrong feet with a breakfast of airheads sticking out of his pockets demanding that you “stand up mom! we need to get to school. we need to see our fwends!”
10. You’ve driven your kids to school without realizing it was Saturday.
* You are only required to meet one of the above criteria if you are a stay at home parent who makes your kids take the bus to school so you can sleep in. You are then considered a bonus round winner and will be guaranteed admission into the ‘forget me not school’. Congratulations!
* * *
before my twins could crawl i had my shit T.O.G.E.T.H.E.R. my diaper bag was so famous around town that it named this blog. i was carrying around a super target in that thing. prepared for anything those babies threw my way. usually vomit. i had everything needed in that bag to survive for a month on a mountain in the freezing cold without any limbs -just in case, ya know, that ever happened…which it could have…you never know….
and then something happened that dramatically and instantly changed the mother i was. the babies started moving. began crawling, then they stood up and W A L K E D. slowly at first, then picking up speed. they got faster, and faster and stronger and stronger and climb-ier. and what could i do but RUN (usually towards a bar). we haven’t stopped running, the three of us, four on the days my husband is in town. every day of our lives has been a chinese fuckin fire-drill since the moment they stood up. thank god they are out of diapers because there’s no time to even think about what to put in the diaper bag, let alone actually be able to pack it. there’s no telling how much scotch tape they could wrap around the cat in that minute and a half.
so when is there time to have actual thoughts needed to remember things? i have a vague memory of reading a letter from the school fairly recently that said: “REMINDER: PAJAMA DAY IS TUESDAY!” how was i supposed to remember something that seemed like a lifetime away? there was no telling how many disasters and travesties we would have to survive before then, after all it was only monday! and yet no matter how many ways i tried to justify my forgetfulness, the ache i felt in my heart for having made my sons left out bystanders forced to watch their excited friends show off their favorite pjs was unbearable. i had forgotten something more than just pajama day. i’d forgotten that the things that seem so trivial as an adult and barely worth your attention to remember are THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN THE WORLD to a child. perhaps my shortcomings are why god made them twins; so they’ll have someone to lean on and bitch to while they suffer through the humiliations and frustrations of growing up with a disorganized mother.
on a good note the more chaotic and demanding life becomes the more i find myself grateful for the little things. like how fridays at school are show and share days instead of show and tell days. because if they were show and tell days the twins could tell their class how mommy forgets to send them to school with a toy to show every week and so one week she frantically ran back out to her car in hopes of finding a toy hiding under the seats. when she found no toy she decided to give us some gauze from the first aid kit that came with the car. and it wasn’t even G week….
anyway, back to the pajama rescue:
i sped through every school zone to get their pjs to them as quickly as possible all the while seething with irrational displaced anger at the excellent school my children go to:
who has special dress days on a tuesday anyway?! why do schools even do these “special” things? don’t the kids have enough fun with all the toys and computers and the playground? is this just to torture the parents? as if we need ONE MORE THING to remember to do??? these people make toddlers their profession so how can they not understand that every day is fucking survival mode! every day we are dodging lacrosse balls and nerf pellets and just trying to make it to bedtime without a casualty. can’t the schools help make this a bit easier by giving us less to think about? less to do? less to remember?
that’s it! i‘m gonna build a school! a school where no child will know their parents think about other things more often than what days to pack their lunches. a school that will have a supply room bigger than any classroom filled with extra striped t-shirts, extra pajamas and an abundance of halloween costumes. a gigantic refrigerator to hold all the would be forgotten lunches. clothes that actually fit. soap for the kids whose parents haven’t made time to bathe them in the past week. show and share items for every letter of the alphabet. this school will have transportation that will pick the children up at their doors. all the parents have to do is give them a door to walk out of and the rest is up to the administrators. the school will be built right next-door to social services so when the time is right they can supply each kid with a brand new mommy and daddy.
then, when the crazy wore off, i sobbed the rest of the way. i cried for every moment my babies felt left out and less special. knowing your children feel badly about themselves is hard enough to endure, knowing you are the reason is impossible to forgive. i cried with frustration over how in the hell i can memorize hundreds of pages of scripts or every word from every conversation between my husband and i that pissed me off throughout the past decade but i can’t remember the letter of the week is V? i cried not just for my irresponsibility and inability to prioritize this time but every time i’d made it more important to be on top of assignments for work than on top of what i needed for my children. nothing has ever or will ever be more important to me than them and yet i’d forgotten their lunches twice that week, forgotten their pajamas and as i pulled back into the school remembered i was supposed to bring their favorite stuffed animal too.
after a sound proof cursing explosion inside my car in the parking lot, i decided it more important to get them in their pjs instead of spending more time going back for the stuffed animals. when my sons saw me walk in the room their faces made me want to cry all over again. they were beaming ear to ear as if a ninja turtle had just walked into their school. they instantly started to show me off as if their friends hadn’t met me before. “look we mommys here!” “this is my mom!” they looked SO PROUD to have their mom there. me. the forgetful, disorganized mess who was crying and cursing in the parking lot for ‘screwing them up for life’.
they were happier than i’d maybe ever seen them. they didn’t care why i was there- that it was because i’d let them down that day. they didn’t even ask for the pajamas. didn’t mention them. it was as if they’d forgotten all about it. all that mattered to them was that i was there. with them. sharing in part of their day. THAT is what made them feel special. more special than any pair of pajamas ever could. no matter how horribly i thought of myself that day i had the ability to make these two precious people feel so special. just because i was me.
as i write this i am reminded of a few months earlier when i had again forgotten to bring their lunch. i was so late getting it to their school that i saw them sitting at the lunch table watching their friends open their lunch boxes while they sat there with nothing. not sad. smiling and asking what their friends had for lunch. it was as if they knew i’d come through for them. i would probably be late, but i’d come through. as soon as i picked them up from school that day they ran up to me hugged me and said “thank you mommy for bringing us we lunches!”
when i finally had them all dressed in their pajamas (an hour late and 2 sizes too small), just before they went running back into class shouting “look at me spongebob bejamas” jett kissed my cheek and colt said to me (with a playful smile as if he knew i was in the midst of a breakdown) “you weally late mom.” then he threw his arms around my neck and whispered into my ear “thank you mama” and then he was gone. running off with his brother to their next exciting moment in toddlerhood.
* * *
so while it’d be helpful if the mommy named Me opened a school one day to prevent all the mommies like her from being total failures, maybe she doesn’t really need to…..
since we last met (forever and a month ago) there have been some changes. the twins are out of diapers (hallelujah) which briefly made me consider renaming this blog but then i figured before we know it my husband will be wearing them so it’ll make sense again soon enough. we are currently in a terrifying phase of parenting as we now have three full-fledged teenagers and two 3-year-old rock em sock em robots. by the time the youngest turn 18 i’ll feel like i earned a phd in psychology along with a black belt in jujitsu. having a teenager is
maddening challenging, having three at the same time is downright torture and having them be your step kids is well…. there are two necessary ingredients to be able to successfully parent teenagers. unfortunately this formula requires us stepmomsters be sacrificed. i’d like to share these secret ingredients with you as a way to thank you for still reading this blog after a hiatus longer than the ones the writers of “mad men” take. the two ingredients you need in order to survive raising teenagers with your sanity intact are: 1. a stepmother in the anastasi-peter-webster’s dictionary ‘stepmother’ by definition means SCAPEGOAT. teenagers need someone to blame. for their failed tests, their bad hair days, their breakups, their hangovers, why the world is round….their irrational blame and hormone driven rages are usually directed towards mom or dad unless they have a step parent. the step parent’s role is crucial because when is a scapegoat needed more in our lives than during adolescence? up until our kids turn 13 all the damage of our, just face it, piss poor parenting through the years has been hidden under the disguise of that adorable, precocious, funny, sweet, sensitive little love of our lives. brace yourself because d-day is quickly coming when it will be impossible to hide from the monsters we’ve built from scratch since the hormones have unleashed the beast within. ladies, TRUST ME on this. it matters not if any of you are still in love with your husbands, DIVORCE HIS ASS when your oldest kid turns 12. give him the cars, the house, and the family dog if he agrees to remarry immediately. enjoy single life, sow your wildest oats, comfort your preteen through the divorce adjustment period and then enjoy the get- out- of- hell- free card while you sit back and watch your kid unleash his teenanger on their stepmother for the next 6 years. feel free to add your two cents as often as possible, it will only help your cause. if you don’t want your teens turning on you, you’d better make damn sure they’re turning on her. remember, it’s much easier to hate a stepparent than it is to hate a parent so you really can’t lose. who cares if the poor woman feels like this at the end of each day: she’s serving a higher purpose and don’t all of us stepmoms “know what we’re getting into” before we marry a man with kids anyway? can you tell i’m trying not to scream? husbands, please don’t object to this plan. it works in your favor too. your teens will let you off the hook for every time you miss their school plays and baseball games as long as you remarry before they turn 13. use that adorable 12 year old you made to suck that unsuspecting victim right in. and let’s not leave out how fun it will be to get to boink somebody new for a few years (until she blows her brains out or divorces you). that reminds me, you should probably get a prenup before embarking on this experiment. oh, and make sure she doesn’t have kids of her own cause i shudder to think what happens to stepfathers…. 2. a spy. gone are the days the mother could open her daughters top drawer and snoop through her diary by opening the lock that never even locked. now, if kids journal they do it on their laptops protected by a special journal passcode as well as a computer passcode. they now have cell phones allowing them to sext, bully, snapchat their boobies, and there’s probably an app to buy weed. many of them have cars and tell you they are going here when really they are going there. in short, we have no fucking idea what our kids are doing. i was a high school drama teacher for a total of two years too many and i can’t tell you how many parents would brag about their kids to me and i didn’t even recognize who the hell they were talking about. “my daughter deserves the lead in the play because she’s worked so hard the last few years and i’ve never seen a 16-year-old with so much focus and discipline.” meanwhile on this planet i’d never seen her daughter NOT stoned and she hadn’t completed an assignment for me in a year and half. let me be super duper clear-i am judging no parent. i am blaming no parent. i am in the same sinking ship with the rest of you. so i’ve decided to do something about it. i became a detective. i am a private investigator which makes me a licensed bullshit detector. with 5 kids most of my cases will likely be within my own family so i’ve basically gone from a ‘stay at home’ mom to a ‘working from home’ one. the verdicts still out over whose more disturbed by my career- the kids or the husband…. i just can’t stand feeling powerless against what’s to come armed only with a stack of parenting books that all contradict each other. i hear there are people out there who have this parenting thing DOWN. who have a wonderful relationship with their teenagers, whose kids are happy, well-adjusted, and don’t have a single STD. so it made me wonder, are these families immune to dysfunction? are their teenagers missing the self-destructive gene? or could it be that while everybody else has been hoping against hope this “friend trend” approach to parenting works, these better parents quickly saw where that was heading and opted to give “creepy as hell” a shot instead? perhaps they adopted a drug sniffing german shepherd because whoever keeps electing labs as the most family friend dog clearly has never had a teenager. if you wanna be moms best friend you better be able to find the pot stashed throughout the house. think of how many crises, therapy bills and wrinkles we could prevent if we started TAPPING THEIR SHIT. put spyware on their phones. gps trackers on their cars, cameras in their rooms and all around the house. and as soon as it becomes legal, MICROCHIP the shit outta them. tag those limbs up. by 13 they’ve totally forgotten all the “good choices” we encouraged them to make as toddlers, so it’s our job to do the right thing to prevent them from doing the wrong one. protect our teens. spy on their asses. they deserve it. after all they really can’t help that nothing they say will be anywhere near true for 5-6 years….right? imagine these scenarios: the next time your son tells you he absolutely DID NOT shoot up in his room last night you could take the doubt, gut feeling and parental denial right out of it and rooooooollllllllll the tape! when your daughter tells you she’s working on a project at a girlfriends house and you check in with your trusty gps tracker to discover she’s at her parent-less boyfriends house, you waltz right in with your weapons of mass destruction rip her out by her hair and sleep peacefully that night knowing you’re another day farther away from being a grandparent. while your reading your sons deleted text messages (thanks to spyware) and see he hasn’t told you he has been threatened by a group of punks, you raise holy hell until the bastards are suspended or arrested. than bask in the parental high of knowing thanks to your super sleuthing instead of having to use your husband’s hard-earned money to pay the plastic surgeon to fix your boys mangled mug, you can use it to have your very own cosmetic surgery of choice. if you’re one of the parents whose offspring have made it to 18 without getting pregnant or arrested, sure that’s something you’ll have over all your friends, but don’t get too cocky, college is right around the corner…. the point is this, we gotta be 3 steps ahead of these teens, folks, or they’re going to destroy us all one wrinkle at a time. we’re not allowed to beat em anymore so if we can’t beat em, creep em. they are younger, better looking and better at technology than us. we are fucked if we don’t get creepy. be warned they’ll despise you for a decade for spying on them so in case you’re not comfortable with that get yourself in therapy until you realize that letting your children hate you is a gift, letting them lie to you is irresponsible parenting. then when they flip their shit and scream: “DID YOU REALLY BUG THE HOUSE AND TAP MY PHONE?!” you’ll feel perfectly justified in saying (click below): http://www.tubechop.com/watch/2255640 or you could just tell them their creepy stepmoms the one who’s been spying…… what do you think? leave me a comment and let me know. should teenagers have a right to privacy? to what extent? did you deserve the privacy you had when you were a teen? who’s out shopping for a stepmom right about now?
fit to flirt
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!
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!
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.