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Archive for the ‘Family Relations’ Category

Welcome to the Moonies. Parenthood.

Warning: Having a baby is just like joining a cult. No, I’m not talking about the “cult of parenthood,” wherein your childless “child free” friends suddenly feel insulted that you’ve crossed over to this strange world where all you want to talk about is your kid. Actually, that’s exactly what I’m referring to. It’s just that what your childfree friends don’t understand is that you haven’t made a choice to get subsumed into this weird parenting cult. You’ve been brainwashed.

Think about it – everything that happens to you when you have a baby pretty much follows the play-by-play of Brainwashing 101. Just read the following and swap out “cult” for “baby.” Welcome to parenthood, sucker. Please leave your brain at the door.

1. The Cult Weakens Your Senses Through Sleep Deprivation

First, your sleep schedule is interrupted. You are no longer master of your slumber. You can be awoken at any time, day or night. Sleep comes in short bursts at highly irregular times. It is also interrupted by loud noises, a classic mind control technique. Sleep disruption is probably the most basic and essential step in brainwashing. Someone who can keep you up very late and wake you up very early, much less interrupt whatever spans of REM time you do pull together… they control you. They own you.

2. The Cult Further Disorients You By Altering Your Basic Routines

Second, your most basic routines get altered. Ever notice how it’s impossible to find sunlight while wandering around a casino? That’s because in between the loud music, the glaring lights and almost maze-like hall systems, you become disoriented and lose sense of time and place in a casino. By numbing your orientation, you become more vulnerable to making mindless decisions. Babies change what you eat (I don’t recall getting to eat a warm, freshly prepared meal for at least the first six weeks after my daughter was born!), when you eat (odd hours here and there), and how you eat (huddled like a starving animal scarfing it down as fast as possible!). They also change when and how often you shower and what clothes you wear (there are days when you never make it out of your pajamas in those early weeks).

3. The Cult Separates You from Your Support System

This is a super biggie. I had a roommate who the Moonies once tried to indoctrinate. She and a friend were invited to a “dinner” at a Moonie gathering place. They were picked up in San Francisco, driven about 40 minutes away (so they had no means of returning on their own) and then, once there, immediately separated from one another. Diana, my roommate, realized later that while everyone was friendly, she and her friend were kept in two distinct groups for the whole night.

Babies separate you from your support network just as handily. Because your sleep schedule is so off, good luck making plans and actually being able to fulfill them! Childless friends quickly drop off, taking your sudden lack of availability as a sign that they’ve been replaced by the baby. Friends with children are so busy raising their own brood they can’t make it. One day, you look up and realize it’s been MONTHS since you had a decent conversation with another adult.

4. The Cult Makes You Feel Vulnerable and Badly About Yourself

Now that the cult has got you alone, look out for your self image! It doesn’t help that your body is already in its worst spot – looking at the mirror post-baby is sheer depression-inducing. Plus, due to #3, you haven’t had a stimulating conversation in ages and your brain is completely fried. It’s very easy to lose perspective of all the wonderful gifts you have to give to the world and solely see yourself as a 24 hour baby-feeding, poop-wiping slobbering idiot. Now that you need it most, you are least likely to summon the courage to get out of the house and connect with folks in the outside world because of how low you are feeling.

5. The Cult Makes You Look to It as Your Sole Source of Value and Self-Esteem

Remember the feeling you got the first time your baby truly smiled at you? Enough said.

6. You are Now Obligated to Give the Cult All Your Money

Now that the cult has completely oriented your world around it, it demands that you commit all of your finances to its health, well being and development. The cult’s survival and growth is your highest obligation in life and every decision you make from here forward for the rest of your life will be filtered through the “is this what’s best for the cult?” modifier.

But It’s Worth It – I Swear! (says the brainwashed one)

After all – doesn’t this just make your ovaries jump?

I'd give up my life for this little brainwasher, and it's not even mine. I mean, really, how can you say 'no' to cuteness like that???

By the time we all make it out to the other side of early parenting, when we start to get some simple routines and normalcy back – like sleeping for at least four hours in a row – we have no idea we’ve been brainwashed. This is the new reality for us, our complete and total dedication to our young spawn. Little by little, we reclaim small pieces of our former lives: an occasional dinner date with a friend, some witty repartee with a stranger in line at the grocery store, wearing shirts not branded with baby spit up. We creep back into the sunlight of a world that seems just like that which we left the moment before our child was first born, totally and completely oblivious to the fact that we are now 100% owned by our charges. Sure, our child-free friends can see it, but they’re not going to tell us. They think we choose  to pleasantly bear through our toddler’s  temper tantrums, preschooler’s constant interruptions and nagging,  teenaged curfew blow offs and sullen, ungrateful consumption of thoughtfully prepared meals. They don’t know that we are so totally absorbed into the cult that we can’t even see we’re in it. They think we are aware of our shift from autonomous adult to parental automaton.

But, thank goodness nature works this way. Otherwise, how would we continue to propagate and thrive? Without it, babies would simply be left on their own and, well, it wouldn’t be pretty. Speaking from personal experience, without the decent brainwashing I know for a fact that I’d be incapable of fulfilling everything parenting demands – the late nights, the odd hours, the sacrifice and in the end, the terrifying letting go. So, here’s to a good brainwashing! May it never wear off!

—-

Thanks to my fantastic new friend, MBAMommy, who let me subject her to my quirky idea about baby brainwashers the other day 🙂 You can read MBA Mommy’s post about it here.

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One of my neighbors dropped by this afternoon and gave us some hand-me-down giant lego blocks. My husband has tremendous issue with my ready acceptance of hand-me-downs. He complains that I never turn anything away, and he’s right. As a result of my open-arm policy on hand-me-downs we have a home bulging with toys. The problem is compounded by the fact that I haven’t purged any baby stuff yet. It all just keeps getting boxed up and put in our (als0 bulging) garage.

When my daughter was an infant and I first started getting these piles of hand-me-down clothes and toys from various streams, I was blown away by friends and family generosity. Now that my daughter is almost four and my son is breeching two, I see it from a different perspective. We are choking on baby clothes, toys, tchachkis. Everything keeps coming in… nothing goes out.

The problem is that we’re not 100% sure that we’re done having children. Also, a lot of the hand-me-downs were provided with the understanding that I’d circle them back, if needed, to the original giver. Since no one has had babies since (except me, with our son), the stuff lives in our living room, our children’s rooms, our closets, our bedroom and garage. I’m choking for a good purge. Fortunately, one of my sister-in-laws is about to have her fourth (whoops! holy surprise on that one!), so I’m going to rotate half of my supply out (the girl stuff). I’m giving it with the same provision though…. “Hold onto it in case I need it back… don’t give it on to anyone else…”

Letting go of children’s things is really hard. As much as I hate tripping over it, feeling like it’s eating up so much space in our house… it’s hard to let go. It’s even hard to pack some things up to the Toy Purgatory of our garage because that means our children have officially outgrown them. The toys will sit in their storage boxes, silent, gathering some dust… waiting on the chance that we may have another baby in our lives. These are the thoughts and feelings that tug at me and make it hard to clear everything out.

My husband constantly complains about it. He was practically glowering at our poor neighbor while she handed me the basket full of Legos. Pressured by his frustration, I immediately set about to putting toys in two bags – one for the trash, the other for the garage – in order to create new space in the house for more age appropriate toys…

Until my husband saw me putting Emily in the bag. Emily is the $20, French, all-natural rubber giraffe teething toy that was all the rage when my daughter was 6 months old. Neither of our children play with Emily now. In truth, they didn’t play with her much when they were teething. But she’s terribly cute and she represents a moment in our parenting lives, the moment when we would pay anything to try to help give comfort to our little girl’s teething pain.

My husband stopped me as I put Emily in the bag — “You can’t take Emily!!!” “Why not?,” I asked. “Because that’ll mean they’re growing up.”

So, we live with some more clutter for now.

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next survivor series dad

**I did not write this – it was forwarded to me via email BY MY HUSBAND NO LESS!!! – but I thought it was so accurate, I had to share… I’m short on time (for appropriate excuse, see below), so forgive the obvious bad line-breaks from multiple forwardings***

THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIES
Six married men
will be dropped on an island

with one car

and 3 kids each

for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports
and take either music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must

take care of his 3 kids;
keep his assigned house clean,
correct all homework,
complete science projects,
cook,
do laundry,
and pay a list of ‘pretend’ bills
with not enough money.

In addition,

each man 
will have to budget enough money
for groceries each week.

Each man 
must remember the birthdays

of all their friends and relatives,
and send cards out on time–no emailing.

Each man must also take each child
to a doctor’s appointment,
a dentist appointment
and a haircut appointment.

He must make one unscheduled and 
inconvenient
visit per child to the Emergency Room..

He must also make cookies or cupcakes
for a school function.

Each man will be responsible for
decorating his own assigned house,
planting flowers outside, and keeping it
presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television

when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs,

wear makeup daily,

adorn themselves with jewelry,

wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes,

keep fingernails polished,

and eyebrows groomed

During one of the six weeks,

the men will have to endure severe
abdominal cramps, backaches, headaches,
have extreme, unexplained mood swings

but never once complain or slow down
from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings

and church,
and find time at least once to spend
the afternoon at the park or a similar
setting.

They will need to read a book to the kids each night

and in the morning,

feed them,

dress them
brush their teeth
and 
comb their hair

by 7:30 am.

A test will be given

at the end of the six weeks,

and each father will be required to know

all of the following information:
each child’s
birthday,
height, weight,
shoe size, clothes size,
doctor’s name,
the child’s weight at birth,
length, time of birth,
and length of labor,
each child’s favorite color,
middle name,
favorite snack,
favorite song,
favorite drink,
favorite toy,
biggest fear,
and what they want to be when they grow up.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.

The last man wins only if….
he still
has enough energy
to be intimate with his spouse
at a moment’s notice.

If the last man does win,
he can play the game over and over and over
again for the next 18-25 years,
eventually earning the right
to be called Mother!

After you get done laughing,
send this to as many females as
you think will get a kick out of it and
as many men as you think can handle it.
Just don’t send it back to me….

I’m going to bed.

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You can learn more about the subject of leaving the house with small children and fathers here.

If you have nowhere to go and no particular time to be there, you will successfully have everyone out of the house in fresh diapers with snacks, spit-up free shirts, sunhats, water bottles and sunscreen in eleven minutes.

If you have somewhere to be, even if it’s somewhere that the children would like to be, such as gym class, accomplishing the aforementioned feat will take one hour and eleven minutes. Add forty minutes if you are feeling particularly stressed for time.

Exception: If you have somewhere to be at a particular time, but are being very, very, very zen about it, wearing life like a loose garment and accepting the scattering of time that herding toddlers and babies requires, you can make it out of house in thirty minutes.

Exception to the Exception: Don’t bother trying to fake yourself into being in a state of super-zen to get out of the house on time. Children can sense disingenuous lackadaisicality the same way they’ll refuse to eat even a cupcake if they think you really want them to eat it. If you opt for faux-zen, you are guaranteed to experience one (or all) of the following:

  • Getting out of the house one hour and thirty seven minutes later.
  • Having a complete conniption fit that puts your toddler’s worst tantrums to shame
  • Giving up on leaving the house altogether because —- whoops! —- so much time has been wasted tying shoes back on that were just put on four minutes ago, second and third potty runs have had to be taken, one blow-out poopie diaper (and outfit) have had to be changed, and spit-up has had to be hosed off of mommy’s one last “clean” shirt, that we’ve rounded the clock right back to another nap or meal time. It’s a veritable “Do Not Pass Go.”

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During one of my recent forays into finding birth announcements that don’t suck, I came across a faux announcement displaying a toddler. Sure, it was just meant for display purposes, but the my inner sense of schadenfreude popped up and I sneeringly thought to myself (about this completely fake announcement), “Well now, they really ARE late about getting their announcements out!’

Why the judgment? Because yours truly here has a four-month old son and still hasn’t even ordered the announcements, that’s why. And, if I can find someone else who’s waited longer, all the better in my book, even if it is a fake announcement.

As it turns out, this display announcement was actually for an adoption, so it makes sense the kid in the photo wasn’t some spaced out, slightly alien-esque newborn, but a full-fledged, stinky-poop dropping, racing-around-the-playground toddler. And, in the end, when I realized it was for an adoption, I felt A) lame for still being the most delinquent announcement sender ever B) lamer still for having been snarky about finding the toddler announcement C) lamest of all for being so un-hip (may the Jolie be with me!) that I didn’t even think of the notion of adoption announcements when I saw the fake one in the first place!!!

This got me wondering… am I about to send out the latest birth announcements ever, at 5 months? What is the cut-off on announcements being too late?

I decided to ask Amy of Amalah.com at her advice column at Alpha Mom. We’ll see if she picks up my question. I really want to know!

If anyone’s reading this, what do you think?

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I had a long-ranging, contemplative and wending conversation with a good friend last night. At one point, we fell upon the topic of mother-daughter relationships.

Mother-daughter relations can be so clashing as daughters, budding young women, at once need their mothers as protectors, nourishers, embracers… yet they also must be pushed away, at times isolated from, so the girl can define herself as separate, her own person. The ground is so fertile for conflict – mothers want so much to protect their daughters from the same mistakes they made when young, from the dangers that are inherent in being a woman in this world… It’s easy for young daughters to feel smothered, to have to force their identity.

My friend made a fine observation that I’d like to remember – perhaps the best goal of mothering a daughter is to strive to have a relationship like that of a mentor and mentee (ummm… I’m not even sure that’s a word, but… apprentice? pupil?) The nut of it is to try to be the woman you hope your daughter will strive to become… and then lead her there.

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