When you miss the first swim class…

So Baby had her first swim class today. Her first, but not the first, because class started last Saturday, but all three of us were sick. So this week was our first week, and the class has all these silly baby songs. We, of course, knew none of them, but the other moms knew them all by heart. I was wondering if the other moms knew them just by virtue of being moms, making me some sort of unfit mother. But then My Better Half blurted out, rather loudly, “Jesus Christ! Did they get issued some sort of moms’ song book last week?!”

I about died. A little of embarrassment, but mostly of laughter.

blech. sick.

My life since last Thursday can be summed up as: alternating between tylenol and sudafed every 4-6 hours. I feel awful. I think it’s safe to say that I have been more sick since Baby was born than any other time in my life. Even though I managed to get a few catnaps this weekend and barely did anything besides lay around moaning, I stil felt straight up awful this morning. But I decided to go to work anyway because I have no sick time anyway and thought I could at least tough it through the morning with more sudafed and tylenol, like I did last week.

So I was sitting around literally counting the moments until I could bail, feeling just shitty, when my boss asked if I could go to the training workshop today in her stead. Why? “I feel so sleepy! My cats kept me up ALL night!”

I’m sorry. What?

Your kitty cats? You mean the ones that require constant vigilant supervision, feeding, bathing, entertaining, diapering, and soothing? Oh, wait, no. That would be my nine month old. That I took care of all weekend with, I’m quite certain, the flu. So pardon me if I’m out of give-a-shits.

A Problem Only for Upper Middle Class Moms

I started my new job almost a year ago, when I was six months pregnant. And within a couple weeks, my new boss connected me with a woman who works here who had just come back from maternity leave. I went up to talk with her one afternoon because she’d just enrolled her daughter in the same daycare we were considering. We compared notes on the daycare, and, naturally, touched base on a lot of other baby-related issues: hospitals and birth, pumping at work, and, of course, sleep. She told me the following anecdote:

“We had our first overnight away from the baby when she was about 3 months old. My in-laws kept her while my husband and I just went down the block and checked into a hotel. Right after check-in, we ordered room service, took a tylenol PM, and slept for, like, 12 hours.” I thought she was kidding. Thing is: she wasn’t kidding. One of my friends says to me, frequently, and with pity, “I always tell [our other friend] how bad I feel for you guys because you don’t have any family here, so you’ve never really had time away from Baby! I’m SO sorry! It must be really difficult.” Is it hard? You betcha. Is it worth every sleep deprived moment? Absolutely. Would we give anything for a night of uninterrupted sleep, since it’s been nine months without so much as a night off?

Sorry, had to get another cup of coffee.

Yes.

But let’s keep this in context. Do you really think that moms around the world feel sorry for themselves because they can’t get a night off? Do you think that moms across the US have the luxury to entertain the thought of getting a full night’s sleep, nevermind in a ritzy resort where they get room service and a pedicure and facial the next day? We certainly don’t. Clearly a first world problem. Especially in this sh*tty-ass economy.

Our world has been turned upside down, but in all the right ways. We are blessed with a healthy, adorable, loving, curious, funny, happy Baby. We couldn’t be luckier. So we’ll have to put up with beingĀ  sleep deprived and caffeine-dependant until she sleeps through the night since we don’t have someone who can take her. If that’s the biggest problem we have, we’re doing pretty damn well. We’ll just keep brewing more coffee so we can keep up with her.

FAM Turns 6!

happy-birthday-candles

Today is the 6th birthday of my little blog. I can’t believe it’s actually been six years. Sure, it came off the tracks a lot during those six years. When Funky-Ass Monkey wasn’t online, it was because I was grappling with being overworked, an all-time low of energy thanks to Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and all manner of other things. Things like blog identity crisis. All I blogged about early on was how much life in PHX sucked. Well, that, and how museum work is was awful. Things that are still part of my life experience, but not what I wanted my blog to be centered around. So when I brought it back in 2012, I carefully curated and removed posts – not because I’m ashamed of them, but because I’ve learned a lot about what I want my blog to be and where my boundaries lie in terms of what I’m willing to share.

But the most challenging obstacle that prompted me to stop blogging and simultaneously regret that I’d stopped blogging was crushing, debilitating doubt in my writing abilities, an ever-present hypercritical voice inside my head that said that I should quit. Because I didn’t have anything good to say. Because I wasn’t funny enough, distinctive enough. Because I wasn’t good enough. And then beating myself up because 1) I wasn’t good enough to “be” a blogger and 2) quitting my blog made me a quitter, because I was abandoning my dream of being a writer.

What I didn’t know then that I know now is that the best therapy for me was that I should write. Because it’s how I unravel my thoughts. It’s how I get what’s in my head out of my own way so I can move on. And it’s how I can move past being hypercritical and way too hard on myself. In fact, blogging in particular helps me to see that my writing doesn’t have to be perfect before I hit “publish.” That I can be okay with letting my writing go and not constantly tweaking and reworking, revisiting my drafts over and over again, only to find new things that need to be “fixed” each and every time. It’s one thing to constantly strive to improve. It’s another to never move forward because you are your own worst critic. I finally decided enough is enough. I could either keep revising and revising in pursuit of elusive perfection…or I could just start to accept my writing for what it is and let good enough go. What I found is that publishing my posts, even or perhaps especially those that weren’t perfect, is the very act that let me carve out the space to find new inspiration. Staring at a draft over and over with a hypercritical eye didn’t help me get any better. Actually writing and hitting publish is what will help me hone my craft and improve. But another important reason I’ve returned to blogging is: It’s what I like to do. It took a long time for me to realize that simply enjoying blogging is reason enough to do it. So I made it my New Year’s resolution this year to blog every day so that I wouldn’t forget to make time for myself and something so small that brings me a lot of pleasure. And while I haven’t quite achieved a post a day, I am proud of all the days that I have managed to post. And I feel my creative mojo trickling back little by little.

Disclosure Agreement

When you have good friends visiting you in your new place, I think you should be required to disclose at the following:

Hey, by the way, our new house has an indoor hot tub! Bring your suits!!

While I’m at it, It’d also be nice to say, uh, that rattle your baby is chewing on isn’t colorfast. Her whole mouth is black. And her face. And her hands.

But I’d settle for the first disclosure.

So Much for Montessori

As Baby approaches 1 year, I had started to put out a few feelers for Montessori or other nursery schools. It seems ridiculously early, I know, and I never ever wanted to be a parent putting my Baby (and myself) through the agony of long waitlists, auditions, and just otherwise stupid antics. (At least not until kindergarten anyway).

But the reality of living in a big city (or, for all I know, anywhere these days, thanks to the general sh*ttiness of education in American public schools combined with the parenting instinct to give your child the greatest advantages in life that you can) is that you gotta start early. The highly rated preschool for 2-5 year olds on campus? Yeah, they have babies on their waiting list who HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN BORN YET. So when my dreams of having Baby right here on campus with me, learning and developing at some beautiful, highly respected, preschool of excellence were squelched? I decided I needed to get on the ball if she was going to end up in any halfway-decent school someday. So, dear interwebz, that is how you may find yourself, like I did, on the path to becoming the very person you despise, but let me continue.

I know what I envision when I think of shipping Baby off to preschool is a nurturing environment very much like the one I grew up in (I went to a free-choice nontraditional elementary school, way back before it was cool). A learning environment you just don’t see in public schools. And second, I know everyone thinks their school systems suck, but Arizona’s really, really suck. Getting her into a good school in Arizona is probably equivalent to getting her into the most mediocre of schools pretty much anywhere else.

But, dear reader, I know this will come as a shock, but my research shows that Montessori caters only to elitist, pretentious, upper middle class folks. In other words, whitey. Without exception, the Montessori schools here are:

  1. At least as expensive as infant daycare. For half days.
  2. Unable to define “half.” Without exception, all define a “half day” as fewer than three and a half hours.
  3. Unable to accommodate demand, and so implement all manner of pretentious interviews, evaluations, and auditions.

So the expectation is either that I am ridiculously wealthy and can afford

  • a nanny for the rest of each day once the ‘half’ day session is over, or
  • daycare for the rest of each day
    • Well, that, and a chauffeur, because it’s not like I can dash out of work at 11 a.m. to go pick up my kid who I couldn’t drop off before 8:30 so that I can then shlep her from nursery school to daycare, or
  • to not work.

Even though the educational credentials and teachers may impress me, none of what I’ve seen sits well with me. I can’t afford it and I can’t beat myself up because I can’t afford it either.

People act like the whole working mom thing is hard due to the emotionally and culturally-fraught decision of whether one’s identity as a woman who has offspring is tied up in what one does not accomplish at home because she works or what she does not accomplish at work because she is home. No, at least not for me. What is difficult is that the choices for high-quality childcare are so prohibitive and few and far between that only the parents who are both: financially *able* to not work AND also choose not to work have access to the quality of early childhood ed I would want.

Anyone out there wealthy enough AND willing to sponsor me? I’ll gladly stay at home AND ship my kid off to an excellent program. Anyone?

 

 

Unfiltered Thoughts: From Babies to Babes?

I’ve been grappling with pink since Baby was born. Pink blankets, pink onesies, pink bath towels, pink toys, pink socks, pink bibs. We didn’t find out if we were having a boy or a girl, so I was lucky to have a bunch of yellow, green, and white stuff on hand or I would have gone apeshit. I don’t love pink. It’s a fine color, but everything in moderation would be better. It’s particularly puzzling because:

  1. Babies love bold graphic patterns and high contrast colors, so what’s with all the pastel? and
  2. Why is it that boys get a range of colors – bold reds, bright happy yellows, rich royal blues, vibrant oranges – but girls get only pink? (I’m not the only one wondering, btw. Even a FOUR YEAR OLD demands to know).

It’s not absolutely impossible to find non-pink clothes, but it is difficult. The big box stores and chain baby retailers carry a few things here and there, but it’s mostly a Pepto world out there. Higher end baby clothing lines do carry more variety for girls, but they’re out of reach for me – too expensive. And the consignment stores? Don’t get me started. Their #1 selling item is a pink baby headband – they can’t keep it in stock. My baby girl is beautiful without any stupid ass headband designed to ensure that others know she’s a girl. Like you couldn’t tell from the pink onesie, the pink sweater, the pink pants, and the pink socks. I want my baby’s wardrobe to be as expressive and funky as I am, but I’m also not rich, so evidently, she’ll be destined to a pink world, at least for now. I thought in a city of this size, with this many f-ing tattoos and facial piercings (mine included), there’s GOT to be some cool, hip, affordable Funky-Ass baby store here. I turned to my local alternative weekly paper, as they’re more apt to point me away from chain big box retailers and towards some cool little tucked-away gem I didn’t know about that caters to moms who aren’t cookie cutter, plastic surgery trophy wives with daddy issues. But I did a search in their “Best of” section for “baby”… and the top result was a strip club. I give up.

Card Carrying Member of the Mom (Jeans) Club

A few years ago, I scored these really cute jeans at the second-hand shop, but I never wore them until this week. I don’t remember if I ever even tried them on at the store, but it doesn’t matter – between gaining weight in recent years and then that whole being pregnant thing, they were aspirational jeans, left in a pile with all the other “maybe someday I’ll fit into these” clothes.

I found them when I was packing away my “winter” clothes (I do live in PHX, so ‘winter’ clothes, not actual winter clothes) and switching them out for my spring and summer clothes. I tried them on and squealed with glee that they fit. They’re cute. And MAN are they comfortable. They have a lot of stretch and give – it’s almost like I’m wearing

OH.

Holy SH*T.

Are these PAJAMA JEANS?!

Not possible. When did those even start, anyway? Surely *after* I got these, right?! (I’m serious, actually. I think I scored these in about 2008, so…before Pajama Jeans became a thing, right?) Right?

OMG. Just go ahead and put a “middle aged” target on my back.

Unfiltered Thoughts: Urban Bicyclists

In the past two days, I have had encounters with two, TWO, bicyclists. Both heading north on the sidewalk that is next to the southbound lanes on a major road. Both hollering and waving arms about to try to get my attention, since, in both instances, I was turning right and and therefore, had no reason to look to my right before I turned.

So my message to them both is this: If I am driving and you are on the sidewalk, 1) there is no expectation that I should be looking to my right to turn right, so F off. 2) Did you know that you can get ticketed for riding the “wrong” direction on the sidewalk? If you’re going north, get on the northbound sidewalk on the other side of the road. Look, I get it. Urban biking is dangerous. I should know. I do it. And I’ve almost been hit twice – by a CITY BUS. Both times. So I know that the onus is on you, dear cyclist, to exercise the utmost caution. And I understand why you don’t want to ride in the street. So, how about you NOT YELL AT DRIVERS to look the other f*cking way before they turn and give them dirty looks when they don’t look your direction. Because they don’t have to.