Me (inspecting the artwork in Nora’s backpack): “Hey! You crossed out my name on this drawing and wrote Dad’s name instead?! You like him better than me?!”
Nora: “Mommy, no! That would be mean!”
Me: “I know I know I was just teasing.”
Nora: “It’s just that I thought I was gonna make just a messy scribble scrabble picture so I made it for you but then I started working hard and the picture turned out really beautiful so I made it for Dad instead.”
K well that’s actually way more fucked up than the thing I said.
Me: “No no. Just Sophie. I couldn’t get on board with the name Sophia. To me, Sophie is a name for a sweet, happy little baby, while Sophia reminds me of the Golden Girl’s character, who was a total grouch and always had this judgy, fuck-off look on her face like–”
Last week I saw Funny Girl on Broadway, which I HIGHLY recommend because despite the cringy plot (really quite bad), Lea Michele’s performance absolutely blew my mind to the extent that I’m able to earmuff the rumors that she’s a card-carrying mean girl/bully/everything I hate about people/society/the world. They’re only rumors, after all, and they’ve only been verified by every single person she’s ever worked with, so obviously filing it under fake news. *adjusts headphones of convenience*
Anyway, as I do whenever I see a Broadway musical, I’ve been obsessively playing the catchiest song over and over again in my car to a degree that is certainly diagnosable as a mental condition. (But seriously, other people do this blast-a-song-and-scream-the-lyrics-on-repeat-thing, sometimes actually acting out the words with dramatic hand and head motions, right? What’s that? Yes, but they’re 9? Kkkkk.)
This ritual of playing a Broadway song ad nauseum has pretty much been my MO since seeing Rent in middle school, and I’m always so excited when I get a new opportunity to be weirdly obsessive. It’s my (arguably sad) idea of fun.
But you know what ruins fun?
Especially Even the ones you birth!
It is rare that I am in the car without one of my half-pint humans nowadays, so my opportunity to blast a song and weird-out is limited. Sophie’s fun-ruining is more manageable. She’s only 1, so her idea of crashing the party is simply to scream at the top of her lungs until you start desperately searching the car for an eject button (to eject/kill MYSELF, guys, not the baby! Jesus.)
After 13 months of her car screaming I have developed some semi-useful coping mechanisms such as day dreaming that I am anywhere but here on Earth, tearless crying (also known as soul-crying, which is far less satisfying than classic, outward sob-crying, but gotta keep those eyeballs unobstructed because hello I’m driving a small child and SAFETY), and praying to a rotation of gods (I’ve now sampled all religions, and it turns out there is no god who will rapid-fire respond to an SOS emoji text).
But Sophie isn’t actually the problem, because her age/obliviousness and the above coping mechanisms allow me to at least semi-pretend it’s not happening. You think a 4-year-old is going to let you get away with that shit, though?
The fuck she’s not.
Me: (plays “Don’t Rain on my parade”)
Nora: “Mom, what’s this song about?”
Me: “A girl chasing after a man her dream!”
Nora: “Was this song in the start of the show or the middle or the end?”
Nora: “But why?”
Me: “Because that’s how the person who wrote the show wrote it.”
Nora: “Did the girl who’s singing write the show?”
Nora: “Then who did?”
Me: “I…don’t actually know. But I can look it up later.”
Nora: “But why don’t you know?”
Me: “Because I don’t know everything.”
Nora: “Does Dad know everything?”
Me (laughs): “Definitely not.”
Nora: “Why’d you say ‘definitely not?’ Why’d you say it like that?”
Well it took about 74 random password guesses (all incorrect, never should have deviated from my original AOL password, iluvfreddieprinze), at least 5 expletives (which felt great, because 4-year-old Nora doesn’t let me say the creatively coined “fuck word” anymore), banging on the laptop like a feral baboon and chanting a couple Hail Marys (I’m jewish, but I feel like Mary gets it?) to finally figure out how to log back into my blog site.
That tells me it’s probably been too long since I’ve written. Not great, since writing is my therapy, and the state of my mental faculties directly correlates with the frequency of my writing. Well, fuck. *pops Prozac, swallows with cold brew, simultaneously feels in control and on the verge of cardiac arrest*
But here’s the thing, guys, I’ve been realllllly busy.
Truth be told, since the last time I posted, I can honestly say I’ve never been less busy yet more overwhelmed. In this case, I’m defining “busyness” as having an actual, brain-stimulating existence– doing all the stuffs, working all the jobs, partaking in all the adventures, indulging in all the creative outlets.
Yes, I’ve been productive in some ways. For example, I made a human. Her name is Sophie. Eric helped make her, I suppose, so to be perfectly technical, I took what “we” made (a grain of sand– SOMEONE HAND ERIC A TROPHY) and turned it into an actual homosapien with limbs, internal organs, a brain and almost some hair (she’s now 13 months and still quite bald).
I did all this growing-of-the-human by waking up every morning, puking into a toilet, sobbing, cursing, returning to bed with the drama of an Oregon trailer dying of Dysentery, and then promptly puking again. And again. And again. And again! For 20 weeks straight.
There was a lot of moaning (the bad kind), sweating (still the bad kind), waddling (not the cute kind) and fun complications like gestational diabetes, hypothyroidism, and throbbing dental pain (yup, that’s a thing!)
To say that my entire pregnancy felt like an internal battle with Satan might be a tad dramatic, but when the doctors finally managed to wrestle Sophie out of my body with what felt like a jagged crowbar and a Dirt Devil Pro, and she emerged with the tiniest puff of red-tinted hair, was I surprised?
I was not.
So I don’t know, guys. Life is weird right now. Not bad weird, just weird weird, and I think I’m still settling into this suburban mom-of-two-young-kids life and finding my way through the Westport, CT jungle (I know. I’ve been here almost 3 years. For a marathon runner, turns out I’m quite slow).
Sometimes it feels like everyone else has a meticulously detailed map, and I’m just plodding along with my 4-year-old’s cracked Magic 8 Ball, kind of making shit up as I go. This is unsurprising, I suppose, because it’s how I’ve always felt in life in general. I guess this is just the Suburban Mom chapter in the bumbling memoir hero’s journey that is my life’s tale.
And none of this is a complaint about Westport (or my kids!! I obviously love the shit out of my kids and am beyond grateful to have them, but also hate that I have to point that out when expressing any weird feelings I’m having about motherhood, but some of you are cray so I’ll go ahead and cover that base– MY KIDS ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME, EVEN WHEN THEY DO THINGS LIKE LICK THE PLUNGER AND THROW UP IN MY CLEAVAGE).
I actually really like it here in Westport– it’s a phenomenal place to live (my kids better appreciate the fuck out of it, which, I understand, they will not), and I have met really great people. I just think that between our abrupt NYC exit, living a couple years in bizarro COVID Isolationville, having a second child who is very much a good baby (because all babies are good, of course! Of courssssssse. Settle down Gentle Parenting mob) but perhaps not the EASIEST baby (very screamy. Not a fan of many things.), and putting my career on pause to care for my kids full-time, it’s been a LOT. A lot of good, yes. But also “a LOT” in the most mind-numbing, tedious, floating-in-the-abyss way imaginable. And it’s left me feeling, at times, a little lost.
And I know one solid way to work through it is to keep writing, but every time I catch a spare moment away from caring for my kids, I find myself wanting to do nothing but zone out– do crosswords, watch The Bachelor, fight the dog for Nora’s remaining grilled cheese scraps, scroll Instagram until my brain cells bleed from my eyes, drink wine(s).
This, of course, feels good in the moment, but does nothing helpful for me long term, which I’m acutely aware of in the rational part of my brain (I call this rational part Anna, named after my therapist, who is responsible for all thoughts contained within it.) So I’m going to start listening to Anna a bit more. She keeps whispering that I should write, and that I’ll feel better if my swirling, shitnadoes of thought are spewed out into the universe, even if they’re messy and at times incoherent and probably not all that interesting. At least they’re mine.
So I’m going to write more. I bought Sophie a nice cage with a water bottle and an automatic feeder, and honestly, she really seems to like it. I figure if I throw her in there with a chew toy and bully stick, I can get a couple hours a day of solid me time.
But in case that doesn’t work out long term, I hired a regular babysitter. Finally. She comes a few days a week in the mornings, and I already feel like a new person. I like her so much that I didn’t even fire her when we were out in public together and someone mistook her for my daughter. She’s twenty fucking four.
Anyway, I don’t have a creative, cohesive way to end this post because as you probably noticed, I didn’t have a creative, cohesive way to begin or middle it, either. This was a bonafide word-vomit, and for that I’m sorry I’m not sorry. It’s been 2 years and just far too many thoughts are wrangling for attention, that simply taking the first step of logging into WordPress and banging the keys felt something like finding myself.
This is my official pitch to the people at Oreo– Nora Taylor, age 2, for your consideration as Oreo spokestoddler.
I told her I’m leaving the room and she can’t eat the Oreo until I come back, and if she waits, she’ll get 2 Oreos. This video will be submitted with her college applications, because if Oreo doesn’t want her, I’m hoping at least the Ivy League will (college apps are done through social media now, right? I have to assume that’s the case).
And yes if I’m ranking hopes for my child’s future, it 100% goes
People keep asking me if I’ve made any new friends here in Westport. But listen guys, it’s always hard when you move to a new place. And even harder when there’s a global pandemic. And even HARDER when you’re the kind of person who uses the global pandemic as an excuse, when really it’s just that you’re awkward and you hate meeting new people and talking in general and doing stuff that isn’t on your couch or phone.
Regardless, this week I actually started to make some social headway.
During Nora’s farm class (shut up) I was chatting it up with a bunch of moms who seemed refreshingly normal. As we watched our kids chase roosters around the chicken coop (yeah I’m just as confused by my new life as you are), one mom commented that every time she leaves the class, her son’s socks, shoes, and ankles are caked in mud.
I nodded knowingly. It’s absolutely never not often that I feel like I have worthwhile mom advice to give, but for once, I had it and I owned it.
Me: “So, I had the same problem with Nora. I finally got smart and put her in tall rain boots for class. So only the boots get dirty. Then after class I take them off, put them in a plastic bag, and have a clean pair of sneakers for her in the car.”
Other Mom: “Oh my god brilliant! A clean pair of sneakers! I always have a change of clothes in the trunk, but it didn’t even occur to me to have clean sneakers!”
“Oh yeah, the clean sneakers are key,” I replied, while mentally collecting my parenting trophy.
Other Mom: “Seriously, why didn’t I think of clean sneakers? Every week I’m here chasing him around, making sure he doesn’t step in THAT, and bring THAT into my car.”
She pointed to a gigantic pile of caked mud and animal poop. Just a huge steaming pile of shit. A mountain, really. It was as if every animal on the farm– the sheep, the cows, the alpaca, even the lone Nubian goat– had made a pact to ONLY shit in that one designated spot.
And of course, at the exact moment we all turned to look at said shit-pile, Nora sauntered right on over to it.
But I wasn’t worried.
Other Mom: “Uh oh, watch out for your daughter!”
Me (laughing): “Nah, she’s fine. She’s just checking it out. As much as she loves stepping in a good rain puddle, she does NOT like things that are straight up gross.”
And as if right on cue, Nora then turned around, a complete 180, and walked as far away from the pile as possible.
Other Mom: “Wow, good for her! And good for you! You really know your kid!”
Me (admittedly smug): “Yeah, she’s pretty good about–“
And that’s when I heard the rushed pitter patter of little feet and swung back around to see Nora sprinting across the chicken coop with Forrest-Gump like determination– straight toward the steaming pile of shit.
It turned out she hadn’t walked away because she found it disgusting, she had walked away because she wanted to give herself A RUNNING START.
I yelled for her to stop, but she just waved her hand at me and screamed back, “IT’S OK MOM! I HAVE MY BOOTS! I CAN’T GET DIRTY!”
I flashed back to the conversation we had in the car on the way to the farm. She did not want to wear her boots. But I had explained, over and over, that it’s a good idea to wear the boots, because if she wears them she can step in mud and SHE WON’T GET DIRTY.THE BOOTS WILL PROTECT HER. This reasoning had made her very happy and compliant, and I had awarded myself approximately 785 gold parenting stars.
Before I could intercept, Nora completed her sprint and took an Olympic-style pole-vaulting leap into the fresh pile of animal dung. She soared through the air with the confidence of a superhero, armed with the certainty that her magic boots would act as a full-body protective cloak.
The entire farm watched in shocked silence as, upon landing, Nora’s feet gave out from under her, and her tiny little tod-bod sank into the dune, which completely enveloped her, quicksand style, in shit. Even the hairy, 500-pound hog, half asleep in a mud puddle, was repulsed.
As soon as Nora discovered that her magic boots had not performed their mommy-promised protective powers, the high-pitched, bloody-murder screams commenced.
While hyperventilating and snot-sobbing like me on election night 2016, she somehow managed to extricate herself from the dung mountain. She surveyed the lumpy streams of crap covering HER ENTIRE BODY– her shirt, her pants, her hands, her face. Everything drenched and dripping in feces.
She ran toward me, arms outstretched, hysterical, screaming, “MOMMY HELP MEEEEEEE!!!!!” She was clearly traumatized and desperately seeking solace, so I did what any parent would do in this situation.
I ran the fuck away from her.
She was covered in shit, you guys!!!
The pack of moms stared in disbelief as Nora chased me around the chicken coop and I literally hopped the fence to avoid her. One of them half heartedly offered a change of clothes, but I assured her “No no, that’s ok, thank you– I have clothes in the car, obviously. You’re not a mom unless you cart around a change of clothes, right?!” (casual laugh).
I had no change of clothes.
Keeping a good 5-foot distance ahead of her, I somehow managed to verbally coax Nora back to the car, where I promptly covered my hands in plastic bags and stripped her down naked right there on the grassy knoll. I then bathed her with baby wipes as she stood there screaming, her pale little wrinkled tush blowing in the 50-degree breeze. I should mention that we were parked roughly 30 feet from a gardening event attended by approximately 15 senior citizens, all of whom were watching this scene unfold. Plastic-bag-hands covered in shit, I waved.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got Nora decently clean, shoved her clothes in a garbage bag, and threw her in the car seat. She rode home buck naked and wailing.
Pretty much since Nora was born, she’s been completely attached to her pink bunny “lovey” (aka a “stuffed animal.” It’s just a goddamn stuffed animal. I don’t know why it gets a fancy name).
Eric and I are in constant fear of the day Bunny gets lost, because there is absolutely zero chance Nora will be able to sleep without it. You’d think we would have ordered a back-up replica of Bunny, but no. Instead we’ve just spent 2 years rolling the dice.
And last night we rolled a 3.
(That’s bad, right? Idk I don’t play dice games).
Bunny was nowhere to be found. We searched the entire house in a panic, tossing pillows, stripping beds, praying to gods we don’t believe in, accusing one another of foul play, threatening divorce, digging a bunker, considering suicide.
It got tense.
Eventually we gave up. Bunny was gone.
So I did what any mom would do in this desperate situation, and threw a Hail Mary– I attempted to substitute Bunny with a stuffed animal that looked NOTHING. LIKE. BUNNY.
Here’s a visual model of the swap I tried to pull off:
I gingerly handed the imposter to Nora, and shakily whispered, “Here you go sweetheart, how about this?” I then backed away ever so slowly, and prepared myself for her response:
Nora stared at Not-Bunny for a good 30 seconds, then stared back at me for another 10. She turned Not-Bunny upside down, then right side up again. She poked DeVito Doll right in the face a few times with her finger, presumably testing for texture. And then, with every fiber of her soul and at a dog-whistle octave, she screamed:
“BUNNY!!!!!! YOU FOUND IT MAMA!!!! IT’S BUNNY!!! I LOVE YOU BUNNY!!!!”