Thursday, May 31, 2007

does this explain things a little?

For the last few days, I’ve been storming around the house furious, seething, ready to kick somebody’s teeth in. I’ve been so much bitchier than usual that Stupid Daddy has taken notice and inquired about my well-being. I believe his exact words were, “Whatever you’ve got up you’re A-S-S [kudos to him for having the presence to spell it—correctly, no less—in the presence of minors], get it out!”

To the extent that I have any insight into my crabbiness, it boils down to one long rant. Which I hate! So here, I’ve made a list of some stuff that I am just feeling so tired of. It’s still one long rant, but you’ll hardly notice because of the user-friendly format and bite-size portions.

A partial list of things I’m tired of:
being afraid to go the pool because I haven’t gotten any exercise;
being afraid to get dressed in the morning because my pants might be too tight because I haven’t gotten any exercise;
being afraid to get some exercise because I can’t face how out of shape I am;
wanting to do things and never doing them;
doing things and never wanting to;
making lunches for my kids;
hating my kids by the end of the day;
hating my kids first thing in the morning;
having contractors traipse through our house;
finding new problems for the contractors to come back for;
telling Levi that the box of crackers is not a hammer, my shoe is not a hammer, a banana is not a hammer, his sister is not a hammer;
telling Levi that his sister is also not a nail;
telling Levi that a hammer is a hammer but he still can’t use it;
being yelled at by Ezra all day long;
being scowled at by Ezra when he’s not yelling;
not getting enough sleep;
feeling like shit;
not being able to collect my thoughts enough to come up with anything other than a stupid fucking list.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

further evidence

I've apparently lost all ability to proofread. "How I know I motherhood"?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

how I know I motherhood has taken its toll

Last fall, a good friend of mine and her boyfriend came to visit Asheville. We hadn't seen each other in about five years, and apparently, before we met for brunch, she was having some jitters--she had gained too much weight, or gotten too wrinkly, whatever.

"Don't worry," her boyfriend said reassuringly. "Deb's had three kids. She probably looks like shit."

I laughed so hard when I heard this. Because sometimes the truth hurts, and other times it's just really funny.

Here are just a few of the many signs that motherhood has indeed taken its toll, and in so many ways:
1. Tonight while plating a lovely dinner of Annie's and hot dogs, I anticipated that at least one child would complain that the hot dog was touching the pasta. Ah-ha! I thought to myself. I'll just tell him that makes it taste gooder.
2. My boobs resemble string beans from nursing on and off for the last five years.
3. All my jeans have holes in the knees from crawling around on the playroom floor.
4. In the summertime, I get callouses on my knees from crawling around on the playroom floor.
5. I can't do subtraction anymore.
6. When I get a boo-boo, I say, "Ow-ee."
7. I've started to wear diapers.

Just kidding--I swear!--about that last part. But the rest is totally for real.

Monday, May 28, 2007

a question

One of the lovely people we met at our yard sale yesterday (which continued, by the way, through the day today, just because people kept stopping by wanting to buy stuff--ka-ching!) was a woman who had just moved into the ground floor apartment of the house next door.

When she said to us, "I love those hanging lights in your upstairs; they look like stars," do you think she was actually saying, "I can totally see you guys when you're having sex, so you might want to think about getting some shades"?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

easy street

Two days' worth of work. Half our stuff still out there. A total of about $150 earned. We're living high on the hog now, baby.

I think the secret to these unbelievable stats was the effort we put into product display. I mean, with all these items so artfully arranged, what passerby in their right mind wouldn't stop and think, Oh my god, I have always wanted one of these dirty plastic waste baskets! And finally, here's one at an affordable price!

Also, our kids were so helpful. For example, one guy was all prepared to pay $20 for an air conditioner till he tested it out with our extension cord. It made a really horrendous grinding sound and he didn't believe me when I told him it was supposed to sound that way. We looked in through the grate at the top and noticed that someone (who shall remain Ezra or Levi) had slipped a metal shelf bracket in through one of the slots. We were going to give it to the guy for free but he kindly offered us five bucks. Thanks, boys!

We did
meet several nice people and it was pleasant hanging out on the porch out of the blistering heat. So all in all, it wasn't the worst way to spend a Sunday.

Friday, May 25, 2007

All of us were in the playroom last night. Ezra was drawing. He’s never more focused than when he’s at the art table. He hunches over the paper; he holds the pencil tight. His tongue flicks all over the place with every mark he makes. Watching him, I can remember being able to shut the whole world out, the coziness and comfort of it. It’s just you and the thing you’re working on.

Lilah, who had been playing with some puzzle pieces a moment earlier, came up to the table, picked up a sky blue pencil, and started drawing on Ezra’s paper. Ezra grabbed the pencil from her and screamed one short scream of protest. Then he crumpled his paper into a ball and threw it on the floor and sat there, a remote look in his eyes.

I know that overwhelming frustration and fury, and the way it can turn inward because that’s the only place you feel like you can exert any power, the only place you can make something happen.

After reminding Lilah that the drawing wasn’t hers (as I had already done a hundred times this week), I told Ezra I was sorry he had crumpled it up. I asked him if I could take a look at it anyway. So we sat down together, knee-to-knee on the rug. I smoothed out the paper as best I could.

It was an amazing drawing, though he had only gotten started—something like a tree at the dead center of the page, with perfectly symmetrical spoke-like branches radiating out on both sides, and something like a door at the trunk. And then off in one corner, Lilah’s jarring scribbles.

Ezra looked up at me, with big tears pooling up in his eyes. “Mommy,” he started. Then he leaned over and whispered into my ear. “Mommy, I feel like I should have crumpled my drawing and I feel like I shouldn’t have crumpled it.”

I scooped him into my lap, that poor little boy. It’s hard to be the oldest, it’s hard to be in a family of three, it’s hard to be five years old. It’s just hard to be.

Maybe that’s why so many of Ezra’s drawings these days are like that one—geometric, architectural, balanced. If he puts a red squiggle on the left side of the page, a red squiggle goes on the right. If there’s a yellow line at the top, there’s bound to be one at the bottom. He creates elaborate, whimsical patterns that are grounded in their own symmetry, shored up by repetition. No surprises, no up or down, no chance that anything will topple.

bright idea

I think I have a winning idea for a children’s book, geared toward three-to-five-year-old boys: The Incredible Farting Penises.

Here’s the plot: there are two little boys who have penises that they enjoy twisting into pretzels, wrapping around doorknobs, pushing back into their bodies, and waving about for all the world to see. They love to watch their penises pee. They love to pee on each other in the bath tub. They love to pee on each other’s penises in the bath tub. They could talk about their penises forever. They could talk about anyone’s penis—their father’s penis, their friend’s penis, penises they’ve never met before, penises that don’t exist—forever. They have a little sister who DOESN’T HAVE A PENIS, SO STOP LOOKING FOR IT ALREADY!

Then one day, their penises start farting. What fun! The boys feel like they must have died and gone to heaven.

And it turns out they have! They have died and gone to heaven! Because their evil, poopyhead mother was so tired of the penisness of everything that she killed them.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

we're having a yard sale

We've finally gotten to the bottom of every box and separated the wheat from the chaff. But because one man's chaff is another man's wheat, we've decided to sell (hopefully) some stuff off our front porch this weekend. It will feel good to (hopefully) unload things and earn a couple of nice dinners for two in the process--mountains of baby clothing, various ugly serving dishes and other whatnots we've been gifted over the years, three air conditioners (all of which, notably, were purchased during my pregnancies), Rollerblades we haven't stepped into in more than a decade, the mint condition antique desk from my beloved late father's office of 25 years (just kidding, Mom!), and more.

Anyway, here's our advertising. If I were more adept at this whole technology thing, you wouldn't have to click on the image to make the text readable. But when you do, boy is it ever readable!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

just goes to show you

I took a break from my desk earlier to walk the dogs around the neighborhood and take some pictures. One thing that's always held me back in photography--as it has, for that matter, in most things involving actually living life--is feeling self-conscious. Instead of just shooting what looks interesting to me, I don't lift the camera and take aim because there's a car passing by and I think to myself, What if the person driving that car thinks that this picture I'm taking is stupid? What if they're thinking, Ha-ha, she thinks she's a hot photographer but if she's really taking a picture of what it looks like she's taking a picture of, she's so not hot!

Because aren't you constantly assessing people's skills as photographers as you drive by them at thirty miles per hour? I'm not either.

Today I found myself hobbled by this worry again. Despite the drought, there are all sorts of beautiful things in bloom and even though I generally avoid nature shots because I don't know how to make a flower look interesting, I was inspired to try it out. But I kept stopping myself. I could practically hear the people in their cars thinking, Oh, crap! Just what the world needs--another goddamn picture of a poppy. And then there was the sound of them crashing, they were so distraught about what they had just witnessed.

Interestingly, I took several pictures of Moxie pooping and then Harriet running over to pee on the poop just so everyone would know that even though she weighs fifteen pounds to Moxie's sixty, she's the one in charge. I didn't think twice about what anyone else might have to say. Because I knew that those pictures--those would be something I could be proud of.

Turns out all of those pictures are awful, but the one of some pretty pink flowers that I managed to sneak in when the coast was clear might not be half-bad.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

boy, the metaphors just keep coming

Actually, I remembered today that the mirror had been replaced once before, about seven years ago.

Early on in our relationship, because I have "borderline traits," I followed Stupid Daddy (as he henceforth shall be called, in an effort to protect his identity and not jeopardize his career, because it's quite likely, don't you think?, that this blog will hit the big time) from Cambridge to Vermont. Because everything he owned fit into a backpack and was ugly anyway, I brought all my stuff along with me, including this mirror I had purchased from Crate and Barrel in my single days a few years back.

At some point during our time in Vermont, the mirror cracked. But you could still see into it enough to make yourself presentable by Vermont standards, and in that state doing pretty much anything besides skiing requires a day's drive, so we left it the way it was.

Then Stupid Daddy, at the time just Idiot Boyfriend, and I went through a rough spell. And by rough spell I mean that one fine day in May he dumped my ass because he had found an even harder-core borderline lady than I to bed and argue with. If my life were a bad novel, I might have suspected something was amiss because of the cracked mirror and all. But I didn't see it coming.

I packed up my things and moved out (and really, it was no big deal, I wasn't at all devastated, I didn't lose ten pounds from grief or get three hours of sleep a night if I was lucky for the next four weeks or anything like that), but not before Idiot Boyfriend had a chance to ask me if I wouldn't mind parting with some of my dishes since my departure would leave him with nothing.

I said, Screw you! because I'm tough like that. But I did leave behind the mirror. Take that, Idiot Boyfriend! It cut him deep.

Over the course of the summer, I got hints every so often that he was having regrets about his decision. These came mainly in the form of newsy and totally unwelcome emails about his dogs. But also, one day, a mutual friend brought the mirror over to my apartment, with a brand new piece of glass, which Idiot Boyfriend had taken the time to replace but obviously not wanted to bring to me himself.

We patched things up by early fall. It certainly took more than the mirror, but it wasn't that hard to win me over. We're good together.

Monday, May 21, 2007

empathy for the mirror

In typically random fashion, we positioned the stand for the full-length mirror in the corner of the bedroom exactly where we wanted it last week but did not get around to unpacking the actual mirror, which had been lying on the floor right next to it, until tonight.

The mirror had been wrapped in many protective layers of paper and cardboard by our movers. But when we set the box upright and cut through the rigid exterior, the mirror, still encased in paper, folded in half right before us, as if taking a great big bow. Not a good sign.

Off to the trash she went, my beloved mirror of over a decade.

For some reason, though we've been through major hassles with this renovation and move--for example, having to move three times over the course of three months, having carpeting installed incorrectly by a team of highly baked incompetents who accused us of going around and pulling it apart at the seams, maybe because we loved their company and wanted them to keep returning to our home, but were too shy about inviting them to dinner?--this struck me as the saddest part of all. Despite everyone's best efforts to keep it intact, the mirror had still shattered. All the upheaval was just too damn much for that fragile thing--which, you know, I can really relate to.


I'm sitting here in our new office and I have to say, it's pretty grand. What a great location to pretend to be doing important work! We've kind of got a wall of windows here and no need for lights at all, and an awesome mile-long IKEA desk on which to spread out the stuff that we need to have close at hand in order to get all our pretend work done.

The windows are open and the air is dry and lovely, though I do feel guilty enjoying it, because we need rain so desperately around here; the grass is brown and the veggies are shriveling on the vines. At least the ones that grow on vines are. Shriveling, that is.

It's so nice up here, in fact, that it doesn't matter that the house directly across the way has grass growing on the roof, or that since lunch, Alex's farts have been show-stoppingly bad. Ah, spring in our new home!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

holy crap! moving is a bitch!

It seems we've just been trading one set of stresses for another. We've given up living out of suitcases and using a square of kitchen counter as an office and getting takeout for dinner every night because we didn't have a pot to cook in.

Now, we're sorting through mountains of stuff that has been in storage during our nomadic last three years, figuring out what to keep, what to throw into the Dumpster that is thankfully still in our back yard, what to sell at a yard sale, deciding how much dank boxed-too-long-in-a-garage smell is too much to tolerate in, say, a much loved text book from college or a pair of underwear.

And then, because I'm Jewish and because I'm me, instead of just enjoying it here, I walk around waiting for something to go wrong; it all seems too good to be true. So I was greatly relieved when, after the heat went on or the first time two nights ago, the smoke alarms went off and the entire house began to reek of burning plastic.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Here's some conversation from last night, just as Alex and I were drifting off to sleep.

Alex: Hey, baby?
Me: Mm?
Alex: Do you like the name John?

Lord, I hope that translates. They guy is hilarious.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

noteworthy events of today

1. Our garage door exploded. Parts everywhere--metal coils (not to be confused with mortal coils) boinging skyward, shards of wood raining down, oohs and aahs, applause. Okay, I exaggerate. But really, something very very bad happened, and there was the breaking of various parts, and now the door won't close. So hey, neighbors: let the looting begin!

2. Ezra went on his first sleepover date. And though we may get a phone call from Oscar's parents at 4am, he seems to have taken the whole thing in stride. When I kissed him goodbye, he was like, Okay, can I get back to playing now? I'm guessing I'll be getting a lot more of this in years to come.

Poor Levi had a hard time with it at first. When I told him he wouldn't be going too, he scowled and said, "That's not cool!" Which, no, it totally isn't, dude. When I put him to bed tonight we talked about how hard it was to get left behind. I told him not to worry, pretty soon he'd be doing the same to Lilah.

3. "last minute" "flowers" "mother's day" = saving my ass, at not too bad a price

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tonight after picking the kids up from school we got takeout at Greenlife and had a picnic on the front porch of the house that we've been renovating for an entire year, and which finally passed inspection today, a mere six months later than we had been told it would happen.

I won't go into the whole convoluted explanation, but because of the above and a series of unfortunate incidents, we have lived in three different houses in two months and still are not able to move. The electric hasn't been switched to permanent (a process that could take days--though extension cords will work--thank god for summer), and the painters seemed to think they could do half the job they agreed to do and somehow it would be totally okay if they closed up shop and took off at the end of the day today. Also, construction work creates a lot of dust--all over, in places you've never even dreamed dust would stand a fighting chance, in places where the sun don't shine. And so you have to fight back, a lot, and go through piles of rags, with the cleaning supply you need always somewhere else, or just lost in the boxes of junk, even though you're sure you just saw it three minutes ago, all of which makes you have to sit down and rest your head on your knees.

But! We are really and truly getting closer to actually living there. Tonight we thought one of us would sneak in a bit of unpacking while the other watched the kids and then we'd call it a night. But it so happened that the playroom is close to being unpacked, and I brought the kids into it, and they were delighted to recognize their own things--the rug, the books, the toys. And they plunked themselves down with a couple of toys and played quietly together for at least twenty minutes, perfectly at home.

A couple of weeks ago when Alex and I were having a difficult parenting patch, he said, "Don't worry; when we move into the new house, the kids will practically raise themselves." He was joking, of course, in that way that he does. But his comment also highlighted how crazed and stressful things have been for all of us, in all domains, even our kids, though they don't always act that way and certainly never articulate it.

Tonight, the three of them sat down on the alphabet rug, and some kind of magic came over them. They were calm, focused, cooperative; they were completely engaged and at peace.

Earlier on in the renovation process, we had an electrician who was concerned about the bad energy in the house and ran around with smudge sticks to ward off the evil spirits. (This is Asheville, don't forget.) I'm not sure if that was part of the charge, or just some pro bono work he felt inspired to do. Our contractor fired him (unrelated issues) and we never heard from him again.

Now I kind of see there's some truth to what Alex said, and the smudge stick electrician might have been onto something.

the second part

I have these bags under my eyes that I inherited from my father, who inherited them from my grandmother. They're these swollen semicircles demarcated by a thin, sunken border, inexplicably bluish green. Hideous, right?

And they've gotten worse as I've gotten older. Now I'm really thankful that I wear glasses, because the right shape frame goes a long way toward hiding the mess and makes me look pretty normal again.

One night not long ago, I had a dream that I was complaining about them to Alex in a very agitated state--like, Oh my god, these things on my face, is the world coming to an end, or what?--which is pretty much what happens during my waking hours and is disappointingly more realistic than dreamlike. Dreamlike would be, I was complaining about the bags under my eyes and at the same time, the trees started dancing around me, and a giant turd floated through the sky, and then we were sitting in the living room, but it wasn't really our living room....Are you asleep yet?

So in the dream, Alex looked at me kindly and said, "Those? Don't worry about those. They're known and loved." Which was pretty awesome. Go, Alex! And if that isn't a tag line, I don't know what is.

Still, saying "known and loved" would have sounded like I was full of myself and might have turned away the millions of readers who would otherwise enjoy this blog on a daily basis. So I modified it a little and came up with a charmingly self-deprecating tag line. It just draws you in, doesn't it?


This blog is not called stupidmommy because I have low self-esteem. On the contrary! I love myself so much that I can not only take an insult, I can flaunt it. I can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse; I have just that much self-confidence and inner strength. Really!

Last year, my boys went through a sort of nasty period during which they were quite fond of calling me "Stupid Mommy." I would tell Ezra it was time to go to bed and he'd say, "Stupid Mommy! I don't want to go to bed." Levi would trip and fall on the walkway and cry out, "Stupid Mommy! I tripped!" (Actually, he would say, "I did trip"--that was always the way he indicated past tense.) No matter what went wrong, Stupid Mommy was somehow to blame. The downside of being omnipotent is that everything's your fault.

Needless to say, it was totally annoying, and my husband and I employed all sorts of savvy-parent techniques to stop them from saying it. I wish I could tell you that one of them worked. But the truth is, the boys simply wore themselves out with it and have since moved on to other obnoxious habits. Now they don't ever call me Stupid Mommy.

Strangely, though, the name grew on me. It morphed into a kind of endearment. My husband, every so often, began to say things like, "Hey, Stupid Mommy, would you do me a favor and grab me a diaper for Lilah?" How could I not just melt hearing those words? Privately, all these months, I've actually been calling myself Stupid Mommy. In a loving way. And now you can call me Stupid Mommy too.

So, that explains the name for the blog. But what explains the blog? I don't know exactly. Possible reasons:
  1. I like the sound of one hand clapping.
  2. I like to write.
  3. I like to do things that were sort of interesting and revolutionary five years earlier.
  4. I'm a narcissist. (But I'm working on that!)
  5. Not to get all 4-ish on the enneagram or anything, but there's a part of me that wants to make things--you know, create--and with three kids, the oldest of whom is five, this is the best I can manage.
  6. I'm turning 40 next year. Enough said about that.
  7. Possible fame and fortune.
  8. It's 3:41am and I know I just won't be able to fall asleep until I do this, finally, after contemplating it for a long, long time.