Arlo explains how to please a baby at bedtime

by renegademama

Hey, mom. Arlo here.

I feel I’ve been pretty clear on this topic, but there appears to be some confusion still, which I can only assume is a result of a profound slow-mindedness on your part, which is cool, I guess. Little disappointing that my genes were plucked from your pool, but hey. Water under the bridge.

I’m a patient, reasonable fellow, so I’m going to lay it out for you, right here. Here is how you please me during the evening and night hours:

In the evenings, from approximately 4pm until 8pm, I want to be carried around. I don’t want you to put me down because that annoys me. It doesn’t annoy me during the rest of the day, but it annoys me then. Don’t try that “put me in the high chair with Cheerios” tactic, or the “here are 75,000 toys at your lap” thing. That shit pisses me off. I’m not an idiot. I see through your games.

I was born 7 months ago, not yesterday.

You say you need to make dinner? Carry me while you make dinner. I like grabbing hot and sharp things. I find that immensely entertaining. That works for me. You see, I’m working with you here, mom.

I like sitting with the family at dinner and eating, sometimes. Sometimes I want to sit on your lap while you try to eat but I want the boob out so I can flip on and off approximately 486 times, snacking while also not missing anything, because everybody knows all the good shit happens at dinner (especially with that Georgia character around. Remember yesterday when she suddenly threw herself onto Rocket, trying to wrap her legs around his neck? That was rad.).

I also enjoy a bit of dinner-plate grabbing in the evenings, particularly if whatever I see on your plate can choke me. Don’t stifle me. I’m trying to learn.

You can give me a bath. I like that, but I don’t like getting dressed after the bath. Can you please figure out a way to bathe me clothed?

I don’t like it when I have to poop but haven’t yet and I don’t like after I’ve pooped, so what I need for you to do is somehow get the poop from insides to outside without the actual diaper-changing fiasco.

No biggee. Figure it out.

Maybe those hippies are on to something with that elimination communication thing. You know, the whole “read your baby’s cues and hold them over a container” philosophy. I’m totally into that. From the look on your face, you’re not. I kind of wish you were a more devoted mother.

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There are sheets to play with, people. Why is everybody sleeping?

Anyway, after my bath I like to act tired and fussy and ready for bed. I am, in fact, ready for bed. Good job putting me in your bed and nursing me. I like to fall fast asleep quickly.

But here’s where you seem to get a little confused. You seem to think I want to STAY asleep at that point. Oh, no, honey. You’re not very bright.

I rarely like that. What I usually like is to wake up about 20 or 30 minutes after that so we can PLAY. It’s unclear to me how you ever got in your head that the hours of 8pm-10pm are for sleeping. I like to take a little cat nap then get up all cheerful and adorable so we can HANG OUT TOGETHER. Don’t you like hanging out? I like hanging out. PLUS I’M FUCKING ADORABLE.

Sorry for swearing, but seriously, with you two for parents, can you really expect more?

I signal my desire for play by squealing and cooing and laughing to myself in the bed. It’s weird that you’re usually not equally enthused when you hear me. Luckily though you always seem to come around after I give you a bit of that side-eye charm I throw down.

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the side-eye charm in question

Anyway when I’m done playing and tired again, obviously I want you to lie down and nurse me, but I don’t want to go straight to sleep. I want to kick a few hundred times (I like to push off your belly because it pops me up and off the boob, which also serves to keep me awake, so basically, it’s not just fun, it’s USEFUL fun.)

After I kick I like to throw my head backwards and squawk a few times if I feel myself drifting. Sometimes I like to close my mouth a little so my bottom two teeth scrape against your nipple. I think that’s fun. You don’t seem to think it’s fun. Luckily you don’t matter.

Sometimes I cry. I cry because I’m annoyed that I’m tired and the nursing puts me to sleep because even though I’m tired I don’t want to sleep. But if you stop me from nursing I’m annoyed that I’m not nursing. So basically I want to nurse but once I start nursing I’m annoyed that I’m nursing so your job is simply to let me nurse or not nurse or maybe get up and walk me around or play with me or do something other than whatever it is that you’re doing because honestly, I don’t really like anything you do.

This is always a delicate time for me. Work hard to not piss me off. It changes every day. You can do it.

Once I finally fall asleep I prefer that you just stay there next to me all night long with the nipple in my mouth. I just feel better that way. You talk about your back hurting or wanting some space, and because I’m a nice guy, I allow you to move me a few inches from you for an hour or two a night. But other than that I’m gonna need you to just go ahead and keep one nipple in my mouth pretty much at all times. At LEAST I’m gonna need to use your boob as a pillow. I’ve tried other positions and boob-as-pillow is really the only way to go.

It’s not that much to ask, is it? Really? In the big picture?

I didn’t think so.

Thanks. Love you!

Arlo

 

P.S. Remember that one time when I slept in my crib for 5-7 hours stretches for an entire week? That was funny, right? God damn I’m funny. The way you thought I would keep doing that! Ha!

I’ll never do that again.

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39 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | January 18, 2015

America, please stop raising assholes

by renegademama

Hey America. I know you’re busy. But if you have a minute, I have a really important request: Please stop raising assholes.

I know. You’re just so good at it. It’s your jam. But seriously. It’s not complicated.

It’s not even that deep.

STOP RAISING HUMANS WHO ARE DICKS TO OTHER HUMANS.

Sorry for yelling.

It’s just that I’m tired of you. I’m really, really tired of you.

I’m tired of the parents who raised the kids who bullied this kid until he killed himself.

And these people, who buried their transgender daughter as a man.

And these winners, who cited religious beliefs to justify the rejection of the very child they brought into this world, the one who jumped off a bridge into oncoming traffic.

 

Your keen perception skills may have observed that I cited examples of assholes relating to sexual and/or gender orientation. Well, that’s because the asshole quotient of America seems to elevate exponentially as soon as sexual orientation and gender are involved.

Why? Who the hell knows why. Because you’re weird, America. You’re weird.

You call this hatred “Christian” and I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ, after whom your religion is allegedly formed, was pretty clear on that topic with the whole “love one another” riff.

So, you cite somebody with an inherently and openly opposite philosophy to justify yours, even though yours results in the deaths of children.

In other words, Jesus thinks you’re a dick.

pretty much

pretty much

No he doesn’t. He’s Jesus. (Or was, anyway.) He’s Jesus precisely because he doesn’t think you’re a dick. Or maybe he does but he doesn’t hate you. He doesn’t hate people who don’t act like him. He accepts them anyway.

DO YOU SEE A PROBLEM HERE YET EINSTEIN?

Sorry. Again.

I, however, am not Jesus, and I think you’re an asshole, and really, really wish you would stop doing what you do, because it’s terrible, and it’s weird, and people are dying because of you. Transgender and gay people are dying because of you.

I’m not asking you to agree with their actions. If the thought of simultaneously having a penis and wearing a dress makes you want to curl up in a dark closet and weep for the plight of humanity, that’s cool. Go do that. But do it quietly. And perhaps give a little thought to the fact that clothing on a body that isn’t even yours makes you freak the hell out but you’re perfectly okay with “conversion therapy” wherein you attempt to BULLY MANIPULATE SHAME AND INTIMIDATE a separate human being into becoming what they are NOT, even though they are hurting nobody by being who they are.

You, however, are hurting a boatload of people by “being who you are,” but somehow that’s okay in your mind, even though the dude you claim to worship said “No really, I mean it. Stop hurting other people.”

 

Look, I get it. Those whacky transgenders and crazy gays are hurting you. I know. I understand. It just messes you right up.

Your poor little ego’s feelings shrivel up in a sad little ball and cry out into the cold, unfeeling night: “But what about me? What about my religion? You were born a BOY. Act like a BOY. That’s what I know to be true and right and good and what would happen if those lines became blurred!? OMG THE FEAR!”

I get it. That’s hard. But people are dying and therefore, fuck your ego. And your hate-spewing religion.

Oops. I didn’t mean that. Yes, I totally meant that. (And THAT is why I’m not Jesus and nobody reads my teachings 2,000 years after I walked the earth.)

Incidentally, that’s not Christianity and no, you don’t “put God first” because IF you “put God first” and GOD IS LOVE then you would, by extension, LOVE ALL THINGS EQUALLY and we would not be having this conversation.

Nope. You love yourself above all things. You love your ideas and experiences and perspectives. You love them so passionately and totally and fervently that you can’t even entertain the thought that the ideas and perspective and experiences of others are, at the very least, worthy of even a disapproving silence, let alone semi-loving acceptance. No, you love yourself so fully and completely that if somebody differs from YOU you’ve concluded there must be something wrong with them and they must be CHANGED, at any cost, to fit YOUR vision of “human.”

Wow, weird. I thought God made those decisions, being omnipotent and omnipresent and all. Huh. So are you God? You must be God. No wait. You’re not God.

YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE.

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idea ^^^

 

And you insist on raising children. I wish you would knock that off. I wish you would stop doing your best to raise future assholes.

Perhaps you’re still confused, so I’ll make this very clear: If you are a member of a religion that rejects, diminishes or vilifies members of the human race who look, believe or act differently than you, you’re probably an asshole.

And if you are raising children and telling those children that members of the human race who look, believe or act differently than what your religion dictates are “evil,” and if you back those statements with hatred and derogatory terms, you’re trying your hardest to raise another asshole.

If you say “fag,” and you don’t mean “cigarette” in England (do they still say that?), if you get all bent outta shape when boys do “girl” things and girls do “boy” things, you might be raising an asshole.

You know what? Fuck that. This is more than that.

If you don’t outright teach your kids that all people deserve basic respect, even the little boy who dresses “like a girl,” you’re trying to raise an asshole.

If you aren’t teaching your kid to observe hatred and fight it, speak up and out and against the mistreatment of little girls who choose the identity of “John” and little boys who want to jump around with pom-poms, if you are not teaching them that personal identification is not necessary for basic respect and decency, that our job on earth is to do some good and help a few people out and not ruin lives or the earth or each other, if you aren’t making clear that these people are hurting nobody and deserve life and love and joy just like you or me or your kid, and deserve to not die hanging from ropes in their bedrooms or jumping off bridges in front of semis or taking pills or slitting wrists or sitting in their bedrooms wishing they were dead because YOU, America.

YOU INSIST ON PERPETUATING YOUR ASSHOLE NATURE because some boys want to wear dresses and it makes you feel funny.

 

You. It’s your fault.

Yeah, I said that. And I meant it. If you are not actively working against the bullying of people, if you are not teaching your kids at the very least a subtle love and acceptance of all people who are not harming others, even those YOU MAY NOT UNDERSTAND simply because they are, in fact, humans on this earth, you are part of the problem.

And people are dying.

And it’s on you.

And I don’t have one single problem saying it.

Stop raising assholes, America.

Get a new fucking jam.

 

Thumbs up, America.

Thumbs up, America.

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89 Comments | Posted in I'm going to get unfriended for this | January 9, 2015

I learned a few things in 2014

by renegademama

In 2014 I learned that pregnancy doesn’t get any shorter even the 4th time you do it, and the last month is still actually 349 days and the weight you gain still isn’t special. I mean it’s just regular old weight. It doesn’t just fall off.

And I learned that babies sometimes come with very little labor, and fathers can catch them in the middle of the living room, and the universe can create for you the birth you wanted but were too afraid to want, alone, with you and your husband and baby.

I learned I will have a son named Arlo.

And I learned that watching that baby with my just-made teenager will hold my gaze as strongly as when the light catches her and her hair falling just so, and the dress and jean jacket and boots, and smile, and I see a woman for a second.

Myself.

No, her.

IMG_8539I learned I won’t be ready for that moment, when the separation becomes essentially defined and undeniable and I start watching her like a full-grown human with all the lines of her face and the knowledge and wisdom they hold, the creases of her clothes and tones of her voice that don’t involve me. Her beauty. Her wit. I can’t believe she’s mine.

All the way down to the one lying here, nursing. The way his lips splay out, his hand pawing, the little eyes unfocused, or drilling into mine.

I can’t believe he’s mine.

They aren’t mine.

I learned again they’re never quite mine.

And I learned if you live in a home with light and air and wood floors and big old trees and your family in it, you might not want to leave very often, and this is both wonderful and dangerous (because one must get out, you know), but mostly rebuilding and energizing after that 1970s house of burglary, linoleum, drug-addict neighbors and dark.

In other words I learned the wrong house can really fuck things up.

And the right one can really make things shine.

I learned being a stay-at-home-mom is something I can do and love sometimes, and that surprises the shit out of me. Am I getting old? What’s wrong with me?

I never understand myself. That I learned a long time ago.

I learned knowing the songs at the preschool is a level of motherhood that I’m okay with, sort of, and being home every day after school when my kids get home is a gift that busts my heart open to give, when they aren’t annoying the ever-loving shit out of me.

I learned better school districts have more money to provide better services to help dyslexic kids thrive.

And I learned a well-timed nickname can heal tiny souls.

Oh Cricket, I hear you now.

 

I learned living down the road from your mom is like a small weekly Christmas.

And the happiest place on earth is indeed pretty damn happy. And super freaking clean.

In October I learned some kids get taken by cancer and it’s possible to hold in your chest – the heavy, red, pulsing depths where love and rage exist – the face of a child you’ve never met but somehow watched pass on and cried when she did for her and her mother, and your boy did too, because he knew the story and was crushed too, but barely, compared to those who held her.

It’s possible to have a little girl’s face become the force that drives you to call your toddler “Cricket” instead of turn your back, or punish.

I learned about that power in living. Or maybe dying

I learned I’m not okay with the finality of The Last Child, and I’m really beginning to think there’s something seriously wrong with me.

In 2014 I learned again that yeah, money doesn’t make you happy, but damn it’s hard to be happy when you’re always worried about money. And if you find yourself so broke that your husband starts working 7 days a week to keep your family going, well shit I learned that you’ll get so fed up of that bullshit life that you’ll put together something just at the last fucking minute and I’ll be damned if that something doesn’t work and your life starts making a little sense again, and your husband gets a day off work, and a new life starts to form that’s way more like the one you’ve always dreamed of.

 

I learned that it isn’t that life doesn’t give me “time” to do the things I’m meant to be doing, it’s that I use my time in ways that negate the possibility of me doing them.

And that’s because I’m afraid.

And I learned once again that I never learn a damn thing until I get so uncomfortable I have no choice but to change.

On Christmas I learned that if your husband buys you a pearl necklace like the one he gave you a few weeks after you met 14 years ago, the one that was stolen in a burglary by your nanny’s meth-addicted son, you will both cry, in fact so will the whole damn family, because it’s just a necklace but it feels like rebuilding, and really kind of the same, because things like necklaces can come, and go, and it’s okay. And that’s what becomes clear.

They don’t hold spaces in the red burning mass in your chest.

Or they shouldn’t, at least.

 

And at the very end of 2014, about 3 days ago in fact, I learned that if somebody close to me ever gets seriously injured in an accident, it will be the banality of what I was doing that day, in that moment, at that second, that might offend me the most, or hold me paralyzed, until the reality sinks in.IMG_8085

I learned that a severe hand injury on the man you love and with whom you’ve built a life will shake you into a new place more than you might expect, because you realize suddenly he isn’t a fucking necklace or house, but the child lost that you hold in your deepest heart, right there in the center, living and breathing and yours, to call Cricket when necessary, to catch on the living room floor, and watch when the light falls just so, and kiss in the hospital with a breath of relief, and joy, and awe that the sheet metal fell 40 feet and grazed off a hard hat and slammed just a hand, severed the tendon of a finger not the veins of a heart, and left you here, next to me, to move in 2015 with our broken perfection of a family.

 

We listened to The Ramones and danced last night. Well, the kids did. We watched. Jerry said “If you get confused just listen to the music play.” I don’t have anything else sometimes, you know.

I pulled Thich Nhat Hanh’s Anger off the shelf, again, because my yelling isn’t done yet.

I cleaned up my diet today. I’m tired of my body not feeling like my friend. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. Maybe that’s my resolution. How clichéd.

There’s a fire raging in the woodstove and the baby has 2 teeth. The dog has finally settled the hell down. The cat still pees in my plant. I sort of want to kill her.

My mom is down the road. My brother a few towns over. My dad makes me CDs of music that formed him. My husband is reading the kids a story with one bandaged hand, while I sit back here in my room with that damn cat, lean against a few pillows and write this to you.

It’s January 1, 2015. And I’m just happy to be here.

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29 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | January 1, 2015

Things I’m supposed to care about but don’t, Christmas Edition

by renegademama

Motherhood is continually urging me to give a shit about things I couldn’t care less about. Actually wait. No. Not motherhood. The hype surrounding motherhood. Websites, magazines, television, my damn Facebook feed.

It expects me to care about things like Elf on the Shelf, for example. Nope. Don’t care. I think it’s weird and a lot of work. “Hey kid, this creepy ass elf is gonna sit here and watch you and if you’re bad you get nothing because you’re bad bad BAD.”

Generally speaking, I’m the worst behaved person in this house, so why the fuck would I turn it into some Santa-big-brother-watchdog panopticon? Plus, they have the rest of their lives to feel like they’re being watched by the establishment. (Oh yeah, I read Foucault too, bitches.)

But here’s the thing: I also could not possibly care less if you use Elf on the Shelf. No really. I can think of fewer things less relevant to my life than whether or not humans make a flour snow angel with a plastic elf on their kitchen floors.

So when I read some article expounding on the pros and cons of Elf on the Shelf, all I think is WHAT THE HELL WHO CARES? And then all these parents growing irate, yelling and screaming and name-calling. Get a fucking hobby.

 

But the worst is when somebody comes up with a “new issue” that must be addressed. A new one. A new concern. Something serious. Something The Super Conscientious Mother discovered and is now writing about to inform the unenlightened masses, the implication being, of course, that if you’re a conscientious mother, you too will be concerned with this issue and change your behavior accordingly.

Behold, I give you, “Why we should leave the smaller gifts to Santa.”

Look, if it's made into a meme, it's real and important. Don't deny.

Look, if it’s made into a meme, it’s real and important. Share that shit and be The Conscientious Mother.

Yes. That’s right. We all have different incomes, and since Santa isn’t real (sorry to bust that one to you if it’s news), rich parents may have Santa brings lots of stuff and poor parents may have Santa bring not much stuff and then the kids go to school and talk about what they got from Santa and the poor kid says “OMG mom Johnny got lots and I got nothing and now I’m sad.”

And so, obviously, we should all make sure Santa brings socks. Because Santa’s a dick. Damn it. You see? This is my problem. I care so little about this nonsense I can’t even be serious about it.

Here’s the Facebook status update about which the aforementioned article was written: “Not all parents have a ton of cash to spend on making their kids [sic] Christmas special, so it doesn’t make sense to have Santa give your kid a PlayStation4 [sic], a bike, and an iPad, while his best friend at school gets a new hat and mittens from Santa.”

Look, if some kid got a Playstation, a bike and an iPad from Santa, they’re a fucking Kardashian and our kids aren’t going to school with them. And “big” is relative, right? I mean I grew up with a single mom and every year we had one “big gift” and one year it was a fish tank and I thought that was about the coolest thing I ever received in all my damn life because I was kind of used to small.

And parents buy kids the big gift that makes sense in their family, right? I mean you don’t really have to spend that much money to get a kid a gift that rocks their world. And seriously when does that conversation even happen? Kids go back to school 2 weeks after Christmas and this happens:

Kid one: “What did you get for Christmas?”

Kid 2: “Tons of shit nobody needs. What did you get?”

Kid 1: “Tons more shit nobody needs.”

I’m paraphrasing, but isn’t that pretty much how it goes? For real if your kid is old enough to decipher between parent gifts and Santa gifts, inquire and assess how it goes down at his homie’s house, then come home and pontificate about the inequalities of Christmas morn, your kid is old enough to find out that Santa lives “in the heart.”

George believes in Santa wholeheartedly. She also claims she has a “weiner shooter” and was relieved to finally become an ironworker officially (see photo to the right), so she can “help daddy with his work.” FullSizeRender-2

Her next favorite gift was a $5.00 bubble blowing machine I picked up on Groupon.

And yeah, maybe there’s some jealousy and maybe there’s some sad with the older kids. I see how the Santa fantasy potentially result in a kid’s hurt feelings, but I gotta level with you here, the only response I have to something like this is “Oh give me a fucking break.”

Maybe I’m a horrible person. Maybe I’m a self-centered ass with no concern for the pure hearts of innocent children. But I have no interest in bulldozing the path in front of my children to attempt to save them from the pain of reality. Some people are rich. Some aren’t. We aren’t. And if that requires a conversation about The Fat Man and why he brought Phil a WiiU and Rocket a $90 robot, well then I guess that conversation happens. And better yet, what if the Bastard Red-Suited Unequal Distributor of Resources triggered a conversation about being grateful for what you have? For being happy for others? For truth, perspective and empathy?

Maybe we talk to our kids about jealousy, about the ego’s attempt to control and take and get more. Maybe we talk about the way we think Stuff will bring happiness, the never-ending process of “As soon as I get this one thing I’ll be happy.” And how it never works. Let’s talk about capitalism and consumerism and materialism and waste (which I fully support during Christmas, FYI)! Really, the possibilities are endless.

Or maybe we just say “Yeah, I don’t know kid, I don’t know why that happened, maybe Santa’s something of an asshole.”

But seriously. All this bullshit hovering and helicoptering and clearing and bulldozing and setting up and protecting and making just right, how does that even make sense? At what point will anybody make the maintenance of my kid’s happy feelings their life’s work? They won’t.

How long will my kid live on earth before he feels jealousy? Before she realizes some people are better off than her? And what good am I doing them by running around like a bored squirrel on meth making sure nothing ever hurts them?

None. I’m doing them no good. How the hell do you prepare a kid for life by protecting them from life?

I want to protect my kids from danger, from real, permanent pain. That’s my job. That’s my work and I fight like hell to make that happen.

But a stab of jealousy? A realization of the difference of incomes? A momentary feeling of I’M NOT GETTING WHAT’S MINE? Yeah, sorry kid. That’s life, and it sucks sometimes.

Sometimes Santa’s a dick.

Now let’s go see how this robot works.

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Arlo wants to know why all he got was a fucking teething ring.

 

******

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From this, they decided to create a “community of moms who could inspire and nurture each other.” And they founded “Mommikin,” a resource for moms to pursue their creativity. In their words: “We’ll push you to reach your creative potential, but we also understand what you’re going through as a mom.”

Mommikin provides “short weekly challenges to get your creative juices flowing and to help you celebrate, vent, and document your journey through motherhood. [They] feature professionals who have managed a creative career with children and those who have successfully remained inspired despite the daily exhaustion of raising their kids,” and more features are coming soon.

As a mother of 4 who quit her day job to write and develop a career through that writing, I admire what these women are doing and support them fully. It’s easy to fade into nothing once kids are born. It’s easy to watch days then weeks and years flash by while we keep muttering “one day” and grow, perhaps, a little resentful. Creative work is important work, and if you have something in you, a nudge from the universe telling you “Create this. Make this,” you should probably do it.

The rest of us want to see.

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16 Ways I’ll Probably Ruin Christmas

by renegademama

I love Christmas. I love all of it. I love the gifts and the candles and the lights. I love the horrible music. I love the movies and eggnog and excitement and decorations. I’m slightly pathetic about the whole thing, actually. But it doesn’t matter how much I love it.

I’ll probably ruin it anyway.  Chances are good, at least. The more important the day, the more likely I am to fuck it up with my questionable behavior.

I made an infographic to visually summarize this phenomenon.

behavior

But this year I thought I’d give my family a nice, clear, fair warning about how I’ll probably ruin Christmas. I’m thinking this might help.

So here we go.

  1. I’ll probably stay up too late the night before wrapping the fourteen thousand seven hundred and fifty three gifts I bought for the kids because when I was a kid we were pretty broke, and my mom every year said “This Christmas is going to be small, kids,” and I smiled and felt a little pang but didn’t show it, but then on Christmas my big brother and I woke my mom up and trotted into the living room and the gifts were tumbling over themselves in a massive insane heap and it didn’t feel small at all. So now I do the same, and it’s shallow and materialistic and unenlightened but I couldn’t possibly give fewer shits about that. I freaking love it.
  2. But because I stayed up too late I’ll be irritable and you’ll be bouncing off the walls so I’ll probably snap at one of you. I’ll snap at you as I watch you in your Christmas pajamas and think about the next gift I have for you, that one you’re not expecting, because I know you’re just going to love it and it’s the little ones like that make my stomach flutter and Christmas becomes the same as when I was you. I’ll snap and feel immediately terrible and apologize and think “You can’t do that! It’s CHRISTMAS!”
  3. I will for sure say something stupid though. Once I opened a gift and said the first thing that came to my mind and it was the wrong thing to say and it made my mom’s face fall and I knew I ruined Christmas then.
  4. I’ll probably say “tits” at the Christmas table and regret that immediately too. On the way home I’ll ask Mac why I always have to sit by the classy people in the family and he’ll say “Right. That’s the problem. The seating arrangement.” And then he’ll tell me it’s not a big deal, Janelle, and I’ll be vaguely grateful it wasn’t an F-bomb.
  5. My mouth ruins a lot of Christmases.
  6. I’ll probably overbook the day because rather than learn from mistakes I like to keep doing them over and over again a few hundred billionty times because you never know it may work this time and then when we’re all wrestling ourselves off the couch and into nice clothes I’ll probably ruin Christmas by being angry and frustrated and kicking myself because I want to stay home and swore last year I wouldn’t do this again. I’ll wonder what the fuck is wrong with me.
  7. No. We’re staying home this year. I WON’T RUIN CHRISTMAS THAT WAY, KIDS.
  8. I used to ruin Christmas by drinking too much. Once I ruined it by not even showing up at all. There was one when I found myself alone for a moment in the bathroom after all the gifts had been opened and as I was getting up from the toilet after peeing I thought for the first time that my kids would be better off without me and it was my first and perhaps only real thought of suicide and it was shocking in its anticlimactic nature and the smoothness with which it passed through my brain. I thought about it like I might think about an item we needed from the grocery store. It was matter of fact and plain and clear. In that it terrified me. I went outside and watched my son who’s now 9 ride around on his new Hot Wheels in his footed Christmas pajamas. I poured some whiskey in my coffee and didn’t die.
  9. I’ll never ruin Christmas by not being there again.
  10. I’ll eat too much and practically bust out of my clothing though and that won’t ruin Christmas but I’ll feel like a cow.
  11. I’ll get mad at you for not looking at the camera.
  12. I’ll forget your tights. I always forget the tights. Damn tights.
  13. I’ll yell, probably, because really JUST LOOK AT THE FUCKING CAMERA FOR 12 FUCKING SECONDS KID. And then I’ll bribe you with See’s Candy and win at parenting.
  14. At the end of the day I’ll probably go out on the patio with your dad and I might start blaming him for the ways Christmas was ruined because that’s easier than realizing I ruined Christmas by being overtired and cranky and the stakes are just too high. And I’ll want to stop but I won’t because there was his pain and my mom and brother and I and my dad, and my grandmother who’s gone now, and the way I used to wrap presents for her every year, and the ache in my gut and brain and eyes to see her again and the wrinkles in her hands and tell her goodbye, mostly, or even thank you. And there are those thousand Christmases of them and me and you and those to come and I’ll feel it all right then. Through the lights strung on the porch that you hung badly. I got a little mad when it happened (because the neighbor’s are perfect) but laughed when I realized poorly hung Christmas lights are a fucking family tradition at this point. It’s our Griswold moment.
  15. And I’ll ruin Christmas when I lie down at night and think of you the oldest kid in your bed and you and you and look down at the baby, 6 months old, and watch him nurse and know he will be you, the first, 13 years old, so close to gone. And I’ll shut my eyes with the memory of snapping at you as we sat around the tree. And I’ll wish I could go back there. This year’s gone already. Next will be later still. Further still.
  16. I’ll ruin Christmas because it’s never enough. I’m never enough, for you. For this. How could I be? How could I be the light to make a day perfection? The mother bustling about the tree. The one with the gingerbread and sugar cookies. Oh these stakes are just too high.

Damn you, Christmas. The perfect, ruined day, every year. You just keep getting better. In my mind, my heart, you get that much better every year. And you, kids.

I can’t wait to see your faces.

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