Parenting Then and Now
You know, it’s hard to keep up with all your personalities. I’m just so many people at once! Mom, wife, daughter, librarian, Alice here, Mary Alice on the Wonder Twins (she’s returned, check it out), Squirrel on facebook, and at least a quarter of the time, I’m a depressed pony. Oh, and I almost forgot my subconscious and my inner goddess. Whew.
But my most important role is blogger. I mean, wait, mother. My most important role is being the mommy of my Things. In case you haven’t been reading long, I call my children Things. Because
A little while back I wrote about how not to be a crappy parent, and it was pointed out to me that parents often get a bad rap and we should support each other. Good point. I mean, we all have our own styles, right? But my, times have changed just a bit, haven’t they?
For instance, now they say it is best to breastfeed. But back in the 1950s, they had other ideas of what constituted good baby food. For instance
Of course, now we have real formula and I don’t think anyone actually feeds their babies soda in their bottles. I’m just going to keep thinking that because it makes me happy.
Anyhoo, there were also different opinions on TV. Now we say it will rot our children’s brains. Not true – it rots the brains of parents, as I clearly show in my reviews of children’s television. (I’m planning to do more of these, so if you’ve got a show that makes you want to poke your own eyes out, let me know. If I haven’t reviewed it, I will.) But back in the 1950s, TV not only wasn’t bad, it was good! And I’m sure the ad coming from a company producing television wouldn’t lie!
So I guess what I’m saying is, if you feel like a lousy parent, all you have to do is look a few years back. There are much worse things, and you can find many of these on The Wonder Twins (yes another LINK DROP!), my retro blog with Merbear, who also shows some funny stuff on her blog as well. One example – clothes called “Chubbies” for plump little girls whose self esteem apparently wasn’t already low enough.
At least we know that now we are doing the best for our kids. It’s not like parenting trends come and go, and come back again or anything.
So in the 1930s, they’re saying breastfeed. In the 1950s, you can feed ’em 7-up and carnation milk. Later, we have actual regulated formula. I was fed formula, and so were a lot of my peers who are now afraid to feed their kids formula, because they might have damaged brains. Like, um, they do? It’s confusing. As you can see, views have flipped flopped over the years, and flopped again. Sort of like sleeping positions for babies
My mother was told to lay me on my stomach. When Thing One was born, they told me to lay her on her side. When Thing Two came around, she was supposed to lie on her back. But Thing One rolled onto her back. And Thing Two startled every five seconds on her back, and rolled to her tummy. They are both still alive. I’m sure in a few years, we’ll be back to the tummy sleeping. Or perhaps we’ll be suspending them in midair. Who knows.
I’m just glad my days of being a new mommy are over! I wish luck to my readers with little bitties. Just remember – you’re doing it wrong. But so did everybody else.
Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! If you’re batshit crazy! I mean, really, it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for all those people. You know, relative people and pretty much everybody who wants something from you (I’m looking at you Salvation Army ringer guy).
If Christmas were only about the Things, my Things, then I’d love it. I love giving them presents, because even though they are 9 and 13, we are at about the same maturity level. Some day I hope to be as mature as they are. Anyway, I love buying them dolls because I love dolls and if I’m really good, they let me play with them. They have the best games, the Things. The other day they made up a Sleeping Beauty play with Barbies playing the roles. The evil fairy said “I curse you with eternal dumbness! And puberty!” Yikes, that is harsh.
Yet Christmas is about more than my Things; it is about The Things – the things you have to buy people you don’t know and don’t necessarily like. My in-laws are not bad people, but I really don’t get them. It’s like I married into an alien family – a space one, not a Hispanic one, although some of them should be illegal.
They are conservative, which is not all that surprising since we’re in Bible Belt, Texas. Yet my husband’s latest stepfather is Fox News Ca-razy conservative. As long as he’s not talking that crap, he’s just mildly irritating while he and my husband talk endlessly about guns and cars and other things that go vroom and boom. But then the politics come up.
Did you realize that the whole reason the Salvation Army was not allowed to ring their bells at Target that one year was not a stupid decision of management but in fact because of the gayz? I sure didn’t, but the reasoning is totally sound. I mean, the gayz are ruining the sanctity of marriage. The fact that both he and my MIL are on their third spouse makes no difference. The only thing you can conclude is that gayz want to destroy marriage by first destroying the Salvation Army. I’m not sure how. Maybe they are stealing their bells for their dreaded gayz pride parades.
Did you also know that going to a fast food chicken place earns you a place in Heaven? Or that Obama sucks? I mean, really sucks? Did you realize Obama is black? I learn so much from family get togethers. Honestly, I’m not sure how my husband came from these people, because he’s one of the nicest, least prejudiced people I know. I mean, I’m much, much nastier than he is. He’s not adopted, so I guess occasionally you get a mutant.
Anyway, looking forward to all of this joy and festiveness made me slightly stressed. I had gifts I had thoughtfully chosen the Christmas before at 50 percent off – half-price bubble bath, lotion, and perfume gift sets from Wal-Mart! Who doesn’t like this stuff? Possibly they don’t, but they get it every year anyway because I have no idea what they do like, and I don’t ask them and they don’t ask us. It’s like every Christmas is one giant white elephant fest.
My husband’s sisters had babies early, and now all my nieces and nephews have started having babies early, as in high school in one case, and so I became a great-aunt at 28 and now have six of the little darlings running around. If there is one thing my husband’s family does well, it’s breed. I didn’t even like my own toddlers all the time, and it’s safe to say I do not like other people’s toddlers.
His family is also incredibly unpredictable. One year we might get awful gifts, another no gifts, and another fabulous gifts (which is the year I gave them crap of course). Nothing is ever planned early, you never know which family members will be there, no one who comes is on time, and everything is chaos because we’re dealing with free spirits here! I can’t express how much I love free spirits!
So looking forward to not knowing when or where these spirits might pop up, I started to worry about the three Christmases coming up. (His parents are divorced. Mine are still together, mostly out of spite.) I’m very good at worrying. Also dreading. And then all of this stuph started making me sick. Which I was slightly hoping for, because as it turned out, I managed to get out of both in-law celebrations! Unfortunately, I have mucous coming out of every pore. Snot funny. Hahahahaha sob.
I did make it to my family’s. There was a meltdown, because no family get together is ever complete until somebody screams or cries. They moved their evening celebration up to lunch, which stressed my mom out although she wouldn’t say so. But it was for a good cause because my MIL was having hers in the evening. Except she wasn’t. Cause half the people came and went by 3 pm. And we had just finished eating lunch at like 2 pm. And it was time for dinner again, because they run on Wonderland time. I opted out. I’m glad I did, as my children’s Christmas presents might have sent me over the edge. They got – lawn ornaments. That say “Ya’ll Come back now” with a big Texas and a frog done in wire. As my friend Ravin said, “Tacky, yet Tasteless.”
Not that I can really be a snob, what with car parts in my front yard due to my mechanic husband. But really, would it have killed them to get us pink flamingos instead? I found out later she did give us some cash too, and really, it’s not that my spoiled children needed more things. It’s just – I can’t imagine the thought process that goes into “What would 9 and 13-year-old girls like? I know! Lawn ornaments!”
As I write, the Things and my husband are at my FIL’s celebration. I am getting to miss it on account of my snot. Maybe next year I should just grin and bear it and not make myself so sick. On the other hand, I have plenty of kleenex and I’m nice and comfy in my fuzzy socks and I can watch the Daily Show and laugh. Tough to decide!
So how did your family celebrations go?
The Other Baby Story Part Two
If you haven’t already, see Part One here.
I fell apart. In all my worries, never once had I worried that my baby wouldn’t be healthy. I had to call my husband to take me home. He handled this news like he did everything else. Okay, we’ll deal with it. I did not handle it quite so well, by which I mean I FREAKED THE HECK OUT.
My counselor who was thinking “Great she’s doing better.” heard this news and actually uttered a curse word. He was in for it. I will always remember his kindness, because he saw me many, many times while I was expecting, often writing off my visits since I was poor. He kept me sane and out of the hospital. Sadly, he died just a couple of years later of a brain tumor. But I will never, ever forget him.
As it turned out, Thing Two’s brain was just fine – better than fine as we’d later learn. The specialist’s assistant looked at my belly, and then the specialist looked at my belly – and tried to walk right out of the room. I yelled at him to stop and asked how my baby was – after all I’d waited two weeks, fearing the worst but at last accepting that I would love this baby no matter what. He said in his thick accent, “Look like healthy baby girl.”
And she was, thankfully, very, very healthy. In fact, she was a soccer champion, kicking me constantly. My husband noted that she did this far more than Thing One because I complained far more than I did with Thing One. He also thought he should get to name Thing Two since I named Thing One. I told him, great, that’s fair, how’s about you also carry and birth this one? He shut up, but still refused to agree on a name with me.
As I got closer to the birth, weird things continued to happen. I started getting dizzy and short of breath when out in public. The doctors tested me for iron deficiency but I was just fine. Totally normal during pregnancy, they said. I also would sometimes get shooting pains when Thing Two shifted to certain areas, prompting me to simply stand where I was, trapped in some random aisle of Wal-Mart until I was rescued. This was also totally normal in pregnancy. I was fairly certain they would have told me growing a second head was also totally normal in pregnancy.
Thing One was very excited about the baby prospect, though she didn’t really understand it. I bought her a doll house and a family complete with a baby. She put the baby in the closet under the stairs, Harry Potter style. I would put it into the crib and she’d come back later, frown, and diligently move the baby back under the stairs. I was slightly concerned for Thing Two.
Labor was definitely different this time around. For one thing, I experienced actual labor pains. I did not like them. I went to the hospital, was told I wasn’t having good enough contractions, and sent home. Thing One went to her grandparents, but before she did she peeped over my hospital bed and said “I love you, Mommy” for the first time. I think I worried her just a bit.
Good thing she didn’t see me later. When I went back to the hospital after a few hours, I was in pain, and it was bad. The nurse put an outside baby monitor on me and said I was a big fakey whiner, essentially, because the monitor showed my contractions weren’t strong at all! I told her that the outside monitor didn’t work on my first child, so they used an internal one. Since my water had this time refused to break on its own, they couldn’t do that. So the nurse just rolled her eyes when I screamed bloody murder.
My husband finally related that you know, generally my wife doesn’t scream so loudly you can hear her down the halls of the hospital unless she’s actually, you know, in real pain. The nurse huffed and let me have some demerol, which was THE BEST THING EVER at least for a little while. My husband left to get a sandwich. About that time, the doctor finally showed up to check me and SURPRISE SURPRISE I had progressed from a 2 to an 8 with those teensy tinsey contractions! Go figure!
They hurriedly gave me my epidural and got my husband back upstairs. He didn’t get to eat his sandwich. Sadface for him. Since they waited so long to give the epidural, I found that it didn’t have time to actually work all the way. They still charged me all the way later, though. At any rate, I did manage to push anyway. At one point my husband said, look, the head! This was the point at which I decided I never wanted to see that part of me again, thanks. Minutes later, Thing Two arrived in the world weighing 8 pounds, a pound and a half bigger than her sister. And she was almost two weeks early. I am thankful I never went full term. I’d have had Hercules.
She had a bright red face and a shock of Pat Benatar-like black hair. After staying with me through that screeching labor, my husband declared “She can name the baby anything she wants.” I should have taken him up on that and named her something far out like Pocahontas, but fortunately for her, I chose a more suitable name. (Hint: their names are not actually Thing One and Thing Two, though it would not surprise me if there are real children out there with those names, considering there is a baby named North West.)
When we brought her home, we were told that I was not to carry the baby in with me so that Thing One would not feel like she was being replaced. So when I walked in and tried to hug my eldest, she placed her hands on her hips and demanded “Where is my baby sister?” Ah, well, so much for that. She thought Thing Two was the best thing ever invented, at least for a couple of years.
And you’ll be happy to know, she was never put under the stairs.
What I have learned so far in my journey to cleanliness and hopefully allergy-freeness.
You must push the start button on the dryer or your clothes don’t get dry.
Even if you push the button, they still won’t get dry the first time because something is off with the dryer and one day your husband might attempt to fix it whether he knows how or not, but you won’t even try because you know nothing about the internal workings of devices. For instance, electricity = magic.
The steam mop has attachments that look like a rifle. It’s fun to fire but doesn’t necessarily get the cleaning results you want.
Your family will actively plot against you and undo everything you’ve done.
Your husband will continue to insist on doing things his way, ie keeping his clean socks and underwear in a drawer in the bathroom and wadding up clothes and shoving them in the closet.
Your husband will also keep buying used vaporizers that are coated in dirt and probably mold and were made in 1970 so you will never find the filters for it and he will say “The thing has filters?” He will insist on using it.
You will keep forgetting to put on your dust mask and gloves (even though it’s fun to say “Paging Dr. Alice” and backing out doorways with your hands help up) because you got down and started scrubbing something and there’s no way you’re getting up again to get it. So you are breathing all the dust directly in when really you should be wearing the dust mask and not breathing at all.
The vacuum will not suck up everything.
When you vacuum curtains, be careful not to suck them into the vacuum cleaner. It will suck those up.
It costs more to have them take dyes and perfumes OUT of cleaning products.
When asked to clean, children must be monitored 24/7 so it’s like you’re just trying to manipulate puppets with the strings cut off.
Children will ask for breaks after five minutes of non-work. They will not see the giant sleeping bag in the floor of their bedrooms. They will suddenly have to go to the bathroom several times. They will fight over who has done the least work whereas it is almost always a tie.
No matter how much you research before buying, your fabulous cleaning contraptions will somehow backfire.
For cleaning up messes, you’re about as well off to get one of these (and store him outside).