Monthly Archives: July 2016
Let me start by saying that I know a lot of you have just finished first birthday parties or are preparing for first birthday parties – those do not count in this rant. First birthdays are your excuse to do whatever you want to do – no matter how absurd it may be. 🙂
We went to two second birthday parties this weekend. Both different in many ways, similar in some. Here is a brief recap:
Party 1 was for a kid at daycare with Gus. It was at the daycare provider’s house (kid mom and provider are best friends) and was a barbecue with water balloons, a pool, and tons of outside fun. There were maybe 15-20 kids there – maybe 40 to 50 people total. It was fine – a bit hard to socialize but Gus had fun. I would say the highlight for us was when there was a pinata and all the kids went to hit it and Gus went to the table where they had been sitting and ate all their leftover food. That’s my boy! It was an interesting crowd of people. They served miller lite and one dad kept telling kids to “man up”.
Now both parties were totally fine but they were a bit odd to me. Kid 1 clung to his mom the entire time, super overwhelmed by everything there. Kid 2 had fun but never rode the ponies. I’m not sure what mom spent on party one but I know what mom spent on party t2 and, in her words, it wasn’t bad because it was under $500.
So this brings me to my point: When did kids start getting elaborate birthday parties? Why are we doing this? I am not spending hundreds of dollars on my kid’s birthday party and luckily now he is 2 so doesn’t have any idea that that’s the going rate. Yesterday was a day with ponies and while we talked about the birthday he doesn’t fully understand that. But what happens when he does? Most kids in our friend group are a bit older than Gus so he will forever live in a world of indulgent birthday parties followed by his lackluster celebration.
For Gus’ birthday we plan to announce to friends the week before that we will be at a park from __ to __ if anyone wants to come play. I’ll probably bring cupcakes to the park. There will be no circle gathered around him while he opens gifts – I hope there will be no gifts. After the park we will invite a few families back to our house to make pizza with us. That’s it. That will be his birthday. Because honestly – that’s what he wants. To play with his friends. I don’t want him to worry about being anything other than himself. Let’s get real, I don’t want to worry about him being anything other than himself.
The other part of this is that I think birthday celebrations are for parents, too. Cleaning my house for days before hand, or staying up until midnight preparing things, is not my idea of a celebration for me. I want to sit on a blanket in the sun and watch my kid run around. I don’t want to “host”, I want everyone to just be free to do whatever. I saw my friend yesterday drinking champagne after the cake was served – her duties were over. I don’t want duties to start.
I’m really big on “to each their own” on this one. It may not sound like it here – this is not a judgement of how other people do things though. For some folks that is the experience they want and need. I am just not one of them. The problem lies when we, our communities, start these trends. When is Gus going to start feeling slighted because he gets less? I worry about that but also am not willing to up my game in order to make him feel better. His birthday is a celebration for our family and we’ll celebrate in a way that makes all of us happy. Sure, renting the kid gymnastic place (we’ve been to that party) or ponies or bounce houses would make Gus happy but he is also thrilled to ride bikes to the park on sunny days and eat fruit and chase a ball. To me that’s what childhood is about and aren’t these parties suppose to be a celebration of just that?
It is no secret that I am super pro daycare. I talk often that it is what is best for our kid but in reality, I think it is a damn good thing for all kids. It doesn’t mean that I judge stay at home parent families or folks who have other childcare situations – I just think it is a good thing. It’s great I do since we need it and do not have the ability to have one of us at home.
There is so much I love about it – the relationships with other kids, the fun activities, the learning. I can’t speak for every kid ever but for Gus this is 100% something he needs and I feel mostly good about us having him there.
But of course there are downsides too and I am feeling them hard this week. On Monday he came home with a scab on his head. Nothing was mentioned to me about it at pick up and when I asked Tuesday morning they had noticed it but had no idea what happened. Wednesday night we were getting him ready for bed and noticed a full set of teeth marks on his stomach. He had clearly been bitten and hard. I asked about it Thursday morning – no idea.
Our providers are usually pretty attentive and I trust that if Gus was really upset they would have figured it out so there is some comfort in the fact he didn’t care. There is a never kid at daycare, D. Gus constantly tells us, “I don’t like D” and “D hit me”. I have seen the kid hit Gus and in talking to the teachers I know this is true. I also know they are working on it with D and that D is excited to see Gus every day so it is not an all mean thing. I also know that Gus is more verbal than D and sometimes that is hard on kids. When we picked Gus up the other day D was getting picked up at the same time and was standing by the door as his dad was looking for something. Gus went over to him, said, “Get away from door NOW” and started to take D’s hand off the door before we stopped him. So you know, my kid is not completely innocent here.
When it talked to the daycare owner (she’s the head teacher and the other lead teacher was there too) about the bite marks I felt like they took it seriously and were concerned that Gus had been hurt twice that week without them knowing. They both love Gus. Like absolutely adore him. I have no intentions of pulling him out of there and they know that. But it’s hard. It’s hard to not be able to protect your kid, even when I am sure this is a bigger deal to me than it is to him. I hate the idea of anyone being mean to him while fulling understanding that kids and kids and stuff happens.
But the reality is he runs from the car to the daycare every morning. He doesn’t care about saying goodbye to me. He’s not clingy with me or the teachers. He doesn’t want to leave when I pick him up. He talks about his friends and teachers all the time. He’s fine. He’s happy. I just can’t always protect him and it’s hard to accept that they can’t either.
Oh, and as a bonus this week he told us, “Mommies and daddies are married!” Sigh.
Our local symphony does a free outdoor concert at an amiptheater each summer. It was tonight and we took Gus.
It was challenging. He was cute and happy but I got to watch precisely one song. They have a ticket giveaway to another show if you post your picture and tag them so I posted a picture of Lesley and Gus. A woman commented: “we saw your little boy take a tumble into the thorn bush! We were very impressed with your reaction and how you handled it. Keep up the nice job mama!”
I cried. This is the first time a stranger has complimented my parenting. Gus did take a tumble into a thorn bush before the show. I have no idea how I handled it because it was a very ordinary moment. That makes this even more touching.
Compliment other parents!
I go through these hard phases when the world gets too hard. I think we all probably do but I struggle to pull out of them.
It started with Orlando. It moved into Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Things spiral from there. If you are still in the big gay mom facebook group you saw what when down there. If not, you saw it other places. The need to insist all lives matter or worse, blue lives matter. The inability to have a conversation. There is hostility on both sides and while I agree with the side of BLM I struggle with the people who believe that we must completely abolish the police. It’s not that I don’t see their point, I do, I just don’t know what that really adds to the conversation right now.
So you take these big things and you add in the all the rest. My friends feeling unsafe. My friends telling me how their children are treated. Someone posted a link on a friend’s timeline of her daughter’s picture that ended up on Reddit after a local event. The friend’s friend posted it as “Hey! Look at your cute kid!” but the comments below were filled with racism. (Note: if you EVER see your friend’s kid on Reddit I’m going to pretty much guarantee your friend never needs to see what people are saying.) All of this, and something else that hurts my heart similarly but I don’t want to discuss here, becomes a heavy weight. Add in the end of the democratic primary and the sexism and hatred that come with that (I’m extremely pro Hillary, in case you didn’t know.) and it just is too much.
And then you have the every day stuff. Money stress. Being behind at work with no motivation. A kid who isn’t currently sleeping well and is, lucky for us, carrying an attitude we are told matches up with a 2.5 year old. A messy house. A cat having seizures (and $400 in vet bills).
I need to pull it together and turn things around. Be more productive. Take more control. I figured out that if we worked hard at it we could have all consumer debt and our car paid off by June 2018. Putting big chunks towards that and getting it paid off would put a ton of extra money in our pockets monthly and essentially eliminate money stress ever again. I know how to do my job – I just need to do it. Lesley and I are taking a day off at the beginning of August to deep clean our house. Small steps that will help with that.
But then the big stuff still looms. The stuff that makes the world hurt. And when I think about turning that off I just feel guilty. I have the privilege of being able to turn it off – that means I shouldn’t. But in reality I know I will. I always do. We always do. We remember things are sad but we move forward and right now that feels like the biggest hurt of all.
Back to work.
Lesley and I were chatting today on our way to daycare pick up about fairness. A friend of ours reached out needing some help this weekend – her husband is going out of town to a boys weekend and she is dealing with some intense chronic pain stuff right now and will be alone with a toddler all weekend. I don’t think dad is wrong for going but it led us into a talk about their relationship.
Dad is a good guy. He works and mom does not. Mom is still nursing and does all the night wake ups because dad works. Mom has some other stuff that makes live a bit hard – insomnia, pain issues, mental health things. She deals and deals fine but would probably deal better with a full night of sleep. She can’t night wean while doing all the wake ups – I get that. I’ve been there. But that’s their arrangement.
This led Lesley and I to a larger conversation: Why is it so hard to have a relationship be fair. We both agreed, in this moment, that ours is fairly equal. While we have our moms of indignation we both feel that the other does their fair share. We have our bed moments – moments where we keep score – but overall, in the light of day when things are easier, we feel very equal.
Lesley thinks that some of this has to do with expectations. We often hear one side of the story that makes the relationship seem unbalanced and she thinks often that side is swayed because that person had expectations their partner does not live up to. I think in a way this is true but we also observe it in relationships – both hetero and homo couples.
I’m not sure what my point is here except to say that this is interesting. We don’t often hang out with other couples and often an uncomfortable power balance plays into that decision. We talked about the couples we have been historically closest to – most of them had a good relationship dynamic and were easy to be around (even if some cases their relationship was crappy it wasn’t about power).
Lesley and I are in a mom facebook group that is all complaining about husbands/boyfriends and talking about blow jobs. It blows my mind the stuff I see there – I can’t not imagine being in a relationship with someone who treats me like that (if you are in a mom facebook group, especially with straight women, you likely know exactly what I am talking about). I don’t get it yet I watch my friends in relationships that are much better but still have weird dynamics.
I have no conclusion so I am just going to stop typing now.
I should get some sort of literary award for this shitshow of a post.