Please include me. But please also cancel.

bare feet boy child couch
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“But you’re so outgoing!… But you’re a people-person!… But you are engaging!…”

Sorta.

I am a rare genetic mutation breed known as the “Extroverted Introvert”.  I rise to the occasion.  I’m not faking it, it’s sincere.  But you exhaust me.  The build-up and anticipation of our get-together saps my energy, and the on-ness I exude during the event – no matter how big or small – is enough to render me couch-bound for the next foreseeable future.  It’s not YOU. It’s not personal. You could be my best friend or favorite relative, don’t matta.

Here’s the thing. Once I drag my silly, hypocritical arse out to your gathering/dinner/drinks/holiday/house-warming/birthday/whatever, I do genuinely enjoy myself most of the time. But my god, do I love that text or call from you when you have to cancel.  Especially when YOU’RE the one canceling, not me.  That way, it’s in the books that we had plans, I had every intention of going, but I got to stay curled up in a comfy ball.

And here’s the other thing.  Because part of me apparently is still mentally in middle school, I still get a little flutter of joy when I’m invited or included.  But by all means, feel free to cancel.

This is the contradictory, nonsensical, oxymoronic logic – if you can call it that – of the Extroverted Introvert. We crave your company and attention. But it drains us and requires significant pre- and re-fueling.

Did you know that texting and Facebook are my two favorite inventions in the universe? Because until then, I had to answer your phonecall and talk to you at the precise moment that you wanted to talk to me, and I don’t like that. I want to talk to you on my terms.  When I’m in the mood, or have the time and mental energy to spare (which is not often these days.)  I can spew my thoughts or response out into the world at a time and setting of my choosing, and then reply again when I’m up to it. And then I walk around feeling like I have had “quality” interactions for the day.

How ridiculous “up to it” must sound to some of you.

Here’s my favorite place to be: completely alone, in a location well-populated by strangers, doing their own thing. Like the beach, or a city park, or a mall food court. Complete isolation makes me question my self-worth as well, we don’t want that. But god forbid I spot someone I know, you can be sure I will avert my eyes and walk the other way.  It’s not you, it’s me. Like George Costanza. It’s not personal, you could be anyone. I just enjoy my invisibility cloak. My bubble of anonymity.

My good friend and her husband have stayed close with their group of friends for many years. They all take trips together, they plan weekend outings together, they go to restaurants together and sit at large tables and interact.  Whenever she tells me about some upcoming traditional big long weekend group getaway, I tell her that sounds god-awful to me, and how can she stand the thought of it.

Whenever I’ve moved to a new city or became a new parent, people would suggest I “make connections”, “network”, “join a mom group”. They know someone who lives on my block, or their friend’s daughter also has a kid who blah-blah-blah… to all of which I reply with something along the lines of, “I can’t think of anything more unpleasant than interacting with other strange humans.”

For some people, like my mom, the approaching salesperson in a clothing store is a welcome sight. “They’re here to help you see what fits/put an outfit together/cup your boobs” (well, that last one is just in the old-lady-bra-store actually) – nothing pushes me out of a store faster than an employee offering unsolicited assistance. I will let YOU know if I have a question. And then once you answer my question, kindly vanish into thin air immediately and never talk to me again.

To those of you reading this who are close friends or relatives, this either comes as quite a surprise – or you’re thinking, “Let’s stop inviting this bitch places.”  Don’t do that. In the moment, I’m good and happy.  And you’re important to me, I promise.

But feel free to cancel too.  Via text.

Sometimes I’m a sucky parent. You are too. And it’s ok.

food french fries fries catsup
Photo by Marco Fischer on Pexels.com

My dear friend just told me about a fellow mom who was sitting at her table at a bridal shower over the weekend.  Naturally, the ladies at the table were chatting about their kids.  This one particular mom responded to the group with, “I’m just so BLESSED to be their mother.  I feel blessed everyday.”  (Actually, what she said was, “…I’m so BLESSED to be their MOTHAH….”, because she’s from here.  New York.)

Anyway, after my friend and I swallowed the vomit that had churned up in the backs of our throats, I said to my lovely, exhausted, nonjudgmental, equally harrowed mom-friend, “You know what? Sometimes I feel the OPPOSITE OF BLESSED to be my child’s mother.”

Before you other blessed haters come at me angrily swinging bubble-wands, let me explain.  I f’ing LOVE my children.  I would step in front of traffic for them.  They are adorable and hilarious and goofy and inquisitive and all of the things any parent would hope for.  I would never imagine a life without them.

However.

You know when I don’t feel so blessed? This morning at 1:27am, and the 55 minutes that followed thereafter of my 2 and 1/2 year old screaming – SCREAMING – from his bed about absolutely nothing rational.  I should add that his new thing this week is doing all things topless.  Any suggestion of a shirt sends him flying off the rails with rage.  Thing is, it’s summer, and there are A/C and fan breezes keeping the bedroom cool.  He is also a sleeping-blanket-tosser.  So at 1:27am, my topless monkey woke up shivering and blanketless. I forcefully put a shirt on him.  This did not help his feelings toward me at the moment. I relented and re-removed the shirt. I tried to bundle him back up.  He asked for a bottle. I brought him a bottle.  He handed said bottle back to me and couldn’t believe I’d had the nerve to bring him a bottle.  He yelled for his blanket.  I fetched his blanket.  He rejected this blanket.  It was the wrong blanket.  I fetched a new, usually crowd-pleaser stripey blanket.  Now he’s pissed at the mere notion of any blanket.  (Keep in mind, his angelic 5-year-old brother is sleeping just feet away in the other bed. How he didn’t wake up, I will never know… or question.)

This dance went on for a psychopathic hour, and then magically the clouds parted and, as if nothing had ever happened, this topless ball of adorable exhausting energy, curled back up whilst clutching my forearm, and fell back to sleep.  (After which I re-covered the shit out of him with the stripey blanket.)

The point is this.  If you claim that your life of parenting little people is a constant state of blessed, stressless, sunshiny bliss, I call bullshit.  Whom are you trying to convince or impress? The only conclusions I can come to are:

  1. A nanny is raising your children, and you pop in to see them periodically between massage appointments and mani-pedis.
  2. You are highly medicated 24/24 hours of the day.
  3. Both of the above.

I’m here to tell you that sometimes, raising my adorable, lovable, silly, smart, energetic, imaginative sugarballs is challenging and unpleasant.  Which causes me to not always make the most brag-worthy choices, in an effort to save my own sanity.  Such as:

  • A child in my house might go to bed without his teeth being brushed.  More than once.
  • I might leave a poopie diaper unattended just a bit longer than his sensitive skin will tolerate so that I can finish my cup of coffee, or play 10 more rounds of Words with Friends.
  • Fries might be the only solid food my self-inflicted-liquid-diet child may eat in a whole weekend.
  • The toys might all be thrown into the nearest storage bin in a haphazard manner instead of separating them into lego bin vs. vehicle bin vs. blocks bin.  Or they may just get kicked under the couch until I get around to dealing with them. Later that week.
  • One child might bathe in the leftover bubbly bath water left behind by the previous child’s bath because it’s already 8:30pm and I just don’t feel like waiting for an entire tub to drain and refill again.
  • I might lie to my child about the YouTube app on my Apple TV being “broken” because I just can’t take another god damn second of that show about how train tracks are laid.
  • I might lie to my children about having not one single battery in my house because I’d rather their noise/movement-enabled toys not work to their full potential. Oh, and all of the “battery stores” are out of batteries as well.
  • I might call something “ice cream” or “candy” if I think it will increase the chances of my child eating it.
  • We might spend an entire gorgeous-perfect-postcard-worthy-weather weekend cooped up indoors all 48 hours because I had a crazy week and I don’t feel like getting off the couch, thereby depriving my children of life-enriching outside-the-house experiences.

I could go on but you get the point.

Don’t get me wrong, I have many self-loathing moments where I beat myself up about how I should be a better parent. But this parenting thing is difficult.  And some people I know actually walk around comparing themselves to the “perfect” moms in their Facebook groups or Mommy & Me class, and constantly questioning themselves.

Stop doing that.  Your kids are ok.  My kids are ok. They’re more than ok. I know this because despite my occasional less than blessed resentments and less than perfect mommying, I’m still showered with hugs and “I love you so much Mommy”s on the daily.  Give yourself a break.  I suck sometimes, and so do you.  And it’s ok.

Thought Salad. Keepin’ it fresh.

 

I notice things. We all do.  Observations get processed through my odd lens of experience and humor.  And then they get archived, seemingly indefinitely, into a Bank of Trivial Details and Memories.  I’m often told I remember everything.  Sometimes it’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a curse.  Sometimes it’s just annoying.  But it always leaves me wondering, “There’s gotta be some storage limit in the brain,” at which point useless information is hogging space that could be better used for things I actually need to retain.  Like how to file my taxes, and what that all means.  And how the Electoral College works (does it?), and why we still cling to this practice in the 21st century.  You know, grown-up stuff.

Speaking of grown-up stuff, I’m 41.  This is the age my mom was when I was in 8th grade.  I have two children, ages almost-5 and 2 and 1/2.  God that half is important when you’re 2.  I’m technically more than 41 and 1/2.  I’m 41 and 7/12.  Yet I feel light years away from how I perceived other grown-ups at this age.  Not because I don’t have a grown-up looking life – I am a parent, I have a full-time job, I own a car, I buy back-up laundry detergent and stamps, I no longer recognize many-most celebrities mentioned in People Magazine.  These are all qualifying features of adulting.  Yet I’m still not quite sure the title fits.

What’s fun is seeing life through the eyes of my sons.  It either reminds me of what that age was like, or it reminds me that I still see life through those eyes at my age.  Like sunsets. My 2 and 1/2 year old says, “Look at that sunset! It looks like fire!”  That’s me talking through him, and it makes me happy.  Also every time my little guys look out a window, they say, “I see the world!”  I love that “the world” is synonymous with “outside”.   As Paul Rudd’s character says in the movie Knocked Up, “I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.”  I get it.  Also, I love bubbles.

So I present you with my THOUGHT SALAD.  Things that pop into my head and get processed through my peculiar brain, tossed around, and mixed in a bowl with arbitrary observations and commentary.  Enjoy.