>No Longer a Believer

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Picture the scene: I am sitting on the floor, playing with Zach and asking him (though I know he won’t answer) what he would like for Santa to bring him for his first Christmas. Evan, who is sitting beside us, erupts into giggles. I ask him what is so funny. He doesn’t answer at first, but after some prodding, he whispers, ” We have to keep up appearances, you know, for Zach.” I ask him what he is talking about, and his reply was, “Zach still believes.”

So we started this whole conversation in which my 9-year-old baby boy confessed that he no longer believed in Santa. When I asked him where all of his Christmas presents come from, he told me he knows I buy them. “Not Daddy because he doesn’t work”, he said. I first tried to deny this, then told him that the money I earn is Daddy’s money, too. That Daddy works taking care of him and of Zach so I can work. He bought this, but still denied Santa Claus.

“Mother, do you really expect me to believe that one man goes to all of those houses, all over the world, in one night??? It would take him all night just to get here from the North Pole.”

First of all, “Mother”????? When did I stop being Mommy or Mama and start being Mother??? Secondly, I tried to explain that Santa is magic, to which I got this reply:
” No way. Magic is just an illusion. And besides, like I said, he couldn’t posibly get to those houses. He would have to travel at the speed of light and no human can do that.”
It became apparent that I was not going to win this one. And then I became sad.
My baby is growing up too fast.
It isn’t that I am so distraught over Santa. I am sad over the loss of innocence. The loss of wonder at the holiday season. He will no longer give that little gasp of surprise and have that little spark of amazement when he sees the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning He won’t hurry to the plate of cookies left for Santa, just to check if they had been eaten. And for him, from now on, Christmas will no longer be magical. He’ll know I worked to pay for those toys. He’ll know John and I stayed up late wrapping them for him. He may even say he is too old to visit Santa and get the cute annual low-quality photo we get to chronicle that year’s holiday season. I can literally see him grow in those photos over the past nine years. And because we are not a religious family, Christmas will just be about gifts.

(Image: Evan at 2 years: when he still believed, when I was still “Mommy”, when Christmas was still magical, and his innocence was still intact.)
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>Ghetto Me

>I’ve been bringing out my inner Ghetto self here recently. The evidence is as follows:

Exhibit A:
I have resurrected my maternity coat from last winter. I had been making my other non-maternity coat work–a lovely charcoal wool peacoat–until the lining got snagged and ripped. It came time to buy a new one. I had put it off over and over, but then I bought this beautifully tailord black wool peacoat from a maternity bouique. The thing cost a great deal more than I woud ever spend on a coat. And then I got put on bedrest. So other than a few rogue outings that were against doctor’s orders, it never saw the light of day because I didn’t. Unless you count the gazillion trips to the hospital in which I was so miserable that putting on my coat nver even came to mind. The beauty of this coat is that one could never tell it was maternity witout looking at the tag, and I noticed last weekend that it easily fits around Zach in his Ergo carrier. So I am wearing it this winter.

Exhibit B:
After our run-in with cooties, I need new furniture. I am seriously disgruntled about the bed. But the problem is our home. We live in a 2-bedroom. At the time, the price was right. Plus I was in school, and had no plans of any other children beside Evan. So here comes Zach. It was no biggie at first because I wanted Zach in my room, and if we lived in a 15-bedroom mansion, I still would have put his crib in my room. Plus, there is too much of an age gap to have him share a room with Ev. Evan will be in the throes of ‘tweendom when Zach is a mere toddler. Well, my plan has fallen through. Zach has so much crap that it is taking over the entire house. (Incidentally, I forgot about this part of having a baby.) He needs his own room, and I refuse to move until we are ready to buy. I’m a big girl now and am tired of renting, but we are’t exactly ready to make the leap because I cannot, at this time, afford a house that suits my above-my-means taste. So, as I am perusing furniture, I come up with what I think is a solution: a sleeper sofa! That’s my bright idea. This way, as we are putting our life back together, Zach can have his own room complete with more room in other living spaces bcause his crap will be PUT AWAY in his new, all-to-himself, spcious room. John and I will sleep in the living room on the sleeper sofa. This means that is the only piece I have to buy, too. Of course I realize this will suck afer a while, but I think we can make it work for the interim before we buy a house that fits us better as a family. Then, once we reach that stage, and can be an extra bed for guests. Ghetto!

Exhibit C:
I really don’t give 2 craps about this one! Unless you are my child, you are getting giftcards from me this Christmas. Sorry ’bout it! But odds are, if you got a card or gift from John and I, as a couple, in the past 10 years, I was the one who fought the crowds at the stores, fretted and waffled over what to buy for people who are as unlike me as anyone can get, then waited in line forever, ony to get home and gift-wrap the damned thing I bought. Quite honestly, I don’t have time or energy for that shit this year. I have endured a hellacious pregnancy, fought cooties I brought home from my job taking care of sick people, and subsequently lost everything from said cooties. I attach myself to a milking device every 2 hours, whether I need sleep or not. I have a new baby and haven’t done this crap in 9 years. And I work too much—so much that every offday is another opportunity to work more—about 70 hours per week. No matter how much I love you, I am not going to spend even more time away from my babies on your gift this year. Forgive me. I’ll be less self-centered and tacky next year. Look at the bright side: your acceptance of a thoughtless gift means I may actually find time to take my offspring to see Santa, or give me a chance to bake Christmas cookies with Evan. My children will thank you!

So there you have it: Ghetto Andrea. Just a few examples of how I am losing my class.

>The Death of Me

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It doesn’t look evil, does it? But I swear it is. I am so sick and tired of pumping. For the past few days, I have had a pretty erratic pumping schedule,which does not help the whole fragile supply issue. Quite honestly, I wonder if it is possible for a breastpump to suck the life out of you, and I have found it more and more difficult to actually do it. Exclusive pumpig is NOT for the weak of heart. I keep trying to nurse Zach and by now, he looks at me as if to say, “Hey lady, why is your boob in my mouth???”. At least with breastfeeding, one gets the fuzzy bonding moment. I bond with equipment. Sucky. But I do it for him, and each day that I have trouble sticking with it, I remind myself why I do it. And I swear I’ll do better tomorrow. I will.

>Him, in a Song

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Did you know I was a music major in a past life? Yep, I played classical flute for 16 years until my mother died and I just couldn’t anymore. But I still have this deep-seated love for music. And I think my favorite thing about it is the memories it evokes of the people who have come and gone from our lives, and the ones who come and never go.

Tomorrow morning is my John’s 36th Birthday. Actually, Thanksgiving starts the whirlwind for us: Thanksgiving, John’s birthday (sometimes one in the same), Christmas Eve (our anniversary), Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day (my birthday), all in a row.

This is Our Time. I always get nostalgic and sappy and sentimental as the calendar pages turn from November to December. This year is no exception. And I know why, though it has taken me years to figure this all out–John. My angel and devil, my super power and my kryptonite. My biggest fan and my reason for doing a large amount of what I do. The one who showed me that there is such a thing as permanent love. Even during the loudest rage of one of our arguments, there is no place I would rather be.

So, in order to satisfy my urge for sentimentality and also to honor the very beginning of John’s 36th year on earth, here are a few songs that make me smile and think of the other half of my soul. Happy Birthday, JohnJohn.

>Chillaxin’….

>Right now, I’m pretty easy to please. I am in the midst of a stretch of days off. Right now, that stretch is 5 days, and I am on number 2. I say “right now” because I noticed that they are a body short on the schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and so I left my boss a note to see if I could pick up some overtime those nights. I won’t know if I will be working them until she comes in on Monday morning. So it may only be 3 days. So while I am waiting for yet another load of laundry to finish drying (read this),I am chillaxin’.

A good cup of joe brewed by John. (This should be the part where I ‘fess up that my hubby once worked at a coffee house.)

A comfy cami and soft OR scrub bottoms that have been washed a gazillion times.

My computer. Blogging (expect a few posts tonight–I have much to report!)

Excellent, mellow music.

Kiddos asleep–both of them, which is a miracle. Hallelujah!

John occupied by some man show on tv. (Not very feminist of me to label anything as “man” or “woman”, but forgive me because I could never see a female watching the sheit he watches.)

And my new love. I should tell you what my new love is right now. I was shopping for Christmas gifts for Evan’s teachers, and I found a great BOGO sale on Yankee Candles—-I HEART Yankee Candles, especially the buttercream scented one, which makes my entire house smell like a bakery. (This is HEAVEN for a fat chick who cannot bake, let me tell you!) But that isn’t my new love. While I bought a crap-ton of the large Yankee ones for teachers/faculty at his school (have you ever shopped for NUNS?????? Nuns who view everything as excessive and sinful, mind you. So they get candles for their desks) , I had to pass the WoodWick section to pay. I’ve bought these as gifts before but have never bought any for myself. But-gasp!-they were BOGO, too! So I bought a couple: Butter Rum and Biscotti scents. And I am burning the Biscotti one right now and it is emitting this delicious little crackle like a burning fire all while also making my house smell like baked goods. Mmmmmm. So that is my new love. Like I said, easy to please.

>Psychological Warfare and Putting it All Back Together

>Nobody warned me that when I was being OCD Andrea, checking every nook and cranny of my home looking for bedbugs, that it would start a war in my home. Well, we all know that I never dreamed I would actually find anything to begin with. And I was hyper-vigilant. Seriously. I found one bug and had an exterminator here in less than 24 hours, then did all of the prep work and had them back for full-blown treatment within 4 days. We didn’t even have them that badly–I had caught it in the very beginning!!! So they treated, and we waited the requisite 2 weeks before they did the follow-up inspection. We were all ready to get the green light, when, lo-and-behold, we found a bug. So they did another treatment. Then another bug, and another treatment. We’ve had 3 so far. 7 weeks and $2,200 (plus living room furniture, a bed, and more) later, we have been given the go-ahead.

So…..
All of our stuff, sealed in black plastic bags in the basement, can now be treated again and put back in it’s proper place. Books on shelves, clothes hung in closets, dresser drawers filled. Toys sprayed with alcohol and put away. Baby gear washed and put back together. I didn’t think of this part. John and I have been complaining for the duration, since we have been rotating the same couple of outfits for this entire time. It will be nice to have my wardrobe back. For some reason, though, it is seeming to take longer to do this part than it did to treat it all and bag it up. So far I am only halfway through Zach’s room.

Another part of which I was not warned? The psychological damage. I am like an insane person, searching for bugs everywhere. As in, “OMG is that a bug? Nope, it’s a speck of lint.” Or that tiny tickle of an itch on my leg couldn’t posibly be dry winter skin, but rather a bug crawling. Truth is, even before we treated, I never encountered one until I went searching. But now I have the psychosomatic creepy-crawlies. In other words, I’m even more of a nutcase.
And the fear! I am so afraid to put our stuff away, lest we have to go though this again. Seriously. And I won’t even mention the fear I have of bringing something else home from work!

>Laughter and More

>So the topic has come up recently at work about how it is that I can justify supporting my family alone. Again, it came up. I think the actual words were, “I can’t believe John doesn’t work.”

Hmmmmm…..

My mother raised 7 children and never worked outside of the home. For several years, before I went back to finish my degree, I was a stay-at-home mom to Evan. I wouldn’t say that either of us didn’t work. Because being a homemaker, if done correctly, is the hardest job out there. No one says this of women who choose to stay home. But John’s a man, so it must be different? Why?

So yes, I work and John stays home. It probably won’t always be this way. It is just the arrangement that works for us right now, and my ownership of a vajayjay doesn’t make me above or below being the breadwinner. Honestly, my earning potential is about 4 times that of John right now, and so it just makes financial sense that I should be the one working. And quite honestly, even if he did work, the cost of daycare for Zach would negate his earnings. So why would we do that when I can honestly replace his potential income with one extra shift per week and no daycare expense?

So what is it that John does????? Well, he is excellent with the kids. He cooks the majority of our meals. He does all of the laundry. He tries to keep the house. (I say “tries” because I don’t think anyone could keep it to my standards but me–I am that OCD about it!)

What else? Well…

He knows te extact brand and absorbency of tampons I use and has no qualms about buying them. He knows the brand of shampoo I use, the exact shade and brand of my makeup, and more. And in his manliness, he is still not afraid to traipse into the store at the mall and get the goods for me while I’m working.

I don’t have to ask for a thing. If I say I’m thirsty, he immediately gets up and brings me a drink. If I’m cold, a blanket. If I’m hungry, a snack. As a matter of fact,if I don’t want him to do any of those things, I have to be careful not to think out loud because he does it all without my asking. He even drives mto work and picks me up because the employee lot is quite a distance from the door and heaven forbid I get cold or rained on while walking in. In the winter, when everyone freezes upon exiting the hospital, I don’t even have to wear a coat because John is there in front to pick me up, with the car nice and toasty. Seriously, I am that spoiled by him!

And most of all, he makes me laugh. He is nonstop comic relief from the shitstorm. Like the time I had a horrible day at work and he put on my pink Crocs and danced around the living room singing “I Feel Pretty”, even though he didn’t know all of the words. Or the day I thew out his boxer briefs full of holes. e resurrected them from the trash and he ripped the seams all the way so they looked like a rough version of a bikinis and he puffed out his chest as he came into the room, wearing only them and shouting “This is SPARTAAAAAAA!” And taking a picture of him? Seriously impossible without cracking up. Seriously. So now I am going to close this with some examples.