How Instagram Put Me into Labor

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Letting a 13 year old have accounts on social media is extremely debatable, and has to be granted on an individual basis. After careful thought, I allowed my daughter Sarah to have an Instagram and Facebook account, reasoning that down the line she would forget I knew her passwords. I also wanted her to use it while she was still young enough to accept my guidance regarding online etiquette, as I am fortunate to still have an open relationship with her. I will admit that I am a stalker, or a “creeper”, as the kids call it these days. Not only could I see what Sarah posted, but I read the other kids’ posts too. There are plenty of girls out there whose parents have no idea they’re posting about blow jobs. Some surprised me; others didn’t. Asshole kids usually are attached to asshole parents. At any rate, my her new Facebook account was a treasure trove of information, and I reveled in it. Throughout the year, which would turn out to be Sarah’s last in a small “Christian” school, one particular boy made an effort to say hi in the mornings, and struck up conversations in class. This was a great source of excitement for her, since it was getting to be the time when the whole boyfriend/girlfriend shit goes down. I had told her absolutely no boyfriends but secret crushes were ok. And oh did she have a crush on Jack.

The last day of school brought an argument between one of her friends and one of the popular girls. I can’t transcribe the whole thing but all parties admit it was over ACL surgery. If you’re confused, you have every right to be, because it makes no sense. I was just grateful that it was the last day of school and they had the whole summer to get over it.

Or not. A week later, I found Sarah sitting on the couch, tears streaming down her pretty little face. Every girl in her class had “unfollowed” her on Instagram at the urging of that one popular girl. In true lemming fashion, Jack did too. My heart has broken a thousand times whenever my kids are hurt. This time though, I was also nine months pregnant and I’m convinced my distress for her brought my labor on that very day. It may have been a Christian school but I didn’t witness much of Jesus in a lot that went on during the school year.

It was time to change schools. Spoiler Alert-public school was the best change she ever made.

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The Truth about Organized Sports in Private Schools

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As a child, I attended a small private school that I enjoyed very much despite a paralyzing fear of socializing. Every girl in my class played every sport our school offered, and although I was not friendless, they enjoyed a camaraderie that I envied. Fast forward to 27 years later. My preteen daughter also attends a small religious school with the hope it will give her a good foundation to build her character. I sign her up for volleyball, hoping it will help her socially awkward self become a part of the group. And at first it’s magical. At the fourth grade level, getting the ball over the net pretty much wins the game and Sarah can do this. She’s able to get all 5 of her serves sometimes and there are hi-fives going around like nobody’s business. The kids are all rotated in the same amount of time. Seventh grade rolls around, and with it a new coach. Her first email states that she does not believe in equal playing time. It must be earned by attendance to practice, ability and effort. Completely reasonable, I think. I’m a little surprised when one mother pulls her daughter off the team right away, with the reasoning that she wasn’t going to pay the fee and put the time in to go to games only to watch her kid sit on the bench. I also realize my extremely uncoordinated daughter will be playing less, but what comes next shocks and saddens me. I attend practices and I watch her improve, and see how happy she is with herself for working hard and not giving up. And, I think to myself, it’s a good thing because we haven’t even played one game yet and the schedule has changed 3 times, which is a real bitch if you’re a working parent who has to arrange a ride to the twice weekly games. Several games happen, and over that period of time I notice 1 or 2 girls will play the entire game. Mine was lucky if she played 6 minutes total. It wouldn’t be a big deal, cuz really I get it, except for three things: 1) The girls who play a lot start to act like they are better than the girls who don’t. This carries over into the regular school day. 2) These same Junior Bitches develop a very unbecoming and unsportsman-like dance when they score a point (annoying myself and the parents of the opposing team alike) which is especially ridiculous because 3) even with the best players playing, they are not winning many games. Even when there is zero percent chance of winning the coach will not let the girls with inferior skills get in and play. I am left with the distinct feeling that she’d be perfectly happy if 3 or 4 of us took our kids and fucked off. All doubt was erased the weekend of a tournament, where my sweet little girl who just wanted to be a part of something played for 90 seconds. After an email to the coach left me without answers, I took my complaints to the head of the Athletic Department. After all, wouldn’t Jesus want this coach to encourage the girls to get along better rather than creating divisiveness? Wasn’t this an opportunity to bring the girls together? The answer turned out to be no. Baby Jesus really wanted my daughter to sit on the bench and be a witness for her teammates. They shoved so much bullshit down my throat that I cried. (The fact that I didn’t know I was pregnant with my third surprise baby may have contributed to that.) The director and the principal didn’t even try to appease me with politically correct bullshit, which I probably would have accepted. From a business standpoint it was not the best move on their part. The cheap $15 trophy they displayed in the hallway cost them my $4000 in tuition, as it was a factor in my decision to have my daughter switch to a public school. Kids’ sports are not what they used to be and I am just sorry my poor girl had to be belittled while I learned that lesson.

Sex and the Parent Teacher Conference

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For the past 2 years, parent-teacher conferences have been a great source of joy for me. My eldest daughter finally decided to leave mediocrity behind and attack learning with the same determination she uses to convince me she needs $50 worth of makeup from Sephora. At the same time, it gets a little weird when my ex and his wife show up, which isn’t every time, leading me to have to explain our family dynamic more than I should. On one especially memorable occasion my husband and I had something of importance to discuss and we dressed accordingly, he in a suit and tie and I in a lavender peacoat that gave off an air of sophistication that I actually don’t possess. In stark contrast, my ex showed up in dirty work clothes and his bride wore stretch pants with a shirt that missed the mark on covering her panty line and boots with bells on the toes. I can see the confusion on the teacher’s face, and it’s not because stretch pants hadn’t come back “in” yet at that point. She’s mentally figuring in her head that I’ve had sex with one hundred percent of the men in the room, then turning it into a fraction, a decimal, a ratio and probably throwing some fucking algebra problem in there. Really, it’s quite simple. A(sshole) plus A(lcohol) multiplied by S(luts) to the tenth power equals D(ivorce). And that, dear Teacher, is what I’d tell you if I could, but instead I just smile and offer to help out at the Book Fair.

Hypospadias Takes the Cake, and It’s the Only Dessert That Made Me Sick

 Looking back, there are several instances where I thought, “This is the worst day of my life.”  The first one that comes to mind is my 5th grade self reading the M encyclopedia (yes, I was a nerd) and coming across a picture of marijuana. Could it be that the very substance in the picture was what I saw my parents sorting into piles on our kitchen table? My father had laughingly told me it was green tea and sent me to bed with a bowl of Funyons, which were always suspiciously in plentiful supply.  My mind raced. This occurred in the days before DARE, and the only thing I remembered my teachers telling me about drugs was that users would get AIDS.  I struggled with this knowledge and worry for several days before tearfully telling my mother that I didn’t want her to die.  She covered her mouth (to hide the laughs probably) and explained that drugs that were injected with a needle carried the risk of a blood borne illness like AIDS.  She carefully elaborated by saying marijuana was smoked just like a cigarette (which was perfectly acceptable and encouraged in the early 80s) and that it made it easier for her to deal with my brother, who had a habit of running into walls and writing HELP on the furniture for no apparent reason.

Later, the worst days would include the day I was 29 and divorced, or the day my grandma died without ever knowing my daughter.  But taking the cake so far was the day I was told my beautiful newborn son had a “common” birth defect that required a “simple” surgery.

Rewind to a few months prior. I was a 40 year old pregnant mother in the park with my toddler. Always in the back of my mind was the worry that something would be wrong with my fetus, despite several ultrasounds and a visit with a genetic counselor, who told me 40 was not too old to be knocked up. As I watched my daughter run from one end of the playground to another I started to notice that there were kids and adults of all ages missing a hand. They laughed and posed for pictures together. Although I am certain that I wasn’t staring at them, a woman came up to me and explained that it was a support group meeting for people with this birth defect. “We call it their fins,” she said with a smile. “You wonder how you will raise a child with a fin but God is always there to help you.”  I wanted to grab her well-meaning ass by the throat to ask her if God had personally told her to deliver that message to me of all people, and from that moment on I knew there would be something. I just didn’t know what.

Fast forward to the day my son was born, the day the house pediatrician (who was considerably younger than me) showed me that my boy’s urethra was located at the bottom of his penis instead of the top. She dismissed my devastation with a flip of her hair, stating that they saw this in 1 or 2 out of every 100 births. My husband had gone to pick up our girls for a visit, and I was still choking back tears when he arrived shortly after, along with my sister and niece. There is only one picture of that time and I could not even smile. My spirited toddler ran amok in the room and I couldn’t find a voice to correct her. To make things more confusing the hand sanitizer on the wall was at just the right trajectory to make contact with her eye the seventh time she pushed it. I had to ask them to leave.

The next few weeks were full of the happiness of having a newborn so beautiful that his doctor stated she had never seen the likes of him, and the sorrow of worrying for his future and wondering if I had caused this pain for him. Google is a frenemy. I learned that there could be no cause at all, it could be medication taken while pregnant or toxins in the environment. On the day I read that plastic could emit toxins causing hypospadias I sobbed while throwing out every piece of Tupperware I had. The next day I was in a state of confusion trying to pack my daughter’s lunch without any containers. Another day I came across an obscure study that showed a connection between Claritin and hypospadias, which typically happens during 9-12 weeks of gestation. I sadly remembered that at that time I had been very ill with a sickness that felt like the flu. Even on my best days of being pregnant I would wake up in the morning and pray for the strength to get out of bed; during this time I was so sick that I didn’t move off of the couch for a week. I begged my husband to ask the pharmacist what I could take and didn’t believe him when he came back empty handed. I blamed their answer on the fact that he went to ask a pharmacist about potentially meth making drugs while wearing a Breaking Bad Tshirt. So I may have taken Claritin during this time, I am not completely sure. It will haunt me the rest of my life though. The line of reasoning that if Anna Nicole Smith could take methadone every day and have a normal baby then some cold medicine wouldn’t hurt me is a shitty one.

Let’s not leave the possibility of bad karma out of this. I recalled my pre-second marriage, post-divorce days and the time I took the cutest little firefighter home for some adult fun. He had a very small penis and sex took a loooong time. The next day I was not bothered by that but the next week when I hadn’t heard from him I spent a happy hour with my girlfriends relating every detail and joking that his penis was so small it qualified for a disability tag. One of the hallmarks of hypospadias is small penis size, and I sobbed imagining some heartless bitch one day making fun of my precious baby.

We have had one visit with a pediatric urologist. I am lucky enough to live minutes from one of the best children’s hospitals in the Midwest. His bedside manner was perfect, and he gave me the impression that he is intelligent enough to be entrusted with the task ahead. I anticipate surgery will be scheduled for January. Until then, questions keep me up and night, causing anxiety and headaches. I don’t know how I am going to keep an active boy from kicking his legs and disturbing the catheter that will be in place. I don’t even know how they expect me to take him home the same day and buckle the car seat. Having had a traumatic injury myself, I worry that the pain and suffering will be etched on his little brain forever. I am in agony with worry for the future. What if he gets kicked in the balls while playing sports? What if he has a cunt of a girlfriend who makes him feel inadequate? Not to mention the immediate worry of an undetected heart defect that would cause him to die under anesthesia. Honestly, I don’t know how parents with children who are worse off than mine survive. I wish I could hug them all. Until the time comes for surgery I will try to enjoy every minute. I have been too embarrassed to tell most of my friends about this. I’m afraid they will call to mind the times I drank diet soda and ate soft cheese and lunch meat. Or the times I heated up leftovers in my Tupperware. A mother’s guilt is a neverending punishment.

 

 

 

 

 

Angry Tween Years, The Spirited Child and Hypospadias

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With my premier blog, I’d like to share a recent experience at the McDonald’s Playland. You will come to know my five year old well. She is the middle child, and what politically correct parents will call “spirited” (aka bat shit crazy).

After a lovely lunch of pink slime dressed as chicken, Rosalie and I ventured into the PlayPlace room. Right away, I see we are going to be lawbreakers. “Children Must Wear Socks!” proclaims a sign on the door, adding that they can be purchased at the counter for $1. Fuck that noise. I’ve actually been trying to get Rosalie to wear socks for the past month, for the sole reason that her shoes smell like a Port-A-Potty if she doesn’t. Pardon the pun.

Rosalie immediately takes her (stinky) shoes off and runs to the climber, pausing for a moment to make eye contact with me at the foot of the slide. I shake my head, mentally telling her, “No, you abso-fucking-lutely may not go UP the slide, that travesty is reserved for hoosiers” (St. Louis slang for anyone who acts in an unbecoming manner). She rolls her eyes but moves up the climber from the proper direction, immediately making friends with 3 little girls. I identify their mothers, and sigh inwardly. They’re at least 10 years younger than me & dressed in the Hot Stay At Home Mom uniform of tight stretch pants and fluorescent shirts that showcase their perky boobs and imply that they have just come from yoga or Pilates. Their nails are immaculate, ponytails the perfect height and they have purchased socks from the counter. Ah well. I immerse myself in the land of Facebook while snuggling my newborn, who probably should not be out in public yet, but that is just how we roll.

It soon becomes apparent that Yoga Mom’s daughter has pulled a Cliven Bundy and is organizing a standoff in the climber. Yoga Mom 2’s perfect blond twins give up easily and come down. They wave a cheery goodbye to YM 1, very obviously silently congratulating herself on having children who listen. That’s not a good girlfriend! I want to tell her this but instead avoid eye contact, because as I’ve mentioned I have a spirited child myself and I am all too familiar with the shame of having an audience while trying to discipline. I mentally encourage her to yell at the kid (Olivia) and silently reassure her that I won’t judge her for it at all.

Instead, Olivia’s mom spends over an hour trying to cajole, bribe and sweetly talk her down. I know it was over an hour because after 20 incredulous minutes I set the timer on my iPhone just for kicks. She promised Barbies, a trip to the firehouse and an array of sweets.

I was in the unfortunate position right next to her when her exasperation kicked in and she finally said, “I just don’t know what else to do!” And because she had addressed me, I felt obligated to answer with, “I’d tell her the cops are going to arrest her if she doesn’t get her ass down here right now. I’ll yell it up there if you want.” She backed away, horrified and continued with her own method.

Eventually Olivia did come down, and was promptly promised a Barbie.

It took me back to many memories of yelling at Rosalie in the car when she had pulled a similar stunt, the times when I had to worry if my discipline was being caught on tape in the mall parking lot, the times when my heart was crushed having to get up and walk away from an activity that I really wanted to do too! because I wanted Ro to know that she couldn’t act that way, especially in public. I remember crying in my room while she cried in hers, doubting myself as a human and a mother.

Some of that guilt melted away that day when I told Ro it was time to go. “Five more minutes!” She said, and gaily ran away. However, seven minutes later she put her shoes on and we left. I have plenty of mark in the Parenting Fail Column and I cherish every one in the Parenting Success, no matter how small.

I hope you enjoyed reading my take on what most people would consider a completely boring afternoon. In the future I plan to cover divorce (I’ve had one), baby daddies (I have two), public vs. private school, and parenting a teenager, toddler and newborn at the same time and why my life turned out that way, instead of the boy and girl that my teenage self imagined would be two years apart. Shit happens, ya know? I also want to spend some time on my journey with my newborn son, who will be having surgery to correct hypospadias. I am having a hard time finding parental stories about the whole process, and since it is a common birth defect I hope I can help someone else with our story.

That’s all for today! I thank you for reading, and caution you to go ahead and fuck off if you can’t take a joke. Peace.