Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ready? Set?

Can we just take a moment and acknowledge the fact that it is impossible to be a writer and have a clean house? I am officially unable to sweep and do the dishes and clean the litter box and cook and write. Naps just aren't that long. And since someone throws a shit fit the minute he's placed in a containment device (RIP Exersaucer) trying to multi-task during business hours isn't a possibility. Theoretically I could have a less clean house (and therefore more time) but trust me, I'm doing the minimum. If I had a bigger house I could shove the dishes in a closet and call it a day but kiddo is mobile to the nth and if I don't keep ahead of the litter (and the dust and the crumbs from the high chair that sits on the floor because I haven't had time to clean the dining room table that has been parked on our balcony for the last year, along with two benches, three folding chairs, and a bar), the boy and his pincer grasp will do the work for me. (Hey mom! Cat poop tastes like chicken!) Needless to say I love my boy more than life, feel totally blessed to have him, wouldn't trade a minute, but it can all start to feel a bit Groundhog Day. It's not that I miss my old life - I just see people with babies who seem to be able to do it all and I can't figure out how the hell they manage! They go to bars with strollers and bring their kids to expensive restaurants and live their life with a song in their hearts and a child on their chests. My son wants nothing to do with napping anywhere other than his crib which is great but when you're 10 blocks away from the apartment and the kid is hitting meltdown because you got the timing wrong on that audition/trip to the bank/baby class, it'd be nice if the kid could snooze instead of scream. No way he'd sit still long enough for me to get my drink on. (And if I'm spending $100 on dinner, ain't no way I'm bringing the baby.) At the end of the day, all I want to do is pop a pizza in the oven, pour some wine, and pray for a "Scream Queens" marathon. (Have you watched that yet? I heart VH-1.) Finishing Chapter 2 on my work-in-progress sounds like a big fat "nope". Some of you have childREN. Plural. And jobs. And yet you seem to have the energy type things semi-regularly and see movies and have sex (see: "childREN") whereas I feel like a tub of blah. There has to be a way to balance better. My mom keeps reminding me that I don't have to cook for the kid - that baby food and Spaghetti-o's exist for a reason - but I'm obsessed with nutrition. (For the boy, at least. I could give two craps what Matt and I eat.) Speaking of baby feeding, he's started eating meat. Real meat, not the pureed stuff he's been gumming. I browned some ground turkey with onions and holy smoley, youd've thought it was the Second Coming what with all the nummy noises. He's been eating solids for awhile but carrots and squash still seems like beginner food. Meat seems like MEAT. By the way, can I get a hell yeah about the time suckage of finger food? The boy took an hour at lunch and only managed to polish off 2 baby carrots, 4 bites of squash, and a few fistfuls of turkey. I suspect he should be consuming more but after an hour, dude, I'm done. (He's still getting 24 oz. of formula so I know he's not starving). Between the poking and the examining and the almostinthemouth and the dropping and the dropping and the almostinthemouth,ohnodropping it takes seven tries before anything gets ate. With purees I could just shovel it in, knowing that he was getting X amount of calories (and that I'd be done with dinner before he turned 10). Unfortunately I can't just put stuff on his tray and leave the room; he's in the fistfuls phase so there's no room for wandering. But man, finger food is teeeedious.

Oop, I hear the dulcet tones...


elisava said...

a bigger house doesn't help. we've got four bedrooms and three baths out in the burbs... and, like lizards, we grow our mess to fit the space. plus, we ain't gots no culture... kids get older, messes get tighter, but at least you got fun things to do.

but i totally empathize. the finger food time is wicked.

as someone who owned cat and dogs and horses as a child... out in the boonies... i seriously don't understand the literbox thing. you must love your animals alot. a got enough poop to clean up with the fruit of the womb... if there was a pooping animal thrown in the mix, i think i would truely lose it!

ps. good to hear from you again!

elisava said...

oh, please let me give one more comment. i too envied those parents who were so comfortable taking their little ones to bars coffe bars, and nice restaurants, thinking, i wish we could do that.

but you know what? let me get up on my high horse here "hurmph"... that is not okay. if you, as a stay at home parent and your wage-winning partner bust your ass all week, hire a babysitter, and go to a nice restaurant, do you not get at least A LITTLE bit peeved when you see some family with screaming, throwing little kids roll in and get the table next to you? lord knows i do. and don't even get me started on movies. or any place that doesn't have a play area. applebees or an applebees exquivent at brunch, fine. but if i put on earrings and hubby and i try to make a fun night of it... come ON. and don't even get me started about what the waitstaff thinks.

so, i guess the long and short of it, don't be envious of those people. feel glad your mama raised you right to understand that all the world need not and should not be "child friendly".

next week, my rant about animals being brought into public places.

sorry to hijack your post. hang in there, lady.

Ali said...

Elisava, hijack away. You bring the funny and the reality check and I dig it, lady. And I hear you about kids at dinner. What amazes me more are the people who bring older children - say, age 10 - to fancy restaurants. I'm not opposed to the child being there (I'm all for expansive palates and learning table manners) I'm just amazed that people can AFFORD it. Matt and I went out for our anniversary and there was a family of 6 - in NYC! - having dinner at a place with no children's menu and $30 entrees. For a family of SIX. Plus it was clear from their demeanor that this was par for the course. Now that's impressive.

Now please post your animal rant.

elisava said...

oh you kind soul. it's been suggested to me that i start my own blog, but i am far too lazy, spell too poorly and would rather take advantage of the comment section you hardy people who create blogs.

before launching an animal vs human rights splat, let me ask you.... you live in the BIG CITY and take the subway mostly? i can only assume folks transport their animals on public trans? what do you think of that? and also, when you and little your little bean take the tube, do you have to use a carseat? from my high tree of hickdon, i've slways wondered....

Colleen said...

I agree with Elisava--we finally moved to a bigger house this summer and while I LOVE it, it is also more to clean which means more time. I basically don't clean all week, just try to keep the dishes washed (the house didn't come with a working dishwasher) and beds made, and deal with all of it on the weekends.

I'm finding I don't look forward to weekends that much anymore...

But I do have to say, I think it is perfectly OK to take children who are BEHAVING out to eat with you. Just like church or any other public place, if they start acting up at all, then they need to be taken out to the car/home immediately. Most places will be happy to wrap up the remainder of your meal for you to take it with you. We did that with our kids and they learned pretty fast to behave if they wanted to go fun places.

We eat out a lot (cheap places) because I hate cooking and my kids are pretty good 90% of the time--they've had lots of practice. And how else are they going to learn?

I love your blog, Ali! Such fun to read your rants. You perfectly capture the chaos of life with a little one. And I love that you are so honest about it, that it's not all rosy and marvelous. Some of it is tedious and awful and just a slog. Hope you will keep writing when you have a chance!

Ali said...

Colleen, I totally laughed at your "I don't look forward to weekends". Well played. And I'm so glad you're enjoying my stuff. I always worry that I'm just coming across like a lump of grump.

E - No carseats, just strollers. And I try to avoid the subway with baby as much as I can. I'm a fan of public transportation but once you add a 20 lb. stroller and an underimmunized kid (we still haven't gotten those flu shots), it's a melting pot of ick. As far as pets, people sometimes take pocket dogs on the train but it's rare (and illegal, I believe). I actually enjoy it. The subway car instantly becomes humanized.

elisava said...

i have to ask, colleen, when you and your SO "go out" sans kids, do you go to these same places that you take your kids?

and i also have to ask, have you ever worked in food service... because i can guaran-fuckin-tee-u that, however sweet your kids are and however much the waitstaff praises them (they are looking for that family tip, btw), no one outisde a micky-d's environment(a non-tip situation)is being tipped enough to clean up after your kids.

sure, kids gotta go out. but anytime someone says, oh my kids are different, they are well-behaved, well sorry, they're not. that indulgent smile hides a "why the hell didn't you get a babysitter? we save money to have a nice night out a couple times a year...." the food industry considers children a nescessary evil to get your tip.

i never went to any restaurant other that mc-d's or furrs cafefetteri at senior citizens' time. and you can see how well i turned out!

with such an endorsement, how can you go wrong?

Missy said...

I have to say I am with Colleen on a couple of points here. First on the bigger house thing. I looove our big ol' rambling house, but man keeping it clean...oy. It is amazing how quickly we have filled this space with stuff. When we first moved in our living room echoed with the lack of furniture and other accoutrements.

We have taken our kids to restaurants since they were infants, being of the mind that they won't learn to behave properly at a restaurant if they are never given the chance to go to them. We have been to a variety of different places and truthfully have rarely had problems, and on several occasions patrons and wait staff have complemented us on how well behaved they are. Now that they are 7 and 10 it is not quite as much to orchestrate, but we did not go out if it was a cranky day, and we always went armed with snacks and quiet kid friendly activities. If fussiness ocurred, well...we left, or at least the fussy child left until the meal was over or fussiness ended.

To comment on elisava's comment about wait staff cleaning up after kids, I don't feel that we leave a huge mess for them to clean up. Not acceptable in my book, and part of that teaching appropriate behavior when away from home thing.

I can't really say that I am terribly bothered by other people choosing to take their children to restaurants as long as the kids are well behaved.

In the end ya gotta do what you are comfortable with.

Colleen said...

Hi Elisava--of course I have worked in food service; who hasn't? Maybe I should clarify a couple of points here...

We live in a small town (13,000 or so) without a lot of choices for eating out--basically it's fast food, Applebee's, Perkins, or a local fast food place. So, yes, when James and I go out on a date we do go to the same places we've gone with kids. The main difference is usually that when we hire a babysitter, we like to go out with friends and have some drinks and hang out a little longer than we would otherwise. We don't really have any "fancy" places to eat out around here, and if we did, I wouldn't take my kids there.

When we do go somewhere like Applebee's we always take along some very small toys like Polly Pockets for the girls. When they were small, we usually went out to eat at 5:00 on the dot, so we wouldn't have to wait to be seated and would be long gone before the supper crowd arrived. Like Missy, we avoided fussy days and kind of did the tag-team parenting thing--if the baby was acting up, one of us took her out while the other one stayed in to clean up, take care of the bill, etc.

And like Missy, we clean up after our kids if they make a mess, or better yet, make them do it! I really do try to avoid pissing off the waitstaff--after all, this is a small town, we all know each other, and it's just not wise to do that...

elisava said...

it sounds like you guys are right on. sorry to on and on about it.