Saturday, March 14, 2009

Erin Go Blah

My, my, my, but I do prattle on about myself don't I? "Me" this, "I" that, "Me, me, me!" Yes, welcome to the Heather show. You have one of the best seats in the house. Do be careful not to get pelted by a dirty diaper, won't you? Snacks and cold drinks are available at intermission.

A few months ago, in a fit of openness and insanity, I told a dear old friend that I had a blog and gave him the URL. He's been a regular reader ever since, even though he says the writing is "too Irish" which I think means that I moan a lot about how bad things are. Which, ah yes, 'tis true. I promise you, though: I am not blogging hunched over a pint of Guinness. I prefer Harp.

It is almost time to roll out the Irish ancestry for real. St. Patrick's Day and all that. I have some Irish flags and a green girly headband for the bug that I got on sale after St. Patrick's Day *last* year because it was on sale for half price. Full price was $1. Have I mentioned that I'm cheap? In a good way, of course.

My parents used to hold a St. Patrick's Day party every year. Dad, with his very Irish name, seemed to feel obligated to really Irish it up this time of year. He wore a horrendous green blazer, shamrock bow tie and leprechaun shoes. He took pride in his special "peat bog punch" which was basically bottles upon bottles of various clear liquours poured into a punchbowl, mixed with limeade and green food coloring. I drank a full glass of it when I was 10 and promptly passed out under the buffet.

My brothers and sisters and I used to look forward to the party, not just for the free booze, but because we got to eat cocktail food all night, stay up as late as we wanted and watch my parents friends get drunk and walk the wrong way out of the yard. Correct way: up the path to the sidewalk. Incorrect way: down the steps, next to the fence where the neighbors vicious dogs waited to snarl and snap like hellbeasts. Nothing funnier to a pack of heathens than to see tipsy middle-agers scared right out of their loafers.

Mom and Dad's party hosting days are long over and I don't think we'll host one either. The last party we tried to hold was a disaster of epic proportions. There was no booze, the food I made was ok but uninspired, Bug spent a lot of time crying and when I tried to comfort her, Dos would cry so until we A) get these girls in party mode or B) win the lottery and buy a bigger house so we can hide messes and crying children from our guests I'm swearing off party hosting. I'd LOVE to attend yours, though.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Snakes, Ducks and How I Roll

"She has a strong maternal instinct."
Used to describe thoughtful, warm, caring women who are always going out of their way to tend to people, especially children. Women described this way always seem to be baking something, tidying up and smiling while tending to their offspring's every need, no matter how unpleasant. You see this phrase next to airbrushed photos of mama ducks with their ducklings and silk-skinned, topless mothers nursing their new babies.


"She has no maternal instincts."
Used to describe the woman who locked her child in the car while she went to gamble away the rent money in a smoke-filled casino. Or worse. This phrase is illustrated with photos of snakes and mug shots of women who have done regrettable, horrible things to their children.


Is there a middle ground for maternal instincts? Because while I literally would stand in front of a speeding freight train to protect my children, I don't exactly love tending to their every whim, especially when some of those whims come at 3am, accompanied by feces.

I do not smile through my toddler's tantrums. I have been known to tell her to "can it" on more than one occasion.

I do not relish the thought of changing the baby's diaper. While it is an opportunity to see her perfectly adorable bum, it is also occasion to see her face turn purple with rage because this baby HATES diaper changes.

I do not love it when strange children come up to me on the playground and try to engage me in a discussion about their newest plastic gee-gaw. It makes me uncomfortable and I often end up asking them, "Is your Mommy here? Why don't you go find her."


I do love painting pictures with the Bug and giggling with her at nap time. I am happy to hold her when she is frightened, upset, sick or just needs a quiet cuddle. I know when she needs space and when she needs to hold my hand.

I chase Dos around the house on my hands and knees because, even though it shreds my kneecaps, it makes her laugh and that's priceless. And I change her diaper, even though she tries to claw my face off when I do.

I race to catch anonymous toddlers who wander away from inattentive parents and nannies at the park. They aren't my kids, but they are someone's and need to be kept safe from harm.

I'm not a snake. I'm not quite a mama duck, either. I'm just a mom, trying to figure all this out as I go along and finding that maternal instincts aren't always instinctive.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I see one of my co-workers on a regular basis, but we don't often have time to chat. When we do, the conversation always centers around our kids. He has a little girl who is 4, going on 24. Her attitude is legendary and he always has a funny story about her.

We were chatting recently and he asked, "What about you, how're your girls?'

I paused for a second to take inventory. "They're great." I said.

"You always smile when you talk about them." he said.

"I do?"

"Yes. Is there always something to smile about?"

"I guess there is. I just can't believe how lucky we are. I still can't believe they're mine."

It's true. As hard as things have been, I am lucky. It's so easy to forget when I'm feeling lousy and stressed out. When both kids are crying and it's probably my fault that they are. When I haven't slept when my husband in weeks and I can't remember the last time I saw my friends. When all of that piles up, everything seems awful and I often roll my eyes and groan, "Kill me now."

But when someone asks, "How're things?" and I say, "Great!" It's true. I'm not covering up or glossing over things to paint a rosy picture. Things really are pretty damn good. Everyone is in good health, the girls are thriving and growing. We have good jobs, food in the cupboards and a home in a friendly neighborhood. Our families and friends are supportive and caring. Frankly, sometimes I think I have it better than I deserve.

Things ARE pretty damn good. It's easy to forget.