Thursday, September 30, 2010

Throwing off Tyranny

This is not a political blog, and I am not a highly political person, unless you count an aversion to insanity as a form of political engagement. But lately I can't help noticing the striking overlap between the mood in the country and what I am experiencing here in our house. When I was an American History professor, in fact, I used to explain the American Revolution to my students in terms of the parent-child relationship. The big mistake Britain, the mother country, made in terms of enforcing her authority was not cracking down on her children, the colonists; after all, no one in the world at that point governed themselves, and almost everyone believed the monarchy did so by divine ordinance. No, Mother Britain's big mistake was letting the colonists run wild for 150 years and then cracking down. Anyone who has perused even one parenting book, knows that your window for establishing your dictatorship is between the years of 0 and 6. If you wait until they are 13, well, you are going to have a revolution. Too bad for England that her monarchs never had a subscription to Parenting magazine (they could have also discovered the 29 Foods Picky Kids Will Eat!).

I don't think what is going on in American politics today is quite the equivalent of the American Revolution (unless you are Sharon Angle)--in all seriousness, I think the economy is bad and people are struggling--but I do see some parenting analogies. In short, I believe that Charlotte is a member of the Tea Party movement, as best as I can make out what the Tea Party movement is anyway, and I'm only slightly less afraid than Barack Obama.

First of all, she believes in less government. While the Tea Party folk resent Obamacare as a form of government interference in their lives, Charlotte also wants to live more independently. Her version of a Don't Tread on Me banner is rolling around the floor screaming because I did not let her pick out her own clothes (I don't want her ending up on What Not to Wear). Of course, a big difference is that Charlotte doesn't make any money and doesn't buy her clothes, so I think my position holds more water, ideologically speaking, than the Democratic Party's.

Second, while she believes in less government theoretically and selectively, she is not very consistent across the board. In theory, Charlotte wants to do things "BY SELF!!!!!" yet she is unable to explain to me why she has no interest in peeing in the potty (indeed, why she would rather sit around in feces than become potty trained), why she is incapable of watching an entire Wonder Pets with me in another room, why she occasionally loses the use of her legs without in fact suffering a paralyzing injury. While some of their leaders want to abolish Social Security and Medicare, which accounts for over half the budget, if you polled the rank and file members of the Tea Party, I guarantee you they would not support this position in reality. I know this because they are average Americans, and the average American has not saved enough to buy themselves postage stamps in retirement, much less private insurance policies for senior citizens, which cost more than the GDP of some African countries. In addition, when people started discussing rationing some high cost/low efficacy treatments as a way of cutting Medicare spending, it was the Queen Tea Partyer herself who cried Death Panel. And of course no one is talking about cutting defense spending, which accounts for pretty much the rest of the budget.

Thirdly, I keep hearing various Tea Partyers invoke the 2nd amendment. Charlotte doesn't quite do that, I don't think she has much knowledge of weaponry, but she does believe in using physical force to throw off her oppressor, which mainly entails going rigid when I pick her up to drag her off somewhere she doesn't want to go, unleashing a chain reaction of painful events that rupture a disc in my back. It's very effective.

Also, the Tea Party loves them some Founding Fathers. If they knew a bit more about their ideological views--for instance, did you know they were actually pretty elitist and passed the Constitution to strengthen the federal government because the hicks and nabobs were going crazy out there? Or that GW violently put down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, when some farmers rose up against an excise tax on whiskey?--they might not be quite as fond of them, but they are really really awesome nonetheless. Well, thanks to some US President flash cards I got at Mt. Vernon (where you can not only find out more about the Whiskey Rebellion, you can view GW's false teeth), Charlotte is loving the Founding Fathers too, although her favorite president is Andrew Jackson, who was definitely NOT a Founding Father. GW would never have invited the public into the White House and let them get drunk and run wild.

Fortunately for me, Charlotte can't vote, and I already mentioned her lack of income, so my position is (relatively) safe come November, unless her rigidity trick leaves me a paraplegic, highly possible given my weakened state. The Democrats, though, yeah, they're in big trouble. Sorry guys.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Looking on the bright side again

Generally, I'd say being pregnant is like being on death row in Iran. Your condition is miserable, and you long for relief. However, that relief comes in the form of being stoned to death, or in my case breast feeding compounded by sleep deprivation, which is almost as painful, though not fatal (supposedly. But I would not be surprised if the massive breast feeding conspiracy has suppressed countless reports of women throwing themselves to their deaths, or else dying of abscessed nipples). Not to mention the horror of surveying the state of one's butt once a massive stomach is no longer eclipsing it. In any case, there is no comfortable way out of my predicament at this point.

But now I am just being negative, and that is really not my nature (yeah right, and Benjamin Franklin was a eunuch). What I should be focused on is the beauty and wonder of a woman's body bringing life into the world surrounded by puppies and kittens and butterflies blah blah blah. Whatever. Not to disparage the miracle of life, but miracles can be really disgusting. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, there had to be at least one by stander who was thinking, Gee, that's pretty cool, Jesus, but maybe next time you bring out a person who's been living in grave clothes for the past 3 days, you could pass out some gas masks first. There is nothing beautiful or wonderful about my body right now, trust me about that. Or, if you don''t trust me, hook my husband up to a lie detector.

Nonetheless, especially given the worse fate that awaits me, I should really try to savor the last 12 weeks I will ever in my life, no matter what, even if a comet wipes out most of humanity, even if Glenn Beck sees some geese, even if Obama begins a government program that pays geniuses to procreate to offset growing numbers of dumb people, the last time I will ever ever ever be pregnant so help me God. Or I should at least try to find some good things about being pregnant. OK, I will. Here goes:

10. I look about 20 years younger, thanks to cystic acne that has carpet bombed my entire face. In other words, people on the street think I am a pregnant 16 year old. OK, maybe that's not such a great thing. Trying again...

9. People are generally afraid to mess with me right now, either because they are nice and don't want to cause stress to my baby, or because they are afraid that I will unleash hormonal hell on them then sit on them for good measure (Always trust your instincts, people).

8. I can now wear fashions that before I thought were cute but were afraid they would make me look pregnant. Of course, now I don't think they are so cute, but there I go being negative again. All my maternity clothes are just adorable, and it will pain me greatly to shred, pulverize, then burn them the second I can squeeze into anything else.

7. I can manipulate my husband into doing stuff around the house by threatening to do it myself. For instance, I told him the lawn probably needed mowing before he left on a trip, but if he didn't have time, "I can do it, no problem," knowing full well he would rather be castrated than have the entire neighborhood witness the shame of his massively pregnant wife pushing around a lawn mower. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn't work as well with laundry and dishes. Might have to resort to fake labor pains for that.

6. This is a rare opportunity to do a thorough belly-button cleaning. I do not say this in jest--I have a deep inn-y belly button, and keeping it clean is a real challenge.

5. The complete and utter destruction of my body gives me a great opportunity to rebuild it even better, kind of like Brad Pitt is doing with New Orleans. I'll pass on Brad Pitt, unless he really insists of course, and take Weight Watchers and a good plastic surgeon (if it comes to that).

4. Do I really have anything to complain about when I can still drink coffee, according to the latest medical guidance that will probably be reversed in another year by new studies showing caffeine during pregnancy increases the chances by a kabillion percent of giving birth to an iguana?

3. I have built-in patterned hosiery, which I hear is in fashion this season, in the form of spider veins covering my legs.

2. I have the ultimate motivation to quit chain smoking and binge drinking. And of course break that nasty crack habit.

1. Once I stopped complaining for five minutes, I realized that I am indeed surrounded by puppies and kittens and butterflies, and even an odd rainbow or two. It's super special. And miraculous.

See? Nobody can tell me I'm not an optimist. Nobody. I am appreciating the hell out of this pregnancy stuff. Literally.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Maternity Chic

Buying maternity clothes is one of the more unjust experiences in life, at least for those who don't live in a third world dictatorship. You are forced to pay good money for clothing that you are 100% guaranteed to despise and look hideous in. A pregnant friend of mine complained this week that she had basically squandered her child's college tuition in a desperate attempt to look "fashionable" and "professional" for an upcoming work trip, only to look like a upper crust whale. When I look in the mirror, which is increasingly rare, after all I'm not allowed to take antidepressants right now, it is definitely my first instinct to sprint to my computer and begin a frenzy of online shopping. But, honey, a cow is a cow is a cow, whether you dress it in Target or Gucci or whether you own 1 pair of elastic waist pants or 20.

If there were truth in advertising, the slogans of maternity stores would be a take off of the Men's Wearhouse one: You're gonna hate the way you look, I guarantee it (but you're gonna pay top dollar for these dog ugly clothes anyway, because there are indecency laws on the books). Instead, they pathetically try to sell you the idea that if you buy their clothes, you will look not just OK, not simply comfortable, not somewhat cute, but sexy and stylish. I remember when I was pregnant with Charlotte, one of the big maternity chains had a poster in its window of a pregnant lady (well, more like a watermelon-toting super model) wearing one of their dresses while walking by a couple, the man gawking at her and the woman scolding him. I was like, do you really think I am that stupid? If I am basically at the point of having to pay my husband to touch me, your "little" dress is definitely not going to make me irresistible to some random man on the street, unless he has some kind of sick fetish, in which case he is probably a serial killer planning to murder me and sell my baby on the black market, and I'm not paying for that either. As for the woman with the gawking man, honey, if your man is lusting over a pregnant lady, well, I think suicide is the only thing left for you, not to be mean or anything. Call a hotline first, maybe they can help, cuz I got nothing.

Skinny Jeans: Delusional under the best, non-pregnant of circumstances. Under pregnant ones, morally on par with child abuse (and perhaps a direct cause--that baby is begging for air, people).

Just as a random sidenote, if you have cankles like I do, you are doubly screwed while pregnant, because legs are pretty much all you have to work with, other than massive boobs, which I just find frightening anyway. Plus pregnant ankles tend to swell, turning cankles into thankles. This is not a good look.

No, my strategy this time around is to buy as little grotesque clothing as possible. I have some from last time, although it is off season as as repugnant as I remembered. But, see, I own a washing machine, and I even own a dryer. And I can wash and dry this T shirt and these cargo pants I am wearing while I sleep naked (it's not like anyone's going to bother me) and be off to the races again tomorrow. As it turns out, Americans buy way too many clothes, which is fun and fine as long as they look good. In the absence of that, give your money to Darfuri refugees. Now if I could find a pair of pants I don't have to hike up every 5 seconds, I might shell out for that. But I've tried them all--real waist, low waist, full panel, demi panel (next I'm considering death panel)--but unless you are willing to wear them with suspenders, your crotch is going to be half way down your legs before you can say postpartum (maybe they are trying to prepare you psychologically for what's to come, I don't know).

In fact, my entire approach to personal appearance has changed. Whereas I once was somewhat vain, I am now focused merely on survival. I put on as few clothes to prevent roasting but enough to avoid arrest or the frightening of small children. I diligently apply make up to somewhat cover my acne (only about 2 bottles of foundation/day) also to prevent children shrieking in horror or my recruitment by the circus. With Halloween coming up, however, I may go without on occasion, that might be festive. And like I said, I do not look in the mirror unless absolutely necessary, to spare my own feelings, not to mention those of my mirror. And just to be consistent with the overall look, I hardly ever wash or comb my hair. That's really a waste of time and energy anyway.

I'm also thinking of letting my husband look at the Victoria's Secret catalog for his birthday. I'm sweet like that.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Daddy's Girl is Born...Finally

My life has gotten a little bit easier. And just in time, too. Although I am not due to give birth for another 3 1/2 months, I am already as big as that massive Pillsbury Dough Boy that destroys New York City at the end of Ghostbusters. The ground similarly shakes when I walk. And I officially outweigh my husband (of course, I outweighed my first husband after a large meal, but this was in fact a major reason for our divorce). When people ask me when I am due and I tell them December, I get an incredulous, "Oh Wow," with the more sadistic ones adding, "You've got a long way to go!" Thanks, I'm still on the Mayan calendar and had no idea. So after initially thinking I would not end up weighing more than some NFL players like I did last time, I am now preparing myself for the likelihood that Richard Simmons will have to come and knock out a window in our house with a bulldozer just to get me to the hospital. I really dread that, he's so annoying. And my back hurts.

So it's getting pretty tough for old Mommy to get down on the floor and play Little People, swing around 30 lb children, really do anything but sit with my feet up. Charlotte has wisely concluded that I am no fun anymore, and that Daddy is where it's at. I have been living for this day. As everyone knows, her central goal in life up to this point has been to have some part of her body touching me at all times. Daddy has been of little interest to her, she in fact has shunned him on many occasions, the lucky dog. I would sell my soul to be shunned.

But fortunately, it did not come to that, for my shunning ship has come in. Charlotte is now obsessed with Daddy, and who can blame her, really. He's devastatingly handsome, charming, smart, funny, even tempered, and can discuss the federal deficit at length. Most importantly, he does not have a tiny human resident draining his life force. He can still wrestle on the floor, play the upside down game, and dive into a ball pit with abandon. He could even shave his legs without risking his life, if he so chose, although I suppose this skill has little use for Charlotte. When he comes through the door, Charlotte immediate attacks him, hauls him off to our room, demands he remove his tie and shoes, then drags him upstairs to play where Mommy will not bother them (really, Charlotte, you don't need to go that far. Give me about 5 inches and you won't even know I'm here). If I attempt to come, I am told to "move away" and "stay downstairs." These are the sweetest words I have ever heard.

Of course, Daddy is only around for about 15 of Charlotte's waking hours, so i am not quite out of the woods. Then again, in another month or so she probably won't be able to fit in the same room with me, so things could still work to my advantage. Like a natural toddler barrier system.