My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Bad Thoughts

Bad Thoughts

Today is the last day of my maternity leave and, like a cruel joke, only in the last two days has Red "woken up" to the world. She is grinning and happy while awake and did not scream for 3 hours before finally falling asleep last night (and I got to watch an entire episode of Monty Python instead of holed up in the closet with her angry self in order to not wake Dusty). She also finds whistling amusing. I cannot whistle but my husband can and she just finds it the funniest thing. Nothing like a toothless grin to get you going.

So, as soon as she becomes Pleasant Baby, I have to turn her over to a practical stranger three days a week. But, I'm okay with it mostly. The upside of work is that I can type uninterrupted and go to the bathroom whenever I need to instead of saying, "Hold on, don't freak out, I'll feed you, I just REALLY HAVE TO PEE. Don't cry!!"

Shocking Confession: I don't think I could cut it as a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids and all but I truly believe I'm a better parent because I work full time. When I'm home, I'm all theirs. I can focus on them, play with them, etc., and if I stayed at home all day, I might get lazy or dismissive. "I'd love to color with you but I need to do a load of laundry." Something like that. Or, I might get really lazy and turn on PBS Kids so I could read email. Daytime television should be reserved for sick days. Period. Since my work life is all about the Internet and email (as a researcher), I ignore the computer when I'm at home. Plus, Dusty's such a fab gal -- she loves the grocery store, running any kind of errand with me, and weeding! "Mommy, can we weed after dinner?" is a common plea. Trained her well, eh?

So, I have "me" time at work (I selfishly spend my lunch hours holed up in a library reading -- I'm a nerd; my sister's a geek. Sue us!) and I am Mom at home. It's a balance that works most days.

But, the coming end of my full days with Red just dredge up visions of the Bad Fantasy. This is the one where the second worst possible thing has happened and I plan out and envision Life Without Daddy. Do you ever think such morbid thoughts? This is not the kind of fantasy where Pierce Brosnan is at the front door with a bag of M&Ms in one hand and a six-pack of imported beer in the other (pizza's in the Mercedes, natch!). No, this is the one I replay in my head (because I'm nuts) in which my husband has been killed in some unspecified way and the kids and I have to Start Over. I see us in a 2 bedroom modest apartment, saving up to buy a 2 bedroom modest house in a decent neighborhood with sidewalks and nice hippy-type neighbors who do not play bongo drums on the weekends.

The kids have to share a room (they are much older in this scenario than they currently are) but they don't mind and on the weekends, we splurge and hit a local coffee shop where they split a cream soda, I get a small decaf coffee and we all get our own (!) decadent muffin or croissant with some filling like chocolate or raspberry. Then, we drive the clunker to the Food Lion and buy our weekly rations. Occasionally, we'll rent a video (no DVD player in this fantasy) like Willy Wonka and eat pre-popped corn (no microwave either) together. Poor but happy. Of course, I've been incredibly poor before, many times, and frankly there's nothing happy about it as poverty usually equals roaches and that weird guy above you playing whining country music at 2am. So, right away you can smell FANTASY.

So, that's second worst case scenario. First? I can't even write the words. Let me just say that when Dusty was born, I stopped doing a number of things that have made my life a little better. The first was not watching the evening news--local or national. I never, ever read any story about sick or abused children, children who have been killed by parents or friends or teachers. Nothing like that. Cannot take it. Once you have kids it's easy to see how stupid people can lose it and do away with something that took months to create, pain to bring into the world, and a lot of patience and giving-a-damnness to raise to whatever age s/he made it to before s/he was choked to death, chained to a radiator naked in its own filth, left to starve, sexually abused. That said, how in the world....

The nice thing about print media is that you can pick and choose the stories you wish to read. The headlines clue you into those topics you wish to avoid. With tv, you are assaulted by horrible images and cannot just skip over stories you don't want to hear. There is no mute button for images. There's also nothing as creepy as realizing your six month old is turning her face to the television set and...there's a guy punching another guy in the face. There's an anchor telling you that the images you're about to see may not be suitable....for ANYONE!

True story: Dusty's first sitter fired us because I was concerned about how Dusty (who had horrible reflux) was being cared for. During the final two weeks while I scrambled to find a new daycare situation, 9/11 happened. On that day, I went out to pick up Dusty (who was 9 months old at the time) and the sitter had her 2 year old son and the other 2 year old she kept sitting in front of the tv watching the WTC blow up over and over and over. This woman was so incredibly stupid and selfish she couldn't just wait to see the images after her children were in bed. She couldn't just stick in a goddamn Thomas the Tank Engine video and listen to the radio away from the kids. No, she had those children glued to the tv watching the most horrific images imaginable. And, yes, 2 year olds are not stupid. They know a dead body flying in the air when they see one. Trust me, I've had a two year old.


So, kiss your children (or your friend's), put on some jazz, and let them paint on their feet. Paint washes off but good parenting doesn't. Here's to happy thoughts!

Hope I can keep this diary up to date once the work wheel begins to grind.


3:17 p.m. ::
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