So. Since Baby Number Three there sure has been lots of joy and bliss and blah blah blah, but Dear Reader, it's not totally unheard for me to come downstairs into our kitchen with a pile of laundry in my arms and tears streaming down my face.
"But Darling, whatever is wrong?" my adorably daft husband will ask in his adorably daft way.
Then I'll tell him what is weighing upon my soul in these darkest and dreariest of winter months and he'll respond, "That's funny! You should blog about it!"
The first time this happened I was weeping over the terrible and sudden realization that we are now OUTNUMBERED BY OUR SPAWN!
"Don't worry, Honey," he daftly consoled me, "We still outweigh them."
As if drawing attention to my awesome girth might cheer me.
This last time it was because I'm quite afeard that I've been acting like such a total douchebag for so long that my douchebaggism may be a permanent thing.
The problem, you see, is that I cannot fold laundry, do dishes, or walk the dog without my mind wandering to a long list of hurts and grudges I've been relentlessly accumulating against my friends and family.
One minute I'm all contented that the newborn is sleeping and the older kids are happily tumbling about like coyote puppies and so I finally have a few moments to make a dent in the housework. Then as I'm sorting ginchies from panties I start thinking about what so and so did or said about such and such and I get all pissed off. And I tell myself to let it go but I keep getting more and more steamed.
I'm sure you don't want to hear the petty details of my petty inner life and I don't want to bore you to tears with them. But enough about you.
I am so very very cheesed at some long-time friends of ours who have been travelling the world with their kids and who were in town for a week over Christmas. I'm cheesed because they did not drop by to visit us and our newborn. It's not that we didn't see them at parties -- we did -- it's that they didn't pay us a special visit.
I wasn't miffed before they came to town for not taking the time out of their surfing and yoga vacation to call or send an email that said "congrats on having a baby!" or, if they were really busy with the yoga and the surfing maybe just "congrats!" because I'd assumed they were just biding their time until they could rush over with a pair of silk booties from Bangkok and ask us all about our birth and meet our new little daughter.
Um, apparently not.
So I'm all miffed and can't let it go and I'm plotting my revenge which so far has been to unsubscribe from their travel blog but when they have their third baby, let me tell you, I will so NOT rush over for a visit. I will also abstain from sending an email that says congrats. That's right, I will just wait until we casually meet them at a party and then I'll be like, "Oh look it's your new baby, maybe I'll hold it when I'm bored with the appie table. Wow, is that hummus?"
I'm also mad at my mother and father for not calling me on my 35th birthday or giving me a present or sending a card or indicating in any way, shape, or form that they are glad I was born. They aren't the type to make a fuss on one's birthday. In fact, they only acknowledge birthday's every four years or so, so I shouldn't be especially hurt this year but I am. Perhaps because I was so very pregnant on the occasion is why. Pregnant ladies are such delicate, angry flowers.
I guess I was expecting that they'd ask if I needed something for the baby I was about to give birth to so that they could give that to me as a birthday present, thus negating the need for two gifts in two short months. And I could congratulate myself on being the type of wonderful person who wouldn't begrudge them their curmudgeonliness. I am, after all, non-materialistic. But nope. Nothing for me. Nothing for baby. Nothing. And I totally begrudge them. It seems all my other parent friends are complaining that their parents just won't lay off with the stream of frou-frou outfits and toys.What kind of weirdo grandparents don't buy anything for a new baby? And what kind of weird parents don't bother with birthdays?
I think about this when I fold laundry and then I get mad at the laundry and even madder at my parents for the way they also forgot my 13th birthday and also for when they gave me a dictionary for my 15th and 16th birthday two years in a row, and who gives a teen-aged girl a dictionary anyway? It's the kind of gift that says, "We're your parents and even we think you're a dork. No wonder boys don't like you!"
My brother-in-law was living in another town when he and his wife had their second kid so we couldn't bring over a lasagne. Instead we called them with our credit card number and told them to please order themselves some take-out from their favourite restaurant on us. They were so touched by the gesture that when we had our third baby, they called to say congrats and would we please buy ourselves a meal from our favourite restaurant on their behalf. My adorable husband thought it was ever so thoughtful of them but I did not.
"Please explain why you don't think it's nice," he begged me, the sunlight glinting through his vacuous eyes and reflecting back into my surly gaze from the farthest reaches of his empty brainpan.
"Because, Darling, either way we are the ones buying the meal."
"A gift is when someone else does or pays for something for you. Not when you do and pay for something yourself because they tell you to do it "on their behalf.""
"Ooooooh..." he said, as I angrily washed some of our stupidest dishes. I'm stewed up about it.
I'm also mad at one of my oldest and dearest friends for getting married in disgusting Las Vegas at the end of this crappy cold month. In order to attend the least-child friendly wedding ever planned, we must go to heroic efforts to get a passport on time so our newborn isn't mistaken for a terrorist at the border. Also, we'll have to spend over a grand. Like we have an extra grand lying around that we don't need.
Oh! But they are a fun loving couple who adores adventure and travelling with their double-incomes and no children, I get it. Don't they care at all about the carbon footprint of their destination wedding? Sweet Begeesus! And I just know it will be illegal for me to set foot basically anywhere at said destination because of the small person attached to my boob. And it won't even be warm because it's January. Who gets married in January? Man that makes me walk the dog fast.
I'm also mad at said friend for stopping by to visit baby with yet another piece of merch from the NHL hockey team she works for in tow. Honestly. I do not dress my children in sport-team related merchandise. I don't judge people who do -- okay, maybe a little bit -- but it seems to me that it's obvious to anyone who knows me at all -- and we've been friends for 15 years! would know that a pink hat with an NHL logo on it is not gonna get much mileage around here, especially since it doesn't at all match the onsie with tutu we already have that is blue and orange which she gave us in '05. It's the perfect gift for HER because she doesn't need to leave her workplace to obtain it and it's available at a whopping discount. How marvellously thrifty! I just spent over a grand so I could go to your freaking wedding!
So perhaps you see what I mean. What kind of douchebag is mad at someone for bringing over a gift for her newborn? The same kind of douchebag who is mad at people for not bringing over gifts for her newborn. The same kind of douchebag who is mad at a bride for doing it her way on her special day. Lordy. I should be thinking about all the touchingly lovely gifts and earnest shows of love and support I've recieved lately, but nope, that's just not what's running through the Honest 2 Betsy spin cycle.
Number 3 snuck up on us, to tell you the Honest 2 Betsy truth. I hadn't had a period yet after having my second baby and would never have guessed I was pregnant if I hadn't suddenly needed to hang up on a phone convo because I was unexpectedly overwrought with emotion. Douchebag emotion, to be specific. My friend told me she was flying to Mexico with her soon-to-be fiancee and I started boohooing (literally crying!) about how I wanted to go to Mexico but we can't afford to travel and it isn't faaaaaiiiiiirrrr. And then I excused myself (read: hung up sobbing!), set down the phone, and thought, "OMG I am behaving like such a complete douchebag. This better not mean I'M PREGNANT." Yup.
Somehow pregnancy hormones charging through my body, whether they be on their way in or their way out make me:
a) act like a douchebag
b) do housework
c) get all douchebaggish while doing housework
And I feel like I've been pregnant or post-natal now for a really long time. Because with 2 under 2, I have been! And I'm really tired of being a douchebag.
The thing is that my having my third child makes almost everyone I know feel funny. Because the ones that have kids already are scrapping with their spouses about whether or not they should have a third. And the ones that don't have kids but want them are reminded very much that time's a tickin' by the volume and frequency of my spawn. They think I'm just way too lucky. So most everyone has been acting a little strange about it. I get it.
And my parents do love me dearly and are proud of me but just happen to be born during the Great Depression and so belong to a generation that thinks buying gifts or saying nice things to their children will turn them into bad people. They don't want to corrupt my gleaming pure soul by saying something like, "Hang in there kiddo, you're doing a great job. We love you and are so proud. Here are some really cute booties we just couldn't help buying." That's what they mean though, when they say, "You burnt the oatmeal."
I like to be the type of person who gives people the benefit of the doubt. I like to be a warm and forgiving person who cherishes her friends and loved ones.
So how do I do the type of emotional housekeeping required so that I can be less of a douchebag?
My dearly befuddled hubby suggests blogging about it.
"It will be a healing exercise," he says.
He is hoping that his ears will heal while I compose my venomous list of petty grievances for the interweb instead of venting to him about what's wrong now and why I'm being mean to the dust bunnies.
Here's another idea:
In Bird by Bird (which is a FANTASTIC book on writing) Anne Lamott suggests the following exercise for anyone suffering from a chorus of nagging voices telling them they are despicable and their work is crap while they are trying to write:
"Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up. Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the tail, drop it in the jar. And so on.... Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like shit.... Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle. Turn it all the way up for a minute, and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices. then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to you. Leave it down, and get back to your shitty first draft."
It seems to me I need to do some emotional housekeeping of that ilk.
I need to let all these douchebag grudges come at me when I'm doing the housework. And I need to let them ram into me and bleat around like the flea-infested miniature goats they are. And then I need to realize that I don't have room for a herd of goats in my home. Heavens, what if they turd on the floors? And I have to realize I'm much bigger than said goats. And I have to punt each one of them over a bridge. That'll finish 'em.
Because I happen to know there is an ogre under that bridge. And she eats goats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She has a large appetite and is horribly cranky with engorged bosoms because she is a lactating ogre. If you look closely you'll there is baby ogre spit-up on her clothes. And if you look even closer you will discover that one of her horrendous legs is much harrier than the other. This is because she only ever manages to find time to shave one ogre-ish leg during any given shower before she gets distracted by a crying newborn. Oh, she is a nasty! And she will eat those bleating goats right up.
And these are my New Year's resolutions:
1) I shall become less of a douchebag by punting miniature goats over a bridge.
2) I know that love and compassion and kindness are the kind of qualities that tend to snowball, just like their counterparts of jealousy, bitterness, and douchebaggism. So no doubt if I can cultivate a little more of the good stuff over here by getting rid of the junk, I'll even have some compassion to spare for that ogre under the bridge. And I resolve to be loving and kind and forgiving even to her.