Won’t Be Idle With Despair

If I could tell the world just one thing…

The January air was cold, crisp, the sort of Chicago winter that seared your boogers to the insides of your nose and made your eyes water, your tears freezing as soon as they emerged from your tear ducts. I was just crossing the river, the grey of the cold January afternoon oppressively suffocating me as I noted the chunks of ice floating down the river. I wished I could fall down there with them, and wake up to a new day, a new life.

I was driving my dad’s old car, the roads wet and icy, the salt making a jaunty click-click sound against the bottom of my red Acura Integra, the one I’d inherited to replace my del Sol for something, well, with a backseat. A backseat that held one tiny infant, with a shock of black hair who squalled and cried, even as we drove. I hadn’t slept in days. To keep me awake, and to drown out the sound of my tiny sons wails, I put on one of my most favorite Christmas albums.

….it’d be that we’re all okay.

I was baffled by my new baby.

His dislikes included me, air, food, being touched, the world, gravity, the universe, and, well, life. Babies are supposed to love this shit, right? If babies are supposed to love this shit, then it’s clearly some character flaw of mine that he couldn’t even look me in the eyes.

In 2001, autism wasn’t The Thing – no one walked, or ran, for a cure – no one really knew much about it. And I certainly didn’t suspect that he had a problem.

He was just…temperamental. And he probably sensed that I was a bad mother, a piece of shit person, and could tell that he’d drawn the shitty card when he was born to me.

In the end, only kindness matters.

My heart was as heavy and oppressive, like my mood.

I’d waddled back home at twenty, pregnant with my young son, tail between my proverbial legs. My parents graciously allowed me back into their home and helped me set up a nursery for him, but, like any other kind deed, this one came with strings so long that I nearly hung myself on them. And my son’s father, angry that I’d had the audacity to get pregnant while on birth control, (while we get along now) well, he wasn’t particularly kind to me.

The last person I recalled being truly kind to me was one of the nurses in the hospital as she wheeled me out to the car with my new baby.

Five months before.

Not to worry, because worry is wasteful and useless in times like these.

Since I could recall, I’d dreamed of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. I’d never considered having children, never thought that I’d be a parent but here I was. And there he was.

I couldn’t figure out what next. If I wanted a life with my son, I’d have to give up on the only dream I’d ever known – becoming a doctor. If I didn’t want a life with my son, well, I could go to medical school, see him on weekends and in between rotations, living with my parents until I was forty, but despite his dislike of me, I was pretty fond of the little guy.

Stuck between a rock and a bigger rock, the future a black question mark of yawning uncertainty, I drove aimlessly around, trying to make the kid sleep, trying to outrun my demons, trying to figure out what next.

I won’t be made useless.

I’d never not had a plan before. It was like waking up to realize I’d lost the right half of my body. I’d dreamed of medical school since I was a toddler – the dream was over. But what to fill it with?

I didn’t have that answer. I didn’t know where to look for an answer. I didn’t know what to do next. The emptiness was overwhelming.

My hands are small I know, but they’re not yours, they are my own.

Everywhere I turned, someone else was telling me what to do. What not to do. How I was ruining my child. How I needed to do this or that. How I shouldn’t ever think of doing this again. I was twenty-one – there was no one in my corner telling me that I could do it if I just got all EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER about it.

I’ll gather myself around my fears.

Maybe I wasn’t the most qualified of people to raise my son; maybe my brother and sister-in-law were (my mother had asked them if they’d adopt my son should I “go off the rails on a crazy train”). Maybe he was better off without me. But he wasn’t going to get that chance. Whether he liked it or not, I was going to parent the SHIT out of him. I was gonna get him a family and we were going to make it.

For light does the darkness most fear.

The dark days outnumbered the light ones for a good long time. I had to learn to smile and nod as I was told that I was doing a bad job at parenting. Every jab, every poke, every complaint about me, I learned to smile and nod. “Yes, that’s right, I am a bad mother, you’re so right.” I ground my teeth into nubs and smiled.

Soon, my path veered dramatically. I entered nursing school, found a new plan and met the man I would marry. The man who would encourage me, after only reading emails I’d sent, to write.

I won’t be made useless.

Maybe my “plan” was gone – so what? The world was a big place – plenty of room for new plans. I would not be made useless. I would do something to make my small boy proud. I’d get him the family he needed, I’d get away from his father, and I’d give him the siblings that helped the autistic child emerge from his own world to join ours.

I did. I found my words as he found his, and together we were able to carve out a new plan – a better plan.

I won’t be idle with despair.

There have been months, years full of despair, sadness. My heart, however, has never been as empty as it was that day, crossing the mighty Fox River, me against the world. If I could tell my former self that day that, “hey, your life will be nothing like you thought it would be, but that’s okay,” I would. I’d give that girl a hug. I’d let her know that it was okay to be scared. It was okay to feel weak and powerless because, well, she was.

But not deep inside. Deep inside, there was a drive, a dream, to become more. To be better. To do something with herself.

And she has.

And I will.

I am never broken.

Merry Christmas! Hope You Don’t Get Crotch Rot!

I don’t send Christmas Cards.

It’s a big source of guilt for me – I mean, I HAVE the cards (I’ve thoughtfully purchased them at 75% off throughout the years) in a big stash in the basement. I have stamps, which means I’m not just being post-office-phobic. I wonder if there’s a term for that. I mean, I’m TERRIFIED of the post office. I’ll explain sometime.

Anyway.

Since I don’t give Christmas Cards and, frankly, you Pranksters are the only people I’d send cards to, anyway, I’ll just give them to you now.

Enjoy!

This is actually what I’d send on my Christmas cards.

So pretend that’s what I sent you and you opened it today. Fair? Okay.

Merry Christmas, Pranksters. You’re mah family and I love you all.

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Also: could you visit this and comment if you haz time?

Six Ways To A Better Blog

I find it incredibly odd that anyone asks me for blogging tips. Certainly I’ve been blogging a long time, that much is not debatable, but my first blog was a sarcastic anti-blog used primarily to elicit as much horror out of the readers (who were our friends) as we possibly could. If you think I’m profane now, you should’ve seen me back then.

this is me in front of a fucking tree

(this is me, in front of a fucking tree, assholes)

 

tree-cat-paint

(this is me with CATS with frickin’ LASER BEAMS under a tree, assholes)

Anyway, here’s my yearly list of ways to be a better blogger. (see also: Blogging for Dummies)(Blogging For Dummies Deux) and (Blogging For Dummies Part Number C)

Feel free to ignore them all.

1) Forget about the numbers. I know how tempting it is to obsess over your stats, painstakingly calculating your unique visitors every day, closely following your subscriber count and The Twitter followers. I’m not a numbers person (just like I’m not a geography person) so to me, ignoring them is Easy-Peasy, but I know others are. Every other Tweet in my stream seems to be begging for more followers.

But here’s the down-low on blog statistics: they’re only a guess. And? They change dramatically depending upon which blog statistics tracking program you use.

I happen to use some geeky program The Daver installed which allows me to occasionally track the odd search terms that bring people here (sweater kittens and boring things always at the top of the list). For awhile, I hosted my blog with some crappy company that ALSO gave me blog statistics. And? The two were COMPLETELY different numbers. It’s likely that if I started looking at blog stats with ALL the programs I could find, I could average them out and MAYBE THEN get a better picture.

But that sounds like a shit-ton of work. Work = bullshit.

2) Don’t get all hot and bothered if you get lumped into a group of people. If you have a vagina and a blog, you’re probably going to be called a “Mommy Blogger” whether or NOT you have crotch parasites gnawing on your legs.

When I first started Mommy Wants Vodka, I was infuriated that I’d been called a “Mommy Blogger!” How DARE they! I thought furiously to myself as I blogged, occasionally telling stories about my kids, occasionally not. Fuck that, I thought as I clacked out a post about my vagina, how DARE they insinuate I am nothing without my children! I am more than my children! I am a PERSON!

It took awhile, but I realized that people will always slap a label on you – sometimes good, sometimes bad – and my anger was unfounded and, quite frankly, kinda dumb. I can let my blog, not the label, speak for itself.

Which brought me to Number Three:

3) Don’t take everything so fucking seriously. Take your blogging seriously and write the shit out of whatever it is you’re going to write about, but stop making every little thing into an outrageously Big Fucking Deal.

Why?

It adds stress and will eventually alienate readers. It’s one thing to be mad some of the time; but outrage! at! everything! gets old.

Life’s not always such serious business. Relax and enjoy it.

4) Blogging is important. It’s really easy to minimize what you do with your blog. Hell, I’ve done it time and again. But at the end of the day, your words all matter. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday, people will stumble across your words and find whatever it is they are looking for in them.

In the past two years, I’ve met at least four families who have received the diagnosis of “encephalocele” (generally, prenatally) and have stumbled here to read about my daughter. Those words I hastily pecked out while writing Amelia’s Grace have provided a light in the darkness for them.

I can’t place a value on that.

So even if you’re writing a blog about knitting or cooking; know that what you do matters. All of it.

5) Blog because you enjoy it, not because you think it’s going to make you rich and famous. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for an audience of 5 or 5,000, enjoy the time you spend blogging. I spend many, many, many hours every day writing, blogging, and working on my sites, and I couldn’t be happier.

Do I make a lot of money? Absolutely not. Thanks to my profane (whore) mouth, I scare off potential advertisers. But you know what? I’d rather write as Your Aunt Motherfucking Becky than as Aunt Becky Trying To Be A Famous Money-Making Blogger. I do a little freelancing, sell shirts and and ads on this blog in order to pay for servers and other boring things on my other blogs, one of which, Band Back Together, I intend to turn Non-Profit. Mostly, I run them at a loss. Which is fine with me.

Bloggers who do make it “big” are an unusual flash in the pan, not something that happens to everyone who gets a kicky URL and a great idea.

6) Be careful who you get into bed with. Your name, your blog, your unique voice and your audience all mean a lot. Be wary of those who want to take advantage of it.

You don’t have to be all distrustful or anything, just make sure to read the fine print.

————–

What are your suggestions for being a better blogger, Pranksters?

Love Letter To A Lunch Lady, One Year Later

I haven’t been happier that we pulled our son from the hippie nut ban! school. Okay, so I was happier the one time I realized that marshmallows did really weird things when they were microwaved, but I’m pretty sure that I was wasted at the time.

I was unsure of our motives, because, quite frankly, Dave and I stuck out like a pair of brightly colored, mismatched, rain-forest-chopping-down, as-far-from-eco-friendly-as-one-can-be-without-driving-Hummers thumbs. Now, it’s not as though we don’t recycle or love Mother Earth, because we do, and if you’ve been around for any length of time, you know that I garden like I drink diet Coke (read: obsessively).

But, according to the other parents, it just wasn’t enough. Because if we shopped at Trader Joe’s, they shopped at Whole Foods. If we shopped at Whole Foods, they organically grew their own fruits and vegetables. While I am not a competitive person by nature, the other parents seemed to feel absolute moral superiority towards us both and quite frankly, it got old after 4 years.

Adding fuel to the fire was the poor communication between the school and the parents. Like this charmer of an example. What Dave was told was that our son “ran into a fence and got a little banged up.”

What I got was this:

Ben, Beaten Badly

This picture does not do justice to how beaten my child looked. It took ALL MY WILLPOWER not to comment on it, because with Ben, if you comment on something like a paper cut, suddenly he will expect sympathy cards and ice packs. And this? DESERVED SYMPATHY CARDS AND ICE PACKS.

So I admit that I was slightly annoyed by the downplaying of his injuries, mainly because I had to rely on acting skills *I* had never honed to not shriek when I saw him. I was also several weeks postpartum at the time, so the hormones may not have helped.

The nail in the proverbial coffin was the aw-shucks sort of after-thought type letter sent home right before school was set to begin for Ben, though, at the hippie nut ban! school. Because the school was so small, you see, we had to pack lunches for our children.

Maybe for other families, this was like the heavens opening up and shining down upon them, bento boxes neatly packed with nutritious choices like edamame and perfectly cut carrot coins, sandwiched between homemade whole grain crackers and cheese made from the milk of Buddhist cows.

There were, of course, lots of restrictions about what we could and could not pack. No refined sugars. No juice boxes. No chips. No candy. No cookies. No soda. Nothing that needed to be microwaved or prepared. Reusable containers. No brown paper bags.

In theory, none of this should have been an issue.

In theory.

But my darling son, Benjamin, is autistic. With food issues.

(the one time I’d dared pack a granola bar with tiny chips of chocolate in it–and I do mean TINY–he was singled out in front of the entire class and made an “example” for daring to bring “candy” to school. He was mortified. And six years old. It was my fault and I haven’t stopped feeling bad about it since)

For an entire year, I tried all kinds of combinations of foods, and about 95% of the time, he’d come home with a full lunch bag, his lunch untouched. Certainly, while he was not starving to death, this troubled me.

Food issues were nothing new, but this particular medium–lunch food with millions of restrictions–was, and I was at a loss. The only, and I do mean the ONLY thing I could safely get him to eat was a peanut butter sandwich.

So the day that the leaflet arrived informing us that we could no longer pack anything with nuts, or nut oils, in our son’s lunch, The Daver and I looked at each other and (in uncharacteristic unison) said, “oh FUCK.”

We couldn’t get an answer as to what specifically this meant, and after repeated calls to the school, it was *shrugs shoulders* “you know, nut stuff.” If I’d been that parent, I wouldn’t have been so comforted by that answer, because it was clear the school didn’t understand nut allergies. As a nurse I did.

Icing on the cake.  Not the nut ban, but the way it was handled. I would have been scared shitless if that were my kid (turned out it was actually the SIBLING of a student) and frankly, I’d just had enough of their bullshit.

So that was that, we plucked him out and plunked him into the public school system.

You know what they have there? They have an office staff. They have policies. And best of all?

THEY HAVE LUNCH LADIES.

*cue angels singing on high*

And with lunch ladies (*hums the lunch lady song*) comes lunch. HOT lunch. Lunch with choices! Glorious, glorious choices! Every single day *I* am not responsible for providing food for my son! If he doesn’t eat? I am none the wiser.

I no longer have to sadly throw out the old, pathetic, stale and untouched sandwich each night. I don’t have to throw out uneaten shriveled carrots, looking remarkably like flaccid penises (penii?), wondering how my child will gain weight. Nor do I have to flip coins or play rock, paper, scissors with The Daver to determine who is unlucky enough to have to try and make Ben a lunch he’ll never eat THIS time.

No.

It is with great pleasure, pomp and circumstance that I write out a check every month to the lunch ladies, signing my name with an extra dose of pizazz because I am just that mother-fucking happy to be letting someone else cook for my child. I would TIP the lunch lady if I could, I love her so much. I might even bear her children, if she asked me.

And if, for some reason, I had to pack my son a lunch, I could EASILY pack him, like Dave and I were always tempted to do while Ben was at the hippie nut ban! school: a 5 pound bag of white sugar and a can of Mountain Dew. I don’t think ANYONE would say anything.

God BLESS the public school system.

———–

Still working my nards off on my new group blog that you’re going to love, but in the meantime, if you want to get your group blog mojo working, I could use some help with Mushroom Printing, y’all. Turns out everyone wants to hide the site because they don’t want anyone knowing they write there. Which is HILARIOUS to me.

Also, there’s a Mushroom Print Twitter account.

Also, do I only publish one post there per day? I can’t decide if more than that is going to overwhelm the feed reader people.

————

I’m talking about the time I accidentally bought a whole stash of Granny Panties over at Toy With Me today. I’m always taking ideas for my column over there, so if you have any, HOLLER.

America, Eff Yeah

My big push for the year besides:

1) don’t die

2) don’t kill anyone

3) don’t die trying not to kill anyone

was to try and get involved in Ben’s schooling. Not like all PTA-style because I don’t think I could get away with stapling my mouth shut for hours at a time because that sounds painful and The Daver won’t buy me a handler to make sure I don’t say things like, “I say we teach our kids to practice ASS-tincence! GET IT? Bwahahahahaha!”

No, I signed up to be on the baking committee.

Before you all draw collective gasps of amazement at my gall, I can assure you that despite the way it looked when I made my not-so-delicious Cake Wreck, I am an excellent baker….

….providing it doesn’t have to look pretty. What I make will TASTE delicious, it just make look like a hot plate of ass. What can I say? Aesthetics isn’t my strong suit.

I’ve tried to sign up to bring in my delicious delectables before, but I’m guessing that someone reads my blog and probably saw my horrifying mini cake monstrosity and decided that they didn’t want their kid to die of dysentery THAT week.

I was turned down. I cried into my terrible, sad blue cake. (you have to read the other post to understand what I’m saying)

Months later, when all of the other people had been tapped out, and changed their email addresses,I was finally called into action. Your Aunt Becky, finally ready to prove her worth in front of God, The PTA and everyone.

My orders were about as hilarious and complex as you could possibly get. It was something so uniquely teacher-ish (this is for Teacher Appreciation Week, you see, Pranksters, a group that I appreciate SO VERY MUCH that I would happily give them fistfuls of cash rather than a crummy cake) that I immediately had to call The Daver out of a Very Important Meeting to inform him of it.

Now, had I been a teacher in the school, this is what I would have wanted the cake decorated like:

1) Me clubbing children

P) Me strangling children

**) Me torching the school

12) Me mowing over the crazy parents with my large SUV

8) A bottle of Vicodin with me in the background passed out (presumably from taking it)

5) A fluffy kitten perhaps doing something whimsical like playing the piano!!1!!

I am clearly unequipped to handle masses of children in one place at one time and if you are a teacher, I will personally bake you a cake if you come over to my house because that is how much I love you for doing what you do. I do not promise it will LOOK PRETTY but you know, it’ll taste good, so who gives a flying monkey shit?

If the teachers DIDN’T want cakes depicting violence against children because they are clearly better human beings than I am, what on earth DID they want?

Cakes that you can motherfucking SALUTE, Pranksters! Oh yes, they wanted FLAG cakes. Which, is just such a TEACHER thing to want, isn’t it? I’m happy if my cake is tinted a color that is certain to make my poo turn green, but the teachers wanted to have cakes made to represent the flags of 4 nations. Shockingly NO ONE wanted to make them.

So I offered to buy them because I know my limits. The last time I ended up making a cake that was supposed to look like something cute, it ended up looking like this:


Not exactly what I’d planned it to look like, but you know, the greatest plans and whatnot. So the prospect of ME making a cake that was supposed to look like a flag was, perhaps, the most amusing thing I’d heard in months. If this was me TRYING to make a nice cute cake, what would my attempts at a flag look like?

Short answer: I didn’t know and didn’t find out. But I DO plan on doing an In The Kitchen With Aunt Becky soon. Just not with a cake I have to actually GIVE people who then have to EAT it (not just submit it to Cake Wrecks).

My Flag? The AMERICAN Flag, of course (The American Flag was also the pattern of my retainer in high school! Oddly, I lost it in Europe. True story).

I had to explain that I wasn’t just feeling patriotic when I picked it up from the giggling teenagers at Target. The more I explained it, the harder they laughed at me. I suppose they’re not used to seeing Old Glory outside of July Fourth in such magnificent splendor.

Also, there are NOT 50 motherfucking stars on that flag. The teachers will be sure to point that out and be downright clucky that it’s not actually CORRECT. Maybe they will contact my Social Studies teacher and give me a very belated F.

When I picked up the cake, I found myself in the car looking down at Yee Old Flag in her Sugared Glory and singing my most favorite patriotic song.

I give you the INCREDIBLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK OH MY GOD PRANKSTERS LISTEN TO ME DO NOT PLAY THIS AT WORK song from Team America:

Tell me that’s not the funniest thing you’ve heard in forever (the video, well, that’s just what I could find on You Tube). Also, you can sing it to ANYTHING, so it’s like the most versatile song, ever. We should change it to our national anthem, I think.

American Flag Cake, FUCK YEAH.

Phase One: Bringing Aunt Becky Back

Apparently I am the last person on the planet to realize that 2010 = the next DECADE. Okay, so I never claimed to be a particularly bright person, but this takes the cake for even me. Especially since I turn 30 in July and I was born in 1980 and…yeah, I should have seen the BIGGER PICTURE, but apparently I was too deeply ensconced in my nervous breakdown to see out of my butthole.

I’m not much of a New Year’s person, so I suppose it’s not entirely shocking that I wasn’t all HOLY FUCK, PEOPLE!

Anyway.

New Decade, New Aunt Becky abounds which makes me think that I should get some Moon Boots and a flying car. Because obviously.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to dragging myself back out from under the piles tiny fucking Playmobil pieces and I’ve been making steps in that direction. When I do something, I tend to go balls to the wall, which is why an itemized list of resolutions isn’t really necessary. Plus, even as neurotic as I am, I hate making lists almost as much as I hate cream based condiments *shudders* but I’m making myself accountable.

To you. The Internet.

Ima check in now and again just to let you know how I’m doing in my progress to reclaim myself. You can let ME know what YOU’RE doing or how you think I can do better, or shit, you can just fucking tell me how awesome you are in the comments.

(Because you guys are full of the awesome. You were so nice to my formula-feeding friend–the Go Ask Aunt Becky questions all come in anonymously–yesterday and I was so grateful because she doesn’t need anyone to attack her when she’s feeling low. Also, have you lost weight? Your ass looks HOT in those pants. Let’s make out.)

1) First, I bought an elliptical. I know, I KNOW, it sounds like a BAD IDEA because it’s one of those things that you can easily ignore and use as a clothes hanger and what better to remind you of your failures? But this one was effing cheap and time is kinda precious right now. So ANYTHING is better than nothing.

Ima get my ass on it as soon as I can wear a bra lest I knock myself out with a rogue boobie.

2) I bought more clothes. I’d all but stopped buying clothes when I realized how depressing it was to do it because, well, I’m still rocking the baby weight. The elliptical will help that. But new clothes help me feel better about myself, which will make me feel EVEN BETTER about myself and so on and so on.

3) I started listening to music again. Because I’m home with the kids so much, I’d stopped jamming out with my clam out to things that made me happy because if any of them get a whiff of music coming from my computer, they’re all over me to watch stuff on my computer. Which, hi, TOTALLY NOT MY THING.

I do important stuffs here like surf porn and write on my blog, not watch CARTOONS (for the record, I hate cartoons).

But I love music. It’s one of the things I love dearly and since I stopped commuting every-fucking-where it’s something I stopped doing: humping on my music. Music makes me Aunt Becky again and it makes me feel alive.

4) I’m going out to California next weekend with The Daver even though we couldn’t find anyone in my family to watch my kids. There’s a certain baby shower that I’m pretty stoked to go to and to miss that would be like gnawing off an arm, but getting anyone to watch my kids is always like pinning Jello to a wall.

I know they have sitter sites out there, but I’m not entirely comfortable leaving my kids overnight with someone I don’t know. By the grace of God, my friend from high school is going to do it for me and I owe her SO MUCH.

5) I’m back to looking for places to submit my work (let’s agree that “work” here is a very loose term) and expand My Empire.

Most importantly, I’m allowing myself the opportunity to make progress without expecting perfection. I tend to expect things from myself that no one really should expect of themselves and I’m going to stop.

————-

I may never own Moon Boots, because maybe I DID own them when I was a kid and maybe they weren’t NEARLY as cool as I thought they’d be. But slowly, I’m digging myself out of the hole I’ve sunk into and rediscovering who I am. Turns out, I’m the same person I always was.

Progress, not perfection. Unless I’m listening to Britney. Which is total perfection.

——————–

And if you’re looking for me elsewhere, I’m talking about the time I got courted by (no shit)(seriously, why would I lie?) Wife Swap.

Over at Skirt! this is the link to the post I threw up yesterday (Sunday = The Internet is closed) about Finding Myself Among The Dirty Diapers.

Because The Real Reason I Had Kids Was To Buy All The Stuff My Parents Wouldn’t Buy Me

I’m sorry that I know that I was a late in life OOPS baby and that I was conceived on Halloween* because really, what kid wants to know that stuff? The bonus to that, I guess, is that my parents weren’t exactly living in an abandoned barn by the time I was popped out, and while I didn’t didn’t have a safe full of golden coins and jewels that I could swim around in, I don’t remember going without.

My petitions, though, to build a safe full of golden coins and jewels were repeatedly denied as were my petitions to buy a Rolls Royce and re-carpet the whole house in mink. While they preferred teak and understated mahogany, I liked tinsel and glitter. I would have made an excellent glam rocker had I been able to tease my hair or have it ever hold a curl.

When I was 4 or 5, I decided that what my wee heart desired for Christmas more than anything else was actually something normal. Which, for me, is saying a lot. Instead of asking for a tiara with actual diamonds or my own phone line, I asked for a train set. A wooden train set.

My mother was a hippie tomboy and in hindsight, I’m shocked that she didn’t latch onto the idea and go running with it. I’d have thought that my normal requests of wearing princess dresses and patent leather shoes had left her weak-kneed enough that this should have been her cue to try and convert me to the Other Side, but no.

For some reason no.

Not for my birthday that July either.

Or for the next Christmas. Or my next birthday.

I’d play with the sets that they had at the toy stores that my mother brought me to, and sadly leave them behind when we left. By the time I turned 8, my grandfather bought me an electric train set which I fell in love with. But, I broke it because I am the reason we can’t have nice things.

Turns out that my mom has been feeling kinda guilty about not buying me that train set all of those years ago and I never forgot how much I wanted a train set. When Ben was younger, she’d bought him some parts of a train set, but he never really played, well, okay, I’m just going to say it because then you guys can shock and gasp, HE NEVER REALLY PLAYED WITH TOYS.

Okay, go ahead. The kid didn’t play with toys until he had a brother who played with toys. NOW they BOTH play with toys.

So now, for Christmas, they are going to wake up to this:

We Are Suckers

This is me, fulfilling my childhood dream through my children through my mother’s bank account.

Next up, EZ Bake Oven, which my mother claimed was stupid because it “cooked the cake with a light bulb**” and a Power Wheels. Because if I can’t live vicariously through my children, WHAT GOOD ARE THEY?

I mean, besides to make do the annoying chores that I don’t want to do myself.

Did you have any toys that you didn’t get as a kid that you plan on buying your own kids? Or are you a better person than I am that can rise above material urges?

Also, you should join my group Aunt Becky’s Band of Merry Pranksters (turns out you DON’T have to be my friend, just join my group) over at The Savvy Source and enter to win Stef’s book by leaving me a comment here. Because OBVIOUSLY.

*if I were goth, can you imagine how awesome I’d feel? I would SO rock the black eyeliner and be all morosely “it’s in my blood” when people made comments about listening to The Cure’s Disintegration for the 30th time in a row.

**That IS kinda dumb.

Aunt Becky Finds Her Missing Piece

Probably the second most frequently asked question I get, behind only “how did you get so devastatingly gorgeous, Aunt Becky?” (answer: genetics, baby) and “will you look at the rash on my genitals?” (answer: probably not) is this: “when are going back to work?”

The question is more loaded than it sounds, and it makes me more empathetic to my infertile friends than they probably think I could be, because the answer has always been a gut rolling “I don’t know.”

Truthfully, the answer is another question, “go back to work doing what?” but it seems that telling your whole sordid tale to a stranger in line at the grocery store is probably better left unsaid. Instead, I sort of laugh as gaily as I can, masking how uncomfortable I am, and say, “Oh probably when the kids are in school.”

After my son Ben was born, I was sort of adrift, a half a bachelors degree in biology which was doing fuck-nothing for me whatsoever besides making me feel like sort of a chump. I ended up carefully deciding to go to nursing school, the lesser of two evils, knowing I was going to be a single mother, and knowing that I would need to support Ben and I.

I slogged through it miserably. I don’t know if words can express how truly miserable it made me.

Maybe they can. You know that job that you had some time in your life? Maybe it was flipping burgers or being stuck under a Fearless Leader of a boss who micromanaged the shit out of your every move, I don’t know. That’s your story. But you would wake up every day dreading work, and go home from work, sick because you knew you had to wake up and go back?

That was nursing school. My satisfaction was beating the shit out my GPA and acing tests. Wiping butts, dealing with the overcrowding/under-staffing, I couldn’t do it. Nursing is a calling, and those who do it are friggin’ saints. I mean that.

I’d walk past the science buildings and feel just sad, because that was where I belonged. Making coffee from Bunsen burners in the lab, TA-ing in BioChemistry and tutoring for Pathophysiology, that was where I was meant to be.

And I wasn’t there.

I understood unrequited love, all right.

I graduated some variation of cum laude, got my nursing license and then made a grave tactical error: I got a job doing precisely what I swore I wouldn’t do because I thought I could fake it ’til I made it. I couldn’t.

I did case management, primarily for hospice, until I got pregnant with Alex, and I’ve been home ever since. This isn’t where I intend to stay, and Dave asked me shortly after I had Mimi if I wanted to go back to work.

Dun-dun-dun.

“Sure,” I said to him, as we looked at mini-vans. “What would I do?”

We both looked at each other blankly for awhile until we cracked up. While I am very good at a lot of things like ordering my kids around, trying to do as little work as possible while spouting off random opinions about things (purple IS a flavor, dammit!), I couldn’t tell you a damn thing I’d do for a job.

Holding crack babies? I could hold babies. I’m squishy and soft and babies like me.

I could be a foreman at a construction site and wear a hardhat, because I look good in hats and I like to yell. Plus, a megaphone would be great fun.

Maybe I could even run a blog and spout of my random opinions about things! (purple IS a flavor, dammit!)

But no.

And that bothers me. I love my children, they love me, and I do a decent job making sure that all of our trains run on time.

I need more.

So I’m doing more. Finally.

I know I mentioned it couple of weeks ago, but I’ve looked into it more closely (read: more than just a flitting thought wafting through my mind) and I think that I’m really going to give it a shot.

Writing, I mean. Not just my book stuff, which is slowly going, but freelancing articles. I’m dipping my toes into the freelance world and seeing if I can find my way.

I know it’s not exactly something that I can just be all HELLO WORLD, I AM TOTALLY HERE, NOTICE ME, but I’m as annoying and tenacious as a yappy small lap dog. I don’t expect anything to be dropped onto my plate**, and maybe nothing will ever come of it, but it’s kind of nice to feel like I might have a direction besides cloudy with a chance of shit-storm.

Who knows where I’ll end up, because nothing ever seems to progress in a linear direction, now does it?

For now, though, for right now, I finally feel as though I found my missing piece.

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How did you find your way? Or did you find it at all?

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**If you’d like to drop a zillion dollars onto my plate, my email address is becky@dwink.net. You should know that I very recently found out that I am related to SEVERAL Nigerian princes! I got emails from them and everything! I am going to be a millionaire as soon as this money they’re wiring me hits my bank account.

Next Thing You Know, I’ll Be Buying A Baby Grill. And Some Wee Bling.

My daughter needs teeth, Internet. MAYBE EVEN DENTURES.

Now I know, I probably told you when I was very heavily ninety-billion months pregnant confidently that I just KNEW that my fetus was teething. I’m sure I was cocky and confident and annoying about it because I’ve HAD babies before and therefore I am an EXPERT on my babies and I just KNEW my fetus was teething my her kicking patterns in the womb.

Then, at 4 months of age, which is when the baby books say that some babies begin popping some out, I was just certain she was teething. The rivers of drool coursed down her adorable pink onesies, drenching us and her, and causing some really disgusting looking rashes if left unchanged. Also, she was kind of a jerk sometimes.

It HAD to be teething. I KNEW it.

After all, BEN popped out a set of chompers at that age. And yet, nope. Not a tooth in sight.

You’d think that I would have learned from Alex’s example. Alex, he of the Asshole Baby phenomenon. Now, before you tie me up at the stake and burn me to a crisp, let me assure you that Alex and I are thick as THIEVES. Honestly, the child is my clone* and there’s not a damn thing I wouldn’t do for him. As a baby, though, I’m pretty sure that he was part Asshole, but he’s grown out of it.

I blamed his *ahem* temperament, though, on teething. For 9 long months, I claimed he was teething (the first 3 were a write off) and still, nothing emerged from his mouth besides the occasional regurgitation of breast milk and the near constant scream. Unless, of course, I was holding him. I alone could soothe the salvage beast within**.

Flattering, until it’s suffocating.

Shortly after his first birthday, he popped a whole mouth of teeth out, going from looking like an old man to JAWS from James Bond overnight. It was weird as hell.

I’m imagining that’s the way Mimi is going too, although with all of her weird bone issues, maybe I will have to invest in some baby dentures, which, you have to admit would be kind of freaking adorable. I can just see them floating in her nightstand in a wee glass. Perfect ickle baby teeth, suspended in water. Maybe I’ll buy her gold and diamond teeth as a consolation. You know, like a baby grill.

She can release a hardcore rap album about life in the suburbs. And drive around in her pimped out Escalade Power Wheels with tinted windows.

Until then, we’ll subsist on weird creepy Gerber purees and I’ll pretend that one of these days I’m going to start making baby foods because I’m going to pretend that I’m one of Those Parents (I can barely be bothered to order take-out or eat anything myself these days). And I’ll just TELL her about the cool stuff she can eat when she gets teeth.

Like…uh all the stuff her brothers (or her mother) won’t eat. Damn toddler food battles.

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How are YOU today, Internet? Come gather ’round Aunt Becky’s dining room table and please, just wipe away the dust. She’s found that there’s no diet like the Topamax/flu diet and man, oh, man if she had a scale, she might notice that she’s lost upwards of 0.5 pounds! (or not)

*I was an Asshole Baby and many people would swear that I’m STILL an Asshole, so, you know, like mother, like son. Except Alex is NOT an asshole now. He’s a love.

**He’s still a Momma’s boy, and I swear that I turn into a gooey pile of mush when he demands that I “cuddle him” and then says, “I WUV my Mommy.” Somehow, it’s all worth it.