Blowing Off Dust

It’s been so long, this blog has acquired a patina.

Seriously.

It’s so out of date, I might as well label it “Vintage.” But instead of fixating on sorry appearances, I’m just going to jump right in and start writing. That’s right, I am.  It might be messy and chaotic and contain typos and not be at all important or tremendously well-written, but I’m going to write it. Mostly because you’ve caught me riding the emotional roller coaster that happens after we relocate to a new state. Again.

Okay, to be fair, Massachusetts isn’t exactly new to us, we’ve just returned after a six-year hiatus. This time I demanded  we chose a nice house in the ‘burbs rather than the heart of Boston. What can I say, I wanted to live near the beach this time and own a car without dents, dings and gouges. I wanted a driveway instead of street parking and neighbors who probably don’t sell crack. Also, we have these three little kids and it turns out good schools are pretty much a big important deal. Huh…who knew?

So we’ve landed on the South Shore in a town we liked to visit back when I was first pregnant and Dave was still in law school. We’d drive down here to hit the beach during heat waves and wonder what it would be like to live in this place. If you’d asked me, I never would have dreamed I’d be sitting at a kitchen counter in the same town ten years later, rocking a little bit of a paunch and having birthed two additional kids.

I’ll never fail to be amazed at how, just when I think I’m comfortably settled somewhere, the universe throws a curveball our way. As it turns out, Maine didn’t want us anymore. Or maybe all the reasons we landed in Maine in the first place had simply run their course. After all, it was our move to Maine in 2010 that threw me onto the emotional rollercoaster that resulted the birth of Narragansett No. 7. And this silly little blog led me to grad school in Maine where I befriended some of the most important and supportive people I’ve ever had in my life. These are people who read some very raw work – memories of childhood buried so deep, that as I began writing my memoir, it felt more like projectile vomiting than any type of creative process. And they still love me, but grad school has ended and we have all retreated to our laptops.

Last fall, as I was attempting to throw myself into a post-grad school routine, I took on the home preschooling of our youngest daughter. Remember Kate? The one with a penchant for the filthiest of potty words? Anyway, it seemed our formerly cooperative preschool had begun to turn into something resembling an MMA Cage Match. For one thing, I wasn’t really into mandatory parent meetings where parents called the other parents “fuckers” and routinely threatened legal action over a case of head lice. Uh, uh… these are the preschool years, people. PRE. SCHOOL.

So, I fantasized about a nice, mellow year. One where I’d help Kate learn her upper and lower case letters, make sure she could count to at least 50. A year filled with play dates to keep her (us) socially involved and away from rabid women hell-bent on mandatory fundraising via lame calendar raffles. I thought, Oh , I’ll totally have time to write! Hell, I thought I’d be done with this memoir and sending it out to agents by spring. I conjured the image of a stress free summer in Maine.

Well, that’s not how my year went. Not at all. You see, as much as I thought Maine was our place – no matter how much I adored our beautiful home – it seems the universe had something else in mind. When we stopped paying attention to all the little messages that it might be time to move on, the universe or God or whatever force always seems to put David or I right where we need to be when we need to be there, started making Maine far less lovely.

From Dave’s insanely shitty job to the loss of friendships, missing cats, dead pet lizards, Joe’s continued difficulty in the school… It all piled up and pointed us to the door.

So here I am, sitting at the kitchen counter of a home in a suburb south of Boston – the one where I never imagined I’d live – and I’m wondering what the universe has in mind this time.

It feels good to come home.

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BAD MOTHER: Why I Didn’t Really Miss Them

First, can I just tell you how incredibly lovely it was to spend 10 whole days away from my children? Go ahead, gasp and shake your head at my brazen statement. Jump to conclusions and assume I don’t love my family. Send me hate mail.

It won’t bother me.

I am relaxed.

Ten days in the company of talented writers does that to a person. Ten days talking about what I love – words, books, writers, craft – ahhhhh. That Stonecoast winter residency was a very expensive spa retreat for my soul.

Harraseekett Inn photo courtesy Kerri Dieffenwierth

It didn’t hurt that we were eating and sleeping at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport. I spend the first few days quietly humming, Heaven, I’m in Heaven…then realized that people were staring.

I didn’t wash a dish or make a bed for TEN entire days.  I was not required to cook, wipe hineys or perform booger removal. There were no fights to break up, no need to remind anyone to wash their junk and the scent of poo never wafted to my nose as other humans passed by.

 

Of course on some level (buried so deeply inside my ecstatic mind that it hardly registered) I missed my family. I love them dearly. Really. So I refrained from looking at too many pictures and I tried to avoid my husband’s Facebook updates while he documented his single parent experience.

It was my family who seemed riveted to his posts. You see, among my people there aren’t many men who would stay home for ten days and assume the role of Mr. Mom. I’m amused by the way my family eyeballs Dave with a mix of suspicion and skepticism, always wondering exactly what his deal is – if perhaps he’s slightly touched. 

After ten years, the women have grown to love him and the men…well, he confuses the shit out of them. They don’t come around much.

All I know is that I came home to a clean house, happy children and one amazing man.

I’ve been back for nearly a week now. I walked through the door suffering from exhaustion but strangely recharged. My state of post-residency fatigue made it an interesting week. Fatigue led me to do some stupid things and a blog post will follow, but for now I am simply glad to be home. Mostly because ten days away from my children actually caused them to miss me thus, they have been angels for the past week. Either that or ten kid-free days soothed my raw nerves.

Whatever…check back in a few days because this morning my right eye started to twitch and Kate called Joe an “ass.” Something tells me that life will be business as usual by Tuesday afternoon.

Some Parents Eat Their Young

It’s true, you know. They do. Some species engage in filial cannibalism – otherwise known as baby eating (I looked that up). In fact, I once had a rabbit who ate its own babies. It was the male and I can’t attest to what he was thinking, but maybe he was driven over the edge by that year’s 5th litter of fuzzy bunnies. What if he was feeling a lot of pressure from Mrs. Rabbit? The hutch was getting smaller, the family bigger and the paychecks just couldn’t make ends meet anymore. Clearly, I fabricated that part, but it sounded good, no?

Pigs are guilty of occasionally noshing on their young as well. Back on the farm, we had a gargantuan pig named Bertha. Bertha birthed some piglets and had to be separated from her babies lest she feel the sudden urge to inappropriately chow down. (I wonder if pigs can use the post-partum defense?) The problem with mama pigs is, if there is a piglet that seems different or weak, she’ll eat it. Of course, Bertha happened to have a runt in her litter, so before anyone knew what happened, the runt was named ‘CC’, swathed in a pink doll dress with matching bonnet and plopped into the doll stroller. In case you were wondering, that was also the summer that I read Charlotte’s Web. If Fern could pull it off, so could I!
Anyway, CC slept in a cozy little box in the house, was fed with a bottle and snuggled for a period of time that I can no longer recall. As soon as CC was “caught up” with the rest of the piglets, it was right back out to the pig pen. I don’t know what happened to CC, but what I do know is that she never developed a weird friendship with a freakishly intelligent spider. That poor little runt piglet.
We have runt here in our house and her name is Kate. She’s tiny and she’s not like the others. She’s loud, refuses to eat much else than fresh mozzarella and Yo-Baby yogurt…and it better be frozen and strawberry flavored or you’ll be damn sorry! She almost always looks like she hasn’t been brushed or bathed in days. In fact, ten minutes after a bath she has the ability to waltz back into the room looking like a tiny, dirty little woman after a week-long bender. She has the ability to emit a piercing string of babble that oddly resembles a profanity-laced tirade. She can wrestle Stella to the ground in a headlock when the other kids are terrified to go near the teething puppy. She’s one tough cookie and she likes to be heard.

Kate is our third surprise…oops, I meant third baby. Kate came out screaming and hasn’t stopped in 18 months – unless you count some public appearances where she stuns us by morphing into Darling Angel Baby. She smiles at people, shares her treats, dances a little dance to the overhead music and bats her big blue eyes which results in admiring glances and comments on how adorable she is…so well behaved even! I know, I know…several of you have spent time with Darling Angel Baby and you are astonished when I tell you that she’s a screaming, tantrum throwing whack-job. When I say these things to the other mommies, I am alternatively met with, “really? She’s so quiet!” or looks of alarm that say, How could you have such thoughts about your baby?…and actually SAY it out loud?!

Simple. I’m honest. I also share a very sarcastic sense of humor with my husband. So on those evenings/mornings/entire days when Kate is screaming and hanging from a our legs as we try to cook/dress/pee. The days when we have to scream over her screaming to be heard, when my mild-mannered husband starts losing his temper…we go into the pantry together and call her out on her bullshit. Not very nice names either. Don’t worry, she can’t actually hear us because we’re hiding from her.
Our fake confrontations are similar to what you might say to a friend who is being a complete asshole during hour number 14 of a road trip. A secret pantry “confrontation” typically goes something like this:
Me (whispering): “Jeez, Kate… you’re being a real BLEEP.”

Dave (also whispering): “Seriously, man…you’re acting like a huge BLEEEEPITY BLEEP.”
From the other room, we hear Gwen yelp in pain and begin crying as Kate pummels her head with a bottle. Again.

Me (still whispering): “How ’bout I take that bottle and…..” We can’t help but dissolve into laughter at the fact that we are secretly speaking to our toddler like she’s the world’s most annoying adult. We then exit the pantry feeling far less stress than we did when we entered. 
Right about now, you might be questioning our roles as parents. Judge if you must, but our method of stress relief is effective and it sure beats eating the runt!

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