Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shake Your Booty- the perfect balance of smart and pretty

This weekend we celebrated Georgia's first birthday.  I know that every parent says they can't believe how fast the time goes by, but I can't believe how fast the time went by.

And on this momentous occasion it caused me to do some personal reflection.  To reflect upon the last year and it made me wonder....DO I HAVE TO CHANGE THE NAME OF THIS BLOG?  Am I doing a disservice to my youngest child by having the only hobby I have retained since becoming a parent named after Annabelle with no reference to Georgia?

Annabelle's chickens.  We got this hen when Annabelle was six months old.
So my personal reflection immediately shifted from the first year of my baby's life to the millions of ways I have inevitably screwed up my children before they even got a chance.  Let's face it, with Captain Sarcastic Neurosis for a mother, and Mr. Self-Reliant Ted Kazynskiesque father, these kids never had a shot in hell at being normal.  Honestly the ways I have screwed up my children is a daily thought in my brain as I go to bed at night.  The ways I have caused permanent damage to my children are more evident in Annabelle since she now communicates like a human. I will have wait patiently to see how Georgia has been impacted by our stellar parenting techniques.

The most recent example of this was on Friday when when we were driving home and Annabelle was holding an empty egg carton and she was telling me all about what goes in the egg carton and then she started counting the spaces for eggs and counted exactly twelve.  And I said "That's right, Annabelle.  You're so smart." and she said "No mommy, I'm so pretty."  OK.  That's going to take some fixing and undoing.  Oops.  But I refuse to believe that damage was MY fault.  I am constantly telling her she's smart even when she says really stupid things!  I almost never tell her she's pretty.

smart and pretty
Do you hear this? Do you hear the inner-workings of my parenting brain?  I almost never tell her she's pretty.  There is no way I can not mess these children up.  Raising girls is too much pressure.  How do I find the correct way to explain that she is both smart and pretty? I try to stress that smart is more important, but come on...pretty is a little important. I know we don't want it to be, and I know we so badly want who a person is on the inside to be the variable that determines success or failure in life.  But the world we live in still sees what's on the outside. So until that changes I feel as though women have to try to achieve the perfect balance between smart and pretty whether we like it or not.

Then there are the ways I have screwed up that I have no choice but to openly admit are my fault.  For example, there is a phrase I introduced to our household that is now used frequently. When I said it, I did not expect it to ever be repeated again...but it has. A lot. In many different contexts and references, in fact.  And I can only imagine that it has been repeated at daycare and has most certainly raised a lot of questions.

At one point in her young life Annabelle didn't want to eat her chicken nuggets.  That's right, chicken nuggets. I had to convince a two year old to eat chicken nuggets.  SO I did what I always do in these situations, I sang and danced.  And I performed an inappropriately popular urban dance while singing "Shake your booty, chicken nugget."  Now, I don't really know what that means.  But Annabelle was a fan and still several months later sings "Shake your booty, chicken nugget" sporadically as the situation dictates.  It seems the greatest need to sing this occurs at 5:30 in the morning while getting dressed.  And then I usually shout it around 5:45 when I realize we will never make it out of the house by six "come on! Shake your booty, chicken nugget."  Or, in a pinch, it is a nice substitution for saying 'cheese' when taking a photograph.  The point is...probably not a great thing for a three year old to say.  But there you go. One weak moment when you need your kid to eat and the next thing you know you're twerking in your kitchen shouting at her to shake her booty.  It happens, right?

Even now in the early morning hours I have already screwed up.  The dogs are outside barking like lunatics at NOTHING and without thinking I muttered "I am going to kill these dogs."  And while coloring in her coloring book Annabelle smiled at me and said "you're going to kill the dogs?"  That's right. I am.
I also realize that it really bothers me when Annabelle uses the word "hate."  She is too little to have hate in her little brain or heart.  But where does she hear this word?  From me.  I hate when the dogs bark.  I hate when the baby cries.  I hate when I can't get the wine open. She hears it from me all the time.

And then there are proud moments when I hear Annabelle playing with her princess dolls saying  "You can't say poopy, stupid, or goddammit if you want to be a princess."  So true.

And then of course we may remember the time I told Annabelle she couldn't have a hot dog until she finished her baloney.

frijoles for chili 
But then there are the very rare  moments where I think "Ok, I must be doing something right."  A couple of weeks ago I had to go to the store.  I needed a full list of grocery and household items, but it was critical I at least got four specific items.  It is really hard to shop with a three year old and a one year old.  Annabelle is at an age where for the most part she can be bribed.  A fun snack will buy me about
thirty minutes.  Georgia, on the other hand, is too little for bribery and really enjoys standing in the grocery cart.

So I did not have high hopes for this trip, I just knew I had to get these four items, including coffee which we were out of.  And the most amazing thing happened on that children were exceptionally well-behaved.  Annabelle walked with me instead of  riding in the basket part of the cart and she walked so nice and asked intelligent questions, and even helped me get things off the shelf and put them in the cart.  Georgia sat silent and motionless the whole time we were there and I was able to complete my whole list.   Of course later I realized her chubby little thigh was wedged in the shopping cart, most likely cutting off the blood supply to her femoral artery rendering her partially unconscious...but still. 

Those are the moments I thank God for.  Those are also the moments that can never again be duplicated.  I    learned this on our next trip when Georgia stood up in the cart and fell  backwards into the basket part of the cart before I could get to her.  Thankfully I had her winter coat in the back so she had a soft landing.

There are also moments where I recognize my parenting fails and that I have a very specific breaking point that I reach...or so I thought.  Last Friday was a particularly bad day at work, a bad day at daycare, and Annabelle seemed off. She was especially quiet, and clingy and her teacher said she had been asking for the last hour of the day when I was coming for her (hence the bad day at daycare, not something a mother likes to hear, especially when she can do nothing about it).  So we got home and dealt with all the daily things that exhaust me and Annabelle refused to eat Mac and Cheese for supper, indicating to me she did not feel well.  So she laid low on the couch for the evening.

Around seven o' clock I took Georgia upstairs to put her jammies on, and after I had undressed her I heard Milton outside barking and snarling and growling followed immediately by a man shouting.  And I thought "well, this is it. This is the night my dog murders someone and I have to shoot him, and then go to jail."  I grabbed naked Georgia and ran to the window to see the UPS man backed against his truck screaming at my dog.
the horror

By this time Annabelle had come up the stairs to the landing to look out the window to get a good view of the crime scene.  I ran downstairs, set naked Georgia on the floor and opened the door letting Bernie inside. I closed the door behind me and ran to the edge of the deck and started screaming at Milton.  While this was going on I heard Georgia start screaming from inside the house.  Thankfully Milton reluctantly and aggressively retreated and came back to the house.  Naked Georgia was on the floor screaming and I assumed Bernie had knocked her over or at least scared her.  I picked her up and looked up the stairs at Annabelle and said "What happened to baby Georgia?"
 and she just stared at me.  With both dogs barking and running around the house like wild dingoes, my naked baby screaming at the top of her lungs I quietly asked God if we could please just end our day.  I casually mentioned that I had reached my limit for the day and at that exact moment I looked at Annabelle and she clutched her stomach with both hands standing on the edge of the landing, and I shouted "Sit Down!"  and she sat down, and then looked me in my eyeballs and projectile vomited down the entire flight of stairs taking care to hit every step, all the walls, and for the money feet.

I do not tell you this story to be disgusting, I tell you this story to drive the point home that every day is an exercise in courage, patience...and usually failure.

Annabelle started to cry and to which I replied "It's ok. You just threw up, you're ok. We got this. It's cool."  Yup.  It's cool that you did this.  Shake your booty, chicken nugget.

So this brings me back to baby Georgia who watches on in horror at our daily life. Already one and already totally screwed up.  I will always wonder if there are enough pictures of her, if there are enough toys that she gets to play with without Annabelle ripping them away from her.  I wonder if I continue to maintain this blog as the girls get older and I do not include her name in the title or address if she will feel jilted and grow up to be a serial killer.  I will always wonder what happened to her in the living room that made her scream while I was outside trying to pry Milton off the UPS man.  I will always wonder if I loved her enough or if she fell victim to the chaos caused by the ridiculous schedule we keep in this house.

Then again, maybe we're doing ok..hard to say. Happy Birthday, Baby Georgia.

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