Lauren Wellbank

One mom and her struggle to survive until bedtime


Month: June 2016

A surefire sign that you’re the problem when it comes to parenting

A funny thing happened in our house last week.  My husband and I were enjoying a rare moment where we actually got to sit next to one another on the couch, when he let out a sneeze.  Now, this man is a loud and obnoxious sneezer.  We’re talking cartoon style ACHOOOOO’s, complete with a full body convulsion.

So, he lets one such sneeze fly while we were sitting there.  Our daughter had previously been quietly squatting a few feet in front of us.  Playing, for maybe the first time ever peacefully by herself, reacted with an equally cartoon response.  Flinching, she jumped up, and almost involuntarily shouted, “Ham!”

It was adorable.  And hilarious.

After we stopped laughing we began speculating, why ham.  Did she have pork on the brain?  Did she think ham meant something other than, you know, ham?  Is ham her version of an expletive?  Did she mean damn?

Obviously these theories were being pulled directly out of our butts, but the one we kept coming back to was that she was trying to say damn.

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Now, I have never really thought of myself as being big with the curse words.  I actually don’t feel like I swear that much at all.  My husband is usually the one full of colorful language that has me wincing.

Naturally, I blamed him for the ham incident.  I promptly told him so, and that he better start watching what he says, because it’s only a matter of time before our daughter starts repeating everything she hears.

In slow motion he turned to face me and gave me a look that I feel should be reserved for people that say that they think that the moon landing was faked.

WTF?

Me?  You think I’m the one that needs to start watching their language?” He asked incredulously.  “You know, it doesn’t bother me when you say these things, but I think it’s going to be really unnerving the first time our daughter says cock sucker.”

And then I remembered.  I was literally just losing my ever loving mind in the kitchen when I couldn’t get the lid off the pickle jar, and I definitely said some things that I hope that my daughter never says.

Well shit, maybe I am the problem.

(That’s right, I’m admitting that I’m the problem.  Whatever, I can be mature sometimes too.)

And so it begins.  The campaign to watch my mouth, and in turn, keep my daughter from being known as that kid who drops F bombs at play dates.

So earlier this week, when a car came flying out of nowhere and careened into my lane, barely missing my front bumper, I did not shout out the first thing that came to mind.  Instead I gleefully screamed out, “Where did you learn how to drive, Apple Harvest?!” while giving him a wildly enthusiastic thumbs down.

Yeah, it probably didn’t have quite the same sting as what I normally would have said.

On the bright side, at least if my daughter had decided that today was the day to mimic me with a squeaky Apple Harvest from the back seat I wouldn’t have had to start the sweaty palm inducing count down until she said it in front of my grandmother (or worse yet, my husband who would have then pushed up his glasses so that he could look down his nose at me in a dramatic fashion while saying, “I told you so” with his eyes).

And yeah, this morning I really wanted to let fly with the colorful language this morning when I smashed my knee on the coffee table as I came down the stairs (coffee tables, the inciter of many explicit statements), but instead I swore an oath of “Mantra humming cork soaking coffee table!”

See, I can adapt.

When my oldest niece was younger, my sister told us that kids usually repeat the last word they hear.  So if you accidently let a four letter word slip, you just had to follow it up with a pallet cleanser.  There was a lot of, “Oh that son of a bitc- peanut butter!”  I always assumed when my niece grew up she would use peanut butter as its own expletive.  However, here she is, ten years old, and I have yet to hear her ask, “Where in the peanut butter is my back pack?”

I don’t remember my mom cursing much when I was a kid.  I do, however, remember her treating sucks like a curse word.  We were not allowed to say anything sucked.  Somewhere along the lines that went by the way side and we were allowed to say it.  Which as it turns out ended up being a gateway swear, as my vocabulary now shows.  So mom, you were onto something.  Also, way to drop the ball.

For now, I’ll do my best to remember that little ears are always listening.  If I play my cards right I may be able to complete this full vocabulary overhaul in time for when she actually starts picking up these more colorful words.

If I fail, she will be the kid that other kids aren’t allowed to play with, because she called a boy at a birthday party a douche bag when he pushed her off the cozy coupe.

Here’s hoping. 

The Nomad Mom

Where is my tribe? I am wandering lost through a barren landscape, a nomad with no place to call home. Where is my tribe? I always assumed I would be your run of the mill mainstream mom (although that was back when I was foolish enough to think any part of parenting was “run of the mill”). I actually used to mock attachment parenting. When that Life Magazine issue came out with the woman breastfeeding the kid on a ladder that phrase became synonymous with weirdo. I proclaimed to anyone that would listen that when I became a mom I would have a baby that only ever slept in their room. If we even decided to breastfeed it would be for no more than three months. We weren’t going to be weirdos. Then I got pregnant and it turned out that I was a little less mainstream than I thought. We bed share. I am still breastfeeding my (gasp) toddler. I baby wear and cloth diaper. I did the whole baby led weaning thing. I became an attachment parent, a weirdo.  I looked to the crunchy moms.

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Maternity photograph by Maria Kalitina

Where is my tribe? It wasn’t the crunchy moms. I used Tylenol, not an amber necklace, to deal with teething pain. I gladly produce my photo ID whenever I need to buy Sudafed instead of snorting rosemary oil. We are following the CDC’s vaccination schedule. Definitely not crunchy.

Where is my tribe? Where are my outliers? My in-betweeners? I feel like we are an under represented group. Maybe that’s because there are too few of us to be a tribe. We are the parenting nomads. Roaming the parenting landscape not really settling on one strict parenting style over the other. Taking what we can, what we like, what works for us, from the landscape as we go.

Where is my tribe? High school wasn’t so long ago that I have forgotten about trying to find a lunch table that would have me. In the school cafeteria of life, I am still fifteen, with a yellow plastic tray of mashed potatoes and chocolate milk in my hands. Once again I feel like nobody will have me. Back then I was the weirdo in neon colors and stripped thigh-high stockings. Now I am the weirdo with the toddler that needs a boob break in the middle of the birthday party. The weirdo who has to be home early because I need to get my daughter to sleep and that means I have to nurse her down next to me in our bed. The weirdo that said yes to DTAP and gives children’s Tylenol for a fever. The weirdo with no friends.

Where is my tribe? Why do I need a tribe? I’m an outcast again. All striped tights and florescent colors, hoping that someone will offer me a seat at their table. Why do I need so badly to be accepted and to spend my time with like minded mothers? Why can’t I be contented to smile and wave at the other nomads who cross my path? My tribe less brethren.

 

I don’t need a tribe, I need a friend. Just one person to offer me a seat at their table. To smile and wave as we cross paths. If you are out there, and you’re like me and just looking for a friend, please know that I’m looking for you too. I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me. I will be happy to talk about your amber necklace if you’ll listen without judgement when I explain how I cried when my daughter received her most recent shots. We can be in-betweeners together. I’ll try your rosemary oil, but know that I reserve the right to use my Sudafed as a fall back. We can agree that we both chose the sleep situation that works for us.

I am looking for you and I hope that I find you soon. Until then, I’ll be saving you a seat.

My Last Kitten – The Tale of Mad Eye Moody

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that I used to be the cat whisperer.  I would receive phone calls and messages about cats in trouble often enough that I kind of feel safe in saying that it used to be my thing.  My favorite call ever has to be the one I received from my mother in the summer of 2012.

Let me back up slightly and say that the summer of 2012 had a few things going on.  First and foremost, my grandmother was very ill.  She had been in and out of the hospital all year with various ailments.  After enduring a particularly nasty stomach bug, she was released into my mother’s home and care.  My mother took a leave of absence during the time because she required full time care, a very restrictive diet, and extensive meal planning.

There was a period of time when it didn’t seem like my grandmother would make it (she did).  My brother was also about a month away from his out-of-state wedding.  So, you could say that there was a lot going on.

One night while catching up on the phone with my mother, she informed me that there were kittens in her yard.  Prior to having a child, kittens were my number one weakness.  Now, obviously, it’s sleep or the chance to watch what I want on TV.

Apparently momma cat had set her eyes on the wood shed and decided that this was the place for birthing babies.  I don’t know why she would have picked a property with a very boisterous yellow lab on it.  She must have seen something safe and homey about the wood pile, or else been a huge slacker and waited until she was about to start dropping kittens to find a place to shelter, because that wood pile is where she choose to go.  My mom claims that she saw some kittens frolicking about on the wood pile, but I never saw any such thing.

A few days go by and I get a phone call from my mother on the verge of tears.  She tells me that in the morning she saw the mother cat moving her litter out of the wood shed and into the woods.  My guess was that she finally wised up and moved on to quieter real estate.  After all, she was a single mother with newborns to care for.  So, my mother tells me the mom came back for them one by one that morning and moved them out, but that there was one lone kitten left.  She waited for a bit to be sure that the mother wasn’t coming back before she went out to check on this little ball of fluff.

Once out there, she realized why the mother hadn’t come back.  The kitten was seriously ill.  You could tell just by looking at him that he was in a bad way.  Finally my mother broke down in tears on the phone.  She couldn’t care for this dying kitten on her own, not on top of everything else.

So, I did what any reasonable crazy cat lady would do.  I stopped at the pet store and picked up kitten formula and baby bottles on my way to my mother’s house.2012-06-06_06-32-46_680

The first thing I noticed when I saw this kitten was that he had one eye (we found out later that this wasn’t the case, but that he had such a bad eye infection that it had caused the inner eye lids to swell completely closed).  Secondly, he had an awful upper respiratory tract infection.  Every breath he took was ragged and wet sounding.  The poor thing had snot bubbles coming out his nose.  He was a hot mess.  Naturally, I had to have him.

I already had five other cats at home, so I was familiar with sick kitties and knew the basics.  I was sure my biggest challenge was going to be my husband.  2012-06-25_23-10-51_328How was I going to convince him that this was temporary?  That I was just going to get the kitten well and then find him a home.  Essentially I was just going to be a foster mom, something I had always wanted to do.

Obviously this worked out amazingly since I am not allowed to foster and this kitten became resident cat number six.  That’s right, number six

That was four years ago this summer.  A lot has changed since then.  We are down to three cats.  Yes, the little kitten that could is one of them.  We named him Mad Eye Moody in honor of his original condition.  The name is quite suiting.

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This was late one night after many beers. My husband drew this up and waited for Moody to get into the box on his own.

Moody is so unlike any other cat that I’ve ever met.  Although his eye ultimately healed, there is some lingering damage.  The scar tissue caused part of his eye to fuse shut.  It’s not too bad, but you can tell that the one eye is a little off.

It also weeps, badly.  Sometimes it hardens and looks gross.  Sometimes it doesn’t and he comes up and wipes the goop off on an unsuspecting bystander.  He walks into things often.  He only learned to jump in the past two years or so (which may have been inspired by a certain small child).  Also, he can’t meow.  He either never learned how or thinks it’s beneath him.  Instead he does this thing that is half chirp half yowl.

He has an… aroma… unlike anything I have ever smelled before.

I’ve seen him pull the padding from the carpet up and walk around with it in his mouth like he’s killed a bird.  Paper products are like the finest steak to him.  We had to buy a new bathroom trash can because he would go into it and pull out used tissues and sit there chewing on them and shredding them into a million pieces.  There was dirty tissue confetti all over our bathroom before we wised up and got a new can.  The new one is the kind where you step on it and the lid pops up.

Moody can’t figure out how to jump or meow, but he figured out how to get into that trash can.

There have been a lot of downsides.  He started spraying before we got him fixed and destroyed our one year old carpet.  Then proceeded to destroy our two year old couch.  There are claw marks on everything from him trying to get up to an elevated position without the ability to jump.

But there have also been upsides.   His antics are a constant source of humor.  Once, I was sound asleep in bed when I heard a rustling next to me.  It got louder and louder until finally I got up to check it out.  It was Moody, shoulders deep in a tissue box.  He had gone in, presumably, to eat tissues and had gotten the box stuck on his head.  Like a skunk after that last bit of yogurt in a container.

Although I never wanted to be the lady with six cats (okay, there was a time that I did), I think it all worked out.  Although I think that we would have survived just fine without him, I don’t think that he would have made it without us.

Sometimes that is upside enough.

Consent

Before I begin, I want to issue two warnings.  First, I’m going to talk about rape.  Second, I’m going to use some adult language.  I want to offer a preemptive apology to my mother and mother-in-law before we go any further.  For anyone that doesn’t want to see me getting super liberal with the F-word then avert your eyes, because shit is about to get real. 

So by now I think the entire world knows about the fucking shit dick in California that raped a young woman just outside of a fraternity party early last year.  He was mid-assault when he was discovered and stopped by two passing cyclists.  The woman was bloody and unconscious behind a dumpster.  The shit dick in question took off on foot and was later apprehended by authorities.  The woman woke up in a hospital room and had to be informed by deputies that she had been assaulted.  And this is just where her nightmare began.

If you don’t know anything about the American legal system, you are not alone.  In fact, you probably know just as much as somebody that is actually practicing law in California right now.

Let me start over, I’m not here to rehash the details of what happened in the courtroom, or to pretend that I had four years of law school for breakfast.  Let’s just say that there was a major fuck up somewhere along the lines.  I suspect sincerely hope we will be subjected to at least one, “I’ve decided to step down to spend more time with my family” statement in the coming months.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done, and the consequences may be more far reaching than we will ever know.

Because even though the rapist was convicted he will only serve a slight sentence.  A paltry six months, (not even the “mandatory minimum”) in prison with just three years of probation.  That is with two witnesses, damning evidence, and a conviction.  I guess they couldn’t produce the golden unicorn that is required for to meet the sentencing requirements.

And, again, I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t the point of mandatory minimum sentencing so that crimes have… well a fucking mandatory minimum sentence?  And so that affluent white males with “bright futures” can’t get away with shit for being affluent white males who are being sentenced by other affluent white males?  Or is my female brain too small to understand the complexities of the law?

Even this dick wad’s dad was defending his crime calling it “twenty minutes of action”.  You know, instead of a sexual assault.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, ignorance begets ignorance. It sounds like consent isn’t something that was taught at home.

Now, what came out of that California courtroom alongside that abysmal sentencing and subsequent justification for it, was a message to the world.

It says that rape isn’t that big of a deal.

That, yeah, while it’s technically illegal, it’s just not that big of a deal.  It’s nothing that should ruin a rapists life or that he should let get in the way of his hopes and dreams.  Come the fuck on.

It also sends a message to the victims, don’t bother coming forward.  You’ll just clog up the legal system with your complaint and in the end your rapist will only get a slap on the wrist.  That is if you can survive the questioning and invasive evidence collection to press charges in the first place.

This is unacceptable.  It is 2016.  Women have rights and the reasonable expectation that men aren’t going to put their dicks where they aren’t wanted.  No matter what they are wearing, what they have had to drink, or what time of day it is.

So how do we change this?  How do we protect our sons and daughters and make sure that things like this don’t keep happening?

We educate them.  We teach them about consent.  We teach them, right alongside of their Sex Ed classes, who has the ability to consent and that not being able to say “yes” is the same as saying “no”.  We remind them that actions have consequences.  We offer support, love, and understanding to victims of sexual assault and show them that we believe them.  And we fucking apologize that we’re even in this boat because of years of covering it up, lying about it, and letting it be the dark family secret.

We offer justice and education and a promise that we will try and do better.  And we treat it like the devastating crime that it is instead of a mild inconvenience.

I want to leave you with these facts.  A sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds.  That’s just in the US.  You know, our industrialized-forward-thinking-super-awesome country.

68% of all sexual assaults are never reported to the authorities and 98% of rapists will never see the inside of a jail cell.  Let that sink in for a moment, because that’s just appalling.

These statistics are real and they are devastating.  As a mother, as a daughter, a sister, a friend, shit, as a human being, they terrify me.  So I ask you, beg of you, talk to your children.  Teach them about consent.

 

Thank you, I’ll put the soap box away now.

 

You can read the amazing and courageous letter that the victim read to her attacker in the courtroom here.  Wherever you are, I am thinking of you and your class, bravery, and grace.  https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra

For education, support, and information on how you can help other victims and survivors, please visit www.RAINN.org

And to make your voice heard and to request the sentencing judge be removed from both the bench and the upcoming election ballot please visit https://www.change.org/p/california-state-house-recall-judge-aaron-persky and https://www.change.org/p/update-join-official-brock-turner-rape-judge-recall-movement

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Here Comes the Soap Box

I don’t know if you can hear that noise off in the distance or not.  It’s the sound of me dragging my soap box out of the closet and sliding it across the floor.  I don’t usually like to pull it out (that bitch is heavy), but I have something on my mind and a semi-captive audience, so here I go

This morning my husband and I were talking in the car.  We were just chatting about nothing in particular (okay, I can’t remember what we were talking about in the beginning, but I think it was podcasts because homie loves talking podcasts).  I don’t know how we segued into it, but I asked him if he had heard about the “Gorilla Mom”.  At least that’s what she’s been called in some of the things I have read.  Well, it’s actually the least awful thing she’s been called so far.

For anyone that doesn’t know, the Gorilla Mom is the woman whose son climbed into an open gorilla enclosure this weekend.  The horror was caught on video by a cell phone.  To be honest, I have not watched the video.  I can’t bring myself to do it for a number of reasons.  As a mother, I just can’t bear to hear her calling out to her son that she loves him as the gorilla drags him through the water to his possible death.  I can get enough of an idea of that from the stills.  As an animal lover, I know how this ends, with the very unfortunate death of the gorilla in question.  But if this is your kind of thing, Google it.

If you’re like me and you’re going to skip the grainy footage I will sum it up for you.  There was an open gorilla enclosure at the zoo.  A four year old boy was able to enter it.  The most predictable thing in the world happened, and the gorilla got ahold of the boy.  The zoo’s staff made the decision to shoot the gorilla to save the boy.  The boy was taken (seriously injured, but alive) to the nearest hospital.  Mom follows in an absolute panic.  The end.

Only that’s not the end, because this is 2016, there is cell phone video footage, and a little thing called the internet. 

So there my unsuspecting husband sits, telling me about the latest podcast he has stumbled upon, when I bring it up.  I ask him if he has heard about the child that fell into the gorilla cage.  He has, because again, the internet.  I ask him if his Facebook is flooded with angry villagers brandishing their online pitchforks.  His is not.  I find this both surprising and unsurprising.  Surprising because I can’t go ten minutes without a comment popping up about it.  Unsurprising because of what makes up my news feed (mostly moms, blogs, and mom blogs, you get the picture).

I have read some seriously horrible things ranging from how the zookeepers should have shot the mother instead of the gorilla, to they should have done nothing and if the gorilla killed the kid, well then that’s a lesson learned for the child’s mother, with a whole lot of other terrible things in-between.

Oh, and death threats.  I almost forgot that the mother is being subjected to death threats.  Because, that’s a normal way for a human being to behave.

My Parenting Fail

Trying to take a cute picture of my daughter in the cabinet. Instead caught the moment she lost all trust in me.

I’m aggravated beyond belief.  Even talking about it this morning with my husband (who was not disagreeing with me about anything), I felt my blood pressure start to rise and my voice begin to go up an octave, which is usually the precursor to me going full on shrill.

First, everyone chill the F out.  Yes, it is unbelievable that a mother lost sight of her child long enough for him to get into a gorilla enclosure.  Do you know what she was doing when this happened?  Taking care of one of her THREE OTHER CHILDREN.  She didn’t leave them all waiting in front of a bar while she popped in for a shot and a beer.  She was parenting.  Also, kids are fast.  Just yesterday I was standing in my backyard with my in-laws while we were moving my daughter’s slide around.  I looked away from her long enough to point to a spot in the yard and say, “I think it should go there” and when I turned back around my daughter was gone.  She had made it around the corner to the car port in that short of an amount of time.  If I had given any more directions she would have been half way to Mexico.  And that’s just with one child.  Now imagine there were four of them.  It happens.  It happens in a split second and that’s all it takes.  As a matter of fact, that’s all it ever takes for something to happen, a split second.  I wish everyone would remember that for a moment.  She’s just a mother, she’s just human.  And she never thought it would happen to her either.

Secondly, in all of the news stories and attacks I have read I had yet to hear the father mentioned.  A quick google search later and I discovered that he may or may not have been there (nobody seems as concerned about his whereabouts).  I did discover however that he, like everyone else alive, has a past.  Unfortunately his includes some trouble with the law.  How that is relevant to the zoo incident remains unclear to me since none of it has to do with a.) How he parents, b.) Animals in captivity, or c.) Present day.

Thirdly, it is unbelievably sad that an innocent wild animal had to be put down.  Especially one that is only guilty of being a wild animal.  The only silver lining may be the attention that has been brought to a very serious problem in the world, which is the exploitation and extinction of so many species of animals.  Let’s channel all of our anger, indignation, and new found eco-consciousness towards addressing that problem.   Here are a couple of companies that could use your support.

www.humanesociety.org

www.conservationfund.org

www.worldwildlife.org

In the meantime let’s all try and remember that moms are human too.  We all make mistakes.  Sometimes they are small ones, sometimes they are big ones, and sometimes your very worst moment as a parent gets caught on film and anyone with access to the internet gets an opportunity to weigh in on what you did wrong.  Let’s not lose sight of the big picture in our hurry to drag out and mount our own soap boxes.  A mistake almost turned fatal for a child but fortunately it did not, unfortunately an innocent animal was not so lucky.  This mother (AND FATHER) will have to live with both of those things for the rest of their lives.

Okay, now who wants to help me get this thing back in the closet? 

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