Remember the craft fair I mentioned in yesterday’s post? Well, I won something at the silent auction. And it was an actual win, because I got the prize for less than market rate.
Here is our imaginary conversation (you’re in italics; I’m in regular print):
What could it be?
What does Hipster Hausfrau need? I ask you, indulging yet again in that annoying habit of catechizing you and referring to myself in the third person. I do this to my poor children all the time.
Wine? You posit, demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of me.
No, like really need. I always have wine.
A bit of time to herself, maybe with a massage?
Yes, actually. I do. Please mention that to Herr Husband. But that’s not what I won.
To organize her life?
Ding ding ding!
Yes! I won two hours of professional organizational services! People might wonder how it’s so hard for a stay at home mom to keep her house in order. I’m going to steal a line from Rocky: “I’m busy raising people!” And it’s true. That’s my focus. So some days I have a really clean house and most days I don’t, and then there are places like my desk and my pantry which are always terrifying. But I have a million schools and appointments and meetings and errands and play dates to run to, and when I’m home with my kids I like to do projects and play and read. My house has endless laundry (as problematic when it’s clean and waiting to be put away as it is when it’s dirty), dishes galore, and lots of papers to manage. And I’ve always sucked at organization. I was the kid in elementary school whose teachers would finally give up and dump her desk to make her clean it. And we’d always find like four disgusting old sandwiches in there.
Also, I’ve just realized that I should be embarrassed at preschool drop-off, not because of my outfits, but because my car looks like chimpanzees are squatting in it.
Wait, you’re saying, if you don’t know me that well, I thought you were a hipster HAUSFRAU? And you’re right. I do make that claim. But in a sassy ironic way that means I’m a mom and I cook decent food (when I feel like it) and I grocery shop and manage all of our lives, but if you’ve come to this blog looking for tips on home organization, I think you might be as shit-out-of-luck as the folks who come here looking for pictures of women doing unmentionable things with vacuum cleaners.
So anyway: I’ve only got two hours with the organizing lady. Where should I target the assistance? There’s the pantry. There’s the wine glass/kids’ craft supplies storage cabinet (yes, those items currently cohabitate). There are the toys in the kitchen. Then there’s my closet, and the top of my bureau which is littered with costume jewelry and random crap. My desk is scary, but I feel I have to do that myself because it’s a lot of papers, many of which can likely be thrown out, but some of which are essential to that book I’m supposed to be writing.
What would you do if you had minimal physical organizational skills–it should be noted that I am excellent at time management and scheduling–and two hours of a pro helping you? I’d love for her to develop some systems I could keep up, but our expectations of my abilities should be extremely low.
Please note something amusing: years ago when I was a teacher, I was an organizational tutor for a high school student. Much of this work involved helping her manage her time, but I once helped her develop a new organizational system for her bedroom. My mother thought this was the funniest thing ever. So I guess I’m a professional organizer, too. But unlike the one whose services I have won, I am not a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). In fact, I’m pretty sure if I tried to join there would be massive protests. Like sit-ins, with everyone in their own neatly aligned storage bin. Does anyone know anyone in NAPO? I want to go to his or her house. And squat in it. Except they’d notice me right away (unlike the chimps in my car, who could go undetected for months).
I’m not posting pictures of my mess because I fear your judgement. And I can’t post a picture of my outfit because it’s the same one I wore yesterday (you were warned). So you got kid pix instead. Lucky you.
I had my second preschool curriculum night this week. And there was an after party at a local restaurant reputed to be a swingers hang-out. Not sure what the preschool parents who attend curriculum night/swingers overlap on a Venn diagram would be, but no one tried to get me to put my keys in a bowl or anything.
Also, both of my children are awake.
And I’m on my phone again. So I don’t have a lot to offer but I thought you might enjoy this:
Please note how she totally thinks she’s riding the bike even as she’s walking it along. So smug and cute.
No, not my children. Me.
Remember how I wanted Doc Martens? I bought them. And then Stitch Fix sent me a red plaid shirt (it’s not flannel but sort of silky and low cut and that makes it sound weird but it’s great). And I wear those two high school era items with black leggings (which are more 80s than 90s but I’m not wearing floopy jeans like I did in my misspent youth.) And I look like an angry teenager (who’s lived in a tanning booth smoking cigarettes and doing meth or whatever would give a teenager skin like I have). And then I go to preschool pick-up and everyone thinks I’m either trying too hard or insane. What they don’t know is that it’s a healthy mix of the two.
The Docs, disappointingly, are a half size too big, but Docs only come in whole sizes so I’m sucking it up. Plus, one of the reasons I’m into the Docs and other chunky boots right now is because I think big feet make your legs look small. It’s like the clown shoe version of dressing yourself slim. But seriously, have you ever seen a clown and thought, “Wow, look at those cankles.”? Exactly.
There you have it. My latest bit of style advice. Dress like a hard-living teenage clown.
You guys, Herr Husband cleaned our pantry tonight (with an assist from me–seriously. I was the one who found the copy of Are You My Mother? that I’d had to buy from the library because it was lost.). Anyway, he found–no lie–thirty-two boxes of pasta (opened and unopened). Apologies to Nanny Sunshine who once cleaned our pantry. Please know that every time Gigi comes over she says, “Poor Nanny Sunshine, after all the hard work she put into this pantry…”
I tried to argue that it made me a good mother because I was prepared for a disaster in which we needed food stores. But really, I know this is insane. Das Big Boy won’t even eat pasta unless it’s macaroni and cheese (NB, Dr. G: I only feed him the organic kind…). We also have six boxes of that (not included in previous pasta totals, which also omitted Asian noodles in what Herr Husband referred to as, “an effort to be generous.”)
Now you could go all #FailedFeminist on me, and point out that I shouldn’t be blamed for this excess, because it’s not my duty to stock our kitchen or clean our pantry. But to that I respond, a) obviously I don’t clean our pantry and b) Herr Husband does a lot of chores. Like all of the laundry. And anything involving cat poop, because like many a smart lady, I’ve ridden that Toxoplasmosis fear straight out of pregnancy and right into the rest of my life. This is particularly unfair as we have a cat with IBS who either can’t or won’t control his bowels. I digress. The truth is, grocery shopping is a chore that I actually love (as evidenced by my apparent uncontrollable glee every time I see organic whole wheat fusilli (6 boxes)), and therefore I do pretty much all of it. So yes, I am to blame here.
And now, because I believe it’s my duty to share my kids’ cuteness once per post, here is a picture of DBB at a recent bowling birthday party.
I think the pic is adorable, but befouled by HH’s Birkenstocks. Now look, I “rocked” (can you rock Birks?) purple Birkenstocks with wool socks in 1994 as well as the next fake hippie adolescent, but that doesn’t make them ok, right? And then ‘Burban Bestie informed me that I was wrong. That Birkenstocks are indeed in style. Oh my. What a lot of learning I have to do. Still, don’t expect me to bust out a pair anytime soon (Full disclosure: I also had them in blue, and in black clogs, and I only finally got rid of them in 2009 when we moved to Brooklyn). But all of my footwear convos with ‘Burban Bestie have made me yearn for the other shoe of my tortured teen years: the Doc Marten. So perhaps you’ll see me stomping around in those instead. And then I’ll really be ready for the apocalypse, what with my hoarded food and steel toes.
Watch out, zombies/angels of judgement. I’m ready for you.
Deine Hipster Hausfrau
Meet Rainbow Fish Husband Hausfrau. He came into our family because someone in this family has been diaper free for a month! (Jokes about me or Herr Husband, commence now.) Rainbow Fish is actually more charming than I thought he would be. He likes to come look at me and make kissy faces and I’m rather smitten. And the level of care he requires is probably in line with my abilities. Das Big Boy was terribly excited to get a fish and now seems marginally interested, which seems about right.
Also, I’m kind of obsessed with:
Yes, I am one of the many people you know who has gotten hooked on Stitch Fix. It’s basically like getting presents except you pay for them. You tell them about styles you love and hate and they send you clothes and then you can return them if you don’t like them. I kept everything from my first “fix” and wear the clothes constantly. I only kept one shirt from my second “fix,” but I’ve worn it two days in a row so that says something. It’s a great service for people like me who enjoy clothes but whose wardrobes have fallen behind the times either because they have kids or work or accidentally always buy the same types of clothes (tank tops and deconstructed cardigans with statement necklaces over here). Full disclosure: if you sign up and use my link above I get a $25 credit, but I promise I’m not trying to scam you. My evangelism is pure.
Other than dressing myself, or, more accurately, letting others dress me, the fam and I have ventured to Provincetown with Mo, Martha’s Vineyard with the Huxtables, and Cape Cod to see my luminously talented Auntie in I am a Camera. And I’ve solo attended book events for hardcore gifted storytellers Julia Fierro (Cutting Teeth) and Courtney Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You). All awesome. Such events and the new clothes might make my life sound glamorous, but let’s remember I have two small children and was recently compelled to utter the sentence, “That’s right, DBB, you can’t juggle Marmalady’s pukies.” And ten times a day I sing a hand washing song to the tune of the ABCs about how good someone is at using the potty.
Das Big Boy is summering at camp, which he has figured out is really school with a different order of events, some new teachers, and a sprinkler. Little Liebchen has a gazillion words understandable only to her parents, and a tendency to lay her head upon the floor and sob when she does not get her way. Wherever does she get it?
Here is what we look like as of last weekend:
We went as a family to the Brockton Fair, where we went on lots of rides and I fed my baby fried dough. Yes, I exist in an odd dichotomous universe in which my children and I either eat only organic hippie food or total crap. Also at the fair, I won the game where you shoot water into the clown’s mouth, thereby procuring a stuffed dragon for my family. It felt good to be a provider again. There may have been a post victory fist pump involved.
I’m trying to write beyond the blog again, so wish me luck with that endeavor. How do we feel about getting childcare to do work for which you will likely never be paid? Or paid enough? It fills me with guilt, but I’m not sure how else writing gets done. Thoughts?
Faithfully yours, even in long bouts of unexplained absentia,
Deine Hipster Hausfrau
Yes, the wee Husband Hausfraus have been struck by a poopstorm. A Poopocalypse (Now). Poopmageddon. Poopnado.
Das Big Boy and Little Liebchen are in the midst of a GI event. Thus far, it’s only caused frequent, explosive diarrhea (as opposed to the diarrhea and vomiting model so many of our friends’ kids have been rocking). KNOCK ON WOOD. Seriously. All of the wood.
In general, I’m able to keep a sense of humor when my life turns into one long succession of particularly grim diaper changes. It’s like when LL was a newborn and they would both cry at once and I would laugh at myself because it seemed like something out of a sitcom. Like that, only with poop. Did I mention that there was a lot of poop?
But this morning was a little sad because poor DBB had a fever and just felt crappy (figuratively in addition to literally). He lay down and watched two consecutive episodes of Sesame Street. For those of you who know him, this is a clear sign of how sick he was. In general, it’s almost impossible for him to sit still (unless he’s being read to–books are magic for him). I think it’s a preemie sensory thing, actually. After all, he was supposed to be in a delightful amniotic sea the last three months of his gestation. Instead, he spent six weeks cramped up in a popped balloon and then three months being poked, prodded, shuffled and splayed. So now he’s a superwiggler. But not this morning. He was downright lazy. He had a low fever, which I ordinarily wouldn’t treat, but he was so clearly unhappy that I wanted to try drugging him to see if it helped. Problem? I had no drugs. (Well, none of those drugs. But he seemed like Xanax was the last thing he needed).
So I put out an AMB (All Moms Bulletin) to my local mama pals (the group mentioned in yesterday’s post), and several wonderful ladies offered to help me out. Ladybird, who has two kiddos of her own, dropped off the (dye-free, of course) Motrin (not Tylenol, because I swear DBB’s body can tell the difference) and wouldn’t even take my money or complain about my annoyingly precise demands. Awesomeness.
I feel really lucky to have friends I can turn to in a shitstorm. It’s what everyone wants, and it’s nice as a stay-at-home-mom who’s been in the ‘burbs for a couple of years to know that I’ve built a community of folks to whom I can turn. In a way, it’s closer to college than anything I’ve had since. My friends are nearby, and I can ask for help when I need it.
This brings me to my final mushy point before I tell more poop stories: Ask your friends for help. I didn’t know how to do this when DBB was in the NICU. So HH and I hid out in our fox hole, and were lucky that our friends knew how to help without our asking: sending six red velvet cupcakes to us at the hospital, sending a peapod giftcard so we’d remember to eat, faking reasons to come to NYC or the way Upper West so they could visit us and DBB (then Das Fetal-Baby) without making us feel pressured, writing us emails or leaving us voicemails without expecting to hear back. Lots of other well meaning people asked what they could do and we said, “nothing,” as if we had it all under control. We didn’t. We were just in such a shitstorm that we didn’t even know what we needed. I learned from that the importance of knowing how to ask for help. And I learned that friends really want to help, so that when people ask or offer, it’s ok, even a good thing, to accept. It makes both of you feel good. So Ladybird, thank you. And I look forward to returning the favor. But hopefully not during a shitstorm, because I certainly don’t wish that on you.
The highlight of today went thusly:
I was upstairs with LL trying to get her down for a nap. She finally fell asleep and I gently deposited her in her crib. When I got downstairs, I found DBB in the living room standing very still.
“I need clean socks,” he told me.
I looked at him. “You’re wearing footie pajamas. Why do you need socks?”
“I need to go poop in the potty.” I got closer, “Oh, you made poop,” I said. “Do you want to go make more in the potty?” Note: Das Big Boy often likes to ask to use the potty after he’s already done so. In his diaper. He will also tell you before he’s going to poop or pee, but if you offer the potty he simply says. “No. I want to poop in the fireplace.” And then does (in a diaper).
As we walked to the bathroom, I began to suspect what awaited me. As if she did, too, LL started to wail upstairs. When DBB and I got to the safe zone, I took off his pajamas to find that poop had indeed run down to his feet. He was less than pleased, so I comforted him as I cleaned him up and then deposited him, now quite cheerful, on the potty.
I scampered upstairs and had started nursing LL again when I heard water, or at least something wet. Oh no, I thought, is he pooping on the floor? But it went on too long for that. I started downstairs, thinking Maybe he’s washing his hands. Yeah. Maybe.
I arrived to an overflowing toilet. I tried to keep LL out of the bathroom while I grabbed towels to block the flow of water. She responded with a poop of her own. I lifted the back off of the toilet tank to stop the water from running. DBB thought it looked fun, lifted the tank lid and dropped it back on the tank such that the lid broke. As I tried to contain the poop, water, and hysteria, I tried calling HH to share the fun news from home. But he couldn’t hear me over the chaos. In an exasperated tone, as if he were the only one having a busy day, he told me to call from the home phone. So I sent him this picture with the text “And flooded bathroom.”
“That is not good,” he replied.
“I’ve noticed.” I wrote.
I put DBB in the bathtub, mopped up the bathroom, and changed LL’s diaper. She has diaper rash, of course, which I am treating with the hippie mom approach of breastmilk and coconut oil, so that when she doesn’t smell like cat poop she smells like an umbrella drink.
I think the total shitstorm count was LL: 7 DBB: 5. Could be worse, I realize.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse. Let’s also hope it gets better before I’m supposed to be drinking actual umbrella drinks in St. Thomas. Six days from now. Don’t hate. I’m pretty sure I got poop in my hair today.