The Schmoopette is a holy terror now that she's 15 months old, but a toy that seems to momentarily calm her down is a Christmas present that recently got opened: Lamaze's My First Dollhouse. She loves playing with the adorable miniature children and spends a lot of time putting the "baby" (or the dog) to bed. She pats the baby on the back, sways and sings to it. It's too friggin' cute. And *I* love that it doesn't make noise like seemingly every other toy in our apartment. Without any overtly girly-girl features, it's also perfect for boys. So many toys scream "gender specificity," but this one is ideal for any toddler who's just getting the hang of role playing. It gets the Urban Mama seal of approval.
Sometimes I feel like every other mother in the world is playing a competitive game of one-upsmanship with me. Apparently the "rounds" can be in events both minor (goodie bag assembling) and major (private school admissions) and everything in between. As an experiment, to prove my point, try the following: While around a group of other mothers, casually mention your child does something you find amusing (saying knock-knock jokes, making up songs, talking to an imaginary friend, reading the Economist, etc.). Then a) count the number of seconds before another mother says "Oh really? My child does X, Y or Z" and b) count the number of total mothers who follow suit with similar comments. If the first number is less than 60 and the second number is more than 2, you'll know the "game" is on...
I'm not mad at any specific mother for their competitiveness. Some moms just can't help it... I just find that it's inescapable, especially among well-educated, upper-middle-class, type-A moms. I almost feel like saying: "Yes, surely you are a superior parent and your child is more intelligent, athletic, gregarious, flexible, funny and loving than mine." I'm telling you, if one-upsmamaship were an Olympic sport, I know several gold-medal contenders.
All day yesterday, I plotted my escape from the office to buy the husband Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." It's not exactly your standard Valentine's Day fare, but it's precisely the kind of historical nonfiction the husband loves to read. I wanted to buy him the new Fiona Apple CD, but alas, the nearest two bookstores didn't sell CDs. All day yesterday, I also saw men -- old, young, middle-aged -- running around with all sorts of packages bearing names like Godiva, Burberry, Tiffany, Sephora, etc. I laughed at the scene outside of the Godiva, where the store manager had set up a stretchy rope to keep last-minute shoppers in line. All day yesterday, I was excited at the thought of my husband and I going to dinner and him opening up the book. He never buys himself anything, so I knew he would appreciate it. And yes, all day yesterday I selfishly thought about what small token of affection my husband would give to me.
I was supposed to eat lunch with a coworker, but as it turned out, her boyfriend of many years had surprised her with lunch. It was a sweet gesture, and I was blown away by its thoughtfulness. Another coworker got flowers, and she didn't make a big deal about it, but I could tell she was pleased. As for me, I knew we were going to dinner, but I girlishly daydreamed about the possibilities of my gift: a book from my wishlist... a much-need facial or manicure... We aren't big spenders, especially for Valentine's Day, so I knew not to expect a robin's-egg-blue box or anything too extravagant, but surely something.
Instead, my husband came home with... flowers. Flowers he bought on his way to the subway... Flowers. No card, no gift, just flowers. Then, on the way to the car, he tells me it was his secretary's birthday. He tells me how he had to go to L'Occitane and get her a gift. Then, all of a sudden, I immediately felt angry. He was at L'Occitane? He couldn't get me a present there? I tell him this after he seriously, completely guilelessly acts what's wrong, and he says: "You really wanted smelly soaps?" How could a husband be so clueless? Yes, smelly French soaps, to me, are a much better gift than flowers, which he obviously spent 0 minutes picking out. I told him about the men, the men of all ages and sizes and economic backgrounds I saw today with their bundles and packages. He asks me if I honestly think those men love their wives and girlfriends more than he loves me. I say no, but they obviously thought of them more.
I rarely have reason to complain about my husband. And never once have I felt unloved. But I felt unappreciated. I felt unromantic. So despite the fantastic dinner at a restaurant we haven't been to in five years, it didn't feel like Valentine's Day to me. I know he wishes I could be the kind of woman who doesn't care, who truly internalizes that it's just a day to boost greeting card and jewelry and flower sales. But dammit, I did care. I do care. And so, I had a semi-sucky Valentine's Day. I hope yours was better than mine.
Last winter, tired of borrowing a neighbor's plastic sled, the husband bought a $10 inflatable sled ("The Monster" snow tube) from a local toy store. Yesterday, thanks to the record-breaking snow storm, we finally got to use it. At first I was a bit self-conscious, since most of our Brownstone Brooklyn neighbors own these spectacular wooden sleds that look hand-crafted by Thomas Moser, but as it turns out, our cheapy tube went much, much faster and farther than the slew of antique Rosebuds at Fort Greene Park. Of course, this wasn't always a good thing, because the Schmoop's first solo descent almost ended in disaster, but a kindly father but a kindly father stuck his foot out to keep E from slamming the sled into a tree. Later in the afternoon, after the Schmoopette and I had retired to a friend's place for hot cocoa and banana cake, the husband got the wind knocked out of him while quickly changing the sled's position, so he, and not E, would hit the edge of the tennis court. Despite the tennis court incident, we were all thoroughly impressed with the tube, and figure it will be a few more winters before we plunk down the cash on a fancy sled. Here's to $10 sleds!
I don't think people should have to work when it's freezing outside. I would much rather...
Off to go find some hot cocoa
Last night I started thinking about the portrayals of Latinas on TV. Mostly, this line of thought was motivated by my wondering how Delia would see herself (I'm guessing as both Latina and Asian) in the future. Selfishly, I considered only the Latina roles. While this is no scientific study (yes, I skipped statistics in college), it seemed to me that all of the Latinas I saw on sitcoms and dramas were in fact "sexy or saucy" types. Here's a brief overview (I know there are more, but I don't watch "Freddie" or "The George Lopez Show.")
Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against these characters. As a TV junkie I love the shows they appear on each week, and God knows I'm thrilled that at least a half-dozen Latinas are on primetime television at all. I'm just worried that my daughter will grow up seeing nothing but sexy, saucy, gossipy, bitchy, big-butted and finger-snapping Latinas (even if they are on good shows).
Since we cannot afford for me to buy a Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra this month, I am hoping this list of reasons I love my husband is enough to make him feel extra special today, his 31st birthday.
Four years ago today, on 2002's Superbowl Sunday, I woke up to a trickle running down my leg. I thought I had become incontinent; after all, I was starting my 36th week of pregnancy. Instead, I began the relatively short and sweet process of birthing my firstborn, whom we had named Elias in-utero in tribute to my two beloved aunts (one was living at the time, but as you know, she has since passed away). He came into the world with a primal scream unlike anything my husband and I had ever heard. And now he's four years old, a little boy with dreams and hopes and fears and loves. What a joy it has been to watch him grow every day.
Inspired by my list from last year, here are 25 things the Schmoop learned between three and four:
The funny thing about a loved one dying is that afterward you continue to think they're alive. I don't mean in a "Sixth Sense" sort of way, or "they're always alive in our hearts" way either. I mean that there are times you plum forget that the person is dead. This happened to me yesterday morning. After the Oscar nominations were announced, I thought: "I need to call Ele and tell her to see 'Capote.' I bet she would love it." Only after I reached for the phone did it dawn on my that my aunt was dead. My aunt loved movies, and she loved hearing about or participating in the annual Oscar pool my siblings and I hold. For a few moments, I thought I could continue to share my love of the movies with my aunt. I knew she would appreciate Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance and that she had read "In Cold Blood." And then reality struck. She's gone. She won't ever see a movie and then call me about it again.
I know this is part of the grieving process. I know I will have these moments again from time to time, but this one struck me hard. One day, if my siblings go before me, I know the Oscars will make me cry, just as they did, for a few minutes, yesterday morning.