Your Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock ‘n Roll

little_green_cars_c:uI went to see an amazing band called Little Green Cars play the other night at a small venue in Atlanta.  My friend E turned me on to them and I’ve been listening to their CD (I had to stop myself from typing ‘album’)* for the last few months so I was super psyched to see them live.  As Ad Man is out of town, I had to get a babysitter so I could join E and his wife M for the show.  The three of us are very compatible and often have lovely dates together.  You’d think we all met on eHarmony.

Let me explain first that M is not known for her punctuality.  On top of this, I was coming from one side of town, E was coming from work and M was coming from the other side of town.  So, we decided to meet at the show, M taking Marta, Atlanta’s train line, and E picking her up at the station on his way.  As is common with such fail-safe plans, wires got crossed and it turned out that I arrived at the venue long before my friends did.

I waited outside for a while, trying to look engrossed in my cell phone while sizing up the crowd milling about before a different show next door.  I generally feel like I can hang with the hipsters despite my advanced age.  I have the requisite thick-rimmed glasses, skinny jeans and visible tattoos.  In this instance though, I had far too few tattoos and my clothes were too recently washed so I felt conspicuous and decided to go inside to grab a beer and wait for my friends.

I should point out that this act alone required great courage on my part as I tend to have a smidge of social anxiety disorder.  (My official diagnosis is a smidge of social anxiety, a sprinkling of OCD and a large dollop of depression.)  While, I have mastered my fears of eating at a restaurant alone and going to a movie alone, sitting at a bar alone still makes my palms sweat a bit so I generally avoid it at all costs.  Luckily, though the space was small, there were a few tables.  So I bought myself a Guinness (Little Green Cars are Irish, so it seemed only fitting) and sat down at one.  From there, I could hunker down, get engrossed in the many entertaining tidbits on my phone and check out the crowd.

Except, there really wasn’t a crowd yet.  In fact, in hindsight, I’m pretty sure I walked in the door with a few members of the opening band.  In my youth, heading out at midnight to go to a bar or a party was not unheard of.  These days, if I have a babysitter, I am out of the door the moment she arrives so I don’t have to deal with the dinner/bath/bedtime drama.  I mean, that’s what I’m paying for, right?  If I’d known I was going to be early and so very alone, I would have stopped to browse at the closest book store or something.

But, alas, I had lots of time for reflection which, in my case, is never a good thing.  I started looking around and determined that I was likely the oldest one there.  (It’s kind of hard to tell how old the guys are these days since they’re all sporting long, burly beards…which I find adorable, but still a bit confusing.)  I did conclude without a doubt though, that I was the only one there carrying a big-ass mom purse.

For a moment I wished I’d stuffed my More magazine in there instead of leaving it in the car.  The thought of being spotted by some young hipster reading “Dress 10 Pounds Thinner: We Target Your Wiggly Bits” was simply too much to bear, however.  At the moment, my particular wiggly bits were being corralled by the spandex in my skinny jeans and I didn’t want to out myself.

The room began to fill up and I gleefully spotted another woman, who appeared about my age, carrying a voluminous Louis Vuitton bag which I imagined was as stuffed with Lego figures, band-aids and other kid detritus as mine.  My comfort was quickly shattered, however, when her teenaged daughter yelled, “MOM!” from across the room.  I should mention that this was an all-ages show, so there were (literal) children in attendance who were years younger than my own babysitter.  I even had to wear a wristband (for which I was carded) to indicate that I was of legal drinking age.  Seriously?!  Granted the lighting was low, but there is an obvious canyon bisecting the forehead space above my finely-lined eyes. It’s hard to miss.

LV woman and her daughter were shortly joined by her son and very gray-haired husband and and I thought, “Oh how nice.  They’re a family that enjoys going out to watch indie rock bands together.  You just don’t see that enough these days.”

I was considering how lame I would look doing a crossword puzzle on my phone when E and M arrived and I quickly forgot that they’d abandoned me to the harsh judgment of a room full of 20-somethings.  Anyway, soon the opening band started playing and it quickly became clear that LV woman and her family were only there to support her son who was now up on stage playing a guitar.  Ah, yes…I should have known.  Generally, the “elderly” people in the audience at rock shows are only there to cheer on their children.  Ugh.  The daughter proceeded to text nonstop through the entire performance.

After the underwhelming opening band (bless their hearts) finished their set, Little Green Cars took the stage and my mind was completely blown!  They were even better live than on their CD*.  In fact, they were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.  It didn’t even bother me that, as the entire band is made up of 20 year-olds, I could easily have given birth to any one of them, no scandalous teenage pregnancy necessary.  I probably shouldn’t point out that M and I both found the male lead singer quite attractive despite the fact that he’s not even old enough to legally drink in the US, but really, when have I shown any shame before?

The evening turned out to be wildly fun and I was happy that I’d dragged myself out on a Tuesday instead of succumbing to the siren song of my pajamas and the couch at 8 pm as usual.  It wasn’t until the next day that it dawned on me that all my anxiety was for naught.  The young hipsters probably didn’t even register that I was there.  Doesn’t the act of turning 40 render one invisible to under-30-year-old eyeballs?  My experience thus far points to yes.  I’ve found the transition from “hey, check out the hottie” to “wow, she’s a cool mom” to be the most awkward and uncomfortable change I’ve weathered since puberty.  But in the light of day, I also realized the only one judging me for my age (at least overtly) is me and I’d better get the fuck over it or I’m going to miss a lot of great bands over the next 40 years.

* While proofreading this post for me, my friend A said it was cute that I stopped myself from typing “album” when “CD” is now a pretty archaic term as well.  So I stabbed her and buried her body somewhere in the space between our two backyards.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Bitter

standard_la_footAd Man travels for work.  A lot.  In fact, he’ll be out of town most of this week. So, I’m sitting here sulking and dreading and wondering if I can get away with feeding the kids take-out for every meal until Saturday.  I’m also planning ways I can ensure that I’ll actually wake up when the alarm goes off so I can get Biggie and Smalls on the bus at the crack of dawn and not have to drag them half dressed, each with an energy bar stuffed in her pocket, into the car where we will then sit in two carpool lines at two different campuses. Pulling off that feat with neither child being marked tardy requires a plan of attack timed to the second and seeing that in this scenario I couldn’t even drag my sorry ass out of bed, the chances of me succeeding in such a plan are slim.

I am most emphatically not a morning person.  I lived in fear for many years of missing finals or sleeping through the bar exam because my bed was just so damn warm and cozy.  One thing Ad Man does well, though, is waking up.  No snooze button for him…when he’s up, he’s up.  And I am the direct beneficiary of this talent because, day in and day out, he manages to get three cranky ladies out of bed and moving at 6:15 am and for this, I am eternally grateful.  Oh, believe me, he bitches about it every single morning, but he gets the job done.

Beyond just missing my own personal alarm clock who won’t take “but I’m so sleeeepy!” for an answer, having a husband who travels a lot can be difficult.  In fact, one of the reasons we moved from San Francisco to Atlanta was that I was often left by myself with a newborn baby, who I was up nursing every few hours, in a town where I knew almost no one.  Meanwhile, Ad Man was flying blissfully alone to meetings on the east coast where he was put up in posh hotels, sleeping uninterrupted in sheets not stained with breast milk or baby spit-up and going out to restaurants I could only sit home and read about in Food & Wine magazine.  Not surprisingly, this arrangement got really old, really quickly.  So, we moved to the east coast where we bought a house and Ad Man started collecting more clients in, and traveling more often to, the west coast.

I also have the uncanny ability to come down with any number of illnesses that would normally send me right to bed the moment the wheels of his airplane leave the ground.  And, if I somehow manage to avoid getting sick while he’s out of town, you can be sure that both children will start running a fever or be covered in suspicious looking spots so they can’t go to school and we’re all quarantined in the house for the duration of his absence.

I really shouldn’t complain (but I do it so well!).  I know a number of women and a few stay-at-home dads who have it far worse than I do.  I have friends whose spouses have “commuted” to south Florida and even Detroit from Atlanta.  My friend K’s husband is the president of a European company that makes bicycle components so he’s often gone for weeks at a time, occasionally reporting back that he’s been cycling in the Pyrenees, or something terribly stressful like that.

I have to admit, things have gotten easier now that the girls are older.  Ad Man has learned that it’s best to be as vague as possible about the details of his trips, which helps too.  This was a lesson he learned the hard way, however.  Once, when Biggie was about 4 years-old and Smalls was 2, Ad Man felt he just had to post a photo on Facebook taken in his hotel room at The Standard in Los Angeles.  (He’s just reminded me that his room was called the “Wow! Suite.”  The guy just does not know when to keep his mouth shut for the sake of marital harmony!)  What prompted him to post the photo was an approximately 6 ft. long by 4 ft. high sculpture of an actual foot…in his bathroom.  Now, just imagine what the rest of his room must have looked like if there was space for a 6 ft. long foot in the bathroom.

I can’t remember what I posted in response or if I called him directly, but I assure you, retribution was swift and painful.  Even his guy friends were like, “Dude…what were you thinking posting a photo of your swank hotel room?!  Your wife is going to kill you!”  Luckily, he (sometimes) learns from his mistakes.  Now, half the time I don’t even know what city he’s in.  We joke that he could have a whole other family in another city and I’d know nothing about it.  Of course, the joke would be on him because he’d be the one with two pissed-off wives and even more children running amok.

I do, occasionally, get to go somewhere by myself for the weekend.  For instance, I’ve been to a couple funerals and I try to get together with a group of my friends from law school once a year or so.  In those rare instances, as soon as word gets out that Ad Man will be home (alone! gasp!) with the kids for a few days, support pours in from all corners of the globe.  It’s usually something like, “Oh you poor dear, why don’t you come to the mountains with us for the weekend where you can stay in our rustic-chic cabin, your kids will be entertained by ours during every waking moment, you’ll have a cold beer in your hand at all times and the women-folk will take care of all the meals?”  It’s truly amazing he survives those difficult times.

There are, however, a few benefits to having a husband that travels for work.  I mean, who can deny the allure of frequent flier miles?  When he’s gone, I go to bed earlier because there’s no one to veg out with in front of the television.  And, when I do indulge in some late night TV watching, there’s no one trying to convince me that an America’s Next Top Model marathon is a bad idea.  I also have one less mouth to feed and fewer articles of clothing to pick up from the floor next to the clothes hamper.

Of course, Ad Man’s frenzied and unpredictable travel schedule also makes me wonder what type of position I could accept if some fantastic job opportunity fell in my lap.  I worked as a producer at a multi-media production company before Biggie was born.  It was the job I loved the most and miss to this day, but it also required long nights in the edit bay, weekend film shoots and changes for clients at the last minute.  Could we work it out if another opportunity like that arose?  I would hope so, but I just don’t know.

biggie_tupac_croppedWe’ve talked about turning our downstairs guest room into a space for an au pair if necessary, but do I really want to be responsible for a teenager living in my house when I already have two kids and a moody, skateboarding husband with a vast collection of hip-hop dolls and breakdance figurines?

These are some of the questions that keep me up at night (along with things like “does it really matter which earbud I put in which ear?”) and I have no idea how or when they’ll be answered.  In the meantime, I’ll just be happy if I can get the kids to school on time, make it through homework without strangling one or both of them and manage to feed them items from more than one food group this week.  As for me, I’m stocked up on tea, wine and dark chocolate so how bad could the next few days possibly be?  Right?

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Image

first_day_school_blog_picIt’s the first day of school for my daughters and I’m kind of (really) freaking out.  It’s Biggie’s first day of 2nd grade and Smalls’s first day of kindergarten. The first day that I’ll have a chunk of time from approximately 7:15 am to 3:15 pm with no children in the house, no questions to answer, no fights to break up, no snacks to retrieve, no butts to wipe, no tears to brush away, no screen time to monitor. In an attempt to talk me off the ledge, my dear friend A. tells me to think of this newly found extra time as an opportunity (“Just think…you can go to a movie in the middle of the day or have lunch with a friend.”), but I’m having a hard time imagining it as anything but the big, black void I’ve been fearing for 7 years now.

My friend S., who is a professional recruiter and therefore qualified to make such proclamations, tells me I need to write a book.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been told before that I give good Facebook, but I’ve never written “officially” unless you count legal briefs.  With the first day of the rest of my life looming though, I figure what the hell?  I’ve got nothing to lose…right?  My first reaction upon setting off on this journey however is, “Oh crap!  I need a notebook!  And pens!”  As someone with a sprinkling of OCD on top of a big dollop of depression, this is a task that could take weeks to complete to my satisfaction.  Because I am well-medicated, however (big ups to Dr. A!), I’m able to acknowledge that the risk of not finding just the right pen could derail this whole train before it even leaves the station. So, I make the momentous decision to spew my thoughts into one of those new-fangled home computers that are all the rage these days rather than writing by hand on actual paper that may or may not have the right level of porosity.

So, I decide to start slowly, recording in blog form the incessant rattlings of my childbirth-addled brain beginning with this, The First Day of the Rest of My Life (henceforth to be referred to as “This Day”).  This Day begins with a 6:30 am alarm going off in three different bedrooms simultaneously.  Biggie is already up reading and immediately shuts hers off. Smalls has never been woken by an alarm a day in her 5 years of life, but is raring to start checking off the items on her “Morning To Do List” which I wrote and she illustrated just the day before.

The Ad Man and I, however, are far less perky after having spent the entire summer waking sometime between 8:30 and 10 am., occasionally yelling out to the girls instructions for operating the television or toaster from our warm bed.  I am particularly difficult to rouse due to my 2 hour crying jag the previous day followed by a handful of melatonin with a white wine chaser in order to avoid laying awake for hours imagining my sweet 5 year old lost and crying out to me from somewhere in the bowels (I’m picturing a boiler room) of her new elementary school.

I’m actually feeling quite proud of myself for putting pen to paper (cursor to screen?) since, I’m sure, had I not captured the events of, and my fragile feelings toward, This Day beginning on This actual Day, I would have undoubtedly scrapped the project altogether. Then I would have to add it to my pile of unfinished (i.e., never started) projects like the documentary I never made about our infertility woes and struggle to conceive Biggie because we didn’t start filming with that first negative pee stick.

I know all mothers feel a mix of melancholy and euphoria the day their youngest fledgling finally leaves the nest (at least for 8 hours a day).  This Day is particularly significant for me, however because it was never my plan to be here in the first place.  My vision for my life with children included either a hunky, but tender stay-at-home dad or well-trained nannies, enriching after-school programs, character-building summer camps and me, blissfully cradled in an Aeron chair in my law office or production company receiving respect, accolades, money by the bushelful and compliments on my chic wardrobe.

Anyway, fast forward past law school, moving to Los Angeles, passing the bar, joining my first law firm and proudly using the obnoxious title “Esquire” after my name.  Continue past my years as corporate counsel at a thriving and then failing dot-com where 18 year-olds actually rode around the office on scooters and drank beer in the middle of the day.  Speed by the small but scrappy production company where I worked on Important Projects like the one with all the living Nobel Peace Laureates and the obscure but (minor) award-winning documentary about a theater group in Skid Row, Los Angeles made up of homeless and formerly homeless actors and the overall issue of homelessness in America.  Whew!  And, finally, you will arrive at today, when my to-do list looks like this:

to_do_list_09131.  Buy groceries
2.  Pick up cupcakes (for our annual first-day-of-school celebration)
3.  Straighten house (because I was too busy filling out school paperwork, labeling backpacks and sobbing yesterday to do any cleaning and the disarray is making me more crazy than usual)
4.  Pick up antidepressants at pharmacy (see above)
5.  Exercise?
6.  Mix bread dough and let rest
7.  Buy notebook and pens

In the end, This Day wasn’t much to write home about. The morning was a blur of the requisite photos of cute kids posing with spanking clean new backpacks and getting on the school bus, confusion over turning on the Today Show and seeing Matt Lauer and Al Roker instead of Hoda and Kathie Lee, and forcing myself to leave the house though depressed and distracted to hunt and forage for sustenance at the grocery store.

I somehow controlled myself during a few tense moments at said grocery store (“Don’t tell me you’re out of cilantro or I swear to god I will lose my shit right here in the produce aisle!”).  I received texts and calls from friends concerned with my well-being (“So.  How are you doing?”) and other depressed moms looking to commiserate (“I feel like I will never laugh again.”).  I made a list of things I’ve been meaning to, or dreaming that I would, do when I had both girls in school full-time (hence the dough mixing).  And, finally, I received back two relatively well-adjusted girls who had a great time in school, loved their teachers, made new friends and couldn’t wait to do it all over again the following day.

As for me…I’m still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.