December 2010

Posted by Duff

You’ve probably already heard about the New York Magazine article, “Why Parents Hate Parenting“, but if you haven’t yet read it, it’s worth the time.

Something that struck me about the article was the following quote:

“Did you see Babies?” asks Lois Nachamie, a couples counselor who for years has run parenting workshops and support groups on the Upper West Side. She’s referring to the recent documentary that compares the lives of four newborns—one in Japan, one in Namibia, one in Mongolia, and one in the United States (San Francisco). “I don’t mean to idealize the lives of the Namibian women,” she says. “But it was hard not to notice how calm they were. They were beading their children’s ankles and decorating them with sienna, clearly enjoying just sitting and playing with them, and we’re here often thinking of all of this stuff as labor.”

I couldn’t agree more. I said the same thing, with far less eloquence, of course, to my own mother after we’d both watched the movie. (If you haven’t seen Babies, by the way, I can’t recommend it enough. No narration, just babies, and you’ll laugh and cry and appreciate and feel humbled and understood in such a short time, it feels, well, like parenthood).

Thoughts? I know you’ve got them. 😉


Posted by Duff

If it has fur, scare it.

If it contains a tomato ingredient, eat it.

If it has a face, slap it. Then say ‘hi’.

If it is blunt, use it as a weapon. Smile. Say ‘hi’.

If it is a lap, back into it.

If it has a foothold, climb it.

If it can be fallen from, fall from it.

If it is a floor, meet it hard with your face.

If it is chocolate, scream for it.

If it is soft, press your cheek to it.

If it is a sister, irritate it. Poke it. Chase it. Sit with it patiently in Time Out.

If it is a question, the answer is ‘no’.

If it is fleece, wear it. Unless it’s a hat. Then don’t wear it. Throw it.

If it is a diaper, avoid it.

If it is liquid, pour it.

If it is oatmeal, paint with it.

If it is syrup (or ketchup), eat it, alone, with a fork.

If it is a mommy, follow it. Test it. Hug it. Scream at it. Scream for it. Pat it. Repeat.

Posted by Duff

You know the truth about toddlers: they’re explosive, unpredictable creatures.  I could weep for what Atticus, my sweet bear, has become in recent weeks.  I get screamed at a lot. And hit a lot. Diaper and clothing changes require wrestling holds and strong biceps and let’s face it, a thick skin these days.

It’s a good thing he’s cute.

I feel a little guilty, because I haven’t been enjoying our time together that much, and have been wishing away some of that time that I always tout as so precious. I feel like a hypocrite.  But really, when was the last time you wanted to spend time with someone who hits you and pulls your hair and tells you (in his own way) how dissatisfied he is with your failure to understand him? (Kind of sounds like some guys I knew in elementary school, actually, the ones who liked me).

So  I performed a test. See, the little guy is adorably honest these days, and prone to glorious exhibits of attachment that make up for a LOT.

“Atticus,” I said, “Do you want some milk?”

“No,” he said.  With some annoyance.


“Noooo.” He may have swiped at me.

“A snack?”

“NO!” This is where he backs up into things and gets mad at whatever he backs into.

So I gave up. And sat on the floor, criss-cross applesauce. And he made his way over to me, slowly. Backed into my lap, pouting.

“Atticus,” I said, barely loud enough for him to hear me. “Do you love me?”

” ‘Es.” And he leaned back into me.

Like I said, I could weep at what he’s become.

Posted by Duff

I’m not exactly sure what I’m judging my holiday progress against–maybe my idea of what the Christmas season should be like, and what I should make of it for my children?  I’m guessing you have a standard of what the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s should encompass, and if any of us were to hold ourselves to that standard, we wouldn’t have enough energy to enjoy whatever we’ve created thus far–when typically, the memories that you make you laugh hardest are of those things that didn’t go according to plan, or went horribly, hilariously wrong.

So I give up. =) Because in retrospect, I’m probably awesome at this.

Christmas tree: check.

Christmas tree decorations: nothing hanging (thanks to Atticus) and 70% of bows missing (thanks to The Dervish, who is learning to tie bows througout the rest of the house. Which is good.)

December stomach bug: thus far a 4-year tradition in the Duff household, check. No need for another. We’ve met our quota.

Christmas cookies made: none. Christmas cookies decorated: some. Thank you, Lunch Bunch (check your local libraries for this awesome social activity). Christmas cookie tradition griped about by other mothers who attended Lunch Bunch  and have tried it with their children and grandchildren: all. Hmmm. Good in theory, not in practice? I’ll still try it in the future. I think.  According to the disillusioned Betty Crockers, the issue wasn’t the bonding (which was good), it was the thankless cleaning up (which is hellacious).

(At this point I would like to apologize to my mother for begging her, when I was a child, to make sugar cookies with cookie cutters and sprinkles).

Holiday cards sent: none. There won’t be any, due to a combination of factors: capturing quality, inexpensive pictures is one, the cost of printing and mailing is another, since while in the throes of a career change, I’m working two unpaid but emotionally rewarding jobs, the second one when I should be sleeping. The fact that I misplaced my address list on my work laptop when I was laid off, though, is at the top of the list. I feel Grinchly, to be sure. Especially now that the cards are flowing in and none are flowing out in return.

Gifts I am beyond excited to give: 100%, baby.  I am so flipping excited to give gifts this year. I think all of my holiday spirit and energy has been channeled into blowing the minds of those I love. And if I’m more excited to give these gifts than the recipients are when they open them? I’ll still feel like I won.

But really, who’s keeping score?

Posted by Duff

Some people are awesome.  You’re probably one of them–the kind of person who remembers the birthdays of people with whom she went to elementary school without the help of Facebook reminders and sends actual postal cards that arrive in a timely manner. My aunt is one of these people. So is my sister-in-law. I swear, I used to be one of these people.

Some people are festive. They go out and get real Christmas trees (some chop them down themselves from planned tree farms) and they come home and bake cookies and listen to carols during the trimming. I used to be one of these people. Some people go out and about in the holiday season wearing reindeer antlers. These people, I have always thought, despite an often low tolerance for the corny, are doubly awesome. And yes, I used to be one of these people.

Some people are patient with children–some even work with them, daily, and come home cheerful and affectionate and ready to give their own family their full oomph. These people are rock stars. I am not now, nor have I ever been, one of these people.

I just wanted to say, if you’ve ever told me your birthday, there is a very good chance that I remember it, and on the days I’m sure of the date (not as common now that I don’t write/type/see it nearly as much as I used to), I DO think of you. Several times. I hope you’re doing well. I’m wishing you a good year. I’m thinking of funny things you said, or songs you loved, or times we spent together that no lack of my sending you a birthday card or Facebook wall posting can erase or lessen the importance of. I swear.

And I’m festive. It’s just that since I had kiddos, someone is always running a fever (or something else) at the mere mention of the Christmas tree, and I know those days will pass. As I type this, I’m drinking coffee out of a snowman mug next to a recovering Dervish watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I swear.

The patience, I think, is overrated. Someone who was born with it, please come over and help me, now that my SECOND child is pushing chairs all over the house and trying to singe himself on the stove or canonball into the toilet and scattering everything that was once out of reach EVERYWHERE. Before I swear. Too late.