Sleep deprivation makes me cranky/murderous

exhaustedThe baby won’t sleep you all. Maybe it’s teething, or she developed bad habits when she recently had a cold, or perhaps she’s part werewolf and the moon is calling her to the woods. I really, honestly don’t know.

Whatever the cause, we find ourselves meeting the end of the day—which should be full of fluffy pillows and dancing sugarplums—with a howling dread. The night is when the screaming comes. The night is bad. Bad, bad nighttime.

At some point last night the baby was really going for it. I mean, with gusto. Like there is an olympic event for not sleeping and she was going to qualify if it killed her (and us. Sacrifices must be made for greatness.). The cat then sniffed our weakness and decided it was time to feign starvation and beg for food. This will not do, kitty. Oh no, it will not. The werewolf thing was *definitely* not the problem. It was the cat. For sure.

Me: “Did you feed the cat?”
Stephen: “Yes.”
Me: [irritated pause]
Stephen: “I could…”
Me: “Let’s kill the cat.”
Stephen: “…feed her a little more.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. Sure. Or that.”

One of us tolerates sleep deprivation better than the other.

And that’s my 100th post, friends. An account of my brief flirtation of the idea of murdering our family cat. Hooray?

A Royal Decree from Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III

Crown baby booties

Hear ye! Hear ye! The following is a Royal Decree from her Majesty Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III on her first birthday. Should any deviation from this decree occur, her Majesty’s discontent will be made known with a loud wail.

  1. Toys are no longer accepted in the presence of the princess; only trash, or items of formidable danger, preferably those shaped like the windpipe. Do not attempt to remove items from the hands of the princess at any time.
  2. Anyone who attempts to remove excrement from the princess’ nether regions shall have their murder plotted forthwith.
  3. Tasks of any importance that do not revolve around the pleasure of the princess shall not be tolerated.
  4. If the princess desires what you have, you shall relinquish it.
  5. The princess desires what you have.
  6. The princess shall utilize the magic of a forest troll to detect any sense of relaxation. Such senses will be vanquished.
  7. The princess’ pinky nail shall never be trimmed under any circumstances. The caretaker shall receive the shame of others who do not allow their charges to look as if they have a drug habit.

If you succeed in holding up these tenants, you will be rewarded with signs of affection. They will be hug-like and kiss-like in nature, and they will be coated in thick slobber and food remnants. Do not offend the princess by wiping said slobber from your face in her presence.

 p.s. Happy birthday Princess Stinkerton. We’re exceedingly blessed by your ridiculous self. Love you to bits.  

Photo credit Funky Shapes on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Buy these booties & other cute stuff at the Funky Shapes Etsy Store

 

Love asparagus. Love myself.

Asparagus on the grill

At the end of a hot day in San Diego, when I’m dying for a climate that involves more than one and a half seasons, I find myself looking over the grill to the palm trees, the golden light, the neighbors houses. The smell of white wine and salmon and dill swirls around me and though I hate this joke of a spring day, I love this moment. This moment is mine. This moment is a gift.

I hear my daughters in the other room, my husband lifting that (happy) burden from my shoulders for a while. I sit down and let words run. Like a long shower. Or a long cry. Or a long sip from a glass of wine.

It’s these little moments that I let go by all too often. They’re the moments you think, “Holy shit, I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna be okay.” I’m not saying it’ll be spectacular. Not magazine-worthy. Just good. Solid, deep-running, gratefully good. Good enough to make it until tomorrow. One day at a time, sweet Jesus.

The salmon isn’t done yet and I’ll likely burn it and the asparagus before I’m done here (don’t worry, I’m checking it), but I feel like I should catch these words before they wander off. All my swears and too much/not enough seriousness–I need to love those bastards & kiss them straight on the mouth. They’re me in zeros and ones. They’re me in syllables. They’re me in thoughts, and I need a good kiss from me.

And that’s what we’re doing in life, isn’t it? Taking a minute to believe that what we feel is worth a damn? Taking the leap of faith that we won’t be discarded or—maybe—those that will discard us had done so long ago, so we should stop tap dancing to keep them around? Isn’t that what life/art/love/faith is about?

So I’m giving myself a nice, long moment to treasure the words coming out of my thumbs because burnt asparagus (don’t worry, I’m still checking it) isn’t the worst thing I’ll produce, but perfect asparagus won’t be the best thing either.

It’s just asparagus, Melanie. Calm down.

And openness? Full and messy participation? Just freaking showing up? It’s not all that different. It’s the thing we share over small tables. It’s sustenance. It’s sacred and mundane at once. It’s just asparagus. It might be burnt today, it might not tomorrow. But either way it’s necessary. And either way it’s important to someone. Even if you’re the only someone who eats it.

 

[Author's note: I wrote this post a while ago (in Spring—obviously), but I'm just getting around to post it. Because sometimes I collect drafts like a hoarder, and I can't bring myself to show them to anyone else. There are a few little quirks in my breed.]

 Photo credit woodleywonderworks at Flickr CC BY 2.0

I’m Just Like that A-Hole

That Squirrel is Just Like Me

With disgust, he says, “Burning up the atmosphere while talking on the phone. Classic.”

“Says” is probably not the right verb. Maybe “spits,” or “shoots like poison darts from one of those tribal spitting tube things.” I’m pretty sure he followed it with such an enthusiastic eye-roll that he saw the back of his skull.

Yes, I had stopped the car, and yes, I was on the phone, and yes, the car was still running. I acknowledge that my actions made Mother Earth cry a little. I’m sorry.

Which is exactly what I said in response. Well, just the sorry part. Not the rest of it. To which he replies, “No you’re not.” (For real, Mean Guy?) And so, I gave up and tossed “Okay. I’m not,” at him as he walked away.

I will pause here so we can all say in unison: W.   T.   F.?

Now, I try my best to be eco-friendly. I really do. And I actually was sorry and turned my car off after that. Please don’t join Mean Guy’s team and start the Foundation for Scolding Melanie About Her Vehicular Choices. Please, oh please. But let me rewind about 15 minutes, and explain what possessed me to do such a dastardly deed.

I had already been up for 2+ hours, the first 20 minutes of which started with a baby crying, as per usual. I was hustling to get my two little crazies ready and out the door for a coffee date with a dear friend, which always plucks me from the edge of madness. “If I can just make it to the park, I will breathe some more. I can do it,” I said to myself in my peppiest inner voice. But as I’m wrangling a clip into my older one’s hair, the baby is standing all wobbly at my knee when she loses her balance, smashes her face on my leg, and cuts that little thing that connects her gums to her lip above her front teeth.

(Side note: WHY DOES THAT THING BLEED SO MUCH?! Does the jugular actually extend straight to that little thing? I mean, for real.) (Second side note: Google says that thing is called the labial frenum. You learn something new every day.)

So, as she gargles with blood and my older one screams because I tell her to go to her room just so I can have some space to think, I kind of bottomed out mentally. Just a little. A leeeetle brain scrape on the road of life.

So, Mean Guy, I put to you that I was not functioning at my best when you came upon me and my evildoing. I had just successfully parallel parked (which is my Mt. Everest of driving), and I was calling my husband to commiserate about our bloody child, and get a little verbal fist bump for my parking achievement. I’m sorry for not being with it enough to ALSO win the Person-Who-Cares-Most-About-The-Earth award.

It’s safe to say that I was not/am not currently Mean Guy’s biggest fan. But the thing is, I’m just like him. And he’s just like me. Really.

Sure, I typically try to restrain from blurting judgements at people in my neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I can’t even pretend that I don’t have a running ticker tape of other people’s offenses: I can’t believe his kid does [that thing], why the freak won’t you use your signal?, why don’t you support my “common sense” approach to [this political issue]?, why can’t you see that that’s a crazy, misogynist thing to say?, etcetera. Good thing there’s a small mental spigot where my mouth hole is, otherwise people would know exactly what an a-hole I can be.

What allows us to walk around wagging our moral finger at people is the feeling that they are not, in fact, just like us. They’re inconsiderate and privileged and selfish and lazy. And yes, they probably are a little. Just like you. Just like me. And you know what? They’ve had heartaches. They’ve experienced loss. They’re chasing joy. They’ve probably made themselves sick off brownies before. (Because that’s a basic right of passage, right?) They’ve done all of that—just like me. 

Maybe Mean Guy read an article about the shrinking polar ice caps and got so frustrated that he split his labial frenum by brushing his teeth too aggressively. And then he wiped off the blood, drove down to his favorite coffee shop where he happened upon me, an active participant in Earth’s demise.

Or maybe he was just cranky and needed a snack. You never know.

After a quick, slightly embarrassing cry at the counter of my favorite coffee shop (which is also Mean Guy’s favorite coffee shop—not awesome), and some loving support and wise words from friends, I dusted myself off. I’m alright. I’ll patch up that little ding on my heart, no problem.

And Mean Guy, I’ll cut you a break. I’ll extend some kindness to you and assume the best. I’ll assume that you’re not always that snippy, and that on a bunch of days you’re not Mean Guy at all. I’ll assume that to a lot of people on a lot of days, you’re actually Nice Guy. And I’ll try to muster up as much grace and kindness as I can for you, for me, and for everybody else.

p.s. If you want to read an incredibly helpful book about peace, kindness, and other gooey things, check out Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan. I give it all my thumbs up. 

 

Photo credit Marko Kivelä on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

The Problem with Being a Writer

The problem with being a writer…

The problem with being a writer is that you have to give yourself that title long before you feel you deserve it.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you twitchy and self-conscious.

The problem with being a writer is that it makes you conceited and vain.

The problem with being a writer is that being self-conscious and conceited at the same time is hard on the brain.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have less talent than you will be more successful than you.

The problem with being a writer is that people who have more talent than you won’t be successful at all. And if they can’t do it, how can you?

The problem with being a writer is the comment section.

The problem with being a writer is that blog stats exist.

The problem with being a writer is that you keep checking your blog stats.

The problem with being a writer is that any modicum of success gets you addicted to a drug you can’t buy, so you live mostly in withdrawal.

The problem with being a writer is that you never take compliments seriously.

The problem with being a writer is that you checked your blog stats again.

The problem with being a writer is that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get paid a dime.

The problem with being a writer is that you can’t stop wanting to be a writer.

 

Photo credit Donovan Beeson at Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Mother of a Broken Heart

Yesterday, my 4-year-old and I went to an appointment with her cardiologist.

Now, if a 4-year-old has a cardiologist, then you know something rather craptastic happened at some point. For reference, here’s a summary of our crapisode:

Heart EKG painting photo by Leo Reynold

When our first daughter was 2 weeks old, she screamed all the time. She had a hard time eating, and then she started breathing really rapidly. She also looked pretty pale, but we are very white, Casper-esque people ourselves so maybe it was normal…? Being first-time parents, it was impossible to know which things were normal crazy baby things, and which things we should flip out about. Being the judicious people we are, we went ahead and had a tiny bit of panic about most everything.

When the breathing thing started though, we asked ourselves, “Is this crazy crazy, or normal crazy?” Having received no answers from each other’s blank, sleep-deprived stares, we called the advice nurse.

After a couple of “it’s probably fine,” phone conversations, we still weren’t totally convinced and my husband decided he would feel better about going back to work if we had someone look at her again. So in we went.

Enter the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus, starring our 15-day-old baby.

Nurses and doctors and EMTs materialized in the exam room. I heard a call to the ambulance. A nurse prodded my daughter’s head with a gigantic needle, commenting, “This looks scary, but it’s okay.” Then they smothered her face with a bag of ice noting again that it looked scary, but it was okay. Somewhere between that, the crash cart, the intubation, the swollen liver, and the blood transfusion I got the distinct feeling that things were not, in fact, okay. We had left the realm of normal crazy, and landed squarely in the vast terrain of crazy crazy.

The next few days were spent with nurses monitoring and logging our daughter’s frequent episodes of tachycardia, while a bunch of doctors tried to figure out why the heck she was having them in the first place. About the fourth day, they figured out that she has an accessory pathway in her heart, which was throwing it off, and rocketing her heart rate to 230+. The fifth and sixth days were spent finding the right cocktail of medications to help her heart regulate and regain strength, and help her body get rid of the extra fluid that had built up under all that stress.

On the eighth of some of the longest days of my life, we were sent home with three bottles of medicinal magic, thus ending the tour of the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus. We were not sad to see it go. We administered a slightly complicated schedule of elixirs for six months, and then it was like it never even happened. No medication. No heart beating straight out of a tiny chest. No Significantly less panic.

What do I want to say about all of this anyway?

As I read “Normal,” on the EKG printout, and heard her doctor say to himself, “Perfect,” and, “Strong,” as he listened to her heart, I knew I wanted to write something about this whole wild thing we experienced. But what?

I could talk about how the NICU is strangely frightening and comforting and lonely and communal all at the same time. About how all the parents share fears and hopes and unspoken sadness. How you see parents go home with their babies and you feel such happiness for them, along with a deep pang of jealousy. How you scrub your arms, up to the elbows, for the full three minutes every time you enter the room because each baby feels like the thinnest glass, and you don’t want whatever germs you carry to be the thing that shatters them. How NICU nurses are pure gifts. How when you hear those NICU nurses held your baby in the middle of the night, you want to weep because it wasn’t you.

I could talk about exactly how devastating it is to get a rejection letter from an insurance company while your baby is intubated and unconscious from the morphine, because she—at 15 freaking days old—has a “pre-existing condition.” About how pre-existing conditions are absolute bullshit, and if eliminating their use by insurance companies is all the Affordable Care Act does successfully, it’s still a huge win for all of us. How insurance premiums, and co-pays, and exorbitant charges feel like ransoms when you realize you’ll pay any amount of money to see your kid live another day. And how that—that is just plain immoral.

I could talk about how the gratitude that lives in my bones, in my heart, and in my soul doesn’t keep me—on those normal crazy days that are unbelievably hard—from wanting to run from my family and live in a small wooden cabin in Canada.

I think what I really want to say, though, is that I love her. I love her, I love her, I love her. And her perfect, strong, normal heart brings me to my knees with joy. She is precious, and sacred, and funny, and crazy, and I love her.

Holy Moses.

 

Photo credit Leo Reynold at FlickrCC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Feminist high school boys declare: “I am a feminist”

Melanie Crutchfield:

If you want to feel happy and hopeful and want to pinch some kids cheeks and give them high fives and start a one person parade around your living room…give this a watch. Love love love.

Originally posted on Feminist Teacher:

Thinks boys can’t be feminists? The seven boys who have taken my high school feminism class in the last two years disagree. They even got together to make a video to share the ways in which feminism has made an impact on their lives as young men.

“My reason for taking the feminism course is that especially in high school, there’s not opportunities like this that come around, ever,” says Bruke, a high school senior who took my feminism class when he was a junior in the fall of 2012.

“At one point, we wrote an intersectionality essay, and that taught me that nothing is really one-dimensional. Like you can’t just be black. You can be black and gay; or like black, gay, disabled. There are many different things that don’t relate to the master narrative,” Nathaniel, senior, who also took my course in 2012 and later appeared with Gloria…

View original 110 more words

Here, Let Me Help: Mascara Edition

If you’ve never noticed, the subtitle of my blog is, “A Guide to Life and Other Quandaries.” As you can tell from previous posts, I am full of all kinds of knowledge. And you should definitely listen to me because, as I’ve mentioned before, I have a website. On the internet. That’s basically like a Ph.D.. So, perk those ears up people, ’cause you’re about to get a dose of the ol’ Crutchfield learning magic.

I’ve decided to start a new series called “Here, Let Me Help,” wherein I give you all kinds of advice you didn’t ask for. You’re welcome, kittens. I know there aren’t enough people with opinions this days. I’m here to fix that.

First up in the “Here, Let Me Help” catalog: mascara.

Now, now, not everyone uses mascara, but if you do, you’ve likely run in to a host of problems. The mascara must be scrubbed from your face like barnacles from a ship’s hull. The mascara flakes and leaves black streaks like you’re a member of KISS. It gets all clumpy and looks like you put fake spider legs on your eyes. “Bahhhh!” you say as you shake your fist at the sky.

KISS members in full make up on stage.

The KISS look may not be the one you’re aiming for.

Well, fist-shake no more, readers. Instead, let me help. This mascara here, L’oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara, to-ta-lly works.

 

L'oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara

This business is legit.

This will not flake. At all. Like, not even after you leave it on for three days because you’re too lazy to wash your face. (Not that I’ve done that.) It also won’t run, not even a little!, if you cry in your kid’s pediatrician’s office. (Not that I’ve done that either, I just think maybe you’ll  do that some day.) You don’t have to break out crazy chemicals to get it off either. Just put some warm water on your closed eyes and pull it off gently.

I don’t know what’s in the stuff—probably fairy blood and magic spells from Michelle Obama—but it’s so great that I don’t even care. (Sorry innocent fairies.)

So there you go. You’re all squared away with your mascara needs, ladies and gents. Need advice on something else? Ask away. I’m here to help.

I didn’t get paid to write any of this because that’s not a thing around these parts. (That doesn’t mean you *can’t* pay me, L’oréal. Especially if you use chocolate as currency. Preferably this.) These are my honest little opinions straight from my heart/brain area. If you could gaze into my perky little perfectly-mascaraed eyes you’d see nothing but sincerity. 

Keepin’ it Real for Mother’s Day Again

Every year around Mother’s Day, I wonder why I don’t see any cards that I relate to. Cards that speak to me. Cards that praise the everyday accomplishments of mothers everywhere.

Like calling poison control and discovering that the thing your kid ate is non-toxic. Or answering 204 questions in the span of an hour and a half without giving yourself a concussion just for the peace and quiet. Or getting anything—really, even one. single. thing—done while children are in your care.

So, because I’m a giver, I’ve whipped up some e-cards that really capture the spirit of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama! Here’s hoping there’s a mimosa coming your way.

someecards.com - The swears in your frustration rants are barely even audible. Mom, you're just the classiest. - Read more amazing things at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - Your voice is always so calm—even when you get that look in your eyes. Thanks for thinly veiling your cracking spirit, Mom. - Read more amazing things at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - Mom, remember that one time I snuggled sweetly on your shoulder? Sorry I threw up on you after that.

someecards.com - We're taking a family vacation for Mother's Day! LOL. Just kidding. We bought you a real present. - Read more amazingness at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - I don't love you THAT much, Mom, but I AM afraid of that stranger. Thanks for being better than that stranger.

 

Can’t get enough? Check out Keepin’ It Real for Mother’s Day (2012) and Happy Motherhood Survival Day (2013). And while you’re at it, go ahead and share your favorite everyday accomplishment. Kid didn’t eat an eraser today? Brag on that business, mama. 

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

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