Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Long Rambling Post Going Nowhere, Really

If you had told me thirteen years ago that the day would come when I wouldn't long for a newborn baby, I would have slapped you and then collapsed in my bathroom in a heap of self-pitying tears. For those were my infertile days, the days when everyone had what I wanted (babies) and I had what I didn't know was valuable, namely sleep and free time.

This was my second week of babysitting an almost-3 month old baby girl. She has chubby thighs and a baldish head and the loudest scream I've ever heard come from an infant. She has no "fussy" stage. She is either deliriously happy or screamingly furious. I only have her half-days and every day has been different. She appears to have no rhythm whatsoever, so I can only hope that she'll ease into some kind of schedule. And I hope she stops spitting up down my back.

I've been in the same mode--childproofed house, toys in the family room, sippy cups in the cupboard--for twelve years. And I'm tired of circling. I'd like to land and do something else, ride a shuttle to an airport, for instance, or go sightseeing (figuratively speaking, of course). My friend yesterday reminded me that the children will fly out of the nest before I know it. (And yet, I'd like to have a schedule which doesn't revolve around naptimes--I'm intolerably demanding.)

My own almost-3 year old daughter has been hitting her playmate and "best friend" who is also almost three. Yesterday, she had four or five time-outs. When I scold her, she crosses her arms, purses her lips and shouts "NO!" at me. Which is cute and all, but must be nipped in the bud. He throws a cup at her. She smacks him. She tosses sand his way. He pushes her.

Today, I had nine children at my house at one time. Nine.

I thought I'd be a whole lot more like the mother in "Little Women," which is nonsense, of course, because I don't even wear dresses on weekdays or do needlework. And I don't have four girls. I really did picture myself with a set of docile children, doing craft projects, sewing, reading, pleasantly remarking to one another about ideas contained in those books. Ha! This afternoon, the boys were all in the back yard brandishing fake swords at each other.

In my kitchen this morning, I found an overflowing sink full of dishes--which accumulated since dinner last night. I did every single dish last night before I left. I am so sick of washing dishes I did not dirty. I know, I know. I should make the boys do their own dishes. I should.

At least they fix their own lunches. That's something. TwinBoyB spent thirty minutes yesterday lovingly making himself scrambled eggs. Then I saw him take a bite, then another. Then he stood, put the plate on the kitchen counter and walked away. I said, "HEY! You made them, you eat them!" He smiled sheepishly and said, "They have eggshells in them."

My husband has been working diligently on our overgrown yard. For some reason, the previous owners planted every manner of invasive plant you can imagine. We have English Ivy everywhere, laurel hedges that never stop growing, holly bushes that keep sprouting up, bamboo which is determined to take over the neighborhood, and just for fun, blackberry vines which will not die. Ever. The world will end and the blackberries will sustain the lone survivor who was down in the subway bathroom during the Last Catastrophe on Earth.

Yesterday, he took one thousand pounds of stuff to the dump--the old yellow couch I painted the living room walls yellow to match and a cat-scratched hand-me-down ugly brown recliner. Our living room's kind of empty now, but we are getting another hand-me-down couch which we think will be better. Since he was going to the dump anyway, we gathered all the broken things scattered in the backyard and tossed them, too. The yard seems so much more sanctimonious and self-righteous, which is only fitting, really.

Anyway. The other night, we were all outside. The kids were playing basketball with my husband and I was yanking waist-high weeds. Then he came over to clip more ivy. I gave him some helpful pointers, and he said, "Dear, when I want your help, it will sound like this--'Mel, will you tell me how to do this?'" And I retorted (in love, of course), "Well, when you do it right, I'll say something like this, 'Hey, you did it right!'" (I've never said, "Hey! You did it right!") We've been married eighteen years. We joke like this all the time.

Then he pointed out how I put the "mean" in meaningful and we brainstormed about possible uses of that slogan. I think it would be a great blog tagline. "I Put The Mean into Meaningful." I like it.

Now, a true confession. (I read this on a blog and I can't remember which one. . . sorry!) Someone was complaining about people who don't return shopping carts. Well. Sometimes I don't. But only if I have a cranky baby in the rain far from the shopping cart return thing. I never park in handicapped spots, though, and that's got to count for something. Doesn't it? And I never scratch my key along the shiny side of cars that park badly and annoy me. That counts for something, too, right? And I've never smashed a windshield or even written my name in the grime of someone's back window.

And now, my judgment for the day: This woman is stupid. What an idiotic series of things to do--marrying that man, helping him escape and then committing murder.


Blogger Gina said...

Ok where to start...

Are we going to start having "judgement of the day" on a regular basis? Because that sounds kind of fun.

I like that tagline too.

12 years is a darned long time to be in baby-proof mode.

I was lucky that Mr. Personality never spit up.

I wish my bouganvilla would grow like your stuff, I have been coaxing them for almost three years, with little to show.

I am also so waiting for the naptime thing to be over.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Diddy-Win said...

Okay...okay - I don't always return shopping carts either...but I refuse to feel guilty! There would be guys out of a job if everyone took their carts back...I'm all about the economy. °Ü°
I never gave it ONE thought until a radio/t.v. preacher woman told people it was wrong...then my sister told ME it was wrong and I guess I was supposed to feel conviction. My rebellion is just enough to make me want to thumb my nose at those people who want to pass on their guilt. So...I decided I will NOT... so there, Joyce.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

;) I've got you a second tagline: "Welcome to Mel's where every day is Judgement Day!

I did the home day care thing for two years. The kids were great but the parents were horrible. I quit when one mom called DCF on me because her husband and daughter liked me more than her.

Make the boys do the dishes with you. It generates more consideration.

Please send blackberries to Tampa, FL.Thanks.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Kendra said...

I would feel wretched if I didn't return a shopping cart... Even in the pouring rain with two 2-year-olds, the cart always goes back. BUT, maybe that's because I always strategically park near the cart return. (Yeah, I think ahead). Sometimes I have to walk a half mile to the store, but I can put my kids in the car, THEN return the cart because I'm right beside the cart return. Occasionally I get an extra ding in my door for my efforts, but it's very difficult to spot among the other dings and all the dirt I thoughtfully transport around town.

You are delightful, Mel. Thanks for the great reads each day!

5:24 AM  
Blogger Julana said...



That couple was captured less than ten miles from where I live. I feel for them--the woman, at least. What was she thinking?

6:54 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

"I put the 'mean' into meaningful" is too too funny!

I award you with the 'double Depends' award.

Next year, it looks like I will be doing 'baby duty' with the new grand child.

This is prompting me to say, with much boldness, NEVER UNCHILDPROOF YOUR HOME! - AND AGAIN I SAY, NEVER!

7:16 AM  
Blogger Cris said...

So much to comment on, but others have touched on some good points so I will let them go....I love the idealized thoughts of what it would/should be like to have a house full of children. About the only time my 3 would settle all quietly in one space was when there was a good movie on, and with popcorn and blankets all would settle in to watch.
Live for the day when you can unchildproof your house, and then look forward to the days when you redo it for your grandkids. It is as important to take it all down as it is to redo it in honor of the first grandchild :)

cris-who needs a grandbaby fix big time.

8:21 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Oh Mel, I love your writing so.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Desperate people usually do stupid things. Desperate people who are in love do even stupider things. That certainly doesn't excuse the stupidity but as the saying goes 'there but for the grace of God go I'.

You can live in your own self assurance that you would never do anything this woman did and yet if you lived her life you might find yourself in a totally different movie.

I imagine this is what God (if there is a God) sees. This is why God is God and we are not.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Mel, you're right, you do put mean in meaningful!! that's funny, I'm so glad my hubby and I aren't the only couple that has conversations like yours. and I can not believe you don't return shopping carts, I mean, really, aren't you a pastor's wife or something?? :)

2:58 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

That shooting happened less than five minutes from my house. The prison guard that she murdered was the song leader at a church from my hometown, less than ten minutes from my own church. I was only disappointed that they didn't kill them both in a shootout when they found them. They deserve to die for what they did. And that's my judgement for the day.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Would you feel as passionately outraged if they killed a middle-aged hooker from your hometown with a really bad wig, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane make-up and long, scary fingernails that would give Mel the heebee jeebies? How about a homeless, stinky, street person with three teeth who hasn?t bathed in eight weeks? What value do you put on human life?

Killing is wrong. There really is no spin you can put on it. Killing a killer doesn't make killing right. It's still wrong. I certainly believe they should be punished and one day they may be put on death row and murdered by The State. That means you/us/We The People helped murder them because We are The State. This may make you feel good and yet don't the Ten Commandments command us to not kill, to not murder?

Besides, you know as well as I that what they deserve is love and forgiveness. Doesn?t Jesus instruct us to love our enemy? It seems to me that if you are so passionate about the life of a man who is connected to your religion then you should be equally, if not more, passionate about the teachings of your God and his only begotten Son.

(Let me wonder, ala Mel, a bit?If the Christian God knows and sees all then didn?t God know a gazillion years ago that this woman, his very own creation, would kill the guard, a God fearing, musical Christian with a family. And knowing this, why did God create the woman? To see how Christians like you would react? Perhaps. And isn?t it really God who took the guard? Isn?t it God who decides when your number is up? You claim on your blog that God has spared your family so far, if that?s the case then did God take the guard using the woman as his method of taking? Just wondering.)

2:40 PM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

I love "mean in meaningful".

I have no children. I cannot even vaguely imagine having my house babyproofed for 12 is beyond me. I have a great amount of respect and admiration for you.

I never keyed a care, I never parked in a handicap spot until I was handicap. Now I'm grateful I didn't. That way I can have righteous anger at those who do.

I have however wrote in the dirt on a car. It was my car so I'm not sure that counts.

That poor woman. I wonder what prompted her to do such a thing. Love can be a wonderful thing and I don't even want to think about not having Dale around.

Yes this is a long comment but I wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog. It's entertaining, humorous and touching.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I'm sorry that I didn't respond to your comment earlier. I didn't see it. I can see from your comments that we vastly differ on our opinions of the death penalty. I am very much for it, and I believe that it is Scriptural. You may use the Old Testament to say that the 10 Commandments tell us to not kill, but, as you yourself said, I believe that that refers to murder. The same Old Testament shows where God commanded the government to put certain people to death for their crimes. I agree. I don't see the death penalty as murder. I feel that if we used it a lot more often, where deserved, that we would not see the same amount of violent crimes as we do now.
As to your assumption that it would be just as bad for a prostitue to be killed, I somewhat disagree with you. First of all, it's not that one human life is better than another, as we both know that that is not true. It's just the fact that your hypothetical prostitute would be choosing a lifestyle that is indeed very dangerous. She would knowingly be putting herself in harm's way. I would find the news saddening, of course. No one wants to hear of a murder, no matter who is involved.
In this particular situation, though, I find a difference from your hypothetical prostitute. It has nothing to do with the fact that I share the same Christian belief's as Mr. Morgan did. It did hit home that he was a "neighbor". It did hit home that he went to my uncle's brother's church. It did hit home that he served my hometown. The thing is, Mr. Morgan wasn't partaking in a deviant lifestyle with inherent danger. He was an everyday, average citizen, doing a job meant to protect people like you and me. He was simply escorting prisoners to and from court. That man and woman schemed the escape at the cost of the lives of anyone who happened to be in their way. There were lots of innocent bystanders in the courthouse parking lot. They had no regard for anyone's safety. Mr. Morgan was shot repeatedly. Not because he was involved in a drug deal gone wrong. Not becuase he was involved in illegal activities. But because he was simply doing his job...a service to the public. He was a father, a husband, a friend. It was senseless.
So, yeah...I do think that it is a different situation than a prostitue murdered. Are their lives of any greater value than the other? No. Does it outrage me more? Yes. I'm sorry if you disagree, but I doubt you would have any trouble mustering up outrage if it were your husband shot for simply doing his job. Maybe you think that it should go unpunished, and we should just love them to pieces in their jail cells. That's where we will have to disagree, though, because I believe that there are consequences for your actions. I think their actions call for the death penalty, and I hope that is what they get.

12:48 PM  

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