Category Archives: Family

The Single Stupidest Argument I’ve Ever Had With My Mother

My mom and I have butt heads many times over the last thirty-grumble-grumble years. Many, many times. A good many of them were emo-teenage arguments, like “You don’t understand me!” or “My life is so hard!” or “Why won’t you let me close the door to my bedroom?” Many more were about my wedding. (“I really don’t want to invite your sister’s cousin’s daughter who knows your hairdresser, who you also invited.”) But the thing we’ve argued about the most is how to parent my son.

I’m just going to rewind that back. How to parent MY son.

Yes, my mom has the wisdom of many more years of motherhood than I do, which is why I often listen to her advice. I know she’s a fantastic mother and a wonderful grandmother—that cannot be argued. What can be argued is how I choose to feed, bath, dress, educate, and entertain my child. And mom has something to say about all of them. She wouldn’t be an Italian Mother if she didn’t.

This particular argument started when I (mistakenly) called my mom to vent about what a pain in the ass Lucas had been that day. It was then that my mom offered her patented “he needs more stimulation” formula, which usually involves me spending lots of money of crap he never uses.

child at christmas
Looks pretty stimulating to me.

Let’s take a moment to unpack that word: STIMULATION. The word stimulate means to make more active, to cause something to develop, or to make a person excited about something. Here are things that should be stimulated: hair growth, a passion for learning, the economy, nipples. Here’s what my son, the most energetic, non-stop-party person in the universe doesn’t need: stimulation. Love, affection, attention, fun, support, guidance, yes. Stimulation, no. If I stimulated that child any more than he is already naturally stimulated, then he’d make a double espresso with a sprinkle of crack look like warm milk.

So when I called my mom to say “Lucas was driving us bonkers today,” and she said, “He needs more stimulation,” you can bet that it pinched a mommy nerve. Here’s how it went down.

Mom: He’s just bored. He needs more stimulation.

Me: We took him for a walk around the neighborhood, then to the park, the he rode his bike up and down the street, then he played basketball, and we ended the night by watching two movies!

Mom: Well, he’s probably sick of doing those things. He needs more stimulation.

Me: Wha? Like what?

Mom: Like some new toys. I’m sure he’s sick of his old ones.

Me: We just had Christmas!

Mom: But he needs a train set. Every little boy needs a train set. I’m going to buy it for him for his birthday.

Me: I…no he doesn’t NEED a train set! We have no place to put it!

Mom: Well, I’m just saying. He’s bored.

Christmas LEGOS. Very stimulating.
Christmas LEGOS. Very stimulating.

I’m not lying when I say we discussed this “needs more toys” and “train set” issue for 30 minutes, starting off at regular Italian volume (loud) and ending with the two of us yelling at the top of our lungs at each other while my dad tried to mediate and my husband was in the background shouting, “And tell her we already bought him a train and he doesn’t play with it!” It was a total melee. Over a fucking train set.

Basketball hoop: ultimate stimulation.
Basketball hoop: ultimate stimulation.

I’m sure a good part of it was me being frazzled at my son’s behavior and being couped up in the house for the last week and a half while my office was closed. I was exhausted and cranky and craving my old routine. On top of which, I had made every effort to make my child’s Christmas magical, but somehow, Italian Mother Guilt penetrated all of that. My mom saying “Lucas needs a train set” became “You’re not a good mother.”

Would my mom ever say those words to me? No. In fact, she has even told me I’m doing a good job. (GASP!) But the curse of Italian Mother Guilt is that it doesn’t matter what you did or what your mom said before. Every argument is seasoned with “You’re not a good mother” in the same way we season our salad dressing with oregano. I bet her mother did it to her, and her mother did it to her mother before her. Every Italian mother of the past was doing it right, and every Italian mother of the present is totally fucking it up.

I’m sure I’ll guilt my son about other things, like “When are ya gonna get a job and move out of here?” But the guilt passed from Italian mother to daughter is as thick as lasagna.

In a way I’m sad to miss out on this important tradition of proving my superiority in all things motherly. But mostly I just want it to be known that Lucas doesn’t really need a train set. He’s already getting the best gift my parents could give him: they’ll be here to celebrate his birthday.

My Cousin’s Big Fat Italian Wedding

This past weekend, my entire Italian family (including a few cousins from the motherland) gathered together to watch my beautiful cousin Christina say “I do.” Nothing makes Italians more Italian than a wedding.

I mean, really. So gorgeous.
I mean, really. So gorgeous.

We stood for the bride’s entrance and the minute she walked through the door, the waterworks started. I thought I was the only one being ultra-sensitive, but then I noticed that more than half the room was sniffling. Guess which half of the room had to retouch their makeup after the ceremony? The Italian side.

As we filed into the reception area, a clot of black suits and little black dresses in the corner told me there must be a bar. There was—an open bar at that—though it was for a short period of time. So naturally, being the classy people that we are, we stepped up to the bar and ordered double drinks.

Back at our table, it was all the Garofoli cousins sitting together. Me, Alex, Alyssa, Corey, Corey’s boyfriend Jon, Jonelle, Matt, and Danny. Jonelle’s finance Joe was supposed to join us, but at the last minute had to cancel because of work. So as we sat down, we stared at the empty seat. Without a word, the tears started again, this time because all we could think about was Sam, and how he should have been there making us all laugh until we peed.

“Shutup, don’t you start!” said Matt to Corey, who hadn’t said a single word, but was already holding her eyes open so her mascara wouldn’t run.

“That’s Joe’s seat!” said Jonelle, who was trying to diffuse the situation, but it was too late. There we all were, mourning our funny cousin who was lost too soon. It’s going to happen at every happy or sad or momentous occasion moving forward. So we may as well let the tears flow.

Because we can’t go anywhere without causing trouble, Matt broke out a few nips and we all did a shot to Sam, but not before the waitstaff came over and yelled at us for having nips, which were not allowed at the reception.

“Sure, we’ll get rid of them!” we said, and proceeded to get rid of them by pouring them down our throats. Again, pure class.

Speaking of class, there was a photo booth at the reception, which needs to happen at all weddings I attend from now on. Note to any of my friends or family who plan to wed in the future: photo booth or I’m not coming.

Just in case you weren’t aware, Italians are attention whores. So a photo booth with accessories was like crack to us. As soon as we found out about it, we mad dashed to the corner and threw on the most ridiculous hats we could find and joined one another in pictures that got progressively crazier by the minute. We started off kinda nice, a few couples being slightly goofy, smiling and smooching. By the end, it was 80 Italians crammed into one photo throwing up middle fingers and giving crazy goat face.

lesscrazy

mediumcrazyfullcrazy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You think the madness ends there? I didn’t call this my cousin’s big fat Italian wedding for nothing. Certainly the cousins know how to party, but guess where we got it from? The parents.

As the DJ transitioned from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin into Lil’ Jon, the parents were befuddled. “Turn Down for What” blasted from the speakers and the cousins formed a circle to shake it down, but the aunts and uncles were like…uhhhhh…what is this music? So my mom and aunt, sufficiently plastered, decided to roll with it. They ended up busting better moves than all of us combined. And I have video evidence. Let’s just say, this is the tame, edited version of the events:

Ladies and gentlemen, my family, thank you very much. A room full of Italians celebrating the union of a loving couple by yelling out “skeet skeet” with all their might. If that doesn’t sum us up, I’m not sure what else will.

My Mom Told Me I’m a Good Mother, So the Apacolypse Is Nigh

Italian mothers have two jobs: feeding you, and making you feel bad about yourself. They don’t do the latter out of spite. Their intentions are good, and in the end, they motivate you to become a better person (while also hating yourself just a tiny bit).

My own mother has always been tough on me. When I brought home an A- from school, she wondered why it wasn’t an A. When I didn’t put away a TV tray after she had asked me to (admittedly several times), she grounded me for a month. She taught me to sit up straight, make myself presentable, part my hair on the side (so it didn’t accentuate my large nose), and when in doubt, always do what “they say” (the elusive “they”).

mother and daughter

But Mom had never been more scrutinizing than when I became a mother. She had the experience, of course, and I didn’t know what in God’s name I was doing. I’m sure it must be just about impossible for an Italian mother to hold her tongue and let her daughter make her own decisions/mistakes about her child. Because if there’s anything an Italian woman loves more than her kids, it’s her grandkids. Trust me, I had a Nonna.

Mom had something to say about everything: putting Lucas on his back to sleep (I put you on your stomach and you survived), pumping at work and in the middle of the night so I could breastfeed for nine months (You’re crazy), not putting up a DVD player in the backseat of the car so Lucas could watch Elmo for our 45-minute commute (He’s bored!). A lot of her advice was sound, common sense mothering. Some of it was inspired! But many things have changed in parenting in the 30-something years since I was a child.

For every recommendation of my mother’s that I’d follow, I would shoot down three others in the name of research and modern family practices. We bumped heads a lot on the best way to raise my son, but ultimately, I made the calls I felt were best for him (while also quietly absorbing her wisdom like a sponge, and refusing to admit that I was, in fact, listening to her commentary).

I would often explain to my mom that certain tactics of hers wouldn’t work because of my child’s particular temperament. He’s as stubborn as a bull that mated with a donkey and gave birth to a mutant terrier-mule hybrid. This quality will serve him well for some things, but when it comes to parenting, some of the techniques that worked on lil’ miss eager-to-please (me) just don’t apply to him. Still, I think Mom saw this as either 1. me being a lazy parent or 2. me being stubborn myself and unwilling to try something she suggests.

Recently, my parents visited for a week, mostly spending time with their grandson while Alex and I went to work. Watching my parents with Lucas, I cackled to myself as they initially told me the sun shone out of his ass, only to eventually become weary of his obstinate and extremely energetic three-year-old ways. My dad remarked on how very bull-headed Lucas is, and I tried, I really tried not to say, “You see?! I TOLD YOU.” But I said it anyway. It was too tempting.

Smugness aside, something unfathomable happened to me a few days after my parents returned home. My mom called me up and told me something that I never in a million years ever expected to come out of her mouth.

Mom: You know, I really think you’re doing a great job with Lucas.

Me: I’m sorry, what?

Mom: You’re doing a great job. You really explain things to him, and you’re patient and gentle.

Me: ……

Mom: You’re a good mother.

Me: ………….

Mom: Did you hear me?

Me: Are you dying?

In all seriousness, I can’t tell you what it means to have your own mother, your mother whom you’ve always known to be tough as nails, stronger than any person you’ve met, and the very best mother in the whole world, tell you that you are a great mom.

But let me take a stab at it anyway. What it means is that after three-and-a-half years of questioning whether I was ruining my child’s life, of worrying whether I was too tough or too soft, of fretting if I was giving my son the right amount of attention, discipline, and support that he needs—if my mom thinks I’m doing a good job, then I must be doing something right.

How I Met Your Dad

wedding pictureOkay, Lucas. You’re too young to roll your eyes at me or even sit still for a conversation longer than one minute, so for now I’ll just write this down for you to (maybe) read at a later date. One day you might ask me, “Mom, how did you and Dad meet?” and I’m going to stumble a little, as I always do when I tell people this story. Because the thing is, Lucas, your father and I met…in Las Vegas.

I’m not sure what people will think about Vegas when you become a teenager, but in 2006 when I went to there for a business trip, Vegas was a party place where people went to hook up with strangers, drink, gamble, and maybe take in a show. I was sent there for a full week by myself to review dance shows and competitions for the magazine that I worked for in New York. Your dad was dragged along with his friends, even though he wasn’t much of a drinker, didn’t gamble, and he counted playing Command and Conquer into the wee hours of the night as a really wild time.

For the week that I was in Vegas, most of my work took place during the night, which left my mornings and afternoons wide open. I can’t tell you how bizarre it was to be alone in Las Vegas not getting afternoon drunk on cocktails served by banana-hammock-clad pool boys. Time had a strange way of both zooming by and flowing like molasses. I was equal parts geared up and ridiculously bored. So the only natural thing for me to do was to eat Alaskan king crab legs from the buffet at 9am, and then head down to the pool.

…Which is where I saw him.

Your dad was sitting by the pool with his friends when he turned around and flashed me his killer smile. I know, I know. You’re probably like ew. Stop. But it’s too late now—you asked. Be grateful I didn’t sit you down for eight seasons and tell you about all the dudes I banged before I met your dad (hint: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less than Ted Moseby).

I smiled back at him. He turned back to his friends and I returned to sunbathing. Glanced over again. Smiled. Blushed. Smiled back. Looked away. Pretended to be fully absorbed in fixing the strings on my bikini. Glanced over. He was looking again. Smiled. He still wasn’t coming over. I thought Should I do something? I shouldn’t do anything. Glanced over. Yup, he was smiling again.

Clearly, I was going to have to do something. I decided to up the stakes and jumped into the pool. Nothing is more awkward than swimming around in a pool by yourself attempting to look sexy while doing the doggie paddle. It was the middle of July in Vegas and I was getting hot, so I decided to dunk my head. Then I went for it—the Full Ariel.

This time I didn’t look back over at your dad because as soon as I launched myself out of the water and threw my hair back, I realized that 1. he would probably never, ever talk to me after that and 2. I was in too deep. Still, after swimming over to the fountain and attempting to hide my shame behind it, I realized there was no turning back. I chanced a look.

Still smiling. Still not coming to talk to me.

Phase three: I just swam over to him, pulled myself out of the pool, sat down beside him and said “hi.” Your Tio Eric’s sister was there, and she yelled out to your dad, “Buy her a drink, for God’s sake!” If I wasn’t embarrassed before, I surely was now. Thankfully, your dad didn’t seem to mind the fact that I circled him like a shark. We hit it off, chatting in the pool for so long that I got sunburned on only the left side of my body. We met for a burger before I had to go review a show, then we had a drink when I came back.

The next day, your dad left to go back to California. A couple days after that, I returned to New York. You would think, okay, you went on one date in Las Vegas, where nothing is normal. That should have been it! If you know anything about us, you know we are both pretty practical people, neither of us prone to impulsive behavior. But for some reason, we just kept going. We called. We talked. We discovered we missed each other. We fell in love with each other. We trekked across the country a few times to visit each other. And after only a few months, I moved out to California to be with him, leaving everything and everybody I knew behind.

A year after we met, we were engaged. A year after that, we got married. And then we had you, the best thing that has ever happened to either of us. Do you believe that if we hadn’t both gone to Vegas that week, hadn’t both stayed at the same hotel, hadn’t followed through after that smile, hadn’t called each other every day, hadn’t moved across the country and uprooted our lives—you wouldn’t be here?! Think about all the things that had to fall into place for you to become a person. And yet, you are here. And that just proves to me what I had a hunch about all along:

Meeting your father was magic.

happy couple on beach

Happy six-year anniversary, Alex :).

10 Reasons I Love My Kid

No, this is not a braggy “my kid is better than your kid” post. I just realized that I do a lot of complaining about the challenges of parenthood on this here blog, and it would be a nice change of pace to tell you all what makes Lucas such a dynamite little boy.

Mom and sonAdjusting to being a parent, even three-and-a-half years later, has been the transition of my life, but throughout those difficult times—the sleepless nights and the potty training and the whining and the refusing to listen—there have been moments when my son has just astounded me, just simply floored me. I never did the baby book thing—my memories of Lucas as a baby and toddler are encapsulated in random journals and photos. And I know it’s trite, but I wanted a space for those moments to have their moment on the Internet, too (even if it’s only for me to look back on one day and go, “Oh my God, Lucas, remember when you used to do that?” And for him to go, “MAAAAAAA. STOP!”)

I realize that this blog officially makes me an Overbearing Italian Mother™, but I’m here to tell you 10 reasons why I love my kid (in no particular order). And don’t you stop me, Smee, don’t you dare try to stop me.

1. His beautiful long lashes that close around his eyes like Venus fly traps.

2. His gravelly little laugh he’s had since he first started chuckling at the stupid things we do. (Apologies for the portrait-style filming. This was before I knew better.)

3. When he mixes up his sentence structure by saying things like “I want balloon red one” (I want the red balloon) or “I want something want” (I want something else).

4. His incredible compassion. Even at such a young age, if he sees a friend get hurt, he runs over to make sure he’s okay. And when my back is acting up, he comes over and in a soft voice says, “You got ow-y on your back, Mama? Awwww. It’s okay.” And I feel like I must be doing something right.

5. His complete obsession with the randomest of toys. Some kids like cars and trains. My child plays with fans and lights and rocks and marbles and plastic containers and yes, I said fans. Any kind will do: ceiling fan, portable fan, window fan…if it turns on and whirls, he’s set for days. Possibly years.

6. When he pops into the kitchen when I’m cooking and says, “What’re you doin’, Mama?” And when I tell him, he acts all excited (no matter what I say), and replies, “Oooooooooooh! That’s cool!”

7. The fact that he cheers for the Red Sox, even though they are TERRIBLE. Just awful.

Red Sox fan

8. When he sings along to 80s tunes and makes me get up and dance with him in the living room. Kid’s got moves. Also, pretty decent taste in music. (Except for Katy Perry. WHY, LUCAS, WHY?!)

9. He’s got this incredible natural athletic talent. Him and Alex kick the soccer ball back and forth, and he loves to play catch, and I swear to God, if my child ends up playing soccer or baseball in any capacity, I will be that crazy mom in the stands (Overbearing Italian Mother™!) no matter how hard I try to play it cool.

10. Shit, I’m already here at number 10. He gives me a reason to live and breathe every day, no matter what kind of day I’ve had, no matter what frustration or grief or pain I’ve experienced. It’s him. It was me for 30 years, but it’s been him for the last three-and-a-half, and for the rest of my life, it will always be him.

How Many Movies Did My Son Watch This Weekend?

Not counting the ones he watched more than once, there was:

Finding Nemo
My Neighbor Totoro
How to Train Your Dragon
Despicable Me
Kung Fu Panda
Iron Man and Hulk (some random cartoon on Netflix)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’d like to just go ahead and nominate myself for mother of the year. We did do a few things besides park ourselves in front of the TV, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that we didn’t have many plans this weekend besides chores around the house, so we let the movies fill in the blanks.

Two months ago, this special parenting technique would not have worked. Lucas never paid attention to the TV for more than 15 minutes. But all of a sudden he’s taking interest, and to be honest, it’s sort of magical to start showing him all our favorites. Especially when he makes a face like this:

happy face

A weekend full of movies normally wouldn’t bother me, especially now that my son will cuddle up and sit still for a bit. But it stands in stark contrast to so many other Facebook fancy Labor Day weekends: trips to Martha’s Vineyard, that one last beach day, camping in Big Sur, and cookouts in the backyard with your whole damn East Coast family. I can’t help but feel a little wistful for a weekend like this, instead of having spent two hours in the closet clearing out old baby clothes:

family cookout
My Italian family sent me this picture in an effort to make me feel included. Instead, I cried because I wanted a slice of Auntie Lisa’s pizza so bad.

Still, it’s not as though our weekend was a total wash. We had a great play date with Lucas’ best friend from school. We went for a couple walks around the neighborhood, played in the park a few times, and got Lucas a REAL big boy bed that seems completely enormous. It’s maybe possible we put it together wrong—yay for two completely useless handy folk in the house! Check it:

big boy bed

My mom loves to guilt me when we don’t do a lot of exciting things for Lucas on the weekends, but sometimes this is just the way things work out. We may not have the funds, our friends and family may be busy, or we may just have a bunch of stuff to do to keep our house clean and our backyard weeded, and our closets from overflowing with stuff we don’t need to hang onto any longer. Sometimes a weekend is just a weekend. We may not always have an amazing experience lined up for Lucas. But when we don’t, we’ve got the movies to make him smile, and bring a little magic right into our boring little lives.

Losing Sleep: the Eternal Battleground of Early Parenthood

How many times have you heard this?

“Nobody told me I was going to be losing THIS much sleep!”

And how many times have you thought this?

“Well, people were telling you, you probably just didn’t realize how dead serious they were.”

In the heady early days of pregnancy, when you are freaking out over what you can and can’t eat, how suddenly very tired you are, and how the smell of meat makes you want to chop off your nose and bury it in a box of linen-scented dryer sheets, some jerk-off gives you this smug advice: “Get your sleep now, because when the baby comes, you won’t be sleeping at all!” Thank you, Susie Suck My Ass. I’m sure I can just store up all the sleep I’m going to need over the next nine months like some kind of bloaty squirrel who DOESN’T leak piss in the middle of the night and whose limbs DON’T fall asleep if she doesn’t lay on her left side with a pillow dildo shoved between her legs.

Pregnancy is not the time to store up all the sleep you’re going to need. The (generally) 20- or 30-something years before you become pregnant are the years to catch up on your sleep. In fact, you should just hibernate for most of that time. When you are a toddler fighting your parents over going to bed, you should actually be resting so that you’ll have the strength to battle your own toddler when he decides he’s not going to sleep for you.

Because—let me strip this of all hyperbole for a second—you will not just lose out on a few months of solid sleep when you become a new parent. You will be battling it out with your child for years. YEARS.

You will pat yourself on the back when, at some point during your child’s babyhood, he will suddenly start sleeping through the night and you’ll go…this is it! My God, I can get eight straight hours again! Let me break your heart right now: this is temporary. He will get night terrors or begin climbing out of his crib and you will start the battle again.

sleepy baby
This was back when he would knock out for us after 10 minutes of head rubs and we thought that was rough.

But you may come out the other end victorious! And you get your kid to miraculously sleep through the night again and you think…alright NOW we’re good! We can watch Dr. Who together and stretch out in our bed without tiny feet donkey-kicking us in the crotch! Nope. He will come back at you again, this time by walking out of his toddler bed or insisting on getting up to pee or having another last cup of water or begging you for one more story or being afraid of fireworks even though it’s been a month since the Fourth of July.

And you go back and forth in this bullshit tug-of-sleep-war until the child starts wearing you down and, after three-and-a-half years, you begin letting him have little victories here, little conciliations there, and all of a sudden he’s up every night until 10pm, controlling your TV, wedging himself between you and your spouse, and pretty much guaranteeing that you never have a good night’s sleep ever again.

Guys, I’ve thrown in the towel. I’m waving the white flag. I’m so damn tired that I can’t help but write in cliches. I don’t know what to do anymore, and I do not have a single iota of energy left to fix the problem. I know we can’t go on indefinitely like this. How does the child wake up every morning and go about his day? How is he still running around all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? (See? Cliches.)

All I know is that I’ve lost the battle this time, but I cannot lose the war. (More cliches.) When Lucas becomes a surly teenager who hopes to sleep until 11am, guess who’s going to go storming into his bedroom, opening the blinds, and jumping on his bed? When Lucas wants to unwind after finishing his homework by gunning down zombies on his PS14, guess who’s going to go skipping into the living room and insisting we watch The Sound of Music? When Lucas calls me to complain about his son keeping him up all hours of the night, guess who’s going to cackle like a witch riding a hyena?

THIS GAL.

And I will stretch out on my bed and I will watch my TV shows and I will blog without having to crouch over my laptop like Gollum guarding his Precious…and I will think wistfully back on the time when my son loved being with me so much that he refused sleep, the most cherished of all cherished commodities.

It Must Be Hard Being Three Years Old

Last night, I dropped my son off at my in-laws’ house to spend a few days with them while I attend the BlogHer Conference in San Jose. Normally, I rev myself up in anticipation of having time alone, but end up feeling wistful and almost immediately miss Lucas when he’s gone.

That did not happen this time.

I could not get the child to his grandparents’ house fast enough. Turns out, he felt the same way. In the car ride home from pre-school (and before we drove to my in-laws’), my son whined no less than 54 times about how he wanted to go to Casa King City, he wanted to go to Ama Lety’s house, he wanted to go see the fans (he loves fans more than he loves me), he wanted to gooooooo nowwwwwww. Well kid, DON’T WORRY. WE’RE GOING.

We dropped him off, we had dinner, we stuck around for a bit. Then, when it was time to say goodbye, we reminded Lucas that he’d be staying, and we would be back for him in a couple days. He pushed me out the door, literally took his two hands and shoved at my legs, and said, “Go, Go, GO.” No problem, Lucas. Nooooooooo problem.

This morning, I woke up when my alarm went off. I hit the snooze button. I woke up when it went off again. I stretched and yawned and admired the silence as I lazily strolled to the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee. I sat for 20 uninterrupted minutes and drank my coffee while scrolling through Facebook. I took a shower. I shaved my legs. I did not have to make a lunch and pack snacks and brush teeth and wipe an ass that’s not mine and bargain and negotiate and hustle and herd in order to get my son out the door and into the car. I did not spend the next 45 minutes arguing with my son over which snacks he wanted to eat and which songs he wanted me to play while I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I did not have to go to pre-school and put things in Lucas’ cubby and zip him up in his jacket and escort him onto the playground to find his friends. I drove directly to my office, pulled up into my parking spot, and took a moment to tidy the backseat of my car, which looked like the scene of a mass cracker murder.

I was 10 minutes early to work.

I’m not going to lie: birds are singing out of my ass today.

A past me would have felt guilty for feeling this good about my temporary freedom from parenthood. The new me has zero fucks to give. There must be something about being three years old that requires children to systematically torture their parents until they’ve drained them of their patience the same way SoCal has drained California of its water reserves.

Mexicans call this mulo.
Mexicans call this mulo.

Still, I feel for the lad. Being three years old must be challenging. You are gaining all these language skills and fine motor skills, and this means your parents expect more of you, which makes you hella moody because they used to do all this stuff FOR you. There’s a reason why people call three-year-olds threenagers. (Alex, in the background rolling his eyes, goes, “Only white people say shit like that.”) As much as we needed the break from our threenager, though, it’s clear Lucas needed the break from us, too.

So hopefully we all come back together on Sunday well-rested (ha!), rejuvenated, and ready to begin the slow, soul-crushing descent into being the parents of a three-year-old, as well as being the three-year-old son of parents who have no idea how to parent a three-year-old.

Houston, We Have a Swearing Problem

I always knew this day would come. Alex and I swear like sailors. When I first met him, he was so prolific with the f-bombs, I wondered if he didn’t, in fact, know any other adjectives or verbs. Hailing from New York City, I had been known to get creative with my cussing as well. So when we had a child, we said, okay, we’ll have to reel it in someday.

fresh face
fresh face

Little baby Lucas, we soon realized, had no idea what we were saying most of the time. So we continued to let the swears flow, be they in much softer, gentler tones. Soon he grew into a boisterous toddler, but he mostly refrained from talking about anything other than lights and fans. (The kid’s obsessed with things that turn on and turn off and spin. I don’t know. Just roll with it.) Every once in a while he would parrot back to us a “shit or “ass,” but he’d say it once, we’d shake with suppressed laughter, and then we’d all move on.

Well, the day has finally come, my dears, that we’ve got to officially hang up all our fuckshitbitchasshattery. While playing Mario Kart (and losing badly), I accidentally hit a button on my controller that made it go all wonky. Alex offered to help me fix it, but I was already way behind on the race so I said, “Fuck it.” Welp. Lucas seems to have taken with this phrase. “Fuck it” is now all that comes out of his mouth.

Lucas, with a shit-eating grin: Hey Mama! Fuck it.

Me, flustered: Hey, that’s not very nice, Lucas. You shouldn’t say that.

Lucas: Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it, fuck it.

Me and Alex exchange wide-eyed looks: Heeeeeeey now, that’s enough. What’s that you’re saying? Bucket? Oh yes! Bucket!

Lucas pauses, slightly quizzical. We think: Yessssss. Victory. He continues: Bucket, fuck it. Bucket, fuck it. Bucket, fuck it.

Christ on a cracker, we are in trouble. (What? I can still swear on my blog.) I’m not exactly sure how to remedy this swearing problem. He has continued harassing us with his bucket, fuck it song-and-dance for two evenings now. We are trying to ignore it, but that doesn’t seem to help. In the meantime, over the last two days I have used the words sugar, fudge, dang it, S-H-I-T head, eff you, and wanker as swear replacements in front of the boy, in hopes to curb any additional potty mouth.

I know swears will come out of our mouths. We’ve become so accustomed to cussing that it’s practically etched into our DNA. But I’ve got to give it the old college try. I can just imagine the future calls from the principal’s office.

“Hi, Mrs. Zamora. Yes, your son was caught calling his classmate a ‘cunt goblin.’ Can you explain?” the stern principal grills me.

“Hahahaha! Cunt goblin!”

“…..”

“No, but that’s not funny. I’ll talk to him.”

Maybe in the future swearing will be acceptable in polite company. Like, the more creative you are with your swears, the better chance you have of landing your dream job. But that’s just me being hopeful. I suppose for now, the swears will have to be tucked away, along with the rest of my dreams.

I Went to My First True Mexican Wedding This Weekend

I’ve been to several weddings of Alex’s family and friends in the eight years we’ve been together. I’ve seen the dollar dance and sighed wistfully as a mariachi band serenaded the bride and groom. But I hadn’t experienced a true Mexican wedding until this weekend, when my friends Chata and Candy got married and proceeded to party like I’ve never wedding-partied before.

Mexican wedding
I love these people.

Italian weddings are not so different from your typical American wedding. There’s maybe a little more food and we are partial to giving (and receiving) large sums of money in little cards (instead of actual, you know, presents), but otherwise, it all feels pretty much the same. You get a DJ or band, you cut the cake, you dance it up for a couple hours, you go home.

Oh no, Mexicans aren’t going out like that. They par-TAY. This was an all-day affair, from the ceremony at noon until, I’m guessing, well past midnight. (We left at around 11, but the party was still going strong.)

We arrived at the reception at 3:00, after going home and feeding the kids and letting them run around and rest a little, since we had to hold their wiggly asses for an hour during the ceremony while listening to readings from the Corinthians in Spanish. When we got to the reception, my first tip that shit was going to be different was the security guard stationed at the door.  Apparently, Mexicans are all “We INVENTED the Wedding Crashers,” so the guards make sure that only the 500 people who were invited walked through the door.

The decorations were absolutely lovely. Candy’s sister and, I believe, one or two other family members created all the centerpieces themselves. They tied together vintage wine bottles and mason jars with lace and filled them with gorgeous coral and white flowers. Little burlap bags were filled with chocolates for party favors. What looked like swollen cocoons of twinkly white lights hung from the tall ceilings. Just FYI for anyone ever considering ordering expensive-ass wedding decorations in the future: you should hire Candy and Chata’s family.

But here’s the part that’s really interesting: Mexicans don’t have a (mostly useless) rehearsal dinner the night before. Instead, they pack up all their homemade decorations and spend the evening decorating the place themselves. I’m sorry, that’s just effing genius. It saves you tons of money, and enables you to make sure everything is to your liking (instead of arriving to a room full of maroon linens when you clearly wanted tan).

After admiring the decorations and the mariachi band, we sat down and were quickly served a paper plate full of rice and beans and BBQ beef goodness. Insanely delicious. I may have eaten half of my son’s plate…

Drinks were also served in the back by members of Candy and Chata’s family. Two cousins worked the keg pump all night, while a couple other friendly dudes doled out the wine. Sprite, Coke, water, and other drinks were kept in a cooler. It all felt so casual and yet so festive. I did a quick little compare-and-contrast in my head and wondered why most “American” weddings are so stuffy and formal. Just BYOB! I bet it also saved thousands of dollars on the liquor costs.

I was feeling warm and romantic and a little buzzed and ready to get my groove on the dance floor when I was hit with a brick wall of culture shock. Banda. A 12-piece brass section played for several hours and I was sadly way, way out of my element. I watched as the crowd bobbed up and down to the high-pitched horns and, for the very first time in my life, I had no idea how to move to the music.

So I did what any good Italian would do: drank like a fish. Unfortunately, the rice and beans and tres leches cake (YUM) soaked up the liquor like a Sham-Wow and by the time I left the party at 11pm, I was only mildly tipsy.

Thankfully, my friends were far more wasted. We then did what any good American would do: hit up Denny’s to torture some 17-year-old waiter forced to serve drunken middle-aged party goers. And that’s a whole other blog post for tomorrow, kids :).