A Better Brand of Peeps Makes a Patchy Planet Perfect

Nightmares were always subjective to whatever phase of my life I was going through at the time. When I was a kid, I had this reoccurring dream that a banshee was chasing me out of my childhood home. I’d collapse on the steps while she defied gravity behind me, shrieking her ear-piercing wail that cut through your very being. I never got passed the steps, because I was suddenly paralyzed, and the last thing I remember is her jaws parting completely in half before she leaned over to swallow my soul. To this day, I still remember the sound of her scream.

Fortunately, I always woke up before she ever ‘got’ me. Some nightmares, however, cannot be solved by simply waking up. I’m referring to the children that are helped by CURE.org. They heal kids with conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns, and hydrocephalus. I took notice of this cause through Blogelina, in which she started this (rather ingenious) effort to raise awareness for CURE.org and what they do. After some research into their efforts, I thought to myself, “Hey… that’s cool shit. I’d like to help do some cool shit for some cool kids.”

I am not a woman of God. Religion waved bye-bye to me long ago. But I do not believe I have to be operating under the name of the Lord to want and encourage healing. Facts are facts, however, and according to their website, CURE.org’s first hospital opened in 1998. Since then, they have serviced over 2.7 million patients, performing over 191,000 surgeries. They could be operating under any number of Gods or Goddesses around the world, and I would still find that pretty damn inspiring.

My blog originally started out as a place where I could go to inject whimsical stories of my son into the internet in the hopes that you’d all find him as adorable/hilarious/charming/super amazing as I do. After some thought though, if I could reach even one person in my tiny, tiny audience, and encourage them to do some good for the world (and the tiny, tiny people in it) that would be a thousand and three times more satisfying then getting a few people to chuckle at a silly anecdote. So, today, take a few minutes to figure out what you want to do to make a positive difference in some way. Even a small one. Plant a tree. Put your soda can in the recycling bin. Donate $5 to a charity of your choice. At the risk of sounding like an insane person, this is the world we’re leaving for our kids… I’d like to be sure it’s a damn good one… or at the very least, a slightly less shitty one than it was three seconds ago.

If you also have a mommy blog, please join in the movement, and visit Blogelina’s #1000MomBlogMakeovers at her website below.

http://blogelina.com

And for those of you who would like to learn more about CURE.org, please see the link below. Thank you!

http://cure.org

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Life and Pink Toasters

A letter to my son.

Dear Oliver,

I was going to say ‘sorry’ that you were mistaken for a girl at the bank today, because it’s likely a culmination of things I’ve done to you that led to that happening, since you’re only 11 months old and incapable of making a lot of decisions about how you present yourself to the world.  I’m sure you didn’t mind, because as previously stated, you’re very young.  It occurred to me that you might mind when you get older, but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t. I didn’t mind.  I’m not sorry you were mistaken for a girl, because people are going to assume things about you your entire life, and it’s best to learn to accept them with grace and confidence now. (Also, your mom is a girl, and she’s badass, and there’s nothing wrong with being a girl.)

You have super long hair. You love to cook fake food with your pink toaster. You have the eyelashes of a greek goddess. Because of this, people might assume you are a girl.

You like trucks. You don’t limit your wardrobe to just blue. You have incredibly dirty knees all the time, despite how many baths I give you, because you love to play outside. Because of this, people might assume you are a boy.

There’s a saying about ‘assumptions’, but I’ll spare you the details. All you need to concern yourself with is being happy, regardless of everything. There’s going to be a time when you go to school and children are going to say hurtful things to you. I know it’ll bother you. I know my words won’t change a thing, but I’m going to say them anyway: Please, please, do not let it get to you. Strangers do not matter. Opinions do not matter. And when you feel alone, just remember, mom will silently be chanting these things along side you, while she’s resisting the urge to punch your six year old tormenter in the face. (“Dick head kids who say shitty things to my son do not matter… dick head kids who say shitty things to my son do not matter…”) Deep breaths, kiddo. We’ll get through it together.

High school will be tough. Teenagers make a lot of assumptions, because, like, they like, know everything. You included: you’ll assume, too. If your teenage years are anything like mine, you’ll assume they are right about what they say about you, that you are a loser/nerd/dork/weirdo/generic terrible insult. Spoiler alert: They are wrong, they know nothing, and they do not matter.

It took me a long time to learn that. I’m hoping it takes you considerably less time. Assumptions will follow you well beyond your high school years, son, but the story is the same. You matter. Your happiness matters. Do whatever it takes to keep that in tact. The rest is just details. The only safe assumption to make is that I will do whatever it takes to help you maintain that happiness… even if, right now, it means hunting down all the pink toasters in the world.

Love, Mom

Afternoon Thoughts

My stepson, who is ten, often has his friend over, who is also ten. They play video games and laugh amongst themselves, as ten year olds often do (if I recall correctly from my own childhood). This is nothing new, especially with their newfound free time, what with it being spring break and all. What is new, however, is my 9 month old son, trying desperately to hang out with them while they do their thing.

9 months old and he’s already favoring the company of others over me? I thought I had at least another five years or so before I had to worry about this particular heart-shattering milestone!

The situation is bittersweet. I do miss him clinging desperately to my leg while I tried feverishly to write (often in vain, since I’d surrender to his cries within milliseconds and scoop him into my arms for the next eight-two hours). It’s weird now, sitting here, staring at him as he tries to climb his brother’s leg, or his brother’s friend’s leg, while I watch on, typing mindlessly, drinking a beer. (Yup.)

The thing is: I could also miss his dependance on me more than I do. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

I read a lot of things in my newsfeed every day about moms reliving old memories with big, shining, nostalgia-fueled eyes. I’m guilty of this too, of course– (who doesn’t miss wrapping up their little chunklet into a tiny baby burrito?) But the reality is, you’re not obligated to feel at a total loss when your child discovers their independence. You were once a person completely separate from your child. I’ve come to learn something I hold very near and dear to my heart:

Your child can be your whole life, without consuming your whole life.

I know that later tonight, around 8:00 p.m., if not sooner, he’s going to crawl over to me in search of bed time cuddles. I know that as he drifts off to sleep, he’ll clutch my finger with the death grip of a thousand and one Red King crabs. I know he’ll wake up at least seven times tonight, uttering his tiny little pout that can be silenced within seconds with the magic of mom love. And I’ll enjoy it. Every second of it.

But in the mean time… until that happens… I’ll enjoy the hell out of this beer.

Better Homes and Duct Tape

My son is mobile.

I’m sure several readers who have experienced this sentence for themselves have shifted their expressions into that all-knowing look that is a combination of both pride and pity. Oh, the pity. In any case, this milestone has transformed more than just my son’s development as a baby– it’s transformed my living room. And my kitchen. And the bedrooms. And bathroom. And everywhere.

Confession: Clutter makes me absolutely bonkers. ‘Neurotic’ doesn’t seem to do justice to exactly whatever chemical imbalance takes place in my brain when a clean dish isn’t put back in the cupboard. But mobile babies and injuries seem to go together like peanut butter and, “Just look at that, he’s already trying to hit his head on the coffee table.”

I bought my house when I was 21 years old. It’s nothing fancy, a standard two bedroom (with a non-conforming 3rd bedroom) and one bath. It won’t be featured in any snooty homes magazine, but it’s charming, I love it, and in the six years I’ve lived in it I have tried to make it reflect my love outwardly in the form of decorative pillows that appropriately match the accent wall.

This house has seen many transformations over the years: vinyl siding, energy-efficient window installations, faux tin ceiling tile, fresh coats of paint, hardwood laminate flooring in the bedrooms to combat the nightmare that is my corgis shedding coats of fury, and a basement overhaul. It’s most recent transformation, however, has been the addition of a lonely living room toy box that often sits empty, what with its contents being continuously comfy laying on the living room floor. Overturned dog water dishes have turned the kitchen into a full size Slip N’ Slide. And, perhaps my favorite, the protective foam wrapping around my once sleek, slate and oak coffee table– (which wouldn’t be so bad, if we didn’t have to duct tape it on since my son so enjoyed pulling it off).

I’m fairly certain Past McKenzie would’ve looked at these things with sheer horror and felt the quickening pulse accompanied by that rise in tension. But MomKenzie just takes it in strides. After all, the tension one may have by looking at a foamed, duct taped coffee table is often balanced out by the peace of mine a foamed, duct taped coffee table.

Putting the ‘Vacate’ in ‘Vacation

When my husband and I got married in September of last year, my dad and stepmom graciously gave us the gift of a honeymoon. We would be traveling to beautiful Hawaii. I thank my lucky stars every day that I have people in my life who love us enough to provide us with such a wonderful opportunity. It was (and still is!) an amazing present– the gift of travel, of memories, of gratuitous freedom with the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was also the gift of complete, unadulterated anxiety at the thought of leaving my son for one week.  You know… seven days. Or 168 hours. 10,080 minutes. 604,800 seconds. But hey, who’s counting?

Now, I don’t want to come across as ungrateful in the least. There’s Wife McKenzie, who is loooonging for those fancy pineapple drinks with the little umbrellas, the beautiful black sand, the wild chickens running around all willy nilly… and of course, alone time with the husband. But sometimes she gets shoved aside by a portion of me who we’ll call ‘MomKenzie”. MomKenzie is insane. MomKenzie is kind of a bitch, as she has no regard for Wife McKenzie’s feelings. While there’s a small part of MomKenzie that wants to sit on a beach and sip fruity drinks, a vast majority of MomKenzie’s being wants nothing more than to sit on a hardwood floor and make a stack of blocks for her son to knock over again and again.

After the days ticked away that we would make our departure, the separation started to become more and more ‘real’. Logically, I knew that my son would be extremely well taken care of, thrust into the loving arms of my mother, who adores him more than __________. (She adores him so much, I literally can’t even think of an appropriate comparison, because nothing in the world exists that could equate to the love she has for her grand baby.) The problem is/was a combination of two things: the guilt, and the dilution of grandeur that nobody will be as good for him as I am. In an effort to help any mom or dad in the future who may experience the same anxiety I felt/am feeling now, I’m going to let you in on the three tips that have helped me bridge the gap between “HE NEEDS ME!!!1one” to “I’m going to miss him like crazy, but I’m going to have fun, too”.

  • 1. Your spouse needs your attention just as much as your baby does.

Hear me out on this one. I know, I know, it sounds crazy to entertain the idea that a fully grown human being could need you as much as a tiny ball of flesh that’s barely capable of feeding itself, let alone realizing that, when it IS capable of feeding itself, it’s trying to gobble every choking hazard within arm’s reach. But the time between a husband and his wife (or wife/wife, or husband/husband, or any combination of the two) is important. These two people need to love and respect one another if they’re going to teach those values to their offspring. I’m not saying you can’t stay at home and love your spouse, but it’s an awful lot easier to show my husband how attractive/awesome/amazing I still find him without the beady little eyes of our son judging every extra-long kiss we exchange. You know? Yeah, you know.

  • You need your attention as much as your baby does.

You were a person before your child. I’m assuming you had goals, hobbies, dreams, shit that you did to pass the time. Whether it was watching TV uninterrupted for an eight hour period or running a marathon, sometimes it’s nice to go back and hang out with ‘Past Self’. Past McKenzie loooooved extravagantly oversized margaritas. She’s fun to hang out with (in small doses, and when there aren’t any other responsibilities that need tending to.) I just think it’s easier to teach your child to discover who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, when you aren’t so out of touch with your own. That whole ‘lead by example’ chestnut… Remembering that has helped me out a lot.

I would never let my son hang out with Past McKenzie while she hammers three strawberry margaritas out of a fish bowl, but I would encourage my son to live his life with a similar passion and zest for existence (and hope to the gods that his passion lies in… like… sports or something, as opposed to sugar-laden, alcoholic beverages.)

I feel like I’m falling off track here… what I’m trying to say is, do what makes you feel awesome. Do what revives you and recharges you, because a revamped, refreshed version of you is great! It’s the best! It’s fan-fucking-tastic! Buuuut… as inflated as your ego may or may not get…. the third tip is gonna knock you down a peg, because:

  • You are not the only person in the world who is capable of keeping your child happy.

This one was kind of a kick in the metaphorical nuts for me, but it’s true. My son loves hanging out with ‘gamma’. Loves it. He lights up like a goddamn Christmas tree when she walks through the door. And, surprisingly enough, he has never sustained any emotional/physical/mental/spiritual injuries while under her care. In fact, he thrives. And while, at times, I miss him so much that I want to hurl people and objects out of my way (Hulk-style) in order to get home to him quicker, I do find it helpful to remind myself that my mom has successfully raised two children into adulthood. Two kids, over a course of 18 years… so, I guess she can handle those seven days. Those 168 hours will turn into 168 adventures with gamma. 10,080 laughs for them to share together. And about 604,800 pictures of him to look at when I come home.

Unsolicited Advice

Confession time. We co-sleep.

I’ll stand here quietly while you gasp, clutch your chest in disbelief, and flip over your laptop/hurl your phone at the wall in an angry rage. Or maybe you’re a normal human being and don’t assume that your personal opinion is some sort of holy law that should be perpetually followed, lest the world spontaneously burst into flame.

Does your baby sleep in a crib? Awesome. Does your baby sleep in bed with you? That’s cool. Does your baby only sleep on a chevron-patterned bed sheet on his or her left side while you play Peruvian flute music? Super (and mad props for the flute skills).

When my son was born, I had no clue what was best for my child. Now, here I stand, seven months into the future… and I still have no clue what’s best for my child. But, I have a better clue than most people. I know his likes and dislikes. I know he prefers mangos to meat, and king size mattresses to his crib (which has turned out to be the most expensive piece of decoration we bought).

What I’m trying to say is this: if you’re a new parent, people are going to try and tell you right from wrong. They’re going to fill your head with the statistics of SIDS if you co-sleep, the risk of obesity if you feed your baby solids too soon, which diapers will give your baby diaper rash, why you should or should not let your baby cry it out, why you should or should not put your child in day care, whether or not there’s something wrong with your kid if they do/do not meet their milestones within the imaginary time frame that THEIR child met it in, etc, so on and so forth… and that’s good! That’s awesome! Listen to them. Then do your own research. Then, after you’ve gotten all the knowledge you can in order to come to an educated decision, do what you decide is best. (If at this point anybody else has seen the irony that I’m trying to tell you what to do in an article that tells you to do what you want, you have my respect.)

You’re not a bad mom if you feed your child oatmeal cereal at four months instead of six months.

You’re not a bad dad if you use disposable diapers instead of cloth because you can’t stomach the idea of handling that much shit.

It took me a little while to learn this, but other peoples’ opinions do not magically make you a shitty parent. Aunt Ida can huff and puff all she wants about how she raised her kids, but you’re not Aunt Ida… and you don’t have to be.

There’s only been one rule I’ve ever followed to the letter when it came to becoming a parent, and it’s worked for me so far, so I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s moderately sound advice. (I know what you’re thinking…

‘She’s been a parent less than a year and I’m supposed to listen to this chick? She went to art school, for God’s sake, it’s not like she’s trained in the extensive knowledge of the human psyche. I’m supposed to model a child after this crap?‘

Yeah, well, I’m not going to say you’re wrong… but I am going to share my secret with you anyway, because I’m nice like that. You ready? Here it goes: Use common sense. That’s it.

I can’t say for certain I’m right or wrong. I don’t think anybody can. But I can say for certain that I have a happy 7 month old son who enjoys waking up beside me every morning. And that’s what’s up.

Hello world!

Errant. [er-uh-nt]. adjective

1. deviating from the regular or proper course;erring; straying.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

Hello, world. My name is McKenzie. I’m a tattoo artist (closet soccer mom) to a 7 month old boy, and I have no idea why you’re reading this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked, but it’s human nature to be somewhat self-absorbed– I mean, who actively seeks out stories that don’t involve themselves somehow? In any case, I’m thrilled you’re here. If my desire to satisfy my selfish ‘Leo’ sense of ‘me, me, me’ somehow betters your life in any mild way, well, hey, that’s awesome.

I’m going to warn you all up front: this is going to revolve around my son. A lot.

Like, “Oh, shit, she’s uploading another photo of her kid? How many stories can she tell about this guy? Fuck, how many stories can she tell about *herself*? Does she honestly think she’s paving the way to some sort of errant parenting manual? Deluuuusionaaaal…”

It’s cool. Despite having said to my mom, “I’m never going to have children!” at least one hundred and fifty eight times throughout my existence, I did. On purpose and everything. Now, here I am, infecting the internet with my adventures in parenting. If I had to choose a target audience, I’d say it’s for any soon-to-be/already-is/alternative/non-alternative-but-has-an-open-mind mom or dad (because, let’s face it, reading shit about kids isn’t half as funny if you haven’t suffered through the hilarity of children yourself).

If you don’t learn anything along the way, I hope you at least find the humor. If you want to be a somewhat functional role model to a tiny creature who will inevitably impact the outside world, you’re gonna need it.

Best regards,

-McKenzie