Posted in Mommyhood

Dear Future Husband

Maybe I’m ahead of the game, but I don’t think it’s too early to pray for the man who will become My Girl’s husband

My Girl: “I can never get married. I need to pass on our family name.”

This was said to me on the way home from horseback lessons. Seconds before we had been talking about the difference between steaks and pork chops. So, don’t ask me how My Girl went from Point A to Point B because her mind is a labyrinth I’d rather not explore.

All I could think is that there were a lot of things wrong with that statement, but did I really want to correct any of them?

Dear Future Future Husband

Though My Girl is too young to think about marriage (she turns 9 in a week), it’s definitely something I think about for her.

I’m not one of those moms who cries every time her child gets older or hits another milestone. Don’t get me wrong; I can’t even fathom My Girl growing up, moving out, living on her own and only calling me on Sunday evenings. It makes me physically sick.

But I also don’t dread her growing up. Partly because she drives me absolutely bananas? Maybe. But more because I’m so excited to see how she turns out.

I’m a very much instant-gratification kind of person. That’s why I read spoilers about books and movies incessantly. Asking me to wait 18, 20, 30, 50 years to see all my hard parenting work pay off is a lot to ask of my limited patience.

So thinking of My Girl’s future husband does happen more than you might think.

Dear Future Prince George Husband… Or some other rich husband

Obviously, she’s going to marry Prince George and become the next Meghan Markle of England. I’d like to say she will be the next Kate Middleton, but let’s be truthful here: My Girl isn’t big in the calm, elegant, and poised categories. A movie star turned princess is more her style.

And if that doesn’t work out, she’ll marry Chris Pratt and Anna Faris’s boy. I’ve done the math. They are about the same age, and how can he not grow up to be a heartthrob?

And if that doesn’t work out, I’m still rooting for LeslieAnn’s boy.

So even though I have it all worked out – obviously – I do pray for My Girl’s future husband.

I don’t pray that he’s a prince or rich movie star. I just pray, first, that his parents are raising him right. If you think about it, he’s turning into the person he’s going to be 18, 20, 30, 50 years from now. So I pray that his parents are teaching him to not be an asshole, like I’m desperately teaching My Girl.

Dear The Husband and other great male figures

I’m also praying that he’s developing the strength, patience, tolerance and courage to handle an adult My Girl, because my prediction is that she’s going to be a force to reckoned with.

First, the poor guy is already burdened down with high expectations. As much as I tease and mock The Husband, he’s a pretty amazing husband and daddy.

Dear My Husband – Did you realize what you were getting into on our wedding day? (Also, weren’t we just babies?!)

He blamed my father for this.

In fact, on more than one occasion, he has said:

“Your dad has ruined my life.”

He doesn’t mean it in the “your dad raised an asshole that I’ve now mistakenly tied myself to with gold wedding bands for the rest of my life” way. At least, not most of the time. He means it in the “your dad spoils your mom so much that the women in your family think that is normal behavior.”

He’s not wrong.

My dad helps with a lot of the cooking. He helps with laundry. He drives three hours out of his way when vacationing to avoid interstates because they make my mom nervous. He stopped making left-hand turns years ago because those also, too, make my mom nervous. He brings home peanut M’n’Ms to cheer up my mom. He exclusively buys her pajamas from Victoria’s Secrets (and get your minds out of the gutter, I mean true pajamas – like soft, fuzzy, flannel ones).

So that’s the list of normal husband expectations The Sister and I were raised with.

And guess what? Our men have stepped up (maybe mine somewhat begrudgingly).

You all know I’m spoiled. The Husband’s reasons for being institutionalized also work in my favor – he cleans, he cooks, he shares all parenting duties half-and-half, and he tolerates show tunes playing at dinner every night. He’s a partner in every sense of the word. (If you haven’t read about my diagnosis of his issues, you can here.)

And The Sister? She’s got a good one, too. Once when we were out to dinner, I watched her hubby add sugar to her tea and stir it for her. When I looked at her with incredulity, she shrugged and said: “Because I’m pregnant?”

First, it wasn’t because she was pregnant. He just loves to take care of her. And second, maybe I missed the boat on the whole pregnancy thing. That kind of pampering did look appealing.

Dear Future Husband – embrace Disney quotes

But in regards to My Girl’s potential, future husband… Prince George is going to have to be raised right to achieve the standards that the men in her life have set.

It’s not only that. But there are a few other qualities that I pray for him to have to be well supplied to handle My Girl.

He needs to be able to speak movie quotes and song lyrics fluently.

I understand that this is my fault. My Girl got this from me. I can equally quote Adam Sandler (Billy Madison, anyone?) and Shakespeare. It’s a combination of lots of reading, obsessively researching any movie/show/book I like, and a strange knack for remembering others’ catchy words.

My Girl picked this up at an early age. At age four, she would randomly throw herself to the ground, start convulsing and yell: “Blooood! Blooood! Blooood! … And death.”

I would just act natural, like, there’s nothing to see here folks. She’s just quoting Zootopia. Your 4YO doesn’t do that?

It’s only gotten worse from there. All last summer, anytime something of a small size was mentioned My Girl (with complete encouragement from her momma) would say: “Spoons. Tiny spoons. How do they make them that tiny?” That’s curtesy of Aladdin, the live action one, if you didn’t know.

Just in case you don’t have this scene memorized, like My Girl.

And now, all quotes are pulled from one of the 46 Hamilton songs My Girl has memorized. The Husband was lamenting how we listen to the soundtrack “nonstop” (see… poor guy puts up with my show tunes). That started My Girl on a rap monologue of the song with the same name: “I practiced the law, I practically perfected it; I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it.”

Dear Future Husband – learn to love all God’s creatures

My Girl’s future husband needs to be an animal lover plus. I add the plus, because a normal animal lover would be tolerant of three dogs, a cat and a tropical fish aquarium in their married home. That’s not My Girl.

Yes, she’ll have the dogs and the cats. But she also hopes to be best buds with cheetahs, giraffes, takins, snow leopards, elephants… The list goes on and on.

Maybe it’s more accurate to say he needs to be Africa-friendly. He’ll need to be outdoorsy, because My Girl has big plans to living in a tree house in Africa. Since she plays around with the idea of also living in the jungle, it might help if he’s not allergic to different types of poisonous plants.

And he certainly can’t be afraid of reptiles. Besides the obvious snakes they will encounter in the Amazon, My Girl is the proud owner of a Russian tortoise – life expectancy 80 years. We got this tortoise three years ago at the ripe old age of 6 months. It’s safe to say Totty is going to outlive us all.

Besides a super hero, the only boy alive who may currently fit that description is Steve Irwin’s son. But Robert Irwin is a cutie, so I’ll support him if he asks for My Girl’s hand.

Dear Future Husband – hands on

He needs to be a snuggler. It’s hard for me to imagine any sort of “hands on” when it comes to My Girl and her future husband, but, unlike The Husband, he needs to be ok with lots of up close and personal time.

To say My Girl is a snuggler is like saying Warren Buffet is able to pick up the check from lunch. She’s more like a mix between a golden retriever and a barnacle. She’ll follow you around with a happy, eager smile – good naturedly waiting for you to finally sit down and open your arms wide. Then she attaches herself to you in what seems like a permanent fashion, intertwining her arms and legs until there’s no part of her small body that isn’t pressed into yours.

So, Future Husband… Let me know how that goes.

Dear Future Husband – good luck…

I can’t decide on his next quality. My Girl is a talker. (Also, a huge understatement.) Some days, I pray for God to give this future husband the patience and amusement to sit back quietly and let My Girl ramble at the speed this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. But then other days, I think maybe he needs to be a bit of a talker and make My Girl finally sit still and listen to someone else for a change.

I haven’t figured out which works best for My Girl, so I’ll leave that to her husband to decide. Sucker… Ha!

I’m not trying to marry My Girl off early. I just think her Future Husband needs lots of time and prayers to prepare.

Dear Future Husband – remember that girls rule

He needs to be a feminist. Before The Husband scoffs, men certainly can be and are feminists too. And My Girl is going to need one. This isn’t all my fault, though my three classes of Women’s Studies in college didn’t help. The Husband – perhaps resentfully – is also raising a strong-minded, independent-thinking, feminist. Lord love him.

This future husband is going to have to be a fully-committed feminist though. After My Girl shocked me with her biggest reason to not marry – she needs to continue the family name – she stumbled upon a solution.

Her husband is just going to take her last name.

While I mentioned something about hyphenating her name to include both (like I did at the beginning of our marriage when I was a published journalist), I’m not one to undermine any feminist thinking. So if she wants to find a man to take her last name, more power to you My Girl.

And that’s why I’m praying for him now.

Dear Jane’s Future Husband

I also pray for Jane and Little LuLu’s husbands, because I claim those girls as my own, and also because I worry about their future partners. Little LuLu will be a handful, I predict.

Jane on the other hand, though, has lower standards. One day while sitting at our kitchen table, she said randomly with distinct wistfulness in her voice:

“When I get married, I hope my husband’s family isn’t poachers.”

So, just to appease Jane, I’ll send that prayer up into the heavens too.

Posted in Mommyhood

Shenanigans Tenfold

Is it too late to be a good child for my mom?

I cautiously open the door to My Girl’s room. There are five children in there, ages five and under. It’s been suspiciously quiet.

Rule #1 of Momhood – don’t trust the silence.

So as I start to peek around, I hear My Girl say: “Momma! Look what we did!”

Then I hear another little voice say, “I told them it wasn’t a good idea…”

My Shenanigans

It was at that point that I remember, with terror, some of the shenanigans I put my mother through.

They say you get back your childhood antics tenfold when you have children of your own. I thought I was ok with that. After all, I was a pretty good kid.

High School Shenanigans

I had my fair share of harmless shenanigans with the HSBFFs (high school BFFs – some of the funnest girls I still know to this day and probably the group of friends that could still get me into the most amount of trouble).

Typical TPing jobs (my mom supplied us with the toilet paper on one occasion), sneaking a HSBFF onto the bus for a school trip she didn’t qualify for, sneaking other HSBFFs (yes, plural) into the drive-in movie theatre by cramming them into the trunk of my car. Apparently, we did a lot of sneaking into things.

At least we weren’t sneaking out, like say of the house.

Probably one of our best shenanigan escapades was trying to find a Play Girl magazine in our small town. One of your HSBBFs just turned 18 and you live in Small Town, USA – what else are you going to do besides try to buy porn?

So, the six of us went to the local music store looking for a dirty mag. Sexists SOBs. They had Play Boy, but no Play Girl. It’s apparently easier to misbehave when you’re a male. Someone tell My Girl and Little LuLu this.

Somehow we ended up at a small bookstore in a strip mall. The bravest of my HSBBFs asked the cashier – a little old lady of probably age 70 – if she had a back room. Wink wink. Of course, said Little Old Lady, follow me. Score!

So we all followed Little Old Lady to the back room. Literally. Little Old Lady didn’t catch the wink wink part. Thus ended the adventure to find inappropriate reading materials in Indiana – in the store room/employee breakroom of a little old lady’s bookstore.

Me (top right) and some of the HSBFFs. This could be actual footage of us finding a dirty mag… Oh wait. That never happened.

Piercing Shenanigans

Then, of course, there was the typical sneaking around to get something pierced or colored or tattooed. Since I was blessed with an older sister, I had an idea of what I could and couldn’t get past my parents.

For example, I couldn’t hide a belly button ring. Thank you to The Sister for trying first (read about it here).

The Sister had her belly button for a total of seven hours before our Pappy said the dreaded: “Either you tell your dad or I will.”

When I went out of state to pierce my belly button, I knew better than to try to hide it. Instead, I talked endlessly about the tattoo I was going to get, thinking my dad would be relieved when I came home with ONLY a belly button ring.

I didn’t fool anyone though. He knew I wouldn’t get inked. But I did show him eventually… I now have six tattoos (much to his chagrin, I’m sure), but the belly button ring grew shut.

Sibling Shenanigans

Along with teaching me how to succeed in getting body parts pierced, my older siblings were excellent teachers in household shenanigans. Sometimes, I think My Girl shouldn’t get into too much no good since she doesn’t have a brother or sister to encourage her or give her ideas.

Unlike The Brother and The Sister. They encouraged me to do wrong and then taught me how to get away with it. Like the time we did the typical, cliche, home-alone misdeed. We rough housed or played ball or broke some other cardinal rule. The end result was a broken lamp.

Yes, I know. How unpredictable.

What was surprising was my mother’s gullibility. We blamed the broken lamp on our cat. Our poor, quiet yet grouchy cat who had never made a mess or broke anything the entire time we had her.

“I know, Mom! I can’t believe it either. She jumped up on the end table and knocked the lamp right off! Bad, Gadget!!”

She bought it. Hook. Line. And Sinker. The Brother glued the lamp back as best he could, and our guilt lingered on enough (more about the lie that was so easily swallowed than the actual lamp breaking) that we bought my mom a new, nicer lamp that year for Christmas.

Still, she didn’t see through our obviously transparent lie. It wasn’t until many years later that we came clean. She was shocked.

Solo Shenanigans

But since My Girl doesn’t have any siblings to encourage her in misdeeds, I’d like to consider myself pretty safe from shenanigans. (Also, who’s starting to replay the Super Troopers scene in their head with all this “shenanigan” usage? “I swear to god I’m going to pistol whip the next guy who says shenanigans.”)

And then I remember The Sister’s middle child. Maybe you remember Edith… She threw the mouthwash tea party in a post (There’s no spot in my baby book for this? The first time Poison Control was called).

All by herself, Edith can accomplish some amazing feats of shenanigans.

For example, let me try to illustrate the scene one day when The Sister et al visited our parents. I arrived during Edith’s nap. We enjoyed the peace and quiet (all parents know this is just a trap) for awhile, before realizing that Edith NEVER sleeps this long.

Crack the door to the guest room quietly. No Edith in bed. Open the door a little further.

Pink. Pink highlighter. Pink highlighter everywhere.

And I mean everywhere: bed spread, carpet, window, window sill, curtains, walls, closet door, and of course, any sort of paperwork/book in the guest bedroom.

Like a hound dog sniffing out her prey, Edith found a highlighter shoved into the middle of a book, under a stack of other books. In what could have been a Super Bowl commercial for Sharpie highlighters, the damn marker just kept going.

Eventually, Edith realized that maybe she made a bit of a mess. Then she pulled out the baby wipes. All the baby wipes.

So on top of a pink highlighter mess, there were areas of the carpet that progressed from highlighter stain to highlighter stained puddles.

The Sister was mortified. I was — and still am while writing this — in hysterics. My mom was calm, but ended up replacing everything in the room.

Lesson: don’t leave Edith alone for long and don’t assume that siblings are needed to get into trouble. Some children cope exceedingly well on their own.

Friendly Shenanigans

Yeah… They look all sweet and innocent until they start eating clothing like a human garbage disposal.

So far, though, My Girl has needed the influence of others. I expect great things from her and her best buddy from daycare. They make quite a team: the strong-willed brunette (My Girl) and the fiery redhead (I’m going to call her Merida) They have their normal, everyday shenanigans, but every once and awhile they like to shock and awe their mommas. (“But our shenanigans are cheeky and fun!”)

Like the time Merida’s momma bought her a beautiful shirt with beaded dance shoes in the front of it. It lasted not even a few hours. Merida went home with the shirt completely beadless, and when asked about it she said: “I had My Girl bite them off!”

I felt like I needed to replace the shirt, because I really, really like Merida’s momma and don’t want her upset that My Girl apparently eats beaded jewels like The Grinch eats discarded glass bottles. But a few days after hearing this story, My Girl came home with her blacked beaded sandals, yep, you guess it, beadless.

When asked what happened she just coyly said: “I had Merida help me.” Enough said. I didn’t want to know if they, too, were biting the jewels off her feet, though I certainly don’t put it past any of those girls. At least Merida’s momma and I are even now!

My Girl Shenanigans

So all these different shenanigans are going through my head as I open the door to the disturbingly quiet room.

It’s the same warning silence that coal miners worry about when the canary stops singing.

So, a little nervous, I went up to check on the kiddos. That’s when I heard My Girl exclaim proudly about something she had done and another little girl warn me that I wasn’t going to be happy.

My Girl decided to “fix up” her room. That involved moving the window clings to the walls and closet door (no problem), putting stickers on the walls and hardwood floor (ok, I can still fix that easily) and using nail polish to paint the white dresser (now, we may have a problem).

Just one of the times My Girl decided to redecorate her room… Yes, that’s everything off of every shelf.

Bless my stars and the gods of strong-willed little girls! The nail polish they used was beyond cheap crap. I actually thought they had used lip gloss – you know that cheap, play make up where the lip gloss, eye shadow and blush are all the same war-paint-like-gooey-substance?

Nothing a little vinegar or Magic Eraser can’t fix. For the most part.

There’s still a little blue stain on the dresser, but I figure I had that coming. Why did The Husband and I think it was a good idea to give our artsy four-year-old a completely white dresser? We’re really just asking for it.

But it got me realizing just how much trouble I may be in with My Girl. If I get my shenanigans back tenfold, I may be ok. (“Yeah… and his shenanigans are cruel and tragic. Which… makes them not shenanigans at all. Evil shenanigans!”)

But there is probably another multiple or two added when the child is as creative and stubborn as mine.

Is it too late to go back in time and make my shenanigans a big fat zero??

(Also, for my mom who has no idea about Super Troopers, here’s a few more shenanigans for you.)