The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

This job is crap.

First day of summer vacation and I’m already crying Uncle. And so are my kids.

There’s a very pretty woman in my neighborhood who takes her 6 or 7 children on a structured walk every morning around 9:30 AM, rain or shine. The kids appear to range in age from about 10 to newborn. The older ones are usually on bikes or scooters, the younger ones are often in an industrial grade stroller. And the baby is usually strapped to the mom’s front in a very elaborately wrapped organic cotton sling. She homeschools all 6 or 7 of those kids and I’m pretty sure she gave birth to each of them with her back pressed up against a tree in her yard.

Our paths cross all the time when I’m walking Ike. They look like a preschool on a field trip. She always seems so completely unruffled by all those kids…even the older ones who are up way too far ahead and doing figure eights on their bikes while cars are zooming by, or the littler ones who have dawdled and are way behind. She just smiles and keeps on trucking. I’ve never heard her raise her voice or snap at any of those kids. She just seems so at peace and happy. And her kids seem equally happy just doing their thing, day in, day out.

One time a few years ago, I was in my front yard doing some gardening when she walked by. My kids were in the yard with me and they struck up a conversation with some of her kids. One thing led to another and then next thing I knew, we had a total of 8 or 9 kids in our backyard for an impromptu playdate. It was sheer chaos.

There we were, two very different moms trying to make small talk while our vajillion kids did the human equivalent of two dogs sniffing each others’ butts. And you know me, I’m sure I made some wise crack like “Damn, how much wine do you drink to tolerate all those kids all the time?” or “Shoot, if you ever want another kid, I’ll just give you one o’ mine!” I don’t think I need to tell you that she didn’t find me very amusing. And frankly, the feeling was mutual.

One of the toddler-ish looking ones came up to that mom with a dangerously full diaper full of fresh news. He wanted to jump on my trampoline and Mega Mom said, “Sure honey… go for it.” But I was like (in my head), Aw hell no! That load is already creeping up that kid’s back. Don’t you see or smell it? WTF! I don’t even want this kid in my yard, let alone bouncing that ticking time bomb on my trampoline!

Instead, I kindly suggested: “Why don’t you change his diaper and then he can get on the trampoline.” She looked at me like I was wearing an Abortion ROCKS! t-shirt. Fine, she would change the diaper (reluctantly), but she wanted to use my powder room because they were potty training and little Mr. Stinky Pants needed to actually see his poop go into the potty or it would totally mess up his training process. Whatever.

I was on the spot so I let her go inside while I stayed out and supervised the rest of the mob (just shoot me.) Longest five minutes of my life. What was she doing in there? Why was it taking so long? Ugh, was my bathroom semi-clean? Was there toilet paper? Who was crying and why?

When she finally came out, she was carrying the dirty diaper in a grocery bag she must have rooted through my kitchen to find. And she was very complimentary about my decor. It was weird. Really weird.

It’s even weirder now because every time I pass her on the street and say hello, she always acts like it is the first time she’s ever seen me in her life. I reeeeeeally fucking hate that. Clearly she doesn’t watch Oprah or she’d know that the one thing we ALL have in common is the desire to be loved and validated. Acting like you’ve never seen me before or flushed your kid’s shit into my septic tank makes me feel bad, lady. Damn, I already feel like an invisible vessel for grandchildren and PTA donations most days. Throw me a bone and just pretend you remember me, k?

I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. I think maybe she just has a severe case of Mommy Brain, with all those kids and all. Or maybe she’s vision impaired and can’t see me. Maybe it’s not about me being so forgettable and more about her not having a great memory, or social skills, or enough energy to do anything more than walk around the block and pretend to be so calm and composed. Maybe she’s doing everything she can to hold it together and make the rest of us think she’s so together so she doesn’t break into a million little pieces or drive her Econovan into the Chattahoochee. God only knows. But I desperately want to believe that she knows something I don’t know.

So there we were this morning, the first day of summer: Cartoon Network blaring, dog pacing, kids fighting, and I found myself thinking about Mega Mom and her peaceful daily walks. Maybe that daily walk is THE KEY to parenting like it is with Dog Whispering. Shit, if Ms. Mommy Brain can do it every day with her umpteen spawn and that sweet smile on her face, I should surely be able to do it with my three kidlets and a mildly psychotic dog.

Famous last words.

“Saddle up, Ankle Biters. We are walking the dog as a pack today.” (Groans all around.)

TV off.

Teeth brushed.

Sneakers, check. Poop bags, check. House keys, check. And we’re off!

Not ten minutes in and 4 year old Bucket Head is whining. “My feet hurt. I hungry. I want to go home.” Now I don’t know about you, but there is nothing that makes me want to stick my head in the oven quicker than the sound of a kid whining. It’s torture. I’d rather have papercuts on my eyeballs than listen to that. Honest to Pete.

Then 8 year old Mini-Me starts teasing the Whiner by telling him she is faster than he is. He’s going through a phase where he absolutely HAS TO BE first at everything. She knows this and loves to get his goat by saying “Yay! I’m FIRST! I win! I’m the WINNER!” Naturally, Bucket Head begins to cry. He can’t go on. He just can’t.

All the while, Ike is trying to pull my arm out of the socket and I’m doing my damnedest to channel my inner Cesar Millan and be the pack leader I’m called to be. I’m yanking his choke chain, giving the signature little side foot pop, and making the “Ch!” sound all at the same time, hoping he’ll get the message to focus and stop pulling. Frankly, I think he just wanted to get the hell away from the Teaser and the Whiner. Can’t blame him, really.

Yeah, he’s pretty excitable. And that’s just what he looks like when he sees a squirrel. (Or a delivery truck.)

At one point a rogue Chihuahua charged us to challenge my leadership and I thought for sure someone was going down. And we were only halfway around the neighborhood. Not good. Not good at all.

Finally, Ike pooped. I scooped it up, double bagged it, and handed the bundle to my 11 year old, Nature Boy to carry so I could focus on leading my pack home. Without missing a beat, he turned to me and said “This job is crap.”

I couldn’t agree more.

And only 77 more days of summer vacation to go. Yes. I’m counting.

dreadfully yours, and now without my daily dose of Oprah,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


41 Comments

  1. I’mma pray for you.

  2. I’m soooooooo right there with you. I live in a world that I don’t quite belong in. I’m lucky my kids are cleaned and fed on a daily basis. If I had a dog he’d be VERY FAT because I would never be able to make it out for a walk!! Summer just started here too — 4 year old and 1 year old. I think I need an adult beverage…

    • Well raise yer glass, Honey. You’re not alone. Here’s a toast to those of us who feel like we never quite belong! By the way, I feel like having relatively clean and somewhat fed kids is A-Okay. It could be worse. Thanks for being here and making feel less monstrous.

  3. Iris you are fabulous! I do have a fat dog because the idea of walking him at the same time that I take the baby for a walk is just to overwhelming. So may the force be with you as you brave a walk with kids and dog!

    • Thank you Danielle! I hear that. I do. We put in an invisible fence three years ago because I couldn’t walk Ike with the baby either. I tried once and he almost tipped the stroller. That was before I discovered Cesar.

      I only started walking him again after “the incident” with the courier, and only because he was so stressed out and anxious that I needed to do SOMETHING! Poor Ikey. And now, poor ME! Damn courier.

  4. Thanks a lot, Iris. There goes another perfectly good, dry pair of granny panties…… totally just pissed myself!!

  5. Vajillion, chocolate starfish, This is why I read you, my friend.

  6. Oh Iris! All I can say is “thank God I’m not the only one this happens to”. My bogus boy 4 year old is so full of beans from sun up to sun down but go for a walk? He’ll get just around the corner and sit down saying he’s too tired. What? I get all these “good Mummy” vibes thinking we’ll go on a lovely nature walk, hoping to see a rogue koala or some nice birds or something and i have to put up with him whining and whinging. I just don’t do it anymore and if he wants to see a koala, I Google it!

    Another thing worse than the person who you’ve already met treats you like you’ve never met is the person you’ve already met and they completely look away when you’re a foot away from them in the shops. I never hesitate and go up to them and say “oh hi, haven’t see you for ages” just to make them squirm! I’m like that! LOL

    Happy holidays. It’ll be our turn for 2 weeks at the end of June. Trying to keep 2 kids, 6 and 4 happy in winter time is murder (or it will be – I’ll be murdering them)!

    Anne @ Domesblissity

  7. Oh Anne, you having to Google a koala when you can actually see them on local walks is heartbreaking. WE are the pack leaders, dammit. WWCD? (What would Cesar do?) I’ll tell you. WE are going to force these kids to walk. If we are consistent like Mega Mom, we will see results. I just know it. They are whining to test us and see if we’ll give up. Well guess what, I’m as stubborn as I am crazy. I will not give up. What do you say… join me?

    • God damn it Iris! I’m with ya! How dare those midgets dictate if and when we go koala spotting. I think I’ll put my boy on a leash so I can drag him along when he gets tired! Thanks for the encouragement.

      (PS It’s koala mating season here at the moment and they’re on the prowl. We live in a densely populated koala area. We’ve got “drive slow” and “Koala crossing” signs all around the streets, eg http://www.aussie-study.com/photo/Mix/koala_sign.jpg. Clever creatures those koalas that they can read! LOL)

      Anne xx

      • YES! Let’s do it! I just got back from day 2 of migrating with my pack and it was much better than day 1! Less whining, less pulling, fewer crap jokes. Must persevere!!! Thanks for the koala info! I bet seeing koalas mate is so educational for the “midgets!”

  8. Kill me now. My 3 are already making me want to poke myself in the eye and they’re all teenagers. The 19 year old asking for beer, the 16 year old wanting to drive everywhere and the 14 year old whining because the tv in his room is broken. Give me a freakin’ break!

    Taking the 16 year old to the mall today. Wonder if I can get a shot of vodka in my latte at Starbucks instead of peppermint? I can always hope…

    • 1.) Can’t kill you. Love you too much. And no eye poking! My blog is not in Braille.
      2.) No beer. Take the car – be back by 10:00. No TV in the room!
      3.) Flask in the purse.
      4.) Family game night of Rock Band or Just Dance 2 (my fave!). FUN FOR ALL!!!
      5.) Girls night out ASAP.

  9. This post is all kinds of awesome. I have one of those Moms in my neighborhood too and she drives me crazy. And acting like we’ve never met? God, I hate that. We have 2 more weeks until school’s out…just shoot me!

    • I’m seeing a pattern here… lots of good moms begging to be shot at the start of summer vacay. Another disturbing trend? Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math (source: USAToday). Solution: year round schooling. (Sorry teachers! I know you deserve a break from our ignorant spawn, but WE NEED YOU!!! Please. We’re begging.)

    • Dang, Tiffany, I got so excited about my mini-soap box that I forgot to say thank you for the sweet comment! Thank you! 🙂

  10. Lauren Alexander

    May 27, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Love this post. I love walking. I used to walk one of my dogs. Then I decided that the dog was cramping my style and now I walk alone – to get away from dogs, children, husbands….that neighbor sounds nuts and I can assure you there is one around every corner!

  11. That mom is obviously a Stepford Wife. Don’t get too friendly with ANY of the neighbors.

    My kids (23 and 21 now) were actually pretty fun during the summer, but my nephews (14 and 12)? If you can’t plug it in or put a battery in it, they are not interested, and they’ll obnoxiously and incessantly tell you so.

  12. I know her secret, because I have it too now…..it’s called Valium! Oh gawd. I have to print this out for DH to read. But then he will probably have a laughing, coughing fit and have to be taken to the ER again!

    Your forever fan,
    Cheryl

  13. I need that valium! I used to walk, now I just sit on the front porch and watch the little whippersnappers scooter back and forth and back and forth, of course with a cold corona light in my hand. I’m good with summer though, cause I work…although, the youngest starts school this fall, perhaps it’s time to retire. Run into those crazies all the time that pretend they’ve never met me. How stupid…I have lots of fun! You make me laugh out loud!!!!!

  14. Bernie Bickers

    May 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Amazing how all of life’s little problems were covered by “Seinfeld”. Your neighbor’s passive-aggressive “non recognition” reminds me of the episode where Elaine and here neighbor exchange fewer and weaker greetings over time until they stop acknowledging each other altogether – until she finally calls him out:

    (Clipped from another website)

    Elaine: So, I walked up behind him and I tapped him on the shoulder. And I said, “Hi, remember me?” And he furrows his brow, as if he’s really trying to figure it out. So I said to him, I said, “You little phony. You know exactly who I am.”

    Jerry: You said “you little phony”?

    Elaine: I did. I most certainly did. And he said, he goes, “Oh, yeah. You’re Jeanette’s friend. We did meet once.” And I said, “Well, how do you go from that to totally ignoring a person when they walk by?”

    Jerry: This is amazing.

    Elaine: And he says, he says, “Look, I just didn’t want to say hello anymore, All right?” And I said, “Fine. Fine. I didn’t want to say hello anymore either, but just I wanted you to know that I’m aware of it!”

    Jerry: You are the Queen of Confrontation.

  15. That neighbor is just too worried to let a hair spring out of place in fear that all mayhem will break loose in her little bubble encapsulated world. The same mayhem that we all embrace as our everyday lives and wouldn’t change for the world. Cool moms rock! As always, thx for the belly laughs Iris.

    • And thank YOU Mimms. Thanks for being here and thanks for thinking I’m cool! I’m totally blushing right now and doing the Fonzie “ayyyy” with my thumbs.

      You embrace your mayhem? I don’t. I want less mayhem.

  16. I really want kids now

  17. Jeebus. I home school. I yell and employ massive sarcasm on a daily if not hourly basis. I don’t drink because it royally f’s me up, BUT I OFTEN WANT TO. It kind of bothers me when I meet moms like this, because A) They make me feel like an underachieving asshole, and B) I’m pretty sure they yell just as much as I do when no one’s looking, they just won’t own up to it. Or else they’ve learned to make their kids Fear something else besides decibel levels. Whatever. Pretending you’ve never met before EVERY TIME is a dick move. Next time she tries it, move in and give her a BIG HUG.

    • Oh. My. GAW! The BIG HUG move. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. She’ll never see it coming and if I do it just right I can wake up the sleeping baby strapped to her chest and ruin the rest of her oh-so-peaceful walk. Fiddle-lee-dee!

  18. Maybe she’s stoned…or “low functioning”…

  19. Someday I’m pretty sure I will see you being hysterically funny on one of the late night shows and I’m going to proudly announce, “Hey, I am one of her blog followers!” in a way that insinuates I know you personally and that we are pretty close to being best friends. Thanks for keeping us all laughing!

    • Oh my gravy, from your typing hands to God’s eyes! Thank you so much for that lovely vote of confidence, Susan! You definitely get the bragging rights of being one of the first followers! Thanks for your excellent taste and resiliency.

  20. Unruffled mom is definitely non a “hyper-parent.” Perhaps the secret to her prettiness is ignoring stinky diapers and the other horrific what nots her kids are up to. Thank god she doesn’t have a dog because I doubt she’d be as conscientious in scooping up the poop. I mean if she can’t do it for her own kid … Cheers

    • Oooh, good point! Yes, I think ignoring the kids and stinky things like full diapers would make any mom prettier…in a “I’m so high I really don’t give a shit!” kind of way. (Must remember to try that!) Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  21. You had me laughing so hard I actually “spit out” my wine!!!!

    Okay, so your neighbor is one of those “born Again” mom’s, seriously. She went back home, told her hubby all about you. He realized your a hellraiser that actually give’s BJ’s and he told her TO STAY AWAY!!!
    Now… he’s fine again w/ the knowledge that he can go on porn sites and she will be NO WISER!!!

    As for the kids, oh man oh man!!! I feel your pain. Mine THANK GOD are older than yours now, so they are able to do different activities along w/ pestering me, (16yo) to freakin drive… ugh, isn’t that what “dad’s are for, no seriously”????

    Go get that glass of wine, I need a refill now!!! 🙂

  22. Love it!!! I am going to enjoy following your summer vacay as I suffer through mine. We have two more weeks of school and I will relish them.
    Actually, I think the whole walk idea is so right on, so “Cesar”. We are big Cesar fans here… in fact, for months we watched him almost every night. Amazing dude. I think I am going to join in Iris’s summer walking club.
    And finally, I am raising a glass to all of us who “feel like we never quite belong”!

    • Yay! Summer walking club! I love it.
      Cesar really is such an amazing dude all right. He should be required reading/viewing for all dog owners.
      Thanks for catching up with me, blog love!

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