Wednesday, February 27, 2008

About the mini van...

I have to say before anyone reads the below post "Shedding the stereotype", I hope you will read it in the entirely dorky and irrational context it has been composed in. I really do love you, and your mini vans.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shedding the stereotype

**** Caution. Mallory Hansen, you are not permitted to read this blog. Nor are any of your friends or anyone under the age of 18 for that matter. The "S" word may be used. A healthy, monogamous, marital sort of "S" word but the "S" word nonetheless. Additionally, to any of you that currently or ever have driven a mini-van, please do not take offense to the rather offensive honesty spilling out about this family friendly sedan.
You might be wondering what in heaven's name I am talking about...a blog with a discussion on BOTH the "S" word AND a mini van? My point exactly.***

Tyler and I have been discussing the upcoming need for a larger vehicle. Two carseats in the back of a Toyota Corolla leave enough room for maybe one quart of milk to wedge between, but that's about it. The trunk is full of diaper bags and the double stroller. A trip to the grocery store almost requires loaning my mother's car, and if someone needs a ride from me they are strapped to the roof. However, until we can find a car payment that fits into our $29.99 dollar monthly extra budget, we waste our breath analyzing every option on the market as if we could afford anything. The other day we were having one such discussion about this much needed vehicle...

Tyler: "Rae, we should check out some mini vans."

Awkward long and painful pause

Me: " I can't."

Tyler: "Why?"

Me: "Because...pause... a mini van is the opposite of sex."

Tyler: "What?"

Me: "You heard me. A mini van is the opposite of sex! Nothing could be more unsexy on this earth than a mini van. Oh yeah, with the exception of ME in a mini van...still a good 12 pounds overweight postpartum."

Tyler: "Whatever! Mini vans are sick! They are daaaa bomb! You can get swivel seats and trays and the kids can watch DVDs while we drive. They are awesome!"

"But Tyler, you don't understand!!! All I've ever equated mini vans to are long miserable car rides where I felt carsick. Additionally, what do you think when you see a woman in a mini van?"

Tyler: "I think: Oh, there's a good mom."

Me: "Exactly!!!!! You don't think 'There is the woman of my dreams- the sexy beautiful seductress I would love to ravish'-. I will be swallowed whole into its old chicken nugget and french fry aroma smelling orb. And I don't think I'll be able to get out! If I do emerge it will be with a fanny pack and orthopedic shoes, a turtleneck tucked into my jeans that button below my bra line!!!"

Tyler: "Whatever, you are crazy."

Me: "No I'm not. Shinae and I may have been nit wits when we swore to each other years ago that we would not drive mini vans...but there is a stereotype to be reckoned with."

Tyler: "Well, you will break that. You are hot stuff."

Me: "Even I don't think I'm strong enough. You just can't make a mini van sexy. It can't be done."

Tyler: pause, with devil sort of twinkle in his eye, one that usually precedes him saying something inappropriate "Oh yes it can,...ya know whadda I'm saying...huh huh? We could make it:
The Kink mobile.
Besides, what other car do you want? A suburban? Then you would just be another suburbabi*ch."

And thus we both met on the same plane of total immaturity and the conversation came to a close. As it should have. I'm frankly embarrassed and can't believe I'm putting this down to record. Oh well, someday when my kids roll their eyes as I arrive to pick them up driving an old mini van with a fanny pack they can refer to this blog and know that mom at least attempted to have a naughty side, one that has been buried under the chocolate-milk stained gray fabric car upholstery.

If motherhood has taught me anything, it's to be careful of believing in stereotypes. I used to swear up and down that I would not be one of those "ugly" pregnant people. I used to swear I wouldn't just be "one of those moms that cuts their hair in order to get ready more quickly in the morning". I wouldn't be "one of those moms who have a house with kids' dirty hand prints all over the windows". I wouldn't be "one of those moms who allows my child to behave that way in public" and so on and so on and so on.

I wouldn't be "one of those moms who drives a minivan".

Just today, I wore horribly mismatched gym clothes to Home Depot, where Lily screamed the entire way down the aisle, to pick up cleaning supplies for my upholstery and television screen that are covered in crayon and peanut butter smudges. And...I plan on cutting my hair.

But here's the catch...that was just today. I'm not always like this. This is not who I am. Yet anyone who saw me today could justifiably say I am "one of those women who just let themselves go". My house is usually clean, I enjoy a good pair of jeans and heels, Lily just hadn't had a nap, and the hair cut I will be getting is Victoria Beckham style sexy sexy, not to mention much easier to manage.

So when I decide which minivan to purchase, I cannot only relish in the enjoyment of a vehicle packed with family friendly devices, better fuel economy, and a relatively cheaper car payment compared to most SUV's, I can revel in the fact that I'm moving towards shedding yet another stereotype.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Separation anxiety...

As I navigated our aircraft carrier, uh...I mean our double baby stroller out of the doctor's office yesterday the pediatrician took notice of Lily riding merrily in the front, pacifier in between her cute little cheeks, and immediately halted us:

Doctor: "Hey Mom, Ms. Lily is too old for the pacifier. It's got to go."

Me: "Okay Hitler Nazi, sure! Nevermind the fact that she is just beginning to fully adjust to a new baby in the house, that she has relocated her position in Mom and Dad's comfy bed, that she watches a newborn nurse on her Mom's breast with weepy nostalgia, and that she now endures a 87% increase in the amounts of "No's!" she hears daily, I'll go right on ahead and take her beloved "Binkie" away too. Her "Puwple" (purple) binkie, her "Penk" (Pink) binkie, her "Owwwange" (orange) binkie. I might as well cut off her right arm, send her to college, and make her begin paying for her own groceries while I'm at it. Thank you, Doctor Ruinourlives.

Actually, that was the response in my overly protective mother's heart. The vocal response went more like this:

"I know, Doctor, I'm embarrassed that we've carried it along this far. We're working on it!"
Smile. Force polite little giggle. Walk away. Feel like miserable loser of a parent that just got caught stealing candy from the supermarket.

Is it just me or do all pediatricians have a way of making you feel like a moron? Unintentionally, of course. I know this. But why do I feel embarrassed when I asked to be reassured for the 15th time that this current vaccination is not going to give my child autism? Why am I embarrassed when the pediatrician tells me that I need to remove the darling little pink pearl bracelet from my infant because it poses a choking hazard? Why am I embarrassed when she asks me if I have give Lily nursery water, or Vitamin D drops and I say no...because frankly I don't believe she needs any of that and would like to live a little more naturally.
I'm embarrassed because I've been exposed. Nakedly, I stand before the one person who seems to be onto the fact that I really don't know what in heavens name I am doing. And I feel that way most of the time. This parenting thing is difficult. I try to take the binkie away, I really do. But then I hear the sobbing and crying and think, "Is my child going to be on Dr. Phil someday because of insecurities that trace back to her mother abruptly removing her binkie from her existence?" Is there some Freudian concept that I have not yet heard that links all wrongful adult human behavior to the occurrences of discomfort and adjustment during our two years of life, as toddlers?

I always second guess everything. All the time. And yet, my parents and the parents before me seemed so at ease, so comfortable.
"Oh yeah..." they say, "Back when we were raising children we let them have binkies till they were eleven, brushed teeth on a weekly basis, and didn't have seatbelts. It was good for them! Made em grow up tough....strong. You turned out fine."
I suppose. Hopefully, even with all the second guessing my kid will turn out fine as well. So for now, on the pacifier subject, I plan on taking the pediatrician's advice. My child is growing up...and I want to cry over little milestone's like these.
The Binkie fairy will be visiting our house soon. Pray for me...Stay tuned...

This one has nothing to do with a binkie, it's just so cute of her little body!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So Romantic...

My Dad posed a question on his radio show....

What is the most romantic thing anyone has done for you on Valentine's Day?

Oh boy, did I want to call and chime in. However, in respect of not wanting it to be TheIraHansenShow/RachelHaackspeaks...I decided to blog about my romantic man:

He once wrote me a poem. In fact, it was a semi-dreadful poem...but quite possibly my favorite memory of our high school years together.

He has bought me flowers.

He has bought me candy.

He gives me back rubs. Sometimes with strings attached (wink wink) Sometimes not:)

He lets me take a bath and read my Oprah magazine and takes care of our girls- WHILE CLEANING THE KITCHEN NO LESS.

Whenever I am changing in our room, he lights up and says "Heeeeeyyyy there sexy!", even though my stomach currently resembles a dead jellyfish floating among a midst of purple seaweed. And I think, or at least he makes me think, he really means it.

However, the most romantic thing I think he has ever done for me...he actually does DAILY. Yes, man is a DAILY romantic sultan:

He goes to work, and school. He wakes up at 5:30am every morning, even when he has had a sore throat (this morning), and heads out into the cold, working world. And why? For me. And Lily. And London. He loves that I get to be home for our girls. He even praises me and says my job is harder. No complaints, no whining, nothing even remotely close to what he might hear daily from his adoring and annoying wife.
I am a lucky girl. I've only had such romantic men in my life. And now my girls, through there father, will share the same. We both have "romantic" fathers. And these romantic men will see to it that Lily and London have "romantic" husbands someday too.
Really..what more can a girl want than a man who is present, a man who loves you, a man who is kind to you, a man who works for you?
It doesn't get any more romantic than that.

Happy Valentines Day! What is the sweetest thing someone has done for you?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Still searching for my balance...

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I love Oprah. Of course I love Oprah. Who, in fact, doesn't love Oprah? Some time ago I viewed an episode that hosted the author of "Eat, Pray, Love". All throughout the episode a pretty, tall, thin blonde woman summarized her life story, a life story that inspired this new bestseller. Here was her basic story of woe....

She had the perfect life.
She had a loving husband.
She had a beautiful home.
She wasn't happy.

And thus began an absurd and baseless journey of "self discovery" that amounted to leaving her husband to begin pasta eating, yoga chanting meditation, and spiritual lessons from a man named Roger with a white beard. Forgive me for sounding insensitive, but what exactly was the problem? Sitting there on the Oprah show with short curly blonde hair while using cute dippy phrases such as "Oh, I'm allergic to the word soulmate", hailed by millions of American readers for being a new sort of woman-discovery genius for alienating a perfectly good husband and life, one she once vowed to remain committed to...this confuses me.

And don't even get me started on Burnt Toast, by none other than a Desperate Housewife herself- Terri Hatcher. She proclaims it is time for all of us women to stop taking the "burnt toast", the gross little end piece off of the bread of life. Forgive me Terri, but I am inclined to suppose you have no idea what burnt toast tastes like. In fact, I'm willing to bet that with your multiple marriage record and one kid at the age of 37 or whatever you have been allowing yourself the entirely flakey and dense portion of the bread of life, slathered in plenty of Hollywood calorie-less, taste-less, magic butter. If I'm curious about what to do with the "Burnt toast", I'll go ask Mrs. Dugger or Mother Theresa.

Why is it that after women's lib, after newfound freedom finally available to us all, freedom that has opened countless doors and shattered plenty of glass ceilings are we women supposedly still unhappy?

We search for this fulfillment in our homes, but apparently didn't find it there. We search for it in the workplace, still...not there. We search for it at the gym, at the book club, on the Oprah show. Thanks to "Eat, Pray, Love" the quest is now open to pasta italiano, monasteries, and the arms of old men with heavy accents who woo us with "Darling, come to bed".

And I have a sneaky hunch it's not to be found in any of these new and catchy places. We still have miserable marriages, unfulfilled women, etc...the only difference lying in the fact that at least in the 1950's you could swallow these un-pleasantries with a slice of homemade Betty Crocker cherry pie and a glass of cold 100% whole milk from one of those neat glass jars.

Here is where I DO think both authors are onto something, something that I believe is the reason their works can strike a universal chord with any woman. We DO sell ourselves short. We DON'T take pride in what we do best. I'm certainly guilty of this as much as Ms. Terri.

Case in point:

After changing around the fourth poopy diaper of the day, wiping the remaining swirls of an entire bottle of Bath and Body works lotion off of the wall and heater vent as well as vacuuming an entire bag of crushed Tostitos chips off of the playroom carpet, all courtesy of my out of control- I mean "rambunctious and energetic" two year old I can't help but pause and ask the question:

What on earth am I doing?

Is this what I signed up for? Has today's vacuuming, wiping, combing, changing, scooping, stirring, suctioning, running, and re-doing fully utilized my supreme potential as a woman?

A few months ago one of my great childhood friends paid me a visit while in town. After conversing for a long time about her travels through Europe, Africa, etc. she turned the topic to me. We hadn't spoken in over a year or so, and our conversation ended on a note like this:

Lacy: "Yeah, after dancing with the Hundaweeni tribe of the Northern region under the full moon we all met up in Germany for some weinerschnitzel that was out of this world before enjoying the carnival lights in Venice. It was great. So, what have you been up this past year?"

Rachel: "Oh, you know, I've been a Mom."

The lame-ness that suddenly enveloped the room could have been cut with a know, the same knife that cuts the homemade Betty Crocker cherry pie.

"Oh my heavens to gosh," thought I. That sounded so LAME. In fact, I'm surprised how lame that sounded. The entire foundation of my meaning in life, my total and truest happiness, the core of joy and beauty and fulfillment was just summed up in a simple sentence that failed miserably to do itself justice. There is no story of chaotic grocery shopping with a toddler throwing pretzels from the cart, no way to convey the sweetness of your baby's smile in the words that justify and properly define what motherhood is. All that comes spilling out of your mouth is...

"I've been a Mom."

I thought for days about this cruel injustice. I was angry with myself for letting myself feel little and insignificant when my core KNOWS of its validity. Why did I feel stupid, when I've never been more convinced of the worth of life, of my life, than when I became a Mom? On the most basic level, I'm actually fulfilling a literal biological purpose of life as a member of the human it too much to ask that at least a few feel good endorphins be released when I utter a seemingly simple phrase that has to do with motherhood?
Am I becoming another rendition of Ms. EatPrayLove? Would I have felt better if when asked what I had been up to for the last year I could have replied,

"Oh, I began a small public relations consulting firm that was eventually bought out by IAMWOMAN HEAR ME ROAR Incorporated and now I am the appointed CEO."

Probably. Do I need to begin plans for a flight to Italy? India? !!!!!

However, if I were in Italy...

Would I have been able to peek around the corner this morning to see Lily holding her two baby dolls and kissing each of them one by one, saying "I luuu you. I luuu you."?

Would I have been present to handle the explosion of catastropic proportions of Ms. London's diaper that amounted to a warm bath with her squishy, squirmy fat and sweet smile?
Would Lily have been able to ask me for "Nuuggets? Nugggets? Pawk? Pawk?" (Chicken nugget picnic at the park)?

Would I have Lily cuddling in my arms on my lap at this very moment, as I type this reflection on being her mother, after waking from a nap?

For me, this has been the arena that has not sold me short. I revel in the fact that Lily says "tant youuu (thank you) and wee-cumm (your welcome)as much as any other accomplishment in my life. This is my calling, this human connection and sacrifice and dare I say diaper changing monotony. I have a wonderful husband. I have wonderful girls. And I am happy. I choose to be happy.
And I'll continue to eat, and pray, and love, and be happy. And every now and then I'll even take the burnt toast if it means my kids and my husband get the warm and flaky pieces. And I hope my daughters -as real, strong and independent women- will do the same.

I have to go, Lily just spit out her Chocolate soy milk all over herself and me and the keyboard....

What do you think? Do you think women today are happy? Either way, why? What makes you happy?