Sunday, October 4, 2009

Something's Fishy

When my oldest daughter turned two, a family friend bought her a small fish tank with two gold fish as a birthday gift. She thought these two fish were the coolest things! One was just a regular orange fan-tail gold fish and the other was calico colored. At the time, her favorite movie was "Milo and Otis". It's an annoyingly cute tail of an orange cat named Milo and his little friend who was a brown pug named Otis. So naturally the names were fitting for her new fishy friends.
As time went on, she became used to having these two fish in her room. We made it kind of a hobby getting little fishy decor for their tank and teaching her the responsibility of having a pet. My husband and I figured that fish were good starter pets. They are relatively low maintenance. You don't have to entertain them, they don't need to be walked and best of all, they don't pee on the carpet! Not to mention, if one croaks, you just flush it down the toilet. I mean, does anyone really get emotionally attached to a fish??
Two years later, the fish , Yes the same fish, were alive and well and about to answer that question. My daughter, now four, was getting ready for bed one night when she noticed that Milo (the orange one) was "hiding" on the bottom of the tank. "Mommy,Daddy,some thing's wrong with Milo." My husband goes to check on the situation, and reports back to me, that Milo has indeed traveled to the great "Fish heaven in the sky". I'm thinking GREAT! right before bed the damn thing dies! What are we going to tell our daughter. Should we tell her the truth, or lie? So, we decided she was old enough to hear the truth. We explained to her that Milo was very old and lived a great life in his tank in her room. But, our pets don't live forever and Milo has gone to heaven.
I had barely finished my sentence and my daughter bursts in to tears!! NO! MILO YOU CANT DIE! she is screaming hysterically. At that moment I felt as though I had stolen some small piece of her childhood innocence. She was happy and laughing only a few minutes before and I decided to thrust her into the hard reality of life and death 20 minutes before bed! What was I thinking? My husband and I looked at each other and decided to do what any good parents would do... Lie our asses off!! "No, No, honey Milo's not dead" I said. "Daddy was wrong, he's just sleeping!" "Silly me!" Her tears still rolling down her cheeks, she quietly says , "he is?" "It's working!" I'm thinking. She walks over to the tank and starts to giggle a little. "He looks like he's sleeping". "Silly Daddy!"
After we tucked her into bed, the "Oh crap" moment officially set in! It was like, 10pm at night! Where are we going to get another fish at 10 o'clock at night? Luckily, Petsmart was open till 11. So my husband races there and buys a new "Milo" to preform the old switcharoo with. He calls to tell me that he is on his way, and to warn me that the only fish they had that resembled Milo was a tad bit smaller. I didn't think much of it. I figured she wouldn't notice and if she did, we would just play it off. When My husband walked in the door holding this fish, I had to break out a magnifying glass to see it! The damn thing was just a baby! She may be only four, but there was no way she wouldn't notice that Milo is all of a sudden 3x smaller than he was the night before! Luckily, my husband has always been a quick thinker! He sneaks into her room and in her partially roused state of consciousness, he tells her that he is giving Milo some medicine to make him better. He also tells her that one of the side effects of the medicine, is that Milo may shrink a little! She was so happy that daddy was going to make Milo better, that she didn't pay attention to anything else.
She woke the next morning and ran to the fish tank and greeted
the fish as she always did. She mentioned that Milo was a lot smaller, but told me not to worry. "Daddy gave him some shrinking medicine!" she said. From that point on, that became our dirty little secret! Every time we looked at those two fish, we were reminded of the night we did everything we could to protect her from how cruel reality can sometimes be. Maybe we were doing her a disservice by not telling her the truth. I like to think we were extending the innocence of childhood, that is gone all too soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Perfection and Parenting don't mix

I've wanted to be a mother my whole life. As far back as I can remember I fantasized about what it would be like to be a mom. I am the oldest of four children. Anyone out there who is the oldest in their family knows, you spend your life parenting your younger siblings anyway, so you're naturally conditioned for parenthood right?? Well, this was my thought process.
I'm a perfectionist and control freak by nature. I hate making mistakes and beat myself up when I do. I am constantly striving for perfection in my life. How unhealthy is this?? For my fellow perfectionists/control freaks out there, we all know that perfection is impossible! Yet, we continue the day to day struggle to reach for it, secretly knowing that we will never achieve it. To add insult to injury, we beat ourselves up for not achieving it! What the hell? I mean, its a vicious cycle. I like to think that I have perfected the technique of providing the illusion of perfection.
What does this have to do with motherhood? EVERYTHING! My fantasy of what motherhood would be, continued through my first pregnancy. I had visions of taking walks in the park with my perfectly clean, perfectly dressed child smiling and giggling at the scenery. Me, looking great with my hair and makeup just so, feeling like life couldn't get any better. I imagined being able to put her in her play pin outside while I planted flowers in the garden on a breezy summer day. Boy was I in for a rude awakening!
Motherhood hit me like a mac truck!! For some reason, my pre-motherhood fantasies never included things like sleep deprivation, colic or emotional breakdowns. I had no Idea my self image would be altered so much. I never fantasized that I would have chronic hemorrhoids from giving birth or stretch marks that cover my belly like some crazy art deco painting. Not to mention things like my boobs being lop sided from nursing so much or having NO desire for sex what so ever! Maybe by naturally blocking these visions from our subconscious, this is God's way of insuring the continuation of the human race.
Don't get me wrong, I love my children! they are my life. I just wish I would have had more realistic expectations of what motherhood was really going to be like. If I could go back, I wouldn't change having my children for anything! I would however, work on conditioning myself for the journey ahead. I still expect way too much from myself. I, like many women, fall victim to the image society expects us to portray. I compare it to an addiction of sorts. Its like constantly trying to loose weight and having a cheese cake dangling in front of your face everywhere you go! The more I try to condition my perfectionist self to strive more for realization, I have society and the media telling me "You can and should do it all"!! and if you don't, you are less of a woman/parent. I consider myself kind of a cross between Brie and Lynette (from Desperate Housewives). See, there I go again! AHHHHHH! Will I ever be able to make peace with myself? Will the day come where I can step over a pile of toys on the floor and not feel guilty for not picking them up? I feel horribly guilty if I skip story time at night because I'm too tired. I worry that I'm permanently damaging there future education. What is wrong with me!