Family Drama

  • Got Your Nose! (But Seriously, Give it Back)

    You know those fun little games adults used to play on you when you were a kid?  Like grabbing a quarter from behind your ear, or pretending to get your nose and then using their thumb as a decoy.  Remember how sweet and innocent that was?

    So I decided I would play those game with The Munch.  I gently tugged on her nose, ever so slightly, and said the expected phrase “I got your nose” showing her the supposed nose between my fingers.  She of course thought this was delightful, and quite hilarious.  So I thought to myself.  “I have done a good thing.  I have passed down this generational gift, and now she too can experience the nostalgia.”

    Yeah, that was until she tried to get my nose – and almost ripped the thing off my face!!  Now I live my life in total terror.  Out of nowhere she can attack me with her ninja skills, try to tear my nose bone out of my skull, and then sweetly say “I got your nose Mamma.”  I am not sure if she is a sadist, or genuinely doesn’t understand that you are not supposed to literally detach my nose from my body.

    I should have quite while I was ahead, but instead I had to push it.  I tried the trick of mysteriously finding the quarter behind her ear.  Again, this brought her much joy, until I tried to put the quarter back into my pocket.

    “That’s my Money Mamma!! MINE!!! AHHHHHHHHHH DON’T TAKE IT!!!!”

    Okay fine keep it – you capitalist.

    Then later on that day she started taking her filthy little nails and scraping the back of my ear.  And mind you, these things are sharp!

    “Ow Munch.  What are you doing to my ear?”

    “I am looking for the money?”

    “No munch there is no money behind Mamma’s ears.  It was just a magic trick.  Its not real.”

    “It is real!! There is money behind your ears!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I WANT IT!!”

    So now not only do I have a bloody nose, but also bleeding ears that are sort of falling off my head.  Barely hanging on by a string of ear flesh.  Think I am going to stick to games like “go fish” from now on.

    (Check out Munch in her old-timey coat and pocket book!)


  • The Selfish Madonna

    The romanticized vision of the mother is as a selfless being that radiates unconditional love with endless serene expressions.  This vision is depicted in countless paintings of ‘mother holding child,’ many of which are of the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus.  I guess if I were Jesus’ mother I would be all peaceful and calm – since he was always turning my water into wine.  But for those of us who didn’t spawn holy beings, there are some pretty high societal expectations of the mother.

    There is this perception that mothers are supposed to prioritize their kids above and beyond their own needs at all times.  Yeah… kinda.  I mostly do that.  In a lot of scenarios.  But I think all moms have moments when they can be a little selfish.

    Lets take my mom as an example.  That will be fun. Won’t it Mom!?  When I was a kid, every holiday my mom would leave little baskets outside my door filled with treats.  Okay, relax.  This isn’t the selfish part.  So I would wake up in the morning and find this delightful indulgence of candy and chocolate.  Relax… I am getting there.  I would be so grateful for this lovely display that I would often save my gift.  You know… like to eat it later. I would then come home from school and the head of my Easter bunny would be gone.  So would the tail. Don’t even get my started on my Halloween candy. I don’t know about you, but coming home to your Valentine’s chocolate replaced with the empty wrappers was pretty traumatizing for me.

    There are so many things that I do for The Munch that takes into consideration her desires before my own.  But sometimes I just do what I want to do.  Like hide her favorite book so I don’t have to read it 48 times that morning.

    There are moments when I feel like pursuing my career, taking time for myself, or doing anything without her is selfish.  Of course people assure me that isn’t true.  Fuck, I can tell myself that is bullshit – but it is hard not to feel conflicted at times.  I would like to say that the time I spend away from her makes me appreciate the time I spend with her more, but I really hope she sees it like that too.  As much as a think it is vital for a mother to have a life outside her children, living parts of my life not including The Munch can feel crappy.

    I guess this is the modern conundrum.  If I were a cave woman, I would have her strapped to my back in a fur satchel and bring her with me until she was old enough to harvest and hunt for her self.  You know.  Like 6 months.  We would work together side by side and I wouldn’t have to make any of these hard decisions.  And maybe I would steal some saber tooth tiger meat when she wasn’t paying attention, but I wouldn’t touch her wooly mammoth blood because that is just wrong.

    Biologically I am bonded to The Munch in this unique and profound way.  The mother child connection is one of the most mysterious and meaningful unions, and that is why it has this reputation in the imagination of society.  But psychologically it is really important for me to continue evolving without her.  Maybe part of that process is slightly selfish, but this is going to be something she will go through too when she is a mother, so hopefully The Munch will understand that no decision is simple when you become a parent.  Especially when it comes to Halloween candy, because you better believe I am going to eat all of hers too.

    (Check out my mom ready to go after Munch’s lollipop!! She is not fucking around!)


    April 9, 2013 • Family Drama, Mommy Mind, Musings, Parenting, Working Mommy • Views: 5185

  • Share Bear

    Some cultures don’t have the word “mine” because everything is considered “ours.”  For them, personal possession isn’t a concept because all property is communal.  Although I think this is a beautiful notion, I was raised in an environment where my Dad’s popcorn was his, and to even think of taking some I had to consider what life would be like without fingers.

    American individualism means that we are very attached to the idea of “I,” “mine,” and “me.”  The person is more important than the collective.  Although we are taught values, and to honor other people by being aware of their needs, that doesn’t take away that our filter is clouded by the idea of “how will this effect me” more than “we.”

    I would say that I am a generous person.  I am giving with what I have: my money, my time, my home, my love.  But when I view something as mine, and feel ownership over it, I don’t like to share it.  I mean, of course I do share – after all I did graduate from the 3rd grade.  But I do so begrudgingly.  More because I don’t want to say “no” than actually wanting you to have a bite of my cupcake.  And to be honest, I say “no” a fair amount too.  I guess I really like cupcakes.

    But since having a child I have had to share everything with her.  I shared my body with her when she was living inside of it, I shared my precious lady parts with her when she burst out of them, I shared my boobs with her as she survived off of them, I share every single thing I eat and drink with her even though she backwashes and her hands are gross.  And you know what? I want to! I even ENJOY sharing with her.  Those crazy mommy hormones make sharing with her feel better than having myself. I would rather The Munch had the last bite of avocado because it is more important that she eats.  My excessive love for her means I want for her more than I want for me.

    But everyone has their limits.

    Last night when I was putting The Munch to bed she decided she wanted to bring my teddy bear into her crib.  Now, I now I am a grown ass woman, but I have been sleeping with a stuffed animal my entire life and that is my teddy bear.

    Toni: “Munch, that is Mamma’s teddy bear.  But it back on my bed please.”

    Munch: “No I want to bring your bear in my crib.”

    Toni: “No sweetie.  That is Mamma’s.  You have all your babies, your seal named Penguin, your weird vagina looking monster thing… Mamma only has one bear.  So can you put him back please?”

    Munch: “No but I want to bring him in my crib!!! Please Mamma.”

    Toni: “Okay Munch.”

    Did I want to share my bear with her?  No. Not at all.  Did I say yes? Of course I did. I am her mother and my love is unconditional.  And because the second after she feel asleep I took it back.

    (Tell me that is not a vagina monster???)


  • Thanks…. I guess

    Leaving your child in the care of another is always a risk.  But it is one of those necessary risks, like eating food you dropped on the floor, or sitting down on a public toilet to diarrhea.  I always appreciate when someone watches The Munch for me, but it means I have less control over what happens in her day.  Especially when said caretaker happens to be my mom.  Who although is exquisite, will do as she damn well pleases – because she is still the boss in our relationship.

    Toni: “So Mom, how was she?”

    Mom: “She was okay.  She had what I like to call a ‘weak day.’”

    Toni: “Ummmm what does that mean?”

    Mom: “Well, she basically watched the Ipad all day.”

    Toni: “What???????!!!!!!!!!”

    Mom: “She seemed pretty tired, so I gave it to her thinking she would fall asleep, but then she didn’t and wouldn’t let me take it away.”

    Toni: “So she watched the IPad for 6 hours today?!!!”

    Mom: “Yeah, pretty much.  I tried to have her watch Dumbo, but she got really upset when they locked Dumbo’s mother up, and made me turn it off.”

    Toni: “Mom are you out of your mind!!!!??? You had her watch the scene in Dumbo when the locked up his mother??? I am still traumatized by that.  I couldn’t watch that now and not weep. “

    Mom: “Yeah, she was pretty distressed by that.”

    Toni: “How could you do that??”

    Mom: “Toni, Dumbo is a beautiful movie.  I could do a whole diatribe on the meaning of Dumbo.”

    Toni: “Mom!! She is only 2! I can’t believe you let her watch the saddest thing ever to be drawn in the history of all film.”

    Mom: “Calm down Toni. Then we watched Alice and Wonderland for a while, but she really didn’t like it when Alice got shrunk into the bottle.  She made me turn that off too.”

    Toni: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

    Mom: “So then she insisted on watching these stupid silly things.”

    Toni: “You mean, like, a cartoon for a toddler?  Like Mickey Mouse? Or Pokoyo? Something that doesn’t have severe animal abuse or LSD flashbacks?

    Mom: “Something inane like that.  And she kept trying to have me watch it with her, but there is no way I am watching that crap.”

    Toni: “Wow.  Okay.  Well… I am going to go process this information now.”

    Mom: “Think about it this way Toni, at least now you have something to write about.”

    She wasn’t kidding about that!

    PS: I went to look for the scene in Dumbo to share with you.. and it literally comes up as Dumbo Sad Scene in Youtube

    “Seriously…. why did they do that to Dumbo’s Mommy?”






    March 25, 2013 • 2 years old, Family Drama, Parenting, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 3663

  • Revisionist History

    The Munch really likes when I tell her stories of my childhood, and especially wants to hear adventures with my brother, her Uncle Laszlo.  Yet you would think she would be a passive participant in this process, and enjoy the narrative without interruption.  Not my child.  The Munch is like an elitist historian who has no problem revising the facts and interjecting opinions to sculpt a version she can approve of.

    This is the tale of “Toni and Uncle Laszlo in the bath” she makes me tell every night before bed.

    Toni: “Once upon a time when Mamma was a little girl…”

    Munch: “No! Mamma was a baby!”

    Toni: “Okay fine, when Mamma was a baby…. She was taking a bath with Uncle Laszlo.”

    Munch: “And Uncle Laszlo was not wearing his shoes.”

    Toni: “Right.  So Mamma and Uncle Laszlo were in the bath and they were having so much fun.  They were laughing, and playing, and singing…”

    Munch: “But they weren’t singing Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

    Toni: “No.  So then, baby Mamma saw something floating towards her.  And she thought… ‘what is that? Is it a rubber ducky? No… Is it a bar of soap? No… Is it a washcloth? No… Its poops!!!’ Uncle Laszlo had pooped in the bath!”

    Munch: “No Uncle Laszlo didn’t poop in the bath!”

    Toni: “Munch, I am pretty sure he did, otherwise this would be a kind of a lame story.”

    Munch: “No he didn’t poop in the bath!! MAMMA POOPED IN THE BATH!”

    Toni: “No Munch.  Mamma didn’t poop in that bath.  Mamma is a lady!”

    Munch: “MAMMA DID POOP IN THE BATH! And Uncle Laszlo was crying.  And he said ‘Don’t poop in the bath anymore.’ And then he had so many tears.  But he didn’t get soap in his eyes.  And he didn’t wash his hair.  And there where three bubbles.  One, two, three.  And they were so high.  And they were tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny.  But they tasted like candy. No sugar.  No ice cream.  And he ate them all up.  Uncle Laszlo wasn’t crying any more.

    Toni: “Wow Munch – that is a really good story.  I think that was exactly what happened.”



  • Semi-abusive adults

    The greatest lessons I have leaned in life have come from hardships.  I don’t think I did a lot of growing when I was dancing on bars downing tequila shots, although I sure as shit was having fun!  It is usually through suffering that I evolve as a human.  Does that make me an existentialist sadomasochist?

    Although my parents were pretty tame to my brother and me, their parents came from another generation and were way more hard-core.  These were the adults that were hardest on me as a child, but also had the most impact on my development.  I don’t remember ever feeling like I had a choice, or could even argue their perspective, because I was so conditioned to respect my elders and do what they say.  So consequently, I would find myself in situations doing things I really didn’t want to do, or didn’t think I could do.

    My grandmother on my father’s side was really loving and affectionate, but also insanely sexist.  She would always encourage my older brother to go to the third floor and play so he could expand his imagination and intelligence while I helped her in the kitchen.  It was there where she would give me such sage advice as “Tonikam… do you know what a bitch is?  Well don’t be like that because it will make your face look old.”

    Although spending my childhood making dumplings was for sure less exciting than making G.I Joes fly around, I did learn quite a lot being my grandmother’s house helper.  Like how to feed myself and others, how to appreciate time with her even though I was doing boring chores, and what her teeth looked like in a jar when she took them out at night.

    My mom’s stepfather was very Swiss and did not believe in coddling children.  His demeanor was slightly harsh and would not tolerate complaining or whining.  He once took my brother and I skiing and we got lost and had to hike back up the mountain to find the path.  Oh yeah, and we were in the Alps – so it was kind of a big mountain.  Now at 6, one thing that is really complicated is carrying two skis and two polls.  The skis kept splitting apart, I would take two steps drop a pole, try to bend down to pick it up and my ski would wack me in the head and fall. Then I would have to drop everything to re-attach the skis together and try to get my polls in the other hand, but my hands were too cold and then I trip over my ski boots.  My goggles kept fogging up so I couldn’t see, and had to follow the panting of my brother ahead of me in a desperate attempt to keep up.  Even though I thought this was the worst day of my life, and kind of wanted to beat my grandfather with my skis, I did make it out alive.  That experienced definitely toughened me up.

    Three years later my mom’s father took us on a kayaking and camping trip.  He was also stern man who had little tolerance for weakness, so at 9 and 12 my brother and I had to pick up kayaking and going down waterfalls pretty quick.  The first few days my brother got severely dehydrated and puked for 24 hours into the river.  For the next 14 days his foamy vomit followed us.  The mosquitos were so bad that it looked I had herpes of the body, and as much as I wanted to go home I couldn’t because the only way out was making it the 100 miles down the river.  And of course I couldn’t express my discontent because we are New England people and don’t talk about pansy things like emotions or admit feebleness.  You stuff it all down your throat like a Thanksgiving turkey.

    Although this whole experience felt crazy, especially because my grandfather sometimes kayaked in the nude, it was empowering.  Pushing myself to the limits and going past them was a really meaningful practice.  It has helped me so much in my adult life to know that I can persevere even when I think I can’t.  These semi-abusive adults really showed me my own strength, and I honor their total disregard my feelings.

    So here I have this little girl, who I want to show empathy and love towards and be a hippy earth-mother who embraces all her emotions.  And the Munch has nothing but sane reasonable adults in her life who want to spoil her rotten, listen to her needs, and not put her in quasi-dangerous situations.  Fuck!! She is going to be such a pussy!! What am I going to do??

    I feel like kids almost need some hard characters in their lives to challenge them.  Although philosophically I am all about love and compassion, but if that is all The Munch is exposed to how is she going to thrive the face of adversity?  She needs some hard-asses in her life!



  • Turn Me Off Turn Me On

    When going on a road trip with a passenger you expect to have to compromise on what jams you are going to listen to. I am fine with this concept.  I am a pretty open person and like a variety of musical choices and consider myself eclectic and interested in being exposed to new things.  But usually my co-pilot is familiar with the concept ‘give and take’ – so there is some sort of level playing field when it comes to choice. But riding with The Munch in the car is like traveling with a miniature dictator.  For the past year, all we could listen to was her “Munchee Music” and often 67 times in a row.  I don’t know how many times you have heard ‘Wheels on the Bus’ back to back, but let me tell you, more than twice is definitely US Military grade torture.

    Now that she has memorized all her kid music crap, The Munch has decided that she will expand her horizons and lets me play my “Mamma Music,” but not without opinion- that is for damn sure.  And she not only does she have something to say about what music I listen to, but how I listen to it.

    Munch: “No Mamma, no I don’t like that song.”

    Toni: “Munch, you do like this song.  This is ‘All Night Long.”  This is a classic.”

    Munch: “No it is not a classic.”

    Toni: “Yeah, pretty sure Lionel Richie is classic.”

    Munch: “Change it Mamma I don’t like it.”

    Toni: “Fine.”

    Munch: “Noooooo!! I don’t like this song either.”

    Toni: “Well Munch, this is John Mayer so I am going to have to agree with you on this one.”

    Munch: “Change it!!!!!!”

    Toni: “Good call.”

    Munch: “Stop Mamma, don’t press!!! I like this one!!!”

    Toni: “You like experimental jazz on NPR??”

    Munch: “Don’t press Mamma!! I like it!!”

    Toni: “Ugggghhhh no!! I can’t take it.  It is too frenetic!”

    Munch: “Don’t change it!”

    Toni: “I have to!  Here… to you like this song???  Its ‘Immigration Song’ … Zeppelin.”

    Munch: “I like this song….. NO MAMMA DON’T DANCE!!!!”

    Toni: “Munch I want to dance! I like this song!”

    Munch: “NO MAMMA!! STOP DANCING!!!!! STOP!!”

    Toni: “MUNCH… Don’t be such a dick!”

    Munch: “But I want to be a dick.”

    Okay fine… it was not the best idea to call my two-year old a dick… and I do regret it.  But it was kind of worth it.  And that is really controlling telling me not to dance right?? Who doesn’t like car-dancing to songs they like???

    March 7, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Family Drama, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 2147

  • That’s Snot Okay!

    Although my own boogers have proved to provide endless entertainment and distraction from boredom, I am actually quite horrified by the nose droppings of others.  I have forced myself to come to peace with the snot of The Munch, considering she has been known to use my shirt as a Kleenex, and often leaves a patty of mucus on my shoulder after an intense cry.  I will admit though, I have yet to fully suppress my gag reflex when she eats her nasal candy.

    But The Munch is the spawn of my DNA, so her bodily secretions are less gross then if she were not my genetic semi-clone.  She is an extension of my insides, except with feet, and her own face.  Her piss and shit has been the soundtrack to my life, and I have learned to deal with her excretions with as much dignity as a Victorian Lady with dysentery.

    But that does not mean I am comfortable with other people’s boogers being wiped on me.  Which is what my friend kept doing as a joke over the weekend.  I started to have a visceral reaction that seemed like it was coming from a primal wound from my past.  In an effort to uncover this trauma I was engaging in some intense talk therapy over the phone with my most trusted confident.

    “You know, she just kept wiping her boogers on me.  Although I can appreciate the comedy, actually looking at the glistening slime on my pants produced surges of vomit to bellow up the back of my throat.  I am not sure why I have such an aversion?? Maybe it dates back to when my brother would take his boogers and attach them to his eyelashes, extending the green goblin from the top set to the bottom.  He would keep his eye at half-mast to make sure not to lose this slime soldier and then chase me around the room like that – getting just close enough forcing me to look at his face and watch the booger stretch across the lashes as he blinked.”

    Yeah… come to think of it, I am pretty sure that is the source of my terror.

    (Hard to believe such a sweet face was capable of such psychological warfare.  Although I do think my brother is a comedic genius.  I have a lot to learn from him.  Munch… you better watch out!)

    March 4, 2013 • 2 years old, baby body, Family Drama, Musings, Pee & Poop • Views: 2415