Sunday, March 28, 2010

For the Love of Target and All that is Holy

Since it's the sabbath, I should really only write about holy things. And in this house, Target falls into that category.

Ok, no it doesn't. But kind of, it does.

I am an admittedly huge Target fan. There's just something about it that doesn't make me feel cheap even though I am about as cheap as they come. My husband sometimes feels bad that perhaps our children will never know what a full-priced, brand new item of clothing feels like. Poor little, neglect kids, right? I can't wait for the telethon for that cause to roll out (I hope it's hosted by Tori Spelling).

Anyway - I love Target (I feel extra exotic when I roll the middle R - Tarrrrrrget. Try it. You'll like it). I was first introduced to Target as a teenager (no Targets in Canada). We were in Southern California and my mom said "Let's go to Target (read Tar-jay with a french accent)." It sounded so classy; I was instantly excited. Then we went in. And honestly, I can't remember anything about that inaugural trip. My only explanation of the lack of detail on this historic occasion is that I was so overwhelmed with awesome that I blacked out. I'm just not entirely sure. All I know is that Target made an impact and I have been pretty brand loyal ever since.

I have been known to float around Target on my kid-free nights if I have nothing else to do, or no plans with other friends (ie Target is my friend). Maybe I should feel ashamed at my lack-luster use of free-time. But I'm 30 years old now, and I can own that I occasionally haunt Target when I should be out solving cold cases or crocheting leprosy bandages. It's liberating to be able to loiter in the book section, look at EVERY magazine I can get my hands on, check out music I've never heard of, try on all the hats, touch all the baby clothes, buy my laundry detergent and go home. Simple minds = simple needs.

But I had no idea the kind of impact my love of all things Target would have on my children, specifically The Red Baron. At a very young and tender age, she could spot a Target from a mile away. "Mama, I see the red ball!! Let's go to Target!" I'm not sure why at Target elicited an excited reaction for long shopping trips, while trips of the same length at other stores received screeching-fetal-positioned-dead-weight style reactions from the same kid. Is it the lighting? The staff uniforms (or lack-there-of)? I don't know. But I do know that The Red Baron is about as loyal to Target as I am. Recently, at preschool they were learning about maps and each was given the assignment to draw a map to somewhere they liked to go and the teachers wrote the descriptions at the bottom in big bold letters: "Sydney's map to Grandpa's house" or "Anders' map to the beach." Other popular destinations were the lake, the park, the zoo. The Red Baron's map simply read "The Red Baron's map to Target." Initially, I laughed at this - the apple not falling far from the tree, chip off the old block, (insert your favorite cliche here). But then I started to worry - obviously other three year olds aren't demonstrating this kind of intense saturated commercialization. Is this healthy? Has my love for Target somehow clouded her idea of what a good time really is? Shouldn't she be wanting to go to the park as well, and not to the accessories section or stationary aisle? I started over-analyzing my parenting, and re-evaluating my enthusiasm of Target. I had to get to the bottom of this, for both of our sakes. Because abandoning Target wasn't an option. Where would I go then? Walmart? (shudder).

Slowly the story of her love of Target unraveled in my mind. Back at Christmas time we were shopping for a gift to donate to charity. A tag was chosen from the angel tree was for a girl who happened to be the same age as the Red Baron. Due to our lack of foresight, the shopping trip we hoped would teach her about charity really only encouraged her to come completely unhinged after realizing that the toy she carefully chose for herself was actually going to a complete stranger. In a last stab at charity, we explained to her that if she got this doll for this mystery girl, we could write to Santa and let him know which doll The Red Baron would really like. It worked, and we left the store with a couple shreds of dignity. Well, a week later, Santa made a surprise visit to the preschool Christmas party, bringing with him the perfect present for each of the students and siblings in attendance. And to the amazement of the Red Baron, Santa handed her the exact doll she had picked out at the store. With her eyes wide open and her jaw to the ground, she turned to me and said, "Mama ... Santa shops at Target."

Ever since, I think her Target excitement stems from the possibility of running into Ole St. Nick. I think she feels like if she goes often enough, she's bound to catch sight of him and maybe put in a good word or two. You know, rub elbows with some one owning real authority. I can't really blamer her either and would probably do the same thing at the chance to meet Ellen Degeneres or Tina Fey.

So I don't need to worry about The Red Baron's over-excitement for Target and I am saved from having to darken the door of Walmart once again. And all is well in the world.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some Shots Are Just Going to Fall

Please note my ridiculously fast healing gums.
Hi. It's been a while. I'm tired of feeling badly about blog neglect. There's got to be a support group for me right? We could meet and exchange fake names and discuss why it's not OUR fault the blogs are being neglected, it's our camera's fault (it's still not working right) or the scanner won't start (really - by the time any of my techno problems are fixed I'll just have to donate them to a museum - my stuff will be right next to the atari game console and the football phone) or any number of other daily blogging dilemmas. I'll bring the city-punch (aka tap water).

The only thing more exhausting than the feeling of actively neglecting something is trying to chase the ever flowing fountain of things that spring in my mind to write about. You better believe that I have things to say. That those things are intelligent, witty, slightly off-color and would totally blow your mind. Just trust me. But I just can't seem to get my act together. You must be wondering "How does Pieface actually sustain lives, feed babies, return phone calls, answer emails, etc. etc. when she can't even keep a simple blog updated?" And the answer to these and many other questions is "barely" (all except the feeding babies part - I'm pretty dedicated to that).

So my deepest apologies. Really and truly, if you are reading this (and I'm not sure if anyone still reads this) BUT IF YOU ARE please know that this neglect is nothing personal, that I love that you're reading and I love your comments. Yes, even you; person-with-the-Asian-keyboard-who-posts-random-Confucius-style-comments. Thank you.

I guess I've been feeling lately like I'm just barely making it as a mother. This is by far the hardest gig I've ever had, which may not speak much for me by way of character or capability. Some days it seems like everyone else has their act together and I keep seeing other people being the kind of parent I always thought I would be. But I continue to fall short. And it's frustrating. I would be lying if I said I haven't cruised the Craigslist classifieds looking for a job that would pay enough to send my kids to a place where the childcare professionals could take care of them. At least they have child development degrees, liscences, certifications. Which isn't as flashy as a Sociology degree, let's be honest. But the Sociology degree hasn't really helped in this current parenting job I've landed (I don't even want to think about my Communications minor or Inter-Personal Communications Associates degree - jeesh). Toddlers just don't appreciate synergy like they should.

Yes, there have been some pretty hard and long days.

And what's worse is that I get frustrated about being frustrated. I know. I'm ridiculous. But there it is.

So, after some pretty crazy days (and the realization that my education and skills are outdated and I could probably make enough to send my children to the double-wide day-care next to the train tracks and the cock-fighting ring, but not much more) I went looking for answers. And people, answers are what I found (thank you Internet).

I've been looking at this thing all wrong. Motherhood is a relationship, not a job. This might sound obvious to you, but it was enlightening to me. Because I was looking for some kind of validation or self-evaluation check-list. Something to tell me I was doing a good job, that my kids will one day contribute to the greater good, that The Red Baron would stop saying things in public that would cause a scene like "Don't touch me, you're hurting me!!" or that the Little Man would stop running into busy parking lots by himself. But I'm not going to find that stuff anywhere. I just have to do my best and pray that everyone's going to make it. Because my wagon is hitched to the motherhood bull, and that's where I want it. I want it hitched to the bull.

Also, I was reminded of something an old basketball coach once told me (get ready for a high school sports anecdote). She was a quasi-scary lady; very militant in our conditioning, not afraid to yell or demand respect. When she didn't get the respect she wanted, she stomped over in her ill-fitting early 90's track suit and took it. The ill-fitting track suit was the only thing keeping me from developing a deeper fear. The pants would ride up so high it was hard to take her seriously. She told me not to expect much playing time because I lacked the level of skill she preferred in her players but I had a good attitude so I could be on the team. I was excited at the chance to learn more and hopefully prove her wrong. Throughout the season I improved and somehow along the way picked up a perfectionist tendency. I would mentally beat myself up if the person I was defending scored too high or did too well (and this happened often), hindering my ability to effectively play the offensive game. Finally, she took me aside and said "Look. Some shots ... they're just going to fall. There's nothing you can do about it." (For some reason I want to start chanting "RU-DY! RU-DY!" right here).

After giggling that her faded navy blue running pants were bunched up to the bottom of her sports bra, I realized she was totally right. Some shots are just going to fall. There is not a single thing I can do about that. Sometimes the Red Baron is just going to be impossible and I will look like a crazed maniac dragging her dead weight out of Target. And sometimes the Little Man will defy all reason and only speak in dinosaur roars for days and wear Thomas the Tank Engine underwear as a hat. And there is nothing I can do about that (besides take pictures that I can't upload onto my blog). It's up to me to decide that we're going to roll with it, make sure no one gets hurt and move on. That's my job. And until recently, I didn't get that. My days have been looking up ever since coming to that realization. And motherhood is fun again.

Confucius says: "When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them."
Dude. Confucius. You totally get me.

That's me in the middle. With a tiny bit of crazy-eye.