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December 2009
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February 2010

January 2010

Feeding The Cheungs: The Prelude

I would just like to say, first and foremost, that I think shopping for and feeding your family is a HARD JOB and those of you who said, "I'd like to read your tips on grocery shopping!" are going to be disappointed. I HAVE NO TIPS. Sorry! But I am going to tell you what we do, what works for us and what isn't working, and then spend a nice long time venting about Random Shopping- And Food-Related Quandaries. Ready?

First, some Background Info!

I grew up in a family that planned weekly menus and made enormous weekly shopping trips. We were two working parents and five kids, so it may be that this was the only way to ensure there was food in the house, but my siblings and I have had a grand time making fun of my dad and his lists. Everything from his handwriting to his menus, because isn't that such an OLD person thing to do? Plan MENUS? WHATEVER.

Then I became a Fledgling Adult and bought my own food, but I don't really remember cooking it. Oh, I would make little calzones when my sister came to visit my 10 square foot studio. And I would make this truly pathetic pasta and chicken dish for Phillip and his roommate. Phillip lived in a much nicer apartment directly across the street from a QFC (Kroger for the rest of you). I would park in the QFC parking lot, buy that evening's dinner and watch nineteen episodes of Friends with Phillip and Phillip's Roommate while we ate our pasta and chicken. Good times. Seriously! 

This continued when we got married (and with the roommate! Well, he ceased to be the roommate, but we still ate pasta and chicken in front of Friends every night.)  We didn't have a method for grocery shopping or making dinner, and in fact, grocery shopping turned out to be a fricking huge deal. People say the first year of marriage is really hard. For us, it was only the first month that was really hard, and that was probably because of grocery shopping. We shopped so differently that eventually we decided, for the sake of the marriage, that this was something we should not do together. EVER. You'd think we'd have figured this out while dating (it's not like GROCERY SHOPPING is one of those things you "save for marriage"!) so I don't know what our problem was. BUT IT WAS A PROBLEM. 

After a while we got into the swing of things and we took turns buying and cooking. Phillip makes a million different kinds of stirfry (all of them delicious) and he would do all the stirfry shopping and cooking. I made sure we had things like flour and butter and bread and eggs, and I made everything that was not stirfry, although not very often because (and this will be important later) I am a rotten cook. We bought these things as we needed them - never on any schedule or system - usually on our way home from work, with no thought for what we might do the following night. 

But now - NOW we are a one working parent, one stay-at-home parent and two very small children family and we cannot just dash across the street to the QFC, load a bunch of items we'll use only that night in the cart - without looking at the prices - and make dinner at eight. I WISH, right? I totally miss my child-less evenings of yore! But that kind of shopping and cooking is NOT happening. Not for a VERY LONG TIME. 

Tomorrow: Menus! Not just for my dad!

Poetry Saturday

The Daughter Goes To Camp - Sharon Olds

In the taxi alone, home from the airport,
I could not believe you were gone. My palm kept
creeping over the smooth plastic
to find your strong meaty little hand and
squeeze it, find your narrow thigh in the
noble ribbing of the corduroy,
straight and regular as anything in nature, to
find the slack cool cheek of a
child in the heat of a summer morning—
nothing, nothing, waves of bawling
hitting me in hot flashes like some
change of life, some boiling wave
rising in me toward your body, toward
where it should have been on the seat, your
brow curved like a cereal bowl, your
eyes dark with massed crystals like the
magnified scales of a butterfly's wing, the
delicate feelers of your limp hair,
floods of blood rising in my face as I
tried to reassemble the hot
gritty molecules in the car, to
make you appear like a holograph
on the back seat, pull you out of nothing
as I once did—but you were really gone,
the cab glossy as a slit caul out of
which you had slipped, the air glittering
electric with escape as it does in the room at a birth.

Seven quick... wow, I'm tired

I don't feel like I do my kids justice on this blog. Whenever I decide I am done with this website gig, I'll print out the entire thing (1100+ posts and counting!) (wait, should I have admitted that out loud on the internet?) and my Old Crotchety Self is going to be super ticked off that I wrote so many whiny dithery angsty things about ME and hardly anything about the amazingness of my KIDS. 

I was just upstairs helping with pajamas and teeth brushing. Jack didn't want to have his teeth brushed, he wanted to sit in the chair and read himself a story. I've never seen him do this before. I mean, he's "read" to himself, but he narrated the whole story out loud and the whole time I'm like, "Self, have you written anywhere that the boy is speaking in PARAGRAPHS now?" And Molly is teetering around with mischievous and lit up cheeks, shouting "YAH" and "NAAAWWOOO" and acting like a PERSON with way more than her share of personality and I'm all, "Self, have you written down all the words Molly is saying at almost seventeen months old? Not because there are a lot or because they're difficult, but because a walking talking Molly is the funniest thing you have ever seen?" 

It was another good day, but I'm beat. Possibly because I decided to walk us all down to the lake after naps, and the walk back is mostly uphill. I'm supposed to be at a church thing tonight, but instead I am in my pajamas and my glasses and thinking about a glass of wine. I'm going to fork over the cash for a PC owner's poor substitute for Scrivener and then I'm going to write. I think my evening will end up rather well. 

In the meantime:

1. Jack skipped his nap four days in a row, a fact I bemoaned at Parenting this week. He took one today, thank goodness, although it was very short, and I dealt with a MOST irritating boy all evening. Does your child wail and sob and howl, on and on and on, until you think you will have to make yourself deaf just so you won't have to hear it anymore? Dear GOD.

2. I wrote about what I'm going to wear to my party next month on Style Lush. And then I went to buy the thing I decided to wear, but [STYLE BLOG WRITER FAIL!] the back of the dress is quite a bit different from the front of the dress. Bother. NOW what am I going to wear?

3. I'm going to keep writing for Parenting for another year and because of various things, including the time I met Kathryn and she said, "Gee, you're MUCH cuter than your PICTURE!", I reeeeeally need a headshot. Like, a professional one. And right after Kathryn said that, Mona came over and TOOK my picture for this EXACT PURPOSE, but I'm wearing white and standing against a white wall and my hair was doing that growing-back-in thing and I'm also totally embarrassed and... yeah. I need to suck it up and be an adult, right? I can't take my own picture (believe me, I have TRIED) and this is my way of holding myself accountable for emailing Mona already and begging her to 1) take my picture and 2) make it look like I am a J Crew model. She will probably hem and haw, but I will say, "MONA! I BELIEVE IN YOU!" And she will do her best and I will come out looking like a JC Penney catalog model but that will be okay, it will still be nine thousand steps above the picture I took with Photobooth. 

4. I also have to rewrite my bio. Most of it. I also (I KNOW I KNOW) need to update my about page on THIS website, which doesn't include my second child. For shame! But this is my way of holding myself accountable for the redesign I work on for ten minutes every evening until I get frustrated with TypePad and go pour more wine. One day! 

5. I am not kidding about a week of food posts. You might want to put this website on hiatus.

6. I have found a real estate agent and have drafted a "We'd like to talk to you and this is why" email. I have not sent it. Why not? Because then it will turn into something REAL instead of something I whine about on my BLAWG, that's why. GAK.

7. Same thing with a preschool, only that's even more frightening for some reason. I actually emailed a preschool earlier in the week and the response I received... well, let's just say I am easily put off by tone. People are always saying that emails can have unintended tones, they can be easily misunderstood, blah blah blah. And I get that, as a BLOGGER, but if I were a preschool owner and teacher? I would be nothing but positive and professional and bright and cheery. This email was not those things, so now I am biased. Phillip really hates this about me (oh, the discussions we had when I was hiring for my own position and throwing out resumes left and right) but I remain unmoved. Anyway, preschool is an entirely different post, one I might feel like telling you after I brainspew my collected thoughts on GROCERIES. You = frantically hunting for the unsubscribe link.

more quick takes at jen's site

Finally, it was a good day

Well. I need to amend that post I did way back when entitled Everything I Know About Blogging or some such. Because it appears that there is one other thing besides a pregnancy announcement that gets people all hot and bothered to comment on, and that thing is Aaron Neville. 

And can I just say how PROUD I am that all of you have the Right Opinion of Aaron Neville and also how SURPRISED I am that many of you have never HEARD of Aaron Neville! And honestly, I don't know if that's weird or not. Maybe it's me. I do live with a music major (read: music SNOB. Who does a mean Aaron Neville impression.)

ANYWAY. I started writing my grocery post. Which turned into a very large, very grand Feeding Your Family type of post and if all I write about next week is how I choose and shop for and cook food for my family you only have yourself to blame. I am not even kidding. 

As for today's exciting content, Holly, who I met at the Blathering, had a great post today wondering how much of your identity you lose when you become a mom. I spent a lot - no, a LOT - of time freaking out about this very subject, so I felt I had the authority to leave an embarrassingly long and rambly comment. But I thought about her post the entire time I was making dinner. 

Now, making dinner is not the IDEAL chunk of my day. My kids are crotchety and one is starving and the other has no interest in anything edible and they're fighting and shrieking and basically driving me crazy. 

BUT. We had a great day. Kind of an amazing day. I am willing to concede that the wonderfulness of our day had to do with the fact that both of my kids slept till 7:30 (THANK YOU GOD!) but whatever. We didn't see friends, we didn't do anything special - in fact, we went to TARGET, and we didn't even buy anything fun. We went to Target and checked out a library that was different from our usual library. We couldn't go to the playground because it was all wet, but we had a yummy lunch and roughhoused on the couch and danced to the Wiggles and took a nice long nap. And when we woke up we walked to Aunt FPC's house to deliver a party invitation and pick up decaying leaves and then we came home and made Lego airplanes. And yes, there was fighting over those Lego airplanes as I was making dinner, but it was okay. Today was a good day.

What I tried to say in my comment on Holly's post was that while I haven't LOST my identity, I do feel that it's changed. And, shockingly, I like it better. It will probably change again when my kids go to school, when they're teenagers, when they move out of our house. I still have the things I like to do with my free time, all the things that I DO, right? But first and foremost I'm a mother, and as hard as it is, as boring as it may make me, as disappointed as some of my old friends might be in my terribly domestic and homebound life, as difficult as it is to make time for the stuff I DO, I like being here. And I still feel like me. 

I am sitting here on the couch with Jack. The Little Einsteins are on (I alternately love OnDemand for instant kid TV and hate OnDemand for making Jack think he can make Curious George appear whenever he wants) but no one is watching. He's building a tower of Legos next to me - we do this almost every evening. Phillip puts Molly to bed, I sit on the couch with Jack, both of us doing other things besides watching the TV that is inevitably on. It's nice. After I put him to bed I'll drive over to Liz's house, because Bubba is in Qatar and she needs grown up conversation. I'm not great at conversation, but I'll bring chocolate to make up for it. 

I better go do that now. The Little Einsteins are over and unless someone does something we're going to have to sit through nineteen more hours of Political Speechiness. Horrors. 

My kids, Aaron Neville and groceries. I know. Whatever.

Jack and Molly got this Little People set for Christmas and music and a DVD were included. Or maybe that was a separate present altogether. I don't know. ALL THE PRESENTS RUN TOGETHER.

Anyway. I got it out the other day because I was getting sick of Kai-Lan (amazingly enough, it is possible to get sick of Kai-Lan!) and this one was new and maybe I could get dinner ready in peace. But you guys, I hate this DVD. SO MUCH. I have a super high tolerance for annoying noisy toys and children's music and general kid-related chaos. The only real noise rule in my house is that we can't watch TV AND play the Wiggles CDs at the same time. (My kids have access to, and are allowed to use, the Hello Kitty CD player whenever they want - that should prove my ability to Tune Stuff Out.) HOWEVER. The music in the Little People DVD is sung by Aaron Neville and Aaron Neville is a sound I cannot abide. 

Seriously. I want to shove chopsticks into my ears every time I hear him start. "Discuuuuvering you! Discuuuuvering me!" GAH! THE NOISE! GO AWAY!

Okay, but that's not what I really going to tell you. What I was really going to tell you is that the Little People DVD is a series of vignettes about the Little People learning their letters. Very cute. We are fans of Little People. But they have NAMES. And the very first Little People vignette is about a Little Person named MAGGIE. 

Now. I am not used to hearing my name out loud on television. Or in music or in THE WORLD. I know it's not a super unusual name or anything, but I don't know any Maggies. (Except that one time in college when I was in a very small class with TWO other Maggies and that was weird for ALL of us and just between you and me I think someone in scheduling was having a bit of fun.) I have heard my named called on a playground a time or two and I have heard PLENTY of people yelling my name at a DOG, but otherwise, not so much. 

(Oh! Except for that character on How I Met Your Mother named Maggie. Approve! Well done, HIMYM!)

ANYWAY. Now, when Jack wants to watch the Little People DVD, he says, "Wan' watch MAGGIE, Mama! Watch MAGGIE." And oh that is a BIZARRO thing to hear. 

I say, "Jack, do you know that's Mama's name? Mama's name is Maggie?" 

And he smiles, which means he gets it. He also doesn't say, "NAAAWWWOOO, your name is MOMMY," which is what I would expect. That ALSO means he gets it. 

I am not sure how I feel about this. Because my name is most certainly NOT Maggie. It's MOMMY. And I don't remember discovering my parents had actual names until I was WAY older than Jack. 

It's unnerving, is all I'm saying. It doesn't help that the Little People Maggie is the dorky looking one. Also, one of the other Little People has an unusual name, but I know someone in real life with that name. WEIRD. The Little People are FREAKING ME OUT. 

I meant to write about grocery shopping tonight. I have a whole big list of ideas written on a post it note, because that's the way I work, and there are so many different PARTS of my grocery shopping post that I was thinking I need to turn it into a SERIES. I know! I was going to bust out some PROFESSIONALISM around here! But then I thought: no one cares about grocery shopping. We are reading blogs to forget that we have to do things like grocery shopping (except that I sort of love grocery shopping, hence the SERIES). But if you ARE interested maybe I will make use of my post it notes. You can be sure it will be fascinating. I mean, HOW COULD IT NOT? 

I also feel like I need to write about Molly because oh my HECK is she adorable. Even this morning, when my kids were being rotten little punks and whacking each other with wooden train tracks, she was adorable. Instead of losing my you-know-what, which is what I USUALLY do, I decided to just Remove The Cause Of The Argument (train tracks to the top of the bookshelf!) and, since Jack was whimpering, "Monny HIT me!", I ordered apologies from the biggest offender. 

I said, "Molly, tell Jack you're sorry." 

Molly grimaced for a split second. Then she made this sound that I can't figure out how to spell, but was most definitely "sorry" in Mollyspeak. I then ordered kisses and hugs and THEY KISSED AND HUGGED and wow, if only I could arbitrate every fight that well. 

I think it's the talking, with Molly. Jack, as you know, didn't speak until he was nineteen. Molly has lots of words (even if I'm the only who can understand) and she's hilarious. SHE JUST IS. Mommy bias shining through!


So! What are YOUR thoughts on Aaron Neville? (They better be the right thoughts, otherwise you are banned from this website.) Would you be at ALL interested in my thoughts on Grocery Shopping? Does your kid know your first name? Has he started calling you MOM? That will be worse, I know it. 

Big news, then I'm going back to bed. (I wish.)

Molly is taking a morning nap at 8:30. Which means you can guess what time she woke up. And what my day is going to be like. And how much wine will be had. 

But all of this is insignificant when it's BLATHERING DAY.

We have been planning The Blathering 2.0 since the day we flew home from the original. It was one of the best weekends of my life and I cannot wait to see everyone (and more of you this time!) again. I love planning trips and dorking around on Twitter and fixing up blogs and doing all of it with fun and fabulous friends!

Everyone is invited, the more the merrier. We are still working out a LOT of details, but we want you to SAVE THE DATE and we'll keep you updated!

Oh, and there's Molly, squawking over the baby monitor. My day is getting EVEN BETTER!

Giving myself a good talking to

I went out with friends tonight - we were celebrating a birthday, a birthday that happened in EARLY DECEMBER, GAH - and we had our usual "I feel guilty about working!" and "I feel guilty about NOT working!" mommy angst discussions. Actually, we're all quite happy doing what we're doing, but we still have to TALK about it, you know. Make sure that we actually ARE still happy. 

I AM happy, I'll have you know. But for some reason it's been a very hard month. Like, I am just not FEELING 2010. I am lazy, unmotivated, cranky, misanthropic. I have a lot going on - things to write, things to plan - and I either have five thousand ideas and only time for one of them, or I've got nothing at all, and I panic over how I'm going to produce all the things I'm committed to producing.

And when my friends talk about liking their work and finding fulfillment in it, I translate what they say into my stay-at-home-mom world. What is MY work? I would say (as pathetic as this sounds) my blog, my other blogs, my "novel", the stack of Important Papers On My Desk That I Need To Do Something About and the party we're planning for February. I am FULLY aware that my "work" is what a lot of working mothers do when they get HOME, but whatever, for now we're just going to say it's MY work. 

I take care of my kids first and foremost. But I will blog before I clean up the kitchen or fold the clothes. I will do other writing before I pick up the toys when the kids go to bed. I will forget to make dinner on time because I got on a big revision roll with my story. I think figuring out where we're going to stay in Hawaii and all the logistics of that trip are worth a nicely formatted spreadsheet or two, plus and the fact that my husband won't have to think about it at all. I like having all the numbers entered into my Budget of Awesomeness spreadsheet, and I make invitations to parties because I think people like getting fun mail, and I have Post It notes all over my desk for when I have an idea but can't type it up, and maybe I have spent more than a few hours trying to figure out if there's an equivalent of Scrivener for a PC. Okay? THIS IS WHAT I DO. And I like it. It makes me feel like me.

But I don't think I've done very much of it since the holidays. I think I've mostly laid around my living room, despondent for various or no reasons. The weather is horrid - the kind of weather everyone thinks Seattle has year round, but really only shows up for a week or so to get everyone good and depressed. Exercising during nap time, routine as of a month or two ago, now requires massive mental effort. Most of the time I fail on this front, and the sad thing is how easily I shrug it off. And remember, I am not exercising to lose weight, I am exercising to MAINTAIN MY SANITY. 

I am not doing a very good job. 

Phillip is back in school. My weekend plans fell through. And even though everything worked out and we had a good time anyway and I've had enough time to myself - hello, I just got back from sushi and Red Mango with friends - I didn't do very much of what I DO. And I feel... at loose ends. Frustrated. Stifled, even. I came home and marched into the office where my poor husband is doing homework and snitted, "I need to WRITE. I am going upstairs to WRITE. DON'T TALK TO ME."

This, after leaving my him with the boy who didn't nap for a second day in a row, thereby turning himself into Actual Demon Spawn. I went out for sushi (which I don't even really LIKE, which my husband wants to MARRY) and Phillip put one child and one demon spawn to bed by himself. And is now doing homework. 

I think... I don't know. I kind of feel like the month of November was this crazy eye-opening experiment for me, where I went full blast on something I wasn't sure about, and then, at the end: SO VERY SURE. But you know, life takes over, and there were weddings and holidays and families to attend to and then back to the doldrums of January and... wait. So how do I get back to that again? How did I make that happen? How did I arrange all the pieces of my life so I could DO what I DO? 

First: I need to do my stupid at-least-twenty-minutes of stupid exercise. It's not even an option, Self. GET WITH IT. And second, I need to do what I do. More, and every day. 

Poetry Saturday

St. Peter and the Angel - Denise Levertov

Delivered out of raw continual pain,
smell of darkness, groans of those others
to whom he was chained-- 

unchained, and led
past the sleepers,
door after door silently opening--
     And along a long street's
majestic emptiness under the moon:

one hand on the angel's shoulder, one
feeling the air before him,
eyes open but fixed . . .

And not till he saw the angel had left him,
alone and free to resume
the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of
what he had still to do,
not till then did he recognize
this was no dream. More frightening
than arrest, than being chained to his warders:
he could hear his own footsteps suddenly.
Had the angel's feet
made any sound? He could not recall.
No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit.
He himself must be
the key, now, to the next door,
the next terrors of freedom and joy.

Plot Holes

This was one of those very long very exhausting days, but the kind where you get all your stuff done and the kids are halfway cooperative and you don't care THAT much that your husband met friends for drinks after work. I exercised, I made dinner, I folded every clean piece of laundry in the house. When Molly woke up from her nap diaper-less and standing in a pack 'n play amidst the products the diaper is supposed to contain (I swear, my girl baby is a thousand percent more gross than my boy baby ever was/is) I simply yanked her out and stashed her in the bathtub, cheerfully wadding up the bedding and stuffing it in the wash machine. Me = Epitome Of Loving Doting Mother. 

But I am still tired. And Phillip is home now and HE is in charge of the "Wan' play Play-Doh Daddy? Wan' play Play-Doh?" THANK GOD.

I was thinking that sometimes I write something, by which I mean I moan and gripe and sob, and then I never mention it again. Or, once the something ceases to be something to moan/gripe/sob about, I stop talking about it. I have a handful of things in mind: 

Sleep. Molly, for whatever reason, is now waking up at six. I know the difference between 5:30 and 6 doesn't seem like a lot, but IT IS. Maybe it's because Phillip's alarm goes off at six and we have to wake up anyway, but I am a lot less stabby in the sleep department this week. SOMETIMES she even sleeps till 6:30! I think she is teething and she has stopped eating anything requiring more than a single chew, but the sleep is going relatively well. She's even taking extra long afternoon naps - Jack is now waking up before she does, which is awesome because Molly's insufferable until Jack wakes up to entertain her. (Which: HUH? Because all they do is FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!)

My car door. Did I tell you I busted the car door? Backing up with the car door open, sideways-ish, into the inside of our garage? One of my more brilliant moves. It is not fixed. Our dads keep asking us when we're going to get it fixed and for now the answer is: when there's nothing else we want to spend our money on. 

The Catholic blog. I am writing in it! One day I might even write something good!

Potty training. WHATEVER. The kid manages to stay dry most days for most or all of the day. As long as I am on his case every half hour, reminding him of the potty's existence, he's good to go. His ATTITUDE is not as charming as it once was, however, as we are now dealing with "NAAAOOOOOOO!" (is my kid the only one who has figured out how to turn "No" into eighteen syllables?) whenever we suggest he should use the potty. So. WHATEVER. 

The Blathering. We have picked a date! And a location! And as soon as I have hired all the website hamsters I will alert you to the details!

Whether or not we will sell our house this year. We talked. And talked and talked and talked. (And did not argue! Bonus points!) My biggest issue is wanting more space sooner rather than later. Phillip's biggest issue, which I did not know until we talked and talked and talked, is the ability to wait for the perfect house when we're ready to buy. If we're renting, waiting for the right house is MUCH easier. So the two big questions for the realtor are: 1) does she think we could at least break even on our house if we sell this summer? and 2) what kind of rental houses are in our price range? If the answer to either of these questions is unacceptable, we'll wait. But if we feel comfortable... I think we're going to do it. Look for this blog to grow exponentially more neurotic later this year. 

A replacement Christmas party. Yes, I know this was a Very Important Detail for you. Well, rest assured that we have picked a date, picked a theme and have commenced obsessing over invitations and decorations. Phillip is REALLY EXCITED, let me tell you.

Uhhhh, I never know what you people want to know. I mean, not that you want to KNOW stuff; not like you're sitting there on TENTERHOOKS or anything. Ugh. Shutting up now. Hello my television!

Ghost of Motherhood Future

I wrote (and deleted) a looooong and incoherent post about Marriage! and Happiness! and Women! and seriously, just be grateful I spared you. For it was looooong and MADE NO SENSE. (Note to self: dissertations should be written only after one has had extensive education.) 

That said, there is one element from that post I wanted to share: a woman I saw at the grocery store. 

On first glance she looked old, haggard, beaten down. She wore a giant, saggy, ugly coat, her hair needed combing, she shuffled slowly through the aisles, pushing a cart weighed down with twelve tons of food. 

There was a two-year-old in the cart as well, no doubt making it even tougher to push. A three-year-old reluctantly held on to the side. And the woman, upon closer glance, wasn't old or haggard or even all that slow - she was merely hugely pregnant. 

I was at the store sans children, as I am most Sunday afternoons. I gave up trying to grocery shop with two kids. You can't shop with a double stroller, you can't put two kids in a cart and you can't STEER the carts that HAVE room for two kids. And even if you could, you can't deal with the multitude of dirty looks you receive for having the gall to TRY steering the bus-length carts with the fake little cars with fake steering wheels. Now I either go alone or take one kid, usually the one that is driving us the most crazy. 

In other words, I had NO IDEA how this woman was actually pulling this off. 

She intimidated me. I saw a vision of my future self and immediately left the produce section. I headed for the spaghetti, the cereal, the baking aisle where I have my weekly interior war over the bittersweet Ghirardelli baking chips. (Which I never use for baking.) (OBVS.)

But I saw her again in the refrigerated section, picking out yogurt. She was much younger than I originally thought, and much prettier than I'd judged the first time. Her kids were older than mine, but about the same age difference. The little one was spaced out in the cart. The older one demanded strawberry, no vanilla, no wait, what about peach. The mom put it all into the cart and slowly shuffled to the checkout stands. 

I watched her go. I tried not to think about her, but she keeps popping up in my brain. That could be me. Well, if everything goes as we hope, that WILL be me. 

I get annoyed and frustrated and soapboxy when people start making official statements about Marriage! and Happiness! and Women! that, I feel, completely disregard my experience. I don't care that they are making generalizations and have research and statistics to back them up. I feel differently THEREFORE they are WRONG! In this case: I am happy, dammit! Don't go around telling me that I've lost out somehow, or that I am statistically unhappier because I chose marriage and family and writing neurotic blog posts at 9:30 at night while my husband studies for his master's degree. HARRUMPH! 

And then I remember the woman I saw in the grocery store and think: oh dear God. Is that what I chose? 

All the usual caveats apply, and even as I'm writing this I'm saying to myself, "Oh, but those babies are worth it. So worth it. Even though my daughter practically brained her brother with a solid metal toy train this morning and they both screamed bloody murder and we had Time Outs every nine minutes until nap time, it is so very worth it.

But still, I think of that woman and feel the weary ache - an ache her husband doesn't know - in every one of my bones.