From the gal who brought you The Filmonista, comes the heart-wrenching tale of an MFA, a baby and an unemployment check.
Ann Marie Woolsey-Johnson was once a designer, writer, teacher, gardener, and film critic.
In the early 2000s, she was a popular Vegas lounge singer.
Actually, that’s a lie… but, she is an above adequate piano player.
She’s now a stay-at-home mom, insomniac, crazy idiot neighbor, B vitamin junkie and chronic Facebook status updater.
And that’s okay with her.
Check out her once prestigious film blog:
Birthdays really bring out the worst in me. It happens to be one of the few occasions during the year I actually look forward to. So much so, my unbridled enthusiasm ends up crushing my plans; and in some of the worst ways possible.
Today is my daughter’s 2nd birthday. Here’s a quick recap of how my celebratory endeavors turned ugly. Fast.
June Cleaver was my muse as I began the day by dressing my daughter up in some frilly pink clothing. (Truly out of character; I never dress her in pink clothing.) (Red flag #1.)
Dropping my daughter off at her school, I’m eager to get back to my kitchen to bake some cupcakes.
I never bake. (Red flag #2.)
Back in my kitchen, I’m zen as I assemble and combine my ingredients.
I’m never zen. And certainly NEVER in the kitchen. (Red Flag #3.)
I start to whistle. (Perhaps the biggest Red Flag of them all?)
I place my cupcakes in the oven to bake, and I wait. In what resembles a 1950s housewife type of Valium induced fog, I find myself in the bathroom actually trimming my cuticles with a cuticle remover.
I own such a tool? (Red Flag #4.)
English: Fairy cakes in an oven, taken from front. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Several minutes later (about 20 to be precise), I begin to smell baking soda and burning. Exit fog. Panicked; I begin thinking about how dirty my oven is, and my mind goes berserk. Have I cleaned it lately? If so, with what? Toxic chemicals? Did I use the self-cleaning option? Does that even WORK??
I feel my blood pressure spike; I have to bring these cupcakes to my daughter’s nursery school for a party in 45 minutes!
Borderline bonkers, I conduct a Google search on the heat of ovens and how they can vary from one to the next. I read that my oven is probably “normal” hot. Sigh. Thank you, Google. You are my church.
I breathe and then spot some sugar and flour on the counter near my blender; I missed a spot? I run to the cabinet and grab my trusty Method spray and take care of it, post haste!
The burning smell returns, this time accompanied by smoke and my detector’s alarm. I open the oven and see that the once happy, rising tops of my cupcakes have now fallen flat, hard and blackish. Oh, and I have about 3 minutes to cool and frost them.
I run into the bathroom again, flash blow dry my hair into a mangled frizz bomb, and sprint back into the kitchen; helpless but bound and determined to salvage at least five cupcakes
Note: This is where a rational woman would stop and admit defeat, head to the store and pick up an alternative. HA! Not this delusional momma.
My daughter and her friends will have cupcakes; even if they are burned, damnit… and they’ll like them!
I place everything in Tupperware, and I’m off!
Just as I aggressively pull the door shut, I spot my keys on the table (about 8 feet away from me). SLAM. Locked out.
It’s pouring rain.
As good luck in bad situations would have it; I spot an umbrella on my porch. I grab it with force and anger; my mind quickly fleets to the image of Mommie Dearest grabbing a handful of her daughter’s hair as she screams; “SCRUB, Christina… SCRUUUHB!”
I begin speed walking to my daughter’s school, zig-zagging around puddles like a mime (I neglected to mention, I’m wearing the thinnest sandals I own), trying not to drop two awkwardly balanced Tupperware containers full of charred cupcakes. Smiling at passing cars, crying, and then, eventually laughing myself back into that lovely fog.
And like clockwork… it happened.
20 mos post-first born, in fact, just as all my friends said it would. The first time I heard it, I was completely caught off guard. In my kitchen (my home, my comfort zone), I was approached from the rear by a friend of the family.
The sound of that lone syllable echoing in my head was enough to keep me turned around at the sink; chin tucked into my neck just enough to show I was listening, but intent on getting the dishes clean.
I knew what was coming; we just had an enjoyable dinner complete with all the “oohs” and “ahhhs” that accompany a family gathering where a toddler is the highlight of the evening.
“When are you guys having the next one?”
There are so many things wrong with this statement, beginning with the presumptive “when?”.
How about the word; “next”? I mean, just how many are we talking about here? Four? Five? Furthermore, when does this “when?” end?
My answer; one that’s been rehearsed over and over since even before my first (and ONLY) child was a concept:
“Oh no, just one for us. One is more than enough.” Big fake smile.
<Small, very real rage>.
Why so angry? I thought you’d never ask! Please, let me list these reasons in bullet points for you– in fact, why don’t I choose asterisks instead? Asterisks are ornamental… friendly and less likely to be used by someone on a war path to prove a point, right?
* My husband and I are not breeders. True, we’ve got some killer genes to pass on, but unless you’d like to talk about a surrogate offer, we will stand behind our word, thank you very much.
* We enjoy our nightly couch time.
* I like having time to blow dry my hair. It’s a priority. Sue me.
* Believe it or not, we actually WANT to spoil our child.
* We’re not a baby factory for our parents. We get it; our folks want grand kids. But guess what? They have other children they can harass.
* We do not care to make our friends who have multiples feel better about their situation by having several of our own. We love you, but it’s your problem you have no time to: shower for more than 3 minutes, eat dinner in peace without being the target of an Ella’s Kitchen Squash Broccoli puree boomerang, and catch-up on Mad Men. I cry for you, really… I do.
If you approach me with this question, be prepared for my canned response. But please know, I will be more than happy to show you to the door if you press me for more information. And if you ask me in public, there’s a good chance I might throw a scalding hot cup of coffee directly at your face and run screaming “I need an adult!!”