Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Ick Factor

Like the proverbial tree in the forest, I feel that if I don't share some of this insanity, then it's not really happening. If you don't hear my screams all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, then did I really see an old man's scrotum peek out of his speedos at the pool?

While I have no objection to the male genitalia, I also like to enjoy my ice cream sans nuts.  Positioned quite comfortably on my beach towel,  I simply turned my head to find another view when I locked eyes with a woman breastfeeding in the shallow end.  Yup, two massive, veiny boobs and a baby sucking away right in the middle of an intense game of water tag. 

Shocking, I know

Now Switzerland, riddle me this: it's considered rude to mow our lawns on Sundays, but we're ok with boobs and balls joining our family swim?

What's that, readers? You heard another faint scream from that seashell on your dresser? Yup, that would be me at the market, trying to comprehend why this little boy is eating the crushed ice from the raw fish display.  He is literally grabbing handfuls of blood-tinged ice and sucking each morsel with glee while his mother looks on with indifference.

Perhaps I am just an over-observant American, but I can't help but want to make a scene.  Lady, your son is feasting on bacteria-ridden ice and fish guts. I hate to break it to your free spirit, but that ain't sushi!

Ok, deep breath. Rant over for the day.  It's simply impossible not to recognize cultural differences with every European step I take.  They love their food raw and their bodies rawer.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mama, Interrupted

I think I may be in a bit of a slump.

Not the 'can't crawl out of bed', 'fifth of whiskey on the nightstand' type slump, but more like the stay-at-home-mama blues.  Perhaps the days seem extraordinarily long since my husband is away in Romania and I have no one to talk to but the neighbor's temperamental horse.  Or may because Amelia is sick with a cold and refusing to sleep, my patience is wearing extremely thin.  

Whether I be explaining in my adorable baby voice why she can't swim alone in the deep end or counting down the minutes until Amelia takes her comically short nap, I am feeling the guilt and pressure of not being the peppy, glittery glue stick soccer mom who fist pumps at the idea of spending another day at the petting zoo. 

I was a nanny, I tell myself.  I was destined to be a natural at motherhood.  Snot and bloody noses and disobedience and that explorer chick Dora are supposed to be second nature to me. But instead I find myself tired and mentally exhausted---all the while just wanting to curl up in a bed with a smutty novel and another McFlurry for my McShitty mood.

I feel you judging me right now.  Yeah, you.  I have the most wonderful baby girl with the most beautiful set of screaming lungs, and instead of feeling blessed and grateful and proud to have the most precious gift in the world for which I so desperately prayed, I am merely feeling overwhelmed.

Matt says I need an outlet for my boredom and exhaustion.  "Write your book today," he nonchalantly tosses out as he leaves the house for work.  "Ok, sure honey! Just as soon as Amelia finishes pooping in the bathtub, I will get right to it!"

I have no words for a book at the moment.  I can hardly come up with enough letters to send out a decent tweet.  Unless self-pity books or personal essays on McFlurry binges are the new Fifty Shades of Grey, I'd say I'm a few hundred pages short of a best seller.

It's not that I am without joy.  My love for Amelia is without a doubt the most incredible, enormous emotion I will ever experience. Hands down. I would give my life for that child, yet I simultaneously struggle to read her Curious George three times before bedtime.  He will still be curious in the morning, Amelia.  I promise. 

I wish a handbook came out with the placenta explaining exactly how these supermoms do it.  How do they muster the energy to navigate the entire children's museum on four hours of sleep? How on Earth do these superhuman baby-makers do it day after day and never seem to need a break?  Ten minutes into a puppet show and I could already use an intermission. Or a martini.

I constantly find myself wondering if I am truly doing the best I can do.  I stay up late at night worrying that Amelia considers me a bad mother; that I am scarring her for life if we don't finger paint and blow bubbles and pet filthy goats everyday.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things I am a fairly good parent.  My child is happy and clean. She has never gone without, and she will always be taught right from wrong. Yet I had such grandiose ideas when that pregnancy test read positive that I was going to be the mother who never questioned her abilities because she was so busy being wonderful at everything.

I was going to be the mother who hosted play dates all week since the other moms would be too tired to entertain.  I was going to make blanket forts and costumes and spend hours in an over sized toy box filled with educational games and anatomically correct baby dolls so Amelia could get a head start on her medical degree. 

I wasn't supposed to be this blasé.  I wasn't supposed to be this mediocre.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jet Lag Ramblings

"Would you like to make that a medium?" the Swiss McDonald's employee asked me of my Big Mac meal.  "Actually, just make it a large," I sighed, knowing that an extra handful of fries would go a long way tonight after seeing my favorite Swiss family off to the airport. 

"Mademoiselle, we no do large. Medium is biggest size," she responded in broken English. 

Seriously, Switzerland?!?

You don't do large?!?

 You actually thought I wanted to downsize my meal?!?

Can this country get any weirder?!?

Just eight short hours before this preposterous incident, I bid farewell to  my dearest friends Jake, Kate, and Fynn Beaverson as they moved back to the United States after nearly five years of living in Switzerland. Just like that ridiculous medium fry I consumed in three bites---they were gone.  And I was feeling pretty salty.

The hardest part of this whole ex-pat life is the difficulty of starting over in a foreign culture that just doesn't seem to get you.  Kate got me.  For fourteen months, she was my confidant and tour guide, and without her here to ease the transition into Swiss life, I think I may have floundered. 

Until we meet again...

I heard the heartbreaking news of their departure while I was back in Illinois for the summer.  Agreeing I could no longer go without my family, hometown friends, or air conditioning, Matt sent me home for a glorious 36 days. Nostalgia hit me as soon at that 747 landed on Midwest soil. 

I wanted to do the things I had always done, so I drank cheap wine out of the bottle, played Scattegories with my hot headed friends, and took my mom's vintage bicycle for a long ride on the Fairview bike trails.  About four miles in, I gave myself a figurative pat on the back for being in such great shape after a full weekend of nachos and ice cream cake.  Ninety-two degrees Fahrenheit and I had hardly broken a sweat.  Actually, I was not perspiring at all...I paused to ponder this. Before I had time to come to a reasonable conclusion, I fell to the blacktop as nausea and dry heaves overtook me. I tried to call out for help, but the trail was eerily empty.  I could tell I was beginning to lose consciousness as I mapped out a plan in my head as how to call an ambulance, meanwhile cursing myself for leaving home without a telephone or blow horn.  I then realized that my entire body was now saturated in sweat as the sweltering black top burned against my skin.  "Roll to the grass," I told my gargantuan frame.  "Just roll to the shade." 

Spoiler alert: I survived.

It took me around ten minutes to fully catch my breath and gain the strength to stand back up.  I was shaking and terrified, certain I had just stared down death.  Once home and after a very dramatic reenactment for my family, I googled heat exhaustion and realized that certain medications can contribute greatly to this condition.  There it was: Prozac and heat intolerance. 

And this crazy biatch is on the maximum dose.

After stopping and giving my life a long hard look, I've decided I can no longer take unwarranted risks like vintage bicycle rides.  Since my medicated body obviously cannot tolerate rigorous exercise, it may be best to stick to my usual cardio routine of climbing mall escalators and lifting fudge pops.  We only get so many second chances.

Now back to the present: I am currently in Switzerland and am counting down the days until this heat wave is finished; that, or until the day the Swiss realize it is 2013 and air conditioning has already been discovered (along with the size LARGE).

I apologize that this blog post has no real focus.  I am going on day five of little sleep and a jet lagged toddler.  Throw some melancholy into the mix over the absence of Kate, and there you have it: a lonely, heat intolerant, unable-to-get-a-damn-supersize, Mademoiselle.