Saturday, January 24, 2015

You're never too old for Catholic guilt.

While I don't usually post about politics or religion (or anything else that would encourage people to send me hate mail), I feel the need to share our recent encounter with the church.

I don't want to be accused of blasphemy, so I'm simply relating the story exactly as it happened. I'm not speaking ill of the church, just stating the facts, ma'am.

Mr. KK and I aren't super-religious people. We were both brought up Catholic and attended mass with our mothers throughout childhood. We don't currently actively attend church, though we do make monthly donations to the parish in which Mr. KK grew up.

The last time we went to church was probably for someone's wedding or a funeral.

But we're Italian, and Italians like nothing more than tradition. And traditional Catholic Italians baptize their babies. So we were going to dress Max up in a snazzy white outfit and head to the church.

But first, as parents, we had to attend Baptism class. Yay!

When we pulled into the parking lot one night last week, we were worried we were going to be the only couple in the class. But then another SUV (the 'new parent car of the moment') parked next to us. We watched the other couple get out and head up the stairs.

"It's showtime," I said to Mr. KK, who was looking up everything about Baptisms as if trying to cram before a final exam.

"If he asks questions, I want to be prepared," he said, his face lit up by his phone screen. And this is one of the many reasons I love Mr. KK.

Our class leader was a old-school deacon who had been with the parish for about a hundred years. He had an oxygen tank with him, as if to verify his time on earth. More than once throughout the night I was worried we were going to lose him.

The other couple sat across from us, the girl wearing a perma-frown. She truly looked bored and bothered that she was at the class. Hey, we ALL wanted to be home with our babies, but this was just something we had to do. This girl could have been awarded an Oscar in eye rolling.

The deacon walked us through the baptism, asking us not one, not two but a bazillion questions along the way. The first one being, "So, why are you here tonight?" It's a pet peeve of mine when people ask questions like that. It's like walking into a history class in college and the professor asked, "What are you all doing here?"

Mr. KK – God love him – knew the answer to one of the deacon's questions. I was very proud of super-smart husband. Of course Mrs. Eyeroll across from me looked at her husband and said, "Surprised you don't know the answer, Mr. Know-It-All." She sounded like a really fun and easy to get along with wife.

At the end of the class, the deacon excused the other couple and then turned to us. "If you could please stay after class, there are a few things I'd like to discuss with you."

Oh boy.

Nothing ever good came from being asked to stay after class.

He shuffled the paper in front of him, no doubt containing the answers I gave to the secretary's questions when I called to register for the class.

He started by rattling off our address. "Why are you at this church? You live in St. Carmel's jurisdiction."

Mr. KK was quick to answer. "I grew up in this church. I was baptized here, made my communion here, and my mother still goes here."

And, I added in my own head, this is the church we donate to on a regular basis.

"I see," the deacon replied.

He scanned the paper further. "Why weren't you married in a church? Was there a reason?"

It was only a matter of time before this question came up. In a way, I was waiting for it.

"It wasn't because we weren't allowed to," I replied. I felt the need to clear that up. We didn't get married in a church because we didn't want to, not because the church wouldn't let us.

"Have you both been married before?" He eyed us skeptically. I had learned just a half hour ago in this super-informative Baptism class that if you had been married before and you didn't have your marriage pardoned or annulled by the church, then you couldn't baptize your baby. So I knew what he was getting at.

"No," we both replied in unison.

He then explained that while we were married, we weren't truly married in the eyes of the church. He almost made it sound like our marriage was fake, like we stood up before an Elvis impersonator wearing shorts and flip flops. He strongly – and I mean, strongly – encouraged us to contact the priest and have our marriage validated by the church. Because right now, the church didn't recognize our marriage. And that we should do it for our son.

In true Catholic form, Mr. KK and I were feeling guilty. For what, I don't know. Living where we did? Getting married the way we wanted to? I felt like I was in high school getting in trouble.

The deacon looked up from the form once more.

"University Hospital in Georgia," he said.

Um, is there a question in there somewhere?

"What's that all about?" he finally asked.

"Our son was born via surrogate," I replied, my back immediately up and my over-protective Mommy gene on overload.

"I see," he said. He was quiet for a moment and then said, "I guess that should be okay."

Should be okay?

Is the baptism of our child being questioned because he was born via surrogate???

My first instinct was to reply with a snarky comeback (who, me?). 'Well, God gave me cancer, so…' was almost out of my mouth. But this was a deacon and we were in church, so I decided to behave myself this one time.

On the way home, Mr. KK and I couldn't stop talking about how we got held after baptism class. "He doesn't even think we're married, and he almost wasn't going to let Max into the church!" I exclaimed, my blood boiling with each passing minute. "I'm not so sure how I feel about this now. It's all like, 'Well, I guess you guys can join our club…'. It's ridiculous. I thought God didn't judge and accepted EVERYONE???"

I preached on and on the whole ride home.

And then I had a glass of wine and felt a little better.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The WORST Question You Could Ask a New Mom

As I settle into my third month of motherhood, I’m getting used to being asked tons of questions.

And I’m happy to answer most of them. As most New Moms would be.

There are three questions, however, that I think are taboo. These questions should never, ever be asked of a New Mom.

First: “Are you getting enough sleep?”

Sure, everyone knows that all new moms are sleep deprived, so maybe you’re just looking for confirmation. However, this question insinuates that she looks tired, which is almost worst than saying ‘You look tired’ because it shows you don’t have the guts to outwardly insult her; so instead you’re going to hint at the fact that she has circles under her eyes darker than a Kardashian tan.

Second: “Do you think you’ll have another baby?”

Honestly, people, her oven hasn’t even cooled down yet! Right now New Mom is doing all she can to make sure her baby is fed, diapered and happy – all while trying to stay sane, keeping an every-other-day shower schedule, and making sure she’s wearing a bra when company shows up. Now’s not the time.

But the worst question – and I mean THE WORST question – you can ask New Mom is this: “When do you go back to work?”

A little part of me just died even writing the words.

How am I supposed to leave this face???

No new mother who is home caring for her new baby even wants to think about the day she has to change out her pajamas into her big girl clothes, kiss her little one good-bye for way longer than a nap, walk out the door and drive to the cruel place that is holding her hostage from her baby for 8-10 hours, causing her to miss every coo, smile and milestone.

So, please, do us all a favor and Just.Don’t.Ask.

When we found out we were having a baby, we made the decision that I would stay home with him on leave for as long as I could. Our son was born via surrogate, which meant I wasn’t able to take advantage of my company’s paid maternity leave, because I wasn’t physically giving birth (don’t even get me started). But I was able to take advantage of FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), and in the state of Connecticut you can take up to 16 weeks (most states it’s 12 weeks). Plus, it took six years for our little nugget to get here, I was going to do everything possible to spend as much time as humanly possible with him.

I MAY be breaking every parenting rule out there by letting him 
nap on me all day but I don't care. I can't get enough of him. #sorrynotsorry

For those people who know me, they understand that I’m a severe Type A personality. I’m as organized as they come and a perfectionist, so I took my job very seriously. So they’ve been asking me about going back to work since my second week home. They know my job can be pretty demanding, with long hours and last-minute travel. These are all things that don’t mix well with having a baby at home.

And every time they would ask me when I was going back, I would muster up a smile and look them in eye, “The end of January. But we don’t talk about it.”

So instead, I play a little game of make believe in my head (and my own little world, apparently) that I’m not going back to work. It’s how I escape obsessing thinking about leaving Max every day.

Conversations in our house have been going something like this:

MR. KK: “When you go back to work…”

KK:  “What do you mean? I’m NOT going back to work.”

MR. KK: “Right, right. Well, IF you were going back to work, what time would we need to get Max up?”

KK:  “Well, I’m not. But if I were to guess a time in that horrible scenario, I’d say 6:30am.”

"Mommy? Please don't go."

Pretend is fun, but I’m a realist. So even though I’m not going back to work (wink, wink) we’ve started Max on the ‘When Mommy Goes Back To Work Schedule’, which pretty much starts to implement a regular time for him to get up in the mornings that allows me to wake him up, snuggle with him and feed him before I have to go to the place that is robbing me of spending time with my son work. The new schedule also allows me to have play time and bath time after I get home.

NOTE: Alternate names of this schedule are: ‘Mommy’s Sorry She’s Abandoning You Schedule’ and the ‘Watch Mommy's Heart Get Ripped Out Schedule’.

So please, ask me ANYTHING except you-know-what.

Because we’re not talking about that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On babies watching TV

The other night I came home to find Max in the living room in his Mamaroo, head turned toward the TV.

KK:  "Um, Max is watching the Kardashians. Please change the channel, he's losing brain cells."

MR. KK: "Sorry. I meant to put on 'Silence of the Lambs'."

KK:  "Oh. Much better."

True story.

Before anyone sends me hate mail, we don't let Max watch TV. Unless it's the Food Network, which is totally cool.