I woke this morning to the sound of my four-year-old's Fred Fllintstone feet slapping on the hardwood, a purposeful, hurried slapping that infiltrated my dreams and produced images of an old Italian fish monger slapping the side of a large cod. Annoyed, as it was only six a.m. or so, I pulled the covers over my head and waited for the inevitable Mommy! Mom? Mooooommmmmyyyy! as well as the usual earthquake of my hefty boy throwing himself onto my bed, the unpleasant sensation of his meaty knee connecting with my ribs, but much to my (short-lived) relief, none of that occurred. Instead, my boy stood quietly at the bedside, and as I listened to his huffy, impatient breaths, I caught a whiff of the very reason I'd dreamt of baccala. I thought to myself, "Not today. I'm not well...Let Lar do it today."
So I played dead. I'm entitled to play dead, goddamnit.
Apparently, the boy picked up on my vibe, and slappity-slapped his way out of the bedroom, taking his vaporous trail of hell along with him, and then I heard him say, "Damn it, Daddy, change my diaper!"
I had quite an epiphany at that moment. It hit me, right at that pivotal, frightening, earth-shattering moment, that my son, my darling, smart-as-a-whip, broad-shouldered, big-legged boy will be wearing diapers until the end of my natural life. And then I wept.
Yes, it's true -- the islanders are all virtual beings. I'm telling you right here, right now, the whole lot of them are artificially intelligent images who don't realize they are as such. They're all characters in some freaky old dude's video game.
I can't wait to say "I told you so."
Oh, and I'm going on my ghost hunt tomorrow night. Hopefully, I won't feel as sick to my stomach as I do today...
I'm in the Zeitgeist right now--as often happens when you raise children--you know, when you suddenly come across a morsel of information that you never thought you'd need and bango, it's everywhere. Spanking. Swatting. Flicking. Smacking. Hitting. Slapping. Twisting.
Before you get pregnant no one ever tells you that morning sickness has nothing whatsoever to do with the morning. When you're ready to have the baby they don't tell you that when the anesthesiologist puts the needle in your back he just might miss your spinal fluid and hit your sciatic nerve. They don't tell you that you might need reconstructive surgery on your vagina. Try to get one person to tell you that breastfeeding is going to make you want to kill yourself from time to time--in particular when the baby latches on around day five, or when you get engorged and thrush AT THE SAME TIME. I really thought I was finally about out of the "they don't tell you" woods when I encountered in myself a shocking amount of rage, triggered by the object of my affection -- how could someone I love so completely make me so palpably angry? And why didn't anyone warn me that this exists?
Surely I'm not alone?
There are times when Bo has needled me into what can only be called a very ugly place. I first encountered my "bad mommy" space after I had Hedda last summer and Bo had just turned two and a half, when my husband -- having perhaps rightly decided that I had enough help with my nanny for Bo and a baby nurse for Hedda -- went back to work five days later. Right around that time my estrogen levels bottomed out, and I started having what I can only look back on as blind fits of anger. One night I actually threw a chair -- not at anyone, just down on the floor -- screaming, crying, begging my son to LISTEN. Understand, please, that I was never out of control, but I did find myself on a very thin sheet of ice. Happily a few months ago I asked him to do something, he did it, and then turned around to me and said "Mommy, I'm LISTENING!" If he had turned that corner in the opposite direction I might have completely lost my shit. I'm sure I'm one of the lucky ones.
What I'm trying to say is that no one ever told me that at 41 years old I would be seriously worried that I could not control my anger around my child if provoked. And by provoked I mean a constant volley of attempts to kill his sister. A constant sneaky hitting of his sister, pushing her off of things, tripping her, etc. There have been a few times when I finally felt the need to resort to "smacking" Bo to get his attention long enough for Hedda to get away unscathed. By few I mean exactly three. By smacking I mean twice on the butt and once on the bottom of his foot. By unscathed I mean breathing.
Clearly, in the moment it seemed like the right thing to do, and Brian supported me in the decision (having been raised by a world-class ear-flicker), but after each incident I couldn't shake the deep guilty feeling it attached to my soul until the Zeitgeist happened: within a week three of my close girlfriends confessed to me--unprovoked--that they had recently had what one of them called "bad mommy" moments; times where their children had gone out of control and they reacted with smacks. I had been under the impression that no one ever, ever, ever physically punishes their kids anymore -- that somehow kids can now be reasoned with. I have no idea why I thought that, especially after one of my college friends told me about ten years ago how she had to engage a spanking ritual in order to get her daughter under control -- trust me, this wasn't a Lisa Welchel "God says it's okay to hot sauce my kids" kind of situation, the girl was seriously a danger to herself and her baby brother. I guess I simply thought that I would be different -- much as I had convinced myself that my hips were big enough to pass a 9 pound baby. What the fuck was I thinking?
Right now I feel very lucky that Bo has matured again, and even though we had three really rough behavior days last week, I was able to keep my composure and use the time-honored torture of the isolation chamber -- "go to your room" -- and alienated him mentally instead of physically. Has anyone proven that that works any better? Or causes less damage? Probably. And I'm sure there's a study to countermand those findings too. What I can tell you is that since my friends confided in me, I feel stronger and more capable of handling my rage. There is strength to be found in solidarity. Now that I know I have people I can trust to talk about this topic I feel more in control of the decisions I make -- I've listened to their solutions and offered them some of my own. We compare notes. We learn.
As I say to Bo on a loop "don't hit don't hit don't hit don't hit." But then I remember how vicious my siblings and I could be to each other and that my mother intervening with her voice was RARELY enough to stop us, even when she would yell above the din "CUT IT OUT OR I'LL GET THE KNIVES!" She spanked, but she was 27 and it was 1967 and she also smoked while she was pregnant! I recently witnessed two brothers, seven and nine, get into a fight with fists that ended with one of them kicking the other in the face -- all in the time that it took their mother to flip a pancake. And these are super-excellent well-behaved kids. She swatted the kicker on the thigh and sent them both to their rooms. Afterwards they were much calmer and less violent. But she felt like shit, like there should have been a more magical and competent reaction. I know it helped her to have me there to listen without judgment, just as it helped me to see that though the road ahead of me may not get any easier, I have one more mommy to turn to for advice.
Now, I'm sure there are parents who never meet their inner monster, who never have a child who provokes or disobeys in a menacing or potentially dangerous way. I think that's great. But I'm even more sure after my Zeitgeist week that so many of us need guidance from each other on how to handle these flare ups, that we need to have all of it out in the open so that the best of us can help those of us who are as new to this dynamic as we are to wiping a little brown circle without cracking up and making our kids anal retentive. I can't help but think sometimes that if someone had told Andrea Yates about this sneaky rage, if she had had a group of mothers confiding in her who had navigated their way through it, if she had just one person say to her "I know exactly how you feel," for god's sake if she had had just one blog like this one to read, she just maybe would have made it through one more day with her children and found a way to ask for help. ****************************************************************
Note from Ms. Lori:Amy Scheibe is the author of “What Do You Do All Day?” now in paperback and available at your favorite online or brick and mortar bookseller.
Ms. Scheibe is an editor at a publishing house in New York City, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is currently working on her second novel.
First, I was so, so saddened to hear of Charles L. Grant's passing on Friday night of heart failure (beautiful tribute by Christopher Golden here), then this afternoon, I received word that my Uncle Mike, my cousin Mike's dad (the cuz who got me into MySpace) was in a serious auto accident last night. He was airlifted to a trauma unit in Tennessee (he'd been traveling in a remote area near his home in North Carolina), and is in serious condition.
Please think good thoughts and send 'em on over to Uncle Mike and my dear cousin Mike, won't you?
Halloween, that is. Who here among us could possibly hate Halloween, huh? Nobody, that’s who (oh, be quiet Mrs. Born Again Fundamentalist From California who stalks my blog), and so, in anticipation of my favorite night of the year, a night that should be celebrated with the ones you love, a big ol’ kegger, and some creepy flicks, I simply must present to you two new upcoming DVDs from Anchor Bay Entertainment -- now go get your scary on.
From the press release for Voodoo Moon:
From renowned special effects artist Kevin VanHook (I, Robot, Daredevil) comes a new excursion into the beating heart of evil with the October 3rd DVD release of Voodoo Moon from IDT Entertainment's Anchor Bay Entertainment. Starring Charisma Carpenter (TV's “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”) and Eric Mabius (Resident Evil ), Voodoo Moon promises viewers a horrifying journey into the netherworld of satanic rituals and voodoo rites! SRP is $19.98 and pre-book is August 23rd. Distribution pre-book is September 5th.
Twenty years ago, a demonic massacre in a sleepy Southern town left two young siblings as the lone survivors. But for adult Cole (Eric Mabius) and his younger sister Heather (Charisma Carpenter), an obsession with their parents' satanic slaughter has lasted a lifetime. Now through Cole's psychic connection with a group that includes an outlaw biker (John Amos, “The West Wing”, DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER), a traumatized cop (Jeffrey Combs, RE-ANIMATOR) and a mysterious healer (Dee Wallace, CUJO and THE HOWLING), vengeance is about to take a very unholy turn. Tonight they will all be brought together in a place where depraved secrets are exposed, legions of the damned are unleashed, and the final battle between Good and Evil will be fought beneath the VOODOO MOON…
In addition to his previous visual effects credits, VanHook also wrote and directed the 2005 cult film shocker The Fallen Ones.
And here’s the press release for Left in Darkness:
Stuck between a rock and a hard place?
Try being stuck between Heaven and Hell!
Poets have written about it. Painters have tried to imagine it. But exactly what does happen after we die? Is there a Heaven? Or perhaps the question to ask is: Is there a Hell? From the fertile mind of legendary television producer Stephen J. Cannell ( Demon Hunter, “21 Jump Street”) and Steven R. Monroe, the director of It Waits, comes the provocative new horror film Left In Darkness, materializing on DVD September 19th from Anchor Bay Entertainment, an IDT Entertainment company. SRP is $19.98 and the DVD features enough value-added supplements to occupy this life – and the next!
Starring Monica Keena (Freddy Vs. Jason, “Entourage”), David Anders (“Alias”) and veteran horror actor Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Dollman), Left In Darkness illuminates the story of Celia (Keena), a troubled girl whose tortured past places her in spiritual and physical limbo. Her mother died in childbirth, and she always felt responsible for the tragedy. When her father disappeared, her grandparents raised her. As she got older, her sense of guilt grew deeper. And on the night of her 21st birthday, Celia is drugged, raped and dies of an accidental overdose at a wild college frat party. But for her, it's just the beginning: Trapped in a netherworld between sanctuary and damnation, Celia must now battle the demons -– including hordes of horrific Soul Eaters -– that prowl the Afterlife. Is the spirit of her recently deceased grandfather (Thomerson) trying to lure her to an eternity of suffering? Can her guardian angel (Anders) safely lead her to the other side? Is there any way to go towards the light when your soul is Left In Darkness?
Okay, I did it. I got a MySpace thing. My cousin's fault. All his fault, that dirty, rotten bastid.
WHY, MIKE? WHY DID YOU LURE ME INTO HELL?
Anyway, I need friends. As of this moment, I look stupid and unpopular, and that just won't do. So, please, friend me. Do it. Now. Like, right this second. Or I won't stop writing sentence fragments. Ever.
I’m pleased to announce that the fabulous Amy Scheibe, author of 2005’s oh-so-hot novel “What Do You Do All Day?” ( my review) which is currently Target’s “Breakout Book Selection” for September, will be guest blogging right here on One Whipped Mother!
As an extra treat for you fine folks, we’ll be giving away copies of “What Do You Do All Day?” to the first five people who e-mail a request to: biskwik3 [AT] gmail.com, so please, keep an eye out for Ms. Amy, coming soon!
********************************************************************* "Amy Scheibe's knowing observations about all-consuming, alpha motherhood add a piquancy to a landscape that will be highly familiar to readers who find themselves at the weird juncture where Jimmy Choo meets Fisher-Price." Meg Wolitzer, The Washington Post
"Scheibe wins us over with honest and funny observations of parenting minutiae." Entertainment Weekly
"Sharp, smart, and true...hear one of the few fiercely independent and provocative voices in contemporary women's fiction tell you what it's really like on the inside." Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry
"A fun read, jam-packed with witty barbs." Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, authors of The Nanny Diaries
"With a light touch and a sparkling plot, Scheibe takes on the conundrums and beauty of motherhood for driven yet nurturing women." Publishers Weekly *********************************************************** ADDENDUM: All of the books have been claimed, and I will be sending them out within the next week or so.
Truth Really is Stranger Than Fiction. Really. Seriously.
This is definitely the most disturbing thing I have ever seen/read/heard.
I am traumatized.
I am freaking out.
I am filled with wonder.
I am pissed that I can’t find more on this particular story despite searching the ‘Net for forty-two hours straight. Okay, a half an hour. But still…
I am inspired, finally, thankfully, to write some fiction. The damn thing is already written in my head, right down to the ending. Threw down a whole page almost immediately after reading the aforementioned story.
I am delighted to report that the rush of inspiration, of which I’d not had the pleasure of experiencing in a long, long time, still feels better than a four minute orgasm. Which reminds me…I think I’d better put up my “When the Office is A’rockin', Don’t Come A'knockin’” sign but quick!
Oh, about four years ago or so, as my husband and I were driving somewhere inconsequential, me enjoying the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, Lar rudely forced me from my reverie by suddenly reaching for my throat, thumb and index poised as if to pinch, his hand like that of a large, fleshy crab claw, and declaring, “The hell, Lor? You a werewolf?”
A werewolf? The hell, Lar? And remove your repulsive digits from my person immediately.
I was, of course, confused, frightened.
Turns out my oh-so articulate husband was referring to a long, platinum neck hair that had been waving frantically in the wind along with those atop my head, no doubt illuminated by the bright spring sunshine. I quickly turned my upper body away from Lar and tugged with all my might until the hair broke free of its follicle, then shamefully tossed it out the window along with my dignity. I’ve not felt such humiliation since that fateful day.
As the years passed, I kept a close watch on my freaky little friend, that pesky platinum nuisance of which I had no control. I would oftentimes stroke my neck while surfing the 'Net or watching my children play, searching, searching for signs of its reappearance, and I was always mortified to discover its return, no matter that I’d plucked the bitch only hours before. Somehow, beyond all rhyme or reason, the hair always presented itself in exactly the same length as the day it was born, approximately one and a quarter inch long. Always. As if it didn’t simply grow, sprout from stubbly infancy to fully-grown silky adult, like a normal hair, but spontaneously birthed itself, learned to walk, got a driver’s license, graduated from college, married, had five kids, and developed a drinking problem, all in the span of twelve hours.
How is that possible? Well, it isn’t, not for an ordinary human hair. So, horrified as I was by that lupine hair, I learned to love it; I embraced it, conditioned myself to look forward to our daily plucking sessions, fooled myself into thinking it was a relaxing pastime. I even gave it a name. Then, one day, it was gone -- poof -- gone, vanished, went back to Hell from whence it came. And I was glad. And I rejoiced. I could once again wear fine gold chains without fear of entanglement. Life was good.
Tonight, however -- or, rather, this morning, I should say, since it was around three a.m. -- it returned.
I woke, as has been usual lately, after my three hours of sleep, and groggily shlumped to the kitchen to make coffee, feeling, as has been usual lately, pissed off for being awake, resentful of my sleeping husband, all cozy and snug and blissfully snoring into his pillow, and upon entering the kitchen, felt a strange tickle on the top of my right foot. Thinking it was perhaps, a spider, I flapped my foot like a cat who’d stepped in water, put my right foot in and shook it all about, then I did the Hokey Pokey and turned myself around, yet the tickle remained. Annoyed, though relieved that there was not, in fact, a spider laying eggs on my foot, I continued on my way, attempted to ignore the increasingly odd sensation as I filled the coffee decanter, placed the filter into its filter thing, and tip-toed upstairs for a cigarette. It was while climbing the stairs to my office that I realized something was terribly amiss in Ms. Loriland. Something awful was brewing...Growing...Something familiar. Something evil.
Oh, dear, sweet, fragrant Lord, no! Not again! Anything but that!
I hurriedly fell into my chair and slung my foot up onto the computer desk, put on my magnifying glasses, and inspected, with baited breath, I might add, the top of my right foot. What I saw there astounded me.
The following dialogue actually transpired:
Me: Well, hello there, Becky Sue. Fancy meeting you here…On my goddamned foot of all places.
Me: I see you haven’t changed a bit.
Me: Still the same length, same color.
Me: Oh, don’t be coy.
Me: Why do you haunt me so?
Me: Are you from Hell? Have you been sent by Satan himself?
Me: I hate you. Do you hear me, Becky Sue? HATE YOU!
Hair:Diabolus est abbas malum saeta. [Translation: Satan is the Father of Evil Hairs]
And with that, I plucked the demon spawn from my foot, whipped out my Bic, and lit the whore on fire. Her screams echoed throughout my office as I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed, then wept a little bit…
It's only been a few hours, and I can already feel her stirring, reanimating, buzzing beneath my skin. Three o'clock a.m. is the witching hour, and I tremble in anticipation as I survey my weaponry, the tweezers, the alcohol and Bic lighter. Tonight, Becky Sue will die, so help me God. So help me God...