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Lovesick

My husband and I have been together for more than a decade, but yesterday was the first time we’ve been sick at the very same time. Stomach flu. Thanks a lot, Max. JERK.

In between the pooping and puking though, there was something kind of sweet. As anyone who has been married longer than 24 hours knows, marriage is a little bit like war sometimes. Yesterday, we were like two wounded soldiers on the battlefield, lying lifeless, looking into each other’s weary eyes, the sound of gunfire off in the distance. The in-laws had come and swept the kids away from our filthy cesspool, so there were no distractions, no chores, no responsibilities. Just the two of, united in gastrointestinal anguish.

“I’m hurting all over, are you?”

Oh my god, he asked how I was feeling. Sweet, sweet man.

“This is the worst.”     “It really is.”

Holy shitballs, we agreed on something. We are the same person. We are ONE.

Feeling a little better last night, after a whole day of not eating, we both craved the same food. We sat together and ate chicken fingers with mayonnaise. And halfway through, we both agreed it was a mistake. WE ARE SO IN LOVE.

At least until tomorrow when we both go back to being healthy idiot people.

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Who Gives A Mother Fuck

In case you were in a coma when the August edition of The Overcast came out…

Have you heard about the new Care Bear? Her name is I Don’t Give a Fuck Bear, and moms (the ultimate caregivers) are modelling themselves after her.

Okay actually it’s just me so far, but it’s bound to catch on because WE MOMS CARE TOO MUCH, about too many things: the house, the homework, the clothes, the cooking, the activities, the appointments, the parties, the presents. Not to mention having to care about how our tits look all the livelong day.

Enough with the caring, Florence Nightingale. That shit will kill you. Nobody notices half the stuff we fuss over anyway, so why bother? It’s time to take care of you, Mommy. By just not giving a mother fuck. Allow me to illustrate.

My house is messy and not a shit do I give. Sticky floors happy kids or whatever the fuck that coaster says. Fuck coasters.

There’s a spider living inside the couch and I don’t give a fruit fly’s fart. It can spin me a custom body bag for all I care.

The carpet does not match the drapes in any imaginable scenario and here’s a quarter to call someone who cares.

Our kitchen table is a catchall and I don’t give a shit sandwich. You can wipe the jam off your face with a sock, or Batman’s cape, or the cable bill. Choice – now that’s something I care about.

There are Star Wars stickers all over the walls and care I do not. There could be worse things on the walls, like blood that connects us to a crime scene, or…oh god no…Caillou stickers.

My husband hates how I overload the dishwasher, but so what if something comes out dirty? It’s clean dirt now. Go care about genocide or ISIS or something fer fook’s sake.

I don’t care that my son is wearing those pants with that shirt and dem dere socks. He looks like a homeless bayman and…hold on, my I don’t give a shit senses are tingling.

I don’t care when people think my baby girl is a boy (because she’s not dressed in pink.) I care so little, I don’t even bother to correct them. I also tell them her name is Paul.

We don’t go to all the birthday parties and the only thing I care less about is – oh wait, there’s nothing I care less about.

The dog and the kids are in our bed half the night and I don’t care because soon enough the dog will be having a dirt nap and the kids will wish we were dead. On my nightstand is a tall glass of I don’t give a fuck.

I don’t send cupcakes or goody bags to Max’s class on special occasions. Hold on let me write that down on my list of things I don’t give a fuck about.

I’m constantly sharing photos of my cute kids and I don’t give a flying fishcake if it’s making y’all gag. Go look at some ugly shit instead – maybe some warthogs or some scrotums.

Sometimes we go to bed angry. I can’t help it if you’ve been a dickweed all day. We’re not going to be happy every single second. VOCM cares; I do not.

I really don’t give a tinker’s cuss about having it all, leaning in and all that. I’m just doing my best and if this is as good as it gets, then I guess that’s pretty fucking good.

Caring less about crap allows me to focus my Care Bear Stare on things that matter: my tires are on right, our helmets fit, there are vegetables in the fridge and books by our beds, and we talk about stuff – like how to treat people, our dreams for the future, pizza, and how you can’t say the F word till you’re a grown-up.

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What This Marriage Looks Like

This is not a picture of our marriage. It’s a picture from our wedding, but not our marriage. If this was a snapshot of our marriage, there’d be a giant shark fin cutting through the water behind us. And that blue boat would be full of whores instead of oars. And written on that blue boat would be Fuckery of the Sea.

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This is not a picture of our marriage either. The only thing about this photo remotely like our marriage is the rickety wooden fence that keeps the cows from falling into the ocean. I don’t actually know how that’s like our marriage. But I imagine one day, making love is going to be like shaking around a pillowcase full of old sticks.

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Frankly, I’m glad our marriage doesn’t look like this. The couple in these pics are dip-shits who think marriage goes like so: meet, fall in love, get married, die in each other’s arms like the old couple in The Notebook, find each other in heaven and do it all over again with angels as bridesmaids and tin cans jangling off the back of a Care Bear Cloud Car. The people in these pictures are super cute, but mega dumb. Heaven is paved in clouds so those cans aren’t gonna make much noise. Amateurs.

We’ve learned a lot these seven years, because we’ve been through a lot these seven years. See, in between the marriage part and the death part is a whole bunch of other crap that can fuck shit up royally: sickness, betrayal, resentment, failure, sleep deprivation (babies!) bad luck, bad backs, bad vaginas (babies!), too much talking, not enough talking, and way too much staring at our goddamn phones. So don’t let my funny social media posts and the photos of my sexy as fuck husband and our two beautiful children fool you. Our marriage is a roller coaster ride that stops at random times with us hanging upside down and screaming. And if we’ve been through this much in seven years, imagine the stuff still to come. Mommy.

I have doubt about everything. EVERYTHING. But it’s alright because doubt is the most natural thing in the big fat world, because nobody knows anything for sure. Basically if you don’t have doubt, you’re an idiot. So, of course, when it comes to marriage I wonder what the future holds. What will happen when the kids are grown and we’re here staring at each other with nobody sitting between us asking for a popsicle?

Only a fool would say they know it’s forever. I have friends going through yucky divorces after seemingly perfect lives. So on this, our anniversary, I’ll just say is I HOPE it’s forever. I THINK we have what it takes. I KNOW I won’t go down without a fight.

So that’s why I chose this picture to mark the occasion today. Seven years ago, I was sitting on a chair in the middle of the room at the Legion, a cheap garter hugging my thigh inside my gown. Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down” starting playing and my new husband slid onto the dance floor in a scuba mask and snorkel. The perfect prop since we had completed a scuba diving course together, and because, well, places be wet.

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It’s a picture of our marriage. Of happiness, but the messy kind. The crazy kind. The kind that fights, and worries, and struggles, and stays. The kind that gets better, eventually, shaped and textured by the bumps along the way. The kind that sometimes even has you on your knees in a scuba mask, gasping for air. Not like that. Well maybe like that. Depends what you’re into.

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In Love With My In-Laws

In case you were getting your moustache bleached when the July edition of The Overcast hit shelves…

You know two of the things I love most about my husband? His jiggleberries. Just kidding. HIS PARENTS.

It’s unusual, I know. Most people hate their in-laws. Hating your in-laws is as universal as hating root canals, autocorrect, and Nickelback. I guess when you swoop into someone else’s nest and make off with one of their flock, it can ruffle a few feathers. The new bird is always strange, and the nest is always cuckoo. (Sorry, everyone hates bird analogies too.) Personally, this lucky duck wouldn’t know much about it because I hit the jackpot in the in-law department.

I have friends who detest their “outlaws.” When they tell me about the latest assault on their parenting or housekeeping methods, I say “Why, I never!” Then my sympathy switches to gratitude for my own good fortune and I shout, “Sucks to be you! My in-laws are fantastic!” Then they throw rocks at me.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about anything five years ago when Dad died. I wondered how any of it – having kids, getting published – would matter when he wasn’t here to see it. But it seems the void loss creates can be occupied by other good things if you let it. I broke the rules and filled in the dad-shaped space – with someone else’s father.

When I met Wayne Murphy more than a decade ago, one of the first things I noticed about him was his eyebrows – thick, black, severe looking, like an angry Muppet’s. But I quickly discovered those brows were actually wooly canopies shielding the world’s brightest smile from the elements. If this guy was a Muppet, he was Tickle-Me-Elmo.

When we visit, Wayne is out in the driveway before I’ve shut off the engine – to carry his baby granddaughter in from the car. He plays with Rae so much, I can scarcely get my hands on her when we’re there. His sandwich sits there, uneaten, because he’s too busy playing peekaboo. Sometimes he’s so moved by her funny faces and sweet babble, tears well up in his eyes. He says, “She’s so cute, it hurts.”

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Wayne and I also share a special bond, one largely based on naughty jokes – a sentiment I’ve generously brought into the family, to my husband’s amusement and horror (mostly horror).

I feel bad sometimes because I get to enjoy him more than most of his own crowd. And when I say crowd, I mean CROWD. Wayne and Rosena have seven children and ten grandchildren. But only two and four of them, respectively, live here in the province. Work and commitments keep the others away, but their hearts are home in Mount Pearl, where they used to pile into the car to go for a drive and fight for the coveted spot in the front seat between their folks, where breathing was possible.

A couple years back, I made Wayne a Father’s Day card that read: “My dad is dead but I reckon you’re a pretty good substitute.” (My humour can be dark.) Nobody can replace my father. Jim Combden was something else and I’ll think of him every day for as long as I live. But I won’t spend so much time remembering him that I forget to see the souls still above the sod. Apparently recognition doesn’t matter much to anyone once they’re tits-up. The world is full of love that goes unspoken.

My dad would be glad. He was grateful that I was a part of the humble Murphy brood, where the kettle is always on for me, where I still speak of him often. He knew I was in good hands, with the family I had and the one I had married into. Of course, blood is thicker and all that. But I’ve told Wayne and Rosena: if things don’t work out with me and Andrew – he’s out, I’m in.

Tomorrow, I’ll be helping my father-in-law celebrate his 70th birthday. And the very next day, I’ll be celebrating my father’s memory at the 6th annual Jimmy Golf Tournament for the Gander Cancer Clinic.

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Hello, My Vagina’s Name Is…

If you grew up calling your vagina a vagina, your parents deserve a medal. A vadge badge of honour even.

If you grew up calling it a vulva, your parents are fucking geniuses and deserve a trophy shaped like a giant penis — NO DUMMY, A BIG FAT VULVA.

It seems the vast majority of moms and dads just can’t stomach the correct anatomical term for “down there.” So they make shit up. Like cookie, or butterfly, or magic unicorn cave. Or something completely nonsensical like “hoo-hoo.” Or something super gross like “front bum.”

When my video on the subject was posted yesterday, people commented with their own tales of twat terminology. Someone said she grew up calling it her “mussentouchit.” She must have cleaned the thing with a water gun. Another lady said her vagina was called her “under face.” I’ve been staring at my twat upside-down in the mirror ever since, trying to see a face. No go. I guess the beard is in the way or something.

Anyway, here’s my take on the muff matter.

And here’s a t-shirt I’ll be selling like twat cakes.

TWAT ODDS

 

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Mommy Wars

In this week’s video commentary for CBC, I answer a question from a gal named Lori. She asked: Why are moms so competitive?

I had some thoughts on the matter. Way better thoughts than the thoughts you stoopid bitches be havin’. 

Check out my video right here.

And here’s a little something for your kid’s facebook page:

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No Bunny’s Daughter

Father’s Day is pretty much as you’d expect for someone whose father is dead. It’s like Valentine’s Day when you’re single, times a hundred-thousand-million. Because at least you can find new love; you only get one dad. Unless your dads are gay so you have two. You get my point.

Up until the dark day, on every Father’s Day for as long as I can remember, I gift-wrapped yet another jumbo pack of golf balls, a silly poem, and a pack of gum.

See. Golf balls.

See. Golf balls.

No more. Callaway and Top-Flite sales have plummeted since Jim Combden retired his clubs.

“Take a look at me now. There’s just an empty space. Nothing left here to remind me…,” except all the happy people celebrating their dads who are so awesome and wonderful and, oh yeah, alive!

Now Father’s Day is just a shot in the guts, reminding me (as if I don’t already know and think about it daily) that mine is gone. I once again blame Hallmark for inventing a holiday to sell corny, overpriced greeting cards without considering how much it costs to send a card to heaven. One stamp costs 60 cents and your goddamn soul.

Ironically, when I was a kid, Dad used to feign death for entertainment purposes. It was one of his go-to pranks that never got old. I’d come home from school to find him lying there on the floor, his hands perfectly crossed on his chest, his trademark smirk on his face. It’s still funny, in spite of today’s reality.

Speaking of Hallmark, and speaking of pranks, I wish I’d get a card in the mail with a great big “GOTCHA!” on the inside. These past couple of years, maybe Dad has just been punking us, hiding in the bushes on the 11th hole of the Gander Golf Course. Negator. Dad never could hold back a punchline.

Father’s Day: blah.

But then I saw the rabbits.

I was on my way to the Relay for Life, where I would be doing laps around the gym for 12 hours to help fight cancer in honour of dear old Dad. Just after I had taken the ramp to get off the TCH, two brown bunnies darted across the street right in front of my car. One on the heels of the other, they scurried into the thick greenery and were gone.

They say your sense of smell is the sense most linked to memory. I close my eyes and I can still smell the Tinkerbell make-up in my jewelry box with the creepy twirling ballerina, and my scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake figurines, and the scratch ‘n sniff stickers in my sticker book (mmm, grape). But most of all, I can still smell the rabbits.

Clinging to the back of our old black and green Jag Arctic Cat, I watched Dad lumber through the waist-deep snow to check his snares for rabbits. The unlucky furballs were soon dangling from the beams of his shed, frozen in their last earthly stance, paws pointing in all directions. The next day, they’d still be hanging there, stripped of their fur down to the purple, sinewy muscle. The shed smelled perpetually of rabbits. Even in the summer, it hung in the air. Was it the stench of death, or fur, or raw meat? I’m not sure. To me, it’s the smell of a happy childhood.

But these rabbits on the highway were free and fast and full of life. And instead of one lonely rabbit, there were two. I instantly thought of Dad. Was he speaking to me on this day before Father’s Day, as I was about to go kick some carcinogenic ass? On the way home the next morning, when St. John’s was barely awake, I again saw a sign: a dove! Okay, that’s a lie. It was a white plastic bag flapping around in the wind. But it had a life about it. An American Beauty, if you will. You know the scene.

Oh come on. Who am I kidding? Dad is not speaking to me from the great beyond. He’s not sending me messages from a Voodoo Lounge in the clouds with Hemingway throwing back shots at the bar and Shakespeare practicing his bank shot in the far corner. He’s not showing me the beauty in the world. I’m finding it myself because he taught me how. I see things more clearly than ever through the eyes that he gave me.

Guess we should teach our children well. Not by instruction, but by example. Actions speak louder than words, and lessons last much longer than the human body.

And our kids are not the only ones picking up what we’re laying down. I can only imagine how many students Dad inspired during his 30 years of teaching English literature. Knowing Dad was extremely sick, one of his students sent him a thank-you note to express how much he had inspired her. Her note arrived ten minutes too late. Ten minutes. But I got to read it, so it was not entirely in vain. And Dad knew she had become an English teacher herself, so he probably suspected he played some small part.

We are mere mortals. But the light we emit is absorbed by others and continues to shine long after our candle has burnt out. Wow, that’s some cheesy metaphornication there, Elton John. Let’s try it again with less fromage. My dad saw deep meaning in ordinary things. He talked about it. He wrote about it. Some called him a weirdo, some called him a poet. He put it all out there, fearlessly. And I saw it. Every day. So even though he’s gone, I see the beauty. There is still goodness. There is still humour. There is still life (not a bunch of fruit in a bowl — you know what I mean, saucy face.) Because of what I learned from him, largely by simple observation, I am well-equipped to find reasons to be happy in this fucked-up, fatherless world.

This story appears in my book, MotherFumbler, in the chapter “Oh Shit We’re All Going to Die.”

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Savage for Sugar

In case you missed it in the June edition of The Overcast…

Sugar doesn’t just look like crack. It is crack. Or, at least, it’s highly addictive and totally killing us, which is close enough. In fact, we might be better off putting crack on our corn flakes where we can see it, because almost everything we eat is laced with perfectly legal but totally deadly processed sugar.

The biggest junkies of all? Oh, nobody special, just OUR PRECIOUS OFFSPRING. They open their beaks and we throw in the gummy worms. Because every child needs a little love, tenderness, and diabetes.

The scariest part: sugar isn’t just in candy. It’s added to EV-REE-THING: bread, pasta, cereal, sauces, bagels, crackers, even peanut butter. Kids avoid vegetables like the plague and beg for sugar-jacked snacks, like junkies seeking their next hit. They’re not hungry, they’re hooked. And they’ve tricked us into being their dealers, doling out way more than the recommended 4-6 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Our kids naturally crave it, and the world freely caters to (and cashes in on) that craving. Look at yogurt. Max would rather eat turds than plain yogurt, because he has tasted the bliss that is vanilla yogurt, which is basically yogurt chock-full with sugar with a pretty flower on the label. Plain yogurt tastes like socks to him now. And so they stack the shelves with the flavoured stuff, because that’s what our sugar savages want, and that’s what their stupid parents buy.

It’s not hard to see how we got here. More and more packaged foods giving busy families convenient meal solutions – and enough sugar and salt to pickle our pets. Cereal ads during Saturday morning cartoons selling “whole grain oats” but failing to mention that everything else in the box will bury you. (It’s no coincidence Lucky Charms has the word “harm” in it.) The ongoing cupcake craze. The heaps of treats at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and everybody’s damn birthday party every damn weekend. WTF GUYS. No wonder our poor kids have severe cases of gotta-get-me-glucose. We’ve been injecting it directly into their veins since they got here.

We’ve created monsters, and frankly we’re too weak to reverse the curse. After a long day, the last thing we want is to argue over some peas. We just want our kids to be happy, and you know what makes them happy? Fucking ice cream. We’re also too exhausted to decipher those nutrition labels. A few quick tips: Most cereals and yogurts should be in the candy aisle. Ketchup is a bottle of sugar, salt and red dye (nice try with the tomato pic, guys.) Juice is basically the bile of Satan. (Even Canada’s Food Guide will soon give juice the axe.) If sugar is in the first four ingredients, keep moving. And just because it’s in the tot food section does not mean it’s good for you.

Many experts agree this generation will not outlive their parents. Dudes, that’s our children’s lives they’re talking about. In case you didn’t quite get that: SUGAR IS KILLING OUR KIDS. So why aren’t we outraged? Why are we patiently waiting for Health Canada to enforce stronger regulations? Why are we still talking about the vaccine/autism bullshit when there’s a REAL crisis happening? My god, if people can get a Playboy bunny to create global panic on the theory that vaccines cause autism, surely we can get someone to start a war against sugar, a crisis that actually exists, based on actual science. Of course, the sugar industry would have us believe the science is flawed, which was also the tobacco industry’s response to lung cancer.

We must tell manufacturers to shag off with the sugar, especially in our kids’ snacks. And make the sugar content clearer and more visible. Frig off with the grams; tell us how many teaspoons of sugar are in there – a measurement we can visualize (FYI, 4 grams = 1 tsp). Tell us how much of that is natural sugar and how much is added, and what percentage of the recommended daily intake it constitutes. And enough with the fancy chemistry too – glucose fructose fucktose – it’s all sugar and you know it.

But c’mon, big brands care about their bottom lines more than our kids. Not even that cuddly old guy from the Quaker Oats ads will save us. We have to make sure our kids’ futures don’t go facedown in the Fruit Loops, even if nobody answers our calls for help. The same way we’d make damn sure our kids got off the crack if we were talking about that instead.

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Family Vacation: Changing Diapers in a Warmer Place

Sarah from Canadian band Walk Off the Earth made news this week when a United Airlines flight attendant kicked her pregnant ass off the plane because her toddler was acting like a total toddler.

There are a couple morals of this story:

Know your celebrities so you can save your discrimination for ordinary people who can’t create so much buzz.

And leave your kids at home.

I’m kidding. You can’t always travel kidless, especially when you’re going on a “family vacation.” Without the tiny humans, it’s just called a vacation, and feels way more like a vacation too since vacation entails a certain degree of relaxation, which children annihilate by their very presence.

But that’s how she goes. When the husband and I headed to Florida with the kids a few weeks ago, we knew shit was going to go down. Ironically, we left on Mother’s Day and this was my “card”:

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Come on, you can barely get out the door with the kids at home. If you think being in a different location battling sweltering heat, long lineups, jet lag, and sugar overdoses is going to improve the shituation, you’re on drugs. We purposely packed all the things to prevent, catch, clean, and store the inevitable shit — both literal and metaphorical. We’re not idiots. We had done this before. Doing it again was like walking willingly into the monster’s lair with a giant “EAT ME” sign, fully aware that we were about to be limbed. Which does sound rather idiotic, come to think of it. But alas…At least it’d be warm there?

I started listing the mishaps as soon as we got on the plane, because by then a whole bunch of fuckery had already happened. It was barely 8am.

First, things got hairy at the airport. The website said to be there at least one hour early for our flight into the US. Good sense and trusted friends told us to double that time, to be safe. So of course we went by the website, because we are lazy, stupid hillbillies. Why lug around two kids and all that junk at the boring airport for two hours if we didn’t have to? BECAUSE THAT AIN’T HOW IT’LL GO DOWN AND YOU KNOW IT, BITCH SELF. The first half hour of our journey was major sucktown. At one point I actually looked down at my boarding pass and I swear it said destination: Hell.

My husband’s father drove us to the airport in our vehicle (it’s larger than his, with lots of room for luggage and my giant milk jugs). He dropped us off at Departures with all our crap and drove off… WITH THE CAR SEAT BASE STILL IN THE CAR GOD DAMN IT. The car seat base is like a permanent fixture in the backseat, so I knew it could be easily forgotten if I was on autopilot, which of course I was after spending the last 48 hours packing and doing laundry and buying last-minute necessities and shaving all the hair off my body while my husband worried about the Habs and whether they’d survive game 5 so he could go see game 6 in Tampa. If I had tattooed DON’T FORGET THE CAR SEAT BASE on the inside of my eyelids so I could see it every time I blinked, I’d still have forgotten it. We realized what we had done just a few minutes later but we couldn’t call the father-in-law to scoot back with the piece of shit because he didn’t have a cell phone with him. My FIL is all that and a bag of chips but OMFG who doesn’t carry a cell phone with them at all times nowadays? HOMELESS PEOPLE HAVE CELL PHONES. Our flight would soon be boarding so we’d just have to sell the baby at the airport in Orlando since we couldn’t drive anywhere without that mechanism in our rental car. But hold the phone, Andrew had an idea, and thankfully this time it wasn’t a baby spoon that makes choo-choo noises. He called our neighbor (at 7:30 on a Sunday morning – sorry, Rod!) to physically intercept his father on his way back to our house to get his car. It worked. He returned with the car seat base in the knick of time. Too late to check it as cargo though, so we lugged the bulky bugger around as a carryon. But at least we could keep the baby now. We need those spare body parts.

We forgot the GPS too. Damn it, Andrew, you had ONE JOB.

And we forgot the apples I had cut up and placed in the fridge so I could start feeding the snack savage (Max) as soon as the begging began. Why do I even bother?

AND we forgot the kids on the elevator. Let me explain before you call CPS. We grabbed the car seat base and bolted toward security. Max insisted on pushing Rae in the stroller, so Andrew and I lugged the carryon bags. We had to take the elevator, of course, so we piled in at the bottom. And piled off at the top. Except, when Andrew and I got off at the top and moved toward the lineup for security, we heard the elevator doors close behind us… with Max and Rae still on it! OH MY GOD WE HAD GOTTEN OFF WITHOUT OUR CHILDREN. And down the elevator went. Thank god there are only two floors. Andrew poured down the escalator to catch them at the bottom and shower Max with reassurance, but by the time he got there Brother Max and Sister on Wheels were already on their way back up, now with two elderly women on board with them (not social workers, I hoped.) As the doors opened, I saw the tears in Max’s eyes. Which makes sense since he was just TOTALLY ABANDONED by the people who claim to love him most. I wanted to repeatedly slam my head in the elevator doors but we had to get through security STAT, so instead I quickly told him how sorry we were, how stupid we were, and how proud we were that he took good care of his sister during this crisis. His hands were firmly planted on the stroller handlebar the whole time. But from thereon out, he decided to leave the stroller pushing to his responsible, attentive parents.

To complete the morning from Hades, Andrew had woken up in pain. He has degenerative disks in his back (so he is at least partly a degenerate?) and when it acts up it casts a gloom on everything, like living in the shadow of Oscar’s garbage can. Great timing. And totally spontaneous! It had nothing at all to do with the backflips he was doing on the couch when the Habs won game 5 the night before.

As we were going through security, we heard our names being paged at the gate. Panic is a lovely feeling, isn’t it? Oh, but first we had to submit to a random swab-down to see if we were carrying any anthrax in our sippy cups. What luck. Figures though. We had just left our kids on the elevator. We probably looked like those meth head parents from Breaking Bad.

We boarded the plane and spotted our friends, Dave and Steph, and their two boys, Owen and Grady, sitting quietly near the back. We sat directly behind them – for a kickass view of Owen’s epic meltdown when Steph tried to secure his seatbelt. Locked down to a chair? Oh hell no. Owen put ‘er up for a good 20 minutes until his mom’s arms became his seatbelt and the flight attendants turned a blind eye in favour of their ears which were glad the screaming had stopped. Luckily we did not have the same flight attendant who’s making headlines this week after telling the mama from Walk Off the Earth to WALK OFF THE PLANE. (Three-year-old Owen was scared of many things on our journey, especially things meant to keep him safe like seatbelts and sunblock. Somewhere he has most definitely written, with a jumbo, red crayon: TRUST NO ONE.)

And what fresh hell is this? There are NO TELEVISIONS ON THIS FUCKING METAL BIRD. It’s not a catastrophe for Max; he has his iPad. But what about us? Were Andrew and I supposed to TALK? Were we actually expected to LOOK AT EACH OTHER? Where’s that emergency exit?

We arrived in Orlando still married. Rae was a dream on the plane. And Max completed a whole bunch of levels in Angry Birds, the details of which I can’t share because I was nodding my head and smiling and making a shopping list in my head the whole time he was telling me about it.

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My world or something.

In Orlando, the rental car place tried to fuck us, as always. But we were prepared for that and got out mostly unscathed. Dave took an extra $100 hit because he didn’t have his insurance policy number with him and obviously couldn’t call to get it (it was Mother’s Day, a Sunday.) Rental car companies are basically Satan.

When we arrived at the villa we had rented for the next nine days, we discovered the rental company hadn’t come through with a second crib for the second baby. Grady needed the crib more than Rae, being a 10-month-old orangutan boy they found in the jungle. So we could either create a fortress of pillows for Rae to sleep in and check on her every 45 seconds to make sure she was still alive which sounds truly relaxing, or we could get our hands on a second crib and a couple boxes of wine for Mommy. We went to Target and bought a playpen. (I returned it the day before we left. It just wasn’t suitable.)

On the way back to the villa from Target, Rae went ape shit. It was a long day for the kids and we were really pushing it now. She cried so hard in the car, we had to pull over so I could gag her with my tit (or breastfeed her, whatever). I have this awesome, beautiful, happy baby WHO HATES IT IN THE CAR. What in the actual fuck. Every baby loves the car. People have clocked thousands of miles driving their kids around in cars to lull them to sleep. The car is every baby’s #1 cradle of choice. Except our baby. She hates the car. There goes my dream of her being a bigshot class action lawyer being driven around in the back of a stretch limo like Glenn Close in Damages. I really wish someone would invent a way to breastfeed while the car is moving. (Andrew, perhaps you could get working on that one right after your choo-choo spoon prototype.)

We spent the first day hanging out by the pool. And I mean HANGING OUT. I breastfed Rae every three minutes. I was worried she’d get dehydrated so every time she fussed for half a second, I slapped a boob in her gob. With the sun and the daughter sucking all the moisture out of me for the next nine days, I slowly transformed into a leatherback turtle. Here’s a pic of me and Max taking a walk:

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Look Dad, Mom’s making a run for it.

The next day, Andrew and Dave drove to Tampa to watch the Habs get destroyed by the Lightning. They washed away their sorrows with beer, stayed overnight in a hotel, and drove back the next morning, genuinely excited to go to the outlet mall for the day — if by outlet mall you mean a mall with an outlet where men can escape without their wives noticing. But hey, maybe they’d see the Habs shopping for golf shoes.

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Fools

The next day, Andrew got his revenge when I started to lose my voice. I think it was caused by the A/C. Or maybe a tiny lizard crawled down my throat while I slept and bit me in the larynx. It hurt to speak. And it pained me big time when I had to repeat myself again and again because my husband and son weren’t listening to me. Which made me want to yell even more. It was a vicious cycle that made me feel stabby.

We spent day three in a vegetative state, except for all the times where we had to tend to our kids which was all the time so forget what I said about the vegetation back there. And then to really nudge Steph into a state of total nirvana, Owen went facedown in the pool. Yup, stumbled over himself and went splat. Apparently lifejackets do NOT keep you face-up in the water. He must have only been facedown for about two and a half seconds, but time seemed to standstill as Steph leaned in and plucked him out while simultaneously having a cardiac arrest. Oddly, while Owen is terrified of seatbelts and sunscreen, almost drowning did not seem to faze him. He wiped the water from his eyes and carried on. Which, to a mother, is actually WAY MORE FUCKING TERRIFYING. At least if he was afraid of the water now, he might avoid falling into again. But nope, Owen was right back at the water’s edge within seconds. And Steph was on edge for the rest of the trip. Great stuff!

Day four was our first Disney excursion. Magic Kingdom. We had all been to Disney before but had never seen the lights and fireworks spectacle they put off every night at Magic Kingdom with the money they make from those giant turkey legs. It was nighttime, so I decided to swap the baby stroller for my new Lenny Lamb carrier so I could keep a close eye on Rae. Or a cheek, whatever.

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Carry me home to Birmingham.

When it’s dark and crowded and you’re in the busiest tourist destination in the world, there’s something unsettling about having your baby in an outward-facing stroller where someone could quite easily toss a half-eaten candy apple or a cigarette butt or A BOMB into your baby’s lap. Um no. This kid is the bomb and I’ll wear her like one. Only sucky part was, when I went to snap the carrier around my waist, I couldn’t get it done up. Not without adjusting it first to make room for my juicy muffin top. Jesus, I had only been here four days and I was already puffed up like a Yorkshire pudding. Friggin’ Olive Garden.

By day five, it was about time someone got injured. I mean, it’s not a real vacation until you break out the first aid kid, am I right? Owen had managed to defy death for 48 hours now so it was Max’s turn to bust up his moneymaker. He stumbled on the steps and knocked his face off the side of the pool, puncturing the corner of his mouth with his tooth. Steph and I had been out shopping and she got this text while I was driving us back to the villa: “How can you break it to Vicki that Max might need stitches in his mouth?” Ugh. If I had known this was going to happen, I would have swung by The Face Store to pick up a new one for Max.

When we arrived back to the villa, Max was sitting on the couch holding a facecloth to his mouth, his eyes wet with tears. I think there’s this moment when a child sees his mom after a dramatic incident and the floodgates fully open, like he had been holding back till she arrived, the one who would understand. I put Rae down and went to Max and he started to tell me, without moving his mouth too much, what had happened. I wanted to flip out and blame everybody and hold him and cry a river, but I had to play this smart. I didn’t want him to think it was the end of the world, because it really wasn’t. His brain was intact. His eyes could see. His legs were working. By god, we’d be going to Disney again tomorrow. We decided not to take him for stitches because scars are cool. Max would just have to NOT SMILE the next day. Which shouldn’t be a problem. I mean, we were only going to THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH.

The next day we got up super early and headed to Hollywood Studios. It was the first Star Wars Weekend of the year, and if Max didn’t get in line for Jedi Training when the park opened, he might not get a time slot and I’d have to throw myself on a cactus. DO OR DO NOT, THERE IS NO TRY? In this case, Master Yoda, there was only DO. We stood in line for 40 minutes and got a 1pm time slot, when Max would meet Darth Vader on the stage. Sweet action. At least this had gone right. We had already forgotten all our Star Wars gear back home: my “Don’t Call Me Princess” Leia shirt, Andrew’s Vader shirt, and Max’s light saber. The park was swarming with kids and parents dressed in fancy Jedi robes, traditional Naboo dresses, and humble Tatooine peasant garb. Every black guy was Mace Windu. Every female with long hair had wound it into side buns. LIKE YA WOULD. Except I wouldn’t, because I’m too busy packing the goddamn diaper bag to think about doing something this cool. At least Max was wearing his storm trooper t-shirt – with his Justice League hat and Batman sunglasses. He had a lot going on. Too much. Like maybe he had taken a wrong turn on his way to Sci-Fi On the Rock. But he was content so I didn’t really give an Ewok’s ass. After the previous day’s mishap, I would have let him wear my nursing bra on his head as a hood. Rae had been wearing her “Storm Pooper” onesie but lived up to her name and shat herself in the car, so we stripped her down in the Disney parking lot. Despite my best efforts, she attended Star Wars Weekend in a pink onesie that said “I love summer.” We also left a bag of poop-stained clothes fermenting in the hot car for the next ten hours.

1pm came and Max was ready for his big moment. He stood on the stage with a dozen other kids, all in brown Padawan robes, to receive lightsaber instruction from one of Master Yoda’s Jedi apprentices. As far as Max was concerned, it was Luke Skywalker so let’s just go with that. Max could have called me Dick Smack for the entire day and I would have approved. My heart ached for my little Padawan, his face swollen on one side and looking somber all over, probably because we told him not to smile too widely on account of his mashed-up mouth. LET NOTHING GO WRONG NOW FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. No thunderstorms, please. No falling off the stage or peeing in your pants, pray Jesus. AND NO FAULTY LIGHT SABRE FOR FUCK SAKE. Annnnnnnnd he got handed a faulty light saber. Bloody hell. Maybe it was the user who was faulty (the Neosporin may have penetrated his brain), but either way – Max couldn’t get the damn thing to extend or retract on cue. Andrew and I looked at each other and cringed when we saw that he was struggling. I prayed to the great Jedi master: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” When Max’s turn came to face Darth Vader, he whipped the light sabre out to extend it – nothing. He tried again, and again – still nothing. Luke Skywalker said, “Here, take my lucky one!” But Max kept trying and trying, and eventually – sweet miracle of life – out it came. A mother has never been so happy to see her son holding a weapon. He fought Vader as instructed and took his spot among the other Padawans. EPIC PHEW.

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Take that! And that!

He searched for us in the crowd and we gave him a big smile and thumbs-up. He got his Jedi certificate from Luke and skipped down off the stage to meet us, with one-third of a smile which, today, was the same as a full smile.

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Padawan Max Murphy

On the way back to the villa, I got us lost while looking for a Little Caesars where we could get that bacon-wrapped pizza we had seen on the ads back home. Andrew looked like he might wrap me in bacon and toss me off the Tower of Terror. Rae went bonkers in the car again, which really improved the overall stress level in the vehicle. Max was in dreamland in the backseat, his mouth gaping open and threatening to tear open his cut. I took a scarf and wrapped it around his head and jaw like the ghost of Jacob Marley. No I didn’t, but that would have been funny.

The next day, Owen came down with leprosy. Poor little guy has eczema and the sun and the sunscreen and the chlorine in the pool were making matters worse. His tiny frame was covered in red spots from neck to ankles. On the bright side, it would help us spot him in the pool if he went facedown again.

The following day was our last before flying back home. I returned the playpen to Target (it was so very unsuitable), so Rae had to sleep between Andrew and I for our final night, which made our last chance for romance dry up like Betty White’s lady garden, or my lady garden for that matter.

We heard the fog back home in St. John’s was delaying flights all over the place. We could very well get stuck in Newark. Ugh. As close as it is to NYC, there’s an EW in Newark for good reason. But the fog was lifting. Our flight was on time. We headed to the airport bright and early.

On the way, Rae turned on the waterworks. Again. She’s fabulous, but should never be taken on road trips ever in life.

When we arrived at the Orlando airport to check-in, one of our suitcases was overweight so I had to buy a 12-dollar Mickey Mouse bag at the gift shop to stuff with all the heavy stuff: books I didn’t read, formula I didn’t use, hair rollers I brought stupidly thinking I might have five minutes to primp, and shoes that SHUT UP I NEEDED EVERY SINGLE PAIR. The gift shop guy said he sees this every day. That 12-dollar Mickey bag is a top seller among flustered travellers who bought too many hats with ears on them. Idiots.

We boarded the plane. Heading down the aisle, I held Rae in the crook of my right arm and the boarding passes in my left hand. 36D… 36D… I scanned the seat numbers looking for our row, not realizing that my baby goat was chewing on the boarding passes. Shit, the paper was wet and a small piece was missing. I swept her mouth with my finger but found nothing. Yet she continued to chew! This was her first time chewing on anything besides toys, nipples, or her own fist. Her first food was not oatmeal or carrots or peas. It was boarding pass. Excellent. I found our seats and whipped out the chesticles to wash down her first meal. I’m not much of a cook, so I guess it’s just as well she got used to food tasting like cardboard.

Rae's first solid food.

Rae’s first solid food: boarding pass.

Oh look, no TVs on the plane again fuck me in the eye. And my seat didn’t recline. Tremendous. The recline button was actually broken off. Gone. How the hell does that even happen? With no movie, I spent most of the flight thinking about the bag of cookies in Max’s backpack and how I wanted to stog all of them in my face at the same time and pick the crumbs out of Rae’s hair later and maybe eat those too and lick her scalp for any trace of chocolate chips I may have missed. By noon the next day I had eaten all the cookies along with my feelings. Returning to our single-digit weather in St. John’s can be difficult.

On the last leg of our journey home, we weren’t long up in the air when Shits McGee let ‘er rip. The poop started to ooze through her sleepers on the back, threatening to soil our clothes as well. But the seatbelt sign was still on, so we had to stand her up on our laps and wait. The plane levelled off nicely, they started serving refreshments, and a few thimble-bladdered passengers started heading to the bathroom. WTF MAN. I asked the flight attendant if I could take my poop machine to be changed. She smiled and said, “I have to inform you that the seatbelt sign is still on…” YOU’RE SERVING HOT TEA, BITCH. We waited. Another gaggle of incontinent assholes lined up outside the lavatory. We asked the flight attendant again. “I have to inform you that the seatbelt sign…” I HAVE TO INFORM YOU THAT I HAVE BEEN HOLDING A HUMAN SHITSICLE FOR THE LAST 20 MINUTES. Rae was crying now. Like ya would after 20 minutes of stewing in your own feces and dangling by your armpits. The pilot finally flicked off the seatbelt sign and I beelined for the magical shitter in the sky.

When we pitched down in St. John’s at 8pm, the flight attendant said “Welcome to NEW BRUNSWICK.” I swear to fucking god, it happened. IT ALL HAPPENED. And it was all good, because it was exactly the shit we expected.

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Gutsy Mommy

My husband thinks I pulled the ol’ bait and switch on him. Maybe I did, but it wasn’t on purpose, so I think better terms than bait ‘n switch would be “growing up” and “evolving.”

I admit, I used to be way more fun: scuba diving, riding rollercoasters, public boinking, etc. Now my idea of a good time is farting in the bathtub. THE KIDS CHANGED ME, OKAY. There’s at least a slight chance I might die when I do something ballsy, and frankly, now that I have two rad childers I’d really rather not take that chance, however small.

But I’m not a total snoozefest, dog gone it. I still live on the edge in lots of way. I make funny videos for CBC, for example. And according to the comments at CBC.ca/NL, I’m a foul-mouthed dirt woman. That sounds like fun, right? Check out my sixth video commentary to discover even more ways that this baby-maker is a risk-taker.

The question this week: Can you live on the edge after you have kids?

The answer: Helllllllllllll yes. Why, I’m on the edge right now.

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