Extra AF. It’s youthspeak, don’t even worry about it.
[It kept popping up in my Instagram feed so I Googled it.]
But it is so applicable to me in my attempts at parenting and life in general. I am extra. As fuck.
1.Baby birthamonthaversary / Monthababybirthary Photo-Shoots
Modern day parents are all guilty of this one. You know you are. We decorate our Facebook feeds with the photo that made the final cut: the baby posing happily with his/her giant numbered sticker on a larger version of the same outfit he/she wore last month. Probably a chalkboard list casually propped next to him/her boasting that he/she loves “carrots and Barney” and dislikes “daddy’s new girlfriend” (clearly this varies from baby to baby; I’m sure some babies would think Dianne is lovely).
When baby J turned 9 months (I know you don’t “turn” 9 months any more than you “turn” 489 months, but just go with it; new moms be extra like dat!) I attempted such a photo. There was no chaulkboard but he was propped in a “why-the-fuck-did-we-think-it-was-a-good-idea-to-buy-a-white-pleather-chair-for-the-baby’s-room?” chair and wearing the giant 9-MONTHS sticker. It was a disaster. What began as me shouting whimsical phrases and singing merrily quickly turned into my husband taking over that role behind me while I grunted at my four-year-old to literally get off my back and “Please for the love of God just let mommy have this!”. With all of the commotion the baby obviously nose-dived off the nursery-appropriate chair.
Don’t worry I caught him. Then I sat on the toilet and cried for three minutes. Because that’s how long you get (per month) for me-time.
2. Pu-Pu Platters for Toddlers
Before I had kids I took care of myself. Like, I would buy things like organic blueberries and actually eat them. I used to put over-priced powdered greens in my water in the mornings. Sometimes I would go to the organic grocery store in our little Calgary suburb and just do a shot of, like, lemon juice and cayenne pepper and free-range unicorn tears just because I could.
Not now. Hell no. Buy berries and eat them? As if. Fresh-ish fruit costs $18 a sniff in Newfoundland. So if there are berries in our fridge, I no longer even see them as food. Like, if I was literally starving to death and I looked in the fridge and all I saw were berries (which, obviously, are the best of the fruits), I would throw my arms in the air and accept that this is how I die.
Bottom line: Berries are for the kids. Peaches are for the kids. Any non-rotten fruits are for the kids. Occasionally, I might indulge and eat a browned half apple that’s been sitting, uncovered, in the back of the fridge for the better part of a week; maybe I’ll cut the fur off an orange and eat that from time to time. But if the fruit does not pose a health risk, I assume it’s not mine.
But when Lil M has a snack, it looks like a goddamn portrait inspired by Wolfgang Puck. Extra old white cheddar cut into perfect rectangular prisms to create the illusion they’re just carefree cheese-strings. Fresh cucumber slices stacked on an angle with a precise spacing between layers. Homemade hummus in a wine glass into which perfectly quartered sticks of carrots are thoughtfully positioned. A similar scenario with apple slices and natural almond butter. A pinch of this. A dash of that.
Meanwhile we have scrotum-sized under-eye bags and scurvy and eat sandwich crusts for lunch while standing at the kitchen counter. Sobbing.
The Dangers of Small-Talk with HOARs
I may have mentioned this a time or ten before, but I am awkward in certain social situations. Namely, those where you know each other – but not really – and you’re attempting small talk. A few months ago I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in years. She literally said something like, “oh hey, Heather, how’s it going?” and the last thing I remember I was yelling at her about “how straight my husband’s teeth are”.
[In case you’re wondering, no, she does not know my husband.]
Just last night I was at a birthday party and the music was really loud so I actually had to lean in to yell directly into the ear of a woman I met once before how much snot came out when I blew my nose earlier that day. I wish I was kidding. Let’s call this woman “K”. K: if you’re reading this (you’re 100% not reading this), I’m sorry.
So if we barely know each other and you don’t want me to cradle you in my arms and tell you my thoughts on labia symmetry and constipation, best to avoid eye contact with me altogether.
3. The Curse of Compliments
Akin to my verbal diarrhea in place of small-talk with new acquaintances is my dramatic inability to take a compliment. You like these pants? Well guess what, THEY’RE PROBABLY GEORGE BRAND AND HAVE A GIANT HOLE IN THE CROTCH! [I’ll likely show you.]
“Nice haircut”, you say? Well IT’S PUBE-TEXTURED AND SMELLS LIKE A HAMSTER CAGE BECAUSE I’M ALWAYS WEARING HATS!
“Good job.” PUBIC HAIR REVELATIONS!
“Well said”. LADY BEARD!
“Nice jacket”. I’M NOT EVEN SURE IT’S MINE AND, P.S. I HAVEN’T SHOWERED IN ABOUT THREE DAYS.
[Yes, it has to be in all caps because I don’t just talk I yell verbal assaults at myself (to you) in response to your compliments.]
4. All Animal Sounds, All The Time
My year off work with my first evicted uterine tenant was the hardest year of my life. By 5 pm each day I felt like I’d run two marathons. And it’s not just because I actually did, ya know, walk aimlessly through our neighborhood for hours with a person strapped to my chest (I logged some serious mileage that year). It was the mental drain that got me. I’ve come a long way but it’s still by far the hardest part of parenting: the guilt-derived, panicked attempts to keep the children stimulated at all times; to make every God-forsaken moment a teachable one.
The children (and J) have grown accustomed to me yell-narrating everything that’s happening around them at every moment. I’ll be mid-conversation with J and suddenly start barking loudly if a dog appears on the TV in the next room, lest I miss an opportunity to remind the children of what an animal says. I’ll be starting to doze off and then arbitrarily yell the first color I see when I open my eyes. Every time the children stop moving for a moment, it’s fuckin head-shoulders-knees-and-toes time.
It’s a problem. And I’m working on it. I’m a lot better. But like…not good.
There’s more but I’m making an honest effort to be less “extra” with my lists.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be completely un-extra. I think it’s partly genetic; partly my deep-seated belief that the more I look like an asshole, the better someone else’s life is, in some way. Partly mom-guilt. And is extra really as bad as I think it is? Granted, it’s taken years off my life. But isn’t life more fun (albeit shorter) with a little extra in the mix?
And that is the self-pacifying conclusion I will leave you with.
So the next time you see me, please skip the small talk. And maybe force me to eat a grape or something.