Before we go any further... you've got to meet the kids. I mean, they're a big part of all of this, and not just in the mushy, I love them more than life itself way (which I mostly do...we'll get to that later) but because they are just another example of the radical stuff happening in my so-called menopausal life right now.
Fun Fact Number One: Being menopausal is sometimes just like being pregnant— big sore breasts, nausea, no more period, hungry ALL THE GODDAMN TIME. How unfair is that?! All the symptoms, but no cute little bundle of joy at the end of it where you lose fifteen pounds in like one night, and worst of all NO PRESENTS. There should be presents for menopause! There should be parties; celebratory cocktails with sexy names...like, pass that Menopause Martini, please!! EXTRA DRY. No, seriously. I'm going to start this trend right now. Menopause Martinis for one and all!!
But I digress. I was pregnant A LONG TIME AGO (okay, not as long ago as some of you, yes, I am one of those "later in life" moms) and I had the babies and now all those annoying symptoms are just a reminder that I probably can't get pregnant (you know, with my own eggs, no womb transplant, none of that fun stuff) any more which, THANKS TO GOD, if you ask me.
Which brings me to the birthday party. As I said, I love my kids. They're cute and smart and cuddly and not too smelly as long as I remember to give them a bath. (Boys get stinky, in case you didn't know. Girls — not my area of expertise.) Anyway, there's Roo. That's what we call Robert, the three-year-old and three-year-olds go to A LOT of parties. Birthday parties, to be exact (which brings me back to the Menopause Party, seriously, gotta work on that one.) The kids have a very heavy social schedule which usually involves as many birthday parties a year as there are kids in their pre-school class plus random other friends who will invite my kids to their kids' parties even if they aren't remotely the same age and barely know one another. (Again, it all goes back to PRESENTS. No one wants to seem like they're spoiling the little tots so they send out invites that say, "No Presents, please! Just donations for Darfur!" but they secretly know that no mom wants to be the only Darfur-loving Grinch in the bunch which REALLY means the birthday kid gets even more crap than he would have if they just let people bring a re-gifted board book and call it a day.)
Anyway, I'm like, kind of avoiding the party circuit because of all that stuff with Jeffrey and his concubine and not really wanting to be the one all the moms are whispering about while they're shoving the pizza they never eat ("No, no, I never...how many calories...oh...ok, just one bite!") down their faces followed by a chaser of Ralph's supermarket Sponge Bob cake. Anyway, lately it's like, I'm THAT girl...you can hear them whispering..."Look, it's her, the cheatee!" I'm actually thinking of getting a T-shirt printed up "My husband cheated on me and all I got was this lousy James Perse T-shirt." Then again, you can't have too many Perses.
But Roo is in pre-school now and has his little friends and I'm like, "I'm a grown-up" I can handle this and so we go. It's one of those "flexy-bendy parties" at some fake little gym set up by an out of work actor who probably did gymnastics when he was like, seven, which is why it is listed on his resume under "Talent." And there's all the stuff there...plastic balls for the kids to shove in each other's faces (my pediatrician, aka Dr. Donna, calls them "Petri Dish Parties," more on her to come) and cars they can fight over and a trampoline in this bouncy house kind of contraption that is surrounded by pieces of foam so the kids can hurl themselves around and not break every bone in their little bodies.
So we get there, late of course (Menopause isn't good for promptness, let's just agree on that right now) and the kids are all eyeing each other skeptically except for the older siblings and a couple of their friends who are way too geriatric to be playing with three-year-olds and are, of course, running seriously amok. So Roo eyes the trampoline (this kid loves anything that will propel him into some kind of simulated flight) but he's wary, he's never been here and there's a little fat girl on it who's kind of out of control. So he sticks to riding some truck down a plastic track, which for some reason, a couple of the parents think is so cute they have to take like, fifty pictures of him. (Not too keen on other parents recording my kid's life on their digital drives while I'm too forgetful to bring a camera, but that's another story.)
So Roo is on the truck whizzing away and then it's "Group Time." Well, let me tell you, I've never liked a group and Roo's not so big on them either. Or, maybe he's not big on transitions, that's what they tell me...it's a "Developmental Issue" although I'm not so keen on them either, my friend. You try having your husband fuck another mommy while you're telling your Ob-gyn that your period is more like a question mark and see how that "transition" sits with you.
Anyway, Roo doesn't want to do Group Time. He wants the trampoline and he wants it BAD. And so all the other mommies are holding their sweet darlings on their laps in the circle and playing fun games, and Roo is straining to get as far away from me as possible and onto that trampoline. Now, the slightly effeminate actor type who runs this joint and who seems to think that all mommies need to be touched a lot, which is why he always appears to have his hands in their hair or is giving them strange little hugs (and I don't know, maybe they do, maybe the dude is onto something and maybe this is how he gets good tips) this wannabe actor guy is shaking his head at me like, "No, you may NOT let your out-of-control offspring anywhere near my trampoline during group time. No way." So I'm trying to talk Roo out of the only thing in the whole wide world that he wants to do, and of course, he starts screaming.
Now, Roo knows how to scream. Not cute, little kiddie screams but big, huge, blood-curdling howls worthy of a pack of wolves being eaten by lions. And so he begins. And I'm kind of raising my eyebrows at the other moms, like, ha ha, we've all been there, you understand, when I know of course, that they're all thinking, "See, poor thing, her husband cheated on her and she can't keep anything - not her kid, not her eyebrows, not her man -- under control." And you know, for one freakin' minute, maybe I'm thinking the same thing.
But I can't think too long because suddenly Roo has managed to wriggle free from me and he's on that trampoline and he's jumping around like he's on speed or crack or sugar or a combination of all those good things. And what do I do? Well, I can't just sit there, can I? No good mommy lets her kid get away from her without a fight, so before you know it, I've hiked my too tight jeans and sweater that suddenly seems to be cut way too low, up and over the rubber wall that is in front of the trampoline and I'm grabbing for him. Fact: attempt to grab bouncing three-year-old off trampoline? Seriously, useless. And Roo is in heaven because he's discovered the weird pit of odd foam shapes and he's propelling and burrowing and bouncing and he couldn't be happier.
And as I'm reaching and grasping and trying to keep my sweater from totally exposing my non-lifted forty-five year old boobs (and let me assure you, there are moms in there who would happily pull their shirts off with very little encouragement, what better way to show off their latest "investment in themselves") gym owner actor boy bob is blowing his whistle and it's "TIME FOR PIZZA." Okay, most normal kids love pizza. In fact, is there any other food that kids like more than dough covered with sauce and cheese? Well, no. There is not. Unless you're Roo. Roo is what they call a "white kid." Yeah, he only eats white food. Pizza, in case you've ever bothered to look, NOT WHITE. Roo doesn't only not eat pizza, he actively dislikes pizza. Pizza is the devil.
So what is his response to all of this? Well, screaming of course. And so he's bouncing and screaming and all the other moms are trotting their submissive pizza eaters over to the food room and actor boy bob shakes his head at me and says all the kids need to get out of the gym NOW and I think this can't get any worse. When this cute dad, whose name I know not smiles at me in that way that makes you want to cry and I'm thinking, "I love you, cute dad, you are a kind man" and then he points and I look and there's Roo, screaming and bouncing and his PENIS is flapping up and down because suddenly, for no discernable reason he HAS NO PANTS ON.
Now, Roo still wears pull-ups which is a whole other parenting disaster (okay, he isn't totally potty-trained he regressed when his shit-head father moved out of the house) which is why I know that somewhere, in all those creatively cut pieces of foam is a probably urine-soaked pull-up with my name on it. SHIT. SHIT SHIT SHITTY SHIT. And so what can I do? I dive in and I'm digging and trying to keep my balance on that godforsaken trampoline and seriously, this is one of the more mortifying moments of my life (Roo, meanwhile is howling, "Look, Mommy, I'm NAKED) and actor bob is giving me the evil eye and suddenly I turn my head and I want to cry because there he is, cute dad - bobbing next to me, helping, trying to find my child's soaking underwear. I want to marry this man. I don't know who he is, what kid he belongs to...he could be Frankenstein's monster for all I care, I want to bear his children (well, okay, that's a pretty safe thing to say given that I'm most likely barren, but seriously I LOVE him.) And he looks at me, and laughs and says, "I'm sure they've found way worse in here" and I think, this man is a god, like, seriously, he is headed for Mt. Olympus.
Well, suffice it to say, never found the pull-up. And after lots more screaming and rolling around and bargaining and threats and promises of donuts into the next millennium I managed to get Roo off that thing. And so what do I do? Do I punish him? Do I tell him no parties until he's thirty-five? Do I speak sternly and effectively like a parent should? No. I do none of those things. I give him the hugest piece of Sponge Bob cake I can find and call it a day.
So the party's about to end, and I go up to the party mom and I apologize, you know, for being the one with the screaming kid who won't shut up (although I'm truly doing every other mom in there a service because they know that for at least one day, it's not their kid who's the ONE) and she looks at me with this look of total pity in her eyes and she says, "Oh, no...no problem, really...I just feel sorry for YOU."
And there you go, my friends. That just about sums up my life right now. Except then I turn and there's hottie hot dad and he's smiling at me and you know what I'm thinking? Not about my kid, my poor, traumatized, sugar-crazed, underwear-less kid, no not about him. I'm thinking, "Ravage me, Unknown Dad. Ravage me, right here, right now, because you are a truly kind man who understands the mysteries of the universe and by the way, I'm single and I'm menopausal and I'm HOT." And he kind of crinkles his smiling eyes at me, grabs his kid's hand (honestly, I couldn't begin to tell you if it was a boy or girl, ‘cause I'm glued to those incredible EYES) and you know what? ...That birthday party next week? Well, Roo and I have agreed that we're going and we will be early this time. And who the fuck knows? Maybe it will be my lucky day for once and hottie hot mystery dad will be there too.