Bad Habits - The Catoe crier - January 13 2005

News you can use for the new year

It's the new year and thus time for my annual newsletter, The Catoe Crier. If you aren't receiving an individual copy, please imagine this memo on colored paper with lots of candid photos and exciting fonts.

The year 2004 was a busy one full of lessons learned. And unlearned. Only to be relearned again the hard way. No job updates or travelogues here, just a mother's wisdom being passed on, a year of lessons learned. I shiver with fear at what I'll need to know in 2005.

A woman's breasts aren't just for fun. No, the dirty pillows seem to be uniquely designed for feeding small humans. Not dwarfs, mind you, though I'm sure someone out there is into that, but babies. Once you latch onto this concept, it makes the idea of drinking cow's milk seem bizarre. Why are we drinking milk from cow teets that's meant for calves? Freaky. But delicious.

Holidays make people cranky. Even if they're not real holidays but artificially created ones, like Mother's Day. What asshole invented Mother's Day? I'm going to find him and kick his ass. Mothers get screwed over all the time, we really don't need a day where it's so obvious. Brunch and some flowers? I don't fucking think so. Let me remind you: 7 pounds, 11 ounces came out of my vagina. Did you hear me? My vagina! I don't care what people say, that is not "natural." If you don't have diamonds, don't come near me. (Unless you're the baby; her mere presence is more than enough.)

Keep track of your phone at all times. Especially if you have a baby who can dial the contact list on your cell phone. It's also best to stop talking about people, period, unless you're going to set up a soundproof room with no electronics in it. Otherwise, you too could be having conversations with (former?) friends who overheard that you didn't answer your phone when they called because you weren't in the mood for their manufactured drama. And if the baby hides the phone in your bed, some lucky friends may get to hear you having sex.

Don't ever agree with your husband that he's gained weight. Ever. Even if he brings it up. It's a trap! Just as much a trap as when we women bring it up, maybe more so. The weight issue always surfaces after Thanksgiving and there's no right answer. If you say they look fine, they say you're lying. If you agree, then forget it — we've all been there and it's uglier than the back fat we tried to politely comment on.

I've found a solution, only it requires a baby. Here's what you do: As soon as you hear, feel or sense the oh-so-heavy subject approaching, gasp suddenly, grab for the baby and say, "Ohmygod. What do you have in your mouth?" Then, take the baby — but mainly yourself — out of the room. (If you're babyless, God help you. Feign stomach cramps and head for the bathroom. Keep this up until your partner gets so worried about you that he forgets his question.)

Easy come, easy go. Revisited the material-existence-is-fleeting lesson when all belongings were lost in a house fire. Re-revisited same lesson later the same month when the new car got rammed in slo-mo in the Publix parking lot by an older gent driving a huge truck. Fittingly for someone driving a land yacht, he was wearing a captain's hat.

Babies can't be trusted with small change. This seems like an obvious one. But what happens if you have a baby who for months has only pretended to eat change, who seemed to have learned that eating change was not OK? I'll tell you what happens: As soon as you turn your back on the little double-crosser, she'll eat a quarter. Maybe two. But here's a tip: A whack to the back will send a quarter sailing out of baby's mouth and across the room. (And Tide with bleach is good at getting stains out of mom's pants after they've been scared off her.)

I hope these tips help you stay ahead of the curve in 2005. But I'm sure you'll still have to learn something the hard way. That's just how it works.


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