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Monthly Archives: April 2013

My mom is Red Hot. Your Mom ain’t Diddly Squat.

Every day, I look at my reflection and think, I remember that girl’s younger sister. Every day, I see small little changes. Laugh lines that aren’t funny. Freckles that have turned to the dark side.

Every day I look at my mom and wonder how the hey she’s aging in reverse while I’m speeding light years ahead.

Why is she rolling up her shorts, while I won’t even wear a pair?

How does she go to the gym every day, play tennis and go dancing at night, while I’m exhausted just running away from my children?

I honestly don’t know if there’s ever been a 65 year-old woman so… cute.

Even as she registered herself for Medicare, the woman behind the counter, probably 20 years her junior, gushed, “Stop it! You’re not 65 years-old! You’re just the cutest thing.”

My mother smiled coyly, and showed her license. Yeah, she’s sexy too.

Having an adorable, sexy, mom, is not an easy thing for a girl starting middle age. Okay, fine, it wasn’t easy for a girl starting high school, either.

Everywhere we go, people are always assuming we’re sisters. That would be fine, if I could at least be the hot one, but it’s no guarantee. Because while I may be younger, she’s still MaryAnn with a side of Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, and I’m, uh, the Professor? It’s just how it is.

Still, she continues to try to ‘hotten’ me up.

For as long as I can remember, she’s been unbuttoning my blouse to show off a little more, reminding me to put on lipstick and fixing my hair.

I, of course, decided to never wear lipstick, or brush my hair, and for a while took to wearing large prairie dresses. I still kind of like them. Sue me.

She brings me white strips for my teeth every three months and sexy low cut tops to wear going out.

She is no longer allowed near me with a tweezer.

Not too long ago, she took one of her pretty manicured nails and pointed at the crease between my brows. “I can have that fixed.” She said with the cutest giggle.

“Mom!” I said, a little too defensively, gnawing on an unpolished nail, “Maybe I don’t want to be fixed.”

She giggled again.  “Okay. You let me know.”

Sigh. I will.

Because even though I naturally try to resist her wily ways, her hotness is a blessing. It makes me try a little harder. Run a little farther. Without her, my teeth wouldn’t be as gleaming and my cleavage would never come out to say hi.

So today, I honor my forever young mom who’s helping me to age the best I can.

Yup, that's my mom!

Things That Go Boom in the Night

Last night…

My son and I were in our usual positions, seated at the dining room table before two identical laptop computers typing away, he, on some strategy battle game and me on an unfinished essay, when I heard the boom.

For a second, I wondered if someone had been shot, but I was in the middle of constructing a really clever sentence and didn’t want to break my train of thought. When I finished, I looked over at my son, “Hey, did you hear that?” He was obviously creating an extremely clever plot to overthrow the world because he didn’t even answer.

I gave it another moment’s thought. What could that have been? Thunder? A garage door banging down? I had no idea, but easily dismissed it and went back to my essay.

It was about 15 minutes later that I heard a rap at the door. I was in the process of corralling the boys up to their bed, about a half an hour later than I should have. With much hesitation, I slowly descended the stairs. No one knocks on my door at night, except occasionally a neighbor to tell me I left the lights on in my car, or my sliding car door open, or my keys hanging in the door. But every time, it unnerves me, especially without my husband home, at his third baseball meeting of the week. But that’s not important.

I looked through the window. It was a police officer.

Boom.

Now it’s never good to see the police standing at your door at 9pm at night, but I have to say my first thought was not fear that something terrible had happened, it was paranoia. Was this really the police? Was I going to open the door for a robber or worse, a killer?? My husband and I had been watching The Following on television, I no longer trusted anyone.

Unsure if I should,yet unable to stop myself, I slowly opened the door, wishing I had a bat nearby.

“Yes?” I asked, intimidated by the uniform and the situation.

“Someone hit your car.”  He alerted me in a very police like fashion. “You have a registration and insurance card?”

I peeked out my door and saw a police car and another vehicle a few feet behind mine in the street. Felt legitimate. “Sure,” I responded. “It’s in the car. Let me get my keys.”

I made sure boys were in their beds, actually, they decided to huddle in one bed. The policeman at the door had turned them simultaneously nervous and giddy. I grabbed my keys and walked out in the dark and cold. There was plastic and pieces of car everywhere. A man approached me and said, “I didn’t even see it. I really wasn’t going very fast.”

Hmm. The car might disagree.

“Are you okay?” I asked and he nodded. He seemed okay, but his Ford Explorer certainly wasn’t. The whole passenger side looked eaten away. This car had nothing in it behind its exterior shell. The corner was totaled. It was made of nothing. On the other hand, my car fared substantially better. I mean, it wasn’t great, but all cheer the Odyssey. This was no mini-van. It was a mini-tank.

After finding the necessary paperwork, a small miracle in itself, there wasn’t much to do. I stared at his car. I stared at mine. I made light small talk with the man who I learned only lived a block away, and I was told to pick up the police report the next day.

I was surprised how mild my reaction was to the whole incident, but of course, it’s just a car. No one was hurt. I guess when the police turn up at your door at night, someone hitting your parked car is a big relief. Because in this crazy life, in this crazy world, sometimes real shit happens. Boom. It could have been a lot worse. There was no need to fall apart, just because my car did.

Although this does change my plans for the day.

carcrash2

My car…

His car

His car. Boom.

I’ve got a Fat Head. The Body is Debatable.

I see you across the produce and intentionally look away, busying myself with finding a perfectly ripe avocado. We’re friendly, but not great friends, and I haven’t see you in a while. Of course, you notice me and zoom on over.

“Hey there,” you say with a smile. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in forever.”

I can feel you eyeing me up and down. I see you zero in on the tightness of my jeans. I don’t blame you. It can’t be helped.

“So how are the boys?” You ask considerately, calling them each by name.

I hear you talking about how second grade is going, but I know you’re thinking, “Man, she’s put on weight.”

I know it’s only a few pounds, but it feels like the weight of the world on my thighs, and I know everyone knows it. Everywhere I go, they’re all smiling at me and chatting like it doesn’t matter, like they’re not thinking, “She really let herself go.”

Sometimes, I think it’s just me. That I’m crazy, and no one really notices anything different about me. I mean, it is a bit self-involved to think that everyone is noticing me, that they would even recognize a few extra pounds. No one cares what I look like. Everyone is just worried about themselves, right? But then I know I’m just fooling myself. Of course, they are looking. We are all looking at each other.

“I think the last time I saw you was at that sushi place.” You say.

Of course, bring that up. Where else would I be but a food place, right? Eating. Thanks for rubbing it in.

“How’s baseball going?” You ask.

I nod blankly, because I’m really not listening. I know you’re just making polite conversation to cover up the elephant in the room.

“Hello…?” You laugh.

I smile, caught. I apologize for blanking out. You let it go, and repeat the question. You’re really very nice. But come on, seriously, when is this public scrutiny going to end?!! Why can’t I just go get my Tropicana, eggs and some Honey Nut Cheerios in peace without the third degree! Why are you torturing me!!!?

I mean really, enough is enough. The show is over. Do I need to sing??

“Nice, seeing you again.” You say, and start to pull your cart away. “By the way, you look great.”

Huh.

Well I’m sure you didn’t mean it.

I wonder if Edy’s is on sale.

I don't even think I can fit a hat on that head.

I don’t think I can even fit a hat on that head!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/daily-prompt-mirror/

Ain’t Nothin Gonna Breaka My Stride

Downstairs making lunches for my children in the early morning hours, it was already apparent that there was something special about this day. The hard boiled eggs easily shed their skins. The peanut butter had a lovely oily sheen. I had enough vanilla yogurts to go around. Making lunches was never this enjoyable. Even waking my kids and watching them drudge themselves from their slumber took on a rose colored hue. They looked young and gorgeous. Even I didn’t look half bad as I gazed at my reflection in the bathroom mirror.  Okay, the lights were off, but whatever.

Maybe it’s because today is my birthday. I am 43. Wow, that sounds old. 43 is a woman with short hair and 10 extra pounds in mom jeans, not me. Although, I can’t say the gym clothes I’m sporting on a daily basis will be seen in Vogue anytime soon. And I have recently gained a few pounds. Crap.

Well, I certainly don’t feel 43. I mean, sometimes I feel 100, but certainly not 43. On most days, I think I settle in nicely around 31, although for the record, 27 is the age to be… not so young as to still be in some back alley throwing up your fourth margarita and accompanying nachos on your borrowed overpriced shoes, but not so mature that you limit the potential of your own possibility. But 43… Wow, again. I seem to be stuck now obsessing over the number. I can’t move on. I can’t look away. I need to get it out of my head. 43434343434343434343434343. That’s better, for some reason now all I see is 34. I’ll take it.

Something about birthdays make you feel very young and hopeful, like there’s a surprise waiting for you around every corner. They also can make you feel very old, like when you realize, there are no surprises anymore, only kids who couldn’t bother to even make you a card and a husband who didn’t take the early train home, and spent the night watching the Yankees.

But that was last year.

This year, I’m taking control of my birthday and not leaving it in the hands of amateurs. I’ve scheduled my annual physical this morning. I thought it was a positive way to start the year. After that, I’m heading straight to the gym. Then I’ve got a massage appointment, followed by lunch with friends.  I love it already.

My husband walks in the kitchen where I’m finished with the lunches and have started giving the boys breakfast. “Happy birthday, Mommy!” he booms. “Did everyone say happy birthday?” Three sleepy heads lift. A muted chorus of unenthusiastic “Happy birthday, Mommy” dutifully follows.

“That’s it?” My husband bellows. “That’s all Mommy gets?” That woke them. Immediately, three bodies attack me with hugs viscous enough to suffocate a small animal. I beam. That’s more like it.

I’m totally feeling the glow, all warm and happy. I add pick up ice cream cake to today’s to-do list. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but I’m old enough to know not to put my happiness in anyone’s hands besides my own. It’s a gift.

I wish... this was true. Wait, no, then i'd be pregnant. :)

I wish. 😉

 

Parenting Moments I now Miss that Totally Annoyed Me at the Time

Every morning, so early my eyes couldn’t focus, I would stand downstairs in the kitchen, preparing very specific lunch and snack requests for my kids for the day. On auto-pilot I would put up the water for fresh pasta (Parmesan in a Ziplock bag on the side) or Annie’s Macaroni and cheese shells. Yellow only. Don’t even think about elbows. There were other annoying necessities, such as slicing grapes, not only so that they wouldn’t be choking hazards, but also because the bruised ends which attached to the vine, offended them. The crusts on any sandwich must be banished, and hard boiled eggs must be void of any remnants of yellow. Any.

As mommy, there were so many particulars that needed tending to simply get through a day responsibly and with the least amount of tantrums. “Not the blue bowl!!! The red!”  But now that we’re a bit older, a lot of these peculiarities or young needs have faded away. And now, believe it or not, I kind of miss them. Well, some of them…

The 3am Wanderer – It wasn’t a routine thing. I was always pretty strong about keeping my bed, uh, I mean mine and my husband’s bed, off limits, but there were times, of course, when I would wake to find a child’s foot kicking me in the back, or an arm over my face. So annoying. So warm and sweet and delicious. And annoying.

The Tickle Back – For years, I couldn’t leave my middle child’s room without going through an elaborate ritual. “Tickle back, Mommy! Do it harder… softer… No, this way… You forgot arms… Sorry, you didn’t do that well. Try again!  It was an arduous test to pass every night before I was released to my own rewards of ice cream and Housewives. These days, I am literally dismissed. “You can go now, Mommy.”

The Bus Stop – The bus stop is on my corner and I am the corner house, so it’s not exactly a schlepp. Still, many a day, I stood there, sometimes freezing, sometimes corralling a younger sib or worrying because I left someone in front of the TV. I’d wait impatiently to hear those screechy breaks on the corner before ours. But now, my 5th and 2nd graders are perfectly capable and happy to walk the 10 feet to the curb themselves. I watch from the doorway, but they rarely look back.

Play! – “Mommy, let’s play Pokemon/lego/dinosaur battle!” Really? Do we have to? Apparently, we always did. So we’d sit on the floor and set up 100 figures and then “pshew pshew” shoot and fly them across the floor at each other. “What are you gonna do?!” My kid would ask desperately, as I tried to sneak a peek at the open newspaper next to us. “Uh, I’m gonna thunder punch?” I’d say, without enthusiasm. My bad attitude was never noted, as long as I came up with something. “Revolving kick!” He’d boom back energetically, clearly to make me look bad in front of my ‘men’. Not that it mattered. His figures would always spin round and round, throwing mine across the room.
These days the only thing the boys want to battle with me over is their playing time on iTouch, Computer or Wii.

The Butt Wipe – Yeah, I know. Who’d miss that, right? And while I might not actually miss the physical wiping, I definitely do miss the build-up. “Mom! I need to poop!” Followed by, “Done! Done! DONE!!” And then there are all those fascinating positions for optimal wiping. Okay, TMI, but, now my little boys just go on their own. Done. At least they still regularly forget to lift the seat and I wind up sitting on pee. Sigh. It’s the little things.

Mommy Don’t Go! – Oh the drama! Oh the tears! But boys, mommy is only going out for a little. Mommy needs wine and therapy, I mean friends. Cue clinging and snotting and hanging on legs. On occasion, a child could be physically ripped wailing from my body as I ran out the door, only to be seen as a desperate little face banging on the window. They couldn’t bear to part with me. Now they stare at the TV as I yell loudly, “BYE!” and they (sometimes) look up and bless me with a smile. Oh where have all the good times gone!!??!

All the older moms always say, you’ll miss these days when they’re gone. I look around. There are toys and crap everywhere, laundry piled high. I bitch about it constantly. Will I miss this mess? I consider my house, devoid of the clutter, neat and perfect (come on, it’s a hypothetical fantasy!), and immediately, I know I will.  Because when it’s gone, they’re gone.

I’m going to try to remember that the next time I’m dragging my kid out of bed to wake up.

*My youngest just forced me into having a Battle of the Skylander Figures. Taking #4 off the list immediately. Bleh!

The dreaded battlefield. It kills me every time.

The dreaded battlefield. It kills me every time.

The Brother in the Middle. #Imsorry

He was soft now, but he used to be wild.

Back before he moved to this new place, this new family, this new life.  Back when he was just a six year-old, with energy as untamed as his hair and freckles that danced happily across his face; but never touched the stitches in his chin from falling off the back of a bike, and the ones by his lip, for falling off a chair, and ones on his head, where a crazy lady hit him with a broom for sneaking into her yard.

His smile ran wide and mischievous, dashing through the streets of Brooklyn, without boundaries. Because it was home. Because it was safe. Because his parents were in the middle of a divorce and we were barely out of the free-living 70’s.

He had grandparents who’d walk over with a banana and a hug, and a block that watched over him with a smile.

But now he was in the suburbs with two step-brothers who sandwiched him on both ends – one a year older and one, two years younger. His new brothers, just as lost and scared as he, with the infiltration of two new siblings and a new mom in their home, space, lives; tossed him out, instead of taking him in. They were so young. We all were.

At eleven, I was the oldest and the only girl, finding my way in a dark new maze at the worst time in a young girl’s growing life.  Outside, was the jungle filled with mean girls and aggressive boys competing for dominance. Inside, where we  lived, was the lion’s den.

The union was not good from the beginning. The husband and wife struggled in their new marriage. The children struggled in their new family. But the fighting was still there, a constant, familiar background noise, with a stronger male lead.

We four little heads often lined the top of the stairs, listening to the voices below, filled with anger, mistrust and disappointment. It was when we were closest, sharing in the uncertainty, waiting for the end of them, of us. When the voices came too close, we scattered in fear, afraid to be caught snooping, even if they could probably be heard from across the street. We knew, getting caught would bring more anger instead of less.

I did nothing to help my brother or ease his transition, because as difficult as mine, or our new brothers was, his was worse.

From every hand, fingers pointed at him. 

So, he trudged through each day, slowly losing his spark.

This was not his home. Not a safe place.

The houses here were bigger and more spaced apart. The neighborhood kids, not so neighborly.

He gained some weight.

He lost his smile.

They called him Sloth.

He was soft now, but in a few years when he grew older, he would be wild again.

Back when he was wild, in a good way

 

 

 

My Writing Process. But first, I Need to Flip the Laundry.

I’ve been meaning to write this essay about how I write my essays. You know, the ‘process’. All writers have their own individual approach to writing. Some just sit down and bang it out. Some bang and then sit down and write. We all have our own way. No judgment.

So I had the idea, but I couldn’t figure out how to best structure it. I mulled it over a bit, and then put it on the back burner. A few days later, I picked it back up and tossed it around. Then I did what I usually do at this point, which is, to continue dragging my feet, literally, and go for a run.

Often, I come up with a lot of my ideas while running. With nothing but time to kill, it’s the perfect opportunity to brainstorm. So I plod along plotting my stories, constructing brilliant first lines and clever turns of phrase.

When I mercifully stagger back to my door, I head straight for my dining room chair, aka my work seat, where, with sweat dripping on the keypad, I quickly get down my thoughts, before they are incinerated by my awesome calorie burn. After this initial burst, I go up for a shower, and let my ideas stew in the hot water for at least 10 solid steaming minutes.

Back at the computer, the screen and I stare each other down. Where am I going with this idea? I wonder. Will this work? I write another sentence or two, then feel an overwhelming urge to check my emails. When I come up with nothing, I move on to Facebook and Twitter.

Back to the essay. I re-read. Delete a line and rewrite. Add another line. I sit back and assess. It’s not bad.

I feel the urge for a snack.

No. I need to focus. Write another line. Hmm… should I get some frozen yogurt? Or maybe an apple with peanut butter? Focus! Soup?

I can’t stand it. I’ll be right back.

I go for chocolate and peanut butter yogurt with a medley of toppings. I’m making cones and dipping them as I type. I’m in such a happy, satisfied place. I write a few more lines.

Oh, I’m in the groove now and knock out a whole paragraph. It’s good. Woo. I’m exhausted, I need a break.

Check email.

Check Facebook.

Check Twitter.

Make a phone call.

Go back and re-read what I’ve written. Decent open. Entertaining middle. Tweak. Tweak.

Get up for more sprinkles. What? I need more sprinkles. It’s part of my process.

Just a few more lines and I’m done.

I’m antsy. I need to pee.

I’m almost finished. So close. Tweak. Tweak. Twitter.

I just need the right ending.

Check email.

Re-read.

Make another cone.

Oh, I’ve got it!

Check Facebook.

It’s perfect.

Hang on. I’ll be right back…

Busy, busy, busy.

Quiet. I’m working.