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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Shut Up. Yep, that’s what I said.

I see the moment so clearly; all of us walking into the restaurant, my friend bickering back and forth with her snarky, then 11 year-old son, her, ultimately, telling him to shut up.

I remember how totally and completely horrified I was. I had babies at the time; sweet little yum yums. I could never imagine speaking to them that way, and I’m sure my judgment showed.

My friend shot me a stern look of reproach. “Just wait.” She warned. “You’ll do it too.”

I nodded, embarrassed for all of us, but I didn’t believe her. We were different, I told myself. I would never. And I didn’t, until the day I did.

I was past the point of frustration and on to exasperation when I snapped at my squabbling 8 and 10 year-old. It just came out. I don’t know how, and my hand quickly flew to my mouth in shame.

They looked at me, momentarily confused, all speech halted.

“Mommy, you said, shut up.” They both giggled.

“I know, I know. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.” Bad mommy. Bad, bad mommy.

“You always tell us never to say that.” More giggling.

It’s true. I think saying ‘shut up’ is worse than cursing. My kids regularly amuse themselves by dropping something and loudly exclaiming, “Damn it!” The expression of frustration doesn’t really bother me.  Of course, I don’t encourage it, but it’s those words and phrases with intention to hurt that make me cringe. Words like, “I don’t like you.” Or “You’re stupid.”

Or, “Shut up.”

How did I just say that?

Well, they were obviously driving me insane and I wanted them to shut up. Sigh.

Back at the beginning of my mommy career, I sat quietly on my horse with my perfect child, looking down at the moms of children running wild through the playground, or climbing on top of carts in the supermarket, or manipulating a second or third oreo. Tsk Tsk.

Until all of a sudden, I did things I swore I’d never do like: let my child sleep in my bed, reduce me to tears in Target, make me want to throw them out a window, bribe them with sugar and TV so I could talk on the phone, make three different meals each night, or just give up and give a bowl of cereal, hide in the bathroom, buy expensive gadgets or iPhones…

Well, ha ha ha on me. Because it’s easy to judge, when it’s not your life in the midst of mental meltdown.

While I do my best to exhibit respectful behavior and make the right choices, sometimes I don’t do as I intend, and I learned long ago, never to say never.

Telling them to shut up is certainly not on my highlight reel, but I guess, it happens. Or, it happened. Hopefully, it won’t again. But it might.

I can just hear my friend saying, I told you so. And while I’d like to tell her to shut up, I try not to say those kind of things.

Damn it.

Clearly not winning any parenting awards over here.

Clearly not winning any parenting awards over here.

 

 

 

 

Getting Lost

I was driving home from the gym, my thoughts on other things. Mostly, I was worrying over my last conversation with my father. He had forgotten to secure a ride for his upcoming doctor appointment. He had also forgotten to mail me a letter I had asked for half a dozen times, and he had lost his debit card. Again.

None of this was too out of the ordinary. Worrisome, yes, but it had been going on a long time. Compared with other moments like, forgetting whether he took his medications, that he was smoking before he fell asleep, or to turn off the stove, I couldn’t complain.

Still, it left me, as always, unsettled; wondering if he really shouldn’t be in some type of care facility. I knew he wasn’t capable of living alone, even with the home health aide coming in daily. He knew it as well, but that didn’t stop him from fighting on threat of his life to remain independent.

It was a lose, lose battle for both us, and one so exhausting and old that my brain moved on, remembering that I needed to pick up the dry cleaning and calculating whether I had enough time for the supermarket before school let out. Suddenly, I looked around and realized I didn’t recognize where I was.

I had driven this seven minute route to and from the gym, hundreds of times. How could I possibly not know where I was?  I certainly wasn’t far, ten blocks at most. Yet, it all looked unfamiliar. Did I not take the right turn? There were only three or four turns to take. Where was I?

I panicked, gazing around at the lovely overhanging trees, trying to place my surroundings, and drawing a complete blank.

On instinct, I made a U-turn and headed back in the direction I came. Before I even reached the first intersecting block, I knew exactly where I was. On the right road. Of course.

I turned the car back around again, and almost laughed out loud at my senior moment. I was so distracted, I had lost my bearings on a block I had traveled hundreds of times.

I made the next left and headed the next few blocks till I made another right, traveled five more blocks and pulled in my driveway. Home.

I put the car in park and felt ridiculously relieved and slightly shaken. It was frightening not being able to trust your instincts. It immediately brought me back to my father.

Every day, he loses his train of thought, his focus, his time. Every day we argue about things beyond our control. Because it’s one thing to lose your way, but another to lose yourself.

block

Freedom is mine… And I’m feeling good.

Lately I’ve been waking up around 5:00am.

While, I’m naturally an early riser, this is early even for me. I think middle school has hyped me up a bit. Unconsciously, I worry about my son getting up, if he’s completed everything that needed to be done, if he’s ready for the new school day. Since I can’t fix and do everything for him, I compensate for any potential failings by preparing the perfect lunch. A+ for me.

By 6:30am, two of my three boys are usually awake. It’s the middle-schooler who needs to get up that is still sleeping. I gently shake his warm body until he yells something unintelligible and falls back unconscious. This happens at least three more times at five minute intervals, until finally I turn on the light, rip off the covers and throw clothes on top of his head.

By 7:30am, he’s out the door.

I finish up organizing and feeding my younger two, negotiating with them to put on their socks, brush their teeth, eat their breakfast. Pretty much everything I need to get done for them is a negotiation. Like I would be the one embarrassed if they went to school with their shirt inside out, or in trouble if they didn’t finish their homework, or mortified if the girl they ultimately asked to the prom turned them down because they had no teeth. Okay, fine, I would.

Finally, the bus arrives and I wave, smile and jump up and down manically for the two little faces, one with dark curly hair, the other blonde and straight, pressed to the window watching me in amusement.

By 8:30am, they are officially all off to school, and I am in my house alone for the first time in over ten years.

I thought, being a generally sappy mom, prone to stalking, suffocation and crying lapses, that I would take this transition hard.

There’s no one cracking up while doing goofy dances for VideoStar. There’s no running through the halls, pounding down the stairs, or racing cars across the wood floors. There’s no one fighting over who likes macaroni the most or who can climb a tree highest. There’s nothing but silence.

No children giggling. No children fighting. No children.

It’s…BEAUTIFUL!!!

I am almost shocked at how thrilled I am with this time to myself. I flip the laundry. La la la. I do some exercise. La la la. I run a few errands. I sit at the computer and write! La la halle-freaking-lujah!

I am so content in my bubble with myself that I have actually turned down lunch with friends. Neither, do I have time to shop. I need to revel in the glory of my silent house; my fingers dancing on the keyboard, an ice cream for lunch. Me. Me. Me.

Maybe soon I’ll grow wistful, but right now, there’s a party in my house. And I’m the only one invited.

Busy, busy, busy.

No, you can’t join me.

I’m not going to write you a love song…

I’m not going to write you a love song because you asked for one. I’m going to write one, because I want to; because I need to and you deserve one.

Because for close to 25 years, you’ve been with me, supporting me, holding my hand, while allowing me to be me.

Because you’re honest and loyal and still full of the values that first attracted me to you when we were just teenagers; but probably back then it was more about your smile, swagger and the sweetness in your chestnut eyes.

We traveled the ups and downs of college, having a commuter relationship, unable to let go, at a time when we probably were supposed to.  But being with you was the best part of my life. How can you let go of the part that makes your heart leap?

In our wayward 20’s, I dragged you around from country to  country. You didn’t need it like I did, but you jumped on board and off we flew on one adventure after another. I loved those times, just you and me, with backpacks and without a plan.

Back at home, with the city laid out before us and youth on our side, we chose to hibernate together, playing rummy 500 and snuggling on the couch. There was no one we needed to see. Nothing we needed to prove.

And then came the children we tried so hard for; first in a fun way and then in a not so fun way.  And finally, we were blessed, three times, with sons lucky enough to have you as a dad; someone so involved and proud; someone whose greatest day would be spending every moment playing with them.

How lucky we are. How lucky I am. Because I’ve had someone I’ve been happy to see every day for more than half my life. Someone good on the inside and sexy on the outside.  Someone who still makes my heart leap, and all it takes is a private little smile and a warm hug.

We started so young, with our whole life before us, and now we’ve spent years living that life, building it up, appreciating it and enjoying it.

You’ve been a part of all stages of me, woven into my heart, so no matter where we go, as long as I’m with you, I’m home.

Us.  Circa 1989


Circa 1989 to infinity and beyond…

Want Smiles?

After much debate, my husband and I decided that it was time to give up Smiles, our beloved, pet bearded dragon.

We brought Smiles into our family about a year and a half ago, after some exhausting pleading from our then, 10 year-old son.  When we took him home in his little plastic container, like the kind you get from takeout Chinese with air holes popped in the top, he was just a baby, no bigger than a green bean.

As we settled him into his new tank, finding a nice stick for him to perch on and a rock for him to laze, we fell in love. Or at least my husband and I did; unfortunately my son quickly tired of the huge responsibility of acknowledging him.  What? How did that happen? Weren’t you going to “die” without him?

Parents are such fools.

So day in and day out, I made his little salads and picked up crickets for some crunchy protein. My husband cleaned his tank when necessary, and took him out to wander our living room. But soon it became more of a job, neither of us wanted. Making sure the children stayed alive was responsibility enough.

So we decided to find a family to adopt him and I put a notice on the parent board for our community.

“Friendly bearded dragon looking for a good home. Free with tank and accessories for a family who will love him.”

Come on, you know you want me.

Come on, you know you want me.

I quickly received about five responses. I mean, really, who could resist that face?

One I discarded almost immediately. I didn’t like the presumptuous tone of the responder “We will take him. When can we pick him up?”

Apparently they didn’t realize this was an adoption. There was an interview process and papers to go over with the attorney, uh, my husband, the attorney.

Two other families also didn’t make the cut. I rejected one for crimes against the English language; for using the word ‘there’ instead of ‘they’re’. As in, “We think there so cute.”

We didn’t raise no illiterate lizard, so clearly they were out.

The other family asserted with strange pride that they already housed a turtle, dog, cat, hamster, fish and snake. Uh, if I wanted to give him to a pet store, I would have.

That left us with a nice sounding teacher with kids, and a family who  wanted to give Smiles to their 10 year-old son who had been pining for one, as a birthday present. Hmm did they say a 10 year-old?

We went with the teacher family because they responded first, and his email trail back and forth with his wife begging her, was extremely cute.  Oh yeah, I went in for the background check.

We set up a time, and as we waited for him to arrive, my husband and I skittered down memory lane with Smiles.

Remember when we lost him outside in the bushes?

Remember when he fell asleep next to the couch, his body flattened to the floor and we thought he was dead?

Remember when we bought that little leash and tried walking him?

Stop. No you stop. No you.

Stop it. No you stop. No, you.

Oh good times. So many smiles, Smiles.

When the teacher arrived to take him away, I saw by the alpha stance of my husband, chest out, dragon hanging, that he was ready to give him the third degree.

smiles bruce“So you’re leaving him in your classroom, and not your home?”

“He’s social, will he have opportunity to be taken out?”

“You’re going to leave him all weekend alone?”

The man stuttered and backpedaled and in the end, my husband deemed him unfit for adoption, and he cowered off empty handed.

Alone, my husband patted Smiles on the head and cooed, “I’m not going to let just anyone take you.”

You don’t mess with a man and his lizard.

No surprise, we’re still looking for the ‘right’ family.

Did I mention, he rocks at hide and seek?

Did I mention he rocks at hide and seek?

I’m sexy and no one knows it

I might be having a mid-life crisis.

I’m not sure because crisis is exactly the opposite of how I’m feeling, which is sexy.

Hard to believe, since I can no longer just bend down and get up in a single motion, and have a wrinkle in between the brow that is now a crevice you could lose things in. Still, I’m sashaying around wearing all my fancy clothes that are actually years old, but I would never wear before because apparently, I was saving them for my mid-life crisis. Also, I have clean hair. Never underestimate the power of clean hair.

I had no idea that this feeling was one of the mid-life symptoms. So I started researching, and sexy wasn’t anywhere on the list of what to expect.

It did say that mid-life is the time more people step out with a young lova. But this makes no sense to me. Someone young cannot see someone middle aged without causing one to die of shock and the other of embarrassment. If anything, I’d have to get me a very old, blind lova. That is, if my husband says it’s okay.

They also say there’s a lot of reassessment, and I have been contemplating my life lately and wondering if I actually have one.

Many people quit their jobs. I don’t have a job. Maybe I’ll get a job! Yeah!  That’s it.

But then how could I go to the gym to lose the five pounds I need to rock my minivan right and attract my old, blind lova? All of sudden, I understand why men buy Porsches. They’re feeling it and want to show off their badass selves, while they’re still badass.

I read that mid-life crisis’ spurs drinking, so I bought a couple of cases of wine because I like to be prepared. I don’t know if that would go over well on my new job, but I’m thertainly giving it the ole college try. urp.

Not that I’m qualified for anything anymore.

I can just see me at a business lunch, cutting up a client’s food and then, if he gets distracted by our fascinating conversation about what’s on sale at the supermarket, forking some fish into his mouth. At least since he ordered it, it wouldn’t come back out in a disgusted dribble like I just fed him clumped dirt. So there’s that.

Okay, forget the job. I’ve got too much to do anyway. Let’s see… well, the kids are all finally at school, leaving me with the bulk of the day to my own devices. It’s the first time in over ten years that I’ve had the house to myself for the hours of 8:30am-3pm.

It’s amazing. I can actually think when they’re gone.

Silence.

Think.

They are gone. My babies! Oh my babies are gone!! Oh my GOD!!!

Pause for slug of wine.

Okay, deep breaths. Much better.

I do wonder what is going on in my body that’s making feel so full of… No. Not myself. I was going to say, life. Whatever it is, I’m feeling good. Maybe I’ll take up tennis. Or start running races. Or schedule a little fix in the face? Or dye my hair a ravishing red.

Wait?! What if it’s like when a person is near death, and they all of a sudden get that last surge of energy before the end??!! Oh no!! Is this my last bit of sexy?? Then it’s gone?! FOREVER?!

Well now I’m depressed. They say that’s a sign too.

Pause for another slug.

Whatever. For the moment, I got my sexy back.

Maybe hot flashes will be better than I think.

How you doin?!

How you doin?!

I’m in trouble

They are fighting at the breakfast table.

“I have the most loom bracelets.” My little one brags, even though he doesn’t.

“You do not.” My eight year-old is quick to correct; soggy, Honey Nut Cheerios falling from his mouth.

“Yes I do!” My five year-old insists, holding on tightly to his dignity.  It’s a loom eat loom world.

“You don’t!” My eight year old yells, totally agitated. He is the enforcer of justice in the world, except when he’s wrong, then he’ll just scream till you forget what the original argument even was.

“Stop teasing each other,” I reprimand mildly, wiping up the cereal. “And eat.”

“No! I won’t” My boy with the offended morals exclaims. “He’s wrong. Admit it.Tell him, he doesn’t!”

I sigh, heavily, and tell my five year-old that he indeed does not have the most bracelets.

“It would just be nice if you guys wouldn’t make the biggest deals over the smallest things.”

“Now you’re making a big deal over a small thing.” My eight year-old yells.

“Okay, you need to stop yelling.” I’m getting annoyed.

“NO!”

Eight year-old has transferred his frustration onto me and I’m close to transferring mine right back.

“If you don’t, you can go right up to your room.”  I am calm. I am in control.

“Ha ha!” My five year-old provokes, with the stinky, little brother face to match.

“You’re so annoying!” Eight year-old shouts, again spitting wet Cheerios on to the table.

I need to put an end to this nonsense. “Okay, stop it right now, or you’ll both go to your rooms!”

At that, my 11 year-old, who had miraculously been minding his own business, snickers.

“What’s so funny?” I huff.

“You. You’re not sending anyone to their room.”

“What do you mean?” His twinkly, smug smile is pissing me off.

“I mean, you let everyone get away with everything.”

“I do not!” I am not so calm. I am not so in control.

“Yeah, you don’t really ever do anything.” My eight year-old pipes in merrily. Nothing like fresh meat to turn the tide.

“Yeah Momma! Yeah momma!” My five year old chants, standing on his chair doing the ‘my momma has no balls’ dance.

They’re all laughing.

Apparently, everyone is getting along just fine now.

Whatever.

I’m going to my room.

He's going to be way better at it than I am.

He’s going to be so much better at it.