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Author Archives: Ice Scream Mama

I’m still here. Only with lower standards.

Don’t expect much. I’m only sitting here typing because I made a deal with myself. I would write something, anything, and if I did then I could have a spoonful of peanut butter. Of course, who am I kidding, I’ve already had three already today. But I’m using this contrived bargaining chip, and low and behold, results! I have completed four and a half lines so far.

It has been so long since I have even attempted to write that my mind has lost the feel for it. My thoughts are slow to form and my fingers are equally lethargic. I took both a voluntary and involuntary break this past January.  Involuntary because my husband was in the process of switching offices and while he waited for his new offices to be finished, he commandeered my work space. Voluntary because I had just completed a new fiction novel. One that I was – I mean am – pretty excited about. Jam packed with sex, murder and little league baseball politics, it’s a total homerun. (My apologies for the lame humor. The brain isn’t quite sharpened yet.) Anyway, after finishing it, I was spent, and didn’t mind the brief reprieve, until days turned into weeks which turned into months. Soon my office had multiple screens up, projecting law documents and memorandum. His files overtook my random papers of creative thought and soon I couldn’t find a bit of myself in the corporate takeover of my writing space.

At about the same time, my father took a dip in the deep end of the depression pool, and while this is far from uncommon, sometimes when my guard is lowered, my resistance down and my hormones up, it weighs on me as heavily as the ice cream I wind up eating too much of. Each trip to the pool is unique and this time he wasn’t flailing around as usual, grasping at anyone (me) to save him. No, this time he sank slowly, barely making a wave. I stopped reading, and it being winter, confined myself to hibernation, keeping busy with all the uber-important details that a mom of three growing boys must tend to, mainly doing the laundry for them to kick across their floors, schlepping them to and from school and fields while they ignore me on their phones, and preparing meals for their lackluster review. With the husband busier than ever and no mental stimulation to distract, the water seemed to rise around me as well.

But that was then. Now, I’ve spent the last few weeks diligently nudging myself toward a better frame of mind. I’ve embraced the sun (when it shines) and use it to lure me from my shell. I have started reading again. First a book called, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, a truly lovely romantic fable with so much sweetness that it gave my dark brain an attack of the eye rolls. But then a friend handed me, I Am Pilgrim, a detective thriller that has me electrified and turning pages at lightning speed. It has been a gift, offering both escape and inspiration.

I now occasionally catch myself contemplating what to do with my new manuscript, while mulling over potential freelance essays on the new dynamic of parenting my first born teenaged son, the recent birthday of my mother (No she’s not 70!) or how the girl next to me in my gym class achieved such an amazing ass. I mean really people, it’s essay worthy.

I even remembered that I have a blog. So you see, I’m slowly wading over to a safer place. But I don’t want to overexert myself. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I sat here, rubbed the sleep from my brain and rambled on a bit. It’s a start. I think I earned my reward.

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Okay, so I took two spoons. But it’s kind of like therapy. Protein is good for the brain, right?! I actually think I’m going to need another one to hit publish. I forgot how stressful this was! Okay, here goes… 

Scenes of a Valentine’s Past

Valentine’s Day Morning – 2016
6:15 am

Begrudgingly one eye opens and sees the clock. My heart jumps awake, even though I technically don’t have to be awake for another ½ hour. But today is special. I have to hang the hearts I made last night on each of my sons’ bedroom doors! I was up late cutting them out and writing special personal messages for each of them – ‘You’re so smart’, ‘I love your curls’, ‘You tell the best jokes!’ – that I practically fell asleep with a pair of scissors clutched (responsibly – blades in) in one hand and a Sharpee – Cap on, whew! – in the other.

I race (quietly) to the bathroom and over to the dresser to collect my Valentine’s art project for my three little labors of love, now 8, 10 and 13. Ten personalized hearts times three. Now if I can only find the tape. I lift my construction paper. Not there. I check under a pile of clothes. Not there. I know it’s around here somewhere. I remember bringing it up. It would help to turn on the light but my husband still sleeps. Maybe it’s over by the- F%$!!! Found it, on the floor, under my foot.

My muffled exclamation of pain causes my husband to stir. He  took off from work and was sleeping in.  “What are you doing?” he asks.

Nothing, I assure him. Go back to sleep. He doesn’t need to be told twice and turns over muttering sweet nothings to me which might sound a lot like “You’re crazy” but with my Valentine’s ears I interpret to mean, ‘I’m crazy for you.’

After a quick pit stop back to the bathroom for band aids to tourniquet my gushing foot, I soft peddle it each of my kids’ doors and lovingly hang their hearts so that they can appreciate them and all the wonderful qualities of themselves when they wake up. I also leave a trail of chocolate kisses from their bedrooms, down the stairs, leading to the kitchen. Eeeeee! They are going to love it!

6:30am

In the kitchen whipping up pancakes, frying turkey bacon and scrambling eggs. I have cut toast into hearts with a cookie cutter. On each boy’s chair sits a small bug-eyed stuffed creature and box of chocolates. My husband’s chair has man-size box and a card. I am a Valentine’s domestic goddess. I keep whipping and waiting for my family to run down the stairs and smother me with love.

7am

I hear rustling upstairs. Oh! My boys have clearly been awakened by the fresh smell of pancakes and bacon wafting up the stairs. I sneak toward the steps. Is that giggling I hear? Wait. It could be shouting. Yup. Shouting. F&%!

“Boys!” I yell in my sweetest voice and stomp up. “What’s going on?”

The scene is straight out of Psycho Willy Wonka. 8 year-old son is smeared with chocolate, a mass of Kisses clutched in his hands. 10 year-old boy is yelling at him and trying to grab the Kisses while 13 year old boy is quietly off to the side laughing popping chocolates in his mouth.

The floor shimmers with crinkly silver and purple foil.

“Boys!” I repeat and finally they notice me. They can’t control themselves and begin talking all at once. The outpouring of love is overshadowed by a lot of annoying complaining and petty bullshit.

“Did you guys notice your doors?” I ask. They should. I’ve done it for the last few years or so. Their doors are almost completely covered with love. Shamed, they look over and read. Or at least two of them do. My youngest is too busy crying and hiding. My middle son still feisty from the chocolate wars wants to argue over heart number 7 and insists that, no, in fact he is not smart.

“Thanks mom,” my oldest says, and my face slowly opens with happiness until I realize that’s all he has to say. He walks past me down the steps. But wait, he stops mid-way. Could there be something more? A card? A hug? My heart flutters…

“Do you know where my phone is?”

Yup, exactly what I thought.

I spend the next five minutes trying to coerce my embarrassed, pissed off youngest to come out of hiding and find myself with snot and chocolate all over my hands and pajama shirt. Sighing I give up and head downstairs to find my older boys securely positioned in front of the television, iPads in hand.

“Guys, I made a good Valentine’s day breakfast.”

“Not now,” says my oldest.

“I’m not hungry,” says my middle.

“I am!” squeaks my youngest but when I trot him inside, he looks at the spread and immediately announces, “I want cereal.”

7:15am

I trudge my fuming, snot covered, bloody foot self back to my room and kick my still snoring husband out of bed. I’m done with this holiday. Wake me up on Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s morning – 2017

You would think I would learn, but like a pup, tail wagging and waiting for that bone, I cover the floor with chocolate kisses, again write personalized hearts, and go down to make a ‘special’ breakfast. I don’t know why I am surprised when one boy complains that the Kisses I left on the floor leading from their bedrooms downstairs are annoying, while another one says the card I wrote has too many words to read. There is a fight about who did or didn’t flush the toilet and no one but my husband is interested in the special breakfast I made.

I steam with my coffee a bit until I remember that last year the day actually ended up pretty awesome. I wound up getting my own original song, written and performed by my own personal ‘homemade’ boy band. It was the best present ever! (To see the video go to my Facebook page).

And that’s when lightening struck twice. My youngest runs in and hands me dead flowers that he has hidden in the closet to save as a special gift, and my oldest made me a really thoughtful card, while my middle guy brings me special socks to keep my always cold feet snuggly warm. There are also stuffed animals and goodies to go with the hugs! Clearly, the day is looking up! And of course, as long as we’re together annoying each other, it’s all good.

Love and happiness to you all. xoxo

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Who can resist dead flowers and chocolate!!!?

From smother mother to pick up your sh*t

I was a bit of control freak right from the beginning, never bottle feeding any of my children, always latching them to me like they were attached to me, which I guess they were. I reveled in that time where I wandered covered in milk stains, barely able to keep my eyes open, children dripping off of me. I wanted no help, embracing the martyr’s way and spending my days soothing, rocking, and strolling with a child on my hip, or on my back, or in my lap.

As they grew, I was always nostalgic for the year past – for when my four year-old was three, for when my six year-old was five, before my one year old could walk, zipping from one room to another instead of lying lazily in my arms. I worried that they were growing too fast. I was the ultimate smother mother, wallowing in the sap, working on five hours broken sleep a night, and kind of loving it.

It’s because of the mother I was then, one who stalked the nursery school halls, who volunteered for every single class project and trip, who baked cupcakes for reasons as nonsensical as, ‘It’s Tuesday!’,  that I am still amazed at how I’ve changed.

My boys are now 14, 11 and 8 years-olds. They are in high school, middle school and third grade. They still need me to do a million mommy things for them, but now I also expect them to help themselves a lot more. And when they don’t I am no longer the sweet loving mama, I am the nagging, cranky mama.

“Move your asses,” I’ll say when it’s time to shower and they’ve procrastinated too long. “Pick up you shit” and “Get it yourself” are other favorites. I don’t sugar coat things. I expect things done and my patience is minimal.

Maybe it sounds selfish and maybe it is, but I have turned a corner. Things are starting to be about me again and I am embracing this new cycle in my life. I am writing and loving it. But like any job, it takes time, and if I’m constantly nagging I am not sitting on my fabulous chair in my computer room tapping away.

I no longer want them hanging off of me (although a good hug is always appreciated). I want them to be more independent so I can be more independent as well.  I want them to do more for themselves so I can do less. It makes me feel like a bad mother sometimes when I remember how emotional I was when my oldest gave up his stuffed animals or when my youngest went to school without crying for me. But I’ve changed. The mother who always had the play dates at her house because she wanted the children near, now doesn’t mind so much when the boys are all engaged at a friend’s. Back then, I needed them to need me, but now there are many days where I just want to be left alone, not doing anything for anyone but myself.

I know there will be a time in the not too distant future when my beautiful boys are no longer always underfoot, and I will long for them to ask me to make them an egg sandwich, find their baseball pants, or pick them up at a friend’s. I will remember how lucky I was to be so present in their lives and so available to them.

But for now, I’d just like them to pick up their shit.

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It’s really not that hard.

And – shameless plug – if you haven’t checked out my books, Secrets of the Suburbs or Murder Across the Street, you can find them HERE. They make great holiday gifts!! You can even gift for  Kindle!! 🙂

Pokemon Go – Away!

It wasn’t even a week ago that my kids discovered the new Pokemon Go app (I wrote about it in Parents here). I watched them run around the corner excited and laughing, following their phones to discover the hidden Pokemon lurking all over our neighborhood.

I walked with them, amused and happy. My boys were engaged in an outdoor activity and getting along – no one was hitting anyone with a stick, no one was taking the ball away from anyone, and no one was crying that his brother cheated at something. I didn’t even mind that their devices were at the center of their attention. It still felt like a huge step up from them ignoring me while staring at our X-box in the basement. We were outside in the sun, wandering around and bonding like a family.

It seemed everyone we saw, from kids to moms to teens to grown men were all playing this game. Even when we went to dinner, we ran into waiters on break doing the same. It felt strangely like the world had gotten a bit smaller and we were all on the same team. Although as my son reminds me, there are different teams – blue, yellow and red.

I loved everything about the app last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We strolled, we talked, we caught Pokemon, meeting friends and making friends all doing the same. But by Tuesday my boys, already pros, figured some ways to cheat, or at least how to cut down on the exercise part of the game, my favorite part.

“Hey Mom,” My middle son asked, “It’s kind of hot out. Why don’t you drive us down to the water, and we’ll walk around. And then we can drive to the library and then to the train station.”

These were all Poke hot spots to get free stuff. I eyed him skeptically but his big green eyes gave nothing away. It was kind of hot out. “Okay,” I conceded and they all cheered.

We drove to the water and my boys had me drive back and forth in the parking lot and then back around the block – Go left! No other left! Keep Going! You missed it! Go back! – The phone glitching a number of times before they were all satisfied that they had received adequate Poke loot. Next we head off to the library where they walked around the parking lot for a full three minutes before jumping back in the car. “Done,” My oldest announced, “Take us to the train station.”

“Excuse me?” I said, annoyed. We were no longer bonding. I had become the chauffer being bossed around, pretty much my typical life.

“No!” My youngest suddenly cried. “Mine isn’t loading!! I didn’t get anything!” He made a lot of grunting and whiny noises as I drove around in circles trying to find a good spot to help his phone – I mean my freaking phone! – work.

“Let’s just go,” My oldest compassionately suggested and my youngest screamed at him. After ten minutes of 8 year-old meltdown, the ridiculously overloaded server kicked in.

With the app reloaded and my youngest receiving an egg, some balls and yet another Pidgey; the Pokemon that needs some birth control since they are literally everywhere – “Mom! Don’t move there’s a Pidgey on your back!” – We head to the train station, a center spot in town.

My children run here and there collecting free stuff, capturing some Pokemon and almost running into people, while I yell for them to be careful of the street. It is around 5pm and others lurk doing the same. You can spot them immediately, hovering over their phone in little groups or staring at it as it directs them. There is also a ‘Gym’ at the train station. My boys have announced that it is weak and they are all excited to take it over.

“Guys we have to go,” I say, dampening the fun but I am hot and tired and needing to get home and start dinner. They ignore me, loitering near a grown man in a wrinkled suit tapping his cell madly.

“We’ll just stay here at the Gym,” my oldest says. “Pick us up when you’re done.”

It’s not a Gym I want to yell. It’s the middle of a street! And you are stalking a strange man! And I want my phone! “No,” I say calmly. “We’ve had enough Pokemon for right now. It’s time to go.”

My youngest starts whining. “My game froze again! They got so much more guys than me!”

“To the car!” I command and they grudgingly follow.

We repeat this experience all week; them obsessed, nagging and begging, and me driving with phones glitching, batteries dying and them whining and crying in frustration.

Then there are all these stories out there of people getting robbed or walking into trees, but I honestly don’t think there’s any real danger. The app is awesome, creative and fun, but I do worry a bit that this craze has obsessively overtaken my children and my town. It’s like a cult of zombies out there – Must find Pokemon!

I really wouldn’t mind if the app would just Go away, but it seems I stand alone. Everyone else is out finding Pokemon.

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Yup, quality family time in the great outdoors.

And while you’re waiting for your kids to lift their heads, check out my book, Secrets of the Suburbs – the perfect sexy fun beach read! – available on Amazon. Just click HERE!  And…  Murder Across the Street, click HERE. Yes! The suburbs are crazy! Sex, Murder and Pokemon, Oh my!

Why I finally published my book

I find myself in a place of genuine discomfort.

After years gaining confidence and finally growing comfortable sharing my real life journey freelancing online and here on my blog , I have decided to start publishing some of my fiction. It’s harder than I expected.

But it’s not like coming to the conclusion to publish was easy either. I spent years – years – writing fiction. I remember finishing my first book in my mid-twenties, a romantic suspense novel of love, murder and revenge. I was so proud to have completed it but then came the problem of selling it. I sent it out to agents and editors and then sent it out some more, receiving mostly form letter rejections but also an occasional personal letter (they wrote letters back then!) offering some kind, positive feedback before crushing my dreams and my soul.

I pretty much had the exact same experience with my next book and my next. So I edited and revised, continuing to write and submit to those agents and editors, thinking that I wasn’t good enough, but hoping that maybe one of them would think I was.

But then a funny thing happened. Or a few funny things. I somehow became middle-aged and started giving a shit less about being traditionally accepted. I realized that I, someone who could barely turn on a computer, had somehow managed to build a social media platform. That many of my fellow online writer friends were self-publishing and just maybe I could too. And that while my fiction wasn’t going to win any literary prizes, it was fun, engaging and entertaining; and many people would like it.

The idea started to take shape and grow, slowly and carefully, like a bubble, until finally one day I said, I’m doing it. I’m going to put a book or two or maybe even three out there in the summer sun and let it fly, because I did it and because I’m proud, and then I’m going to move on, start fresh and write something completely new.

Still, writing fun, sexy beach reads presents a challenge in small town suburbia. I worry about what people will think of me. Even worse, I worry that people won’t like it; that judging eyes are everywhere whispering about my craft, my character and my content. But as difficult as that is, I know it’s part of the gig.

So I need to remind myself to be brave, to keep putting myself out there and to stand behind my work; that I can’t worry what people think of me, only what I think of myself. Because pushing beyond our comfort levels is often what makes us better.

It’s not an easy lesson, but like my writing, I’m a work in progress.

Secrets of the Suburbs. Now available on Amazon. Click here. 

Also available for the Nook and Ibook.

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So hot, you’ll think it’s summer!! Oh, wait…

 

Murder Across the Street. Coming Soon….

Order Here! 

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From toddler to teen: A mom’s short retrospective

From toddler to teen: A mom’s short retrospective

2002

Love. Love. Love. Your drool is adorable, your poop, a topic of conversation. Never leave my side. Stay forever in my arms. You are mine. I am yours. Before you, life had no meaning. Before you there was nothing.

2005

Oh my baby. My poor sweet child. Don’t be sad. It’s only for a couple of hours. Everyone goes to nursery. Why? I don’t know why. Good question! Why?!! No don’t cry. You’re making me cry. Okay one more hug. Okay one more. Okay, Just one mor-

Yes, I know he’s going to be fine. Okay… shut the door.

(I’ll just be sitting here.)

2007

First day of Kindergarten. Can’t…. even….. speak.

2008-10

What’s going on, my love? Yes, I would Love to play dinosaur battles with you! Yes, I want to color! Yes we can build a set-up! Yes, I will even listen to the really really long and convoluted story about the dragons you are breeding on your video game and all 112 words you have made up for your own secret language. Tell me. I am fascinated.

2010-2012

Of course! Have all your friends come over! Everyone is welcome! Five on five wiffleball/soccer/football/basketball in the yard? Fabulous! Manhunt through the house? Movies? Wii? X-Box? Great! I’ll order a pizza! Who wants fresh baked cookies? Weeeeee!!!

2013-2014

Uh okay, of course I’ll drive you to your friend’s. Again.

2015

Me: Can I make you pancakes?

Him: Shrug

Me: Hey that was a good game you played today!

Him: Grunt

Me: Who did you hang out with at the party yesterday?

Him: Eye roll

Sigh. (Both of us)

2016 –

How are you? How’s school? What’s going on? What’s new? Are you happy? Are you sad? Are you comfortable? Do you have friends you like? Do they like you? Are you feeling okay? Do you need anything? Want anything? Can I help you? Hello? Are you listening? Hello…

I’m here.

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And always will be

 

*Now that I have you all sapped up, go check out my latest essay over on Scary Mommy – Underneath His Teenage Scowl. Originally titled, It’s not you, It’s me. Okay, maybe it is you,  but just a little.  🙂

 

I’m Not Going Anywhere, Kid.

They say there’s always one born to drive you crazy. That would be my 10 year-old, a whip smart, manipulative, feisty and sensitive boy who only takes no for an answer if it’s the answer he wants.

We’ve just gone a round or two over putting away his clothes. It was a simple request that should have taken five minutes that I gave more than a full day’s latitude before putting my foot down. But instead of compliance with a loud sigh, we spent a solid half hour in a heated battle of wills.

“It will take you five minutes.” I maintained calmly. “Let’s not continue this waste of time. Go get it done so we can move on.”

“There is no purpose to it!” He insisted, always looking to debate. “I like them on my floor… It’s my room.”

Back and forth we went until I stopped. “No more discussion. I’m telling you what you need to do, and if you don’t there will be a consequence. Last warning.”

He wasn’t happy but finally complied. Fear of losing his device carries weight. It’s possibly my only real leverage.

Not 15 minutes later, my quills from our recent clash barely settled, he wanders back into the kitchen bounce, bounce, bouncing his basketball with a smile that makes me wait for what’s coming.

“Hey,” He greets through bounces that feel like it’s my head banging against a wall.

“Hey,” I reply, standing up a little straighter, eyeing him.

He takes his time, drawing it out.

“So mom, why don’t you work?”

I’m confused, thrown off. I thought he’d request macaroni and cheese or an M&M yogurt, if he could skip Hebrew school or if 2, 3 or 4 of his closest friends could come over, but this…

“What do you mean? Taking care of you boys and daddy and the house and everything is a lot of work.”

“Yeah, but it’s not a real job.”

I’m trying hard not to be defensive but my heart is shattered all over my kitchen floor, along with some lost morning cereal and crumbs. I suck.

“Taking care of you guys is a real job.”

He looks at me smug, like I should know better. “Not really.”

All of sudden all the stay-at-home vs working mommy wars are right here in my house coming from the most unexpected of places, from one of the people I revolve my world around.

“So you want a nanny to take care of you?”  I am a wounded animal, a wounded domestic animal.

He shrugs, “I wouldn’t mind.”

UGH. He’s killing me. I bend down to pick up Cheerios and wonder if I’m paying for the battle over the clothes. Or maybe he would like to see me working. Whenever I show him essays of mine or talk about publishing a book I wrote, he is proud. Maybe he wants to be able to show me off.  But more likely, he’s the cat and I’m just a mouse that he’s toying with.

“Your brothers would mind,” I counter. “They like that I pick you guys up and come to all the school stuff and bake brownies. They like that I’m here to help with homework and hang out.”

“You could still do that if you worked.”

“Yeah. Well no. I couldn’t do all that.” Another piece of my self-worth crumbles to the floor.

“Well the nanny could.” He’s not letting up for one second.

We’re at an impasse and I’m ready to get a job just to spite him. Visions of Nanny Ratched play out in my head.

I sigh. It’s time to change the subject. “So are you hungry? Do you want macaroni and cheese?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Thanks.”

As I put the pot on, he pulls his homework from his book bag and I watch his bowed head, busy at work, scribbling off answers. This is my job. This is where I love and need to be. He can push all he wants.

The water is boiling but I am not.

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You’re stuck with me tough guy. MWAH!