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Getting to the party is not half the fun

We’re going to a party! We’re going to a party!

We need to be in temple by 10:30am but I have an appointment at the hair place to blow out my curly curls and get trims for my boys at 9am. It’s 8:15am. We have a half an hour to get out of the house.

“These pants are too tight!” My son yells, and tosses them out of his room into the hall. I hop over, pulling up my tights as I go and get smacked in the face with the offending black pants.

“Didn’t you wear these last week?” I ask, untangling the inside out legs and searching for the tag. Not that it matters. At almost 13, things that fit one week, no longer fit the next.

“I’m ready!” My middle son announces; walking past in a shirt clearly buttoned by a drunk.

“Um, let me help you,” I say, starting to undo and redo. Another pair of pants flies out of my oldest son’s room and I hear him stomping around angrily.

My 7 year-old dances by in his pajamas. “Mommy! Watch my cartwheel!”

“Get dressed,” I order. “No cartwheels now. We’re late.”

I run back into my room to fix myself. My husband emerges from our closet. “This good?” he asks, holding a blue tie against his grey shirt.

I nod that it’s fine and run into the bathroom to play around with some make up my mother brought over.

“I know you like to be ‘natural’, but just something to brighten your eyes? And skin. And maybe a little lipstick?” She suggested so coyly, you barely knew you were being strong armed until you were pinned. Later, I would use a very similar tone trying to convince my son that slightly shorter hair looks better than never combed hair.

“I know what I’m doing,” I had snapped, and am happy she’s not here now to watch me put lip liner under my eyes.

We’re going to a party! We’re going to a party!

“I’m hungry!” My middle son barges in and announces as I’m struggling to close the clasp on my necklace.

“Get yourself some cereal. I need to get dressed.”

“I don’t want cereal,” he says. “I want pancakes.”

I look at him dumbfounded. Seriously?  “I’m not making pancakes right now.”

“Forget it! I’m not eating!” He huffs and storms out as my 12 year old storms in. He is frustrated to the point of tears.

I feel his pain.

“I’ll find you something. I promise. Just give me five minutes?” I ask, looking hopefully and reassuringly into his stressed face.

He calms down, gives me a hug and a blessed five minute reprieve to get myself together so we can get to the hair place and then to the temple for the b’nai (double) bar mitvah and then to the other one across town and the ensuing parties that follow.

“It’s raining out!” I hear my husband yell and a glance out the window confirms it. Freaking great. Did I mention the blow out for the curly hair?

My 7 year old cartwheels past, wearing only his Skylander undies.

We’d better get to that party soon. I need a drink.

Actual discarded pants

Actual discarded pants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Peeping Tom

I started feeding him about six months ago.

He sat outside the sliding doors of my kitchen window peering in as I shuffled half asleep through my early morning routine – turn on Keurig, take vitamins, feed Buzz, my old cat swirling between my legs, make the kids’ lunches.

It was Buzz who alerted me to his presence by howling and hissing at the glass screen loudly. I looked and saw him there, staring back unaffected, his coat scraggly but his stance proud. Immediately I noticed that he resembled a cat I once had many years before who had died.

“Well, hello Jeffy,” I said to the stray, making the mistake of naming him out loud. I may as well have bought him a collar. “Fancy seeing you here.”

“I’ve got to feed him,” I apologized to my own feisty feline, stroking her behind the ears and looking her in the face. “But don’t worry, you’re in here and he’s out there.”

I slid open the door and Jeffy instinctually peddled back a few paces. I placed a paper bowl filled with food down, introduced myself, then headed back inside. When the sliding door closed, Jeffy padded back and ate. The next morning, he greeted us again, and the next, and the next. He became a frequent guest at dinner as well.

Our arrangement continued through Fall with my kids now well aware of the new extended member of our family. “Jeffy’s here!” They’d cry excitedly and race to find me. “He looks hungry,” My middle son worried and I’d roll my eyes. We were feeding him twice a day. And not the cheap crap either.

Winter and colder weather arrived. It was freezing and I hunkered down, barely going out except when necessary. I couldn’t imagine Jeffy surviving snow and temperatures that seemed to never stop falling. Inch after inch, foot after foot piled up.

Many days, my kids and I stared through the glass doors peering out in the frosty night wondering if Jeffy would make it. At times, the snow was so high he was almost just a head. Other days he carefully careened the mountains of crunchy ice to reach us. Every time he did we cheered and I peppered his dish with fresh chicken or juice from the tuna can. It seemed so unlikely he’d survive the single digit temps and crippling wind, but storm after storm, we’d spy those little foot (and body) imprints in the snow. Somehow against all odds he’d make it to our door.

This last storm took us all by surprise. It came hard and fast. The two feet of snow already in my yard quickly turned to three. For three days, we didn’t see him and feared the worst, but then the sun came out strong and my town began to melt. People walked the streets in open coats and no coats. Everyone was smiling, stretching out and thawing after the long winter freeze. Within a day, Winter had retreated and Spring had unofficially arrived.

And there in my vision stood Jeff, his fur weathered and matted but his posture still strong and proud.

He had made it through.

And now he would feast.

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Resolutions For My Children

This year I didn’t make any resolutions. Frankly I didn’t need the pressure, and really I’m working every day on improvement – okay, most days – okay, days where the stars align, the kids do as I say, there’s plenty of ice cream and it’s sunny out. What?! It happens.

I would however like my children to make some changes that would improve my life much more than any resolution I could possibly make for myself. Boys, are you listening? BOYS! Sigh. Well, that brings me to their first resolution…

Listen up! Why do I have to say, “I put your clothes in your room” for you to come up to me not five minutes later and innocently ask, “Where are my clothes?”  And how many times do I have to rip devices from hands, snap close books or shut off shows? Just take a second, look my way and say, “Okay mom, got it.” And seriously do I have to ask you to do the recyclables five times? Five! Why?Why?Why?Why?Why? Annoying, isn’t it?

Give me a minute. Okay, seriously, stop counting to 60. I really mean let me finish what I’m doing no matter how long it takes, a minute or a half hour. Like right now, extremely persistent 7 year-old who absolutely must play a game with me right this very second. Kid, please, we just played cards and Mario and I got you a snack and had a serious conversation about how you were going to set up your Legos, but now you need to just give me a minute.

Time for bed. When I’m done for the day, I am truly done. I’m not kidding. I don’t want any more requests for snacks, drinks, one more show or let’s have a heart to heart about which animal is truly your favorite. I want bed. I want it for you. I want it for me. I want it now. So go the fudgecakes to sleep.

Trust yourself. It can be the hardest thing to do, especially with a bunch of peer eyes staring you down, pressuring you into submission. But you’re good and smart and you know what’s right, so listen to yourself. I promise you’ll make plenty of mistakes on your own. There’s no need to make your friend’s mistakes as well. Trust me.

Just Stop. “Mom! He did this! Mom! He did it first! Mom! He’s bothering me!…” Guys, I don’t know how to express, first, how annoying you annoying each other can be for me and second, how the brothers you’re going out of your way to torture are really and truly your best friends in this life. No one will have your back like they will. No one will know you like they will. No one will really be there for you like they will.  So give each other a break (not the arm kind), and throw each other a kind word instead of under the bus.

And just to cover my bases, please also resolve to never drink and drive, sky dive, move to another country, marry someone I don’t like or join the circus. And even though I intend to never make resolutions again, I now plan to make a list for you guys every year. It’s my last resolution!

Luckily, you know how well I do with those.

Happiest 2015! xoxo Ice Scream Mama, Papa and the Sugar Babies.

Happiest 2015! xoxo
Ice Scream Mama, Papa and the Sugar Babies.

 

*Hey, if you have a moment, please give a quick click and check out my first essay up on Mamalode called Surviving the Supermarket. If I were to make any resolution it would be to never take all three of my boys with me to the supermarket ever again.

Life is Good

I was going to die.

I glanced over at the bright happy picture of my five and two year old sons and felt certain I would never see their gorgeous faces again. The tears began to well. It was all too much. Gripping the sides of my hospital bed, I took one last look at the children whose lives I was already mourning not being there for, gave one last push and brought my third son into the world.

That was seven years ago.

Seven years gone. Seven years lived. Seven years growing. Seven years of memories and moments. That baby is now a full grown kid; my 2 and 5 year olds now 9 and 12. How did we get from there to here? From diapers and midnight feedings, nursery school and little crawler gym classes to middle school and snark, multi-colored lacrosse shorts and sleepovers. Life is moving faster than one of my kids basketball games; racing from sport to sport to school to play dates – oh sorry boys, hang outs – and activities. We’re so busy trying to keep up that we almost don’t even realize the days, months, years passing.

It’s good being in the thick of it. It’s how it should be. But some days like today I stop and look around and see the wild haired boy with the mischievous smile who is my baby that is a baby no more. I see my older boys having grown as well – My 9 year old charming and wise beyond his years and my 12 year old on the verge of an amazing and frightening new time in his life for both of us. And I remember that day when in my panic I thought I might miss it all.

But here I am (puhpuhpuh), having been blessed to watch my boys growing and growing, their faces, bodies and personalities subtly changing, new expressions lighting up their eyes and mouths; thoughts and ideas opening like flowers in their brains.

One falls over in a pile of giggles, hysterical from his own hijinks, one decides to forgo the fork and shovels in his pasta with his hands and one decides to mastermind a complicated game of mazes, sport and points in the basement.

They are beautiful, unique and special. They are nothing alike and each one is perfect. How incredibly amazing to experience their humor, youth and innocence and see it changing moment by moment in infinitely subtle ways; to watch them grow and develop, rise and fall. Just to be a part of it all; a part of them.

I am overwhelmed by emotion and gratitude. I am so thankful to be here and see it; to hug them and be hugged by them. Today is my youngest son’s birthday, but just like his brothers, I celebrate him every day.

Life is a gift.

Good morning, birthday boy. Ooh that face!

Good morning, birthday boy.

 

 

Oh crap – I’m a girl!

The water runs down my face and I breathe deep enjoying the hotness splattering all around me. I have come here to escape, to hide from my family.

It’s working. The water is a tonic for my tired – even though it’s only 5pm – body and my brain which like my closet, needs a good cleaning. They were all just annoying me in the usual ways – get me this, mommy he’s bothering me, why can’t I – but today my tolerance is low. I can’t blame the moon, my hormones or my father; it’s just me being cranky.

Sometimes we all need a timeout, so I took one and it felt sublime… for about five minutes, until my middle son barrels in complaining about his older brother.

“I’ll be out in a few minutes,” I say but he continues on anyway, his small offended voice growing louder as he pleads his case.

“I can’t really hear you,” I say, hurriedly washing the shampoo from my hair. “Just give me a few minutes.”

“Wait!” He yells impatiently, “Just listen!”

I can’t really listen. The water is running. And I am naked.

“Please,” I beg, feeling the shower glow dissipate even in steam.

My 12 year old runs in, equally impassioned with my 6 year old merrily following, happy not to be part of the fray. He wasn’t the one who did that to him because he did that first but didn’t mean to do it but did it anyway. Nope he’s just here for the entertainment.

They are screaming at each other and me to fix the problem while my little one does a little dance of glee. Does no one realize that I am in the shower? It’s like I’m invisible but for the first time ever I’m feeling exposed.

All of a sudden my three boys ages 6, 9 and 12 seem too old to be barging in on me. We never made a big deal about nudity, neither going out of our way to show it or cover it. And besides a few random questions at the toddler age like, “Mommy, where’s your pee pee?” or, my youngest who just loves my ‘squishy body’, there have been no averted eyes, prolonged stares or interest what so ever. In fact, no one has really seemed to notice that I’m even a girl.

Oh my God – I’m a girl!

And I’m naked!

“Everyone just get out!” I huff and a chorus of exasperated, ‘MOMs!’ ensue. Finally they march out still arguing.

Sometime in the next year or so, even though my 12 year old is still wonderfully oblivious, he will be demanding and deserving his privacy just as I now deserve mine.  It’s time.

Alone I tentatively emerge, grab a towel to wrap round myself.

From now on I need more than just a little escape. I also need to hide.

Freaking knock, please.

Freaking knock, please. Thank you.

Lost Pride and Parking Spots

The parking lot where Michael’s, King Kullen supermarket and Marshall’s converge is a frenzy of discount shopping, food and insufficient parking. You easily need to factor in 15 minutes circling time before you might be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time when those reverse headlights flare. And you’d better hope you’re not near a revving Lexus who’s in the mood for chicken.

Today I considered myself lucky when it only took four laps of musical cars before I scored a spot at the far end of the lot. Then, having completed my extremely necessary mission to Michael’s for candy eyes for cupcakes, I head back toward my car, placing bets on which lucky lapper will win my coveted spot when I realize there’s a BMW parked illegally behind my car, making it virtually impossible for me to get out.

I’m mentally configuring the odds of a 456 point turn when a blonde woman with giant sunglasses steps from the vehicle. “Um, you know that’s not a spot,” I say but her head is too far up her ass to hear me so she just slings her Gucci bag over her shoulder and slams the door shut.

“Excuse me!” I say louder, “You can’t park there.”

She hears me now but I gather by the way she completely ignores me that she doesn’t want to acknowledge my existence and is about to stomp off in shoes that I would only fall off.

“How bout I back up into your car? I suggest with just a hint of confrontation.

That gets her attention but like the passive aggressive bitch she is, she just smiles and says, “Oh, you’re leaving. Great, I’ll take your spot.”

I don’t want to give her my spot. I want to back my beat up minivan right into her sleek silver driving machine. I want to crush the life out if. I wouldn’t even mind spending the rest of my life driving a car with a crumpled behind. It’s not like I don’t walk around with one of my own.

But that’s not nice manners or legal, so I get into my car, back up and leave. So unceremonious. So unsatisfying. So wimpy. I felt efeminated. I had been schooled by a bitch with a BMW and a good blow out.

I fume the whole way back to town up until I pull into the school to pick up my boys. As I am about to swing into a spot, I see a car opposite me angling to do the same. Ah, redemption! I will own that spot; a little turbo boost to my wounded ego.

But still I hesitate before I hit the gas, and in that second, the car across from me pulls in.

Argh! Foiled again!

Frustrated I drive on and find a spot, really only about 10 feet away, but that’s not the point.

Walking to the school, I see the person emerge from the vehicle who just stole my spot with my pathetic show weakness. Turns out to be my friend. We both brighten. She knows nothing of our parking duel to the death and how she bested me.

“Hey, I got you something,” She says, and knowing my affinity for all things sweet, pulls a pack of jellybeans from her bag.

I take them and smile. The Universe has soothed me. Apparently sometimes patience is rewarded.

But I still hope that chic from Michael’s gets her just desserts.

 

Oh this makes my blood boil!!

Smashing this car would definitely be justifiable.

 

 

Left the kids for a few days. It only took 12 years.

“So we’re going to grandma and grandpa’s bungalow…” My 6 year old repeated back to my nodding face. “But you and daddy are going somewhere else?”

He looked at me somewhat uncomprehending. It’s not his fault. This would be the first time we left our three boys to take a couple of days to ourselves. Of course it should have happened years ago but for one clingy reason or another, it just didn’t.

But now that we were, we weren’t just dropping them at their boring old house. We were leaving them at the bungalow colony where they spend their summers, a virtual kid haven when my husband and I were growing up, which of course is now a literal senior haven. Still, there were random kids about, long green lawns, a pool, frogs and salamanders… what else do 12, 9 and 6 year old boys need?

Their mommy, I thought guiltily.

“Yes,” I confirmed enthusiastically to his soft brown eyes and sweet chubby cheeks. “Daddy and I are going to have a little vacation and so are you and your brothers.”

He didn’t look thrilled.

Even at 6, my youngest is still the baby. He isn’t quite ready to do playdates outside of our house. He doesn’t like to go places if I’m not going, even with Daddy and his brothers. He hugs me vigorously when I leave to go to the supermarket or out to dinner. He has made some major progress towards independence this past year – Hello Kindergarten and camp! – but it’s slow going.

“It’ll be fun!” I cheered which only made him scowl at me skeptically.

When we walked into the bungalow to drop their bags and our kids, grandma was ready. “Who wants eggs and pancakes?” She asked excitedly as the boys settled in.

We left them there, among many hugs and with devices that could communicate with us with the touch of their fingers.

My older boys were good, only my youngest sat on the fence, looking at me like I’d left him in a basket with a note pinned to his blanket.

It hurt and I worried. Of course, he would be fine with his grandparents and his brothers, but he was sad, which made me sad.

Still I walked out and he let me go which was a huge step in itself. I was intent on blocking out that little face and having fun with just my husband, if we could even remember how to do that.

It turned out letting go was easier than I thought.

The minute we were off, my brain was off them as well. I was excited for our time away; our two nights and a half day. We hiked, played tennis and row boated. We talked and ate and ate. It was good, really good. Of course we face-timed with the kids and they sent back pictures of themselves catching frogs.

We were all happy and we weren’t together.

We could all be happy and not be together? It was a novel concept.

When we returned to the bungalow, their beautiful faces momentarily lit with pleasure before tumbling over one another to excitedly detail their frog catching adventures. The past days of fabulous coupledom were already long gone and it was good to be back, but now that I had drunk the Kool Aid…

“So how was it?” I asked my youngest.

He shrugged in his shy way, “It was good.”

“You were okay?” I pressed. Now that we were together, somehow I was worried again.

“I was fine.” He said and I believed him, because surprisingly I was fine too.

Turns out, getting away was good for us all.

I’m already planing our next escape.

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Happy

 

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Happy