Thursday, July 30, 2009

Too Much Time on My Hands

Today I am thinking about the Busy People. You all know someone like this or you are this person.

This Busy Person is always telling you how busy they are. They don't have time to do anything because They Are So Busy. They get nothing done because They Are So Busy.

I'm not talking about people with jobs. Yes, these people are busy! Working, coming home and caring for family. That's busy.

But us moms who are at home with school age kids, seriously, we are not that busy. Not so busy that we have to be Busy People.

I used to wonder what I was missing in my life because I am not a Busy Person. I was feeling guilty. Maybe I need more things to do! Maybe I need bigger and better aspirations for myself. I stewed about this for quite awhile.

Then I came to my senses. I think the Busy People are so busy talking about being Busy People that they have no time for anything else. Seriously, when someone gives me an inventory of things they Have to do and then add that they don't have time to even take a shower, I have to wonder.

If you don't have time to take a shower, you've got bigger problems than being a Busy Person. (You are also a Smelly Person and that comes with a whole different set of problems!)

I think Busy People are trying to convince themselves and others that they are Very Important People. Because only the Very Important People could ever be so busy! If they stopped and really thought about it, they would realize that they aren't that important anymore.

Because we are moms and we've taken a backseat. We are the support behind the family unit, but we are no longer the centers of attention. We have husbands who work to support us. Sometimes these husbands are Very Important People at work or in the community. Our children are the ones others want to know about. We've been eclipsed.

And that's how it's supposed to be. This is the path we've chosen and once we make peace with it, we'll feel so much better.

I no longer feel lacking or guilty. I get done what I can and what I don't get done, can wait until tomorrow or even the next day. We have clean clothes and food. The kids get driven where they need to go. The house hasn't been condemned by the health department (yet!). And I manage to shower daily!

Maybe the day will come again when I will be a Very Important Person. I don't think I need to be one though. I'm comfortable in my own skin, doing my own thing. I've recognized my limitations and have embraced them: committee work, no way; reading to the class, you bet; shower every day, of course!; scrubbing the floor every day, no way in hell!

Today's assignment is to think of the things you're doing that you hate just because you need to be a Very Important Person. Then cross them off your list of To Dos. Stop being a Busy Person and enjoy life. Take a lunch. Read a book.

Be Happy in Your Own Skin!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Runaway Mom

Janet picked me up last week for our bingo date and I was ready to go. I was relishing the thought of grown-up company, especially that of my bowling team. I've missed them during our summer hiatus! You spend a few hours with the ladies throughout the school year and it makes a difference without them!

Janet arrives exactly on time. She brought Phil, her 10 year old son, who was waiting here for his dad to pick him up. The dogs are barking, kids are bouncing. The house is in an uproar. You might think it was the unexpected company, but this is the state of my house about 80% of the day.

I ditched the grunge clothes and had on things that matched. And coordinated. I wasn't wearing my Crocs. (I don't care that fashion-istas think they are ugly...they are freakin' comfortable!) I had on (gasp!) makeup and jewelry. I was in full Beauty Advisor persona!

Jim's getting dinner ready. I'm trying to get out of the door. I'm dodging questions, trying to begin a meaningful dialogue with Janet. All while tripping over dogs and kids trying to get to the door.

I did make a stop so Phil could stand next to me and gloat over the fast that he's almost three inches taller than me! Seriously, a soon-to-be fifth grader towers over me. But it was Phil and he's a sweetie, so I didn't mind all that much. Janet's six feet tall, so he has a ways to go before towering over her!

Janet and I make it to the front door. We're out of the door. Her mini van is in sight...and she drops her keys, delaying us slightly.

The next thing I know, Aaron is approaching via the garage. I knew I should have strewn something across the path from the house to the drive way. Anything to delay him! Some broken glass shards? Pieces of glass rods?

Jim's in the garage looking for something. Aaron's on the driveway.

"O'Mom! Can I ask you something?" He never just asks. He always prefaces it with my newly appointed Irish name, O'Mom.

"There's your dad, ask him."

"But, Mom! I want..."

"Your dad is right there...ask him!" I hear the hysteria in my voice getting clearer.

I'm hissing to Janet to get the car open, stat. She's fumbling with the keys. Phil's the same age as Aaron so she knows the relentlessness of the 10-year old boy.

We get into the car and slam the doors. Aaron's at the door, knocking on the window. "O'Mom! Can I ask you something?!"

"There's your dad!" I screech, "Ask him!"

I'm hissing as Janet under my breath, "Drive! Drive away now!"

Now Jim's in the driveway, getting ready to ask me for something. I sing-song to Aaron through the closed window, "Mommy's leaving! I can't hear you! I can't see you! Go ask Daddy!"

Janet slams the van into reverse, we fly out of the driveway. Now I am no longer hissing under my breath, but out loud, "Let's get out of here."

Yes, I've had my get-away car experience. And it was to flee my child.

I didn't look in the rear view mirror. But I am imagining Aaron running after the van as it spun out down the street. When he finally stops, forlorn because he cannot catch the vehicle, his face is covered in soot from the exhaust and smoke from the tires spinning on the pavement.

I get home four hours later and barely walk through the door when Aaron appears. He's wrapped in his blankets. "O'Mom! Can I ask you something?!"

"You're supposed to be in bed! I'll talk to you in the morning!" I run up the stairs and bolt my door shut. "Good night! I love you!"

Twenty-three days until school starts...

Happy Mothering!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mini Vans, Bowling, Bingo...Oh My!

I swore I would never drive a mini van. I mean I'm way cooler than that! I even joked that I wanted it written into a prenuptial agreement that I would never drive a mini van.

I now drive a mini van. And quite proudly. With vanity plates. It's covered with pro-Obama stickers. I have the magnetic high school logo and a football on it, too.

Driving a mini van became the only logical solution to the ever-growing boys. First, we traded in the Neon when it was just Jeremy and Jermaine. We went everywhere looking for a car that was big enough for them.

Picture us at the car dealer, having the twins sit in the backseat of a car and deciding there and then whether it was the car for us. I finally went on line and found the car with the widest wheel base and largest interior. The Chevy Impala was it. So we got one.

Then we traded in Jim's truck (a Dakota two-door with a back seat). Jermaine joked that it looked like a clown car when the five of us piled out of it.

Final step, a mini van. Again, searched the Internet for large wheel bases and large interiors. I did everything I could to avoid the mini van. I wanted an SUV, any SUV. The mini van won.

Only a few of my friends still gloat.

Three years ago Janet finally wore me down and got me to join her bowling team. I had resisted. Not sure why. Bowling just seemed like the thing not to do...for a cool mom like me.

Although around this time it's becoming clearer...I am not a cool mom!

I am, simply, a mom.

Certainly my kids don't think I'm cool. Jim thinks I'm cool. My friends think I'm OK. I don't care what other moms think.

And so I bowl. And drive to the bowling alley every Tuesday morning in my mini van. With the vanity plates and the bumper stickers. Advertising my sons' high school.

(I've offered them money for the first one to come home with a my-kid-is-an-honor-roll-kid bumper sticker. They asked if one already attached to a bumper would count. I'm not holding my breath.)

Tonight I am going to play bingo. I've begged Jim to stop me if I start talking about square dancing. I'm afraid that's the next step. I'm one shuffle board tournament away from hell!

We're driving to bingo in Janet's mini van. I wonder if she needs some bumper stickers? Maybe we need some good luck trolls...

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chubby Babies

I think one of the most beautiful things is an adorable baby, with the chubby cheeks and chubby legs. (And let's be honest, pretty much all babies are adorable!) The kinds of cheeks and legs that beg to be tickle. This chubbiness fades as they get older and leave the toddler stage. Suddenly they aren't babies any more and you know that because all the chubbiness has smoothed out into a more adult-like body.

Imagine my horror when I've heard mothers exalting their baby's thinness!

At the pool this morning I heard a mother proudly announce, "She only weighs 22 pounds and she's over three years old!"

I have been watching this skinny child running around the pool, wanting to feed her a cookie or some ice cream. I have been watching the mother, formulating my theory of parenting based on the mother's appearance. (That's another posting, though!)

I did double check to see if the mother was horrified that her child only weighed 22 pounds. But she looked proud and was pushing her chest out like mothers do when they announce something their children have done to make them proud.

This isn't the first time I've heard a similar conversation. Last spring, I was surrounded by mother-speak in the pediatric dentist's waiting room. The mother from Nashville, with the quite annoying drawl, was telling a soon-to-deliver mother that her youngest daughter was still wearing her clothes that were size 18 months.

"She's been wearing them for months and isn't gaining any weight at all." Again, she was thrusting her chest forward, waiting for the other mothers to tell her how wonderful she was.

Me? I wanted to start tossing Cheetos into the girl's mouth! I wanted to take her to Dairy Queen!

I'm finding this whole thing frightening. Why would you want skinny babies? Why would you be proud that your baby isn't growing?

Are these kids future bulimics and anorexics? Are they eating disorders in the making?

I do believe as parents it is our responsibility to feed our kids healthy foods. I don't let my kids have unlimited soda or snacks. Fruit, eat all you want. Oreos, there's one pack and when it's gone it's gone. (Since I have raised King and Kong, they don't last very long!) We do dessert on weekends, not every night. When I've been concerned about weight with the kids, I buy fewer snacks, more fruit and vegetables.

Maybe I would think of it differently if I was raising girls. I hope not. I'm pretty sure I would never be concerned that my infant or toddler child was thin enough.

I do believe as parents it is our responsibility to raise good citizens. Does it really matter what you look like on the outside if you're kind-hearted and generous? That's the message I want my kids to take away as adults. I think it would be a wonderful world if more mothers felt this way...

Happy Parenting!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Think My Kids Are Trying to Gaslight Me

Have you ever seen the movie Gaslight? It's old, black and white. A husband tries to drive his wife mad by saying things happen or don't happen. She finally starts questioning her sanity.

Here I am on Day 46 (for those of you who are new, that's the number of days of summer vacation...give or take a few because everything's getting blurry...) and I am convinced my teenagers are trying to drive me mad.

I have discussions with them--OK, I am bitching at them about something!--and they appear to be listening. But they aren't. If they do choose to reply, they do it under their breath. They whisper just loud enough so I can hear it. Then they deny ever saying it.

The other night Jim took Aaron out to play baseball because the twins said Aaron was too little to play hard ball with the big boys. Mere moments after Jim and Aaron walk to the nearby baseball field, they stumble back in the door. Jim's boasting a HUGE bruise on his chin. Aaron hit him with a hit ball. (Jim getting hurt by the big boys is a separate post altogether!)

When the twins come in, I tell them what happened. I point out that Aaron managed to hurt their dad. Jermaine mumbles under his breath, "Yeah, sure."

Jim's telling them he was throwing fast pitches and Aaron was nailing everything. Jermaine whispers once again, "Like you can throw as hard as we do."

Let me explain that the twins' baseball prowess has taken a downward turn since they became track stars. Every time I go to one of their games, I want to groan out loud and yell, "For this I paid $300?!" Instead, I smile and say things to the coaches (Jim's the assistant coach) and other parents, "Boy, they are sure here to have fun!" As there are errors after errors made by the entire team. I wonder if all the parents watching are thinking the same thing!

Seriously, they couldn't have had fun without me paying $300?! There's a ball field a block away. Some of their friends drive. They could be over there every single afternoon playing ball.

But I digress...

After the conversation about baseball and who throws harder, I had to keep questioning myself. Did I really hear Jermaine right? I didn't hear him right. He wouldn't say those things.

Of course he would...he's a teenager.

It hits me the next morning in the shower that I did hear him right. I am not deaf. I am in my 40s...not my 80s. I don't need a hearing aid! I need respect! I heard everything he said.

Unfortunately, I can't smack the crap out of him the next morning! (You don't have to point out that I can't smack him because I can't reach! I already know that!)

The twins do this a lot. In the middle of some conflict, they mutter things. Just low enough so I don't have to respond. Just low enough so I question what I heard. But not loud enough that I can react at that very moment because I am not sure I heard them right!

So my new resolution is to stop doubting myself. I am right. I am the mother! I will react to what I hear. Sure, I'll get it wrong a few times. But for those times I get it out, boys! There's no Gaslight-ing Mama!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Migraines: The Summer Connection

I'm beginning to notice a correlation between the increasing frequency of my migraines and summer vacation! Moms, start tracking yours so we can report on this in some obscure medical journal.

I was migraine-free for quite a long time. If I was a serious record-keeper I would probably find that I had none during the school year. Well, maybe one or two during Christmas break. Unfortunately, the migraines have made a recent reappearance.

Eye throbbing, skull wracking headaches. The kind that can only be cured with bed rest. Or a tropical vacation sans kids!

Yesterday Aaron asks, "what is autopilot?" I carefully explain it, going into some detail. A heart beat after I finish, he says, "what is autopilot?"

Except he never just asks a question. It's always, "Oh Mom, can I ask you something?" (Jim's quite amused that I am so obviously Irish!) I always reply, "You can ask me anything." I miss the days when he asked, "Can I talk to you something?"

Repeat the above scenario hundred times per day. And the migraine begins...

Jeremy and Jermaine are having one heck of a summer. Jeremy is at least attending summer school from 7am till noon each day. I do have to get up to drive him and am not happy about it! Jermaine, however, is sleeping until it's time for track practice and then pretty much gone for the rest of the day. He comes home in time for dinner and then runs right back out. Jeremy follows along when he's done with school.

Yesterday I carefully explain that I had a doctor's appointment today and would need them to watch Aaron. I questioned Jeremy when I dropped him off at practice, making sure he had his phone and would answer it.

Because the Wonder Twins screen my calls! I, who pay the bill with the money that Jim makes! I am screened! They have been warned. They have been threatened. Continue to screen my calls and the phones of the bills that I pay with the money that Jim makes will disappear!

Time's ticking by this afternoon. I start calling the twins one half hour before I need to leave. No answer. I keep calling. I'm calling and calling. Alternating between their phones. Getting more and more angry.

I realize that Aaron has to come with me and the headache worsens slightly. We drive past the school to see if they can be spotted. I call Jim and bitch. Aaron keeps asking, "where are our brothers?" (Aaron is pronoun challenged.)

Headache worsening.

My cell phone goes dead because I keep forgetting to charge it. I get the car charger plugged in and there's a call from Jeremy's phone with an undecipherable voice mail! I call back, demanding to know where they are. Giggle. Giggle. "In front of school."

"Well, start walking because I am on the way to the doctor for the appointment you were to watch Aaron during." So the teenage athletes have to walk! Gasp! It's less that one and a half miles from the school to our house--I know this because buses won't pick up my kids because we fall within the magic one and a hlf mile margin!

I fume. I get through my doctor's appointment with normal blood pressure (I was more than a little concerned I'd be nearing stroke level). I have blood drawn. I buy Aaron a pop from the machine in the lobby because he's obsessed with vending machines. We go to Target to pick up a prescription (I got something to help me sleep; maybe I should have gotten some valium!).

Headache begins to recede.

Except I am with Aaron in a store! I get my prescription and, let me tell you, this little bottle with its magic pills is calling my name! I agree to buy a donut.

"Can I have three donuts? How about a bag of Starbursts instead? Or some skates? You said I could get some skates. Starbucks has donuts."

"Two donuts," I gasp as the headache begins again.

"I want this donut and this one and this one." He's beginning to spin in the Target food department.

"Two donuts."

"OK, I got my donuts! Can we go buy some skates?"

"No skates."

"Those Starbursts look good. I sure would like some candy."


We make it up to the cash register and he tries one more time, "Are you sure I can't get skates today?"


The drive home is made pleasant because Aaron's mouth is full of donuts. If it had been a longer trip I would have sprung for three or maybe even four!

Start dinner. Listen to bickering in the living room. No one offers to help. Create mouth watering dinner: breakfast at night.

We chat about headaches. Guess what, the twins rarely have a headache. Must be because they are too busy giving them to get them!

Now I am writing from bed, hiding from the kids, nursing my migraine.

Thank you, kids!

Summer will end soon!

ps I've confiscated the cell phones. Now how the hell will I know when to pick them up?!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sarah Palin Resigns

I don't want to get into a political discussion about Sarah Palin and her political prowess. I'm sure some of my dear readers are fans. I do, however, want to address a possible reason why she has resigned as governor of Alaska effective at the end of this month.

Sarah's 45 years old. I'm surmising that she's perimenopausal. She is also involved in a position requiring many meetings. Combine these two things alone and she's a woman on the edge.

I'm imagining some conversations she's having with Todd (why do I always think of the Saturday Night Live skit with the Lubner's...poor Mr. Lubner, he was born without a spine!).

She comes home from a long evening meeting. And I know they're long because I was involved in local government (library board) for a short time. The meetings are endless. Often they are repetitive. Seriously, we had some conversations that were word-for-word the same one from the previous month! I'm guessing that serious politics is even more intense.

I like to think Sarah has to take to her bed on these nights like I do. She has a house full of kids, a grand baby, an infant son, a husband who's not around much. Taking to her bed is the obvious conclusion, unless she drinks. Maybe that's what makes your children more bearable at the end of the day!

She's laying in bed with a cool cloth on her forehead. "Todd," she says, "Mr. A. brought up Project A again tonight. It's the fourth fucking month in a row he's brought this up. No one can agree on what should be done. He just won't give up."

"Poor Sarah," says Todd. Maybe he's rubbing her back. But he knows not to say too much because he might get into trouble somehow.

"Ms. B. accused Ms. C. of not doing something right because it wasn't done the way she wanted. If she was so worried about how it got done, she should have chaired the fucking committee. Then she wouldn't have anything to complain about!"

"I know, Sarah," Todd soothes.

"I don't think I can fucking take this anymore, Todd. The kids. You're never here. Two babies in diapers, crying all night. I've been offered a book deal and my own talk show. I should take them. Then I wouldn't have to deal with these morons at these stupid ass meetings. Who invented the meeting? I think it was the devil himself, just to create a little hell on Earth. God knows, nothing productive comes from any board meeting!"

She sits up and starts waving her arms around wildly, "Todd, I was almost vice president of the entire freaking country! Why do I have to worry about Project A and committees? I am cut out for bigger and better things! That's it, I'm resigning. Shit, maybe I'll be president of Russia. Get the boat and take me over there! I'll finish my fucking college degree and show them all! I'll be an oil painter! I'll go on Project Runway or Dancing with the Stars! I'm a star! Dammit, I'm a star!"

I applaud this Sarah! Good for her! I just wish she could have done something to put an end to The Meeting. They should be outlawed. The Surgeon General should declare them a health hazard. The Attorney General should create very stringent rules for meetings: topics can not be repeated verbatim, people not involved in a committee cannot criticize said committee, something productive needs to occur during each meeting beyond discussing your dog's latest medical drama.

Go, Sarah, Go! Go forth and re-invent yourself! Women of a certain age are saluting you!

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Getting Your Kids to Do What You Want

Addendum: I just came across this article...

Yesterday, while watching a television show about notorious females on E!, I started thinking about mothers who can get their kids to do anything. It was the segment on Sante Kimes that got me thinking the most. She's a mother who got her twenty-something year old some to kill and rob for her. When they were finally arrested, the police found 14 notebooks filled with handwritten notes on how to kill one of their victims.

I'm not condoning what they did! But it did make me wonder how she could get her son to do criminal things for her when I can't even get the twins to clean their room! What does she have that I don't?

Seriously, my three boys, in nearly 30 combined years of school, have not filled 14 notebooks with anything. Much less notes on one single subject or plan. I'm not going to count to doodles of manga characters.

I'm reading a book about a mother-daughter bank robbing team (Knockout by Catherine Coulter, pretty good so far). Here's how bank robbing with my sons would go...

Setting: my kitchen table, during dinner...

Me: Tomorrow we're going to ride the bank...
Aaron: Which bank?
Me: The one down the street...
Aaron: Why that one? Why not the other one? What are we going to do after that? How long will it take? Can I get a sucker? Can I have two? Do Jeremy and Jermaine have to come? I don't want to miss Ben Ten...there's a new one coming on...can I tape it?
Me: I don't care.
Aaron: Can we stop at McDonald's on the way? Can I have a shake? Can I have a large shake? Can I have two? Can Jeremy and Jermaine have one?
Me: Shut up! We're going to rob this bank and that's that! (I leave the table, head upstairs, and take to my bed in early evening to recover from the conversation.)

Next day...
Me: Get your brothers up, it's time to go rob the bank...
Aaron: Wake up my brothers? Now?
Me: Yes...
Aaron: Wake up my brothers?
Me: Yes...
Aaron: Where are we going? Can I have a shake? Can I have a large shake? Can I have two? Can Jeremy and Jermaine have one? What are you going to get? You really like that yogurt thingy, you can get that.
Me: Get your brothers.
Finally Jeremy and Jermaine make it downstairs, sometime well after noon.
Me: Who's driving the getaway car?
Jeremy: (shrug)
Jermaine: (shrug)
Me: Fine, we'll work it out when we get there. (drive to the bank)
Me: Jeremy, you drive the getaway car...
Jeremy: I don't have my permit...I lost it...
Me: Damn it, Jeremy! That's the fourth one you've lost. You're paying for it! It's coming out of your allowance! You're going to order it yourself!
Jeremy: (shrug)
Me: Fine...Jermaine you drive...
Jermaine: I don't really want to...I want to go throw the shot and discus (spinning around the parking lot like a 6'5", 280# ballerina)
Aaron: If they don't have to go, I'm not going...can I change the channel? Can I tape this movie that's three-quarters of the way over?
Me: (drive home, go upstairs, take to my bed...)

In my house, it's not even worth planning a trip to the park, much less anything requiring tight planning and plotting! How did Sante Kimes do it? Was she armed and threatening? Was her son scared of her?

Because my kids are a) bigger than me and b) not scared of me in the least. Which would explain why I say, "take out all the trash," get a nod, and find out later nothing was touched. And repeat this same scenario for cleaning the room, vacuuming, get the picture!

I really don't want to rob banks with my kids. But I would like to go to the store to buy clothes for them without the attitude, whining, questioning...

If you have secrets for getting your kids to do things, share them, please!

Happy Fourth,

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Get your mind out of the gutter! (Not that it's an entirely bad place to be...)

Yesterday Kelly and Kelsey came over and we played with our watercolors. It was so energizing. I was buzzed all day and evening. When they left, I kept painting.

I had no goals. Just paint. Playing with the paints, trying to get them to do what I wanted. No intent to sell or gift. Playing for playing's sake.

I've been missing this passion. I used to have it for bead making. After my first bead class I would sit at the torch for hours every day. I couldn't wait to get the torch hooked up every day. I couldn't wait to wake up the next morning to see what was in the kiln.

Recently, that's all been gone. I haven't torched except to teach. I don't get the same energy from making beads. All I feel is disappointment. Disappointment that sales are miserable. That I'm accumulating beads that sit here. I've stopped playing and experimenting.

Aaron and I saw Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (a very fun movie, by the way!) and the message was to do something you love. I got the same message from an art newsletter I get.

And now I am really getting it. I need to stop making beads to sell and concentrate on the simple fun of torching. I need to be excited about my kiln contents. I need to play with my paints.

Just because we're grown ups doesn't mean we can't play. Playing is good. Plus, I'm guessing that passion for something leads to passion for something else, making life more enjoyable all around.

Happy Playing!