May 14, 2014

Best day ever.

I stood in the shower, letting the hot water run over my head and down my achy back and weary legs.
The water was hot -- near scalding and barely tolerable -- but I loved it. I inhaled deeply, letting the steam clear my nostrils and fill my lungs.  
"Just a few minutes more and I'll get out, I swear." 

I'd enjoyed at least five minutes of bliss, maybe seven, before I heard by son call for me. I tried to shut him out, closing my eyes and turning my face into the cascading stream.
The 9  year-old was banging on the door, yelling his head off.
"I'm in the shower," I called, stating the obvious. "Can it wait?"
I've heard that line before. I'm no fool. I've had plenty of showers interrupted by so-called "important" things. Like the time the twins saw a TV commercial offering free cell phones. Or the time my daughter barged in, complaining she couldn't find a show she'd recorded in the DVR. Or any number of potty emergencies where I pleaded with the kids to pee, but not flush, and they flushed anyway, instantly turning my water ice cold.
I'm not naive. I wasn't born yesterday. I could tell from his voice this wasn't a real emergency. He sounded excited, not panicked.
He barged in the bathroom, an unidentifiable object cupped gently in his hand.
"It's a mutant Trix," he announced, proudly extending his prize out for me to see.
I peeked out from around the shower curtain and feigned excitement.

"Wow, that's really something," I said, trying not to look too annoyed.
"Yeah, it's crazy," he continued. "I've never seen a Trix cereal nugget this big -- or this weird," he said, drawing out "weird" for dramatic effect.
"Yeah, pretty amazing," I said, retreating back to the warmth of the running water.
He said he couldn't wait to eat it, wondering aloud if it tasted as bizarre as it looked. And just as he headed out of the bathroom, the unthinkable happened:
He dropped it.
"OH NO!" he cried. "It's all fuzzy now!"
The mutant Trix landed on the carpet and was now covered in lint and dog hair. It was tragically inedible.
I worried for a second that he'd begin to cry, but instead, he stoically picked it up with a tissue and headed back downstairs to the kitchen.
Fifteen minutes later, when I finished my shower, I found the boy sitting at the table, studying the mutant Trix.
"It's amazing," he said.
"It sure is," I agreed.
"I wonder if we should call the Guinness World Records people," he wondered.
"Nah, I don't think it's necessary," I countered.
He rested his chin on his arm and studied the soggy, hairy kernel, mesmerized by its sheer freakishness.
"This is the best day ever."
 "Yeah," I agreed. "I guess it is."
Freakish blue Trix cereal nugget, left,
compared to a normal, boring Trix cereal nugget, right.

May 13, 2014

The day after Mother's Day

Around here, Mother's and Father's Day holidays are not regulated to just one day. Hell no, we take the whole weekend.

Every other day is Kids' Day around here, taking one weekend out of the year is not a big deal.

My Mother's Day Weekend was all I hoped it would be. I was served breakfast in bed, treated to a kids-free shopping trip (where I didn't have to try on clothes while trying to keep a three year-old from peeping at others from under the partitions), and I received the most beautiful hand-made cards.

Ahhh. They love me.

Unfortunately, all the weekend's warm fuzzies quickly disappeared at 7 a.m. Monday morning.

I walked into the kitchen and was greeted by stacks of dirty dishes from our Mother's Day cookout the night before.

(A quick aside here... The Apathetic Dad likes to take credit for "making dinner" when he's outside, drinking beer and grilling hamburgers, while leaving me in the kitchen to make the veggies and side dishes and set the table. Gee, thanks honey!)

Anyhow, the dishes were caked with food and the counters were unwiped and gross.

I took a deep sigh, rolled up my sleeves and began the task of cleaning up.

Soon, the two youngest came downstairs and began arguing over the TV. Crying ensued and they appealed to me to intervene.

About this time, one of the teenagers asked me for money.

Where was the love?

At this point, The Apathetic Dad be-bopped into the kitchen. He surveyed the situation and laughed.

"Wow," he said. "Back to reality, eh?"

"Look here, asshole," I snapped. "You're not off the hook. Who did you think was going to clean up this mess? Mother's Day fairies?"

"Leave the dishes," he said, putting his hands on my shoulders. "I'll take care of them today after work."

Um, no.

You cannot leave dirty dishes for more than 24 hours. It's disgusting and wrong.

About this time, my third-grade boy entered the kitchen, holding in his hands a disassembled art project.

"Here you go, Mom," he said. "It's a Mother's Day flower."

He handed me a sheet of paper with a flower outline and a Popsicle stick.

"It's not finished," I pointed out.

"Yeah, I know. My teacher didn't give us enough time to finish."

Now, I know my son. He's the slowest, pokiest kid I've ever seen. Dinner and homework time take FOREVER. I'm certain he had plenty of time, but just didn't finish.

"Well, you have time now," I said. I handed him back the project. "Get the scissors and glue and get going."

"What?! Seriously??" He was pissed.

"Yes," I insisted. "You don't hand your mother a half-finished Mother's Day present. Get to work!"

Seething, the boy sat down and got to work. I finished the kitchen and headed to the bathroom to dry my hair.

A few minutes later, he slid the paper flower under the door without saying a word.

Actual Mother's Day project I forced my son to finish before giving to me.

As the kids left for school and I pulled out of the driveway, headed for work, I had the overwhelming urge to just take off. To keep driving. To go somewhere, anywhere, where nobody knew me, let alone asked me for anything.

Besides, after a morning like that, the prospect of an awful day in a beige cubicle had little appeal.

What would happen if I just kept driving? How far would the gas in my tank take me?

I envisioned driving to a quaint little coastal town, checking into a bed and breakfast, crawling into a soft, downy bed and SLEEPING.

But instead, as if on autopilot, I headed downtown to work.

A girl can dream, can't she?

January 2, 2013

Curing my holiday hangover

The holidays are over. Hallelujah.

Christmas at my house is relegated to a tidy period beginning immediately after Thanksgiving and ending promptly on Jan. 1.

It's about all I can stand.

The season is long enough. We don't need to hear Christmas music while shopping for Halloween costumes and I don't think I can take another week of wading through post-Christmas shrapnel.

Seriously, it looks less like Santa visited and more like he crash landed in my living room.

Enough, I say. Enough!

Last night, Jan. 1, I began the unenviable task of de-Christmasing the house. Now, I don't know about you, but at our place, putting up the tree is a grand occasion. The kids clamor to help unpack ornaments and knick-knacks. They gaily dance around, decorating the tree and hanging tinsel from anything that doesn't move.

Conversely, taking everything down is a lonely, thankless job.

Each year, I pluck the tree clean of ornaments and carefully stow them. My forearms itching from the dried up pine, resentment rising up from my belly.

"Sure," I think. "Everyone wants a party, but nobody sticks around to clean up."

It's a small price to pay, I suppose. Plus, it gives me time to reflect.

Thinking back over the past two weeks, I marvel at the amount of time, energy and cash that go into the holidays. And I marvel at the fact that I survived.

While my bank account took a dip, I'm proud to say we never once pulled out the plastic, despite developing a case of Holiday Millionaire Syndrome -- you know, you get so caught up in the holidays, you mindlessly spend, spend, spend as if money is no object.

Looking at my checkbook balance, I felt immense relief that the January forecast is relatively quiet: No holiday errands. No gifts to buy. No events to host. Hopefully no surprises.


And when I posted a brand new 2013 calendar on the fridge, a calendar free of hand-scratched appointments and to dos, I felt another wave of peace wash over me.

Good bye, December. Good bye, Christmas. Good bye, mountains of holiday chores.

So what's my cure for a holiday hangover? A clean house, a quiet financial forecast and an empty calendar.

If I could bottle it, I'd be rich.

January 1, 2013

2013: The Year of the Mom

Being a mom is a huge part of who I am -- no shit with four kids, yo -- but it's not the only thing that defines me.

And when the blessed day arrives when my last chick flies the coup, I don't want to be sitting here boo-hooing and wondering what to do when the heavy-lifting parenting phase is over.

That's why for 2013, I resolve to do a better job to focus on my needs and interests than I have in the past.

I keep thinking of the pre-flight instructions where they say to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. You have to make sure you're going to be OK before you can even think of caring for someone else. Too many times, in day-to-day life, I find myself tending to everyone else's needs before my own.

Oh sure, I've made empty resolutions in the past to lose weight or begin exercising. I never followed through for more than a week or two because, well you know, LIFE.

This year has to be different. Rather than just stating some random goals, I'm drawing up a plan to achieve them. A real, honest to God disciplined approach to living well.

So come on, fellow moms. Let's get off our asses and start putting our needs first. Without guilt. Without reservation.

When Mama's happy; everyone else is too.

December 31, 2012

Postscript - Enjoy the silence

Know what my husband gave me for Mother's Day last year?

A kid-free outing to shop for a new outfit.

Let that sink in for a moment: For MOTHER'S DAY, my husband gave me an outing WITHOUT THE KIDS.

I know. It's fucking awesome.