Category: Just Trying to Relate

A Day In The Life Of Me, A Mom

An April Fool’s Day idea and a silly poem I wrote about a day in the life of a mom:

Happy April Fool’s Everyone!

Before I get to getting, I wanted to throw out a pretty good April Fool’s Day gag you may be interested in using yourself.  I don’t know your age or stage in life, but if you are decidedly not planning to grow your family right now, this could work for you.

Pick sometime today when you know your husband will be around.  Evening is likely best, after he’s had a long day at work.  Access your family/public computer (we have a desktop in the kitchen that’s always on) and do a Google search using the following keyword phrase: “I think I might be pregnant.”  Now, you have one of two options: Either leave the Google results page in tact, or click on one of the links, opening to an article on “signs and symptoms of pregnancy” or some similar gist.

Minimize the page, and walk away.  Wait.  Husband will find it.

If necessary, prod him along by asking him to look up MapQuest directions for you, or pretend you need help renewing your Norton Security package, or whatever.

I did this two years ago.  It worked.  My husband still talks about it to this day.

I think the beauty of it is in the simplicity.

So, moving on…..today I am sharing a little poem I wrote nearly four years ago.  I crafted it on the fly, when I had had a particularly frustrating day.  I’m pretty sure I sent it off in an e-mail to J, just for laughs.  It was in my Word document files, and I came across it yesterday when I was looking for something else.  Here it is…..some of you, especially those of you home with young children, might be able to relate.

I’ll ask the usual questions on the front-end this time: Why do some of the simplest hiccups in life sometimes seem to be the most frustrating?  How is it that the things I love more than my own life can also be such a huge part of the mind-numbing grind?  Truth be told, re-reading this “poem” leaves sort of a pit in my stomach.  When I wrote it, I remember I was just venting; I thought it was sort of amusing.  Now?  Not so much.  Here it is anyway….

I’ll be back tomorrow with a new post regarding what I like to call “a consistently unfortunate coincidence.”  For now, enjoy my hand at poetry (don’t think I am not completely irritated by the horrific formatting here.  For whatever reason, I cannot make the spacing shake out appropriately.  Oh well, my apologies):

“A Day In the Life of Me, a Mom”

Eyes open to a new day.

Way later than I had hoped to be up.

My joints hurt.

My eyes, wrinkled and puffy

like the raisins on a gingerbread boy.

No time to hit the gym….at least maybe a quick hot shower — NO!

Is that my husband STILL here, in the bathroom

that I had hoped to occupy?

Yes.  Him.  Hairs and all.

Hot water gone.

Damp towel draped lazily over wet shower curtain (it will get mildew that way, I scream in my

head)

I know he forgot to use the Tilex

that I leave hanging on the towel bar.

The usual back-and-forth

Something about no clean underwear.

I just ran 20 loads this week…how can it be?

Kids are up.

There is no escape now.

Make my way downstairs with a bird’s nest for a hairdo.

COFFEE.  PLEASE…..

I wait to take the first sip

until husband leaves for work.

It tastes better that way.

Ahhh….partial sanity.

Younger son has a cold

I listen to him gulp his juice like only

a kid with a cold can do.

Hot breath into glass between sips.

Obligatory “uhh” noise punctuates each swallow.

I escape into the world

of on-line news….it is bleak

Check the decorating blogs and visually

arrange the furniture I cannot yet afford.

A girl can dream….and satiate her desires

at Target.  Instant gratification with quick and cheap

trumps saving and waiting any day.

Here comes the older boy.

I think I had the lady at the Hair Cuttery

have too much of her way with the scissors.

He looks like an escapee

from Jonestown.

Or a matchstick.

Pancakes (that they won’t eat)

Eight glasses of — gulp — o.j. (they will spill at least two of them)

Yogurt drinks (they will fight over who gets the blueberry)

Sigh.

Sigh again.

My house is scaring me.

How do we go through so many dishes?

Collect so many dust bunnies?

Never have clean laundry?

Why did we get a dog?

Why does the mailman never look up when I wave, which I only do because we

always seem to be in the kitchen window when he

arrives?

Why does my husband never have clean underwear?

Make my way to laundry room to remedy the latter

only to find

a Pottery Barn catalog that I must

sift through.

Sigh.

Trip to bank (kids knock over the rope stands).

Change machine is broken. And sticky. And reminds me to worry about

the flu.

Target store equals drapes I don’t need, and a Nerf Gun that younger son will need assistance

with each time he wants to shoot a bullet

and he always wants to shoot

100 bullets a day.

Also plastic Popsicle molds

Undershirts for husband

Zone bars for me

because I still might be on a diet.

Home.

Sigh.

Kids tear through construction paper and tape

as though they were building the

Great Wall of China

And of course the tape was

MINE.  As in, from my little desk.

My little corner of the world where at least some things are sacred

Like having tape in the dispenser when I need it.

The tape is empty now.

All the tips of the crayons are broken.

The silly putty they played with last week

is still stuck on younger son’s chair.

Search in-box for e-mail I have been waiting for

Grad school adviser still has not answered the questions that I need answered

before I decide when to begin this whole

$30,000 process.

I secretly resented having to go back

until now b/c it may not work out and so I realize

that I may have wanted to do this more than I could admit to

my husband.

Dinner equals leftovers b/c Giant is too expensive anymore

To buy food in quantities as if I was a

new wife with new recipes

to feed a new husband who doesn’t care about how much

underwear is in his drawer

Kids take over an hour to eat

half their dinner.

Daddy says they can have a bath

not on your life, husband.  I cannot drag this

day out any longer or have

water all over the floor.

I quickly hose them down while they

still splash water all over my floor.

Younger son puts his lips to my ear

as I hold him, carrying him damp and wrapped in a towel

and it is not a kiss I get, or a special love secret

But a shout. Loud and just

for the fun of it.

My ear rings.

I yell at him.

And set him down on the floor among half his closet

that has apparently barfed toys

All over the floor.

I am done.  I am tired.

I still do not know what I want to be

When I grow up.

At least I have coffee and a best friend

whose husband gives her dumb Wal-Mart roses too.

I think I’ll send this to her.

Then surf the decorating blogs again

for the tenth time today.


Making Faces

A story about making a bad impression in front of important people:

I had made a last-minute decision to go out and buy a new pair of shoes — edgy, near-stiletto ankle boots  — because nothing I owned would quite work with the dress I had picked for the occasion.  It was settled the night before: I would “be” the short black dress with kimono sleeves.  Deep V-neck.  Bare legs, if the weather allowed.  Hair back.  Necklace, no earrings.

So the shoes, found barely one hour before I had to get the kids to my mom’s, barely one hour and change before I would be walking out the door to greet my husband in our driveway — the shoes were important to my character. The version of “me” that I hoped to pull off that evening: quietly confident, effortlessly edgy, with a bit of sexy turned down a few notches to read more like “intriguing.”

Yes, I had put a lot of thought into this.

Husband and I were going to enjoy a rare treat: a Saturday night date AND some socializing with a group of friends, some of who were my husband’s co-workers.  Co-workers who held kind of important positions at his company.  And, we were going to a very nice, and very hip joint downtown, therefore, the whole effortlessly edgy thing was appropriate, in case you raised an eyebrow at the mention of “co-workers” and “important.”  No worries, but thank you all the same.

So, again, yes….I had put a lot of thought into this.

This whole, how-I-must-come-across-just-right thing.

The evening went by much the way I had hoped it would.  Husband and I spent some time at the bar as we waited for our party to arrive.  I enjoyed strong beers with names I couldn’t pronounce, served in voluptuous glasses.  We played hangman on the back of cocktail napkins.  We sat with our knees touching; lots of leaning in and laughing close.  We didn’t talk about the kids.  We were having a really nice time.

Then friends began to arrive.  We took our seats around a large table as most couples broke themselves apart, sitting next to “new” partners and making new conversations.

There was lots of happy banter and gesturing and taking turns being clever, but not too clever.  We ate great food and drank what one might expect on an evening like this.  No one talked about their kids.  We were all having a really nice time.

Amidst this intense energy, I remember taking myself aside, you know, in that way one does when among a large group.  In that “I’m-not-here-I’m just an -observer” detached way you can do usually for just a minute or two before your sub-concious retreats back into wherever it usually hangs.  And in that minute or two of observational clarity, I was able to assess that I was playing the part I had hoped.  I was in my role, and it was working well with everyone else’s role on set.  Okay….we’re good.  This is good.  I’m having a really nice time.

And then, something happened.  I still don’t really know how it happened, but I know that it did because I felt it happen.  Plus, I had my husband’s repeated reminders of it happening: “Babe, you just need to be more aware next time.”

Right after final drinks were brought to our table, someone in the group made some particular comment — a completely benign comment — that struck a chord with me.  Now, I didn’t say “struck a nerve,” I said “struck a chord.”   I wasn’t upset.  At all.  I was more….contemplative….it made me go “huh” (to myself).  And once I go “huh” to myself, that act typically engages a Jacob’s Ladder-like process in my mind, where the one trigger thought leads to a deeper thought that then leads to some other kind of thought, etc.  Usually, within mere minutes, I end up going from something like “my thoughts on vacationing in June versus August” to “I wonder why it is that I never pursued that opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill.”  That’s just an example.  Whatever.

So, apparently, while I thought I was “huh-ing” to myself — quiet and on the sidelines of the conversation, just chewing on this notion, whatever it may have been (I don’t even remember now), everyone was sort of watching me.  The table grew eerily silent.  I wasn’t even aware until my husband touched the side of my arm, leaned into me, and whispered, “What’s wrong?” with a slight sense of urgency.  It actually broke up the thought party I was having.  It startled me.  Something’s wrong?  With who?  I thought, until I realized it was with me.  Something was wrong with me, I guess.  And everyone else thought so too.

Because, while I would have imagined that my quiet contemplative face looked like this:

Image Credit: taylorswiftedu.edublogs.org
Image Credit: taylorswiftedu.edublogs.org

I am told it actually looked more like this:

imagesCA4FCPS1
Image Credit: ejsisme.blogspot.com

(for the record, I look nothing like Taylor Swift or Amy Poehler.  These were just good examples of faces).

I had what most humans would interpret as angry-sour-I’m-pissed-at-someone-sorry-if-you-all-have-to-witness-this face.   To be honest, I did sort of feel a little contorted, facially speaking.  I kind of remember my mouth sort of twisted, my lips pursed together.  I remember feeling the fat under my jawline being slightly squished by my neck becasue I had my head cocked to the side just so.  And, okay, my eyes were probably “squinty” — maybe one eye more squinty than the other one.

I was probably wearing said face for several minutes.

And that’s sort of the last impression most of our dinner companions had of me, that face marking the end of the evening.  Though I quickly offered a broad smile in an effort toward damage control and an assurance that I was just swimmingly happy (I was, though.  I really, really was), it was sort of past the point.  Everyone had pretty much concluded that “Something’s wrong with Lauren.”  Ohhh, she’s pissed — look out.  Glad I won’t be going home with her tonight.  Pshew. Conversation continued — a bit stiffly.  Eyes darted away from me and toward more pleasant-looking people.  Bills were paid.  Coats and purses were gathered up and our group slowly broke apart, heading home.

Well, so much for quite confidence and intrigue.  So much for the dress and the shoes and “the look.”  Actually, I had the look — it just wasn’t “the look” but instead (eyebrows lowered, whispery/judgey voice) the look, tsk.

I have wondered more than once how many couples talked about “the face” during their car ride home.

What the Hell happened?  Did I miss something?

Was she pissed at her husband?

Geeze-o-flip.  Glad I’m not that poor guy.

Well, c’mon — did you see those shoes?  Only psychos wear shoes like that.  I could tell — she’s a little “off.”

I have actually been told that I make a lot of faces.  A lot of faces.  Some are more purposeful, and will be the subject of a future post, I’m sure.

But others are completely unintentional, and scarily enough, beyond my ability to control them.

I usually get asked, at least once during every social gathering I attend: “What’s wrong?  You look….upset….”  99 times out of 100, nothing is wrong at all.  Nothing.

So what’s with the faces?  ‘Cause I sure as Hell don’t know.  Have you ever been accused of thinking or feeling what you most certainly were not thinking or feeling, all because of a few facial muscles moving in unfortunate directions?  Have you ever determined that someone else was thinking or feeling what they likely weren’t, just because of a slightly miscalculated non-verbal?

Share stories if you’re able.  This happened a few years back and it still makes my stomach flip every time.

I need to be more careful….more “aware.”  Advice?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cars Are Like Fishbowls

When I am standing on the sidewalk in my neighborhood, or when I am in a public parking lot fiddling with my keys or waiting for my husband to pull the car up and retrieve me from the front of a restaurant, I can’t help but notice the cars that drive by and the people inside of them.

The passengers have been reduced to mere faces, faces that I know are attached to bodies sitting strapped in seats.  At the mercy of wherever the driver is taking them.  But you can only see them from the neck up — just faces being driven around, these disembodied heads.

I think we all look kind of dumb as faces in windows of moving cars.  Vroooom, vroooom, ziiiiip, vrooooom.  Sometimes when people peel out, the faces jerk back real quick.  Snap.  It’s hard to look cool, or serious, or like you have your life all figured out, when you sit in someone’s passenger seat.

It’s like fish on display in a fishbowl, but worse.

 


Sexy Problems

Cast of thirtysomething....sexy.
Cast of thirtysomething….sexy.
Image Credit: mistercritic.com

I have a theory on one thing that makes marriage really, really hard sometimes.  It’s just one thing — not the thing — and again, it’s just a theory.  I’ll tell you what I think, and you tell me if you agree.  I’d like to call this one thing the false promise of a “sexy problem.”  Let me explain.

Coming of age in the very early ’90s, my formative years were influenced by television more than I care to admit.  The computer of 1990 had so very little to offer the delicate and still-forming synapses of a young mind.  It held no weight.  No water in that well (my, how times have changed).  But the television — well, that was a whole other story.

I still remember the drill: My brother and I, after dinner and homework and showers, would race to the family room at 8:00 sharp, Monday through Thursday, to watch the evening’s “line-up.”  There we would stay on our respective perches — me curled up on the couch among pillows and blankets, my brother stretched out on the rug — absorbing all these messages about what our lives would probably start looking like in a few short years.  If we were to do this whole human existence thing right, it seemed we should be preparing ourselves to jump into an utterly exhilarating fray of drama and angst and sex and hi-jinks just waiting beyond the walls of our little home, beyond the streets in our neighborhood, a bit beyond our current circumstance — somewhere “other,” yet reachable and, apparently, inevitable.  I could hardly wait!

While my brother was likely more interested in the half-hour sitcoms, I was a devotee of the Church of 90210.  Brandon and Brenda.  Kelly and Donna.  Dylan.  Hell, even slightly weird David Silver — these teenagers were it.  The clothes, the cars, the houses, the day-to-day comings and goings punctuated by parties and palm trees and beautiful bodies and great hair.  It was the epitome of cool — I loved to watch it all unfold.

My most favorite scenes, however, were always those that showcased the latest developments in whoever’s dating relationship.  I still vividly remember a particularly “important” exchange between Brenda and Dylan: She, in a chunky, Autumn-at-the-beach sweater and eye-grazing bangs; he, with his sideburns and rolled-up sleeves and scarred left brow.  They sat in his vintage car, parked on the sand in front of a low tide.  They made out against the lyrical backdrop of  REM’s Losing My Religion (oh, the foreshadowing).  She digresses — something to the effect of it all being “too much.”  He brings her close to his chest, trying to calm her fears (he’s so sensitive!), but then pulls away to make an impassioned pitch in favor of eschewing her parents’ wishes and continuing to have taboo sex with him (oh thank God he’s not THAT sensitive — perfect!  And better yet, he WANTS her.  Like, a lot).  She breaks it off anyway.  Fists are slammed into steering wheels.  Tears are shed.  The music swells louder as the scene fades to black.

Well, now, if this was what I could expect of my first real relationship with an almost-man — sex and conflict and tears and kissing and dramatic negotiating and being wanted and being expected “of” and expected “to,” all  moving to the poetry of Michael Stipe — well count me IN.  In like Flynn, baby!  Nothing speaks to a young girl’s heart more than the potential to be smack dab at the center of a series of such sexy problems.

A chunky Autumn-at-the-beach sweater makes a sexy problem sexier!
A chunky Autumn-at-the-beach sweater makes a sexy problem sexier!
Image Credit: brendadylan90210.webs.com

So, 90210 really planted the seed.  And then thirtysomething watered it.

I didn’t watch it often, but every now and then I’d stay up beyond what was appropriate for a school night and take in the first half-hour of thirtysomething.  Couples, all in various stages of commitment, lived out their slice-of-life trials and tribulations in some Philadelphia suburb.  They were all attractive, they were all successful, and the conflict that fueled the movement of the show from beginning to crescendo to end was all — here it was again — sexy.

I especially focused on Hope and Michael, because their marriage seemed the most intact.  They were what I pretty much expected to be one-half of someday.  So I watched them closely, and this is what I learned:

A falling-apart fixer-upper house?  Sexy.

Sure, contractors failed to show when scheduled, drywall cracked and crumbled into their morning Sanka, and bathrooms with leaky pipes and dated tile made evening baths and morning showers harried.  But the chaos always seemed to serve as a vehicle for creating the kind of little “married moments” I was growing to envy:   Cramped quarters in the kitchen?  Why, simply a great excuse for Michael to slide thisclose behind Hope, grazing her neck with his five o’clock shadow, the big of his hand on the small of her back, while making his way to the toaster.  Leaky toilets?  Why, no more than a reason for Michael to be in the bathroom while Hope soaked away in the tub, he checking the flushing mechanism while calling out over his shoulder to contribute (contribute!) to the conversation, while she stretches a very long and very toned leg over the tub’s ledge, preparing to shave.

A near-toddler-aged baby?  Sexy, of course.

Little Janey was little more than a prop, anyway.  When she did demand screen time, it was usually just a writer’s ruse to make Michael have to wait for sex.  And of course, this made him want and appreciate (appreciate!) Hope even more when she came back to bed.  Having just tended to their little one, Hope suddenly became more than a warm and available body — she became a woman that someone else (even if just a baby) needed.  She became someone whose attention and affection, because it could be so easily parsed in two at a moment’s notice, was worth vying for.  Vying for.  Sigh….

Work stress — of the “holy-shit-if-we-lose-this-big-client-we’ll-have-to-close-the-agency” ilk?  You guessed it.  Super, duper sexy. 

I mean, clearly the threat of a layoff always serves to bring couples closer together.  There Hope would be, an anchor of calm and reason, sitting propped against pillows, her freshly scrubbed face betraying not a wrinkle of worry as Michael paced the floor.  Of course, he would eventually pause to look at his wife, which would (again, of course) give him a temporary reprieve from the stress of it all.  And then he’d go to her, and rest his head across her lap, and make some real insightful comment while she stroked his hair.

See -- it's sexy when your husband is stressed out at work!
See — it’s sexy when your husband is stressed out at work!
Image Credit: mynewplaidpants.blogspot.com

So….this notion of being married and facing tough choices and less-than-ideal circumstances was incredibly appealing to me.  I actually preferred to play out perceived rough patches in my future marriage whenever I’d daydream about “someday.”  Because I “knew” how it would all go down:

I, in my chunky Autumn-at-the-beach sweater and eye grazing bangs would, likely in a moment of adorable female angst, say something to only slightly set said future husband off.  Just enough for him to remember how much he actually cares for me once he stopped punching the steering wheel of his vintage car.  We’d spend the next morning negotiating mirror and sink time in our charmingly dilapidated bathroom, him trying to figure ways to get accidentally-on-purpose closer to my neck and the small of my back, me totally knowing it.  Duh.  Later that night, after reasoning through the facts of the matter, we’d together discover — calmly and while each of us sported his pajamas (him in the pants, shirtless, me in the button-down-shirt, pantless — oh, yeah, because he of course has great abs and I have those long, toned legs.  Duh again)  — that no, losing the big client won’t cost you your job, it will just make things a bit “tight” for a while.  But we’ll manage.  I’ll offer to clip coupons and give up lunches out with the girls, and he’ll smile and say that’s not necessary, he’ll give up his gym membership.  And then the baby will cry, disrupting the sex that I probably would have not liked that much because he was going to be selfish about it, but, because of that prop of a baby, I come back to bed to find a contemplative, appreciative man.  Oh yeah, and some Morrissey song is playing all day, while it’s all happening. And end scene.

Okay, so , any of you who are married know that this notion of mine was just a house of cards, waiting for the first breeze to blow and knock it all down.

I have been married for more than 12 years now.  Hurricane gale forces have rendered all 52 cards MIA.

There are no “sexy” problems.  I repeat: no sexy problems.  And with each passing (or lingering) problem I encountered in my marriage’s early years, I grew increasingly aware that I was ill-prepared for the reality of being bound for better or for worse to this one man.  Even his great abs were no match for the leaky pipes and the crying babies; I could not have cared less about those abs when I was jolted awake for the 11-thousandth time in one night by a newborn in dire need.  And no matter how toned my legs (not very, btw), nothing could detract from the wrinkled raisin eyes I was sporting thanks to lack-of-sleep.  I’m sure my husband wasn’t completely enthralled with me either. Oh, and while we’re at it, having been through many a home renovation project, I can assure you that drywall falling out in chunks above your head does NOT make one wish their spouse would slide up close behind them to graze their shoulders with his or her chest.  God, no!  Such unnecessary touching feels remarkably clumsy and completely annoying.  And agitating and murdery.

As for the incredible bone-crushing stress that haunts a house when the husband can’t find peace at work…..oh, that one is particularly bad.  Late nights “discussing” work rarely happen, as real-life husband is not as communicative as fake-life husband.  There is no head-resting or hair-stroking as real-life husband prefers to swallow his stress like a jagged pill and go to sleep stoic and quiet, leaving real-life me to lie awake listening to the crickets and the frogs outside my window, staring ahead into the darkness wondering how long before the days inside our home will return to a normal cadence.  Blinking back tears at the thought of my babies being at the mercy of our adult situation that was not meticulously scripted by a professional writer who knows that it all will end well by the end of the season.  No, there are no professional writers here.  No actors or producers or good lighting guys who can make things look sexy even when they aren’t supposed to be.  This is real, real, alarmingly real life.  And nothing can really prepare you for it, especially if you got most of your expectations for “how things go” from tv (or from books or movies or fleeting glimpses into only the good parts of other people’s lives).  Yikes.

So, what do you think?  Are we unwittingly corrupted by false notions fed to us by media or other sources?  Do we expect things we shouldn’t?  Are we using a faulty compass?  How does this happen?  Are women more susceptible to this than men?

Oh and for the record, and for a return to a little levity, even Michael Steadman couldn’t stay sexy:

Ken Olin, aka Michael Steadman, today.
Ken Olin, aka Michael Steadman, today.
Image Credit: misstlc.blogspot.com

Ouch.