Category: Parenting

A Poem For Moms

Bringing back that poem I wrote maybe four years ago, about a day in the life of a mom.  Happy Mother’s Day everyone!:

“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.


It Was A Great Morning And Then Rube Goldberg Showed Up

The other morning, I got up extra early to make the boys a “fun breakfast,” as they like to call it.  Basically, a fun breakfast is anything other than cold cereal or eggs.  It is also anything that requires lots of ingredients, and lots of time.

But, I was happy to do it.  Because these are the kinds of things that make me feel like a good mom.  Plus, I love to bake.  Plus, I promised them a fun breakfast on Monday, and then again on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday, and I failed to deliver.  I served, instead, cold cereal; cold cereal; and toast with fruit, in that order.

Needless to say, I had two very unhappy patrons at my table the last few days.  Stoic faces and grumpy pout-mouths framed in bright blue toothpaste parentheses raised the guilt quotient effectively.

What is it about sad toothpaste mouth on a kid that sends a vice to your heart, each inch of stray crust worth an additional tightening crank?

I owed them pretty big.

So, I’m in the kitchen culling the ingredients for a Blueberry Breakfast Cake — a more “fun”-sounding breakfast I challenge you to find — the sunshine beaming through my moderately clean (!) windows to spray a runway of light along a row of ceramic floor tiles.  A “good mommy” runway, of sorts.  I took measured steps within the light as I paced back-and-forth to grab teaspoons and tablespoons, eggs and flour and cartons of fresh blueberries.

The jazz music streaming through the speakers encouraged a sort of choreographed production out of the whole process.  I moved rhythmically, like a woman on the brand-name side of a split-screen commercial for floor cleaner — I was doing “it” right, and my floor was gonna be all the shinier, or, rather, my breakfast cake all the tastier.

I’m such a mom — the mommy-est, in fact!  [Happy] sigh….

I practically glided toward the pantry on a quest for more white sugar.

I found the bag of sugar — half-full, its top end loosely rolled up into itself (no clip,  no rubber band.  Husband!) — on the top shelf, and made a quick grab for it.

Right as the bag swung over the floor of the pantry — immediately before meeting the added security of my second hand, intent on supporting its heavy bottom and assisting in the carry-over to my food prep area — it slipped from my grasp.

Dropping straight down, the bag hit the edge of the last pantry shelf, which gave it just enough chutzpah to flip over entirely, sending 2.5 million teeny tiny sugar granules flying in all directions.

You know, it’s funny how I react to these kinds of things when I have no audience.

If the husband had been sitting at the table behind me, it is of little doubt I would have launched into a litany of foul language, complete with exaggerated sighing and lots of angry hand gestures.

But I was alone.

And, like the whole “a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it” riddle, I didn’t make a sound.

I just stood there, absorbing the reality of 2.5 million teeny tiny sugar granules all over the floor.

All over the floor, and also inside my wicker basket that corrals bottled waters and juice boxes, inside the many folds of several reusable grocery bags wedged between the wicker drink basket and the wall, and inside the many compartments of my juicer — the one I had to have — that sits, never-used, on the pantry floor to the right of the drink basket.

As I left the scene to fetch a vacuum, I noticed the whole spilling/staring/absorbing 2.5 million sugar granules thing cost me some time.  If I was going to make good on my promise, I’d have to leave the mess for later.  I had to get the cake in the oven now.

Besides, the mess was safely contained inside the pantry, right?  It could easily wait.

I scurried back to the counter, and began to mix and stir.

In my hurry, I accidentally flung maybe an eighth of the flour-baking soda-salt portion on the counter, while aiming instead for the bowl.

Shit.  Well, what’s an “eighth,” really? I reasoned.  Not much.

Add to that another sixteenth, as I failed to snap the speed switch on the standing mixer to its slowest setting, sending a cloud of flour-baking soda-salt into the surrounding atmosphere, quickly settling over top a pile of yet-to-be-filed paperwork left next to the mixer.

Arrrgghhh.

Ready to pour the batter into the pan, I realized I had forgotten to grease it.  I’d need the shortening.

Back to the pantry.

I swung open the pantry doors and took a barefoot step forward into a sandcaslte mound of forgotten sugar.

Oh, come on!  Damn it!

I lifted my foot and strategically lunged to avoid further contact with the mess. In an acrobatic stretch, I reached for the shortening, inconveniently guarded by several large cans of crushed tomatoes. Straining my back, I used my fingertips to coax the cans out of the way, and then tried for the shortening.

Down came the tub of grease with a lid-loosening crash, along with two cans of tomatos, and a box of Raisin Bran to boot.

It now seemed I had a better chance of making breakfast from all that had been spilled on the floor than from what was left coagulating in the mixer.

Racing to the sink, I created a delicious little trail for the Springtime ants that had already begun to make their appearance in our home last week.

Crunch, step, crunch, step, crunch, step.

I flipped forward the the faucet handle and shoved my hands under the running water for a quick clean-up.

The steady stream ricocheted off a pile of dirty dinner plates, sending a geyser spray to soak the counter, pool along the edge, and then drip-drop in polite little splots all over the tops of my feet and the floor.

And now cue the first set of footsteps overhead.

The kids.

I buttered the baking dish, added the batter, and threw the no-longer-“fun”- breakfast into the oven.

Not only was I not feeling like the “mommy-est” of moms anymore, I was actually slightly resenting the kids.

The kids — with their first-world breakfast demands, and their bed head tousled into indignant little spikes of hair, and that toothpaste — do they not have a mirror and a damn towel, for God’s sake?

I was now completely ragey.  Almost nuts.

Which is probably why, in my mad dash for that vacuum, I slammed my shoulder into the door frame that marks the transition of kitchen to living room (where the vacuum, of course, had been sitting like a display piece for the past two days).

F@#!ing stupid door frame!  F@#!in stupid, clumsy shoulder! I screamed in my head.

It was at this point that the jazz music went from zippy morning accompaniment to a gnawingly nerve-rattling blend of various screams and screeches.

Loud, intrusive explosions of sound seemed to punctuate each mishap.

Shoulder slam — TRUMPET BLAST!  Tipping-over vacuum — SAXAPHONE BLAST!  Accidental yank of vacuum cord from electrical socket mid-clean up — ANOTHER TRUMPET BLAST! interspersed with a little Carmen McRae bee-da-ba-da-boop-ing for good measure.

What began as a great morning had quickly devolved into a womp-womp-womp-waaaa, all thanks to that bag of sugar setting off a Rube Goldberg chain of unfortunate events.

Now, of course, no one was there with me in that kitchen.  I had no witness to corroborate my good intentions, my happy mood, my dancing up and down a sunlit runway of light and joy.  No one saw my repeated attempts to regroup after each irritating episode threatened to derail the whole thing.

But now, whistling down the steps came the husband.

As I stood — detachable vacuum hose in one hand, the other hand willing sugar granules out of grocery bag crevasses — the husband rounded the corner to meet my crazed gaze.

“Goooood morning, babe!’ he greeted.

Silence paired with slight shoulder cringe.

“What’s wrong?”

“The f@#!-ing sugar spilled all over the f@#!-ing pantry floor, and I was trying to make this stupid breakfast cake for the kids, who probably won’t even eat it anyway….” I trailed off.

“Baby — relax,” said the husband, foolishly.

As in the story about the Saturday evening drive, I will save the sordid details of what an order to “relax” does to me for another post entirely.  Let’s just say it does nothing at all to assist in its intended effect.

The kids did end up eating the cake, and actually told me they liked it — small victory.

Once everyone had cleared the house, I cleaned up the many messes, trading out the jazz station for AC/DC on the iphone.

My day then continued as usual, though I pondered more than once why the road to Hell really does always seem to be paved with good intentions.

Such is the life of a mom, I suppose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How I Was Feeling On One Random Day In March

I love to write stories.  Love to.  I enjoy putting myself back into some particular moment, and then doing a second walk-through to gather up all the important details and figure out how to arrange them in words that other people will want to read and relate to and enjoy.

Some stories take a lot of effort to get “just right.”  Other stories, well, they sort of write themselves.

I was cleaning out my e-mails (again) the other day, and I came across one of many I sent to J (for those who don’t know, J=BFF).  Every now and then, just to vent, I barf out my every frustration at the keyboard and then hit “Send.”

These aren’t the prettiest of stories; they are quite rough, actually, and often make me look like a mean mommy or a bad wife, or both.

But, these off-the-cuff ramblings are real.  Completely real.

So, I’m going out on a limb again, and am sharing one such message with you, in the interest of “keeping it real.”  The last time I published something not intentionally written for this blog, it was a poem about a day in the life of a mom.  This is most definitely not a poem, but it does sort of touch on what a day in the life of a mom can look like, especially on some random day in March.  Enjoy….

An e-mail I sent to J back in March, when the weather was awful and my kids kept getting sick and I was feeling completely murdery and irritable and bloated:

Hey,

I am still in the T-shirt I wore to bed last night.  I simply added black leggings (one of seven pairs I own).  That counts as dressed, right?

The boys are both home.  [Older son] has been sick with the flu all week; as for [younger son], I finally gave up fighting his protests of “how come [the brother] gets to stay home again?  It’s not FAIR.  He’s an idiot!”

I just love a seven-year-old’s logic and reasoning skills, don’t you?

“FINE!” I shouted.  “Stay (the f#!@) home!”

I didn’t actually say the f#!@ part, but I wanted to.  Badly.  And, I did imply it with my tone and body language while arguing in the foyer at 9:05 this morning (school starts at 9:15, natch).  With one eye on his indignant little face, and the other assessing the dirt and debris taking up residence in ALL FOUR corners of the entrance way, I was at the end of my rope.

I wish it were possible to erase your life and re-draw it without bad attitudes and dirt.  And maybe sketch in some better furniture, too.

[Older son] has been hovering like a ghost in the background of my every move — fifth-day jammies now growing roots into his skin, blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a cape, dark circles under his glassy eyes, and carrying the TV remote from room to room.  He is displaced from one TV-viewing area (“You need to watch that somewhere else.  Mommy can’t clean the bathrooms while listening to that ridiculous Sponge Bob.  Go downstairs, please.”), and then from another (“You need to watch that somewhere else.  Mommy can’t fold the laundry while hearing that ridiculous Scooby Doo.  Go upstairs, please.”).

I am now missing a remote, and have successfully participated in helping him spread his flu germs all over the house.

[Younger son] has claimed a spot on the living room rug (why, why, WHY do they like to hang in the living room of all places?), lying like a dead body, save for the bent elbows and tiny fingers that jab at a 3DS.  His feetie pajamas are covered with dog hair and lint.  He has refused to brush his teeth, and this — paired with [older son’s] eau de ill — has made for some really ripe atmosphere.  It’s like I can actually feel the air — thick and muggy.  And every room — even mine — smells like jungle rot.

The eggs and toast that [older son] requested are lying limp and cold in a bowl (a bowl, as all our plates are dirty) on the kitchen table.  The table is covered with finger print smears — grease, goo, bodily excrements, I’m sure — that can be seen when the dull, depressing March excuse for sunshine hits my dirty window, casting a poorly filtered spotlight on the table’s surface.  So, so, so shudder-inducing.  Outside, it looks like the illustration in a depressing children’s library book, circa 1976.  All pencil sketches and sepia brownish-yellows.

I have eaten two chocolate chip cookies, a handful of macaroons, some Hershey kisses and Starbursts (stolen from the boys’ Valentines stash), and an avocado sandwich, for good measure.  Seven weeks of beauty detox dieting possibly down the drain.  And — I also have a movie theater headache….similar to a too-much-artificial-sweetener headache, but with the addition of that sandbag feeling around my temples.

Bathrooms and laundry are only halfway done.  I look like Hell.  My too-blonde hair does nothing to help my tired, Russet-potato face.  My gut is aching from all the crap I packed into it.

I have spent most of the day (when not riffling through the pantry in search of something else to satisfy this tapeworm I seemed to have developed) screwing around on the Internet.  Here’s what shows up in the Google drop-box:

white window panels with black trim

perez hilton

images of celebrity crow’s feet

natural fiber runner rug

images of Domino magazine table vignettes

By the looks of things (cough, cough, achoo, gurgle, cough), it seems tomorrow’s gonna be more of the same.

Somebody please — HELP ME!  Come wrap me up in a straight jacket and take me to a rubber room!!!

Call when you can.

So, there it is.  One of my real e-mails.  Unfiltered.

See you all back here tomorrow for a quick story about trying to be funny and then having no one laugh.  Ouch.


A Keeper of Snakes and Wolves

A story about how my husband negated the role I had wanted to play as a mother to two boys:

Not too long ago, my husband and two lovely boys cooked up the notion that we should be one of “those” households with a pet snake.

Ahhhh, a snake.

I am not a snake girl.  At all.  I was not particularly fond of this idea. Plus, we already have a dog and several goldfish.  That seemed plenty enough to me.

But, no, we had to have a snake.

“It’ll be good for the boys,” encouraged my husband.  “Boys need a reptile.  I had a snake.  It was AWESOME.”

“Please, mom, please!”  begged the boys.  “PLEASE?!?!”

This seed was planted a few months ago, and each male in my house took turns with the watering can until I grew fresh green buds of weakness and allowed them to drag me up to PetSmart to look at serpents of various sorts.

Younger son — the child who would share his room with our snake — locked eyes with a small California Corn.  This was “the one.”

Admittedly, the snake wasn’t too bad.  Almost cute, in a very strange way.

It looked just like this:

snake
Corn Snake
Image Credit: www.reptilespecialists.com

I decided I might be able to handle it.  Maybe.  And I had time to mentally prepare because my husband wanted to be sure that one of the fish tanks we already owned could be properly converted to a snake hotel; he also wanted to be sure this was not just another whim, but something the boys really did want, and were willing to take care of.  So, we initiated a period of waiting and (for me) psychological adjustment.

Fast forward two months.

My husband felt the boys were in fact ready to handle a snake.  He also insisted the now- empty and thoroughly cleaned fish tank would be perfect for our new pet.  I felt appropriately adjusted to the notion, mostly.

So last Saturday the three men went to pick up a snake.

I was home when they came back with their new purchase.  I walked downstairs to greet them, feeling quite pleased with myself.  I am pretty cool, I thought.  I’m the mom who let her boys get a snake! 

This was a big deal to me, because I sensed it was the turning point at which  I was finally the kind of “mom to two boys” I had always wanted to be, but hadn’t quite mastered:

I hate spiders.

I don’t like camping, or any kind of “roughing it.”

I don’t care much for sports.

I don’t like anything to be dirty or cluttered or unorganized.

(I’m a real barrel of laughs, eh?  I am fun, actually, and I will prove it in future posts. No time now.  Just trust me here).

So…..the snake was my peace offering.  My way to make up for ways I may have fallen short before.  I was actually kind of even looking forward to this new pet now.

“GUESS WHAT WE GOT!” shouted older son, barreling through the door, nearly knocking me back with his excitement.

“A snake!” I said, trying to share in his new found joy.

“Not just a SNAKE,” my younger son piped in, grinning from ear to ear.

Huh, I thought.  What is “not just a snake?” I wondered.

“Momma,” teased husband as he walked up the yard toward our house, holding a shopping bag in one hand and a cardboard carrying case in the other.  “We didn’t get just any old snake…..we got THE snake!”

I suddenly felt uneasy.

“WE GOT A PYTHON!” shouted both boys in unison.

“Wait….what?” I stammered.

All three gentlemen pushed past me, up the stairs and into the younger son’s room, where a fish tank waited, empty, on the dresser.

I stood in the bedroom  doorway, trying to make my presence known.  No one acknowledged me.

“What did you get?” I demanded, hearing the panic rising in my voice.  “Excuse me, hello — what did you get?  What happened to the little Corn Snake?”

“This was on sale” was all my older son offered.

“CHECK IT OUT,” demanded the husband.

Let’s all check it out, shall we?

FP_BallPython_05
A Ball Pyhton: This is not an image of the snake they brought home, but an incredibly accurate representtion of what was pulled from the cardboard box
Image Credit: www.mccarthysboas.com

As the snake was slowly removed from the box, and lowered into his new home, I felt my face flush, and my heart begin to race.

I was a little bit scared, but a lot bit mad.

“[Husband’s name]!” I shouted.  “I thought we agreed on a California Corn.”

“Lauren — it’s fine.  It’s fine,” assured my husband (not very assuringly), as he swatted his big bear paw of a hand back-and-forth, like the motion was going to sweep away whatever pesky little unpleasantness might be coming from my direction.

This was a day for happiness, after all.  A day for celebration.  They didn’t need me ruining it with my attempts at coming to terms with a majorly unfair bait-and-switch at my expense.

Repeated efforts to better understand what having a python would mean to our household were ignored amidst the business of laying wood chips, arranging plastic hiding spot, and affixing the temperature and humidity monitors.

I asked if this snake “constricted.”

I asked how big it would get, and how soon it would get however big.

I asked if this little fish tank with flimsy lid and HOLES where the air pump motor used to fit was a wise choice for a python.

Each question received a garbled, half-assed non-answer in reply.

“Mad” zipped past “anger” and morphed immediately into “irate” as I absorbed the scene.

Clearly, I don’t count here, I thought.

My feelings don’t count.  My opinion doesn’t count.  The fact that I was okay with a California Corn — doesn’t count.

I felt taken advantage of.  I felt like all I was ready and willing and excited to give to my two boys, as a mom formerly afraid of snakes, was completely crapped on.

Now I wasn’t going to get to be the “cool mom.”  I was going to be the mom who ruined this big moment, if I kept it up with the questioning and the hand wringing and the scowling.  If I stopped it now — if I corrected course, regained composure, and simply walked away — then maybe, maybe I could at least neutralize whatever damage I might have already done to my reputation.

And that notion made me even more angry.

The wolf pack mentality of a father and his sons is both a blessing and a curse.  In a culture that seems ever eager to stifle the natural instincts of young boys seeking to develop a sense of autonomy over themselves and their environment, it is important as ever for fathers to lead the way.  Young cubs without their alpha male will get eaten alive.  I get that.  I really do.

But….as they boys get older, I am finding it an increasingly challenging task to stay relevant. I’m still the cookie baker and the play date hostess and the chauffeur, of course.  But sometimes I want in on the other stuff, too.  I’m just not sure how to make it happen.

What becomes of the role of mom, especially when she has sons and not daughters?

Marinating in all that I was feeling at the moment, I continued to watch the scene in the bedroom unfold.  I slowly came to the realization that maybe my role had become that of a zookeeper — responsible for the care and safety of these wolves.

“Alright boys, bring Daddy that roll of tape,” instructed my husband.

Older son reached for the painter’s tape and tossed it to his father.

Painter’s tape.

“Okay, boys, that oughta do it,” concluded husband, who pressed the last pieces of tape across the large hole in the lid.

Yes, I am indeed the zookeeper, responsible for the wolves.  And at times, also responsible for one very large bafoon.*

So, everyone — help.  Am I doing this whole mom-to-boys thing right?  How am I supposed to navigate these rough waters?  Lets feast on that today — the ever evolving — or devolving — role of a mother of sons.

*For the record, my husband has since crafted an appropriate lid for the tank, which was always his intention.  I wrote this when I was still angry.  He is very smart, actually — he is not really a bafoon.   

He is sometimes a gigantic ass, however.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.


If The Robe Fits…

“This was the makings of my boys’ first joint effort in observational humor at my expense.  They know I would never take them to school in my robe.  They’re just laying the bait for each other.”

When my brother and I were younger, we built the crux of our relationship on a shared love of observational humor.  Being that we were just kids, the “observational” part of the equation was limited to our home and anywhere we ended up after time spent in the back seat of a white and orange Pinto.  Being that our home contained our parents, as did the driver’s seat of said orange and white Pinto, the “humor” part of the equation always seemed to require that Mom or Dad unwittingly participate in the punchline.  Sorry Mom and Dad.

We got lots and lots of mileage out of the comings and goings, sayings and doings of our parents.

Lots of mileage.

One thing I particularly remember my brother and I “observing” and “humoring” over, was my mom and her blue robe.  Ahhhh, the blue robe.  Terry cloth.  Hem just above the knee.  Wrap-around with a karate-belt tie.  White piping along the inside edges.  Well-worn and after a while, slightly faded.  In the early and mid-1980’s, that robe was her weekend morning uniform.  It was also her between-outfits stand-in.  If it was evening and Mom had the robe on (she never wore it to bed), we knew a sitter was coming; she was obviously in the process of “getting ready.”

More often than not, though, the robe made its appearance on Saturday or Sunday morning.

My brother and I, sitting at the kitchen table, would lock eyes immediately upon seeing “the robe” come around the corner.  We used mental telepathy and lots of creative body language to lob a series of inside jokes back-and-forth, until one of us would inevitably dissolve into laughter.  You must remember, we were pretty young, so it didn’t take much to get us going:

Frayed terry cloth revealing long, loose ovals of thread?  Funny.

Uneven karate-belt tie, one end long and almost touching an ankle, the other end short, just a stub sticking up from the waist belt?  Funny.

A smudge of toothpaste on the collar? Double-funny.

“Pillow head” and faint sheet marks on forehead — completely “morning robe”-related? Hysterical.

Again, we were young.  It didn’t take much.

Fast-forward roughly 28 years.

Now a parent myself with two boys ages 9 and 7, I am beginning to feel a target developing on my own back.  My boys, their eyes taking in my every move before meeting each other’s knowing gaze, seem to be collecting arrows for their quivers.  Ammo for their arsenal.  Fodder for their own comedy routines.  Someday very, very soon, what I say and how I say it, what I do and how I (foolishly, I’m sure) do it, will perhaps be the one tie that binds them through difficult “tween” years when brothers seem hard pressed to find anything to not shove, punch, and fight over.  At least there’s always good old mom, ready to take one for the team.  There have already been some practice sessions.  Oddly enough, the first one that really stood out to me involved….a robe.

It was a school morning, and I was manning my post in front of the stove, one hand grasping the frying pan handle, one hand wielding a spatula, trying to negotiate some stubborn pancakes from cooked side to raw side.  I remember the heat was too high, and the cakes were stuck.  I was frazzled, as I usually am on school mornings.  When will I ever learn to start the whole “getting ready” process earlier?

My boys were also manning their posts: Each “sitting” in their assigned spot, if sitting may be defined in the loosest of terms possible.  One foot flat on the seat of the chair, one foot flat on the floor — imagine the legs of a marathon runner before the starting shot — their inability to sit properly did not escape my mental checklist of “all things annoying” that morning.

Poor sitting habits, added to the ruined pancakes, added to the lateness of the hour, added to the smell of last night’s dinner rotting on old cold dirty dishes still sitting in the sink, equaled irritability to the nth degree.  Plus, I was now sweating slightly above the lip — I was standing over a hot stove after all — a bit flustered.  I reached in my pocket for a hair band, and wound what was some major bed head into a more contained rat’s nest.  Oh, and I was wearing a heavy terry cloth robe.  I think we can all see where this is going.

Whipping my head around toward the boys, I was prepared to bark orders about eating fast and no goofing around.  But the words halted — I was slightly taken aback by the expression on each child’s face.  They were staring at me.  Like, purposeful staring, the way people do when they are taking in a “scene,” trying to decide what to make of it.  They also looked sort of amused, but in a disgusted way.  Like when you see someone burp the alphabet or turn their eyelids inside out.

Older son was the first to comment.

“Uh, mom?”

“What?” I said, not very patiently

“Uh…..you look kind of.  Um….weird.”

Silence.

Second son pipes up, “Yeah, Mom.  You look weird.  You need some make-up.”

Older son then offers, “No, it’s not that.  I think it’s….well….you look a little sweaty.  Your face is maybe greasy or something.”

Silence.

Older son continues, “Yeah, that’s it.  And your hair is crazy. And, you know, your robe.  Are you taking us to school like that?”

I am now catching on that these are not the ramblings of innocent child-observers just saying what comes to mind.  This was the makings of my boys’ first joint effort in observational humor at my expense.  They know I would never take them to school in my robe.  They’re just laying the bait for each other.

I finally speak up, loudly, and say,”[Older son’s name] you’re being ridiculous.  What do you mean, ‘taking you to school like this?’ Turn around and eat your breakfast.”

Second son, his eyes now glowing with the anticipation of carrying this thing to the hilt, looks at his brother and says, “Her ROBE.  It’s weird.  Look how puffy it is.  Her big fat robe.  Ha, ha, ha.”

Older son, now laughing too, adds, “Yeah, Mom.  That robe is not good.  It looks weird.  You’re kind of freaking us (ahhh, they’re an “us” now, a team formed around a common target) out. ”

“Did you see — she has a coffee stain on her robe,” shouts older son, now in hysterics.

“Where?  Where?  I wanna see….let me see it!” screams younger son.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  Turn around, Mom!  Ha, ha, ha, ha!” laughs everyone — even the pancakes — except for me.

I stand there in my apparently “dumb-looking” robe, with a spatula and a sweaty upper lip.  I turn to catch a glimpse of my mother’s face — the reflection staring back at me on the microwave door.   I am still.  I absorb the shock of the realization…..

Paybacks are Hell.

Okay, moms out there: Have your kids ever “robed” you?  And on the flip side, anyone else take a particular interest (along with siblings) in finding the humor in your parents?  Is it a bonding ritual?  A coping mechanism (like, if we find a way to laugh, then we won’t cry)?  Thoughts?