Forget homecoming-COME HOME

“Creative ways to ask a girl to homecoming” read the text in the search box when I sat down to use my son’s computer a few nights ago. Image after image of creativeness filled the screen. I looked at a few and was amazed at both the creativity and the abundance of ideas that were shown. Talk about pressure. Like asking a girl out for the first time wasn’t hard enough. Like asking out a girl when they are all taller than you are isn’t hard enough. Now you had to coordinate the entire student body doing a flash mob when the girl of your dreams walked into the cafeteria or rent a billboard or buy several hundred t-shirts and ask the entire student body to wear one…all to ask for a date. It made my heart happy that my sweet boy was trying to do something so far out of his comfort zone but it also made me sad at the pressure he must be feeling.

I didn’t say anything—hard to believe isn’t it? A few days later he said something about wanting to ask a gymnast to homecoming. After reminding myself that this was a first date, nothing to get alarmed about, I asked who and how and where…no need to ask the why. In the incredibly detailed way only an 14 year old boy can communicate he said he planned to ask somebody that knew her for pictures of her doing gymnastic stuff like flipping around and vaguely mentioned ‘I would flip if you would go to homecoming with me.’ I kept it light and told him to let me know if he needed any help. I refrained from adding “like help formulating an actual plan”.

When he didn’t mention it again (and my tongue hurt from biting it so much to keep from mentioning it) I eventually casually asked if he was going to homecoming. He grumbled and mumbled something about it only being a grind fest and that he didn’t want any part of it. After getting him to explain what he thought a grind fest (he knew), I paused. Was I really about to encourage my 14 year old son to attend what he referred to as a grind fest? I was. I reminded him that he had 4 homecomings. Four. That’s it. I encouraged him to go. As he walked away with slumped shoulders I kicked myself. His dejection probably meant he had asked and was denied or that he was too afraid to ask a girl. I took that opportunity to tell him that I never had a date to homecoming and that I had to go with my friend, Kathy Gooch. Yeah, he didn’t understand my point either.

A few days later by a miracle of logistics I had him alone in the car. I asked, again very casually, about his plans to ask someone. Sullenly he repeated that he wasn’t going. I threw out a few girls names that I knew he was friends with and wondered aloud if he wanted to ask one of them to go ‘as friends’. No response. Guess taking a friend to a grindfest isn’t what he had in mind. My son LOVES the ladies and the ladies love him right back. Unfortunately he loves, loves them and they love him like they would a big stuffed animal-cuddly and cute and something to make them smile. They don’t take him seriously. I sensed he had gotten his heart hurt. Despite my nature to cross examine I let it go. Despite my nature to try and fix things that are broken I did nothing. There was nothing I could do but silently hurt for him.

As only teenagers can do he rapidly changed his mind the next day. Out of the blue he announced that he was going to the dance. Stag. A friend of his, his best friend, didn’t have a date either and they were both going just to hang out. WAHOO. I wanted him to have a high school experience. I jumped into action. In a week full of multiple evening practices and days filled with long to-do list there was literally and hour and a half in which I could shop before the dance. I was a mom on a mission. I had time for 2 stores and money for only the basics. My goal– to make him look like a trendy BA who was confident and smooth who would stroll into the gym like he owned the place. Lofty goal for 1.5 hours and a tight budget. His goal(s)-they were extensive. Can’t be too preppy ‘cause the preps are D-bags. Pause: mommy moment. First of all I carefully explained what a d-bag was the first time he used this lovely phrase and told him if he was going to use it he was damned sure going to know what it meant. Second-one of the bullies that caused him immortal hell in 8th grade is in this group. I am willing to forgive this particular slur this time due to extenuating circumstances. Next-it couldn’t be black because that is goth. It couldn’t be too churchy or too flashy. It couldn’t be….I interjected at this point. “Geez dude I don’t think they make dressy athletic shorts and t-shirts. We might have to branch out a little.”

Through text messages and sheer miracles we managed to put together something that he likes. Whew.
Homecoming-game-eve there was a bonfire. He decides to go. I take him up to the school. He’s always been a talker but the amount of words that came out of that boy’s mouth in the 5 mile ride was record breaking. At one point I glanced over to see if he was blue from lack of oxygen and he was clenching and unclenching his hands. OH MY GOD he was nervous and scared. I about wrecked the car. I about turned around. I about reached over and hugged him. I about cried. Luckily, I did none of those. I just asked if he was nervous. “Nervous?” he scoffed, “it’s a bonfire mom, what is there to be nervous about?” his shaking voice gave him away.

The high school parking lot is bigger than most malls lots. I am intimidated just getting INTO the school. Getting my nervous boy to the right place so he doesn’t look like a freshman goober takes my fretting to a whole ‘nother level. I fretted about where to go until he pointed out the large, red FIRETRUCK positioned next to the pile of pallets. Guess that answered that question. Trying to respect his need for coolness I drove to what I thought would be a discreet drop off place. Too bad I didn’t notice the gaggle of cheerleader’s right beside the lot before I pulled in. Opps. I pulled up so that he wasn’t getting out right in the middle of them. He sat there. I sat there. “Where are you going? Do you want me to drive you around until you see someone you know?” He pointed to a small group of girls, “I know them. I’ll go hang out with them.” Just as he said it a pick-up truck loaded down with what appeared to be the entire football team pulled up. Stocky-beefy jocks jumped out and descended on the little group of girls. “It’s the football team!” I said perhaps a bit too cheerfully. He eyed me, “Football players don’t exactly like swimmers, mom.” I knew that already-hence the extreme level of forced cheerfulness. He opened the door to get out. “Where are you going?” I asked, perhaps a bit too frantically. “Geez mom, you are more worried about this than I am. I am going to be fine. I am going right over there. It will be fine mom.” He closes the door and makes his way to the group.

Immediately one of the boys throws an empty coke bottle at him. In play or in rudeness? I didn’t know but there was no way in hell I was pulling away until I figured it out. They do not want me getting out of this car if they are being men to my man. My little guy with his hat backwards, his cargo shorts and his red tennis shoes stops and nonchalantly picked up the bottle. He then continues toward the group. “GO momma GO,” said my cranky toddler from the back. “Not until I make sure bubba is okay,” I answer. I guess it’s a good thing I had to answer her since I had been holding my breath this entire time. She looks out the window and says, “he fine” and urged me to go. Having not been to high school she had no idea of the panicked, nerve racking, terror inducing flashbacks I was experiencing. I waited.

Pretending to be using my phone, I cut my eyes to watch as he joined the group. I resisted the urge to roll down the windows to hear what was happening. “He fine Momma. He fine,” said his biggest fan from the back. As I spied I saw him strike a funny pose making one of the girls laugh. The boys didn’t seem to be paying him any mind. Did that bother him? I wondered. Seeing no signs of violence or direct shunning of my sweet fella I finally got the car into gear and drove slowly away. I am lucky I didn’t hit some teen since I had my eyes in the rearview mirror the entire time.

That was the bon-fire—the pre-event. He’s still got the game and the dance to attend. If I overreacted to the bonfire how in the world am I going to survive his going to the game and then going, alone, to the dance? As much as I want to I can’t tell him to forget homecoming and just come home…can I?
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Faux Paus

Walking down the major street to get to my office this morning I had a sudden thought…let me back up a bit…crazy morning.

Big girl wanted chicken biscuits this morning. Little girl did not want to get up and big boy-well-he’s just learned to lay low and out of our way in the mornings. I made the biscuits (I wish I could let you think I sifted flour and kneaded dough but I can’t. I opened a bag of frozen biscuits and frozen chicken patties and put them on a pan. I DID pre-heat the oven!) I was so busy patting myself on the back for sending my beloved’s out the door with a nice, warm breakfast in their bellies that I forgot to get myself ready.

Once I realized the time I grabbed some clothes, literally, jumped into them and buttoned and tucked as I was heading to the door. Along the way I had to stop and pick up baby girl who had sprawled out in the floor way, thumb in her mouth, and had promptly fallen back asleep. We were partway to the car when she realized she’d left her chicken biscuit on the table. No way was I letting a warm breakfast go to waste. We tromped back inside, gathered the breakfast, found a baggy and packed it up. While in there I remembered that I had prepared a crock pot full of pork loin that I hadn’t turned on so I tackled that task quickly. Threw together a quick lunch of leftovers and prepared to head BACK out the door. Baby girl had resumed her position on the floor with her thumb in her mouth. This time she was lying on the chicken biscuit. Nice. I gathered her, my lunch, my purse and my calendar up in one arm while grabbing her homework with the other. This time we made it all the way to the car.

Our little segue cost valuable time. Needless to say we missed the window for the teacher grabbing the pre-K child from the car. I had to park and walk her in. She didn’t appreciate being woken again so she went ahead and melted down right there in front of the day care’s glass fronted office. Epic meltdown. Went limp when I tried to get her from the car, squished her already squashed chicken biscuit in her chubby hands and did the whole arms crossed, lip out pouting posture. As there was an audience I admonished her ‘poor choices’ and attempted to gently pull her from the car. She’s a lug and when she’s limp there is no gently pulling this child anywhere. Out of the car door she and the seat toppled to the ground in spectacular fashion. As I am righting that particular wrong she takes her ‘homework’ and crumples it into a ball and hurls it away from us. Now…you are free to silently judge my parenting skills here. I myself was questioning my abilities right about this point. Again, there was an audience, so I grabbed her hand a little firmly and proceeded to lecture her on being rude and making poor choices all the way inside the school. I did this loudly so there was no question that this was acceptable. We made it to her classroom where I made no direct eye contact with anyone. I placed the crumpled ball of paper in front of the teacher, wished her luck and tried to head out the door. Since we were out of the normal routine my girl was all a tither. She attached herself to my leg and starting wailing. EGAD. After some creative finagling and disentangling I sprinted to the door and got out of there.

So…back to my sudden thought. I am hustling down a 5 lane street trying to get to my office when it dawns on me- I have on dark teal underwear. Not just any dark teal undies–large, blousy undies leftover from my maternity days. (hey—they are comfortable!) I am also wearing very pale yellow pants. Pale… Pale, thin yellow pants. Do you see my dilemma? At this point about 15 others do. There is the group at the bus stop that I have to walk through, the line of cars stopped at the light that I have to walk by and the nice, precious young man who is probably here for his physician screening that holds the door open for me…they all see-LITERALLY see my dilemma. I don’t have a shoulder bag so I can’t scoot that behind me to cover my mistake. It’s not cold enough for a jacket. I’ve got nothing; nothing but thin, pale yellow, snug pants and dark, blousy undies which are probably hanging out of the waistband of my trendy, low riding, pale yellow pants.

Despite my humiliation I had to chuckle. Leave it to me, the fashion queen that I am, to make such a mistake. I was already a bit embarrassed to be donning yellow pants during the fall but a) they fit b) they were hanging there and c) it was better work attire than my orange-chenille-mangy-robe. Perhaps I should have taken a bit more time to think this through.

Isn’t it funny- we go through our days keeping our unmentionables hidden from the world. We cover up our structure and only allow the world to see the outside. The side we’ve made presentable for the public. On the inside we are still wearing the same tired, strung out, misshapen self that we don’t think the world would approve of. And yet today I made the poor choice to let the world see what the unmentionables. And the choice is wrong. The underneath that I’ve put out there for the world, even unintentionally, is a faux paus. Welcome to my world. I tend to brazenly go where no one dares go but I typically do so wearing droopy, mismatched socks or tights in lieu of leggings. I am a hot mess. It’s a bit like Facebook. If you just looked at everyone’s post you would see perfect lives, happy families, picture-perfect houses and engaging hobbies. That’s the outside. Pull back a little bit and you’ll see the junk in the corner that was cropped out of the shot. The posts are presentable, the moments before the post, eh, not so much. The inside of our lives isn’t so pretty and perfect. The inside, for most of us, is wrinkled and worn and a bit tattered…like my teal undies.

I’ll be doing a lot of sitting today.

Words

Remember chanting…’sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. This was usually followed by sticking your tongue out at whoever caused you to sing the singsong chant. Remember those days? We were taught to do that against the bully that was making fun of our braces. Some adult told us that if we believed that words didn’t hurt then it wouldn’t matter if you were called you 4 eyes or fatty-fatty-2X4. And because adults told us that, we were supposed to believe it. When ‘sticks and stones’ didn’t work we tried another tactic…’I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to YOU.’

Another lie of adulthood, I guess. Santa, the tooth fairy, things are fair and everyone gets a trophy….the ever growing list of untruths that we believed as children that we, as adults, learn aren’t true.

Words do hurt. Words like: divorce, custody, foreclosure, overdrawn, death…those hurt. Bad. Other words hurt too: you lose, I want my daddy, broken home, failed and budget. There are words that hurt someone every day: fat, ugly, lonely, depressed, broke, sick, pain. Words do hurt. In fact, as children, we had it backwards. Sticks and stones may break our bones but those heal. Words hurt our hearts and break our spirit and those are not so easily fixed.

We need to talk…
I have to tell you something…
don’t get mad…
Why?
I didn’t make the team, she said no or it wasn’t first place.
It’s okay…(when clearly it’s not).
I am sorry but…
We hate to do this…
It can’t be fixed…
Good-bye…

We’ve all had conversations that started with one of the above and I guarantee that the words that followed hurt. If they didn’t hurt -they stung. And they hurt every day for a long, long while. Despite what we were told as children the truth is that words can and do hurt.

There are words meant to soothe, meant to heal but there really is no salve for the damage words do. I am sorry, it’s me-not you, my mistake or it’s for the best; none of those makes things better or easier or hurt less. I am trying to teach my 11-year-old that her cutting wit doesn’t sting less when she adds I was joking after saying something that zings. Something like, “That doesn’t make you look as fat as you used to…just kidding.”

Words hurt. Whether they are meant to or not. Innocent words used in the wrong way at the wrong time are just as ugly and agonizing as hard, sharp words that were deliberately chosen to inflict pain. There are people who mean for their words to hurt. They don’t care. They don’t mind that insults and taunts become the only voices we hear in our own minds after a while. I don’t know why. I don’t understand how someone can look at another person and willingly chose to say something derogatory or hurtful. But it happens. Such things happen every day.

Then there are those that aren’t meant to hurt you but they do. When someone doesn’t say the right words—it can hurt. When someone doesn’t do what they said they would do—that hurts too. Empty words, empty promises and hollow answers leave marks. Words like I do, I will, I promise, trust me, don’t worry are Jekyll and Hyde words. Loving and kind and wanted when meant, ugly and mean and damaging when they become untrue.

I’ve hurt people with words-some
mistakenly and a few intentionally. I know the power if words. I’ve been hurt by words too-both mistakenly and intentionally. There have been times when I’ve said what i meant but it was heard differently then intended. I’ve eaten more then my share of words. I’ve also choked on a few. I haven’t always understood the power words yield. The older I get the more I understand. Sticks and stones may break my bones but it’s the words that really hurt me.

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What is brave?

Tonight my super-shy-4-yr-old hemorrhoid had her 3rd tee ball practice. The first had been okay. She actually took the field after only 1 meltdown. The next practice didn’t go so well. She almost didn’t even take the field. Eventually she did. It was ugly and snotty and but she did it.

I started working yesterday on today. I talked about being brave and explained that you couldn’t let being afraid stop you from doing things you really wanted to do. She listened. I talked and talked about being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid it means that you do the thing you are scared of despite being a little afraid. I asked what she was afraid of. She answered that she was afraid we would leave her. Separation anxiety-especially right now-is a very, very real thing. I couldn’t tell her not to feel that way so I just assured her that we would never, ever leave her and that she had to find a way to believe that. “Be brave baby.”

So my girl took to the field. Little Babe nailed the same little dude in the chest twice during pitch and catch warm-ups. Bless his heart because the girl can throw! She ran the bases and even-be still my heart-raised her hand when the coach asked if there was anyone who hasn’t hit yet. That alone was an enormous act of bravery for her. After practice she came charging up to me and jubilantly said, “Momma I did it! I so brave!” I hugged her sweat little body and agreed with her. She was so proud if herself for being brave.

Tonight I am back in the aluminum bleachers where I spent 13 hours on Saturday. Long, long hours watching my girl-how can I put this delicately-SUCK. Armed with a new bat she was sure this was the tournament that she would earn her spot. Instead, she solidified her spot on the bench.

At 9:30p or so the coach came to say that our last game would be “about 11″. And it wasn’t the championship game we were playing in. Some (most) parents groaned and voted to go home. Our girls wanted to play! Despite having lost 3 games badly they wanted to play. We were playing against some kick A– teams so humiliation at midnight was a strong possibility. They still wanted to play. Pretty brave in my mind. They were beat up and bruised and battered but they wanted to play. Brave.

And here she is back here tonight-working hard. She’s giggly and happy and giving it her all. That’s brave. She could have asked me not to come. She could have claimed being tired or sore or having homework. She didn’t. Brave in my mind.

What is brave?
Brave
adjective, braver, bravest.
possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.

So I stopped to think about that a bit. Brave isn’t always big and bold and grand and heroic. Sometimes brave isn’t noticeable to anyone but the person quietly doing something they are afraid of. People do brave things every day. When I read the definition I realized that I have done some brave things..

Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s public and grand at times, it’s quiet and unnoticed at others but one is no less brave then the next.

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I am brave and I am raising brave daughters. That makes me happy. That makes me proud. What they don’t realize is that they are teaching me to be brave too. I am learning as much from them as they are from me.

Outside In

I spent the entire day feeling I was on the outside looking in. It was a self induced feeling-there was no one action that made me feel that way. It was more like a series of things.

My day started training people who didn’t want to learn about what I was training on. I was the only one pumped and excited. In all fairness, I was the only one who knew what the heck to do. I was the outsider. It was my second day as such. Putting on a brave and positive front in a tension filled room where you are a perceived enemy is draining. I have a wise friend who used to periodically e-mail {{head on desk}} throughout the day. That was exactly how I felt.

Mid-morning I was delighted that an impromptu lunch of my favorite non-related people. I moved mountains to get there. To be sure I was there I even had friends ready to kidnap me away from my desk. We sauntered out into the sunshine. The conversation started with barbies. And I had nothing to say. It was like I was on the outside looking in on this normal, random, girly conversation. The conversation didn’t exclude me it just WAS WHAT IT WAS.

At the table I sat at the end and watched the conversations swirl around me. And I sat on the outside and looked in. There were very engaging conversations from all around the table and I could have jumped into any one of them but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I made a few feeble attempts but they weren’t successful.

Finally I was asked a direct question, which I answered, but even that was not quite right. My tone seemed wonky, my timing off and my connection to the asker was staticky. It was like trying to answer a natives question in a language you just learned the day before.

Back at work I had to apologize for misunderstanding something I thought I understood. It was simple and not a big deal-no drama-but on a day where I already felt outside of it all it felt like a big deal. Reality? “Oh this is how you do this, I thought you wanted to know how to do that.” See? Easy. Yet I left feeling, because of my mindset, outside of my small team.

I was late -OF COURSE-to tee ball despite promising myself I would be there when it started. I was rushing and angry at myself when I got the message that she was melting down and wouldn’t play. They were leaving. They were there and I was in the car. They were dealing with big-life-emotional stuff and I was driving trying to get there. Outside of the place I needed to be.

From my synced phone I talked to my scared girl. She’s crying and I am yelling to the ceiling of the car because all calls are automatically routed through the radio, “be brave baby be brave”. It felt like I was outside the moment. Even physically. “Don’t leave, don’t leave, I am coming as fast as I can-I swear.” I was shouting as I weaved in and out of cars.

And I did get there. I ran as fast as I could (which isn’t fast at all) to the fence. (This was my 2nd experience running across this field at my version if a breakneck pace. Great impression I am making.) My girl was on the field at the tee. She was weepy and nervous but she was out there. She was inside the fence and I was outside. We were both where we were supposed to be. Yet it somehow felt like I was disjointed from her. I stood behind the fence while she slowly acclimated and joined her team. She was finally part of the group and I was outside looking in as she got braver and braver.

After practice it was time to go home. She came unglued. The issue-she was riding with me but wanted to ride with her daddy. She was emotionally drained and raw and it wasn’t personal. Transitions are hard and we’d done this before. It was loud and embarrassing and sad all at the same time. And I was outside of where I wanted to be. I wanted her to be happy to see me and eager to tell me about school and her practice. That wasn’t happening in this moment. I waited. She had to work this out herself. I couldn’t help her as she worked through it. So I waited. I was outside her heartbreaking moment.

It wasn’t long before she calmed down. The moment moved on and I got to hear about her day and her bravery and her batman tattoo from the treasure box. She cheerily sang her body part song and chatted happily. It’s what I wanted but I was disengaged from it. I answered at the right time and in the appropriate mommy voice but I felt like an outsider.

The ordeal had bothered her daddy. I texted and assured him she was fine.
There was a brief conversation about what had occurred. I was an outsider to his life now though so my advice and sympathy was limited to what I could offer from my role outside his world.

Just an odd day. I apologized to my friends. I ate at the table and made conversation with my daughters. I made sure to be present. I am about to tuck them all in for the night. Yet I still feel like I’ve spent all day looking in from the outside.

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Outside looking in…that’s how I spent the day.

FALLing Apart

‘Tis the season…the pumpkin season that is.

Yesterday I saw a post where Pumpkin Oreos were in the stores. My fall attitude kicked into gear. I had visions of pumpkins dancing in my head as I skipped out of work into the low humidity, fall fresh day. I could literally taste the Pumpkin Latte and feel the tart, crisp bite of an apple picked right from the tree. I could hear the leaves crackling under my feet and sense the warmth offered by a bon-fire or a nice hoodie sweatshirt. It was intoxicating.

Then, with the force of a Mack truck careening down a mountain road with no brakes, it hit me. I loved fall because….fall was my favorite time of year because…looking at pumpkins reminded me of my wedding day, my wedding pictures and of finding that perfect golden leaved tree under which to say, “I do.” Fall was Boston and New England. Fall was anniversaries and promised trips. Fall was apple picking. Fall was tucking cold feet under warm legs. Fall meant that hot chocolate nights and scrabble games in front of the fire were just around the corner. But that was then and this is now and what fall used to be is no more.

I didn’t feel intoxicated any longer. I felt hung over. Emotional hang-overs are as bad as the real ones. The air slipped from my lungs in a big UMPH. My purse slipped from my shoulder as my shoulders slumped. I shuffled to the car. I epitomized dejection.

Luckily my other job, my home job was WAY too busy to be dwell on fall delights or the lack thereof. Left work late, I rushed home (late), took the boy and the separation-anxiety-riddled wee one and rushed right back out so I could get him to swimming. From there I went home..in a tizzy. I proceeded to make dinner for 2 nights. (Make is a stretch…I opened jars and boiled noodles and doused with cheese before baking.) I then put way bags and bags of pre-cooked, cubed chicken for later this winter. Dinner was baking so I sat down and started making some bows. Toilet broke so I fixed that. Re-dressed the toddler who broke commode. I then ate (yes, I washed my hands). Back to the bows. Remembering a coupon that expired the next day I rushed upstairs to use THE COMPUTER to create a Christmas gift that is no longer a surprise since we have only 3 main rooms in our tiny abode. I had to detour and step over the young child who had reached her melt down stage. Rectified her drama or at least tried. Headed back upstairs where I surprisingly conquered 2 technical issues with minimal cussing. Started itching up there and discovered fleas. Fretted over said fleas; which, led me to change sheets in an attempt to ward off the worst of those varmints. Laid out clothes for little sassy. From there, I proceeded to have a quick fight with big sassy pants. Demanded everyone go to sleep. Headed back downstairs where I discovered by own sheets still in the washer and my back up sheets in the hamper in front of the dryer. Sigh, this meant I had to dry sheets in order to sleep. While the dryer was doing its thing I made lunch for the next day, straightened up the kitchen and sat down to make a few more bows. I couldn’t make any bows because play-doh paraphernalia had invaded my work space. Handled that. THEN I could go back to my bow. Dryer dinged, put sheets on my bed and laid down. DING. E-mail. Slight technical issue with my order. Fix that. Back to the bed. ( I swear I wanted to do all that in a run on sentence just to illustrate how I felt all night. I did hold my breath as I re-read it. That was about the same effect. Re-read it and try it.)

It was the settling down that did me in.
My maple leaf hand soap triggered (see I told you I washed my hands) another ‘it’s fall’ moment. Now I am sad and tired and worn out. The weekends activity, the scheduling from hell the day before and now this day and left me acutely aware that I was one person in a world meant to be orchestrated by two. There was no more divide and conquer. There was just a divide which left me to conquer. You don’t think so much about that when you are doing it….it’s when you slowdown that all the doing catches up with you. I didn’t do anything heroic or out of the ordinary this day. That’s the part that scared me. This was a normal day.

When going through a divorce, lots of things make you sad. You are sad at failing at something. You are hurt/angry/mad/confused most of the time and mostly all at once. It’s expected to miss the big things like companionship and parenting help and, well love. You know you’ll miss your love and being in love. You know that will happen. It’s the little things that trip me up the most. The memories invoked by all the tale-tell signs of Fall. I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t expect that silly things like pumpkin and fall smells would no longer be magic. I didn’t know that buying those pumpkin spice M&M’s or that maple frosting would literally hurt.

While contemplating all that I realized that there were other little things that I missed. I missed having someone on the other side of the bed when I was making it so I didn’t have to run around like I was participating in a Chinese fire-drill at a red light while in a VW bug. I missed having a distraction for the nosy little monsters I live with while using the computer to create something that I hoped would make them smile. I missed having a fall trip, talking about a fall trip and actually going to somewhere with crisp air, fall colors and new foods. I missed tag teaming pick-ups and drop-offs. Oh how I missed someone touching the meat because I hate dealing with meat. Hate. I miss asking about someone’s day or being asked about mine when the house finally quiets down. I miss flopping around on the bed when I can’t sleep until the other person mumbled, “Can’t sleep?” to which I would say, “Oh…you’re up…” and proceed to start chatting. I miss hearing and having idle chit-chat. I miss planning out the weekend on Tuesday because there is so much to get done in the days in-between.

As these things tend to do a spiral of pity-party-type-whining began. I miss my funky, eclectic wedding pictures that were personal and crafted so carefully in vintage window frames. I miss the smile that I had that day. I missed making someone laugh as hard and as made him laugh that day. I miss that my red hat, Harvard style scarf, down vest and jean jacket all reminded me of then and won’t be so much fun to wear now. I can’t do anything about those things. So I sat at the table and made some more bows.

I didn’t cry so I must be getting better. Does it count if I wanted to?

The spiral was shorter and not as all-encompassing so that must be a good thing…right?

That was me…FALLing apart.

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Mama Said There Would be Days Like This

Yes! Just YES!

Yes! Just YES!

Like my mama said, “There will be days like this…” 

 

At my age you develop some peace with truths about yourself.

 

Truth #1-I not now, nor will I ever be, a morning person. My daughters are not now and are sure to never be morning people.

 

Truth #2-I stink at housekeeping. I try, I swear I do. But despite years of training (thanks mama) I just have never mastered it. Picked up is about all I can attain. I keep trying and failing to be the happy homemaker.

 

Truth #3-I fly by the seat of my pants. No matter how hard I try to prepare, preplan or prep things always come apart and I end up winging it.

 

There are plenty more ‘truths’ but these are enough to set the ground work for today’s little tale of my domestic prowess.

 

Weekend away = Monday’s from hell.

Hell I say. No groceries. Everyone wearing their emergency underwear—you know the pair that have no elastic whatsoever and a hole or two. Everyone is tired and cranky and hasn’t done their Sunday chore of prepping for Monday (I told you I try). Good weekends away are worth the price you pay on Monday. Really, they are-At least on Sunday’s. Monday’s not so much.

 

This Monday was a 15 on the ‘cluster potential’ 10 point scale. Full work day with 3 mega projects looming. Chunky Monkey had her first tee ball practice at 5:30. With her nervous breakdown scheduled for 5:45. Sassy Pants had practice from 7:30-9 and Stud Muffin has swim practice from 6:30-8. All in different parts of the county of course. I went to bed dreaming of logistics and woke up recalculating trip times. Such thoughts do not make for a very chipper morn.

 

Let’s just go ahead and skip to the afternoon.   4:00p realize that it’s not looking good for me to leave on time. Call the house. I start, “Hey baby…listen, tonight’s going to be…” and I stop because she’s started chanting, “wait-wait-wait-wait-wait”. Not a good start. While I am counting to 978,892 she says, “YYYYYOUUUUUU SAID we HAD to do our CHORES FIRST so I unloaded the dishwasher and walked to dog but NNNNOOOWWWW I have to do my HHHHOOOOMMMEEEWWOORRKKK….” When she starts making single syllable words into multiple syllables I know it’s not going to end well. She also has this uncanny ability to make the word YOU sound like the most derogatory and rude word in the English language.

 

I interject, “Listen. To. Me.” I can hear her eyes roll thru the phone. “Your baby sister has her first tee ball practice. I will be coming to get you and your brother a little after 5p….” she starts sputtering….”I WILL. Bring your homework and you can do it while…” The world explodes. Evidentially requesting she bring her homework is the worst idea-like-ever. “If YYYYOOOOUUUU hadn’t made us to our CCCCHHHHOOORRRESSSS first-ahhhhhh I would have had my homework DDDUUUNNNNNNEEEEE but NNNOOOO…..” Mid nnnnnnnnn I respond in the most mature and responsible way possible. I hang up the phone. Yep, be proud.

 

The phone rings. I pick it up. “YYYYOOOOUUUU….” But I don’t give her the chance. “Be. Ready. Totally. Ready.” We disconnect.

 

The text starts chirping. Sassy Pants is an academy award nominee for her performance in ‘Daddy I don’t know why Mama is Mad’. They forget that when one of them text me I see the string of responses. Her version of the conversation should be published under fantasy. I respond. You know exactly why Mama is Mad. Get your bat bag, get your uniform, get everything you need together and be ready. You will be going to watch your sister’s practice. Her response, My glove is at the other house. This is a smart child. This is not a smart text. The ‘other house’ is a block up the street. Get it! I responded and then silence the phone so I can get my work done.

 

Other than my son forging in his Chex Snack Mix like a squirrel preparing for hibernation (I don’t know if squirrels hibernate but I wouldn’t correct me if I were you) the entire 15 mile trip to tee ball the afternoon was uneventful. Well other than his blustering and puffing when I warned him he might be a few minutes late to swimming. Unlike his sister he got one good look at my face and promptly said, “Sorry” and went back to pilfering his snack mix. Wise choice man wise choice.

 

Miracle of miracles, we got to tee ball practice only 15 minutes late.   We missed the meltdown. Small blessing. We did get there in time to see her walk to first base during the BASE RUNNING session.   I also witnessed the only tee-baller in history to get a hit off the tee with one hand while sucking her fingers from the other hand. She then took 3 running steps before backing it down to a slow saunter to first.

 

Mid-saunter I had time to check my email to confirm the fields Sassy was practicing on. Panicked I thought I read that I had gotten the time wrong for Sassy’s practice. I proceed to make an spectacle of myself hollering for Sassy and Stud while giving Chunky a thumbs-up-be-brave sign as ran…yes ran…up the hill to the car.

 

I was wrong. I had not mis-read the email. Practice was still at 7:30 so I jogged back down the hill to be sure I hadn’t traumatized chunka. She was fine. Coordinated pick up time with her Dad and re-hollered for Sass and Stud who, for some reason, thought they were free to go play baseball while I was running around like a spastic chicken.

 

Stud got to swimming. I had enough had time to feed Sassy and Chunka. I have taken a moment to breathe so all is right with the world. I am feeling like mother of the year as I roll up to softball 10 minutes early…HOLLA….. That feeling quickly turns as we get to the field and Sassy says, “Uh-oh.” Time freezes. “I forgot my glove.” She’s a lefty so it’s not like she can borrow one. “Can you run home and get it?” I start my speech on responsibility and she starts her excuse that it’s my fault because she got her glove from the other house but then, ‘….YYYYOOOUUUUU cccallleeddddd….” and it got left on the table. My reaction isn’t worthy of my mother of the year nomination so we will leave that part out.

 

I get the glove and get back to practice. I get my revenge when Sassy steps up to bat. She misses. Her coach tells her to get mad. I yell, “Yeah…get mad like you’ve gotten your phone taken away.” She hollers back, “But I didn’t. It’s in the car.” I maturely holler right back at her, “It was in the car when I had to go back home to GET YOUR GLOVE. Now it’s not. Hit the ball.” Turns out anger DOES help hitting because she nailed a line-drive right down the 3rd base line.

 

9p practice is over. Everyone has gotten where they needed to be in the generally vicinity of WHEN they needed to be there. I am about to put this day in the books. Until I realized that I hadn’t been to the grocery store like I planned. That little trip home had ruined by carefully laid out schedule. So I load chunka and stinky sassy…literally stinky sassy…into the car. I spend the 10 minute drive driving home the necessity of DEODARANT.

 

We break speed records zooming in and out of the aisles of publix. I manage to get some semi-healthy snacks, breakfast food and even ingredients for a dinner or 2 in about 10 minutes. I only gave in once and it was largely because the salted caramel hazelnut spread screamed MY name. I relented. They needed bed time snacks and I needed a quick stress reliving fix. It was BOGOF. Win-Win, right? Anything resembling peanut butter can’t be all bad, right? We got a chocolate and the salted caramel jar. I paid for it while Sassy went and got spoons. I keep forgetting that I am not good at this thinking ahead thingy. In my mind it was perfect. We all got a spoonful of deliciousness on the way home. A) discouraged anyone from talking B) saved us 10 minutes since it was already after bed time and C) it’s salted caramel…I didn’t really have a valid reason for eating it other than I WANTED TO. So that’s exactly what we do. We all get spoonfuls of gooey goodness to end out a very, very stressful day. I am proud that I thought about collecting the spoons and placing them in the plastic trash bag I had found for just such an occasion. Score one for the mom.

 

Perhaps I was a bit too proud of myself. This morning as I am manually manipulating my limp cranky Chunka into her car seat I notice a smear of the ceiling of the brand new, less than 1250 car. It doesn’t register. As I peer in the rearview mirror during my “Don’t-hit-friends-in-the-head-with-the-puzzle-boards” lecture I notice it again. I say, “What’s that on the ceiling?” to which I get, no lie, “I no-no what ‘dat is mama. I know it’s not chocolate peanut butter up der. It’s not,” I put my head on the steering wheel is despair despite the fact that I am traveling 50+ mph. “Chocolate peanut butter on the ceiling, really?????”   She isn’t finished, “Not me Mama. I no-no who dat that tootie butter up dar. It no me. I dink it Sissy. Sissy did it Mama,” her little face contorts into an angry face that looks shockingly like mine. She folds those plump arms over her chest and says, “Dat Sissy!”

 

Anyone know how to get chocolate and salted caramel hazelnut spread smears off the interior cloth ceiling of a car?

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