Sunday, July 27, 2014

Epic Mom Fail


Most parenting blogs and parent’s Facebook pages are plastered with boastful posts about the author’s children. Mine included. It’s mom-nature to brag about our biggest accomplishments, and in parenting that’s our children! Sometimes though, even the most stellar of moms (and dads) can have what I refer to as an “Epic Mom Fail”. It happens. While the Pinterest following moms are posting pictures of their latest and greatest home/handmade DIY creations with laughing, clean and dressed children in the background, I’m in my kitchen cursing at exploded juice boxes, cleaning up cat vomit (hey – cat vomit creations! It could be the next big Pinterest thing!) and throwing semi-clean clothing at children who are wandering around aimlessly making our house look like the set of “The Walking Dead”. Those moments. But that’s just everyday life. Some moments, are just epic. Epic Mom Fails.

For example, before the end of this past school year, my 13 year old daughter had brought home a permission slip to go on a field trip to a local historic site. I was elated for her! What a chance to learn, hands on, about the significance of our local history! She was about as thrilled as the cat was when I shaved her with the buzz clippers (another story, another time). She spent three days wailing, “WHY do I have to gooooooooooooo? It’s going to be so boringgggggggggg.” Because making one and two syllable words longer is an art form that teenagers have perfected. Because one of them at one point in time tried it and got their way and went back to the colony to spread the word about this useful, obnoxious tactic in the age old war of parent versus teen. In fact, somewhere out there is a teenager, right this very minute, halfway through the sentence “I don’t want to” or “You can’t make me” – a sentence that he or she began six months ago. At any rate, after much discussion about how Mom’s can’t just write notes to excuse their children from life simply because they don’t want to do something, or at the very least HER mom won’t, she finally agreed to go, begrudgingly but agreed to nonetheless. After two long weeks of sullen moods and glares from across the kitchen table at the slightest mention of the words “field” or “trip”, I asked my daughter if she was bringing or buying lunch at school the next day.

“Oh, I’m not going to school tomorrow” she replied, loftily.

“Pardon?”

“I’m not going to school tomorrow” she said. “No one will be there”.

(Insert panicked mother who believes that she completely forgot a school holiday).

“Really? You guys have a day off tomorrow? Ok. That’s cool”. Where the heck did I put that school calendar?!?

“Not really.”

“Ok. What’s going on?” I demand and I assume the cut-the-crap stance, arms folded over my chest, narrowed eyes, feet planted firmly on the ground.

“It’s the field trip tomorrow.” She said.

“Oh. The field trip we discussed and agreed that you are going on because Mom doesn’t write notes to excuse you from every little thing you don’t ‘feel like’ doing?” I inquired. “Yeah, you’re going to that”.

“Yeah. That one. You never signed the permission slip and it was due last week”. She smirked.

She had me. The permission slip was still hanging from the bulletin board, gently swaying in the breeze. Taunting me. Gently calling out “youuuuuu gotttt ownedddddddddd. By a 13 year oldddddddd”.

Epic. Mom. Fail.

 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Well Not Fair


“Yeah, must be nice to sit at home and do nothing but still get paid” She said.

The caller on the other end must have agreed with her. After a pause, she erupted into gales of laughter. “I know right? Total welfare mooch. Seriously. Must be real nice. As if all that child support she gets isn’t enough”. She had the phone cradled between her ear and shoulder as she plopped her groceries on the conveyer belt behind me. “Listen, I have to run… I’ll call you later”.  She biddly-booped her iPhone and tossed it into her Marc Jacobs bag.

I grabbed the bar to indicate where my pile of groceries ended and hers began.

She smiled, “Thanks she said. I always forget that thing”.

“No problem” I said coolly and continued to eye the screen of the cash register as it tallied my bill.

Just then her phone jangled from within her purse. In her haste to grab it, her car keys sprang from her purse and clattered to the floor. She was pre-occupied with loading the remainder of her purchases onto the belt and gabbing with this new caller to notice what happened.

I picked them up off of the floor. I tried to make eye contact. I said “Miss” a couple of times. Nothing. Ok then. I placed them on the conveyer on top of a box of frozen pizza that she had set there.

I began bagging my groceries and was lost in thought as I slid dish detergent in the same bag as my clementine’s. I thought about what she said. About welfare recipients. How it “must be nice”.

It must be nice to spend night after night sick with worry for how you’ll feed your kids. It must be nice to face the humiliation and the stigma associated with those who use the system. It must be nice to be chastised and ostracized. It must be really nice to be judged at every pass and feel like you have to explain why you have that Coach handbag that your sister bought you for Christmas or the hand me down touch screen phone that your mom let you have when yours died and left you with no way to get in touch with a potential employer. It must be nice to have your every action scrutinized by those better off than you. It must be nice to feel as though you’re taking something you don’t deserve. It must be nice to feel criminal about needing help. It must be nice to be shunned. It must be really nice to have ignorant and self-righteous jerks tell you what you “should have done differently/better” to have not put yourself in the situation you’re in – the same people that if they ever needed to would surely be first in line for the “handout” they claim you don’t deserve. It must be nice to be instantly lumped into a category of fraudulent felons who abuse the system by a fool who feels that he should be your judge, jury and executioner. Yeah, all that sounds like a dream come true right there.

Miss. Chatty Patty was off of her phone and it was time to pay for my groceries. I made my way to the credit card reader. I noticed her keys still lying on the pizza box. I swiped my card.

“Miss, you dropped your keys. I put them here for you”. I said, my eyes fixed on the screen in front of me.

“Oh thank YOU!” She exclaimed. “My husband would have killed me. He just bought me this car for our anniversary”.

I took a deep breath, turned and looked her square in the eye.

I smiled sweetly and in a slow calm manner said three short words,

“Must. Be. Nice.”

The cashier smirked, I signed my receipt and pushed my cart out of the lane. I didn’t look back. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to evaluate her or be a part of her reaction.

That’s her job now.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Growing Up Dumb

For me, having kids has been a series of constant reminders of my childhood. So many times, they'll say or do something that will spark a memory for me. As far as memory is concerned, I have an exceptional one. I can clearly and accurately remember events that occurred when I was three years old. I've learned to enjoy reminiscing and do it often. One thing that I've learned about myself as I reminisce is that I was a really, really dumb child. Sure, I had some good grades and stuff. But I was still pretty dumb.

Check out those bones!
I remember one year for my grandfather’s birthday, my mother hired a Dolly Parton impersonator. Of course she came all dolled up to sing 'Happy Birthday' to my grandpa, her bra stuffed with 20 lbs. of tissues in each cup. My eyes widened when I saw her. I pulled my mom aside and whispered, "MOM! She has huge bones!". For many years after that, I thought that a woman's breasts were called 'bones'.

My best friend growing up, Terry, and I played together constantly. One game we liked to play was 'monster' where we would run around and terrorize her little brothers and my little sister. For years we thought that 'virgins' were monsters. I can clearly remember saying to her, "Now, pretend I'm a virgin with red eyes and I'm going to eat you". How my parents didn't fall down and die when they overheard this, I don't know.

Road signs often confused me as a child. None more so than the signs that read 'No Shoulder'. I was convinced that if you were to get caught in these areas baring your shoulders, you would be jailed. In the summer, if I was wearing a tank top, I would duck down in the car when we would pass one of these signs and put my hands over my shoulders. 

I thought that the term 'irregular' meant that your body was larger on one side than the it was on the other. Which I suppose could be true. What I didn't know was that 'irregular' is a term often used in regards to one's digestive system. Because my right foot is slightly larger than the left, I'd tell anyone who would listen that I was 'irregular'.

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose I wasn't actually 'dumb'. I was just… uninformed.  I'm sure my parents had a few good laughs at my expense.
I know I did when my son told me that he wanted to plant seeds to grow turkeys because he loved Thanksgiving turkey so much.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Year of Drool

Associations are a funny thing. Anyone who took intro to psych in college (I think its mandatory these days) knows all about classical conditioning and Pavlov and his
drooling doggies. I guess I never really invested much in that whole bit. Ok, dog hears bell. Dog drools. Dog thinks he's getting steak. Great. Big whoop. Within the last few years however, I've realized some "conditionings" and associations that I've made and well… it all kind of makes sense now.

 Eight years ago I ate a Whopper at Burger King. That same day I came down with a wretched flu. To this day, I have a really difficult time eating anything at Burger King - and I rarely ever do. In my head, a big fat Whopper = the flu. I used to love Whoppers.

I used to have a friend who shared a love for tomato soup and crackers with me. Then I found out that friend was cheating on his very sweet wife, who is a dear friend to me. Whenever I so much as glance at a red and white can of Campbell’s soup, I'm instantly disgusted. I've been tempted to knock over a whole display of cans at the grocery store and scream "I HATE YOU, YOU SOUP LOVING SCUMBAG!!!!". Thus far, I've been able to restrain myself.

I'm super terrified uncomfortable with going to the dentist office. As a kid, my dentist played a TON of James Taylor in his office. Now, whenever I hear a James Taylor song - any one of them - I get heart palpitations and think about Novocain shots. Which is super sucky because its just not fair to Mr. Taylor who is arguably one of the greatest artists of all time. Its really unfortunate that I correlate the sound of his voice to root canals. Super suckage.

So far, classical conditioning has been ruining stuff for me.
I'm on a mission to make 2014 the year of positive connections and associations.
If Pavlov's dogs can do it, so can I.
Hopefully with less drool, though.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Olympify It

I've been reading the gajillion internet stories about the latest medalists, the losses, the athletes and the controversies (Putin's Homophobia and Yogurtgate come to mind) surrounding the Olympic games in Sochi. I think about how unreal the whole thing is. These athletes are AH-mazing! It's out of this world to me what they can do with their bodies. The stamina, the strength, the determination - all of that makes it seem like they're not really actual people. They're like suped up versions of people. Super people. Which makes me think of Super Hero's. We all know that they aren't exactly real (Ahem, Green Lantern I'm talking to you). So I've deduced that Olympic athletes are not real. They're just too gosh darn amazing to be real. Plus I've never seen one before. Ya now you simply cannot believe in something you haven’t actually seen (I hope you’re taking notes, Green Lantern).

Anyhow, I got to thinking about it and I'd absolutely LOVE it if there were a few more categories in the Olympics. Just to make it a little bit more realistic to me.

For example:

Grocery shopping with 3 children in tow. Extra points awarded for saving money using coupons. Points deducted for losing a kid or leaving the store without paying for an item(s).

Helping 2 children with Common Core Curriculum based homework assignments while preparing dinner. Games begin at 6:00 p.m. Deducted points if the kids aren't in bed before 9 p.m. or haven't eaten everything on their plates. Bonus points if the kids eat brussel sprouts and/or lima beans. WITHOUT CHEESE!

Driving in rush hour traffic at 5:00 p.m., after working an eight hour day. Competitors must arrive to the baby-sitters by 5:30 p.m. to avoid deduction of points. Athletes will score even higher if they stop at the store to buy groceries and arrive at the baby-sitters before the 5:30 p.m. mark.

I'm sure we could all come up with a few more events to add to the Olympic roster. Events that we feel, we've championed.
What say you?

What day to day events can we “Olympify”?

 

Breathless

Halfway through the first balloon, I became dizzy.
I nearly passed out after the second.
Luckily, my kids were around and were helping to blow up the rest of the balloons for my son's 9th birthday party.
They busied themselves with inflating the balloons while I found a chore that wouldn't leave me breathless. I tied knots.
I listened to them laugh and squeal at how big they could make their balloons.
My stepdaughter beat them all. Hers was so large that it popped not too long after she’d inflated it.

"Let's see how big mommy can make one!" my soon to be nine year old son handed to me a green balloon.

"Oh no, buddy. Mommy has to tie all of the knots!" I said, knowing that they'd be scraping me off of the floor if I attempted to blow up another balloon.

He scampered off and continued to enjoy his day without me.
 
And I realized that is how things will always be if I don't get - and stay - serious about quitting smoking.
My kids will live their lives, enjoying all of the precious moments of them.
Without me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Heroin Addict Changed Me Today


Whenever a news report of a celebrity dying from a drug overdose surfaces, I feel like the least compassionate person on the planet. I roll my eyes. I sigh. I think to myself, "Seriously? How could you be so stupid?!?! What exactly did you think would happen? Coward!".  I scoff at "tributes" that are plastered all over the internet. I despise the fact that addicts who are famous are still hailed as heroes and their notoriety is widely celebrated. Meanwhile addicts in inner cities are deemed "junkies" - their lives and deaths are overlooked and stigmatized. My feelings of disgust then turn into anger. Anger because not one family member or friend saw the obvious signs and stepped in to prevent the tragedy. Why didn't anyone do anything? They ought to be ashamed!

I've always been convinced that a victim of an overdose had displayed obvious signs prior to that overdose that were ignored by others. There had to be something that someone saw that would have triggered a response. A response that would have saved their life.

Today, I learned that someone I see five days a week died of a heroin overdose either late last night or early this morning. His mother found him on his floor, a needle still stuck in his arm - just like the latest celebrity victim Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Unlike Hoffman's death, there will be no online tributes.
No public celebration of his accomplishments.
He'll never be hailed a hero, genius or successful anybody or anything.
His legacy will be that of a 36 year old addict in disguise.

And also unlike Hoffman's death, my response to his won't be that of disgust, annoyance or blame. 
I won't blame anyone for not seeing the signs.
There weren't any to be seen.
I'm not disgusted.
This was a broken man in trouble.
I'm not annoyed.
Desperate people do desperate and dangerous things.

Instead, I'm sad.
I'm saddened that society has stigmatized addiction to the point where its victims are too ashamed to reach out for help.
I'm sad that there are individuals out there capitalizing on addiction - producing the drugs that feed it and lining their pockets with blood money.
I'm sad that there are mothers burying the drug riddled bodies of their children who had just begun to live.
I'm sad that there are people right now, responding to these deaths, the same way that I used to respond to them - as recently as a day or two ago.
With disgust, annoyance and blame.

Don't wait for a tragedy close to home to change how you see the world.
Instead, work to be that change or at least a part of it. Right. Now. 
The difference could be a matter of life or death for someone out there who
isn’t letting you know how bad it is for them.