Monday, August 31, 2009

Stuck In the Middle

"Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right -
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you." - Stealers Wheel

I think I've finally reached "middle age."

It has nothing to do with a number, either.

Black Jack (21), on the brink of being a father himself, is coming to me for advice about parenting and direction. Plus, I'm concerned about my own Mom and some issues she's dealing with. And, I'm worried about my grandparents, who are in the process of packing their home (and a shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos envious!) of 20 years and moving halfway across the country. It's really weird!

It feels like just yesterday, I was a "young Mother" with "young Mother" issues - a messy home, a messy life - and I looked to others for suggestions and advice. I could just blame everything on my kids and be done with it. And people understood.

But now, they're coming at me from all sides and I'm stuck in the middle. It's quite scary to be the competent one!!!

I don't still feel like I'm a teenager or anything, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to fully embrace the responsibility that comes with being so dang grown up!

What's a girl to do when she's stuck in the middle? Why, turn up the radio and dance, of course!

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right - here I am!"

Have fun!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Basket Case

"Do you have the time to listen to me whine about nothing and everything all at once?" - Greenday

I had to take a break from cleaning out my closet. Where does all this crap come from?

I have clothing ranging from size 14 back down to size ten. . .the tens are all too big now, but I refuse to buy anything smaller for fear I'll jinx myself.

There are boxes of "keepsakes" - birthday cards and pictures mixed in with random school papers that "eventually" (yeah, whatever!) are supposed to wind up in the kids' scrapbooks.

I have a baby book for Black Jack (21) with every milestone carefully recorded up through the age of four. Coincidentally, that's when his sister came along. The Edge (of 17) also has a baby book - with a few notes and pictures and a bunch of random stuff jammed into the pockets. I purchased a book for Halfway Between (10 & 20) - it's still wrapped in cellophane and sitting on top of the water heater in the laundry room next to the ziploc bag containing his hospital bracelet. Seventh Heaven has a shoe box. . . somewhere.

I'm not really sure what the point of saving all of it is - I imagine I'll start handing it out as they move off and establish their own households, so that it can sit in baskets in top of their closets and free up mine for all of those size sixes I'm aiming for.

The other night Black Jack and his affianced came over and I handed him the tiny bomber jacket he'd worn as a baby. He pointed out that it had his brother's name written inside with permanent marker.

"You got lucky being the first kid. . .no hand-me-downs!"

Oh, but that's all about to change. I've got baskets of stuff of his that I've saved all these years, just waiting for him to establish a life of his own for which I can jump-start his clutter collection.

Hmmmmm. . .I wonder if he can wear a lovely red formal in a size 14?? Basket cases don't fall far from the tree, you know.

Have fun!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sock it to Me!

When Halfway Between (10 & 20) was in kindergarten, he wore a 3-piece suit to school. He carried a brief case. He insisted the lady who cut his hair "make it look like a Blue Angel." He wore no socks.

He hated socks, claiming they "made his toes all curly!" I purchased socks with characters on them, thin dress socks, seamless socks. . .all to no avail. Every morning it was a fight over the dang socks. Finally, I decided that there was really no harm in letting him go without. (I hit the little loafers with an occasional shot of Lysol just to be on the safe side.) Otherwise, he cut quite the smashing figure for a guy who was only three and a half feet tall and sockless.

One morning on our way to class, we stopped to tie his shoe. As he lifted his pant-leg, one of the other teachers walked by and said, "MY GOD! That child has no SOCKS! I can't BELIEVE his MOTHER wouldn't make him wear SOCKS!"

I felt like such a heel. I mumbled something about curly toes, grabbed him by his little briefcase and made a hasty getaway. I was not always as blase' about the criticism of others as I am now.

Ten years later, we're back at the same elementary school and I exchange a wave and a smile with the same teacher on occasion.   (I should tell her next time I see her that he now wears socks, although they are not always a matching pair. . .)

I share this story with you today, dear reader, to illustrate a point. No matter how competent you feel in your parenting decisions, there is always going to be someone who will question you. You really have to learn to let it roll off your back.

The truth is that people are constantly making judgements about others. Sometimes they are positive ("What a cute dress!") and sometimes they are not ("You let her go shopping in a torn-up, marker-stained Snow White costume??") I do it, you do it, it's human nature. Some of us have just learned to exercise more control and to be more aware of how our comments can affect others.

If you remember that the person delivering the admonishing remark is a person like you are, who has likely made their own share of bad calls (my Great-Grandmother used to say, "Consider the source!") it helps to take some of the sting out of their comments. And hopefully, when you feel compelled to pass some bit of "helpful advice" on to another mother, you'll remember to choose your words carefully (or perhaps just offer an encouraging smile instead!)

We are not, by virtue of childbirth, really expected to be perfect you know.

As a matter of fact, I could tell you a few stories that would knock your socks off!

Have fun!

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Close to Midnight. . .

"Hey Mom, you know what time it is?" Halfway Between (10 & 20) asked as he walked in the front door this afternoon.

"Yeah, baby, about quarter till six. . ."

"No, it's time to par-tay!" He was downright giddy.

"Well, not until I call the hostess and speak to her parents."

"Can I stay until midnight? That's when the party's over!" He went to the computer to look up the number.

"I don't know about all that. . ."

"Mom, he's going to be fine. He NEVER gets into any trouble, and he's six feet tall!" The Edge of Seventeen came to her brother's defense.

"YOU stay out of this!" I pointed to her, grinning.

"Why do you have to call, Mom? Geesh! You did the same things to me. . . 'Where are you going? Who are you going with? Who else is going to be there?'" She was giving my words a nyah nyah voice.

"Exactly. And look how YOU turned out!" I turned, leaving her indignant, "MOM!" hanging in my wake. . .

"Have you got the number, Son? Thanks. Hello?" I identified myself and spoke to the lady on the other end of the line.

"I'm so glad to hear from some parents!" she said. "You wouldn't believe how many people will just drop their kids off at a party!" We exchanged pleasantries, established that there would be supervision and rules, and I felt much better about letting him go. I said goodbye and turned to meet his expectant gaze.

"So, can I stay until midnight?" He asked excitedly.

"Eleven." I said, then interrupted before he could utter his protest, "Unless you'd prefer earlier. . ."

"Nope, eleven is fine, Mom. Thanks."

Sigh, they grow up so fast. . .now, how in the HECK am I going to stay up until ELEVEN?!

Have fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's This Economy. . .

It doesn't matter what issue or problem you've encountered today, someone standing nearby will have a reason to blame it on the economy.

In Wally World, I commented: "Wow, the lines are really long today. . ." The lady behind me: "It's this economy!"

On the phone with my son: "I hope you get the job!" His response: "Well, with this economy. . ."

If "this economy" wasn't so bad, I'd be much better looking. . .and possibly cleaner, I just know it!

I'm getting ready to send 7th Heaven to second grade on Monday. In years past, the week before school has been a mad frenzy of haircuts and clothes shopping, pursuit of the "right" bookbag and matching lunchbox that will be used four times until it sets in that it's "cooler" to be a "trayer." This year is a little different, though.

First, the two teens are homeschooled. One of them actually does schoolwork in his boxers, the other in her pajama pants. They are beyond the need for new crayons, new socks, or the latest must-have character on everything they own. That makes it pretty easy.

7th Heaven has a closet full of clothes, some things she's worn twice if we were lucky. Her summer has been spent in a bathing suit or a long t-shirt. . .on the days when we talked her into wearing "clothes." I see no reason to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on jeans that will be too short before it gets cool enough for her to wear them.

We did go today and pick out a new t-shirt and skirt for the first day. . .and an I.Carly backpack. "What was wrong with her other backpack?!" Hubbalicious asked.

"It didn't have I.Carly on it, Daddy!" Well, you can't argue with THAT logic.

I don't feel too badly. I blew a total of thirty-five bucks on her, including the school supplies.

I was talking to a friend about this earlier. "Oh, I know!" she said. "I can't afford to buy ANYTHING extra. . .I gave them each a hundred bucks for clothes and told them that was IT! It's this ECONOMY, you know!"

Well, while you're forking out three hundred bucks for the latest styles, we'll be here in our boxers and pjs, and one ten-dollar I.Carly backpack, looking stylish in our frugality.

And it's not "this economy" - it's just that I am getting smarter in my old age.

Have fun!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let it Be

"When I find myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me. . ." - The Beatles

We've been worrying over a big business decision for a couple of weeks now. After a fitful night last night, I decided to take a walk this morning and just think.

I didn't worry about running, I just walked and breathed in the cool but humid air that preceded the pending tropical storm. And I pondered our plight.

I talked to my stepDad in my head. He's been gone for a year and a half now, but he still always offers me the best advice. "Lollipop, let it be. . .things will work out, or they won't. You'll just have to keep going, regardless."

Well, THAT made me start thinking of the Beatles' song. I walked in time to the words, "Let it be. Let it be. There will be an answer, let it be."

By the time I'd made it back home, there was peace in my heart and strength in my resolve. I would stand by my husband, and everything would be fine, no matter what happened.

I decided I'd pull some pork chops out of the freezer and marinate them. I had to go out to the travel trailer to recover the bottle of "jerk" marinade I remembered we'd taken on our last camping trip, and I noticed my husband was over at the neighbor's house, helping her move a statue.

What a sweet guy I'm married to, always helping with something. . . I thought to myself.

A few minutes later, I was back in the kitchen, poking my chops, when Hubbalicious came limping through the house hurriedly. "It's broken!" he exclaimed, as he headed to the back porch.

"What happened?!" I followed him out, and waited for him to take a few puffs off of his cigarette. His foot was blue and bleeding.

"I dropped Mother Mary on my damn foot!"

If you can't see the irony in all of this, then Heaven help you!

Later, as we waited for the doctor to come in to the small room, I sang a little tune to my husband:

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me,
Crashing on my small toe, let it be, let it be. . ."

Hey, at least it took our minds off of our worries for a bit!

Have fun!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mea Culpa Momma

"What else could I write?
I don't have the right.
What else should I be?
All Apologies." - Nirvana

I've noticed lately that most of my maternal encounters begin with an apology.

"Come on in, sorry about the mess."

"It's great to hear from you, sorry I didn't ever call you back that time I said I'd call you right back five years ago."

"I'm sorry we never got together for lunch this Summer. . .or last Summer."

"I'm sorry, she hasn't had her shots."

"Excuse the way I look, I've decided mascara and lipstick add six ounces to my weight."

"I'm sorry, they were raised better than this. . ."

Do you feel like, as a mother, you're constantly apologizing for EVERYTHING? Why do we do that? Surely other mothers lead similarly hectic lives and understand why we're late, absent or askew. Do we really have to justify ourselves to each other all the time?

Maybe I should just get a t-shirt that says, "Mea Culpa Momma!"

My goal in the next week is to stop this recompense roller coaster.

My emails will simply begin, "I'd forgotten all about you, but now I need a favor!"

I'll answer the door with a brazen lack of remorse, "Welcome to my home, enter at your own risk!"

And I'll just pretend that my kids belong to someone else when we're out in public. ("What kind of mother raised THAT bunch of monkeys?" I'll inquire of fellow incredulous bystanders.)

That's it, I'm done with living a life of constant atonement!

(And if I've forgotten my goal by this afternoon, well, I'm sorry. . .)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dishing it Out

How many teenagers does it take to empty a dishwasher?

Two. One to announce he's suddenly got to go to the bathroom and one to offer her little sister half a pack of Shock Tarts to do it for her.

Thanks for letting me unload on you. . .

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dying To Grow Up!

"Some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin', like tomorrow was a gift. . ." - Tim McGraw

"Do you have anything on nine year olds who ACT like they are teens? Sometimes I think I could lose my mind!" One of the Moms at the Momslikeme website asked me this question.

So today, I'm devoting this blog to you, oh Mindless One. The only thing you need to have on a nine year old who acts like a teen is duct tape. . .and maybe a couple of staples. That's all I'm saying!

Seriously, it seems sometimes like our "little ones" are in a mad rush to grow up. They can't see the value in cherishing the days, and instead often wish away the years. No matter how hard you try to hang on, they just keep pulling away!

I was in Wally World with 7th Heaven today going through our usual routine: Can-I-have-it-NO! She picked up a mini Etch-A-Sketch at the checkout and informed me she was dying to have it.

"Dying? Really?"

"Okay, not really 'dying.' But I TOTALLY want one of these!"

"Well, next time, you should bring your money. Then you can buy it for yourself," I suggested.

"Oh, no. I'm saving my money!" She said.

"That's a great idea. Save your money then you can buy something you REALLY want."

"Yeah, I'm gettin' a cell phone! That's what I'm REALLY dying to have!"

The cashier looked at me sympathetically and said, "They grow up quick!"

Too quickly, if you ask me. I feel like I am leaving finger-nail tracks in the very fabric of time when it comes to my kids.

I looked at 7th Heaven, with her knobby knees and her crooked, freckled grin and had a momentary flashback to her older sister, who is now Seventeen and driving (me crazy!) and dying to get out on her own.

"Baby, you're Seven, let's just enjoy that for a while. . ."

"Yeah, but I'm ALMOST Eight!"

The truth is, you're not going to win in the game of Mom v. Time. Unfortunately, it isn't until we become parents ourselves that we really begin to understand how quickly the time goes by. All you can do is to catch a little moment here and there and make the most of it. I think I'll go grab her Seven-ness and challenge her to a game of Go-Fish.

I'm simply "dying" to play. . .

Have fun!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lively Up Yourself

"Lively up yourself, and don't be no drag. . ." - Bob Marley

Okey dokey, the pity party is over.

When I find myself going down to funky town, it helps me to go for a walk. So I decided to alter my Saturday afternoon laundry gig and get out on the road.

I've been stepping up my usual walking routine by throwing in a little jogging. I don't go too fast. I know it's a little silly, but I find that keeping a reggae beat in my head helps me maintain a good pace. Six months ago, if someone had told me I'd be jogging any more than the distance from the couch to the fridge, I'd have given them a hearty chuckle. But yep, that was me, be-bopping down the road today. I made three miles in thirty-five minutes!

My walks (now almost-jogs) give me time alone where I can just think. I thought about how unhappy I'd been with myself when I was trying to squeeze my size 14 body into a size 12 bridesmaid dress, and how great it felt six months later to have to trade the 12 in for a 10 the week before my sister's wedding. And how, three months beyond that, my size 10's are all a little loose in the waist.

I thought about how good it felt for my legs to be moving me down the sidewalk, how great the breeze felt on my sweaty face, and how I felt like I was in control of what I did with my own body.

And it hit me. My friend laVender would call it a "life lesson," a realization about one facet of my life that spills over into other areas.

If I can get my act together enough to change my habits and lose and keep off over thirty pounds, why should I let a little writer's block freak me out? Second to taking care of my family, writing is my life's passion. It's not something that controls me, it's something I control. An hour, a day, a week of feeling discouraged shouldn't prevent me from picking myself up and moving forward.

I literally filled today's unforgiving minute with thirty-five worth of distance run. And that's what my blog is all about. We mothers tend to beat ourselves up with self-doubt about everything. If we're not careful, it can consume us and leave us feeling helpless or hopeless, and that's no fun!

Instead of looking at our struggles as being a drag, we just need to take control and lively up.

So Much to Say

"I find sometimes it's easy to be myself.
Sometimes I find it better to be somebody else.
So much to say. . ." - Dave Matthews Band

We interrupt our regular blog for this moment of brutal honesty.

I guess this happens to all writers at one time or another.

I've written the "Teen Talk" blog at the and websites for well over two years now, considering it to be my therapy for dealing with my crazy kids. The minuscule stipend served as justification that I was being paid to write.

But here I am, almost six-hundred creations later - and I'm fizzled out, dried-up, blocked, stuck like Chuck. I just can't seem to do it anymore. The thrill is gone.

My Momsweb Mentor encouraged me to start another blog, independent of the constraints of "paid to write." And so, here we are. I've got the subject matter (four kids), I've got the readers (you & my Mom). . .but the motivation - where the heck did it go??

Seriously, I know I've just got to get into my groove and I'll be spewing all variety of entertaining anecdotes that will have you rolling on your keyboards. We're dragging through the waning lazy days of summer, about to resume our hectic fall schedules and activities - it's all there poised for the humorous re-telling.

So take heart, oh patient Mother, every blog has it's day. And I've got so much to say.

And now, back to the show. . .

Have fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

They Call Me "Mom"

"They call me Jane.
That's not my name.
That's not my name.
That's not my name.
That's not my name." - The Ting Tings

When you have toddlers screaming "Mooooooom!" all day long, you dream of the day when they will all be out of the house and you'll be free of the oft-screamed moniker.

I'm sorry to report that it doesn't quite go down that way.

Yesterday afternoon, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Black Jack (21) was discount shopping with his fiancee. Did I need an HDMI cable?

"No, thank you son. I've got one already. . ."


Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." It was Halfway Between (10&20) checking in from his friend's house. I asked him if he was coming home for dinner.

"What are we having?" I advised him it would be fend-for-yourself since Dad just gotten home from his root canal. "Nah. . .loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Black Jack wanted to know what we were having for dinner.

"It's fend-for-yourself tonight. . ." I replayed the root canal story.

"Oh, okay. Loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." The Edge (of 17) was on break at work. What time was she going to be home?

"I'm closing. Ten-thirty. . .ish? Gotta go! Loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Black Jack had found Margarita Mix for only three bucks.

"Thanks, Sweetie, but hang on to your money. . .I'm fine, really. So, what are you doing?"

"I gotta go!"

"Why do you have to go?"

"I just hate it when you do that to me!"

"Do WHAT?"

"Nothing. . .I know what I mean." Well, that's good, at least one of us does! "Loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Halfway was leaving his friend's house and heading to the park. "Loveyoubye!"

I decided I was just going to turn my phone off. Five minutes later, 7th Heaven hollered from her room, "Hey, Moooooooom!"

I couldn't resist. I danced in and sang to her, "That's not my name. That's not my name. . ."

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It Happens!

"Life don't go quite like you planned it.
We try so hard to understand it.
The irrefutable, indisputable fact is. . .
Pssssh - it happens!" - Sugarland

Yep, some days it's just that way.

I woke up with a song in my heart and a smile on my face, ready to greet the day. I was a little late, but I figured I'd squeeze in a quick jog. However, first, I received some bad news, then some more bad news, but I was determined to deal with it accordingly and move on. By the time I got off the phone, I knew I needed to skip the walk and just get dressed.

I had to cancel a lunch meeting I'd looked forward to with a friend over a change in plans because hubbalicious had need of my help, and I was feeling so competent. Even the Edge (of 17) and her grumpy "you woke me up too early" attitude was not going to get to me.

The Mombus, with it's new brakes (two weeks ago) and it's new battery (last week) now apparently needs a new starter. So I set out in the "Teen Mobile" with it's rear-view mirror gee-gaws and rear-window surf stickers with plans of dropping 7th Heaven at art camp for four hours of moderate freedom.

We were sidetracked by an either drunk or medically troubled driver whom I passed, then I noted his violent swerving from lane to lane in the rearview. My civic responsibility got the better of me, so I called 911 and followed him at 25 MPH for twenty minutes until the Sheriff's deputies showed up.

The roads were once again safe, and we were once again on our way to art camp. However, when we arrived, no one was there. I later discovered (once I checked my stupid email!) that it had been canceled. Yes, yes, "Prior planning prevents pi$$ poor performance." - thank you.

Well, I'm not one to mope. Besides, I had "work to do." I arrived home, smeared on some lipgloss and asked his hubness where I was needed. "Thanks, sweetheart, but I'm not going to need anything. I've got it all taken care of."

So, here I am, halfway through my day and I've managed to. . .well. . .I made my bed. And folded a little laundry. And re-visited the quadratic formula with Algebra boy. I'm sure there are other household tasks awaiting my attention. Sigh.

I'm not complaining. After all, nobody was hurt in the making of this blog. We all have days like this. . .pssssh, it happens!

Have fun!!