Lightning in a Bottle

Today I am not writing with my typical sarcastic, oddball style. Today I write with a heavy heart, but I needed to write nonetheless.

On Monday we received the unfathomable news that Rachel, the 11 year old daughter of our friends, was killed in a freak accident. She was swinging on a tree swing at their family’s farm, a place she adored, when the branch broke. I can’t even type the rest.

I haven’t stopped thinking about and mourning for this family since I heard the news that left me breathless and at a loss for words. It took the long car ride to the funeral this weekend to try to find them.

As humans, we are always seeking to find answers to help us make sense of the world. When I search for an answer of why this ever could have happened to such an amazing girl and her beautiful family, I come up empty. Frankly, I don’t think there ever could be an answer that would satisfy this heartbreaking question.

On our journey to southern Indiana, my husband and I listened to the audiobook of Bill Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything. In it he talks about the beginning of the universe, the atoms of which everything is made, evolution and the incomprehensible amount of time it took for us as humans to evolve to this point in history. As you take time to think about it and put it into perspective, it’s humbling to realize what a small flash our lives are in the history and space of the world.

But as I think about Rachel, and from listening to the beautiful, funny stories her parents shared at her funeral, I realized that she knew how to live life. She was full of adventure, tenacity, resilience, curiosity and so much love. She took on life full-tilt. My dad would have called her “‘lightning in a bottle” — infinite energy just waiting to escape and do amazing things. She was over-the-moon excited that the Boy Scouts were finally letting girls join, because Boy Scouts got to go on bigger, more exciting adventures than Girl Scouts.

Today I write not only to share the incredible soul our world has lost, but also the lessons I have learned and how we can continue Rachel’s legacy.

I have learned …

  1. I need to go on more adventures with my family. Rachel’s parents encouraged this in her and took Rachel and her brother on camping trips, hikes, new places and just let them explore. I need to do more of this by getting over my anxiety and hangups and just DO things. (Okay, maybe not roller skating again, but…)
  2. I need to let things go. So often I get wrapped up in the little things that I’m not enjoying the big picture. I need to put down my electronic devices, step away from the stupid stuff I get stuck in and just BE with my kids more often.
  3. I need to take more family pictures. As I looked at all the pictures displayed at the visitation, I realized we don’t have enough pictures of our kids and our family. Maybe if we actually went on more adventures, we could solve that problem. Maybe we don’t have enough pictures of memories because we haven’t been making enough of them.

Rachel’s aunt said something very important during the funeral. She knew that Rachel was going to be a woman who would make history, but that potential was taken far too soon. It is our job to make the difference in the world that Rachel won’t be able to. I’m not sure what that is at this very moment, but I’m going to try. I challenge you to do the same.

So as I grieve with our friends as they try to put together the pieces of their lives that have shattered and will never be whole again, I leave you with this reminder: hug your loved ones a little longer, read that extra story at bedtime, forgive more quickly, and live your life with purpose so that we can teach others to do the same. For maybe this will help Rachel’s light to shine on longer.

 

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Mom Dating

No no no. Before you get your sensible undies in a bunch, I’m not talking about cheating on my wonderful husband. I’m talking about moms meeting other awesome eligible moms to hang out with. It’s hard, but here’s my experience.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nearly 10 years now. Before that I worked in an office with real adults, most of whom were pretty cool and some are still dear friends. When you go from going into work every day, interacting with adults, getting to go to the bathroom by yourself and actually sitting down to eat your lunch of adult food (rather than standing at the kitchen island, yelling at your kids, “sit on your bottom and eat your lunch already” while you graze on their leftovers of PBJ, mac & cheez and whatever other hell they demanded)– to the craziness of stay-at-home motherhood, it’s a bit of a culture shock. At work, friendships just came naturally. By working along side people, suffering through hellish trade shows together or joining them for a Starbucks run when you just needed to get away — friendships were just an organic part of work life.

Once I left the (paid) workforce and started being a stay-at-home mom, I found myself feeling isolated — almost like being single again. Where do you go to meet other moms like you? This was new territory and I felt lost. Frankly I still feel lost most times. When you have a newborn, no one wants to be your friend because you are a hot mess of horror-mones, exhaustion, dirty laundry, baby poop/puke/pee and stench from not showering since…when did I last shower?

Then you finally get your shit together, your baby’s sleeping for more than 10 minutes at a time and you’ve managed to find an outfit with minimal spit-up on it, some mascara and concealer for the permanent bags under your eyes, and somehow got a brush through your hair (whatever’s left of it since most of it fell out the day after you gave birth.) Okay. Check the mirror — “Meh. It’ll do. Okay! Let’s find some new mommy friends!” But where do you start to look for these elusive creatures? “Target! I’ll go to Target! Moms are always at Target!”

So off you go, pray that your baby sleeps through the excursion and you find yourself lost in the wonder that is Target…”Why am I here?” And then you crash into another bleary-eyed mombie as you round the end cap. One of your babies wakes up, hungrier than a bear in spring time and just like that, it’s mission: failure. Boobs begin leaking, both babies are now screaming. Stick a fork in it. You’re done.

Fast forward a few more months and hooray! Your kid’s old enough so you can join a Mommy & Me class and you think, “Maybe today’s the day!” You look around, assess the pool of friend candidates and start categorizing:mommy & me

High Maintenance Barbie (HMB): She just got out of the salon blow-out look, perfectly coordinated (and clean) clothes, full make-up, has pre-baby body completely back, her child is in head-to-toe Gap with so-cute baby Uggs and NorthFace jacket. Nope. This is the adult version of the popular girls in high school who never talked to me. Why would she start now?! I mean look at me!

Nutty Crunchy: She’s cool and calm, sans make-up but still gorgeous, you know everything in her house is either organic or home-grown (I bet she composts!) A plastic Target bag has never touched her hand. Did she vaccinate??? I’m guessing not. Also her kid is blowing snot bubbles while he mouths every single toy that my kid wants. Nope. Keep your organic Typhoid Jimmy germs back on the farm, lady.

Turbo Hot Mess: She’s the one who came screeching in on two stroller wheels, 15 minutes late, her kid’s lost one shoe and has a bewildered yet happy look on his face, clinging to his SnackEEZ of Cheerios and milk for dear life. She’s bubbly and perky, apologizes profusely for her even being there. Don’t brush her off just yet. She has potential…and frankly, you’re probably a lot like her too.

THE ONE: And there she is. Quietly sitting there, taking it all in. She’s pulled together, but not pretentious like HMB. You see an open bag of non-organic, non-whole-wheat Gold Fish in her diaper bag and an empty Starbucks cup stashed in the bottle pocket. Excellent! Then Miss NC is telling the story of her amazing doula-assisted natural pond birth and how she framed the placenta for the nursery. And then you see it. TO rolls her eyes so far back in her head she can see herself think. BINGO! She is MY KIND OF MOM.

Okay. What do I do next?? I’m a mental hot mess with thoughts racing through my head, “Okay. Play it cool. Make eye contact…but not too much eye contact because then she’ll think you’re crazy/needy/stalkery…okay…but don’t look away too much because then she’ll think you’re snobby.” [Deep breaths]

You casually make your way over to sit by her after a rousing game of Ring Around the Rosey (I am sooo smooth!) You start chatting, she says something mildly snarky and funny, you say something funny and witty back, she laughs and just like that, you’re head-over-heels in love.

Okay. Make your move. You can do it. Ask her for her cell phone number and maybe you can meet up at the park — you’ll bring Starbucks! She enters her name and number into your phonebook and you send her a text with your digits. BOOM! You did it! Now you can hardly contain your excitement enough to make it through the Good-Bye Song because you’re dying to get home so you can Facebook stalk her and see if she’s the real deal.

And that, my friends, is how it’s done. You’re welcome.

There Are Some Things You Shouldn’t Do After 40

Note: The story you are about to read is 100% true and has not been embellished. I wish it had.

You know the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” It’s true.
This week, my oldest had accomplished a big goal he had, and we said that he could pick out a fun family activity as his reward for a job well done. Well, he chose roller skating. Yeah. I’ll wait to let that one sink in a minute for you.

Now, when I was little, I LIVED in roller skates. I mean I used to ride my bike with my roller skates on so that I could roller skate once I reached my destination. I was hard core. I remember the Christmas when I finally got super fancy roller skates, complete with orange wheels, orange toe stops and white boots like ice skates. I had arrived. I even made a variety of yarn pom poms to adorn them to complete that happening ‘70s look. 

In the winter, I roller skated for hours and hours in our basement to a 45 of America’s “Horse with No Name” — even now whenever I hear that song, I can still smell the combination of musty-ish basement and sawdust from my dad’s workshop; I can feel the breeze flowing through my feathered hair as I did spin after spin and practiced gracefully skating backwards. Life was good.

So when my son decided on this fun family activity, I thought, “Sure. I bet I still have a few moves left.” My husband was more realistic about his abilities. “I will fall. A lot. And I’ll break.” “Fine,” I said, “You can just stay home with Amazon Warrior Princess.” He took that deal faster than my kids can down a plate full of bacon. “Okay,” I confidently thought, “You got this. You’ll be the cool mom.” And off the boys and I went.

We arrived at the rink. It was classic old-school with skaters skating counter-clockwise, painted floors, dimmed lights, disco ball and  DJ booth in the corner. “Oh yeah. I am totally Mom of the Year.” My youngest and I laced up our rental skates, while the kid of honor donned his roller blades because he was way cooler. Off he went to get one of those ghetto walkers — you know, the little frames made of duct tape and PVC pipe on wheels for beginning skaters to hang on to for dear life — for his little brother, who was more realistic about his abilities. Boy wonder went zooming off on his roller blades, while my realist white-knuckled the PVC pipes and gingerly rolled his way to the rink floor.

I stood up and skittered around on my wheels a bit. “Hmmm…I don’t remember the wheels being this rolly. Toe stops. Remember to use your toe stops.” I followed my son who had managed to make it to the rink gate on his own and was trying to navigate the step up to the skating floor. “You got this buddy,” I said with confidence. Slowly we made our way to the center of the rink, where the beginner skaters were relegated, scooting around with their PCV frames, falling at alarming rates. But they always popped right up, unfazed and uninjured. We proceeded to slowly make a few laps until he wiped out for the first time. He went all grouchy-old-man, complaining his knee and butt hurt. I offered to kiss them in front of everyone and he laughed. And off we hobbled.

I was starting to regain my confidence, “I just needed to get my skating legs again. This is getting better.” I rounded the curve and then it happened. I fell. Hard. On my ass. I think I bounced a bit.

Now many of you may already know this, but after you’ve had three babies, your body changes. Certain muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. Yes. I peed myself a little bit when I crashed. After I got over the shock, I plastered a smile on my face and carefully got up, fervently praying I hadn’t left a puddle or cracks in the concrete where I had fallen. My oldest zoomed up, “Are you alright, Mom?!?!?” I laughed and said, “I’m fine! I’m fine! It’s just been a while since I’ve skated.” And off he went, semi-reassured his mother did not need an ambulance.

I caught up to my younger son, who was head-down with his death-grip, diligently concentrating on making forward progress and unfazed by the near disaster of my crash. I said, “Hey bud, I’m going to the bathroom, you okay by yourself for a bit?” He nodded and shuffled off.

I finally made it to the bathroom to check out the damage. Luckily I was alone and could navigate the stall in solitary humiliation. “Why don’t they have handicap bars in these things???” I thought. I assessed the damage and it wasn’t too bad. “Okay. Brush yourself off and get back out there. You can do it!” I scooted out of the bathroom and made my way back toward the rink. Suddenly my feet were over my head, I was on my back and I saw my life flash before my eyes. I somehow managed to get up with a smile on my face and stood there wobbly legged. My son and another girl came flying up, “Are you OKAY?!? You got up smiling, but if that had happened to me, I would have been CRYING!” the darling girl said with deep concern. I assured her I was just fine and thanked her for checking on me.

You’re probably wondering why only people aged 10 and under showed any concern. Well, I have thoughts on this. One, the adults were too busy snarfing down the left over birthday cake and pizza left by their party-going kids to even notice my personal train-wreck. Or two, they were too stunned at the ridiculousness of my horror-show that they didn’t know what to do. I’m hoping for the former, but am going to check YouTube shortly to see if someone caught it on video and it’s gone viral.

Luckily the boys were ready for a break, and I admitted defeat and carefully made my way to turn in my skates before I went and bought them a snack. My youngest called it a day, mooched some quarters off me for video games and my oldest went off to skate some more. I sat at the table and texted my wonderful neighbor who is a nurse practitioner. “Uhh…how do you tell the difference between a sprained and a broken wrist? Umm…Asking for a friend.” She quickly responded that it was hard to tell, as they have a lot of the same symptoms and asked what had happened. I told her and she said, “Oh. Well, you’ll probably want to get that x-rayed.” Awesome. When I had fallen the second time, I landed hard on my wrist and palm to catch myself and it was still really hurting and was starting to swell. It was hard to touch my thumb to my finger tips and I was feeling a little nauseous. Luckily the boys were ready to go home at this point and we staggered out to the car. It was a quiet ride home, as I think they knew better than to poke the bear and start fighting.

Once home, I looked and it had started to bruise. I iced it and took some Alleve and plopped my sore body on the couch. After about 45 minutes, it wasn’t feeling much better, and I told my husband I was going to get it over with and go to the ER to get it checked out. “Hey. At least I’ll get out of doing bedtime, this way.” I thought.

Luckily the ER wasn’t very busy and I got checked right in. “Date of birth?” the guy behind the desk asked me. I told him. “Wait. What year??” he asked. “1972. Yeah. It’s been awhile.” This sent the person next to him into gales of laughter, and he sheepishly apologized and told me to go have a seat.

Once the nurse took me back to a room, he asked me how I had injured my hand. I sullenly responded, “I thought I’d be cool and take my kids roller skating.” He looked up from his typing, “Roller skating?” I figured he thought I was as big an idiot as I thought I was. “Do they even have roller rinks anymore?!” I assured him that oh, yes. They do.

The doctor soon came in and examined me, keeping his thoughts of my stupidity to himself. They took some x-rays and he finally came back. “The radiologist and I looked at it and it’s not broken. It’s just a bone bruise. I can wrap it for you and you can continue to ice it and take Ibuprofen.” Basically, “You have a boo boo, lady. Why don’t you grab a sucker on the way out?” So off I slunk back home. Worse yet, I didn’t even get out of doing bedtime.

So moral of the story: as you get old, know your limitations. Cockiness will screw you every time. And next time I see a commercial for Poise Pads, I think I’ll pay a little closer attention.

 

Imminent Doom

I know it’s coming. I’m trying really hard to pretend that it’s not and am hoping, “maybe this year they’ll forget.” In my heart of hearts, I know they won’t. So now I’m just waiting to hear, “Mom? When can we start decorating the house and baking Christmas cookies?”

[shudder]

Don’t get me wrong. I do like making our home beautiful for the season, filling the house with smells of cinnamon and yuletide deliciousness. But not with my kids. Yeah. I know. I’m supposed to love every minute of it because it’s supposed to go like this:

idead decorating

Scene: Beautifully lit tree set up, awaiting to be adorned with memory-filled ornaments. All of the regular every-day crap…err…decor…is neatly packed away so festive santas, stockings and miles of garland can be whimsically and tastefully displayed. A spotless kitchen awaits trays and trays of perfect cookies to be created. Festive Christmas music is playing in the background, while 5 cups of steaming hot cocoa are at the ready. The house is brimming with love, joy and good cheer.

 

Enter family: Dad happily carries up totes of neatly packed Christmas ornaments and decorations from the basement; children anxiously yet patiently await to begin the festivities; Mom finishes putting together a delightful tray of healthy pre-Christmas goodies to munch on whilst merry-making. Ornaments are lovingly unpacked and hung with care, while memories of when they were made or received are gleefully shared. Other decorations are carefully unpacked and beautifully displayed. Hanging the garland is the finishing touch on this scene of holiday perfection.

 

ideal baking

Commence Baking: Mom gets out the ingredients and bowls to create a wide variety of sweet treats and family favorites. Children diligently wash their hands and dutifully await instruction. Turns are taken, spills cleaned, laughter fills the kitchen. Soon the house smells like the essence of all things Christmas. After all the cookies are cooled and decorated, the kitchen cleaned, the family sits down with a tray of their delights and glasses of milk. The love of the forthcoming Christ child fills everyone’s hearts.

[Christmas music comes to screeching halt.]

Ummm. No. Never in a million years would this EVER happen in our house. Here’s the reality of how it will probably go:

Scene: Tree mostly set-up with a third of the lights working. Dad is on a crazed mission to get every. last. bulb. lit. supported by lots of muttering of profanity under his breath, with an occasional, “Santa can kiss my ass!” thrown in for good measure. Boys are taking it upon themselves to aggressively haul every single decoration up from the basement, loud crashes and dragging sounds emerge from below. Mom is yelling downstairs, “will you two just WAIT, please?!?!?!” More crashing sounds, but this time coming from daughter, who is trying to climb now half lit tree.

Boys have finally drug everything upstairs and begin to rummage through all the boxes, bubble wrap and organization be damned, and start “decorating” with blind enthusiasm until family room looks like it was attacked by drunken elves. Dad finally has tree lit, plops down in his chair, remote and electronic devices in hand, and tunes in first football game he can find. His job here is done, thank you very much. Kids have now found ornaments: boys are fighting over who made which one, oldest one relegating all younger’s “ugly” ones to the back of the tree so his can have center stage. Meanwhile dear daughter has found the extra fragile ones and is trying to see if they bounce. They do not. Mom starts yelling, Dad starts making up weird words to Christmas songs (none of which are complementary) and singing off key just to piss Mom off. It works.

Mom gives up and heads out to kitchen to throw her frustration into baking. Kids catch wind of this and follow hot on her heels, demanding they get to help. Loud, defeated sigh along with muttering of, “goddamnit!” escapes her lips. Fine. Arguing starts over which kind we’re making first, who gets to measure/crack eggs/stir/mix first. (The real goal here is to see who gets to make Mom completely lose her shit first.) “Where are the Hershey Kisses for the peanut butter cookies?” — pan over to daughter sitting in the corner, piles of colorful foil surround her, brown circle around mouth. Check that one off the list.

Then it happens. A chorus of, “Let’s make cut-out cookies!” is chanted by all three. Mom’s blood runs cold and defeated sigh escapes once again. “How could it get worse?” she thinks. Oh just you wait, Mommy dearest. Rolling pin duels, rolling butt massages and “log rolling” around the kitchen starts. Dear daughter has dumped entire bin of cookie cutters out in middle of floor and is practicing her cut-outs on the hardwood. Middle child declares, “you need to flour your work surface before you roll the dough.” Mom is amazingly swift and swoops in and grabs the flour canister before complete bedlam starts. Finally deformed snowmen, freakish santas and three-legged reindeer emerge, as if they’d been exposed to large amounts of radiation. Now begins the cookie decorating. Frosting dripping. Sprinkles flying, getting ground into every crevice of the floor.

messy baking

Mom staggers out of the kitchen to give Dad evil death glare, only to find him still watching game, this time with large plate of Snowball Cookies (his favorite) sitting next to him. “What?” he says, powder sugar escaping his mouth in a puff of white. Every swear word plus a few new ones are said by Mom as she stomps back into the kitchen, only to discover every cookie has a bite out of it or are ground into the garland, which has been strung all over as if it were toilet paper.

At this point, I don’t know what happens next, because I will probably have completely exploded into a million pieces, only to be ground into the floor along with the sprinkles.

So forgive me if I’m not super excited to involve my children in decorating and baking and merry-making. And if I see pictures on Facebook of children in aprons, beatifically smiling with trays of perfect Christmas cookies, captioned, “we had so much fun making cookies for the homeless today!” — whomever posted it is getting punched in the throat. You’ve been warned.

 

Will You Just Listen to Me??!!

 It was another mental vitamin day for me this morning. I got to have breakfast with a dear friend whom I haven’t actually been able to sit down and really talk with for a very long time. Sure, I wave as I go tearing by her house in my garbage can on wheels (AKA the minivan). And I’m sure most times I have steam coming out of my ears, head spinning, my face contorted into some mangled screaming horror show because I’m — of course — late once again. Why? My kids most likely were being assholes and not listening.

I’ve been pondering a lot this morning. I think that’s what I can contribute 95% of the rage in my life to: people not listening to me. And I’m guessing there are a lot of other women out there who feel the same way about their lives.

As we were munching on our heavenly crispy bacon this morning, my friend told me about the saga she was dealing with at her house. I won’t go into all the details here, but I bet you a venti mocha with extra whip most women have experienced a similar situation far more times that we’d like to count. A company comes out to provide a service, screws up said service, woman has to call…and call…and call. Finally gets problem addressed half-assedly (it’s a word, okay?!) only to have to deal further with said headache, which has now escalated into a full-blown migraine. Now what does she have to do? She has to have her husband call and deal with it and be an asshole. And then miraculously things seem to get addressed. Ugh.

The pain of this situation is multi-fold. Even though my friend was professional, polite  and accommodating to work with to get the problem resolved, they disrespected her and blew her off repeatedly. Her frustration grew, significant time and energy was wasted and still no results. So she had to resort to calling in a man, even though there was no reason whatsoever they couldn’t have done the right thing when she asked them to. Do you know how demeaning that gets to be when it happens to you over and over again?

WHY!?! WHY does it have to get to this point? I literally have told customer lack-of-service people, “Now you can deal with me, and I will be a pure delight to work with, OR I can have my husband handle this and it will be far from pleasant. Your last colonoscopy will have seemed like a dream Disney vacation, complete with character breakfasts in comparison. Which do you choose?” (See what I did there? A little Love & Logic: gave them 2 options, either of which are acceptable to me? Hey, sometimes it works on my kids!)

Then of course they choose option #2, and I listen to the subsequent conversation my husband has with them. Somehow whatever magic hypnotism he performs, miraculously things get solved forthwith and they throw in a new car and a pony just for his inconvenience. *sigh* Yet if I would have said what he said, I would have been a bat$#it crazy bitch from hell and somehow from a man, it’s assertive and strong. Christ on a bike. I give up.

And remember me moaning about always being late because my kids didn’t listen to me when I told them it was time to get ready to go? Yeah. Again with the not listening. Here’s how things probably went down:

  1. It’s about 20 minutes before we have to go. In my nicest Mary Poppins voice, I give fair warning that they have 5 minutes then it’s time for shoes, bathroom, coats etc.
  2. 2 minute warning given
  3. Times up. Let’s get ready to go. Complaints, moaning or even just plain crickets chirping in response.
  4. My blood pressure starts to go up. I go to find my clompiest (it’s a word!) shoes so I can stomp around to further show my frustration as I go herd up the feral cats.
  5. Finally they start to get the message and respond like sullen, moody sloths as they make their way to find their shoes (which of course are nowhere near where they’re supposed to be.)
  6. It’s now 10 minutes past when we should have left, and only 1 of 3 has done at at least one of the required activities to leave. The others are either staring off into space contemplating whether BBQ or ranch is the optimal dipping sauce for their chicken nuggets, while the other is having an epic meltdown because his socks are uncomfortable and he’s not going to wear them.
  7. Deep breathing, rational thought and all things Mary Poppins are long gone. Now it’s full-on drill sergeant mode, everyone is yelling and/or crying and miraculously things start happening.
  8. We are finally in the car, everyone is upset, I am dangerously close to stroke level and it DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!!!

So the lesson here seems to be that in order to get things done, it’s a waste of time to be nice and polite, and I should just go to straight on yelling?? No. I don’t like this answer one bit. If I’m nice, I’m not listened to and if I’m mean, I end up feeling like a $#itty parent or a dumb girl. Either way I’m left feeling powerless and angry.

And that, my friends, is what it all comes down to: powerlessness. Wouldn’t it just be a much nicer world if we would just be listened to the first time rather than having to go through all the BS that makes us feel like failures?

In the news, are seeing case upon case of sexual harassment and unjust treatment coming out from everywhere. And why is this? There are lots of reasons, but I think the main reason is that women are tired of feeling powerless. And now we’re pissed. Don’t piss us off. Things will not end well.

My advice to the world: listen. It’s not hard. Listening doesn’t make you a “weaker” person. Life doesn’t have to be one big power play by making others feel weak in order for you to feel stronger. Listening and doing things the right way the first time is far less exhausting for all parties involved. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. Maybe I need to be a better listener too.

 

Lies, More Lies, Deceit & the Loss of Innocence

I am sitting here stress eating my kids’ Halloween candy. It’s been a rough day.

“Why the stress, friend?” you ask. Well. Dark days are coming for my oldest son.

Oh, don’t worry. He’ll get through it, it’s just that his wonderful innocent view of the world is about to come crashing down, his soul will be crushed and he will forever be scarred by complicated web of lies his parents have been telling him his whole life. You see, he’s been asking questions. Lots of them. And I don’t want to answer any of them.

“What kinds of questions,” you wonder.  Oh, how about: “Is Santa real? What about the tooth fairy? How do babies actually get in your stomach, Mom?” Ugh. I think I just threw up a little there.

So one of the greatest things about my first born is his crazy imagination. Do you know he actually has his own personal tooth fairy? Yes. Her name is Gladys. And his little brother has his own too, Bob. You see Bob and Gladys have been coming to our house quite a bit lately, seeing as our 1st grader is losing teeth at an alarming rate and is quickly achieving hillbilly status dentally speaking. Gladys came last night because her precious dental charge lost his first molar.

In fact, her visit last night was rather challenging, as she nearly forgot to come until about 7:00 AM. She hurriedly shoved $5 under the door with a note saying she’d come and get the tooth another time, because his room looked as if a pack of ravenous zombie trick-or-treaters had ransacked the place and Halloween candy and empty wrappers were strewn all about. (Candy scares tooth fairies — cavities, you know.) And of course he was all pissed off because Gladys didn’t leave a prize like Bob does. *sigh* My coffee may or may not have been “Irish” this morning.

Yeah. And then he’s been asking about Santa lately too. He always manages to bluntly ask, “Is Santa really real, Mom?” while his little brother is standing right next to him. Come ON! I can’t have BOTH of them hating me at the same time!! I somehow have pathetically dodged this one as well, while I lose sleep over how I’m going to fess up to my hot piles of deceit.

The best, though, is when he has been asking about how babies actually start. I feel pretty proud of myself I’ve been pretty honest about SOME of the biology of it all, as he grills me whenever he has me trapped in the car, shooting rapid fire questions at the back of my head…or better yet, when we’re walking into a quiet waiting room full of people. Not humiliating, AT ALL.

I think the thing I dread the most with all of these questions is his looks I will have to endure when I tell him. That look of disappointment that Santa and the tooth fairy aren’t magical visitors to our house, and the disgust that we lied to him about them for so long. And THEN the look of utter horror and disgust when he learns what s-e-x is. “I have to put my junk WHERE?!?!?!” And then I know I’ll hear the little hamster wheel in his crazy head come to a screeching halt as he realizes, “Wait! You and dad…did…AAAAGGGGHHH!!!!” Followed by him spontaneously combusting.

Shit.

I mean really.  Honestly. Do I just get it all over with like ripping off a giant bandaid? Or do I continue down the totally chicken shit road and get one of those books for kids explaining it all, leave it on his bed and hope for the best? *Gack!* When do they start teaching this crap in school?!? Why haven’t they started yet?!? This wasn’t supposed to be part of the deal. Someone ELSE was going to have to do this. Not me!

And then you know, once the shock, horror, disgust and disappointment have eased a bit, he’s gonna be PISSED at me and want REVENGE. He’s very good at revenge, my first born. His little brother is going to be the unwitting victim here when he goes and blabs the whole sordid truth to him, sparing no details. So basically I’m ruining two lives at once here. Crap.

Wait. How did all these wrappers get here? Ooops. That was me. Great. Now I have to come up with some other story of how all their candy disappeared. Excellent. And I was so in the running for Mother of the Year.

 

What the HELL, Disney?!?

One day a long time ago my oldest son asked me, “Mom? Who is your favorite princess: Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty?”

I thought a bit and said, “While both are perfectly lovely ladies, I guess I’d say Cinderella. Even though other people were mean to her, she always kept her chin up and took the high road.” (Nice teachable moment, right?)

He looked at me dubiously. “Huh. I would have thought you’d say Sleeping Beauty, cuz’ she got to sleep all the time.”

Me: [Blink. Blink. Blink.] Good point, kid. You know me well.

Like most parents, I’ve watched (or listened to while driving — God bless in-car DVD players!!) my fair share of Disney movies. But they always get me thinking, is there some sick requirement that in order to work at Disney, you have to have serious ill will toward all parents, especially moms? Can you think of many Disney movies where parental figures have ever fared well? Let us dissect just a few:

Snow White: Parents are dead, but dad lived long enough to marry evil woman to be stepmother to Snow White. Stepmother tries to off step-daughter with poisoned apple, but is chased to her death by little men and rogue animals. Said little men put dead-ish Snow White in glass box so they can watch her supposedly dead body decompose. The Prince comes, gives her a kiss and voila! Happy happy joy joy!  Side note: I can’t be the only one who’s thought, “Hmm. I’m guessing she wasn’t smelling very pretty after being laid out in a box for who knows how long. And I’ll bet you she needed a few TicTacs too.”

Cinderella: Again. The mom dies and the dad marries horrific woman. Then the dad ends up toes-up, and Cinderella’s screwed, banished to a life of degradation and hard labor for ungrateful, demanding and spoiled people. (Hmm…this actually sounds a lot like motherhood, now that I think about it.) But along comes Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming to save her from living nightmare.

Anna & Elsa: I remember seeing “Frozen” in the theater with a friend and our kids. When they killed off the parents in the shipwreck, I cried out, “Aww! COME ON!!!” (It wasn’t one of my better adult moments when a bunch of 5 year olds turned around to shush me and give me the stink eye.) At least Anna & Elsa took back the kingdom, gave Hans and the weird guy from Wesselton the big heave ho for being assholes and showed some girl power and all.

Rapunzel: I know you’re going to say, “Wait a stinkin’ minute. Rapunzel’s parents lived and she was reunited with them.” Okay. Fine. But let’s think about what happened to her before she found her parents again. She was kidnapped, trapped in a tower by a crazy lady and had no contact with other humans or the outside world. Yet somehow she emerges as this lovely, well-adjusted social butterfly once she escapes. Now I wasn’t a psych major in college or anything, but I’m guessing an experience like that does not leave you on the good end of the sanity scale.

So really, Mr. Disney. What exactly are you trying to teach our kids? Yeah, yeah. Resilience, positive attitude, hard work…blah blah blah. But really what you’re teaching is this:

  1. You better not like your parents too much, because they’re gonna die.
  2. If your dad outlives your mom and remarries, he’s gonna find the most nasty woman available and you’re screwed, sweetie.
  3. Guys will save you every time.

I mean yeah, I’m probably screwing up my kids pretty majorly on my own, and I’m still living (although I regularly have doubts that I’ll survive their childhoods.) And if I did die, I’m guessing my husband would hire a nanny and not deal with the whole marrying another crazy woman thing. I won’t torture you with my feminist rant about how we women do just fine on our own without a MAN, thank you. And who’s to say another woman couldn’t sweep you off your feet?? Love is love, people!

At least the fine people at Disney have been starting to create some stronger princesses: Merida who was a badass and stood up for her own free will (although Disney did have the dad lose a leg via bear mauling and then the mom gets turned INTO a bear…was John Irving a guest writer for this movie?) There was Tiana, who had to spend some unfortunate time as a frog, but did come up with a great business model and executed to the plan to make her dream come true.

I know there are a lot of other arguments to the contrary to be made and I could go on for a few more hours debating the finer points of all things Disney. But my blog. My arguments. So there. And now I’m off to give my own Prince Charming-In-His-Own-Way a smooch goodnight and probably have a few messed up dreams about getting offed by Disney.