First World Problems

I’ve made it two-thirds of the way through summer “vacation” and still have three children and one husband. There have been a few days where those stats were in doubt, but the cops haven’t been called yet, so I figure that’s a positive. However there are four weeks left and I’m really starting to feel the burn-out of being with my kids All. The. Damned. Time. I really need them to go back to school and leave me alone.

I’ve been wanting some “me” time and it’s been hard to come by lately. During the summer I only get to get away at odd times on the weekends when my husband is home. My usual weekday morning pick-me-up is a trip to my beloved Target sans kids. But even my random weekend trips there aren’t helping lately, and it’s all Target’s fault. My comfortable home-away-from-home is remodeling to give me a “better shopping experience.” Yeah, well I was just perfectly happy with my previous shopping experience, thanks. People who say “change is good” are full of shit.

target cartI used to be able walk in, stop in for a cup of caffeinated happiness at Starbucks and mosey on through the produce section, imagining all the healthy and delicious things I could cook for my beloved family — perhaps a delightful assortment of perfectly sautéed  vegetables alongside some grilled balsamic glazed lean protein with a nice side of quinoa with fresh herbs. Simple yet tasty, right?

Oh who the hell am I kidding? Like the inmates would ever get within 100 feet of that. Even my husband says, “I’m not eating any of that keen … kin… krap wah stuff.” Fine. I mean it’s not like I don’t personally flip off the organic kale as I glide on by it with my cart. (Seriously, people who say they love eating kale are the same ones who say “change is good” — they’re totally full of shit and we will never be friends.)

Never mind. Back to my culinary reality: broccoli and a few pieces of fruit it is and off I wander. I usually end up running into a fellow mom friend — her Starbucks cup in hand, a contented look upon her face, the stress and exhaustion fading away as the caffeine enters her system and soothes her strained vocal cords. We chitchat awhile, mutually complaining about our hateful children and promise to set up a play date soon. (Meh, those don’t happen enough, but it’s the thought that counts.)

If I’m feeling extra leisurely, I drift through the make-up aisle and think I really need to do something more with my eyebrows or something. That thought vanishes quickly as I realize I need to get toothpaste once again since my kids never manage to actually brush their teeth, yet there’s always at least a half tube of toothpaste smeared all over their bathroom. Ahhh. The smell of bubble mint and all the pee that’s missed the toilet. An olfactory delight.

Then I get up to the check-out and look for my favorite Target peeps. (Susan, Kimberly…You know who you are.) We get the quick down-low on each other’s lives as my purchases are effortlessly whisked through the register, have a few laughs, scan my Cartwheel and my Red Card and watch the total ratchet down. Oh the heady rush of a good discount! And then I stroll out to the mom mobile with my cart full of wonderful and a new outlook on life.

target remodelBut no. Now they’re screwing that all up. Instead of the calm that washes over me when I step foot inside Chez Tarjay, I feel dizzy and disoriented. I grab a cart and hold on for dear life as I crash into other dazed customers also looking for some semblance of normalcy. Tarps are blocking some areas, new displays are crammed together and hey! Where the hell is the iceberg lettuce and regular tomatoes? This better not mean I’m expected to buy kale fer crissake! GAWD NO! I continue to stumble through the rat-like maze of sleek new refrigerator units and shelving. Goddamnit! Where’s the f’ing Mrs. Buttersworth syrup and mango lemonade?? Crap! There’s going to be hell to pay if I don’t come home with that shit!

My blood pressure continues to elevate and I start feeling stabby and hostile. Employees try not to make eye contact with me so they don’t have to suffer my wrath, “WHERE’S THE GODDAMNED MRS. BUTTERSWORTH!?! No. NOT that Aunt Jemima shit or that fancy real maple syrup! MIS-SUS BUT-TERS-WORTH! The minions will be revolting in the morning if that crack isn’t on the table! WHERE IS IT?!?!

After violently hurling my cart aimlessly around the store some more with my fellow pissed off shoppers, I pass by the new cosmetics display. The sleek spotlights and mirrors just seem to mock me rather than lure me in to find the magical product that will make me look like I actually have eyebrows. By this time my nostrils are flaring and I’m cursing louder.

I wander over to the checkout lanes only to find 4 staffed lanes and those lines are full.  Since I’m not here during my regular time, a new front end manager approaches and says, “Our self-checkout lanes are open!” I huffed and rolled my eyes, “WHERE THE FUCK IS SUSAN!?!? She would find Kimberly, open a new lane and I would be rung up and outta here!” (I don’t know if I actually said this out loud or if it was just the insanity oozing out of my pores that was off-putting. The person looked nervous.)

I brace myself and head to the corrals of self-checkout registers. I feel like a goddamned veal as I’m forced into the pen of self-sufficiency. Moo!! I struggle to find the UPC codes — aww crap! That rang through twice and now I have to call someone over. *HUFF!* What’s the code for these weird calamari campari tomatoes?? NO! NOT KALE! GODDAMNIT!!!!!

By this time I’m a hot sweaty mess. Children are clutching their mother’s leg as they watch this feral bovine hurl her purchases into her cart. To make matters worse I had forgotten my reusable bags in the car (sorry Mother Earth. I suck.) I manage to blindly make my way to the exit with my receipt angrily clutched in my fist. SHIT! I FORGOT MY CARTWHEEL! Kimberly wouldn’t have forgotten my Cartwheel and would never have had to spun each item around 20 times looking for the stupid UPC. Change. Sucks.


So yes, dear reader. These are my first world problems all caused by summer vacation and Target. I don’t know what that says about me. 1) My life is really pathetic, or 2) I’m a spoiled brat, or 3) Kale really is the answer and I’m screwed. Crap.



On Being a Minister’s Kid

My dad was a minister. Yeah. I’m a Preacher’s Kid (or a Theologian’s Offspring if you want to be all snooty.) It explains a lot about me, doesn’t it?

When I was little, I remember asking my mom, “Why does Dad dress up on Sunday and pretend to be Jesus?” I couldn’t figure out why all these people came to see him play dress-up and imagination every week, especially since I thought he wasn’t very good at it and was pretty boring. When she explained to me what he was really doing, I was relieved to know that my dad was not in fact insane.

It’s a strange life sometimes having a minister for a dad. Why is it that the kids of a doctor, a lawyer or a plumber are never expected to know everything about their parent’s trade? Yet having a dad who was a minister, other kids would turn to me and ask me questions about the Bible and religion. Seriously. I never thought to ask them if something looked infected, how to sue someone or how to install a faucet. Yet somehow by birth I was omniscient about God? Adults often expected me to be extra well-behaved because, well…God was watching me more closely or something. I think I was better behaved because I always got “the look” from my mom if I got restless in church and she would cover my hands with hers in my lap. I knew there would be trouble later if I didn’t knock it off. I think it was the other adults who were watching me more closely and Mom knew it.

When I was in middle school, I was talking with a new friend and she refused to believe me that my dad was a minister. “But you don’t wear white all the time.” Uhh, okay. I think that was when I started to wear black a lot and started cursing more. It’s all her fault.

I vividly remember when I learned about death. I was about 4 or 5 at the time and some days I would go to church with my dad while he worked. Lots of times I would go and hang out with his secretary and she would put me to “work” stapling things or using the guillotine-like paper cutter (probably not a wise choice, but we didn’t wear bike helmets back then either, so…) Other times she’d have me fold bulletins for Sunday. I always loved the heady smell of the mimeograph as the pages ker-chunked out into the tray.

When Mrs. Biertzer had enough of me and my dad was busy, I would have free run of the church. I played in the nursery, zig zagged through the pews and ran laps up and down the aisle. Sometimes I played Sunday school teacher or pretended to pass the offering plate.

One day I was in the sanctuary and up in front was an elderly lady sleeping in a fancy box that was half open. I stood in front of it for awhile, admiring the satin lining and pillow, how neatly she slept with her hands clasped on her chest, and how pretty she looked with her hair nicely curled and make up done up. I thought about waking her, but I was afraid I’d startle her and make her scream like my mom did when I went woke her up in the middle of the night. (It always scared the crap out of me and made me think twice about waking her.)

After I decided to let the lady sleep there in the front of the church, I went downstairs to the kitchen where the Ladies Aid was busily preparing the meal for after the funeral. I casually told them about the lady sleeping in the box upstairs. All activity abruptly stopped, pearls were clutched and immediately a ham sandwich and a cookie were shoved in front of me to distract me so I wouldn’t ask questions. I was then quickly shuffled off to go find my dad.

I found him in his office and said, “Dad? There’s a lady sleeping in a box in the front of the church. I went downstairs to ask the ladies about it and they acted all weird when I told them about it.”

He calmly and matter-of-factly answered, “She’s dead.”

“Dead dead?” I asked. “Oh.”

He then went on to tell me about the funeral they were going to have for her that afternoon and answered my questions. As I look back on this, I give my dad a lot of credit for being honest with me and giving me a straight-forward answer instead of trying to spare my questions and avoiding my fear. If he didn’t answer the way he did, I probably would have been scared. I need to remember this more when my kids ask me those tough questions.

I guess I’m thinking about my dad a lot lately because this week will be the two year anniversary of his death. I miss my favorite feeling in the world of how it felt when he enveloped me in a big hug after church as he shook hands with the congregants. He would still be wearing his robe, the one with with the big sleeves and velvet stole with gold crosses embroidered on it.  It was pure heaven and all was right in the world in those moments. Life wasn’t scary and I was the most special girl in the world. Now his robe is tucked away in its carrying case up in my closet. Maybe I’ll get the courage to get it out this week and let the kids admire it with me while we share some good memories of him.