Which Type of Mom Are You?

The other day I was at a school event, and I looked around at all the other moms. To pass time, I found myself categorizing them into various mom-types I imagined they’d fall into. Here is a by no-means comprehensive list of the various types I saw:

The KoolAid Mom:
This is the mom my children always wish they had. All the kids in the neighborhood love coming over to KoolAid Mom’s house to play. She’s always well stocked with snacks, beverages and popsicles. She’s usually got cookies baking in the oven (and salmonella be damned, you get to lick the beaters!) If it’s a rainy day, you can guarantee she’s got a drop cloth under the kitchen table and any variety of paints, PlayDoh, slime making materials, or fun science experiments laid out for the kids to go nuts with. After all, messes are a sign that memories are being made. If it’s hot outside, every sprinkler, water toy and kiddie pool is hauled out. If she’s extra Kool, she’ll whip out 250 water balloons and join in the frivolity. She’s the mom featured on pharmaceutical commercials after said drug has cured her of her moderate to severe psoriasis/depression/ulcerative colitis/insomnia or other ailment of the moment.

The June Cleaver:
This is the wife/baby mama my husband wishes he had. She has the children all bathed, fed and ready for bed before her tired, hardworking husband/baby daddy gets home. She’s taken that little extra effort to fix her hair and make-up and spritz a bit of perfume behind her ears before he arrives. Her clothes are fresh, clean and classic, and the house is tidied and company ready. There is not a heaping laundry basket or stray toy in sight. She greets her beloved at the door with a Manhattan and a kiss for him. She tells him to relax while she finishes his dinner, which is probably a perfectly prepared thick-cut pork chop with fresh green beans with toasted almonds, a risotto she whipped up and apple-cranberry compote. There is chocolate cream pie for dessert.

The Task Master:
Task Master runs a tight ship. Her kids are well scheduled, and everyone is where they need to be when they’re supposed to be. Homework is always completed, rooms are cleaned and chore charts bedazzled with stars to match that sparkling porcelain in the bathroom. There is military in her DNA, and clutter is not part of her vocabulary. Her kids are always well behaved because any sass will earn them another chore, buster. She takes over slacking committees on the PTO and whips them into shape. Teachers fear getting an email from her, because it usually means they’ve forgotten to assign enough homework or something.

The MLM Mama:
MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) Mama is a one motivated go-getter. She sashays into any event like a walking advertisement for her product decked out in perfect make-up and well-moisturized skin, sassy jewelry, and swingy dress with coordinating leggings. She’s got it going on. Some versions of her have a cloud of essential oils surrounding her and you get a whiff of patchouli and lavender (not to be confused with the scent of desperation for a new sale) every time she flips her glossy tresses. She always has a great basket of goodies to donate to any auction or teacher appreciation gift. She is a good person to know because she’s well connected and can multi-task like a pro. She is often related to…

The Involved-in-Everything Mommy:
This lady is always the first one signed up for any and all activities. Whether it be room mom, PTO, chaperone, party coordinator or supply donator. She is volunteering in her kids’ classes at least once a week and teachers worship her. Hot Mess moms are grateful for her, as she picks up their slack. When she was growing up, she was always first to be chosen to play Mary in the Christmas pageant, and those beatific traits have never left her. She is a born nurturer and helper of the down-trodden — thus why she’s always helping her kid’s teacher.

The Hot Mess:
The HM does not own clean…well…anything. Her clothes have a variety of foods and bodily fluids spilled on them. When she squeals into the parking lot at school for drop-off, an array of fast-food wrappers, Goldfish crackers and stray shoes blow out of her garbage can on wheels as the side door slides open before she even comes to a complete stop. She shoves her kids out the door while blowing kisses and yelling, “Make good choices!” after them, then roars off to the next thing she’s late for. Ooops! She slams on the brakes, throws it in park and goes chasing after her kids with their forgotten backpack, lunch, signed permission slip or band instrument. She may or may not be still in her PJs and slippers and her kids are probably wearing some combination of PJs, out-of-season clothing, rain boots (who knows where their shoes went) and miss-matched socks — because really. Who has time to match socks?

The Mean Mommy Monster:
This chick is done with putting up with bullshit from her children, or anyone for that matter. She has zero fucks left to give. You’ll see her in the store dragging her surly kids along, not even bothering to lower her voice to a whisper-yell when they step out of line. If her windows are left open at home, she yells so loudly that the neighbors pick-up their goddamned toys, brush their teeth and go to bed. Her kids may have owned electronics at one point in their lives, but they have lost privileges until they are 18. Her husband is beaten down and mutters under his breath a lot. (Involved-in-Everything Mom would like to adopt him.) Do not confuse other moms with her at back-to-school time, because aren’t we all Mean Mommy Monster by then? Cut us some slack fer crissake.

So next time you’re at a school event or waiting in line at Target, look around you. Which kind of moms do you see? Which kind of mom are you?? What about your mom or wife? Maybe you’re a Hot Mess and really want to be June Cleaver. Maybe that Mean Mommy Monster really wishes she could be KoolAid Mom, but for her it’s all just been too much and she’s tired.

You know what? It actually doesn’t matter at all. Because it takes all kinds of moms to make the world go ’round and keep things interesting. Somehow we crank out some pretty great kids in the meantime. (Whichever mom you are, just don’t be Mean Mommy Monster. She’s a bitch and nobody likes her. Seriously. She needs to chill already.)

Awesome Moms UNITE!

PS: (If you really want to mess with your friend, forward this to her and say, “Guess which one you totally are!!”)

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The $#!+tastrophe In the Pediatric Psych Ward

Disclaimer: The following post most likely will contain a lot of curse words. If you tend to clutch your pearls at such unsavory language, you’ve been warned. I henceforth will not be held responsible, legally or otherwise, for any choking due to said pearl clutching or loud gasps of outrage. In fact, now would be a good time to get out the fans and smelling salts.

Fuck. Me. (Seriously. I warned you.)

“Why such foul language, Nurse Ratchet?” you ask…Well, First Born Male Child has been at it again, and venting of my hot, seething rage through cursing like a well-educated sailor is saving his goddamned life. (Yeah, you might want to get the popcorn now.)

AAARRGG! [pulls hair] Fuuuuuck! Okay. [Deep breath.]

So the other day Young Son casually says, “Hey Mom. The toilet in our bathroom won’t flush. I think you might need to plunge it.”

Christ on a bike. These boys need to start eating more fruits and vegetables, because their shit is the size of a well-fed barn cat. It’s appalling, really. So I trudged upstairs and figured I better get it over with. Nothing makes me feel like getting my sexy on more than plunging a stopped up toilet.

So what’s the first thing you do when you begin plunging a toilet? You flush it, of course. You gotta see what you’re dealing with.

*Flush* [Disgusting murky toilet water swirls and swirls and water goes up and up and up…]

“Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck! Staaaaaahhhhhppp!!!! Plllleeeeeaaasssseee! …. *whew!* That was close! Well, I guess I have time to check Facebook while I wait for Satan’s stew to recede before I go to work.”

A few minutes later I braced myself, gave a blessing to the plunger and had at it.

[Plunge plunge plunge plunge]

Nothing. Shit.

[Plunge plunge plunge plunge]

Not even a gurgle. Grrr.

[Plunge plunge plunge plunge]

“Young Son!!! Come in here!”

“Yeah, Mom? What’s up?”

“My blood pressure. Do you have any idea what happened here? This is ridiculous.”

“No luck, huh? I don’t know. It was like that when I got in here. I just had to pee, so it wasn’t me. It was probably First Born.” Of course. Total shocker.

“Go get your brother and tell him to come in here.”

“Got it, Mom!” YS trotted out, clearly happy to be off the hot seat. A little while later, First Born strolls in with Warrior Princess in tow.

“Yeah, Mom? YS said you wanted to see me.”

Hmmm… He had a wide-eyed look of casual innocence, which is usually a dead giveaway for his guilt. “Do you know why this toilet is so clogged?”

“Huh. No idea. It wasn’t me.” He stood there looking at me, trying not to blink.

“Warrior Princess, do you know why the toilet is broken?”

“First Born did it.” She will either tell the truth as easily as she’ll throw her brothers under the bus in a heartbeat, rightfully so or not. I still wasn’t sure.

“First Born, did you flush something down the toilet? If you did, you need to tell me now so I know whether or not I need to call the plumber. I just need to know what I’m dealing with. I’ll even try not to yell if you did.”

“It wasn’t ME! Honest!”

*Harumpf* I shooed them out and continued plunging a while longer.

“Screw this. I’m done. Husband can deal with it when he gets home.”

Later that evening, I told Husband what the problem was. He was as thrilled as I was and trudged up to deal with the shit show. A little while later, I heard muttering, cursing and complaining. “Goddamnit. People are always breaking things in this house! No one even cares!” [plunge plunge plunge splash] “This is why we can’t have nice things! Now we’re going to have to call a plumber and pay a fortune. I don’t know who did this, but they’re on my list!!”

He gave up and stormed downstairs. I figured this would be a good time to start getting the inmates’ showers and baths going for bedtime instead of reigniting my bad mood by being around his. While Warrior Princess splashed around in the tub, I decided to ask her again if she knew what was going on with the toilet from hell. She stood strong with her declaration of it being First Born’s fault.

Young Son sauntered in, “Hey Mom. How’s it going?”

I stared him down, “I’m going to ask you again, do you know what happened to the toilet?”

He looked at me and knew I meant business, so he immediately cracked, “It was First Born. He flushed one of Warrior Princess’ Duplo figures as a joke. He even recorded it and put it on his YouTube channel.”

gazelle

Holy fuck!! Seriously? I quickly pulled up his account and sure enough, there was the video of poor Madame Gazelle, Peppa Pig’s teacher, getting the swirly of her life. God, just take me now. Please. What kind of fucking moron does something so stupid then posts it on YouTube as evidence??? My child, evidently.

[Yes, see, this is proof how disgusting and what poor aimers my inmates are — I have no idea what the hell that green swipe is on the toilet seat either. It doesn’t come off. Probably some jack wagon move from another time.]

“Thank you for telling me. You don’t need to tell First Born you narked him out. I’ll deal with this.”

So what did he do? He immediately trotted downstairs and told First Born! What in the actual fuck?! What kind of death wish did he have?? Evidently he inherited the idiot gene too. Jeez! Instead of hearing YS being pounded by FB, I heard First Born say, “So is Mom mad at me? She is, isn’t she?” Oh, so NOW he finds his ticket for the clue bus!

Somehow I managed to maintain my composure and didn’t immediately go nuclear on his punk ass. Instead, I decided to let him sit and sweat it out while I put Warrior Princess to bed. He knew the hammer was coming, but he didn’t know when. I’ll be honest, it gave me some satisfaction knowing he was filled with dread.

I calmly called him upstairs to talk with me. He looked sheepish. “What exactly made you think flushing a toy down the toilet was a good idea? What, pray tell, was the point of that stunt? For fun? To make people laugh at such jocularity? Because you felt like breaking the toilet? WHY?”

You know damned well what he answered: “I dunno.” So I played the video for him to refresh his foggy memory. And you know what that asshole did??? He laughed! Honestly! Did he have the same kind of death wish his little brother had?! “Well, it was kinda funny, Mom.”

“Well, I don’t think you’re going to find it ‘kinda funny’ when you see what the plumber bill is going to be. You realize you’re not going to get any allowance until you’re fifteen now, right?”

“*Sigh*…Yeah, I know,” and he slunk off to his room, probably grateful that he didn’t lose his life instead of his allowance.

So I texted our plumber and explained the situation, even including the YouTube link for reference. I said, “I understand if you aren’t able to find a pole longer than ten feet to touch this with.”

He replied, “I’ll try to auger it and if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to pull the toilet when I come out tomorrow.” Excellent. Just freaking excellent. I also asked him if he had any references for military schools. Maybe he’ll get back to me on that one.

In the meantime, one of the inmates had decided to take a fucking DUMP in the broken toilet. No, I’m not kidding. I think I was tasting metal for a good half hour after I discovered that gem.

When the plumber arrived, I told him about the newest shitty development. I have never seen someone look like they regretted their career choice as much as he did at that very moment. He was able to auger through the shitberg and managed to find a Penguin action figure from Batman, but alas, no Madame Gazelle. I’m not sure what The Penguin did to deserve getting flushed, but it very well may haven been Warrior Princess’ doing. He pulled the toilet, and still no Madame Gazelle. Fuck. That meant she was lodged even further down the pipe. He was going to need to come back with a vacuum and a camera to find out where Madame was lodged. Hopefully he’d be able to rescue her that way, otherwise he was going to have to cut a hole in the ceiling downstairs to access the pipe that way. Jeez. At this point, we’re probably going to need to dip into First Born’s college fund. Not like he’s going to use it if he he keeps up this crap!

So we decided we may as well replace the toilet since he’d pulled the old one already. I suggested the kind you can flush golf balls down (and just not tell the inmates of its capability so they don’t accept it as a challenge.) He said, “No, you don’t need all that. People don’t poop golf balls or Snickers bars. A new one will be more efficient and have a bigger diameter so it won’t get clogged as easily.”

So off to Home Depot I went to get his recommended commode. Nothing makes me feel dumber than a trip to Home Depot. Ugh! What is it about that place that just makes me lose all sense of intelligence? I always feel like I wander around aimlessly until I find what I need by accident. But I was successful in the end, and a bright shiny new toilet awaits in the back of the mini van.

So dear reader, please pray for me…that the plumber won’t have to hack through the ceiling to get at Madame Gazelle…that First Born will live to see another day…and that my hand basket will be well padded and comfy for my long journey to hell. At least there I can swear as much as I want.

Let’s Stop Trying to Be Perfect. Let’s Just be Real.

I started writing this blog a year and a half ago for a few reasons: to vent off some of the crazy in my life, to organize and understand my thoughts on something that’s really bothering me at the moment, and to hopefully let other crazed parents know they are not alone in their insanity and that they probably have their act together far better than I do. There’s something really cathartic for me when I hit that “publish” button. It’s a combination of, “Whew! I got that out! That feels better”…a bit of, “Oh, jeez! I hope people like it,” and “Crap. DCFS is gonna come knocking any minute, aren’t they?”

My blog is my authentic self. I don’t make this stuff up, even though some days I wish I did. It is not like a carefully crafted and curated Facebook page where I show my life at its best or my children at their cutest. Don’t get me wrong — I like doing that too, and I love seeing beautiful pictures of my friends and their families, new babies and fun vacations. It brings me joy when my friends and family share a great success in their life.

But we all need to be cautious about trying to live our lives so that it’s Facebook or Instagram-worthy. Isn’t it exhausting always covering up our flaws and worrying about what others think?

One of the best pieces of advice my mom taught me is to not worry about what others are thinking of you, because most likely they aren’t. They’re too busy worrying about what others are thinking of them or their current problems. Think about it. It really takes the pressure off.

One time when one of the inmates was still a tiny baby, I had a day where I actually showered and put on clean clothes — I felt great! I felt invincible and decided to venture out and go to Costco to stock up on all the things we had burned through during my last uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy and newborn blur. By the time I had everyone packed up in the car and arrived at the store, I looked down only to see a huge wet spot on my overflowing chest where one of my boobs had leaked and a big smear of spit-up down the middle of my shirt. When did that happen?! It was a beautiful spring day and I hadn’t brought a coat along that I could hide under. Maybe I could fashion a swaddling blanket into a big scarf to cover up the hot mess? That looked even more ridiculous. Wipes could only do so much when I scrubbed at the crime scene all over my boobs. Ugh! I felt like crying. I couldn’t go in looking like this! What would people think when they saw me?

Then my mom’s voice came into my head, “They’re not going to think anything. They’re going to be too busy thinking about what they need to get and strong-arming their cart through the aisles. If they do look at you, they’re going to be too busy admiring that beautiful new baby and not looking at your chest.” You know what? She was totally right — she’s a smart one, that Mom. By the time I made it out of the store with my overflowing cart, I was exhausted but proud of myself. I did it and no one had given me a disapproving or pitying look. And frankly, if they did, who the hell cared?! This was Costco fer crissake, not Rodeo Drive!

So why did I share a weird story like that with you? Well, perhaps this post doesn’t apply to you. But if it helps someone who is struggling and feeling alone in their imperfect life, then mission accomplished. Parenting and just being a human in general is hard enough. Why do we waste time trying to be perfect? Maybe if we share our struggles a bit more, it can help bring others out of their darkness.

The other day I was feeling a bit down, so I texted a friend who I hadn’t talked with in awhile. I asked how things were going, and she told me that life was tough right now. We decided to get together in person — this was serious. I brought her a cup of Starbucks (because that’s what good friends do), and we sat down and talked about our imperfect lives, the painful things our kids were going through, not feeling like we were good mothers and wives, and just how frustrating and helpless it all felt. We were able to find the humor in it, laugh together and assure each other that we were not alone and were doing the best we could in this craziness called life. I left feeling energized and a bit more at peace. It was all going to be okay. I hope she felt the same.

So I’m going to throw a challenge out there for us: let’s all stop trying to be perfect and just be ourselves. Better yet, reach out to someone you haven’t heard from in awhile. Sometimes when life gets too heavy, it feels really good when we can help share the burden. I’m going to keep reminding myself that if life goes sideways, at least it’s great material for my next blog post. May life bring you more Instagram-worthy than blog post moments.

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Being a Stay-At-Home Mom Isn’t Always What You Think It Will Be

I became a mother for the first time when I was 35 years old. I went into it thinking, “I have waited and prepared for this for so long, I’m totally going to nail this parenting thing. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!” I had read all the books and listened to the sage wisdom of moms who I thought really had it going on. I gave up sushi, caffeine and liquor and slept on my left side from the moment I found out I was pregnant, fer crissake! I vowed that my children would have minimal screen time, eat the healthiest foods and have the most educational toys money could buy. By being a stay-at-home mom, I was going to give them the very best start in life by loving and nurturing them every waking, meaningful moment of their lives.

Good lord. How did my husband stay married to that hot mess of hubris who thought she could single-handedly raise the greatest wünderkinder the world would ever know?! My grand plans of being the perfect mom and providing a well manicured childhood were quickly dashed when I realized First Born Male Child had ideas and plans of his own. Most of them did not involve accepting my loving, guiding hand. In fact, he mostly shoved my hand aside and decided he was going to do it his way.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since FBMC was born 11 years ago. It was a decision that my husband and I made together. Before that, I was part of the work-force, making actual money (not copious amounts, but…) I had goals to attain, work to produce, deadlines to meet, performance reviews, vacation — also known as paid time off — weekends free and a paycheck twice a month.

So often I get asked by non-stay-at-home parents, “So what do you DO all day???” You know what? That questions makes my skin crawl every time someone asks it. I never know if it’s coming from a place of jealousy, judgement or just plain curiosity. I scramble to think of tangible, worthy and important things to tell them, and my mind goes blank every time. What do I do all day? Crap! Then I start filling with guilt and self-doubt. Maybe I am as lazy and pathetic as they must think I am! Really. What is my job description?

I think what makes that question so frustrating to answer is because my job as a SAHM is a million seemingly mindless little things. Granted I was never the leader of a Fortune 500 company or curing cancer single handedly, but I used my education and talents daily in a dignified manner. My job was part of a greater picture for the success of an organization. But the perception of a SAHM is that we putter around the house all day and don’t contribute to society. A lot of days I feel like that’s true.

Probably the best description I think is that I’m the pro bono CEO, Office Manager, Director of HR, Executive Assistant, Personal Chef, Life Coach, Lead Negotiator (of arguments and hostages) and of course Janitor of our house. The real issue is that you can’t truly compare a SAHM’s job to one in the workforce.

Sometimes I get the response, “Wow! I could never do that! It would drive me nuts. I need to be in the workplace.” You know what? I totally get it. I’m jealous of the fact that you get to have alone time to eat lunch, have a complete conversation (with an adult) and go the the bathroom without an audience. I’m jealous that whenever you ask someone to do something, they most likely will do it without arguing or tantrum throwing. I’m jealous that you get a paycheck and vacation and a performance review with real feedback on how you’re doing (and dare I say a raise or a bonus every once in awhile?) I actually envy your quiet time in the car during your commute.

But then I remind myself that my current life affords me the flexibility to volunteer in my kid’s classroom and go on a field trip, to declare PJ days whenever I want, to stay at home with a sick kid or on a snow day without the stress of scrambling to find child care. I don’t have the pressure my husband has to support us all on his salary and benefits, or the guilt I’m sure he sometimes feels when his job takes him away from spending time with his family.

In the end, life is filled with trade-offs and we all need to do what is best and works for our own family. Your fulfillment in life can come from a career or being a stay-at-home-parent or a combination of the two. As long as your children see that you are working hard to give them the best life that you can, then rest assured, you’re doing a good job.

Now I’m off to mediate an escalating trade negotiation, finish my fourth load of laundry, prepare the 30th meal of the day and probably wipe a butt. Somehow I don’t think this is for what my liberal arts education was intended.

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The Inmates Are Trying to Kill Me

Is it a full moon? Is Mercury in retrograde? Has Earth changed the direction of its orbit around the sun? Because either I’m getting really freaking paranoid, or the inmates are upping their mental game in trying to kill me.

Dear Husband just left for a week out of town, so it’s just me. That’s nothing unusual in our household, but the inmates seem to always choose these times to pull out all the stops on their insanity.

Last night at 10:30 I was getting ready to go to bed early for once, when suddenly Young Son started screaming bloody murder with more terror than I’ve ever heard come out of his little body. I sprinted upstairs, turned on the light and found him hiding under the covers. “WHAT???!! WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!? ARE YOU BEING MURDERED?!?”

“I heard squeaking!!! There is a mouse in my bed!!!”

*sigh*

Okay. So let me fill you in a bit. Back in January (during yet another time when DH was out of town for three weeks), we had a mouse in our house. Like I said, all this shit happens when he’s not home. I was able to get rid of it, our pest control company had done their thing and everything’s been fine. Unfortunately ever since then, YS has been fearful that the mouse is in his room at night — like regularly yells for us after he’s gone to bed, claiming he’s seen a mouse in the dark. One time it was a dirty sock in the corner, another time it was his arm brushing up against his stuffed animal. While I feel for the kid — I mean I wasn’t exactly calm about the whole matter either — this freaking out every other night is getting really old.

[Deep breaths] “Young Son. There is NOT a mouse in your room. Dad and I have checked every night for you, the pest control guys have checked. There’s NO MOUSE!”

He crawled around on the floor and looked at all baseboards for mouse holes. “But I heard SQUEAKING, Mom!” (He thinks he’s going to see evidence of mice by finding a hole in a baseboard just like in the cartoons.)

“Dude. If there were any mice upstairs, they’d all be partying it up in First Born’s room with all of junk and snacks he’s got stashed in there. Your room is totally boring to a mouse. THERE’S NO MOUSE!”

I made him go to the bathroom to pee and get a drink of water to reset him, tucked him back in and turned the lights out. I stumbled back to my bedroom and collapsed on the bed. So much for an early bedtime. It was going to be awhile before my adrenaline dropped below toxic levels.

I’d finally fallen into a deep blissful sleep by 2:00 AM, only to be awoken by God knows what. Was it a sound? Did my mom-dar get set off by something? I didn’t know, but I just knew something was up. I listened for awhile and kept thinking I was hearing…something. I finally got up to investigate, because I had a sneaking suspicion that First Born was up to no good. I tiptoed down the hall and threw open his door. It was dark in his room, but I had seen the tell-tale light of his tablet screen quickly being extinguished. There was some quick rustling and then silence.

“First Born! What are you doing?!?! I know you are awake!” I reached down and found his tablet still warm with his ear buds dangling from it. ARRRGGGG! In our house we have a strict rule that all electronics are turned into Mom and Dad at bedtime. Any use of electronics after lights-out has clear, major consequences. Yet somehow FB couldn’t resist the temptation and had managed to steal it off of my nightstand where I had kept it.

“What were you thinking?!? It’s two o’clock in the stupid morning! You have a major test tomorrow!!” They are doing their yearly statewide standardized testing at his school this week, and we always try to be sure he gets a good night’s sleep and a decent breakfast especially during those weeks. The next morning was going to be super fun.

“I don’t know. Sorry Mom,” he sullenly muttered as he crawled under the covers.

“You’re in some serious trouble, pal. GO. TO. SLEEP!” as I flounced out of his room in a rage with his tablet clenched in my hand. I returned to my room and started searching on my phone for safes with fingerprint, retinal and voice recognition security. This sneaking electronics crap was getting out of hand.

Three hours later I finally fell back into a fitful sleep only to be woken up at 6:00 by Young Son yelling again, “Mom! MOM!! MOOOOMMMMM!!!!”

I went running in, flipped on the light, “WHAT?!? What’s wrong?!?”

He looked at me from his bed with big eyes, “Uhh…uhhh…I just wanted to say good morning. Sorry.” I guess must have looked particularly crazed and scary.

“You. wanted. to. say. good. morning,” I tried to say as calmly as possible. “Good. Morning….Oh. And happy birthday, by the way. Go back to sleep.”

I gave up and went downstairs to make coffee and make his special birthday breakfast muffins. Awhile later, I went upstairs to roust First Born. I opened his door and said loudly, “GOOD MORNING! You need to get up. I better not have to come up here again.”

His eyes flew open and he stuttered, “Okay….okay…good morning…just a second…” as he tried to get his bearings.

Ha! Success! I had him scared! Normally I get a surly response in the morning when I go in, but this morning he was much more subdued. Damn straight you better be scared, kid! Luckily he knew better than to poke the bear this morning, and we actually had a calm breakfast together.

Then YS declared, “Mom! I know what the squeaking sound I heard was! It was a booger in my nose squeaking when I was breathing!”

Hallelujiah. Mystery solved.

After the kids were off to school, I went back inside to savor some quiet and coffee and to try to get motivated to accomplish some things. Alas, it was not meant to be today. Instead I took a nap, drank more coffee, thought about doing things, played outside with Warrior Princess and then wrote this post. So at least I’ve got that going for me.

Now I’m getting ready to get some birthday dinner for Young Son and his fellow inmates. Screw cooking tonight. I hope he picks a place that has alcohol on the menu. Cheers to a good night’s sleep tonight.

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Happy Birthday, Young Son. You may be batshit crazy, but I’ll always adore you with every fiber of my being.

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YouTube Is Going to Be the Death of Our Society As We Know it.

I remember life before we owned a VCR when I was a kid. If you wanted to watch TV you had to know exactly when your show was on and on which channel — or you had to scour the TV section (which your mom had carefully removed from the Sunday paper) to find it. Then you had to be ready to watch the minute it started. TV was REAL TIME. It didn’t pause to wait for you to grab a snack or go to the bathroom. You had to wait for commercial break if you wanted to do any of that. And those commercial breaks had to be carefully coordinated: “I’ll get the drinks, you refill the popcorn bowl.” Or if it was a really long show, “I call downstairs bathroom!” as you’d sprint off. “Hurry up! You only have 30 more seconds…Wait! It’s coming on now!!! QUICK!” your mom would yell at you as you’d come stumbling out of the bathroom still pulling up your pants.

Then when I was in 8th grade, we finally got a VCR. It was awesome! I no longer had to restrict my school and social calendar based on my TV watching requirements. “I’m sorry, I can’t be a girl scout because they meet on Tuesday nights and that’s when “Facts of Life” is on. Or if someone else wanted to watch a show at the same time my show was on, I no longer got stuck with the old crappy black and white TV with the duct taped antenna that you had to hold in place just so with your foot while you watched so it stayed tuned in just right. Now with a VCR, who cared if you had to tinker around for 20 minutes programming it to record and then try to fast forward efficiently (but not too efficiently so you had to keep rewinding) through commercials and the extra five minutes at the beginning of the show you had to record so you didn’t miss anything.

Then fast forward to the invention of TiVo. I was dating my now husband at the time. He’s always been more of an early adopter than I am, and when he went out and bought one, I was pissed! “What the hell! Why are you spending all that money on something you don’t need — instead of putting that money towards, I don’t know…an engagement ring???? That was an interesting fight. But I quickly fell in love with that thing and wondered how society ever survived without it.

After we got married and I had some control over the DVR, I used to get drunk with power. If my husband wasn’t responding to my text messages in a timely manner, I would text all four of his phones to bug him. If that didn’t piss him off enough to reply, I pulled out the big cannon: “If I don’t hear back from you within 5 minutes, I’m cleaning house on the DVR. Battle Star Galactica Season 2 is getting it first.” Usually it actually worked! Little did I know I was honing my idle threat making skills way back then. No wonder I’m so good at them now.

Then along came “On Demand” — again how did we ever survive without being able to access countless episodes of our favorite shows at the click of a button?? It was the beginning of the binge watching trend. Now the inmates could watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or their beloved show of the moment ad nauseum with ease!

But a few months ago, we cut the cord to cable TV and are strictly Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and so on. For the most part, it actually hasn’t changed my TV watching habits…but it has for the inmates. Now instead watching Disney and Nick Jr. etc. which at least had some element of being educational, they have become obsessed with watching YouTube videos instead. God help me. YouTube is going to be the death of polite society as we know it. If it is on for more than ten minutes, I swear my IQ level drops…and that’s serious, because my kids have sucked most of my IQ points off me and I’m only left with a few to jingle around in my pocket anymore.

Young Son is the most obsessed. If I let him, he could watch endless hours of people playing “Plants vs. Zombies” or “Minecraft” — and there are never any good “LEEEEROYYYY JENNNNKINS” moments to at least keep it entertaining. The ones that make my blood run coldest are the YouTube channels where kids do the “Real vs. Gummy Food” challenges or “what random shit can we waste to make into slime with as much mess as possible” challenges. Good. God. Do NOT encourage my children to want to do this!! I always wonder just how much parents shell out to get all the foods in gummy form, and how many vats of glue and pounds of glitter are gone through to get the best shot. What I really want to know is how much Ritalin and Valium are given to the kids to stay calm, focused and not killing each other to make these nightmare vignettes. No. Really. I do…I’m taking notes.

Then there are the ones where parents have written weird mysteries for their kids to solve, including intricate escape rooms with complex cardboard box tunnels and intriguing clues that lead to nothing interesting. Some of these channels make hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in advertising and sponsorship revenue! Seriously. If you want me to click “like” though, you’d better plant a dead body in there or something. I mean even on “Murder She Wrote” you were guaranteed a good crime scene. But at least these parents are putting their kids in front of the screen instead of behind it all the time.

Okay. Next time the inmates declare they are bored, I’m pulling out my old VCR and video tapes of random 80s TV shows. Then I’m going to give them the remote with old batteries and make them watch those gems for awhile until they realize how freaking glorious their lives really are.

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The Pediatric Psych Ward Went on Vacation…and Survived!

I know you’ve all been dying to know how the Pediatric Psych Ward’s vacation went. Was it fun? Was it epic? Did anyone die? Well, first let’s get one thing clear. It was a “vacation” for the inmates…not so much for the wardens. I’d say it was more of a “trip” — lots of planning, packing, panicking, yelling and just overall work. Let’s not forget about the laundry. I swear to God their suitcases breed dirty laundry, and we somehow came home with three times the amount of crap than we went with!

The trip up to The Dells was pretty uneventful and fairly peaceful. The inmates finally figured out a lot of our idle threats leading up to the trip to leave them at Uncle Gruff’s instead if they kept being such jerks were maybe not so idle. Once we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge Resort, they all stripped down and wrestled on their swim gear and were ready to hit the water almost before we even got to our room. So much for settling in.

First Born jumped out of his flip flops mid-stride and was off like a shot the minute we walked in the door to the water park.  “Oh well. He’ll find us when he’s hungry,” I figured. Young Son and Dear Husband left to explore, so Warrior Princess and I stashed our stuff and headed over to the water tree fort,

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Ft. Mackenzie, Great Wolf Lodge, Wisconsin Dells

which had lots of spray areas and interactive toys. “Let’s ease into this place,” I thought. It was all going well until a loud bell started clanging and kids started screaming and running all over the place. “Oh crap! Something bad’s going to happen!” WP froze and looked up at with me with huge, terror-filled eyes as 1,000 gallons of water came crashing over us. Yeah. So that sucked.

We high-tailed it out of there and ran into Young Son, Dear Husband and First Born. FB was unsuccessfully trying to get YS to go on the water slide, so DH took one for the team and went with his thrill-seeking son.

We wandered over to the Lazy River — that would be more our speed, right? Lemme tell ya. Nope. Not so lazy. The WP and I decided to try it out together and YS reluctantly went solo. I got him situated on his own tube, gave him a shove and wished him God speed as he went spinning around in white-knuckled circles down the river. Then I managed to wrangle a double tube for ourselves. Okay. Now how was I going to mount this cursed thing with some shred of dignity? Well, if there actually is a way to do it in a dignified manner, I eluded me completely. I muscled my way to the entry point with the unwieldy tube under one arm and WP clinging for dear life to the other. I probably knocked over a few young tubers in the process, but oh well. It’s survival of the fittest when it comes to this kind of thing. I slapped the tube in the water, stuffed one leg through the back hole to keep it from floating away and pried WP off of me until she had a proper death-grip on the front seat of the tube. Okay. So now how do I get my squishy butt on this thing without flipping it and drowning my kid in the process? I grabbed onto the hand railing, scootched the tube under my rear end with my feet and went for it. Somehow we didn’t flip, but my resulting position was far from attractive or comfortable. My matronly swim skirt betrayed me and hiked itself up under my pits, thus exposing more of my flabby thighs as I thrashed and scooted around like a fly stuck on fly paper to find proper purchase on the flotation device from hell. Once settled, we bobbled around until a group of young teenaged boys decided it would be fun to race each other around the river. They checked us up against the bank, and I probably uttered some profanities and told them to take their punk asses to the GoKart track down the street. Good Lord. How did I become such a grouchy old lady?! Finally we crashed over to the exit. WP scrambled off with the help of another frazzled mom as I pried the tube off my butt with a loud “thwap!” I distinctly felt neither pretty nor lazy at that very moment.

We decided to check out the wave pool. This could go either way. She was feeling pretty brave with her Puddle Jumper on by this time and was really getting into it. I was relaxing a bit more too. It was reassuring to see all the amazing life guards there — holy buckets, do those people work hard! They were constantly pacing the deck, intently scanning their areas looking for struggling swimmers. There was not a sullen teen life-guard camping out on a chair in sight. It gave my anxiety a rest knowing professionals had my back in case one of the inmates got into trouble under my watch. Between wave sessions, WP was happily splashing around when she looked over and found herself eye-level with some dude sporting some serious butt cleavage. She looked over at me in amazement, “Mom! That guy has a hairy booty hole!” (Thank First Born for teaching her that gem…) Jeez. I don’t think Mr. Chewbacca heard us, but we quickly swam off nonetheless to avoid seeing the flip side of that hairy mess.

Eventually we re-grouped and decided to call it a day and do some more the next day. We went back to the room, ordered some pizza and it was time for bed. The kids had a

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KidCabin Suite, Great Wolf Lodge, Wisconsin Dells

special little “cabin” within our room with a bunk bed and a single bed…after some very complicated rounds of “rock, paper, scissors” to decide who was going to sleep where, beds were claimed, jammies donned, teeth brushed and potties done. WP was beside herself with glee that she got to sleep in the same room with her big brothers. She even decided to go shirtless to be like them. (I guess wearing her brother’s underwear isn’t enough. At this point, I’m waiting for her to decide she needs to pee standing up.) Eventually she settled down after they threatened her with various forms of violence if she didn’t stop giggling.

Husband and I finally got to enjoy our Wine Down service by romantic phone screen backlight as we silently surfed the web, scrolled through Facebook and read the news for the day. It was actually pretty great. Was it a perfect, relaxing, rejuvenating time? Oh hell no. But was it fun? Yes. Yes it was. It was good to be with other families enjoying time together, witnessing other kids’ meltdowns (and not just our own), seeing other parents rocking far-from perfect mom and dad bods. It was real. It was family in all its imperfection… and hopefully some really great memories were made by all. Will we do this again? Absolutely. But it’s going to take awhile for me to get through all the unpacking and recovering. In the meantime, if you need me, you can find me taking a nap in a pile of laundry somewhere.