Back to School Anxiety

THE END IS NEAR!!! I can see the light! School starts this week!

One could interpret that in two very different ways:

busPositive: “Hooray! I survived summer break without a visit from DCFS or jail time! There is light at the end of this never-ending tunnel! Is that bus headlights coming toward me?? *Sniiiifffff* I smell diesel! Hallelujah!!!”

 

Negative: “I’m dying! The Four Horsemen are coming! That light is so beautiful…but why do I see my ancestors beckoning me to come hither? Yep. The non-stop fighting and complaining of the inmates has finally killed me.”

First Born and Young Son go back to school on Wednesday. (Meaning Tuesday is Supply Drop-off/Meet the Teacher day, and we all know how much I loathe THAT day.)

But even more stressful than that is the fact that First Born starts middle school this year. I know he’s looking forward to some aspects of it, like feeling grown-up and having more independence. But I can tell that the reality of it has been starting to sink in over the past few weeks. Let’s just say he’s been far from a joy to live with lately. I need to remind myself that this isn’t all toxic pre-teen hormones making him surly and short-tempered. All. The. Time. A lot of it is anxiety oozing out of him in the form of asshole-ish behavior.

I remember when I started junior high 35 years ago (ugh!) I was terrified. The entire summer before I was sick with fear, dread and so much anxiety that I had trouble sleeping and was nauseated most of the time. My teacher the year before had drilled into us how hard and different junior high was going to be, she made it seem like we were going to be going directly to college instead of 7th grade. We were going to have insane amounts of homework heaped upon us, expectations of us would be exponentially more difficult, we’d only have four minutes to change classes and they would be located 3 miles apart (don’t even think about going to your locker or the bathroom)…and worst of all, we would have to change and shower in front of our peers for gym class!

But after the first few days, I found out that my teacher was basically full of crap, and junior high wasn’t nearly as bad as she had made it out to be. Sure, it was a change and a little confusing at first, but it was a good thing. I wasn’t stuck in the same classroom with the same idiots and same cranky teacher day after day, hour after hour. I began feeling more grown up and started gaining a bit of confidence…which was immediately snuffed out by hellacious adolescent peers who still live in my nightmares to this day. (That’s a post for another time.) Best of all, we did not have to shower after gym class. We all quickly learned how to do strange contortions with our clothing so that the least amount of skin and underwear showed, doused ourselves with Wild Musk perfume and and Tickle deodorant and called it a day.

Is there a pedagogical reason why some teachers put the fear of God into their students to prepare them for the rigors of the next step in their schooling? I get that students need to understand that expectations will be higher and things will be different than what they are used to. But so often what is lost in translation for the student is that all the work they have been doing and the skills their teachers have been teaching them are what makes them prepared for the next step. Instead, so many (like in my case) are left feeling overwhelmed and terrified that they aren’t ready and are going to fail miserably.

I get it. When I get frustrated when First Born’s immaturity peaks out sometimes, I find myself saying things like, “You need to get more organized and on top of things! In sixth grade you won’t have your teacher holding your hand all the time! BE RESPONSIBLE!” Instead of getting him to shape up, I’m sure I’m just adding fuel to the fire of his anxiety of not feeling ready, mature or smart enough. Don’t get me wrong. I know this is going to be a big change for him and there are going to be some pretty big potholes along the way. But I need to keep my anxiety in check so I don’t add to his.

So next time he’s acting like a total beast and feel like ripping his head off and using it as a bowling ball, I need to remind myself to pull him in for a hug instead of yelling. Maybe it will help to ease the anxiety for both of us.

To my fellow parents sending their kids back to school: congratulations! You made it through another summer! And to those teachers going back to the grind and craziness of the classroom, good luck, God speed…and have mercy on my inmates! Just remember: I am their mother, and they can’t help a lot of it.

 

 

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Pausing for the Funeral Procession

Yesterday as I was driving through town to take the inmates to their eye doctor appointments, a funeral procession came to the intersection where I was stopped. I pulled over and waited for them all to pass.

But while I was waiting there, multiple cars went around me and continued on their way, either oblivious to, not caring about or annoyed with the somber string of cars with their flashing lights. It saddened me and made me angry.

Later I went home and looked up the law on what you are supposed to do when you come upon a funeral procession. You are not allowed to cut through or cut off a funeral procession, nor should you honk (one would think this should go without saying.) But you are not required to pull over as a funeral procession goes by, it is merely a custom that so many seem to forget more and more often.

While I had somewhere to be and things to do, it was still important for me to take the time to acknowledge the mourners passing by. Even though I did not know the person in the hearse or their loved ones following behind, I took the time to respect their grief. This was not a trundling, never-ending train carrying lumber or coal from point A to point B. No, this was a long line of people accompanying their loved one to his or her final resting place. A few minutes of my time to respectfully pause and bear witness to the loss these people were suffering really seemed the least I could do.

This was a good reminder for me though. How many times have I impatiently waited in line while lost in thought with all the little things I need to get done, plan dinner, get who when and where, instead of bothering to have a nice chat with a fellow shopper who could use a kind word in that moment? How often have I wasted time scrolling through Facebook to keep up with what friends are doing instead of actually calling them to meet for coffee to really see how their life is? How many times have I obsessively read news article after news article, yet never seem to do enough with my outrage over the treatment of my fellow humans near and far.

We all need to be reminded to pause

…To pause and notice what is going on around us.
…To pause and care more for our family and friends.
…To pause and ask ourselves, “Am I doing enough, loving enough, giving enough?”
…To pause and really appreciate the amazing gifts we have been given in our lives
…To pause to just breathe and take it all in.

Perhaps if we all pause in our daily lives, our world can become a kinder, gentler place while we are still in it, before we become the one in the hearse, or become the mourners following behind.

What I DON’T Want for Mother’s Day

Dearest Husband,

In case you haven’t noticed, Mother’s Day is coming up. (It’s Sunday, May 12th in case you’ve been living in a hole, and that better not give you license to make snide comments about my housekeeping habits.) Inevitably you will ask me what I want. *Groan* Really? Can’t you be just a little bit creative? Fine. While anything in a little blue box wrapped up with a white bow is always appreciated, it’s not necessarily things that I want — It’s more experiences that will bring me joy.

Now wait a hot minute! Before you crank out some lame coupon book from the inmates with free hugs and doing the dishes and other malarkey and call it a day, listen to me. Granted, I’m all about hugs and getting out of doing the dishes, but why do I have to go dig out a coupon book any time I would like these things done? And most likely when I do actually find said coupon book, I’m going to end up getting attitude or eye-rolling and that just sucks the fun out of it all.

Instead, my love, I give you what Nurse Ratched does NOT want for Mother’s Day:

  1. Breakfast in bed: Hell to the no. I know it seems all decadent and fancy, but NO. Here’s what will happen: fighting, spills, crumbs and an enormous mess in the kitchen for me to clean up. All things I loathe. You know as well as I do, the inmates will fight over who gets to push the toaster button and burn my toast, what kind of jam I want, who gets to pour the OJ and bring up the tray. I will hear all of this fighting nonsense from my cozy bed, and it will cancel out any “sleeping in” or “relaxing” it was supposed to provide. And then they will inevitably drip coffee or juice all the way up the stairs and down the hall. Then when they deliver the tray, still fighting, they will set it down and proceed to jump on the bed, spilling everything all over. Then they will eat the breakfast for me and make crumbs. Oh goody. Now I get to change the sheets and wash all of the bedding. And how about they just don’t touch my food period — I’ve seen how those animals “wash” their hands. Gross. I’m not going to even go into the epic mess they will have left in the kitchen for me.
    Instead, how about this, Dear Husband: Wake up a bit early (and not after hitting snooze 4 times, because that’s gonna get you throat punched by yours truly.) Quietly go downstairs and make coffee. While it’s brewing, quietly wake up the inmates and hustle them out to the car, then bring a piping hot carafe of coffee and set it quietly on my bedside table whilst I slumber. Then take the inmates out for breakfast. Please be gone for at least three hours. Take them to the park, the zoo, the movies…ANYTHING! I just want a few hours in the house to myself with nothing that needs to get done, except for me to sleep, drink coffee, mess around on my phone and take a long, uninterrupted shower. And if the inmates were a bunch of jerks the whole time you were gone, I don’t want to hear about it. Plaster a fake smile on your face and pretend it was more fun than should be allowed by law. Don’t harsh my mellow with tales of hateful behavior.
  2. Gift Certificate for a spa getaway: Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of a spa getaway. But by giving me a gift certificate, you’ve basically just created more work for me, and the less likely it’s gonna happen. I’m the one who will have to schedule it, make reservations, find a sitter and make decisions on where to go and what to do. You know. Do the all the stuff I do every day for everyone?? By the time it gets around to actually going to the spa, half the joy has been canceled out by having to arrange it all.
    Instead, my intelligent and resourceful Husband, do a little research and do the planning for me! You have access to my calendar (which has everyone’s whereabouts every single minute of the day) and to my contacts with all the best babysitters if needed. Set it up. Block off my calendar, book the spa services (massage, facial and mani/pedi please) and just tell me where I need to be when. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about the whole idea!
  3. Mother’s Day brunch: Nope. Hard pass. I know you’re thinking, “But that way you won’t have to cook and you can have a nice meal!” True, but the thought of going to a crowded nice restaurant with the surly inmates in tow is giving me hives just thinking about it. You know First Born will be devouring every dessert in sight while picking on Young Son who will be grumpy if there is not a sufficient flow of breakfast meats. Warrior Princess will most likely be the best behaved of the group, but she can be a wild card. Keep this whole idea for when they are grown up and no longer living with us. It will be far more pleasant for all involved.
    Instead, pick up some nice carry out and bring it home. Serve it on paper plates, I don’t care. Just so long as I don’t have to clean it up! You chose the place and what to order and take care of the details. Having one day a year without having to plan what goes into everyone’s stomach and then clean up afterward is a dream come true.

For bonus points, if I can get through the day without having to touch any bodily fluid — pee, poop, puke, blood, sweat, tears — I will be a happy girl. Better yet, if they are involved, clean it up, shove the inmates in the tub and toss in a load of laundry while you’re at it.

I know all of this sounds very demanding and selfish, and I guess it is. But if you truly want to give me a wonderful Mother’s Day, give me a day off of being a mother. The best gift I’ve ever received has been the family we’ve created together. I’d just like one day off from it. Most importantly, just acknowledge that you all appreciate what I do and how much I love you all. That’s the best present of all.

The Scariest Moment of Truth

For some irrational reason, as a mom it’s always easiest to put your own needs on the back burner while you attend to everyone else. Kids get the new wardrobes, the best piece of pie and are always up-to-date on their dental visits, vaccinations and so on. I’m the one with the 5 year old underwear, the grilled cheese that got overdone on one side, and when was the last time I went to the doctor for a check-up other than when I was pregnant? Ummm. Well… Yeah. It was time to get a mammogram.
Last week I finally mommed up and went in for the big squish. After having birthed three babies, it wasn’t the worst form of having people all up in my personal space, but it was probably right up there. But as with childbirth, you pretty much get to the point where modesty with medical professionals is long gone. Just because this is my blog and I write about “inappropriate” things, I’ll share with you my experience. Some of you will appreciate it, some may be educated by it and others mortified. Whichever it is, you’re welcome.

When I arrived at the hospital they checked me in, had me gown-up and showed me to the special waiting room with other women who were also anticipating the fun to begin. You don’t really make eye contact when you walk in — it’s not like a spa lounge where you’re looking forward to a relaxing massage, a facial and some essential oils. No, these women weren’t thrilled about being there either, and I stopped to think that some of them may be there because they’ve already been through some dark times. I pushed that thought far out of my mind. Puppies and kittens…
They finally called my name and I was ushered back to a dimly lit room with The Machine humming away menacingly on the other side of the room. (Puppies and kittens…) The tech asked me some medical history questions, noticed my age and said, “I’ve been doing this the same amount of time as you’ve been alive.” Oh good. This wasn’t her first rodeo.
Then she lead me over to The Machine, and I had to stand in front of it like my dance partner in gym class when we were going to learn the waltz. “Now come closer and put your hand here.” Then she unceremoniously heaved my boob up on this cold platform like a slab of meat at the butcher shop. (I was officially not feeling pretty at that moment.) Then the fun really began as she hit the gas pedal at her foot and a clear plastic plate came down and smooshed the top of my meat sack until my chuck roast looked like flank steak. “Uhh. You can stop now!” It actually wasn’t so much painful as uncomfortable and really, really weird.
The tech repositioned me in other various contortions, took the images she needed and was done. In my case, since I was having a diagnostic mammogram done (just to be safe) it was followed up by an ultrasound. It was just like getting an ultrasound when I was pregnant, but sadly I didn’t get to look in excited anticipation at my sweet cherub dancing around in my uterus. Then things got a bit scary when she highlighted an area she saw and took a measurement of a blob — and it wasn’t to see if my baby’s head was growing at the proper rate. I thought, “Okay. Don’t panic yet.”
After she was done, the radiologist looked at the images and came into the room. He told me there was a spot that could just be a cyst or a benign fibroadenoma, but he wanted to be sure and have a biopsy done just to be safe. “Usually two times out of three it’s nothing.” (Did he realize that’s only 66.6%? Not exactly awesome odds if I were a betting type of person.)
I was led into another room and a nurse asked me some more medical questions, explained the procedure to me and looked at her schedule. Conveniently there was an opening the next day at 9:15 AM, otherwise it would be the following Thursday. I decided to get it over with scheduled it for the next day. She agreed that was a good choice. What did that mean? Did she know something they weren’t telling me? It was probably nothing…
I asked her if I could drive myself after the procedure or if I needed my husband to drive me. She said it was up to me, but as long as I didn’t have a history of fainting it would be okay. “But I’d bring my husband if I were you. He needs to support you.” Uhhh…I just thought this was a simple biopsy. Then I thought about my husband’s absolute loathing of hospitals and decided to just go on my own instead of having to worry about him stoically simmering in the waiting room. I’m a tough mother after all, you know.
The next morning I got up, poured myself a well-deserved cup of coffee and savored the last moments of calm in my house before I had to roust the inmates. Then my friend called my cell from my driveway, “Is First Born not going to early band this morning?” I looked down at the time. ARGH!! I totally forgot! How could I forget about band, even after we’d arranged carpool the evening before??! I guess I was a bit more preoccupied with the procedure than I even let on to myself. I apologized and woke up the inmates and got their day started.
I shoved them on their respective busses after the usual excessive morning drama and headed over to the hospital. I figured I may as well be early for once in my life. Of course they were not on time, and they took me back for my procedure a half hour late. Figures. I went through the whole gowning process again and was led into the room. As I was lying there being prepped, the nurse brought over the consent form on a clip board for me to sign in my prone position. “I’m sorry this is sort of awkward to write like this,” she says.
I gesture to my boob hanging out with a spotlight shining on it. “Uhh, like this whole deal isn’t awkward?? Signing something while lying down is nothing.” Polite laughter.
They explained the procedure once again. The doctor numbed the area, the ultrasound tech confirmed the location and he jabbed a needle in, fired it like a staple gun a few times to take the samples and he was done. It didn’t hurt at all. He informed me that the pathology will be back early next week, and I’d get a call from them.
The nurse held pressure on the site and asked me how I was doing. “I’m fine. That was no big deal at all.” She seemed slightly surprised and continued to hold pressure on the site. It got awkward. Finally she put an ice pack on it and took me over to another office to wait for the follow-up mammogram to be sure the marker they placed showed up. (Yes. You read that right. Another mammogram.)
The nurse was the most adorable pregnant woman you ever saw. She was the type that looked like she had a basketball shoved under her scrubs. I found out she was due any day, and I was astounded how she was still vertical and on her feet all day long. She was going to be a first time mom, and it was nice to talk with someone at the most exciting time in her life — so full of hope and anticipation, with a tinge of nervousness. For her, motherhood was still a perfectly blissful thing, and her happiness was contagious. As I write this, I’m wondering if she’s had her baby yet and if she’s spending hours and hours just staring at the miracle that has just come into her life. I hope it’s perfect.

It was a long wait over the weekend, and I sort of felt like Schrödinger’s cat. Is it malignant? Benign? It felt like both. Meow. Luckily to keep my mind off of it, I got to travel to a family wedding with my mom and Warrior Princess (with no stinky boys!) It felt like a girls’ weekend, and it was rejuvenating to be able to finally spend some time away with my mom. Times like these are when a girl really needs her mom, because she’s the only one who can make you feel better. Being at a wedding filled with love and happiness helped too.
Finally the call came: it was a benign fibroadenoma. It’s an odd feeling, when you’ve been preparing yourself for bad news and then it comes out just fine. I stopped to think about all the other women who didn’t receive such great news from their doctor, and it was extremely sobering. Yet another thing in my life I need to be more grateful for.

So long story not so short, I’m fine. It’s been a good wake-up call to be more on top of my wellbeing. Maybe this has helped someone else get up the courage to do something that’s not so pleasant but very needed. You can do it. Mom up.

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!!”)

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 have 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.

PS: If you enjoyed this, please like and share! Thanks!