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.

*SIGH*

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.

 

 

Mom Dating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendship: Mental Vitamins

Do you have one of those friends where you can go months without talking to or seeing each other, but still think about them often? Maybe you send a funny text every once in awhile or comment on their Facebook post. Then you get really lucky, the stars and planets align and you finally get to meet her for coffee. Like in the flesh where REAL hugs and LOLs can be exchanged. After you have taken 20 minutes to order that triple venti non-fat latte because you were too busy talking 100 miles an hour, you get to sit down and really talk. And laugh (a lot.) And probably complain about your current woes. But basically, you can just pick up where you left off the last time you saw each other. You don’t judge one another for not having been “a better friend” and simply take each other for who we are, flaws, busy lives and all…and mostly that “all” is some really awesome stuff. And life is good. The crappy stuff just doesn’t seem quite as crappy anymore.

Well, today I was extra lucky and got to have coffee with a friend I had not seen for months. Mentally I feel like I just took a handful of vitamins! You see, she filled me up. I like to think that my glass is usually pretty full, or at least two thirds full. But then my kids come and knock it over (jerks!) And who gets to mop it up? Yeah. Me. And of course that cup had the last of my favorite drink in it and it probably got all over their homework (which I told them 20 times to pick up off the table and put in their backpack already fer fucksake!!) *Sigh.* Then I sit there with an empty cup, soggy papers and probably an extra load of laundry to do. And then grumble some extra profanity to make myself feel better.

And even though I go to Target a million times a week, I somehow always forget to buy more of that favorite beverage of mine. I always manage to remember all the random shit my kids politely request (demand) and usually 20 other things I have good intentions to cook up into some delicious meal EVERYONE will love…(Hahahaha! Even I couldn’t type that with a straight face!! Why is it Target makes me feel like my family’s nutritional Nirvana is actually achievable? Maybe it’s the heady excitement of saving 5% with my Red Card and doubling down on the savings with Cartwheel. Or maybe Target pumps in extra oxygen like a Vegas casino to get you to spend more money.)

Sorry. I digressed there. Where was I? Oh yeah my empty cup. Why is it as moms/wives/sisters/daughters we rarely make our needs just as important as our family’s? It’s really stupid when you think about it. Would you let your best friend neglect themselves like that? Hells no! And why do we think that our husbands and kids would ever hold some good self-care against us? (Okay, maybe if they’re being super assholeish that day they might…but glass full. GLASS FULL!)

Life has been full of challenges lately, and I had been isolating myself from my friends. Whether that was to wallow in self-misery or protect them from catching any of my crap as if it were headlice, I don’t know. I was a cranky wife and mom and somehow my family didn’t institutionalize me. But lately I’ve been trying a lot harder to get out there and be a friend. To others AND to myself. And you know what? It’s pretty f’ing awesome. Am I the perfect, patient, ever-loving person I aim to be? He’ll no. But I’m trying. Really. I am.

So. The point of this post is to thank all of my friends who put up with my neglect and take me for who I am — drama, insanity, bitchiness and all — and still manage to like me anyway. Thank you. And I want all of you, dear readers, to pledge along with me: we will do a better job of taking care of our friends, and thereby ourselves. Let’s call it the circle of happiness.