Living with Preadolescent Boys. Joy Redefined.

A few posts ago, I wrote about how summer break goes: June is lovely, July is when the boredom kicks in and then August is filled with hatred and homicidal thoughts for all involved. Yep. Right on schedule.

I recently asked a friend who has two daughters, “Do your girls always talk about their vaginas? Because my boys are CONSTANTLY talking about their private parts — penises, balls, junk, butts, buttholes (and even anuses if they’re being all classy about it) … and poop. Oh the poop references. I basically live in a preadolescent frat house. Except for the lack of beer drinking, the smell, filth and mentality are right there.

Here are a few examples of things you’d hear them screaming at our house on any given day:

“If you don’t knock it off, I’m going to punch you in your penis!!”

“Your face looks like a butt crack and your breath smells like a butthole!”

“Hey anus face! I’ve got something for you!” Then FBMC sticks his butt at YS and farts. (He performed this trick on me one day. It did not end well for him. At all.)

“Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!”

“Hey, FBMC! What does this look like?? POOP!!!” followed by gales and gales of laughter and rolling around the floor while covering his junk. (What’s worse is when my husband stifles a snort of laughter and tries to frown away a smile — this is pure crack for them and then I’m done for.)

If they are being extra creative, it gets set to music like this one sung to the tune of “Do Your Ears Hang Low”

Doooooo your balls hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?
Can you throw them over your shoulder
Like a continental soldier?
Do your Balls. Hang. Low?

At that point I close my eyes, rub my temples and sing quietly to myself while trying not to cry,

Yes Jesus loves me,
Yes Jesus loves me.
Yes Jesus loves me,
for the Bible tells me so.

Some days I try to ignore it. Other days if I’m feeling all Glenda the Good Mommy, I come up with positive reinforcements like, “The person who can last the longest today without saying potty words gets a popsicle.” They can hold out for about 15 seconds until one can’t hold it any longer and a whopper comes flying out. The “winner” goes and gets a popsicle, followed by the “loser” snatching one too (because clearly it was going to be a tie,) and then they run outside with their “rewards” yelling more potty words. At least they’re out of the house at this point. Score one for Glenda. To my neighbors, I tried. I’m sorry.

Other days I send them each to their room (this is one of my favorites because I get a little peace and quiet.) When it gets really bad, I threaten to take away electronics. This however, is a slippery slope fraught with danger. If they keep at it, they lose electronics, which in all actuality means I am the one on the losing end. At least if they’re using electronics, they are not tormenting each other and hurling insults.

I think I’m going to implement a new strategy, sort of like a curse jar. Every time they use potty words, they have to pay $1. I figure by the end of the week they should have their freshman year of college about covered, so I consider this a big win for me. And speaking of college, I hope they get into good ones. I’m guessing one will be a proctologist and the other a urologist based on their current obsessions. This will also end well for me because they’ll be able to put me in a really nice nursing home later on.

So yeah. I’m totally ready for school to start. In case you were wondering, here’s the latest countdown:

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Be strong, fellow mamas. The bus will be here soon! If they don’t kill me by then.

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.

 

 

On Being a Minister’s Kid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Dead dead?” I asked. “Oh.”

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

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

 

 

Stress Baking & Bonfires

img_20180628_114949136.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of stress baking lately. There is something zen about baking for me. Perhaps it’s because it’s an activity that engages all of the senses: hearing the whir of my 6 quart KitchenAid stand mixer, the smell of my favorite Penzey’s vanilla and the aromas coming from the oven, the feel of a perfect dough, the sight of a cookie just kissed with golden brown…and of course taste. I think what clinches it for me is when I can deliver a surprise treat to a friend and it makes their day just a little better. After baking off a double batch of cookies, my blood pressure seems to return to normal. (And the fact that I can bribe my kids for good behavior with said baked goods is a bonus.)
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“So why all this stress baking?” you ask. We’re into week 3 of summer vacation and hell has hit. Already.

Right now the drama between First Born Male Child and Young Son has been over F’ing Pokemon cards. Yes. Pokemon cards. The number of screaming, ranting cage match fights I’ve had to break up ought to earn me a ref’s jersey and whistle. (But I’d have to immediately hide the whistle because those assholes would go crazy and try to shatter each other’s ear drums with it or drown out the other’s voice whenever he spoke….that last one’s not a bad idea, actually….)

Anyway. The fighting usually starts over trades. FBMC gets YS to trade a good card. A little while later YS realizes he’s been bamboozled, the trader’s remorse hits and that’s when the real shit hits the fan. It has gotten to the point where if I hear one word about Pokemon attacks/energy/evolvement/health and other crap, my lip curls back and I start growling and cursing.

What makes all of this crap even worse, is my husband supports this behind my back. He has taken the boys to stores to buy these Statan’s calling cards…multiple times! Then when I lose my shit over the betrayal, he says, “But I made a new rule that all trades need to be approved by me first.” Well, that’s all good, Mr. Boss Man. But considering that all of the back alley trading goes on while you’re at work or out fishing, I’m left to deal with the resulting wreckage and carnage. Thanks for nothing, traitor.

So here’s how I’m dealing with this. I’m going all batshit crazy Mean Mommy Monster. You see, for Father’s Day I got my husband a portable fire pit under the premise of making s’mores and memories. In reality, I plan on using it for Pokemon cards. Anytime the boys fight, I threaten to use their cards for kindling. I’m hoping to get to the point where all I have to do get out the fire starter whenever I need their behavior to do a 180.

So neighbors: if you see smoke coming from my backyard, grab a lawn chair, a skewer for toasting marshmallows and come on over. I’ll supply the stuff for s’mores and will most likely have plenty of baked goods and booze. Oh. Feel free to bring your personal hell and toss it in the fire if you want. We can make a video and post it on YouTube for other moms to use an example to their inmates. Guaranteed to go viral, I say! This may just become my new zen activity…

And for those of you who actually like Pokemon cards, here’s the most powerful, rarest one yet!

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Bracing Myself for Summer

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I guess I’ve been feeling in a bit of a slump. Or maybe I’ve been overwhelmed by all of the end-of-the-year craziness of band concerts, recitals, everyone suffering through spring fever and just being done with the school year.
I keep reading how moms everywhere are so anxious for summer to come so they can do all sorts of fun stuff with their kids and relax. So here’s what I wonder: Am I living on the same planet? What kind of medication are they taking or giving to their children? How can I be doing things SO wrong? Or are they just lying their fool heads off in some mass mommy shaming conspiracy — or are gaslighting themselves??

Don’t get me wrong. We all need a break from the infinite demands of the school year — kids, parents and especially teachers. I get it. I’m looking forward to a little less structure for awhile.

June is great — everyone is reveling in the end of school, playing outside in the beautiful weather as much as they want and just taking a break from the hustle, bustle and responsibility of the school year. But then July hits like a hot steamy freight train. Playing outside is no longer fun, friends start hating on each other and the “I’m boooooored!” complaints come flying full-force. By August everyone is stabby and homicidal. I’m supposed to love spending all this quality time with my kids. They just make it really, really hard in the summer.

And do I need to even mention the messes that will be created 24/7? Oh yes, now not only do I have to nag them about cleaning their rooms, picking up their toys and the playroom inside, now that hell has expanded to the outdoors. Every bike, scooter, water toy, and piece of sports equipment will be drug out from the garage and basement and left outside…Every. Damned. Day. Then they will decide outside is too boring or too hot and will want to come inside with their friends to trash the inside of the house, eat their body weight in snacks and suggest elaborate picnics that I could make for them. God forbid they would actually clean up after themselves without me having to hound them 20,000 times. Maybe there’s a way I could get Alexa to nag for me. I know my kids think I enjoy being a raging lunatic by the end of the day, but no. Not so much.

I see article after article about creating “bucket lists” to accomplish over the summer. Or the conflicting articles saying we should just let our kids play and have fun (“The 70s summer”)… or we should structure our summers full of activities and educational experiences to keep away the boredom. Ugh. Which is it?!?

What it all really comes down to for me is the Mom Guilt. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Have I made them read and do math flash cards enough so they don’t lose their hard earned skills over the summer months? Do all kids fight as much as mine? Do other moms yell as much as I do? Do they fight because I yell, or do I yell because they fight? Maybe I have been poisoning them with the copious amounts of sunscreen I make them wear. Where are the matches so I can set my hair on fire?

Oh. If one more person tells me that I need to get a pool pass and live there all summer, I will be setting their hair on fire. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of anxiety and very little patience. Keeping 3 children from drowning themselves or other kids in opposite ends of the pool is not my idea of a super relaxing time. I’m not even going to go into how much courage it takes me to don a swimming suit and strut around with my pasty white, hail-damaged thighs and arms all exposed. I’d rather jump out of a plane from 30,000 feet. I can’t be responsible for all of the emotional damage I will inflict from people having to see that.

So friends, I will be trying to keep a good attitude about summer break, but I can’t guarantee anything. If you see me wandering aimlessly around Target late at night (because that is the only time I will not have children with me for the next 3 months) — either avoid me completely if you’re not up for hearing an epic rant…or come give me a hug, a Starbucks and tell me I’m pretty.

PS — I need some blog topic ideas. If you have any, post them in the comments!

Easter Bunny Karma

Happy Easter!

I was so excited that April Fool’s Day also happened to fall on Easter this year. That meant I really had to up my game with Easter Bunny antics to torment my children. Oh, game on.

Young Son woke up bright and early this morning to see what EB had left for him. I heard him sneak downstairs to look for his loot, and soon he came running into my room, “Mom! The Easter Bunny came, but he left us healthy treats. There’s like carrots and stuff. What in the high heck?!” I feigned incredulity. “What?! That’s crazy business! Let’s go check it out!” I rousted my husband out of bed — this was going to be good.

Here is what we found:

The letter read:

Happy Easter!

This year I thought it was important to keep all the kids I visit healthy.

In your baskets you will find an assortment of delicious, yet healthy treats that will keep your bodies growing and cavities away. (I think you’ll find that you won’t even miss chocolate, jelly beans, peanut butter eggs and Peeps.)

I also know you are big fans of poopTherefore, I have left plenty for you. Try it. I think you’ll find it quite tasty.

Love from your friend,

The Easter Bunny       

PS: April Fool’s! Now go find the real treats I left for you!

img_20180401_0945170051595521598.jpgYoung Son started cracking open eggs only to find more carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. But wait! One rattled, but it was stuck! He handed it over to Dear Husband for help. I guess he underestimated his great strength because the contents went flying all over the place when he cracked it open. Young Son snatched up the loot, “JELLY BEANS!” and promptly popped one in his mouth. “YYUUCCKK!!! Black Licorice!!!” and he immediately spit it out and started wiping his tongue to get rid of the nasty taste. “I do NOT like black licorice!!!”

A minute later he frantically says, “MOM! I think I’m going to throw up! I need a bowl!!!” I sprinted over with one, but was too late. He projectile vomited all over the hardwood floor. (Hey, at least I didn’t have to shampoo the carpet.) I looked over at my husband. He smugly mouthed, “KARMA.” Asshole.

I glared at him, “You COULD help, you know — since you always seem to be absent whenever there’s puke to be cleaned up!” I mean didn’t I just have to clean up scene from the Exorcist the other night?!?

He looked like he was going to gag. “I’m not going anywhere near bad Easter Bunny Karma. You’re on your own.” I threw my rage into cleaning up the floor and tried not to hurl in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Amazon Warrior Princess came downstairs to see what was up. Young Son immediately filled her in on the 411 and she took a carrot and casually started munching. “Do NOT eat the jelly beans! They’re poisonous!!! And LOOK! The Easter Bunny pooped all over the place!!!” (In case you didn’t know, the Easter Bunny poops Milk Duds.)

I sent them up stairs to get First Born Male Child out of bed. He’d want in on this. He came down and stared dubiously, taking it all in. “What the heck!” He greedily grabbed all the foil-wrapped eggs he could find, opened one and threw it down. “It’s a GRAPE! Come ON!” Then he read the note aloud and popped some “poop” into his mouth. YS screamed, “YOU ATE EASTER BUNNY POOP!!!!” AWP scurried over and hid her face in my robe in horror. (Why is it that my boys have this crazy love and fascination with all things poop and poop emoji? It’s out of hand really.)

He finally read the last line of the Easter Bunny’s note: “PS: April Fool’s! Now go find the real treats I left for you!” He looked up at my husband and me with a knowing look and nodded. They went off in search of their baskets and were happy to find the real loot.

A little later FBMC came over and whispered, “Thank you!” I was pretty proud of him for going along with the gag to keep up the fun for his little brother and sister.

And then FBMC and YS started fighting over candy and other nonsense. Well, it was good while it lasted.

So Happy Easter, everyone. May your day be filled with GOOD Easter Karma, good food and the joy of the Resurrection.

Off to make some ham now….

 

Spinning Plates

It’s been a rough couple of days for this mama, and frankly I’m pretty proud of myself that I haven’t curled up in a corner to ugly cry for an hour or drink heavily.

We spent the weekend in Iowa visiting my brother-in-law and his family. Aside from the 5+ hour car ride each way, it’s always a lot of fun for the kids and adults alike. The only time I nearly lost all of my shit this weekend was when I actually had to tell my son, “There is no way you can ‘accidentally’ bite someone’s butt!!” A weekend with minimal fighting (except for accidental butt bites) was actually pretty refreshing. Maybe my 3 nephews, 2 dogs, a basement arsenal of Nerf guns and all the sports equipment one could ask for are the key.

But coming home after a weekend of fun, late nights and long car rides, getting back into “real” life is as much fun as a case of The Gout. (More on that later.) Monday hit back… hard. I had one of those “spinning 12 plates at once” kinda mornings. It didn’t end well, as you will see.

spinning plates

I made my way to First Born Male Child’s (FBMC) room. I didn’t smell sulfur, so I went in. He was out cold, but after a calling his name a half dozen times, he stirred and muttered that he was up. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep. *sigh* I’d rattle his cage a little later. [Spins plate.]

Young Son (YS) was slightly easier to wake up after digging him out of his nest of covers and getting some of his better ticklish spots. [Spins plate.]

I stumbled downstairs and started the coffee, the blessed elixir of the morning. Amazon Warrior Princess (AWP) hurled herself out of her room, crazed hair and all, ready to attack the morning. YS sauntered downstairs bleary eyed and declared it to be a cold lunch day. Crap. Usually the rule is that hot vs. cold lunch has to be decided the day before. I didn’t feel like fighting and told him to start getting the stuff ready. [Spins plate.]

Now to wake up FBMC. I called upstairs. No answer. I called again, this time with an edge to my voice. Nada. I bellowed up, this time with nostrils flaring. It elicited a feeble, “what?” from him. “OHMYGAAWWWDDDD!!!! GET UUUUPPPP!!!” I heard muttering and shuffling around and hoped for the best. [Spins plate.]

AWP patiently hands me her pancake wrapped sausage on a stick she has gotten out so I could nuke it for her. “You got it sister. Way to be on the ball!” [Her plate was spinning just fine.]

Meanwhile, YS is assembling his lunch. “What do you want for breakfast, pal?” He huffs back, “I don’t KNOW! What IS there?” Because you know, breakfast food is such a freakin’ mystery! Every. Single. Day. “How ’bout PB&J?” I asked. He was down with that, so I doubled up the ingredients for my sandwich making. [Spins plate]

I realized I hadn’t heard anything from upstairs recently, so I called up, “Are you dressed???” I heard stumbling around, “no…” The vein on my forehead started to throb, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!! GET DRESSED!!!!!” I heard mumbling related to my lack of patience and overall parenting skills. [Angrily spins plate.]

coffee f bomb

Dear Husband (DH) finally comes downstairs. He was going to be leaving for 9 days in China in a little while, so he was oblivious to the building chaos since he was deep in Travel Mode. My surliness spiked as I contemplated the 9 days of being the only adult in our house. *sigh* I refilled my coffee and poured him a cup. [Spins plate.]

FBMC finally emerged from his room, still wearing his T-shirt he had worn to bed and pants he’d probably had on the day before. I didn’t want to know about the underwear. It pained me, but this time I let it go. I asked him if he’d fed his fish. He trotted back up, fed his fish and then proceeded to go back up and downstairs about a half dozen more times to get other “important” things he’d forgotten, like his favorite eraser. By this time, my blood pressure in the yellow zone and going higher. [Plates were starting to get wobbly.]

“Please get yourself some breakfast. You don’t have a lot of time!” This was answered by the same, “What IS there??” I got from his brother. (Why are my children trying to kill me by a million paper cuts???) YS cheerfully chimes in, “You could have eggs from IIIOOOWWWAAAAHHH!!!” Oh yes. Iowa eggs. My brother-in-law has 4 free-range chickens,

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and he’d sent some eggs home with us. FBMC had seen how they were collected and how non-pristinely clean they are when not purchased in a cardboard box from the store. “CHICKENS POOP EGGS! I’m NEVER eating anything with eggs again!!!” Once we reminded him that most of his favorite desserts had eggs in them (his whole reason for living,) he had to go think about that for awhile and reconsider his position on the matter. So when YS evilly suggested Iowa eggs as a breakfast option to see if he could make his brother explode, I may have given him my best “stop now or you will never touch an electronic device for as long as I’m alive” look. It must have worked, since he hunkered down and started shoving his PB&J in his mouth. Wise choice, young man. [More plates were looking wobbly.]

I don’t even know what FBMC ate for breakfast, since that was when the woman who cleans our house twice a month decided to walk in…a half an hour EARLY. (Yeah, I know…first world problems.) Normally she’s a welcome sight, but on a day like this one, she was the last thing I needed. The first of the plates started crashing as all momentum I had built came to a halt as she hauled her supplies inside. She started cleaning around the chaos and rearranging things I hadn’t had a chance to put away yet. (Why is it I spend more time cleaning for the cleaning person than any other time??) I started seeing stars and felt a small stroke coming on. [Crash! Crash!]

At that point, I looked at the clock: 3 MINUTES UNTIL THE BUS!!! SHIT!!!!! Shoes and socks were not on, coats and backpacks had walked off and hidden. I went into full-throttle yelling maniac drill sergeant mode. YS managed to pull things together while I ran outside and gave the bus driver the signal to wait a second. I went back inside only to find FBMC freaking out because his shoes were still WET from whatever hell he had gotten into while we were in Iowa! WHAT?!? Where were his other shoes?!! DH sprang into action and ran upstairs to find some while I shoved YS out the door to get on the bus. FBMC was going to miss it. Goddamnit! [Crash! Crash! Crash! SHATTER!]

The cleaning person had gone off to hide in a bathroom and clean. I figured she was in her own private hell, since let’s face it. YS couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn when he pees since he uses the “freestyle” method.

My stress level hit critical mass and I lost my shit. I think I may have sucked out all the air out of the room. FBMC finally got the hint that he needed to hustle and pulled himself together. We ran out to the garage only to find the Mom Mobile had been parked in. Okay. Where are the keys to DH’s car??? We roared down the driveway while I was giving FBMC an epic ass chewing for messing around and whatever other rants that came to mind.

I reached the entrance to the subdivision and finally got myself calmed down. This was not worth it. Really. Why am I such a freak? A couple miles down the road I apologized for being a lunatic and told him I loved him. Let’s try to do better tomorrow. He agreed and apologized as well. [Cue swelling feel-good music.]

This healing moment was short lived as I turned on the left turn signal, which started blinking rapidly. Fanfuckingtastic. Guess I’ll have to get that fixed too while DH is away. A few blocks later I nearly got t-boned by an irate woman who couldn’t see my dysfunctional turn signal. Excellent.

By the time I arrived back home, DH was working away in his office maximizing his time with WiFi before the car came to take him to the airport. I went upstairs to check the kids’ rooms to strip beds and re-clean what they hadn’t so the cleaning person could do actual real cleaning. (It’s madness.) I found a flashlight hidden under FBMC’s bed. BINGO! I KNEW he was staying up reading! Well, at least that answered one question.

I went back downstairs to say good-bye to DH. As we hugged, he must have been thinking that his 14 hour flight was looking pretty luxurious and peaceful compared to this morning’s private hell. I would agree. Off he went and I felt further deflated.

I’d like to say the day got better. I guess it sort of did since I had a clean house for all of 3 hours until the boys came home. I tucked AWP in her room with the iPad and let her have at it. This mama needed a nap. After the boys got home the rest of the evening was the regular crap of homework, dinner, and bedtime routine. Sweet freedom. I lived through the day. Tomorrow would be better. I went to bed early.

Well, not so much. 12:30 AM: “MOOOMMMM!!!!” I go into YS’s room and was hit with a giant wave of barf smell. I turned on the light. It looked like the morning after a frat party. [Cue dry heaves.] I got him washed up, every piece of bedding off and in the washing machine, re-made his bed and put him back to sleep with a bowl.

I crawled back into my own bed, only to have insomnia for the next 2 hours. I tracked DH’s flight. He was still over northern China and hadn’t landed yet. I’m sure at that point the plane smelled only slightly better than YS’s room had. At least we were both suffering, albeit hemispheres apart. Misery loves company.

I know we all have days where everything goes off the rails, sometimes more epically than others. But it’s those days where I find myself filled with the most self-doubt and self-loathing. Why can’t I hold my shit together longer like a normal person? I need to revisit my “3 Gs” of the new year: Gratitude, Grace and Goodness. I need to be grateful for what I have, give others more grace to be human and make mistakes and really notice the goodness around me. What if my mother witnessed my days like this? Surely I would get the saddest, most disappointed head-shaking look imaginable. I wouldn’t blame her.

Tomorrow is another day. Gratitude. Grace. Goodness. I can do it.

Oh yeah. So “The Gout.” My brother-in-law has been suffering with a case of The Gout. Now please note, it’s not “gout” — it’s “The Gout.” Sorta like “The Plague” is it’s own official thing. It brought back memories of my grandpa. I don’t have a ton of them about him, but I do remember this: he religiously took his “gout pills” every day. He would shuffle over to the cabinet by the stove, get down this big old-school amber glass apothecary jar

jar

and take his daily gout pill. “I don’t ever want to get The Gout again!” (In case you don’t know what “The Gout” is, it’s a form of acute arthritis that is caused by uric acid crystals building up, usually in your big toe. It’s excruciatingly painful and your foot feels like it’s on fire.) After he took his pill, he would shuffle over to his favorite chair, unlace his dress boots that he wore every day (along with suspenders and a long-sleeved dress shirt) and read the paper.

redman

That or he’d head out to the garage through the squeaky screen door and have a chew of Red Man chewing tobacco, of which he always had a not-so-secret stash of in the backseat of his car that forever had a not altogether unpleasant molasses-y smell. Over 30 years later and I still remember.

Maybe that will be my 4th G. Don’t get The Gout.