Spring Break Panic Attacks

Over spring break (Lord, help me!) we are taking the inmates to The Dells for a few days. This will be the first time any of us have been there. Everyone keeps saying, “You’re going to love it! You can sit back and relax and the kids can wear themselves out!” However, my anxiety is NOT believing any of that malarky. I have so many questions…
  1. People say, “You need essential oils.” Umm…okay. Do I dab it on my wrists? Behind my ears? Slather it on my children? Dump it down the water fall? 
  2. Other say, “You need to drink. A lot.” Well, true…but you know my inmates are gonna drag me down the insane toilet-flushing water slide. I don’t see it ending well for me…or fellow water park attendees when I either become violently ill or shit myself. 
  3. And speaking of THAT fun subject…Warrior Princess has been embracing the whole potty training thing now that she gets to sport Young Son’s briefs. Except for a few bumps in the road, she’s been doing great. Now I know pools are filled with gallons of pee anyway, so what’s an extra gallon or two from our potty goddess? I just have to pray for quality chlorination and fill my head with thoughts of rainbows and unicorns.dookieBut what if she’s…THAT KID… who becomes un-constipated in the pool??? I don’t know if I can handle the hostile looks of ridicule and shame from other parents as they evacuate the pool, marching their sobbing children past our pooping princess. “You ruined our spring break! Why did you go and fill your kid up with fiber! What kind of rotten mom are you! We hate you!” (Yes, friends. These are the thoughts that fill my head at night. You’re feeling pretty sorry for my husband right about now, aren’t you?)

     

  4. How do I keep track of it all without completely losing my mind?? I know we picked the worst time of year to go and it’s going to be full of insanity, melt downs and fighting (and not just from me.) Just thinking about the crowds while trying to manage three impatient inmates chomping at the bit to get the fun started is giving me a major panic attack.You know they’ll immediately all want to go in different directions. First Born will make a bee line for the most intense slide of all, Young Son will find something to be grouchy about — “This place is too wet. My goggles are leaky. When do I get to have a hotdog? They better have hotdogs here.” And then Warrior Princess will either want to follow First Born to certain drowning or will be glued to my hip the entire time and try to use my boobs as floaties. (Which reminds me not to forget her Puddle Jumper.)

    And then there’s Dear Husband. He’s the biggest wild card of all. Now he may just surprise me and really get into it and have some fun. On the other hand, he might “take one for the team” and offer to guard all the crap helpful gear I’ll surely be required to bring, while the rest of us go have “fun.” Yeah right. You know as well as I do that four hours later, I’m going to find him relaxing on a lounge chair with his phone in one hand and a cocktail in the other. “Hey! Did you have fun? How’s the water?” (Cue my stroke-inducing rage attack.) How about you find out for yourself when I waterboard you???

  5. When do get to relax? Let’s assume for a minute that the planets align and he and I are able to find a place to sit while the inmates splash away while we watch from the side. I’ll bet you vat of mimosas and a platter of bon bons that as soon as my first cocktail of bliss and joy arrives, those jerks will come slogging back to me, “I’m hungry! Can we have ice cream? I’m tired of swimming. I’m bored. I want to go play video games. I have to go potty…Ooops. Never mind.”*Whimper*

Why did I think this was all a good idea? Well, when Dear Husband and I were searching for a fun family getaway, he casually mentioned, “Hey look. This place has ‘Wine Down Service’ where you get your choice of wine and chocolate, cheese or charcuterie delivered to your room.” YES! SOLD! Sign us up! Jeez. Am I that much of a moron that I’m easily bribed by room service. (Yes. Yes I am.)

I just had a brilliant idea! Just when it’s scheduled to arrive, I’ll say, “I need to go get something out of the car. I’ll be right back.” I’ll dash out, hijack the delivery guy on the elevator and lock myself in the back of my fabulous mini van, kick my feet up and watch a DVD of my choosing while I Wine Down….All…By…My…Self. It will be glorious.

Yes. This is what my life has come to. Wish me luck.

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No One Ever Listens To Me, Except When I Don’t Want Them To

I know I’m not the only mom out there with this complaint, but how come my children only listen to me if I yell? For example:

Me: [In a calm voice] “First Born, can you please come and set the table for dinner?”

FB: [Crickets…light saber and pew pew pew sounds from XBox…crickets…]

Me: [slightly more stern, but still calm] “FB. Did you hear me?”

FB: “What?”

Me: “*sigh*… I asked you to please come down and set the table for dinner.”

FB: “Whhhaaaatttt?”

Me: “Please. Set. The. Table. For. Dinner.”

FB: [Huffs loudly] “No! It’s Young Son’s turn. Make him do it!”

Me: “He’s done it for you for the past week. I asked YOU to do it.”

FB: “Gimme a minute.” [Mutter mutter…pew pew pew…]

{five minutes pass}

Me: “FIRST BORN MALE CHILD! COME DOWN AND SET THE TABLE NNNOOOOWWWW!!!!” [Vein on forehead throbbing]

FB: “Jeez! I’m coming! What’s your problem?!”

Me: [Head explodes…more mess for me to clean up. Great.]

Yet somehow if the inmates are upstairs Xbox-ing, tap dancing or killing on each other while Husband and I are sitting in the family room,

Me: “I made cupcakes for dessert.”

H: [Does not look up from phone or away from TV] “Mmm hmm…”

[All mayhem upstairs comes to a screeching halt…Thundering footsteps pound down the stairs.]

FB: “Did you say CUPCAKES?!!”

YS: “Did you use buttercream frosting? I really hope you got the ratio of frosting to cake right so the cake isn’t too dry and the frosting isn’t too cloyingly sweet.”

AWP: “Are thems pink?!”

Me: “Seriously?! *sigh* Yes. I said cupcakes. Young Son, you need to stop binge watching Nailed It! on Netflix. And they are yellow with chocolate frosting, but I put pink sprinkles on yours, AWP.”

FB: “When’s dinner? Can I have one now?”

YS: “Did you use semi-sweet or milk chocolate in the frosting?”

AWP: [Stomps foot and pouts] “Awww! I wanted PINK frosting!!!!”

Me: *whimper* [Takes entire tray of cupcakes to laundry room and locks door.]

hero_01.png I think our Alexa has completely turned on me. I love using her as a timer for cooking or nagging the kids to do stuff like,

Me: “Alexa. Set a reminder for 15 minutes.”

Alexa: “What’s the reminder for?”

Me: “Warrior Princess, Go Potty.”

Alexa: “Okay. I’ll remind you in 15 minutes.”

Fifteen minutes Alexa says, “Warrior Princess, Go Potty” and off trots AWP to go potty. She’ll listen to Alexa, but never me. Whatever. I’ll take what I can get.

But then the kids will say,

FB: “Alexa! Fart!”

Me: “Alexa. Stop!”

Alexa: [Farts]

[Gales of laughter]

YS: “Alexa! Play the Gummy Bear song!”

Alexa: [Cranks out loud, soul-killing, annoying music] “Oh I’m a gummy bear / Yes I’m a gummy bear / Oh I’m a yummy tummy funny lucky gummy bear…”

Me: “Alexa, stop!”

Alexa: “I’m a jelly bear / ‘Cause I’m a gummy bear / Oh I’m a movin’, groovin’, jammin’, singing gummy bear / Oh yeaoooh

Me: “AAAHHHHLEEEXXXXUUUUHHHH!!! SSSSTTTOOOOPPPP!!!!!”

Alexa: “Gummy Gummy Gummy Gummy Gummibär / Gummy Gummy Gummy Gummy Gummibär / Bai ding ba doli party…”

Me: “AAARRGGGGHHHH!!! ALEXA!!!! You dumb whore! For the love of GOD! STOP!”

Meanwhile, the inmates are rolling on the floor laughing so hard they can hardly breathe.

Here’s the thing though. I think Alexa is secretly always listening to me. Get this. The other day Husband and I were admiring the solar panels the neighbor down the street installed on their roof. We thought it would be really cool to be “greener” — but we came up with lots of questions. How long does it takes to see a return on your investment? What’s the maintenance like? Do we get any tax benefits from it? Where is the additional energy produced stored? We decided to do a bit of research.

Then a few days later, THIS comes in the mail:

What in the actual…??? Coincidence? Maybe. Freaky as hell? YES!!! I think I may need to put tinfoil on Alexa during private conversations or speak in code. Or maybe I just need to go off the grid completely, in which case solar panels would be really handy. If you need me, send me a smoke signal or a note via carrier pigeon.

 

 

 

The Very Idea of Going Back to Work

First Born Male Child turned 11 over the weekend. That means I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for 11 years. EEEEE-LEV-EN YEEEEAAARRRSSSS.

So many times I get asked, “Pretty soon Warrior Princess will be in school full time. Do you plan on going back to work then?” Uhhh…maybe? Why is this question so hard to answer? Here’s why:

  1. You’ve caught me here at Target randomly wandering around trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight that will not cause a revolt from the inmates, and you want to know what my future employment plans are? Go away. Now.
  2. I honestly don’t know if I can adult again.
  3. I don’t even know what I’d want to do.

Seriously. Here’s how I imagine an interview going:

Interviewer: “Tell me about a time you faced adversity and how you overcame it.”

Me: “Uhhhh…well…I was having a hard time potty training my daughter. She refused to wear big girl underwear and wanted to wear PullUps for the rest of her life. I used incentives, bribes, begging…nothing worked. I bought her dozens of pairs of fun undies — Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, pink with dinosaurs, ones with donuts and unicorns on them — Nope. She didn’t want anything to do with them. So I said, ‘Ugh! Do you want to wear your brother’s undywear?!!’ Her eyes lit up and she said, ‘YES!’ So I sent Young Son up to get her a pair of his super hero ones that were getting pinchy. He brought them down, she immediately stripped down, pulled them on and was happy as a clam. Did I freak out because she was wearing BOY’S undies? Nope. I called it a success and moved on. I mean now she even has an extra little pocket in the front for her Shopkins and Chapstick…and we all know how we women never get enough pockets. That’s a big win all-around in my book. I may have to try men’s underwear frankly.”

Interviewer: [Blink….blink…blink…] Thank you for your time. We’ll be in touch. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Or some people will suggest, “Maybe you could get something part time — like work at Starbucks or Williams-Sonoma. Think of the discount.” Okay. Good thought, but that would require me to be nice and patient, and I don’t think I have any left. I mean I am from Wisconsin, but I’ve lived in Illinois for nearly 14 years now and have three kids, so here’s what it would look like:

Starbucks customer: “You made this triple venti half caf decaf raspberry white mocha with 10 extra pumps of mocha too hot and I asked for it to be 109 degrees and I think you only put 9 pumps in.”

Me: “But did you DIE? No? Then go over and pour some skim milk in it like a normal person and cope, accept and move on. Plus, that’s a ridiculous drink and I can’t believe I’m actually talking to you right now.”

AAAAAnnndddd. I get fired.

At Williams-Sonoma it would probably go something like this:

Customer: “I want to return this 15 piece All-Clad set of pans and this 50 piece Wüsthof knife set that we got for our wedding. The first time I used them I cut my finger really badly and burned myself. I want to see a manager.”

Me: “Really? No. You need to go home to call your mother and tell her all the ways she failed you in preparing for life. In fact, give me her email address, there are a few things I want to say to her too. And then I want your husband to think long and hard about how he has thrown his life away by marrying you.”

Then the manager presses the button on her headset and whispers, “Sandy, could you send security over to escort out our new employee? We won’t be needing her services any longer.” Then plasters a smile on her face and hip checks me to the side, “Hi ma’m. I’m so sorry, please allow me to help you. What free stuff and discounts can I offer you for your inconvenience?”

If I got a job in an office setting, I can’t imagine that going much better. I don’t know if I can do meetings ever again. They would feel something like this:facebook_1551197480122

And if I would get stuck in a cube farm, how would that work??

[cell phone rings] I think,”Crap! The school! Who’s sick? Who’s in trouble? What now??!” Answers phone:

Me: “Hehhehello???…Oh, hi Nurse Nightingale…his head hurts? Did he hit it on something or someone?…he doesn’t know…well…give him a drink of water ‘cuz he’s probably dehydrated and then give him an ice pack so he’ll leave you alone and send him back to class. Unless he vomits or passes out, he better not bug you again….Yeah, I’m really sorry…”

[five minutes later, cell phone rings and it’s the school again…]

Me: “Ugh! Is he back in your office again???…Oh! Hello Mrs. Principal…Sorry about that. How are you?…Wait…he said what??…well no, I really don’t think that’s the proper use of that word in a school setting… And then he tried to laminate what? Well, no…I know he’s not supposed to bring things like that to school and that is not the proper use of school equipment….Yes, we will certainly be having a very serious come to Jesus as soon as he gets home…Yes, I realize this is the 8th time this year already…I’m really sorry…”

Honestly. I would never get any work done and be fired within a week. I think my children have ruined any sort of job prospect for me within the next couple of decades. I guess I’m just going to continue to be a SAHM here and write stupid stuff on my blog. Maybe it’ll go viral and I’ll get a book deal out of it. Or maybe I’ll just drink coffee and think about cleaning my house.

I Have an Invisible Tattoo on My Forehead

Hi friends! Did you miss me? I’ve missed you. I really need to detox from the insanity of the past few months. First Christmas and New Years, then the long slog through January, three weeks of my husband being out of town, snow days, other stupid random days off of school, apocalyptic polar vortexes of doom…If hear the sounds of 16 horse hooves galloping down the street, I’m ducking for cover.

I think all of this end-of-the world weather has completely broken the filters on some people. The other day the Warrior Princess and I stopped in at Subway for a quick bite. While we were watching the sandwich artist assemble our gourmet meal, WP got super excited and did her happy dance when we came to the big tub of tomatoes (her favorite food…yeah…if she didn’t look just like me, I’d question her DNA.)

The guy at the register thought she was a hoot and asked me, “Is she your granddaughter?” Oh yes he did, friends. Yes. He. Did.

The lady assembling the sandwich went wide-eyed, sucked in air and looked at me in horror. I blinked a few times and said, “No. She’s my daughter. I’m just old.”

The mortified lady hurriedly clobbered my sandwich together, hurled it at the guy who was still fumbling around and muttering embarrassed gibberish. (I think she may have kicked him in the shin while she gave him a really good death glare.) Just to torment him some more, I scrounged around for awhile in my purse for a crumpled up coupon and took extra long to find the Subway MyWay Rewards app on my phone. Then I paid in cash with exact change just so he had to count it all. Then I cheerfully thanked him, and WP and I made our way to find a table.

As we were sitting there, I heard a heated conversation going on in the back room. Since I don’t speak Hindi, I wasn’t sure what was being said, but I imagine it was something like this:

“What the hell?!? Why would you ask her that?!?!”

“What?? I mean did you look at her? She looked like the lettuce when it’s time to throw it away!”

“Really, dude? You’re an asshole. She looks like she needs a good night’s sleep and a new eye cream. Why don’t you just ask the next customer if she’s pregnant while you’re at it!”

When I got home and told my dear husband, he thought it was the funniest thing in the world and proceeded to pepper me with old lady jokes for the rest of the evening. Later I was rubbing his back and said, “Hey. You marry a cougar, you better expect to get scratched.”

He replied, “Hah! Try saber toothed tiger!” And then he couldn’t breathe. I don’t know if it was from laughing so hard, or me knocking the wind out of him.

A few days later, I was filling out some paperwork at a doctor’s office and the lady behind the desk asked if I had kids. I replied, “Yes. Two boys who are 10 and 7 and a 3 year old daughter.”

“Wow! You’ve got your hands full! That’s quite an age spread. Were they planned that way?”

Yes. She. Did.

I did my blinking thing for a moment and answered, “Well, my husband travels to China a lot. When his trips were three weeks or longer, he tended to miss me and we ended up having another kid 9 months after he got back. He keeps his trips to two weeks or less now.”

She blinked back at me as she processed, “Ohhhh….”

Seriously folks. What is it about me that people just completely toss away their filter whenever they talk to me lately?? I think I must have an invisible tattoo on my forehead that only clueless people can see. It must say, “Come hither and talk to me. I love a good insult. Please tell me what’s on your mind.”

I mean I get it when my kids say things that are innocently unkind. Recently WP was in the bathroom with me (because why not? I mean I need my personal toilet paper dispensing assistant and morale coach every time I’m in there you know…) “Hey Mom. Your legs look funny,” as she pointed out the hail damage on my pasty white thighs. *sigh*

And then she gave the final blow to my already brittle ego. This weekend, Dear Husband said, “Hey Warrior. How about today you try and do a really good poop and pee on the potty for Dad?” Now mind you, I’ve been begging, bribing and badgering her forever trying to get her to use the big girl potty. But nope. Not on her agenda. Not now. Not ever. She will walk across the stage and accept her diploma while wearing a Pull-Up, thank you very much. So you know what that punk did? She did four pees and a poop on the potty that day and proceeded to run around showing off her cute squishy tushy in her Paw Patrol undies the rest of the day.

Yep. I quit. Finished. If you need me, you can find me in the corner of my closet curled up in the fetal position quietly whimpering. Until someone has something nice to say to me, I’m done here…or until my phone dies and I can’t play Boggle and scroll through Facebook anymore…but then after I’m charged up again, leave me alone!

 

The Pukenami

It’s been a rough week, friends. We managed to survive Thanksgiving break I think. To be honest, most of it is but a distant memory which has been wiped out by the horrors of this week.

It all started on Sunday night. I was looking forward to finally having a few hours to myself on Monday after nine days of the kids being home. Then a text message from the school district popped up. Monday was declared a snow day due to the severe winter storm that was predicted. NOOOO!!! Come on, people! Eight to thirteen inches of snow is not that big a deal. Throw some chains on the bus tires and round up these misfits! Teachers and staff can’t make it in? Oh puh-leez. I could send out one group text message to fellow moms and we’d be on the streets en masse in our all-wheel drive mini vans and 4-wheel drive SUVs faster than you can say “Starbucks Run” to personally chauffeur each precious teacher right to the front door of the school to save us from our spawn.

Fine. Fine. Safety first I guess. At least with a snow day I could shove the kids outside to play or to a friend’s house to eat all their groceries and make messes there. (My apologies their friend’s moms. I owe you.) Thus another day was survived. Then at 1:30 AM Karma remembered. I woke up cursing First Born thinking he’d cranked the heat up to 84 degrees again. I stomped downstairs and checked the thermostat. Nope. Just where I left it. And then it hit me. For the next five hours I was violently ill every twenty minutes. Dear Husband came downstairs in the morning to get on an early morning conference call and found me in a heap on the couch. “Is something going on? Why are you down here?” I was too delusional and exhausted to give him one of my signature, “I loathe you” sneers.

I went upstairs to continue my slow, painful death. I stopped in the kids rooms to wake them up, “Guys. Mom’s super sick and I need your help. Can you please do a good job getting ready for school for me?” And you know what? They did! First Born got ready, got his little sister dressed and they all went downstairs. I rapid-fire texted some reminders to my husband whilst I curled up in the fetal position in my bed. Everyone managed to make it to school with just a marginal amount of yelling. The rest of the day was a blur of hallucination-riddled dreams and trying to keep down sips of water.

Just as I thought I was starting to peek around the corner of health later that night, Satan’s Wrath came for Dear Husband and beat him into submission. Hard. He was down for the count. Luckily we both prefer to suffer alone and in silence. Later that day I left him to suffer in peace and went on a Target run to get the bare necessities, but collapsed in sheer exhaustion next to him as soon as I got home. Eventually we both survived the day and were beginning to feel human again, so after the kids went to bed we started to binge watch Schitt’s Creek on Netflix (highly recommend, btw…)

img_20181201_174907125.jpgEvidently, Karma was not done with our family and sent Satan knocking again, this time for Warrior Princess. I heard her coughing and went up to check on her, only to step in … Well…let’s just say I’m going to need to have her carpeting deep cleaned, or maybe just burn it and start over. DH heard me cursing and came up to find me stripping down her bed. He took one look and said, “I’ll go wash her fancy teddy bear that got hit with her toxic waste!” And quickly exited while I scrubbed carpeting, changed sheets and settled her back into bed.

I gaggingly shoved the carnage into the washer, set it to the hottest setting to nuke away the germs, and collapsed into the chair to watch some more Schitt’s Creek — Lord knows I needed some ironic comedy at this point. Alas, it was not in the cards. We heard crying coming from upstairs, thinking it was round two for dear princess. Nope. It was Young Son this time and it wasn’t pretty. He managed to hit every bit of bedding, and let’s just say I could tell he’d done a good job eating his vegetables at dinner. As we were stripping his bed, round two was starting up in darling daughter’s room. Somehow we got everyone cleaned up and back into bed. I wrapped up laundry loads two, three and four and tossed them in the laundry room and shut the door on the horror show. Comedy was no longer going to save us. We quit and went upstairs to bed, but I stayed awake since I knew the next rounds were coming soon. Luckily YS was one and done. WP fought four more rounds that night, but woke up triumphant in the morning.

It was now Thursday morning and we were four for five. I called in absences, cancelled the day’s appointments and YS, WP and I couch surfed for the day. Finally! Friday would be some time for me, right? I got the kids on the bus and savored a few moments of quiet, took a long shower and relaxed. Alas my reprieve was short-lived. You guess it. My phone rang and it was FB’s school. I fearfully answered and it was Nurse Nightingale. “First Born threw up. I’m so sorry.” It’s not like it was a surprise. Literally half of his class was out with the Plague already. At least now the circle of barf is complete and we can hopefully move on.

In my now over ten years of experience of dealing with young kids and stomach flu, I have learned a few things. For those moms who have yet to experience the joys of the stomach flu ravaging the entire house, I share these thoughts and tips with you:

  1. The size of the child and the volume of their stomach is inversely proportional. Brace yourself.
  2. When it hits, it’s gonna suck. But you’ll live through it: I know, I know. You hear that first gagging cough in the middle of the night and your blood runs cold. “NO!!!!” But now is not the time to hide. Mom up. GO! RUN! Get in there and keep that vomit vesuvius in one spot before they come running to you and puke all the way down the hall and all over your bed! Because if they do that, you will not want to live through this.
  3. Breathe through your mouth. The first clean up is the worst. To survive it without adding to the disaster at hand, breathe through your mouth. Think happy thoughts. Puppies and kittens. Rainbows and unicorns. Do NOT let panic set in! Strip down the puker, the bed (it’s just a rule of nature that they managed to hit every single sheet, blanket, pillow, stuffed animal and anything in a five foot perimeter,) hose them off as necessary and shove them back into bed. This is not a PotteryBarn Kids photoshoot you’re prepping for. This is field triage in the middle of war. Staunch the bleeding and take cover, because it’s not over, sister.
  4. Bath Towels are your best friend. Hopefully you have an extra set of clean sheets and mattress protector in the linen closet. This time, save yourself 20 loads of laundry and grab a stack of bath towels for your little vomit villain to sleep on. When the next round of hell hits, you only need to peel away a layer instead of changing the whole bed again. It’s all about conservation of energy. You’ll need it.
  5. Rely on Friends: I’m one of the worst at asking for help. When a friend says, “Ugh! I’m so sorry honey! Can I bring you anything?” The answer is always YES!  Inevitably the inmates ate the last of the saltines and left and empty box in the pantry and you meant to get more laundry detergent at the store that day. (Note: this is also a good time to test said friendship. If she brings you toxic waste colored Gatorade instead of the clear, she is not your friend and you need to find a new one. Seriously. Who gives a pukey kid the equivalent of a Sharpie in liquid form??)
  6. Never trust a fart. It’s a pretty sure bet that at least one person will have the lower GI version of hell when it hits. I forgot to remind my kids of this rule and suffered for my mistake. Poor WP had a rough go of it. What’s another load of laundry though…

On that note, I’m off to go spray Lysol on more things and throw in another load of laundry. Just a word of warning: the next person who asks me how my Christmas shopping is going is getting throat punched.

 

My Expert Advice for Newlyweds

wedding cakeA dear friend of mine recently got married. About a month after the wedding, she called me completely stressed out. “What have I done? I feel like I should have waited to get married!” Along with a new husband, she also inherited his teenage daughter and an ex wife who … well, let’s just say they were poster children for their roles. Her new husband was starting a new job, she was moving out of her house into his, and the stepdaughter was perfecting her dramatic teenage moves. Everyone was stabby, overwhelmed and panic was starting to set in.

It reminded me of another friend who called me a couple months after his wedding. “Do you know any good lawyers? I think I need to write a post-nup.” He too had been going through stress in his job and he had recently been in and out of the hospital fighting a chronic illness. He was mentally and physically drained and had nothing left to give his beautiful new wife.

What encouraging words did I offer them? “The first year of marriage completely sucks.” Good friend, eh? I told them both about my first year of marriage: I left a job I loved in Milwaukee to move to the Chicago suburbs to live with my new husband, my dad was seriously ill and had his second open-heart surgery, my new husband’s job was demanding and stressful and I was left floundering. “What do I do now?” I too questioned my choice to get married. “Wedded bliss” was a total crock!

As you look at these three situations, what do they have in common? Stress and change. I bet if I asked other married couples, most of them would tell me that their first year of marriage was filled with all sorts of stress that had been thrown at them, life changes and the overwhelming feeling of, “this is not what I signed up for.” And then we beat ourselves up for having such feelings. “But I married the love of my life! We planned for months, had this beautiful wedding surrounded by loving family and friends and now it’s supposed to be ‘happily ever after.’ What is wrong with me that I’m feeing so rotten?!”

Well, let’s unpack that a bit. So you’d been planning, anticipating and stressing about a huge life event for months. All that time, you had been showered with attention and parties and gifts. You’d been waiting for your big day for as long as you can remember. Now that it’s over, now what? You’ve now launched yourself into the great expanse that is to be the new rest of your life. Those fluffy towels you gleefully scanned when you were creating your registry aren’t quite as luxurious as you thought they were. The shiny new pots and pans have not magically turned you into the next Ina Garten, even when you serve your pathetic attempt at a gourmet meal upon the twelve place settings you fell in love with. (Hint: this is the time when you really need to get out those sparkly new wine glasses and try every single one out.)

The next thing I told my stressed-out, panic stricken friends was this: It’s okay to feel less than perfect. Cut yourself some slack, coast for a bit and detox as you try to navigate through this new life. Most of all, talk with your new spouse. Be honest about how you’re feeling, because I’m guessing he or she’s feeling a lot of the same things. Sharing these worries and doubts doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce court. In fact, it will probably be a relief for both of you — you’re not in this alone and aren’t the only one feeling weak, scared and far from perfect. Now’s when the “for better or worse” part of your vows kicks in and you can get through this together. It gets better. Because now you can move onto the next big things to plan and dream about: buying a new house and having a baby. Those things will totally make your life fun and care free! Good luck with that.

 

The Things I Found When Cleaning

There are many days I find myself wishing I could have a glimpse into the future. No, not to know the winning Lotto numbers, who will win elections or if feathered bangs will ever be popular again. No. I want to know if my children will be productive members of society when they grow up, or will they be serial killers or [shudder] a politician one day. I feel like if I knew that it was all going to turn out okay, I could get through the bat shittery of their youth.

First Born Male Child is the one I worry about the most. Ever since he was a baby, I’ve always thought, “I am not parenting this child right.” I took him to Mommy & Me groups to play with other babies. But no. He wanted to hang out with the other moms. He’d crawl over, climb on a lap and turn on the charm while I sat and sang “Wheels on the Bus” by myself like an idiot. Later on, everything became a costume or a prop for the epic adventure he was acting out that day. Games and toys have rarely been used for their intended purpose at our house. They are either dismantled, combined with another toy, used as some sort of odd weapon or promptly lost.

On Monday I broke down and braved FBMC’s room. It had reached nightmare levels of chaos and mess and I couldn’t take it any longer. I am by no means a neat freak and have come to terms with the fact that my house will never be “company ready” no matter how hard I try.

I don’t expect my kids’ rooms to look like a PotteryBarn Kids catalog spread (as much as I would love that.) But I do expect to be able to step foot in them and actually touch carpeting with my foot rather than ten layers of dirty clothes (and probably clean ones that never got put away,) or have to wonder if I just felt something wet or was it alive?! God please let it have just been yet another towel that didn’t get hung up.

After Halloween, I knew it was probably going to be pretty bad, so I took a last swig of coffee, braced myself and went in. Garbage bag: check. Empty hamper: check. Lysol wipes: check. I was ready to do battle. “Okay. Let’s start with the big things. Make the bed first — rooms always look nicer with the bed made.” I pulled back the rat’s next of covers and immediately regretted it. I found wadded up clothes at the end of the bed, various candy wrappers, a half-eaten sucker stuck to the sheet (Lysol wipe that … fresh sheets are the least of my worries today,) and three different light sources to read by: mini finger “laser” pointer, dagger-style light saber and R2D2 flashlight. I confiscated the latter, threw out the former and moved on.

Next I filled up the hamper with all of the clothes that were everywhere but in their proper drawers (which of course were left open) or in said hamper where they belonged. I didn’t torture myself further with the sniff test for cleanliness — in the hamper it all went. Then I de-garbaged the floor, since he couldn’t fit any more in his garbage can, which was full of toilet paper which he had TPed his brother and sister’s rooms with for the umpteenth time. (His next allowance is going toward my next Costco run.) I still hadn’t found the remainder of the ten pounds of candy he had collected on Halloween. There was certainly plenty of dead wrappers and spilled Nerds and random (hopefully) chocolate ground into the carpet, but where was the rest?

*Sigh* I chugged some more coffee and decided it was time. [Insert horror movie music] Under the bed. Sweet baby Jesus, hold my hand. After clearing away a few inches of candy wrappers, I found it. All neatly sorted by type into baggies. (Sorting candy motivates this kid…laundry, not so much.) Then I found the bowl within another bigger bowl, filled with water and candy — wrapped and unwrapped. No that wasn’t completely vile or anything. (I was later informed by the perpetrator that you can spin the bowl within the bowl when there’s water in it and it’s super cool. And he also wanted to see which colored the water better: M&Ms or Skittles. I blame his second grade teacher for that one.)

After confiscating the good candy and carefully getting rid of the candy sludge, I went back in. I found a half-full ketchup bottle. Since there wasn’t any evidence of fries or hotdog buns, I figured he was hoarding it for a stupid fake blood prank of some sort which I had hopefully avoided. Then there were some petrified chocolate chip cookies (which reminds me I should bake some since I haven’t baked that type in months) and random bobby pins of mine (is he planning on becoming a burglar and has been practicing his lock-picking skills??)

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But my favorite find was Bat Barbie. HA! I knew the whole Bruce Wayne schtick was BS! Barbie has been Batman all along! Or was FBMC really turning into Sid, the mean neighbor kid in Toy Story who tortured all the toys? Hmm. It’s probably a toss-up. My friend encouraged me to mess with him, so I left this scene for him when he came home:

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But really the best part of Bat Barbie was when I got a call from the assistant principal at his school today while I was at the school dropping something off. He had brought Bat Barbie to school and was tormenting kids on the playground with it. Lucky for him, she was cool about it. Since I was there in person, I bequeathed Bat Barbie to her and she/he now has a place of honor upon her bookshelf. (I’m not sure which pronoun to use for Bat Barbie. My apologies.) I think my next batch of chocolate chip cookies will be dedicated to the assistant principal.

But Bat Barbie has not been my favorite FBMC find of all time. No, it wasn’t even when I found a half dozen pairs of Young Son’s super hero undies in the hydrangea bush beneath FBMC’s window.

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My favorite find was a few years ago when he was in about first grade. I found a bunch of purple tampon applicators scattered around his room. Just the applicators and a few random wrappers. When I got over my initial horror and questioned him on why he had them, he matter of factly replied, “I’m using them for magic potion dispensers.” I never did find out where the actual tampons went, and frankly I don’t think I want to know. So ladies, I’ll leave you with this little gem to think about when that time of the month rolls around again. May it be magical. You’re welcome.