Gut check time

She wants to “walk around downtown.”  What the hell does that even mean these days?  It’s probably some middle school code language for something not good, or even bad.  How would I know, I’m 41 (i.e. not cool anymore).  I barely even remember middle school let alone the exact methods I used to snow my parents into thinking I was actually just going to “walk around downtown.”  Regardless, there was no getting away with much of anything in the town I grew up in.  It had 3 streets.  And 2 cops.  My friends and I literally had to walk past my own house at least five times during the walk just to make it not seem weird and/or suspicious to the locals that we were walking up and down one street all night long.  Not to mention the fact that my parent’s business was on the corner of main street, right by where the stop light would be if the town ever decided to put one in.  Walking around downtown during business hours meant literally waving to my Mom and Dad through the giant glass windows that faced main street as they greeted and then served their valued and loyal customer who two minutes before I walked past the window had already told my parents, “I just saw Jill walking around downtown.”  

To make matters worse, her genes sadly work against her in this department.  Her dad was a little shit when he was a kid.  Damn him.  And damn karma.

“All my friends get to do it Mom.” 

Well that’s just great.  They clearly have horrible parents, or no parents at all, or really stupid parents.  I am not stupid and this ain’t my first rodeo.  She doesn’t know what I know.  If she did, she would understand my reservation to let her do anything outside the boundaries of our home without parental supervision from now until the end of time.  I’ve been schooled before by the universe’s random acts of unkindness bullshit.  Really shitty things can happen to really undeserving people through zero fault of their own and that’s all I’m going to say about that.  I am on to the universe and it’s shenanigans.  My kids are off limits.  I got my dukes up, eyes in the back of my head, and a delusional sense of control that you can pry from my dead hands someday.  I actually dare you.

My children should be grateful to have such a caring and loving mother, not annoyed that I probably just saved their life by saying no to each and every request that may or may not pose danger.   Damn the universe and damn trustworthy and responsible children around the world that give their parents absolutely no reason to say no to an age appropriate request.

She’s going to “walk around downtown” today after school with her friends.

And I am going to spy on her.

I’m kidding…

Or not.

Metaphorically speaking

I don’t know why I’ve let it go on for so long.  I know better.  As a rule, the longer I let things fester, the worse things get for everyone involved.  Truth be told, I don’t even think they want to be here anymore.  They have to know how I feel about them.  I’m not sure I ever really liked them nor do I remember what the hell possessed me to bring them home at separate and unrelated moments in history in the first place.  They don’t even go together, each one silently repelling the other while projecting negativity all around.  I want to start over, but how?  So many things rely on them.  Oh, they’d love nothing more than to think this is all about them, but I have news for those soul sucking egomaniacs.  It’s not.  They would’ve been long gone by now if it wasn’t for my inability to think outside the box.  Change is hard for me.  Almost as hard as big decision making.  Both require a certain skill set that I have yet to attain, despite really needing/wanting it.

I’m pretty sure I hate them at this point.  I’m not proud of it.  I for sure hate myself for not standing up to them and what they represent.  Stagnation.  Indifference.  Boredom.  Regret.  One has a giant fucking snowflake on it okay?  It’s almost April.  No one wants to look at a giant fucking snowflake anymore, even if it’s really pretty.  Sadly, that’s the best one of the bunch and I’d be a complete dick if I get rid of the best one first.  The fact that I couldn’t have cared less to pack it away with its chipper seasonal friends a few months back speaks volumes, but that ship has sailed.  I went all in on the complimentary fucking snowflake because it made sense at the time and prevented me from confronting the real problem.

Then there’s the big guy who clearly missed the memo that burnt orange is definitely not what all the cool kids are doing anymore.  Even I know that and I own one purse.  Let me tell you something else about Mr. Ginormous Eyesore.  He scares the living shit out of me, okay?  I’m not sure I have the balls to even get near him without surgical gloves and/or a long stick at this point.  Ugh. 

The middle one is a great big sad and pathetic story of its own.  What used to be sparkly and full of intrigue, now appears weathered and dull and completely insignificant.  Truth be told, no one would even notice if it was gone, poor thing.  Its personality has literally been chipped away over years of misuse to reveal an abrasiveness I never thought possible.  It hurts and I don’t know what the hell happened.  It used to be my favorite one.  Yes, I pick favorites.  Sue me.

Let’s assume for a moment that I can actually go through with replacing them.  What if I make the wrong decision?  What if they don’t get along with the ceramic elephant in the room?  I can’t get rid of the elephant in the room.  He’s symbolic and he has a name.  It’s Gustavo.   The whole return process and thought of starting over at square one is so unbelievably exhausting that I honestly don’t think I have the stamina to recover from something like that.  I know my limits and pointless running around from place to place with nothing to show for it at the end of the day is definitely one of them.  I’d rather take a nap.  Doing things that don’t matter have become highly bothersome.  It’s hard to care.

That said, it’s not like it’s a bedroom or the office where I can just close the door and no one will be the wiser.  There is no door.  It’s the living room for fuck sake!  People will notice and then draw conclusions regarding my personality, general appeal, and overall worldly significance.  What does Jill bring to the room?  Am I bright and cheery, purple and mysterious, brown and feckless, white and crazy?  It’s a giant fucking snowflake and it’s almost summer!  You do the math.

I need new throw pillows.  Whatever.

Royalty

There are certain things/procedures I swore I would never voluntarily choose to undergo and this one definitely tops the list.  Things happen though.  Time has a way of passing us by in a flash until all we are left with are memories of youthful days gone by.  Days when little to no maintenance was required to simply just be.  Like many ignorant souls before me, I took that for granted.  I now have to pay the price.  As I sit her typing this very sentence, I reflect on my decision to move forward and examine the process that led to my current state of swollenness and regret, accompanied only by a lingering and diffuse pain so widely disproportionate to the site specific problem area that nothing in the world makes sense to me anymore.

Call it a sixth sense or whatever, but I had a feeling going into it that it would be bad.  Who comes up with this stuff anyway?  Regardless, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t the kid with baby soft skin and three pimples playing dress-up in a white coat and the cascade of emotions that immediately followed our introduction.  He couldn’t possibly be ready for something like this!  Someone else was surely coming in.  Where was his mother?  Why was he asking me to verify my birthday?  That’s none of his damn business.  It’s Tuesday.  He should be in school!

Then it hit me, like 41 bolts of lightning into the chair I was reclined and lying defenseless in below.  No one else was coming.  Furthermore, that overly confident toddler over there sharpening his tools was my surgeon and I am old enough to be his mother.  In one fell swoop, the world as I knew it and my place within it seemed implausible and foreign.  Newsflash granny!  He’s not young.  You’re old.  Not old old, but old enough to now require routine procedures performed by a kid half your age designed to fix problem areas that have simply worn out because of the aging process alone.  Ugh.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  I go above and beyond with daily routine practice to specifically avoid shit like this.  Furthermore, I refuse to be the exception to the rule unless it involves lottery tickets or extended family gatherings.  Here’s a random idea!  Why don’t we all take turns side swiping each other with one of grandma’s old cast iron frying pans.  You know, the ones you can’t even buy anymore without some sort of special permit because they double as weapons.  At least in that scenario I’d have an outside mark to account for my pain.  It’s definitely a stretch, but maybe in that instance if I were to desperately plead to my children to refrain from behavior that would require me to raise my voice because mommy’s face hurts so unbelievably bad when she speaks they would actually listen to me because well, I would have a visible welt and maybe (God willing) a gaping wound to show for it and not just be standing there like an idiot with a bruised ego and face that could double as half a chipmunk.

I digress.

It hurts to talk.  The involved postoperative tissue stretches out when I open my mouth, even just a little bit, and this is very uncomfortable.  Furthermore, the intensity of discomfort directly correlates to my voice volume.  I explained this to them in no uncertain terms.  I just don’t want to yell.  Is that too much to ask?  In the whole scheme of life, I don’t think so.  The only expectation is to behave in a manner that doesn’t warrant yelling from an outside party.  They don’t have to be perfect.  I am capable of restraint and gentle reminders.  I am not a monster.  But repeated poor behavior at some point leads to yelling.  It’s simple math.  Do they like it when I yell?  Do they want to be the direct cause of my pain?  Why can’t they exist in the same space for five minutes without an on-call crisis intervention unit awaiting in the wings?  It’s not that they don’t care about me.  They are not monsters.  They just don’t all care about me at the same time.  With three of them, this leaves room for multiple scenarios of non-caring and poor judgment and thus more yelling.

I really shouldn’t be taking this out on them.  They are not programmed to give a shit yet about much of anything besides their own immediate gratification and/or whose turn it is to pick out the next new box of band aids.  I get it.  Someday their concern for my well-being will be sincere.  They will ask me how my day was and genuinely care that I found it quite bothersome that the man-child who I swear was playing the clarinet at my daughter’s middle school band concert last week just performed minor senior citizen surgery on me like a goddamn champ.  He was so professional and caring and only a tiny bit condescending…

“Are you sure you still feel that?  It’s unusual to still feel it at this point.”

And I was like, “Yep.  That’s why I jumped off the table just there.”

And he was like, “Oh I’m so sorry, do you need a break?  Maybe we should reschedule?”

And I was like, “I’ve had 3 kids okay?  One almost without an epidural.”

And he was like, “Okay, well, uh, are you sure ma’am?  I haven’t had to do this in a while.”

And I was like, “You’re ten years old.”

And then I was like, “O.M.G.  He thinks I’m a fragile old person!”

And he was like, “You’re doing a great job.”

And I was like, “I’m so proud of you.”

Extreme pain and shock kicked in shortly thereafter.

There will definitely be a bill.  I was also promised a crown in a couple of weeks for good behavior.  My kids will be so jealous.

Geriatric or not, I’m going to be a queen.  Nothing else matters.

 

 

 

Buttcrack

I have an all-time favorite word,

That mommy frowns upon.

She throws a fit, wants me to quit,

To which I say, “C’mon Mom!”

 

Like cheese, it goes with everything,

My favorite word’s terrific.

But as soon as it rolls off my tongue,

My mommy’s my worst critic.

 

Don’t say that Buddy, that’s not nice,

What on earth will people think?

Of all the words that you could choose,

Your favorite one just stinks.

 

I beg to differ mommy,

It’s the best word that exists.

Much better than your bad ones,

Shall I start to make a list?

 

How ’bout Parasaurolophus?

Your favorite dinosaur.

That word is neat, it can’t be beat,

All moms will sure adore.

 

Dinosaurs are cool and all,

But not at all real funny.

But my word is, for real, it is!

And this I’d bet your money.

 

I just can’t stop, I will not stop!

This world needs much more laughter.

Mommy doesn’t understand,

Thinks my word means disaster.

 

May I suggest sweet mother,

We agree to disagree.

I’ll say my words, you say yours,

We’ll live in harmony.

 

Just please don’t say your word in school,

Or any public place.

Your words reflect my parenting,

Please save your mom some face.

 

But sharing is the best part mom,

Why can’t you plainly see?

Depriving others from its charm?

I simply can’t agree!

 

I use my words for good not bad,

I know that they have power.

You taught me that, remember mom?

No need to look so sour.

 

Now say it with me, say it proud,

Come hold my hand dear mama.

Stand up with me and take a chance,

No need for all the drama.

 

Are you ready, I sure am!

Now on the count of three.

Here we go Mom, let’s be loud Mom!

One, Two, Three!

 

Buttcrack! Buttcrack! Buttcrack!

Morning, noon, and night.

BUTTCRACK! BUTTCRACK! BUTTCRACK!

Did you feel your soul ignite?!

 

Buttcrack! (louder!) BUTTCRACK!!!

Hey mom, you feel me now?

I spread joy across the land,

What’s your superpower?

 

And if you really want to see,

Your mommy start to shiver.

Then add a “poopy” out in front,

Oh look, she’s all a quiver.

 

Poopy Buttcrack!  Poopy Buttcrack!

I’ve had one, so have you.

Might have one now, who cares, stand proud,

What goes in must go through.

 

It’s called vocabulary,

And building it’s so fun!

Letters, words, then sentences,

I’ve only just begun!

 

It seems you’ve really thought this out,

That means your brain is working!

And mommy couldn’t be more proud,

Look close, I think I’m smirking.

 

I love you Mom, you taught me well,

I’m funny, just like you.

Let’s hug it out and scream and shout,

POOPY BUTTCRACKS RULE!!!

Mr. Teddy and Me

It’s 11:00 in the morning and I just woke up from a nap.  I did it yesterday too.  It wasn’t so much a nap as it was hiding under the covers in a shivering ball of uncertainty for an hour or so, but surprisingly a mid-morning nap sounds less pathetic, so I’ll stick with that.  It’s where I generally go to think when there is big thinking to be done.  Let’s face it, if there was ever a time for a big idea, yesterday would’ve been it.  Or today.  Pretty soon it will be tomorrow and the expectation will be for something even bigger.  A gigantic idea.  What if tomorrow passes and it becomes the next day and I still haven’t even formed a micro idea.  Before I know it, it’ll be the weekend AND NOTHING EVER GETS DONE ON THE WEEKEND!  What if too much time passes and the mere idea that I might have a big idea disappears like the trash on garbage day, never to be seen or heard from again?  What if I already literally threw something away that would’ve inspired my big idea?  That’s it!  I’m going to start saving everything!  That’ll definitely help.  More clutter will provide more possible inspiration for ideas.  Brilliant idea!

Maybe it’s the complete darkness underneath the covers that’s inhibiting my big idea?  That’s plausible.  Maybe I should open the blinds or consider turning the side table lamp on low?  Maybe I need an actual light bulb on to have an actual light bulb moment?  What an idiot idea.  The light stays off.

Thank God.  I look terrible.

Maybe I should weed out the bad ideas first and start thinking about the things I definitely do not need, like a hug.  Trust me.  Someone tried it.  He almost died.

Maybe it’s the sudden lack of daily structured chaos?  Empty space and time with no clear direction.  I am not doing laundry.  Laundry is not a big idea, nor is it the first thing I want to tell people I did with my alone time.  I will sit here upside down in my bed tangled up in a ball of sweaty sheets FOREVER (until the kids get home) before I start doing laundry.  Oh look, Mr. Teddy!  How’d you get down here?  Why do you always smell so weird?  Why am I talking to you?

It’s the kid thing.  They’re gone.  Left on the bus yesterday morning one by one by one (even the littlest one this time) with their eager smiles and crazy ambitions ready to embark on a new school year with overwhelming zeal.  I smiled, gave them all a hug, saw them off on the bus, waved until they could no longer see me, and proceeded to swim home in a sea of ugly tears, alone.

“Get up!,” I thought.  “Do something!  You have no excuse to not do something now!  Take a bath.  Read a book.  Search your soul woman!  Opportunity awaits!”

Nothing.

I don’t know what to do.

It’s too quiet.  I followed a housefly into the next room simply to have an annoying sound within earshot, just like the good old days (yesterday and every day before that times infinity).

I miss them.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Like a boss

It was definitely not a spur of the moment decision.  I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time.  The risks were obvious.  Judgment, guilt, shame, humiliation, just to name a few.  I’ve heard whispers of it behind closed doors in certain social circles, but have questioned whether or not a person could actually get away with such a thing.

“You can really do that, and it’s legit,” I would ponder, followed by the obvious retaliatory thought any decent mother would have, “I could never do that.”

Turns out I can, and I did, and I took another one down with me in the process.

Text messages were exchanged and the operation was promptly set into motion.  We were fully committed.  Over thinking was not an option.

As we approached the drop off room for our belongings, my heart was racing like it never had before.  Adrenaline surged throughout my entire body in one tidal wave after the next, drowning any message of reason and/or self-doubt my brain was drastically attempting to fire.  Beads of sweat began to form along my brow as the physical signs of my desperation began to show.

“You can turn around.  It’s not too late.  You’ve done nothing wrong,” whispered the entire universe.

Another herculean wave of adrenaline bitch slapped them all to their wobbly chicken shit knees.

“Proceed my lady,” suggested the fairylike woman sitting atop my right shoulder wearing a surprisingly modest swim top and speaking in a British accent for added appeal.

The locked gate was a definite reassurance.  They would surely try to escape.  This will keep them in, I mean safe.

The stone faced teenager from behind the desk wasted no time in beginning her interrogation.

“Can I have your card ma’am?”

I should’ve already had it out.  I was told in no uncertain terms to already have it out.  I thought I did!  Where is it?  Calm down!  They’re going to think you’ve never done this before!  Everyone is looking at you!  FIND YOUR CARD AND HAND IT TO HER YOU FUCKING IDIOT!

“Silly me, here you go sweetie pie,” I said, because apparently I am now 85 years old and from the south.

I hand it to her, but not before she has clearly grown tired and annoyed with the lack of familiarity I have with the entire, and actually quite simple, exchange process.

As she disapprovingly scans my card, she continues on with the questionnaire formalities.

“And where will you be?”

Silence.

“Where will you be in the building ma’am?”

She’s holding a pencil.  She’s going to write it down!

I had so much I wanted to say, “You don’t know.  You’re so young.  It’s hard sometimes.  I barely ever get to talk to adults.  It’s just for a little bit.  My husband has been gone all week.  Look at all the neat things in here.  This is way more fun than where I’m going anyway.  Please don’t judge me.  Please.”

Instead I took a deep breath, looked her straight in the eyes, and as a cloud of diffidence slowly picked me up off the floor and floated me toward the exit, I sheepishly answered, “The pool.”

Maybe she’ll think I’m exercising?  Doing laps or something?  It’s plausible.  This is a gym after all, I thought to myself while suddenly wishing I owned a swim cap for the first time in my entire life.

I kept walking, fighting any urge I had to turn back, trying to appear aloof and fitness-like.

I looked to my sister for any small sign of encouragement.

“This is the best idea you have ever had,” she said as she confidently stepped toward the light with her head held high and towel draped across her shoulder like a goddamn boss.

The next thirty seven minutes were spent lounging outside on an actual lounge chair next to a glorious sea of aqua blue, all the way down at the deep end, where the adults sit, and as far away from the zero depth entry point chaos as we could possibly get.

We had a real life uninterrupted conversation.  I got to actually look at my sister’s face while I talked to her.  She’s so pretty.  I forgot about her high forehead, just as I’m sure she had forgotten about my right temple mole and uneven nostrils.  We felt the warm sun on our pale cheeks and took notice of the beautiful white fluffy clouds floating overhead for the first time in at least a decade.  I thought one looked like a turtle.  She thought it resembled a shirtless Jon Snow in battle.  And we laughed and we laughed and we laughed.

“We should probably go get them now.”

“Yep.”

So we did.  But not before we made the arduous yet extremely satisfying climb to the top.  Step after step after muscle pounding step until we reached the unreachable summit.  A place that has until now only existed in our wildest dreams.  We sat atop for a brief moment, looking down on the world, the world we would soon return to, trying not to be phased by the single file line of impatient eagerness waiting directly behind.

And then we did it.  We let go.  We let go of our guilt, of our shame, of societal expectations, and our basic human dignity as we plunged to the bottom of the kiddy slides without a care in the world or knowledge of the teenage lifeguard waiting to catch us in the water below.

“I won!,” I screamed.  Because I did.

It was clearly time to leave.  Thoughts of our moppets were back with a vengeance as we made our walk of shame exit from the water, weaving in and out of frantic mothers (who I’m now certain hate us) and their hundreds of screaming offspring splashing haphazardly around with their godforsaken noodles waiting for their next unsuspecting victim to whip upside the head.

Not today asshole.

As we hopped on the guilt train with sun kissed cheeks to retrieve our most prized possessions, we began to wonder if we did the right thing.  Are we terrible mothers?  Our dear children must hate us for leaving them amongst strangers.  Dear Lord, they’re probably in a corner sobbing uncontrollably this very minute!  What kind of mothers would do such a thing?  “We’re coming children!”

They didn’t want to leave.  We got there and they didn’t want to leave.  One actually hid from us and another one refused to don her shoes as she gave us the death stare from across the room.  I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t have thought this 38 minutes ago, but she’s so darn cute when she’s mad.

They didn’t miss us.  They didn’t want us.  They didn’t need us.  They were having fun without us. I wonder if they care what their peers would say?  How dare they not want to be with us every single moment of every single day?  How dare they enjoy a short break from our constant nagging, I mean company.  We are their mothers!  And more importantly, we could’ve stayed longer!

Don’t worry kids, we’re cool.  Next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water balloons

It’s not like I’ve been blindsided or anything.  The writing has been on the wall for months.  I guess I was just hoping that it was a phase.  That he’d come to his senses or at the very least not be so rude about it.  I talk a pretty tough game, but I am incredibly crumbly on the inside.  I have feelings, just like everybody else.  I may not wear them on my sleeve for the whole wide world to see, but I have them.  Like right now, I feel betrayed and somewhat bitter.  I know it’s all part of the deal, but still.  I like to think there are people out there who still enjoy my company.  I can be a pretty cool cat if the circumstances are just right.  I know for a fact at least one person would even call me “fun.”

SO THERE!

My baby boy is bored to tears with me.  Keeps asking to play with Jimmy down the block.  Can I go to Jimmy’s house?  Can Jimmy come over?  Can you call Jimmy’s mom and set up a play date?  I want to go to Jimmy’s!  Every five minutes.

I get why Jimmy appears more fun than me.  For one, I don’t play cars and Jimmy does.  For whatever reason, the part of my brain responsible for imaginary play became completely nonfunctional after I turned the age of ten.  No amount of trying to access it is helpful to any party involved, and in some cases can make the situation terrifically worse.  I completely suck at it.  It’s not like I haven’t tried.  Furthermore, I know the well-meaning and sweet grandmother at the store would wisely say, “They grow up fast.  Play cars now because one day you will wish that you did, and you will really miss the invitation.”

I beg to differ kind granny, but I’ll keep you posted.

I do other things though.  I read books.  I play catch.  I bake cookies.  I ride a bike.  I can facilitate art projects.  I know how to play ‘hide and seek’ and most traditional board games.  I can drive to places, like the park, or the pool, or Costco.

“I don’t want to go to Costco again!  Costco is sooooooo boring!”

He used to enjoy shopping with me.  He would beg to go with.  And I didn’t have to entertain him or offer rewards in the process.  We would just delight in being in each other’s company.  Now I have to give him reasons to want to hang out with me.  It’s like a daily job interview where I’m sitting across the room from him, wringing my sweaty hands, desperately providing reasons why I am qualified for the position, while silently bad mouthing poor little Jimmy in my head.

I sat in a chair and let my son throw 60 water balloons at me last week.  Sixty.  Get my drift?  After I was attacked from all angles, was cold and wet, I was given nary a sympathy hug.  I didn’t get a towel either, just a forlorn soul wanting a real playmate.  After that, I built a personalized car wash out of a cardboard vodka box from Costco for him to zoom his cars in and out of.  He did it seven times.  It took me an hour to build it.

“Can I go to Jimmy’s house now?”

“Not today Bud.”

“Well then can you have a baby brother for me?” 

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because Mommy has had as many babies as she is physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of dealing with.” 

“What does that even mean?” 

“It means Mommy’s heart is full.”

Even if I wanted another baby (which I unequivocally do not), someday that baby will be almost 5, thriving in every way possible, heading to Kindergarten in a few short months, and wanting absolutely nothing to do with me.  I can’t keep having babies!  It hurts, and they’re expensive.

We have one month left together before the shit show of summertime ensues with the other two heartless miscreants who have selfishly moved on without their mother.  One month.  The pressure is mounting.  His immediate future with countless jimmies is planned.  Mine is not.

I have feelings too!  Who’s going to be my Jimmy when I want to play cars?

Kiss my ass grandma.