Thursday, September 27, 2012

BoyMommy's Guide to Fashion

I am by NO means a fashionista.  I wear solid-colored t-shirts and jeans EVERY day, so I realize I am the last person who should be commenting on fashion trends.

But that doesn’t stop me from doing it!

Trends I Don’t Get
(from the woman who currently owns 3 pairs of Crocs and 2 pairs of Birkenstocks.)

1.  Tank tops and scarves:  this is a visual contradiction.  If it’s warm enough to wear a tank top, it’s too hot to wear a scarf.  If it’s cool enough to wear a scarf, it’s too cold for a tank top.  Do you think Santa walks around in a tank top?  Let's hope not.

2.  High-waisted jeans:  poor, poor Jessica Simpson.  She’s a cute girl, but she makes some questionable fashion choices.  (Hire me as your stylist, Jess . . . I'll putcha in a nice cardigan.)  I avoid high-waisted jeans because they accentuate my “problem area.”  (Well, one of them anyway.)  I might as well wear a neon sign that says “I love donuts.” 

3.  Visible bra straps:  Perhaps if I wore cute little bras with decorative lace and adorable patterns I would feel differently, but alas, my undergarments can only be described by the words industrial-strength.  They are functional, and any straps that may be coyly peeking out from underneath a tank top are roughly the width of a grown man’s belt. 

4.  The side pony:  I will admit that a side ponytail looks cute on some women, but I’m afraid it would keep hitting my shoulder, causing me to think that someone is trying to catch my attention, and I would end up spinning around in a circle and looking like a dog trying to catch its tail.

5.  Spray tans:  If it’s subtle, it’s fine.  When you look like an Oompa-Loompa who counted Mississippilessly in the tanning booth and your teeth look fluorescent-white next to your skin, you’ve gone too far.  

6.  Open-toed boots:  Isn’t the point of boots to keep your feet warm?  Fall and winter preclude open-toed foot-wear, and, given how I feel about feet, I honestly need a break after the flip flops of summer.

7.  White sunglasses:  these remind me of every awkward moment I endured in middle school, and they make me want to blast Sussudio on my boom box.  Not a good time in my life.

8.  Pointy fingernails: I’m pretty sure I’d stab my children with pointy fingernails, given my propensity for clumsiness and my general lack of self-awareness.

9.  Pajama bottoms as pants:  Wearing your pajama bottoms to the Emergency Room because you were in such a hurry?  Yes.  Wearing your pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers to Walmart?   No.  I will make an exception for college towns, but only if it’s after midnight and the only other clientele in the Walmart consists of Waffle House waitresses just coming off their shift and long-haul truckers.

10.  Men wearing flip-flops with dress pants:  Just . . . no.

If you need me, I'll be here waiting patiently by the phone for Anna Wintour to call regarding my imminent job offer from Vogue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Ungrateful Family . . .

Dear (Hypothetical, of course) Family,

Remember last week when Mommy got fussed at because the baseball uniforms were still in the washer and Daddy and Large had to wear wet uniforms to their game?  And Daddy muttered under-his-breath-except-really-loudly that Mommy had “dropped the ball” because he’s so PUNNY and he doesn’t even know it?  ‘Member?

Golly, that was fun.

Mommy felt so GOOD about herself and her contributions to her family on that day.

I thought that PERHAPS the BoyMommy Family could use a little refresher course in working together to keep things running instead of relying on Mommy 100% of time, and MAYBE a reminder of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that moms do but for which they never get credit. 

Because nobody notices the kick-@ss job you’re doing until you don’t do it. 

Let me let you in on a lil’ secret:  there’s no little fairy flitting and flying around the house performing all the mundane tasks that you take for granted.  It’s me.  Mommy.  The Boss.  The CEO, the Mack-Mommy, the Dalai Mama . . . ME.
For instance:
  1. When is the last time you thought to yourself, “hmmm . . . it seems that-there lightbulb musta blown out.”  That’s right – you don’t have to, because Mommy takes care of it.  Furthermore, do you even know where the spare bulbs are stored or where one goes to purchase such household items?
  2. “Oh, I need to mail this bill, but alas, I have no stamps,” said NO ONE in the BoyMommy family.  By the way, hey Daddy, where’s the post office?
  3. Run out of ink in the computer printer?  Not.
  4. This one’s tricky because I have a theory that I am the only person who actually uses toilet paper and/or paper towels, but please notice next time you wipe your behiney or a countertop (preferably not with the same paper-product) that we never seem to run out.
  5. That’s funny . . . yesterday I only had a dab of toothpaste/soap/shampoo left and now there’s an entire container.  Huh.
  6. Remember how Daddy told you your fish would die if you didn’t feed it or change the water, and Mommy warned you that she would NOT be taking care of floaty animals?  Yeah, that one’s kinda on me. You see, I meant what I said. Sorry about your fish.  My bad.
  7. Yesterday the lunch lady said I only had $.70 left on my account, but today I have $50.  Ice creams for everybody!
  8. Forgot that today was picture day, but still seemed to show up to school with slicked hair, a collared shirt, a face devoid of milk mustaches and wayward boogies, AND with a check made out to LifeTouch Studios?  How DOES she do it?
  9. Yesterday you were worried you wouldn’t have milk for your cereal or bread for your sandwich, but voila! . . .  [private note to across-the-street-neighbor: this goes for you too, you 8:00-on-Saturday-morning-coffee-pod-moocher.  What would you do without me?]
  10. Only one more scoop of dog food left in the bin?  Mommy's on it!  ( . . . because I just luuuuurve that smell at the pet store, and, let's face it, the dog seems to appreciate me.)

These things don’t magically happen, folks, so next time your uniform is a little, um, damp or you have to wear your undershirt inside out because it's day two, quityerbitchin’ and cut me some slack, will ya?

Love you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Buh-Bye Kids!

If you are a lucky homeowner in my 'hood who received your copy of the neighborhood magazine, you've probably read it cover to cover and hence you will have already seen the following post.  For those of you in the reading audience who do NOT live in my 'hood, I am affording you the opportunity to read this piece of literary genius, free of charge!  You're welcome.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year . . .

Nope, not the holidays; it’s back-to-school time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I adore my children and I am extremely fortunate that I am able to stay home with them, but sometimes I’d like to use the potty without an audience.  It’s a luxury I’m afforded only during the school year. 

Phyllis Diller famously said that “cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”  Many of the homes in our neighborhood are immaculately decorated, spotlessly clean, and well-stocked with fancy cheeses and highly rated wines.  We’ve got juice boxes, Cheez-Its, and the “this-is-why-we-can’t-have-nice-things” speech running in a constant loop over the sound system.  My summer housekeeping skills make a college fraternity house look as sterile as an operating room.  I know my home has potential.   It would be absolutely lovely if I lived here ALONE. 

The only time our home is actually clean is while the children are at school.  After they get on the bus, I clean up the breakfast dishes, (and by dishes, I mean the paper towel where I placed their toast,) pick up a little, and try to enjoy it. . . . but only until 3:00.  Between the hours of 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm, a tornado of trailer park proportions whizzes through our home. 

One would think with all our toys and their various accoutrements, our children would be able to find SOMETHING to do, but alas, they are bored.  If I hear “what are we going to do today?” one more time, I will likely stick my head in the oven.  As a child, I remember going outside to play, riding bikes, building forts, reading books, playing with my friends, etc.  My children act as if I am their camp counselor, responsible for their every entertainment. 

We are raising a generation of citizens with “First World” Problems.  You have so many Wii games, you can’t choose just one?  You can’t get your bike out of the garage because it’s so crowded with other ride-on toys?  You get sweaty when you walk to the pool conveniently located in the neighborhood?  Your friends are at camp, so you have to play basketball in your very own driveway all by yourself?  You poor, poor thing.  I’m not sure how you find the strength to get up in the morning. 

It’s difficult to teach our children the healthy balance between recognizing how lucky they are while being aware that much of the world is not as fortunate.  It’s a lesson I’d do well to remember too.  I have a messy house because I have an active family of five.  I rarely have any alone time because my children enjoy hanging on me being with me.  They are bored because they are afforded so much stimulation that they need to be taught to appreciate down time. 

So while it is true that we can’t have nice things and my house is never clean, this too shall pass.  One day soon I’ll be remembering these times fondly, because I imagine it’s similar to childbirth – you don’t remember the pain, you only remember the end result.  Until then, happy brand new school year, y’all!  Here’s wishing your family academic success, friendly faces, stellar teachers, and the chance for Mommy to use the potty alone.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sending Good Vibes to a Grieving Mommy

A year ago, this family's profound loss broke my heart:

Another Mommy blogger, and a friend of Anna's family, is requesting that we send Mommy Love to Anna's family by writing Jack's name on your hand and posting a photo of it here.

Though I don't know Anna personally, I feel a little piece of my heart was lost that day as well . . .  only a mother can begin to fathom the magnitude of her grief, and I can't help but feel that it could have happened to ANY one of us - there but for the grace of God go I.  So today especially, hug your own children, use the words "I love you," and let's lift Anna up so she knows she is loved, and she is brave, and she is not alone in her pain.  I am reposting the entry I wrote a year ago :

For days I’ve been trying to think of something clever and witty to write about, as I’m hoping to keep up with the blog a little better now that Medium and Large are at school all day.  I’m trying to get Small on a regular nap schedule – mostly because I’m anal and can’t handle it when I don’t have a schedule or a plan.  I hope to be able to write more frequently while he’s napping. 

I could write about Tuesday when we overslept until 6:58, but I still managed to get the boys up to the bus stop by 7:12.  Or I could write about purging my closet of clothes I haven’t worn in years, but which have moved from our townhouse, to Manhattan, to our temporary housing, and finally stopping here in our home.  Or I could put a humorous spin on trying to find a nerdy teenager with no social life so that I can have a babysitter at my beck and call.

The problem is that I keep thinking about Anna Donaldson and her family:

The Donaldson Family, of Vienna, VA lost their 12-year-old son, Jack, in the floods we had last week.

I first heard this story from my former “boss” at JMU, who was a sorority sister to Anna Donaldson.  Then I discovered that, in the it’s-a-small-world department, my across-the-street neighbor was also a sorority sister.  My connection to this woman is six-degrees-of-Kevin-Baconish, but still, her story was brought to my awareness more than once.  Then this morning, a high school friend posted a link to Anna's blog, An Inch of Gray.  I just can’t keep quiet anymore.  So this one’s not funny.

For all the b*tching I sometimes do about mothers who don’t support each other, make other mothers feel bad about their parenting, or try to one-up each other, I must admit that in a time of tragedy, there is a bond between mothers that is almost spiritual.  And I don’t mean spiritual in the religious sense. 

I mean I hope that the heartbreak and grief I feel for this woman whom I have never met will help ease some of her burden, because it pains me to think of her suffering “alone.” 

I know she has a family, and perhaps it seems insensitive for me to imply that NO ONE, not even her husband, feels the grief as tangibly as she does.  I have a notion that collectively, mothers everywhere who are hearing her story are shouldering a bit of her heartbreak. 

When I lost my mother, I remember thinking that I truly understood where the term "broken-hearted" originated.  I literally felt an ache in my heart - a physical pain.  It struck me as surreal that people still went to the grocery store, picked up their mail, filled their cars with gas when my world had fallen apart.  I’ve always said that losing my mother has been the greatest loss of my life, and I am the first to admit that I had a difficult time dealing with my grief.  But here’s the thing: children expect to lose their parents at some point.  Hopefully it won’t be until the parent has lived a full life, but we all accept mortality as the final chapter of life. 

Parents are not emotionally equipped to lose a child.  That’s not how it’s supposed to happen.  

Ten years ago, my girlfriend, The Mormon, lost a child.  Hubby and I hadn’t started our family yet, so while I grieved with my friend, I grieved with her as a friend, not as a mother.  I hurt because my friend was hurting.  It wasn’t until I had Large that I truly understood that having a child is having a part of you live outside your body.  Your child is an appendage that’s not physically attached.  (Sometimes I feel like my kids are the middle finger . . . )

As diligent followers of this blog (hint, hint) you know that I don’t discuss politics or religion.  I believe what I believe, and I don’t need to rationalize it to anyone.  No matter what you believe (or don’t) my simple request is this: pause for just a moment today and send good “Mommy” vibes to Anna Donaldson.  Motherhood is a sorority of its own, and today our Sister needs us. 

*Anna's friend Glennon writes a blog called Momastery.  Her most recent entry, simply called "Anna," is a powerful post in which she reminds us that one doesn't stop being a Mother when your child leaves the earth.

Medium, Small, Large
And finally, my boys.  I LOVE them with every ounce of my being.  They drive me absoultely insane sometimes, but I am thankful every day for their sweet smiles.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Parking Lot Etiquette

I believe in Karma. 

I totally believe what goes around comes around. 

Back when I was teaching, I had a “personality” conflict with a woman with whom I was coaching.  I didn’t like hers. 

She was everything I wasn’t, and I will admit that if I had been a bit more mature I would have handled the situation differently, but I was 22.  Since I was just starting out and I had no money, I was living at home.  I would come home from work every day in tears because of some conflict we had had.  My mom would tell me to buck up and that “she’d get hers.” 

She was the head coach, so when the powers that be decided that one of us had to go, I resigned.  (My choice was to resign or be fired, truth be told.)  I certainly didn’t want this situation following me my entire career, so I took the easy way out.  When we met with the administration, however, I held my head high and I conducted myself with dignity and integrity while she acted like a teenager on too little sleep and too much speed and made a complete idiot out of herself.  Even though I was humiliated by having to quit, I felt that I had won in the eyes of my superiors.  They had been backed into a corner, and I have never blamed them for their decision.

Karma, of course, doesn’t always work out.  I can’t explain why my mother had to suffer from Cancer, or why any parent would lose a child, or why good people must struggle; but in the day-to-day monotony, I believe that the energy we put out into the universe matters.

I was enjoying a much-needed and infrequent day to myself while Hubby took the boys out for a bit.  I went to the mall.  The mall!  Not the little one up the street – the big one with the fancy stores!  Monday was Labor Day, however, so the mall was crowded.  I circled and circled in my Swagger Wagon until I found a parking spot that was being vacated.

I put my turn signal on, which we ALL KNOW is the universal indication that Im’ma take that spot.  It’s mine.  I’ll have it. 

Y’all know where I’m going with this, right? 

The driver backed out of the spot just as a sedan packed with eager shoppers came around the corner.  Surely she’s going to notice me and my polite turn signal and keep on truckin’ down the aisle. 

Even the driver backing up realized what was going down.  As he was halfway out of the spot, he stopped his car and honked at the sedan.  She ignored him and pulled into the spot.

Oh, hayl no.

Generally I am not a confrontational person, but some things are so vital to the continuation of humanity that one cannot stand by and let the injustice take place.  I stayed right where I was . . . signal a-blinkin’, and rolled down my window in preparation of politely reminding the sedan owner that ONE DOES NOT steal a parking spot for which someone is waiting. 

Before she could get out of her car, however, the backer-upper stopped his car, put it in park, got out of his car, and approached the sedan.  He knocked on the window and said something quietly to the passengers.  As he walked away he said, “they didn’t see you,” and he returned to his car.

“You rock,” I replied.

The sedan backed out of the spot, and as she drove by me she said, “I’m so sorry . . . I thought you were leaving.”

All that for an $18 shirt I could have bought online.