Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Wham Bam Mammogram!

Ah, what a way to start the day. First I drive to a nice office near my home. It's decorated in soft, comfortable tones and the nice women that work there are all pleasant and attractive. Then one of them leads me into a room, chit chats for a bit, asks predictable questions, then marches me over to a machine where she slams my breasts between two pieces of plastic and tells me not to breathe. Good morning!

It's my annual ritual you see, because I have a history of breast cancer in my family and because I've had two biopsies a.k.a. two incidents which were painful and scared the hell out of me and made me panic about who will take the dog out when I'm dead. Still, every year I go in there expecting the worst. And it is, the worst that is, but not THE worst, which would be the dreaded phone call saying that I need to come back.

But you know what would be the BEST?! If men had to do this once a year...with their penises. I can just picture a man walking into a room and having his family jewels slammed between two pieces of plastic. "Oh honey, it was horrible! It hurt so much. I don't think I can take out the garbage for at least a month." Am I right? Whereas, I'll be doing dishes in about 5 minutes here, once I'm done venting about this horrible/necessary/hated/important thing I have to do once a year.

I know, there's probably something that evens the score between men and women, but I think in the regular medical check-up genre, we win, hands down. Not only do we have mammograms, but we have gyno appointments! Again - good morning! What do men have? Oh wait, a doctor gently holds their you-know-whats, tells them to turn their head and cough? Man, that's living!

Despite my complaining, it's still OK. I'm resigned to the fact that these are important things to do and that the medical field tries to make us as comfortable as possible. Plus, I get to be a girl. Shopping! Complaining! Girlfriends! Crying for no reason! Chick flicks! Chick-Lit! Kids who need me! Makeup! Hair stylists! Dammit life is good. I'll take a once-a-year boob slam to make sure I'm healthy!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Motivation Matters

There are days when I sit here in my maternal office complex and feel like I've got my pulse on the world. I know what's going on, what's on our calendar, what we're having for dinner, where the kids are, how much laundry needs to be done and I practically dare someone to stop over and look through my house. Sadly, those days are few and far between. Today, I sit amongst many "mid-chores" - i.e. things that need to be done and that I've started, but who knows if I'll finish. There's the laundry. Today I decided to wash sheets and towels - a seemingly endless job that makes the bedrooms look like disaster sites. I confess - I don't do this on a regular basis. I figure if it doesn't bother me, then it's OK. It's generally pride that kicks in and forces me to do things like sheets and towels. For instance, an overnight guest is a guaranteed way to have clean bedding and towels throughout the house. Why? Well, in my warped viewpoint on the world, what if that guest needs to change beds and sleep somewhere else - gasp! I need to be prepared.

For years I've been trying to figure out what motivates me to do things. It's finally boiled down to this - embarrassment. If there is a chance I or my family will be embarrassed, I'll do it in a heartbeat. Pathetic, isn't it? I'm controlled by outer forces. Give me lots of time and no visitors and I'm lazier than an lame housecat. I can find tons of things to do other than cleaning closets, basement, dressers, etc. However, if I'm having a party - whammo - done in an instant. I become SUPERMOM.

Procrastination is my best friend. I work GREAT under pressure because I have no choice. I'm not doing anything until there is pressure. Sad, but true. That explains why, at 11:30 on a Thursday, I'm sitting here blogging, when there's laundry to do, dishes to wash, etc., etc.

Maybe if I pretend to hear the doorbell, I'll get my ass in gear and actually accomplish something. On second thought....NAHHHHHHHHHHHH.....

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Nice Work If You Can Get It

There are a few jobs where you are hated for just doing them. Those that come to mind are prison guard, dentist, guillotine operator, proctologist and mother. It's cliche to whine about, but we maternal types often feel like we're in a godawful, thankless profession. If you're a stay-at-home mom, the fun doubles because there's an unspoken assumption that because you are always there, you are always there to serve.

It's not that I don't like serving, I actually sometimes do. It's more the hatred that drips from my children's eyes and voices as they interact with me.

Mom: (In a cheerful voice) Don't forget to make your bed before you come downstairs.
Child: (In angry and desperate voice) Gosh! I don't have any time and NOW I'M GOING TO BE LATE! THANKS A LOT, MOM!
Mom: (In a soft direct voice) Well, if you got up a little earlier, you would have time.
Child: (In angrier voice) I can't get up earlier because I'M SO TIRED.
Mom: (In a softer voice) Maybe you should go to bed earlier instead of staying up to watch DeGrassi.
Child: (Fuming) I can't go to bed earlier because I HAVE SO MUCH HOMEWORK. SCHOOL SUCKS.
Mom: (Irritated and catching on to the distraction) Then skip TV and JUST DO THE HOMEWORK.

Some days go better than this. Most do not. It's an endless stream of pleading, begging, nagging, reminding and, eventually, scolding often escalating into yelling. Some days, I can't stand to hear my own voice. If I could only drop a few choice F Bombs, perhaps my point would be taken more seriously. For example:

Mom: Pick up your fucking dirty clothes. Do you know how much fucking laundry I've done this week?
Child: (Fearful and speechless)
Mom: And another thing, if I have to tell you one more fucking time to make your fucking bed so I don't have to look at your bedroom with the crap and shit everywhere, I'm going to fucking scream.
Child: (Quivering and whimpering)

Alas, only in my dreams. I'd resort to profanity if I didn't know that it would be ineffective after a day and word of it would travel around the school faster than the speed of light. There's no magic pill. Every day it's a new method of persuasion, a new theory, or another veiled threat. And just when I'm ready to blow my brains out, they turn around and do something nice and ruin my mojo.

Sometimes during the day I daydream that the cookies that I baked will be met with a Lassie-like response: "Golly mom, you're the BEST! Thanks for making cookies and doing my laundry and everything you do all day long. Here's a big hug." Instead, it sounds more like: "How many can I have? You forgot to sign my test and I got a demerit. Did you wash my read shirt yet? I need to buy a poster board, can we go now?"

Reality bites.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mrs. Murphy's Laws

It is a much-overlooked fact that as mothers, we are in a war with fate. Much as we try and control the world and our children, it ain't going to work. And just to prove it, fate, or perhaps God, likes to remind us that we are not in charge. We are merely pawns in this giant chess game called motherhood. Here's how it works: Shit happens at the most inopportune times. For example:
The day that you finally sort through the three-foot stack of magazines and send most of it to the recycling bin is one day before your daughter is assigned a project that involves clipping out magazine photos of current events.

The day you decide to drive your children to school in sweats, glasses, unbrushed teeth and really bad hair is the day that the really cute dad is helping out the new traffic cadets and greeting parents...personally.

The day that you have given yourself a vacation from picking up the crap that your family leaves everywhere is the day that the nice neighbor down the street actually takes you up on your offer to "stop by anytime."

The day for which you finally schedule an appointment for your acne-ridden child with the most coveted dermatologist in the area (appointments are scheduled 6 months out) will be the day that he/she is invited to the most awesome sleepover/party of the year...starting at that exact same time.

On the day that the cuisine gods finally get together and help you prepare the most kick-ass dinner ever will be the day that your husband works late, your child has to do a group project and your other child will decide to be a vegetarian.

That one day when you actually have a great hair day and you fit in those snug jeans and look really great will be the day when your child is home sick from school and you don't get to see another human being until your husband comes home looking for a great kick-ass dinner that you didn't have time to prepare because you couldn't leave the house.

Your high school senior will finally find the school that he really wants to apply to, 24 hours before their application deadline. Part of the application will be writing 5 essays and he will have 4 exams the next day.

The child who is the brightest is most likely to underperform and rarely realize his potential. Conversely, the one who has made you spend sleepless nights just might be paying off your mortgage someday.

At the very moment that you are ready to throw in the maternal towel and give up all hope of enjoying motherhood, one of your offspring will blow your mind and give you a hug for no reason at all.

Somtimes, fate is on your side.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Gene Pool

When you have children, there are lots of decisions to make. How many should we have? Will I be a stay-at-home mom or juggle a job and day care? You eventually answer all of them and embark on the journey that is parenthood. And then one day, as life is driving by you at 200 mph, you look at them and start to see the parts of you and your spouse that are embedded in your children.

For example, my husband is good at math. Math paralyzes me. He does math regularly. I go out of my way not to have to work the concession stand at the gym so that I don't have to calculate change. My kids basically got my husband's math ability. Phew!

I try to keep a neat house - my husband, not so much. The kids - more like dad. (Damn! Although in all fairness, I was a total slob as a child, so there is hope.)

My husband has musical ability - me none, unless you count listening. The kids got dad's genes on that one. Thank goodness.

I do things based on emotion. My husband can be counted on to give a calm, rational solution. Our son, more like dad. Our daughter, more like me.

I'm outgoing, my husband hates answering the phone. Our son is extraordinarily shy, our daughter can talk to anyone.

When things go wrong, it's only natural then, that we blame our spouse. When the math grades roll in and they're not so good, I cringe inside and wish I had studied algebra harder. When our son's teachers tell us they want him to participate more, I can't help but wonder if my husband's peaceful demeanor is at fault. It's crazy, but it's true.

We look to genes as the answer to the questions that plague us. Why is he so thin when we're both pleasantly plump? Why is her hair gorgeous and always perfectly tousled when I STILL struggle with mine after 44 years?

One day you look at your children and see a younger, modified version of yourself or your spouse. The good, the bad and the ugly. In that moment, it takes every ounce of willpower not to shout out: "Oh my GAWD, you did that exactly like your father!" No, this is when we have to do everything in our ability to make them believe that they are unique - a genuine article, unlike anyone else. More special than they'll ever know. Because they are....and they're not.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Vacation Ruminations

Phew! Made it through the Christmas season, a.k.a. the seasonal landmine in a mother's life. One minute you're the best ever, the next you're the worst. "Thanks for gift certificate, now can you take me to the mall NOW so I can spend it? And can we pick up 6 of my friends on the way? And can you pick us up when we're done and then can they all come over and can we have pizza? What do you mean we can't because you have a doctor's appointment?! Geez, you're so mean! I never get to do anything!" Maternal hatred is a schizophrenic thing, which is perhaps good because my expectations never get that high. It's taking years, but I'm learning that no good deed goes unappreciated. I take my invaded time and try to make it special or fun, often escaping the notice of every child living in my house. It's a crappy job, but somebody's gotta do it. Oh, pick me! Pick me!

Although I still have one at home on break, it's the quiet one, the less mercurial one. Nevertheless, I still don't get to relax completely and reclaim my domain. Thursday, that's my day, my time. When 7:30 am rolls around and I can sit down, put my feet up and feast on my proverbial bon bons. Or I can pick up around the house and know that it'll stay picked up until at least 3:00 pm. Life is good.

Now the downside...only 6 more months till summer vacation.