Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Random Monday "Momblings"

- While in New York City last week, I went to the world's largest, loudest and most obnoxious Toys R Us in Times Square. Thinking I had nothing to buy, I was content to just wander around while my friends shopped. Suddenly I saw a display featuring a "Personalized Elmo." "Great," I thought! Now I have something to get my niece. So I headed over there and talked to the woman that would program Elmo. She asked my niece's name. "McKayla," I said and then spelled it for her. She typed it in and said: "I'm sorry, but we don't have that name." She then proceeded to play Elmo's voice joyfully reciting the names that were closest: "Mahay" and "Mickey." She then looked at me in hopes that I'd purchase Elmo saying "Elmo loves Mahay" and my niece wouldn't notice that that's not her name. I was somewhat amazed that in one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world, I couldn't buy an Elmo that could say McKayla's name. Karen thinks Elmo needs to get out more.

- Tom Cruise bought an ultrasound machine. Yes, you heard me right...he and Katie have their own personal sonogram. Something about this is oh so wrong. I don't think we can act soon enough to save this child from his freak show father.

- If you are a mother with a 13-year old daughter, chances are good that much of your hair care and beauty products will eventually find their way into your child's possession. My life has come full circle. I used to hide my makeup from her because when she was two years old, she would get into it and destroy it. Now, I hide that she won't get into it and....well, steal it!

- This probably isn't news for anyone else, but when kids come home from college on break, it is NOT to see their parents. Yeah, I know, duh. Maybe I'll get a brief conversation in on our way to the train station.

- If I see Britney and Kevin Slackerline on the cover of People one more time, I'm going to cancel my subscription! Are there actually people that care about these two?!

- I know I've said this before, but strollers have gotten out of hand. When will parents realize that something the size of an aircraft carrier does not belong in a crowded store or busy city sidewalk?!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cheap and Dirty

Quick random thoughts. (Yes, I know, this is a really cheap way to get out of actually thinking and creating a real post!)

- New York is a fabulous city. Amazing. Giant. So much to do, so little time.
- New York is a really, really dirty city. Garbage everywhere. Dirt that gets under your fingernails.
- New Yorkers are not all crabby and mean, although some are.
- New York is crazy expensive. $20 for a crappy, cold brunch. What's up with that?!
- Never underestimate the ability of a 13-year old and her mother to fight even when they're having the most fun...ever.
- Always know that if my child is participating in something hugely important, tears will be me.
- As a mom, I get all of the blame and none of the credit. It's written in the maternal code.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I'm going to New York City this weekend. My daughter is part of a choir that is performing at Carnegie Hall. (Cool, huh?!) We are staying until Thanksgiving Day. The reason that we are staying until then is because my friend Gena is going with us and on her list of things she wants to do before she dies is seeing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And so...voila!

This made me start thinking, what do I want to do before I die? And so, in no particular order, here is my list of things I want to do before I die:

- Go to Europe with my husband and eat our way through several countries.
- Hold my grandbaby (not until his/her parents are old enough to have him/her).
- Travel in a motor home for a week...just because.
- See my younger son and my daughter hug, without me prompting them.
- Be a good way.
- Read Dickens...any Dickens. I'm ashamed to say I never have.
- Read Jane Austen...see Dickens, above.
- Go to Hollywood and see all the trashy touristy places with my family.
- Have a 25th Anniversary Party (3 more years!)
- Ride around town in a 1964-1/2 Ford Mustang Convertible
- Have a 2nd home on a lake or with a pool.
- Spend a week in Napa Valley with my hubby and drink our way through several wineries.
- Learn to make great bread pudding and creme brulee.
- Have a girls' weekend with my grade school and high school buddies.
- Find a comfortable bike seat and learn to enjoy biking.
- Play Bunco (What's up with that game?! Everybody plays it except me!)
- Go sailing.
- Do something meaningful and worthwhile for someone less fortunate.
- Go on a totally goofy vacation based on a theme, like only visiting cities named after condiments...well, you get the picture.
- Swim with dolphins.
- Learn to slow dance.
- Make sure that everyone that I love, knows how much I love them.

So that's my list...or everything I could think of today. Stay tuned....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Benign Neglect

I'm making a conscious choice to turn one deaf ear to my daughter's musical choices. Not because I hate them, but rather because I think she needs the freedom to explore boundaries a bit. Yes, I know, it's risky. But it's only one ear and I'm only one parent...even though she does have two. I'm the only parent in this house willing to listen to what she loves to listen to. I listen because it makes her and her friends happy to sing and dance along. I listen because once upon a time, I was 13 and fell in love with music and used it to explain my mercurial emotions.

And so, on a typical school day at around 3:05 pm, here's what you'll hear coming out of my car radio:

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.

I'm certain that I understand it more than she does. To her, it rhymes and has an infectious beat. Where I draw the line, is when this starts to play:

Damn baby all I need is a lil bit
A lil bit of this, a lil bit of that
Get it crackin' in the club when you hear this shit
Drop it like its hot, get to workin' that back
Go shake that thang, yeah work that thang

I do, however, offer an explanation about how degrading this is to women and that sometimes, it's just not cool to talk like that. Then I quickly switch stations to distract her.

She understands and doesn't usually fight too much, probably because I do give her some slack. My theory is that total pop music banishment will only send her off to the store even faster to buy the explicit version so she can listen to it on her iPod. I figure my being reasonable will be rewarded. Perhaps with a calm conversation once a week if I'm lucky.

Another reason for not panicking is because, as I mentioned, I was there once and here's what I was listening to:

Baby, if I think about you
I think about love
Darlin’ if I live without you
I live without love
Feel like makin’
Feel like makin’ love
Feel like makin’ love to you

Or, even better:

'Cause like a princess she was layin' there
Moonlight dancin' off her hair
She woke up and took me by the hand
We made love in my Chevy van
And that's all right with me

I didn't know what that meant when I was 13. It was just a pretty tune and the challenge was to learn the words, not to practice the meaning. I'm pretty sure that the previous generation felt the same way about Elvis. It's just music, not a disease.

To me, music is the olive brance between me and my daughter. She doesn't force her preferences on me and I try not to make fun of them. In fact, some of them are pretty great. And, I think she'd say that she likes a few of my tunes once in a while. Just not when her friends are around.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wait Not, Want Not

We're raising a generation without patience. If you think about it, they don't have to wait for anything. For example:

- They don't have to wait a week or even an hour for photos. They can print them out themselves via their computer and printer.
- They can have a meal in two minutes at any one of hundreds of fast-food places.
- If their food or drink is chilly at home, it takes seconds to warm it up in the microwave.
- Their dishes are washed and dried within an hour, without them getting their hands wet.
- They don't have to send a letter and wait for a response - an e-mail or, better yet, an instant message, is more their style.
- They don't have to reminisce about movies that they enjoyed at the theatre. They simply wait a month or two and purchase them.
- They can record a television show and watch it without commercials, without even waiting for the show to be over.
- When they are young, they don't have to learn to entertain themselves with toys or games. DVDs and video games are the diversions of choice.
- They don't have to worry if a store isn't in their city or mall, they can order anything online...instantly.
- They can buy groceries or gasoline at any time - day or night.
- Many of them can exercise in their basement on treadmills or home gyms.
- They don't even have to go to the record store to buy a new album. They can purchase and download it immediately.
- They can talk on a phone, listen to music or even watch movies whenever and wherever they want.
- They don't have to go to the library to do research. It's ALL on the internet at the touch of a button.
- Some of them don't even leave their houses to go to school. They are educated via the internet.
- When they write a paper, they can instantly make as many copies of it as they need...and save it for later use.
- If they make a mistake when they write an assignment, they can fix it immediately - no need to start over.

All of this begs the question: Are we creating monsters? This bold new life that the next generation is living is so devoid of effort and time that they may not be physically or mentally able to deal with real life on an everyday basis. Their lives, although enriched by technology and progress, have been stripped bare, leaving them without the life experience to deal with relationships and daily challenges. They have everything they want, wherever and whenever they want it, and yet, so many of them feel so lost and so unhappy. If they don't have to work very hard to do most common tasks, will they have any clue how to build a life and an existence that will satisfy them?

Is the next generation doomed to failure thanks to everything that we and our ancestors have worked so hard to discover, create and accomplish?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Leggo My Ego

I had an "aha!" moment today. I started taking tennis lessons a couple of weeks ago. I enjoy them. In fact, today, my lesson zipped by and afterwards, I realized why I'm liking this tennis thing so much. It's because twice a week, I get a pat on the back. Somebody tells me I did a good job. They show me how to do something, and most of the time, I can get in the same neighborhood of the way it's supposed to be done. Now, I'm not thinking that I'm turning into Venus or Serena anytime soon, but I do well enough to not embarrass myself or for my instructor to once in a while say: "Great shot!"

The "aha!" part of this experience is that a little ego gratification is exactly what most moms rarely get but perhaps need very much. It's like going without a hug for weeks on end. Eventually, when somebody hugs you, it feels really good. I'm not expecting applause for the laundry or a standing ovation for dinner. I understand that these are relatively mundane tasks that simply have to get done without glamour or sizzle. But once in a while, we need to know that we're something. It's human nature.

When I was working "outside the home," I got these pats on the back once in a while. Perhaps it's why I waited till my son was 12 to stay home. I knew that the kudos would be few and far between...and that's O.K. It's the trade-off we make to stay home.

But now that I've figured out where to get my ego stroked a bit, I think I'll be going back for more. Tennis anyone?

Random Thing for a Monday

The ATM at my grocery store talks to me. Nothing special, you say. But does your ATM have a female British accent? It's so pleasant, I could stand there all day and listen to her.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Life, Lived and Loved

I work so much better under pressure. My brain, my energy level...everything. Give me a deadline and I shift into gear. It's not like I'm proud of this because, in all honesty, it's merely a by-product of procrastination. On the other hand, I developed this skill as a coping mechanism when I was a full-time working mom. (A redundancy if I've ever heard one - what mom isn't working full-time? But I mean outside the home and not with a hedge clipper.)

Back then, I was up to my eyeballs in stress, work, deadlines and what felt like hundreds of children. It was only three, give or take 97. I got things done by making mental lists. Lists that grew by the minute. Lists written on receipts and paycheck stubs and sometimes on the back of my hand. The lists could all be titled: "Things I Need to Do So the World (OK, my world) Doesn't Fall Apart." There were moments during my gig as a FTWM (see above), when I felt responsible for the world. I felt like so many people were depending on me and, failure was not an option. Of course I failed every day in so many ways, but I tried to make my failures small and unnoticeable: A toddler shirt for picture day that wasn't really washed...just aired out and pressed...under a heavy book. A snack for the class that was questionably healthy and definitely not homemade. A birthday card sent to a relative a month late. (It really is the thought that counts, right?)

It was also during my tenure as a FTWM that I became obsessed with worrying about what everybody thought. Would school notice that I rarely, if ever, volunteered? Would the kids notice that I'm too tired to read them a story at bedtime so I'm skipping pages? (Oh, stop. You TOO have done this at least once.) Will my husband notice that we haven't gone out alone or had a conversation that didn't mention the kids in 2 years? Will my boss notice that I'm thinking about how to get the laundry done tonight so that my son's basketball uniform will be clean for his game tomorrow? I cared, and yet I didn't. I knew I was doing the best I could, but when you're in that situation, you don't exactly walk around saying that out loud. Rather, you pretend like your life is a walk in the park and hope they talk about you later in hushed and adoring tones. Like the Marines, I did more before 9am than most people did in a day.

It's funny but even though my life has changed dramatically and I have the time that I used to dream about having, I still look back on those days with shock and awe. How did I do it? Would my kids be different if I had stayed home? Would my husband have been happier if I hadn't been a raving bitch at the end of every day? (Well, duh.) Would I have accomplished more in my life if I had had the time to slow down and stay home? In my case, the answer is a definite no. I needed the stress, the pressure, the deadlines, the impossible schedule to get something done.

Today, I create artificial pressure in the way of lists and appointments and social engagements. It's very pleasant and I'm sure I'm easier to live with, but I have to admit that a little part of me misses the old days. I miss not having to think about what to do on the weekends and instead figuring out what we'd have to skip. I miss the laundry baskets full of toys strewn about the living room. (No, wait, I don't miss that.) I miss the toddler bodies hanging from my neck and my hips as I tried to slip into the bathroom for five seconds. I miss the smell of my children, because they don't let me get that close to them anymore.

What is it that makes us miss the times that were the hardest of all? I think it's because when things are hectic, life is being lived to the fullest.