Glimpses

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See this kid? The one with the long, silky blond hair and full cheeks? He’s 15 now. The hair is dark and cropped short. The cheeks are angular, with stubble much of the time, as he mostly ignores my reminders to shave. The smiling blue eyes are the same, though the smiles aren’t gifted to me quite as often as they were back then.

I used to piggyback this boy up the stairs to bed. He towers over me now. After years of listening to his high-pitched squeals during lightsaber duels, it often startles me when I hear the deep, booming voice that comes out of his mouth now.

He is my one son, sandwiched between two girls. I’ve learned some things, raising this boy.

Boys are loud. Boys are messy. Boys are smelly.

Boys are sensitive. Boys are thoughtful. Boys are protective, especially of their moms.

The most unexpected thing I’ve learned? Boys are so, so sweet.

I’m not gonna lie. 15 is tough. Tough to be, and tough to parent, especially in this day and age. When my kids became teeagers, I had to tell them things like, “Please don’t smoke, drink, take pills, have sex, or cyber-bully anyone.” When I became a teenager in the 80’s, my mom told me things like, “Please don’t bring your Cabbage Patch doll to the dinner table.”  True story.

You know, when your kids are little, all you want is for them to leave you alone for five minutes. Then come the teenage years and suddenly, they leave you alone for too long.

The eyes are rolled, the doors are slammed, the walls are up.

And through those walls, sometimes it’s hard to see that sweet little boy.

The one who snuggled me the most.

The one who held my hand the longest.

But then.

Glimpses.

I come downstairs one morning and on the kitchen counter is a piece of coffee cake. The very last piece. With a sticky note on top, that says, in terrible handwriting, “Save for Mom”.

He knows it’s my favorite.

There’s that sweet boy.

Another time, I overhear my 9 year old daughter being rude to him.

I interject: “Stop being mean to your brother!”

“It’s ok,” he says. Then, turning to his sister:  “Even when you’re mean to me, you’re still my favorite person.”

Another glimpse.

And so, through the throes of teenage angst, I hold onto those glimpses. Of the sweet little boy he was, and of the good man he is becoming.

Not long ago, he randomly announced to my husband and I something I won’t soon forget. He said, “Do you realize that one day you’ll pick up your kid and it will be the last time that you do? But you won’t know it then.”

I’m glad I wasn’t aware of the last time I picked him up.

Because it would have broken me a little to put him down.

This boy of mine may not hold my hand any longer, but no matter how big he gets, he will always, always, hold my heart.

Me vs. Van Gogh

I knew it was risky.

I knew it could end badly.

But they told me it couldn’t be done.

They said it was impossible.

“You’re crazy,” they said.

I took that as a challenge.

I began on a Thursday.

“Patience is a virtue,” I said.

“Huh?” my daughter said.

“Slow and steady wins the race,” I said.

“Stop saying weird things, Mom,” they said.

I worked for hours. Hours turned into days. Days turned into weeks.

“We’re hungry,” they said. “Are you ever going to cook again?”

“Give a man a fish, he can feed himself for a day. Teach a man to fish, he can feed himself for life,” I said.

“Why does she keep saying things weird stuff we don’t understand?” they said.

“It means…make your own dinner,” I said.

I soldiered on. Late nights. Early mornings.

“Nobody has clean socks,” they said.

I kept at it.

Finally, only five were left. Four. Three. Two.

Still two.

Oh, no.

No. No. No.

“It cost fifty cents,” they had said.

“It’s USED,” they had said.

“There’s NO way the pieces are all there,” my husband had said.

They were right.

But.

My 9 year old.
She bought it for me at the school holiday shop.
With her own fifty cents.
She put it under the tree, all wrapped up.
She couldn’t wait to give it to me.
She was so proud of her gift.

I had to try.

And then. Under the table. I see it.

The last piece.

“I can’t believe you did it, mom.” she said. “That was like the hardest thing ever, but you never gave up.”

I smiled.

Success.

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To The Mom Who Thinks She Didn’t Do Enough Today

FRAMES

I am not a lazy person. But there are days when my surroundings seem to make me feel otherwise.

Let me explain.

Do you see all of those frames? We moved into our home nearly five years ago. I unpacked those photos and put them on the floor – temporarily of course – in the corner of my bedroom. Until I had a moment to hang them up on our bare walls.

Well, that photo was taken yesterday. Yes, those frames have somehow been sitting there collecting dust for five YEARS. Every time I look at them I think, “I should hang them” or “I should give them away” or “I should update the photos”. But I do none of these things. I am paralyzed with indecision.

I have an overflowing notebook of delicious-looking recipes I have torn out of magazines with the best of intentions. Yet I serve the same meals to my family, week after week, month after month.

I sorted through my clothes and bagged them up to donate. They’ve been riding around with me in the trunk of my car for two months now, causing me grief every time I turn a corner too fast and they spill out.

I have piles of paper on my desk. Reminders of things that need to be done. Transfer my wedding video to DVD before it fades away. Call the insurance company about a medical claim. Use that movie pass before it expires. Shred the old bills so I can file the new ones into the bulging folders. Make the orthodontist appointment. Buy that birthday gift.

I’m not special. This is the life of a mom. With a family of five, most days I’m only able to accomplish the have-tos. Have to go grocery shopping. Have to feed the kids. Have to take the dog to the vet. Have to do laundry. Have to pay the bills.

So all those want-tos? They just sit there, serving as constant reminders of my own perceived inadequacy. I walk around my home, and see those frames, and those recipes, and those piles of papers and I feel like I’m not doing enough. I’m not “getting it all done”.

But here’s what I’m beginning to realize, or rather, what I need to realize. Moms are not machines. We can’t go and go and go without stopping or we will break. And there is no free replacement if we do.

I may WANT to hang those picture frames or shred those bills tonight when the have-tos of my day are done.. But honestly, what I NEED to do is to sit on the couch, curl up next to my sweet dog, and watch some Netflix.

And I also need to change the voice in my head to tell myself this doesn’t make me lazy. It makes me human.

So to all the moms out there, like me, who fall exhausted into bed each night thinking they didn’t do enough today, I hope you remember this…

You are the wheels that keeps the crazy train that is a family moving along. You are the engine that powers it and you are the conductor that steers it. You are amazing. And I’m betting that, today, you did enough.

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The Costco Return Line

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If Costco were a religion, I’d be a believer. When I first became a member in the early 90’s, it was called Price Club, then PriceCostco, then eventually Costco. That’s how long we’ve been together. Also, that’s a clue as to how old I am. Seriously though, I am a huge fan of the company for many reasons. They sell quality products that are responsibly sourced, they treat their employees well, and their return policy is incomparable. Really, no return seems to be too absurd for them.

I once bought a vacuum cleaner, and it died after I used it for two years to vacuum up more hair than you ever thought could possibly come from one Labrador Retriever. I could have created a whole second dog with that sweet Lab’s hair. Everybody told me, “It’s Costco…return it!” I was reluctant at first, but when I took it in, they issued me a full refund (two years later!) – no questions asked.

Even bigger than a vacuum, I returned a king size mattress that didn’t live up to its promise of a good night’s sleep. In hindsight, it’s possible the bad sleep was caused more by my toddler and infant at the time than the mattress, but, hey, I couldn’t exactly return the children. Or could I?

I had a friend that once bought an entire living room set, moved six months later, and when the furniture didn’t fit in the new house, returned it for a full refund.

Then there are the infamous stories…the woman who returned an empty bottle of wine because it “gave her a headache” and the lady that returned a frozen fish that was in her freezer for 13 years. And Costco doesn’t bat an eye.

On a recent outing, the return line was exceptionally long and it seemed each customer’s situation was more complicated than the next. I was waiting impatiently, receipt and membership card in hand, ready to go, like the good customer I am.

But these other people were up there with all kinds of problems and stories, going on and on about one thing or another.

One lady was returning a printer and they unpacked the box to make sure everything was there. And the printer cable was missing. So the clerk asks her where the printer cable is and she feigns innocence like, “What? Oh? Really? I didn’t realize. Cable? You see, my husband…..” Blah, blah, blah. When lady, we are all thinking you bought this thing so you could return it and get a free printer cable. Really, now.

And so it went, one long explanation of their return after another. The whole time in line I was annoyed because I couldn’t see what the lady in front of me was returning and I was curious. So it’s finally her turn, and as she goes up to the cashier I see her unwrapping a small item in her hand. I nosily re-position myself to find out what her item is and I see what appears to be a quarter of a salami on the counter.

Lady, are you freaking kidding me? You just waited in this line for 30 minutes to return your half-eaten appetizer?! First of all, it couldn’t have been that bad because somebody ate most of it. Second, unless all your Christmas dinner guests died of food poisoning and you are turning this hunk of meat in for lab analysis…this is a WASTE OF EVERYBODY’S TIME.

But at least it explained the weird smell wafting through the line.

Whatever, people…it’s finally my turn. Now, please excuse me so I can return my hair dryer and get the hell out of here already.

“I’m sorry, what? This hair dryer? It came with a mini hair dryer just perfect for travel? Oh? Really? I didn’t realize. Mini hair dryer? You see, my husband…”

 

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Resolutions Vs. Reality

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Though I normally don’t partake in the whole “New year, New me” philosophy, last year I actually wrote a New Years Resolutions list. I just came across it and decided to share a few of them along with updates on how well I fared.

RESOLUTION #1: I will begin an exercise regimen that includes strength training and aerobic activity.

REALITY:
Strength training:  Well, I didn’t exactly lift dumbbells or do, like, a push-up or anything. But I recently had a very bad cough which gave my abdominal muscles quite the work out. I’m waiting for my six-pack to show up any day now.  Also, if you count moving the dead weight of a sleeping 75 pound Labrador from my spot on the couch every night to his blanket, then I did awesome on this one.

Aerobic Activity:  I signed up to run a half-marathon last spring. Paid the fee and everything. Unfortunately, I did not actually run the half-marathon. Or show up at all. But it was months of great fun imagining I was going to do it. In November I did go on a walk. There was a hill and I got tired. Does that count?

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RESOLUTION#2:  I will go to Costco and buy only ONE item. I don’t know if this is humanly possible, as I have never been witness to this feat, but I will try.

REALITY:  I totally did it! In October I went to Costco and purchased only a tub of mini coffee cakes. I know, you’d think my one item would’ve been something more essential, like toilet paper, but honestly, I needed those mini coffee cakes more. And I’m not counting the 14 samples I scarfed down while proudly strolling through Costco with my one item because those were all FREE.

RESOLUTION #3:  I will part with my maternity sweatpants (hey, I just had a baby 9 years ago) even though they are perfect for Thanksgiving and PMS days. Also, it is the only article of clothing I own that used to be too small and is now too big. Sigh. 

REALITY: They’re gone. It was bittersweet. However, my maternity pajama pants were not part of the deal. Those stayed and will stay until they cause me physical harm. I say this because I was wearing them yesterday morning and they nearly did cause me physical harm. You see, the bottoms are all ripped and somehow they got caught in part of the vacuum cleaner and I kind of had to fight my way out of a crazy situation. But I escaped unscathed and we’re still good, me and my shredded pajama pants. Just need to be a little more careful around household appliances, that’s all.

RESOLUTION #4:  I will not charge anything on my credit card that costs less than $3.00.  ***Except when in the vicinity of a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop or other similar emergency.

REALITY:  I am unresoluting this resolution. I hate using cash. I hate cashiers giving me a handful of potentially virus ridden coins and warm dollar bills that were just stuffed in somebody else’s pants. A little family background: my grandfather washed his money. Not in the “money laundering” sense. In the literal sense, with the clean bills hung up on a clothesline to dry. When I was a child I’d go to his house and see the crisp money hanging there in the basement. I remember being like “Wow, that’s so cool”.  Then, as I got older, I was like, “Wow, that’s a little weird.” But the guy had a point…cash is gross.

RESOLUTION #5: I will conquer my fear of spiders, lice, flying, sharks, vomiting, and public restroom door handles. Also, items on the top shelf of the grocery store, which I cannot reach without a full-scale climbing mission. Also, my fear of paying full-price for something because I forgot my coupon. Also, people with really clean cars, I fear them a little. New iPhone updates…so scary, I just keep hitting “Remind Me Later”. You know, this list is getting a bit overwhelming so perhaps I should just enlist the help of a therapist to determine why I have so many damn neuroses.

REALITY:  I have conquered nothing. I am still terrified of every single thing on that list plus let’s now add the aggressive, giant raccoon that shows up every night at our back door to eat our feral cat’s food. Living in the woods ain’t no joke, people.

Screw hiring a therapist…I may now have enough issues to actually become one.

RESOLUTION #6:  I will stop making excuses to justify buying Groupons that I will never use. Am I really going to go on a Segway tour of my local city? Which, upon further thought, would involve a rental helmet and a high-risk lice situation? Hell, no. 95% off tattoo removal? Such a great deal but first I would have to A) get a tattoo and B) grow to hate my tattoo. 75% off a storage unit rental? Fabulous, I can use it to store all my unused Groupons. 

REALITY:  In January of this year I simply clicked “Unsubscribe” and kicked this resolutions ass!

Well, I hope you fared a little better with your New Year’s Resolutions than I did with mine.  Best wishes for a great 2018!

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