Prom, Minus The

We hit two major milestones last weekend in my family. My youngest graduated from elementary school and my oldest went to prom.  Apparently, it is no longer cool to say “the.”  It’s just prom.  I also recently discovered ‘kids these days’ no longer say “cool beans” either. 

I got a lot of eye rolls when I talked about elementary school graduation. I’m not sure why people get angry over graduations outside of high school and college. Heaven forbid we praise children and allow them to celebrate their achievements. Why on earth would we want to encourage them to value an education?  It didn’t hurt anyone when my daughter walked across the stage wearing a paper graduation cap.  She was beaming with pride. For me it’s a time to celebrate and cry.  I get emotional at the end of every school year. No, it’s not because my children will be home all day and asking for a snack 99% of the time. They are growing up and another phase of motherhood has passed by.

My oldest attended his first prom. He is a sophomore, but several of his friends are seniors and wanted him to go. I was hesitant because it’s tradition to go with a date.  When I was younger, if you didn’t have a date you didn’t go. Nowadays, it’s common for kids to go in large groups.  That is great for those of us who are late bloomers.  I wish I would have known back then that peaking in high school isn’t a good thing.  The stud of your senior class grows up to look like Peter Griffen. 

My son looked handsome in his tuxedo. He also looked so grown up. It seems like yesterday I was dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten. That day I bent down and kissed his forehead before he shuffled into the classroom wearing a backpack almost as big as he was,”Have a great time! I love you.” I didn’t let him know I was upset. I drove by the school four times that day. It’s hard to let go and it doesnt get any easier as they age. I was just as anxious sending him off to prom. He is taller than me, but will always be my baby. I adjusted his bow tie, smiled and hugged him goodbye. I turned away as a single tear streamed down my face, “Have a great time! I love you.” 

 

 

 

Sons & Mudders

I took my 9-year-old son on a date several months ago.  He is the middle child who, I feel, is often lost in the shuffle. My 6-year-old daughter demands constant attention. I love spending time with her.  She always wants to play with Barbie Dolls.  Of course, she is always the cool Barbie with the nicer house and clothes.  I have to follow her lead.  It’s like high school all over again.   I am my 16-year-old son’s chauffeur.  Quite frankly, I would like to keep it that way. I am a control freak. Unfortunately, much like the my hips, children grow whether you want them to or not.  My son begins Driver’s Ed Class in two weeks.  I am not ready for this.  That leaves my 9-year-old.  He is very independent.  He and I don’t get to spend nearly enough time together.  I am trying to change that. Over the weekend, we attended an event at his elementary school.  For years, father/daughter dances were held at the school. It is a special night for dad’s to bond with their daughters. My son’s school came up with a great event for mothers and sons.  The third annual “Sons and Mudders” was held over the weekend. It is an obstacle course with mud; A LOT OF MUD.  aHR0cDovL2NvbnRlbnQuY2xlYXJjaGFubmVsLmNvbS9jYy1jb21tb24vbWxpYi8xNzY3LzA2LzE3NjdfMTQ2NTE3MzA0NC5qcGc=

 

 

 

 

Basically, it is a watered down “Tough Mudder” race.  This is the second year my son and I participated.  For someone who vacuums daily and washes the countertops more times in a day than a Kardashian looks in the mirror  –  I was definitely out of my comfort zone.  I embraced the experience.  I don’t think my son stopped smiling the entire night.

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He and my older son (the boy in white) seemed to really enjoy this moment:

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I pulled the “I gave birth to you and this is how you repay me” card later that night. Actually, it was all in good fun.  I enjoyed not having to bark orders to ‘pick up this’ or ‘clean up that.’  We just played and laughed.

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These are memories that I will cherish forever.  I hope my middle child remembers these moments, too.  I didn’t cram my ass in Yoga pants and roll in the mud for my health.  I did it because I love him.  That statement will either save me money in therapy or be the reason he needs another session.

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When you gotta go…..

When you gotta go, you gotta go. Jonathan Lowe, a reporter for KPHO, was arrested on Monday afternoon for defecating on a front lawn. The 33-year-old was seen by a neighbor leaning against a wall and relieving himself. Investigators said Lowe admitted going to the bathroom on the lawn. “I know what you want to talk to me about. I’ve been feeling very sick and I’ve been stuck in this van all day,” he said, according to the report. Lowe was charged with public defecation. He faces a fine of $2,500 or six months in jail for the misdemeanor. I feel bad for this reporter. I had a similar incident happen to me while reporting at a local television station during the 6 p.m. news. My stomach startled gurgling before a live shot.  I was panicked, sweating and pleading for God to save me. I will never swear again. I won’t ever jaywalk again. I will drive the speed limit unless I am going on vacation and accidentally drive to the wrong airport. The good lord above allowed me to get through this story without dropping a deuce in my polyester pant suit. The camera light went out in time for me to get to a nearby Starbucks. Someone recognized me en route to the ladies room.  “Are you…?”  I cut them off and answered. “Yes. Nice to meet you.”  I am not a celebrity or full of myself.  I just didn’t have time for small talk. I was so relieved (pun intended) that I made it to a bathroom until I tried to flush the toilet and it wouldn’t flush. I frantically wiggled the handle. Nothing. Why me? Why? For a brief moment I thought about living in the Starbucks bathroom for the rest of my life. I could do this. It’s spacious and I would never run out of coffee. Then, someone knocked on the door. I could do the walk of shame or walk out with my head held high. I chose the latter.  “You don’t want to go in there. Someone clogged the toilet.  It is disgusting.” The woman shook her head. “Some people are so gross.” I nodded.

I hope Lowe doesn’t lose his job. He should, however, carry some grocery bags with him on his next assignment.

 

It’s all relative?

Tom Brady has a hectic schedule. I will give you time to get out your tiny violin. Tom Brady’s schedule is so hectic there is a news article about it.  It’s titled, “Tom Brady Details a Day in His Hectic Life.”  I laughed out loud before I even began reading.  The pictures accompanying the article show Giselle and his daughter on a private jet.  (Talk to me after you have waited in a long line at the airport, taken three kids through security and flying coach on a flight where there are no seat assignments) In another shot the family is horseback riding.

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Let’s compare a day in the life of Tom Brady to a regular person. I will use myself as an example.

The article begins with Tom Brady  at the luxurious St. Regis Hotel just below Central Park in New York City.  He is there because he has to promote a new Simmons mattress.  He is only worth $120 million and needed another endorsement deal. There is a table of crab cakes, spring rolls, etc. in the room and a butler is waiting in the wings. 

I wake up and iron clothing for my three children. (I know this is optional for most people, but I have issues) Then, I run downstairs to let the dog out and make lunches. School supplies are organized and ready to go.  I load and start the dishwasher and get breakfast ready for the kids. Then, I head back upstairs to finish styling my hair, make-up and get dressed.

Tom Brady has to fly out on his private jet back to New England.

The author of the article says Being Tom Brady isn’t easy.  He has football practice the next morning.

I make myself coffee and drive 40 minutes to work.  I clock out with enough time to stop at the grocery store before making the trek back. Inevitably, I will get behind a woman who wants every item in her cart double bagged. She can’t have her pasta in the same bag as her cereal. I go straight to the elementary school to pick up my middle child. Then, I drive to the high school and get my oldest. Finally, I pick up my daughter. Once home, I put in a load of laundry and clean up the mess made at breakfast.  I swear my kids throw crumbs around like it is confetti.  That and they intentionally spit toothpaste everywhere, but in the sink. Next, I get the younger kids a snack because I don’t want to sweep again. Children are hungry the second a meal ends. Sometimes they still have a fork in their hands. Then, I vacuum because we have a dog and I have allergies.

Tom Brady is really busy.

“I have hobbies,” he says. “I like being active. I like to surf a lot, play a little bit of golf. But it’ a lot of work and being with my family.”

Now, it is time to put the laundry in the dryer. Then, there is the dreaded task of helping the children with homework. Common Core hurts my brain. Within the course of 30 minutes I say over and over again, “Come on, let’s focus and get this done.” I told my son I feel like a broken record. He replied, “What does that even mean?” My children have never seen a record. They sure as hell don’t know what a broken record is or does. By this time the kids are whining that they are hungry again. I am convinced they have tapeworms. I start dinner and unload the dish washer. They eat. I clean up again.

What happens next depends on the day.  There is tennis practice, drama club, basketball, soccer, dance classes and guitar lessons. I take some time to play with the kids before getting showers and baths done.  I should clarify. I play with the younger two children and exchange a few words with the teenager before he retreats to his bedroom. Then, they brush their teeth. I supervise because it’s cheaper than a high dental bill. I tried allowing them to go at it alone, but a 6-year-old has never been to medical school and doesn’t quite grasp the concept of gingivitis. It takes about 30 minutes to coral the kids into bed.  Then, I get up and do the same thing tomorrow.  I am not complaining.  If I were writing about my life on Twitter I would use ‘hashtag blessed’.  It is, however, hectic – like most people’s lives.

Tom Brady gets a break when the football season ends.

Jackpot!

When I was a kid this would have been a dream come true.  As an adult it was hell.  My 6-year-old daughter hit the jackpot at a kid’s casino.  We were at a birthday party at a local arcade. It was a smaller version of Chuck E Cheese with the same lousy prizes.  Each game released tickets.  Usually you spend $20 and get 50 cents worth of toys and candy. This time my daughter won 1,000 tickets.  Many of the items “cost” between 25 to 50 tickets each.  Some are even less.  There are a few prizes that cost more. Children aren’t the best decision makers. (After the presidential primaries I guess you could say ‘neither are adults’)  

There is no return policy at this counter.  You bought it – you keep it. So, my daughter wanted to take her time.  Let me repeat: She had to spend 1,000 tickets! 
  
She started by choosing a fan, a tootsie roll and a ball.   The prize room was a sauna.  I was sweating profusely and she still had 900 tickets to go. At this point I could have given a door to door salesman a run for his money.  I was selling her on the high prices items. “Don’t you want this plastic doll for 700 tickets? You could change her clothes, take her for a walk.  It’s a real bargain!”  I knew damn well that doll would have fallen apart in 24 hours.  It had a lazy eye and adult pattern baldness.  I just had to get out of there.  Unfortunately, for me, she is smart.  She knew taking home Chuckie’s sister would would go home with less loot.  And by loot I mean plastic crap made in China.  So, she spent 15 more minutes shopping like a floating head on Wheel of Fortune. 

  
“I will take the whistle for 25 tickets.”  I did not complain.  I couldn’t.  She was smiling from ear to ear. She placed her little hand in mine and we walked out with a plastic bag of things she will never play with again. (This isn’t my first rodeo)  “This is the best day ever,” she said. “I am so lucky!” No, I am – to have her.  And that she didn’t win 2,000 tickets.  

We gather here today….

The day Elvis Presley died is etched in my memory.  I wasn’t old enough to understand the significance of his passing.  I just recall my mother crying as she stood staring out the window of our second floor apartment. Through the years she spoke fondly of “The King.” I was a typical teenager and often responded with an eyeroll.  He was just a musician.  

Now, I get it. First there was the untimely death of Michael Jackson and now Prince.  I grew up listening to his music.  We went from whispering in the backseat to shrieking when “1999” came on the car radio.  Prince was playing on a cassette player after our hearts were broken. We danced wildly – if you can call it that – to “Let’s Go Crazy” inside the school gym.  We secretly listened to “Darling Nikki” over and over again because it taught us more than any health teacher ever could.  Prince was with us at sleepovers.  He was in the background during gossip sessions and while we mustered up the courage to call a boy on the phone.  The telephone cord would be tightly wound around your finger when the A-side finished playing. And you still hadn’t pressed the last number on the phone to connect the call.   Prince made me want to wear crop tops, lace and ruffles.  He could rock a pair of heels and black eye liner like no other.  Just like Elvis Presley was to my mother, Prince was more than just a musician.  He was my youth. 

And it is gone. 

  

All I want for Christmas is….

I am out twenty-five bucks.  I had to hide it under my daughter’s pillow in exchange for a baby tooth.  I know that is a lot.  I made a rookie mistake that cost me.  

Being the tooth fairy isn’t easy.  My brain is mush by the time I put my children to bed at night.  Now, I have to low crawl into a room and put cash under a pillow without waking my kid up? I will tackle anyone who makes too much noise after bedtime.  

This time I forgot to make the drop before I fell asleep.  I woke up in a panic.  I creeped into my daughter’s room in the wee hours of the morning.  She was tossing and turning. So, I shoved a $5 bill under her pillow and got the hell out of there.  Heaven forbid my children realize that a tiny fairy doesn’t actually collect their disgusting teeth.  It really is such an odd concept. According to Wikipedia, the tradition actually dates back to 1908 and we know everything on the internet is true.  

My daughter woke up in the morning, discovered the cash and her tooth. Damn it!  I paid money, but left the product behind.   I didn’t expect her next move.  

She wanted to double dip and drafted this note that night:

  

I only had $20 in my wallet.  Since she no longer accepts checks, she scored twenty bills. I was actually behind a woman who wrote a check at the grocery store this week.  There was a collective sigh from the bakery to the meat department.  A few twenty-somethings in line were confused.  “What is she doing?”

My daughter was giddy when she woke up and found more money.  She ran down the hall waving the bill in the air.  “Mommy, I can buy some new Shopkins,” she said with a lisp.  Her toothless smile made my heart skip a beat.  She is growing up so fast.  I would pay $25 and more to make time slow down.   

Memorable vacation

I was foolish to think this story wouldn’t get out.  My children spilled the beans the minute they saw their grandparents.  My son told the neighbor moments after we pulled in the driveway.  So, here goes….

I planned a wonderful vacation for my children.  We were traveling to sunny Florida for spring break.   I would take a second mortgage out on my house to get tickets to a theme park, swim in the pool and spend a day at the beach.   I knew, traveling with three children, it wouldn’t be perfect.  This wasn’t my first rodeo.  They would bicker and whine on occasion, but we would still have fun and make memories.

My children were giddy the morning of our flight.  On route to the airport, they were  talking about what they wanted to do first.  Everyone was all smiles.  I was earning another #1 Mom mug.  My husband, who had work commitments, dropped us off at the airport. He offered to park and escort us into the terminal, but I squashed that.  I’m not paying for  parking when I have an able bodied 16-year-old who could help carry bags.  It’s the least he could do for me since I brought him into this world without an epidural.

We walked up to the counter to check our bags and print our boarding passes.  I gave the attendant our name.  She looked puzzled.  I repeated our name.  She was frantically typing. “I don’t see your reservation,” she said.   “What?” My heart was racing.  “I have the reservation right here.”  I opened the confirmation email on my phone and that is when I saw it.  I was at the wrong airport!   My 8-year-old son got emotional.  “We can’t go to Florida?”

I live 30 minutes from the airport in Buffalo and an equal amount of time from the airport in Rochester.  So,  we use both depending on which has cheaper tickets for our travel dates.  It is often the airport in Buffalo.  So, I simply forgot I purchased tickets in December to fly out of Rochester in March.   It was 2:45 p.m.  We needed to board the plane at 3:30 p.m.  for a flight scheduled to depart that at 4:05 p.m. from a tarmac over an hour away.  Do the math.  I was screwed.  I tried calling my husband to come back.  His phone was dead. My son had unplugged his phone to charge his iPad.  There were no flights available for several days from Buffalo or Rochester.  My tickets to the theme park were non-refundable.  My only shot was to rent a car and pray.   What was supposed to be a relaxing trip turned into a Macaulay Culkin movie.  My children were dragging bags as I ordered them to run through the airport to the car rental counter.  “Let’s go!  Hurry up!”  I loaded the kids and six bags into a Nissan sedan and hit the gas.  I drove faster than I would ever admit.  Let’s just say, if I had been pulled over and issued a ticket,  it would have been costly.  I am not proud of that.  In fact, I am embarrassed.

The angels were watching over us.  Our flight was delayed 15 minutes.  My parents met us at the airport to return the rental car.  We made it to the gate in time to board the plane.  I wanted to make memories.  We made memories alright.

 

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I want it all

They say ‘you can have it all’.  You can work and be a good mother.  I don’t know who they are, but I think they are delusional.  Sacrifices have to be made to do both jobs well.  I was in an awkward position today.  My 6-year-old daughter was vomiting at 4 a.m.  That wake up call is more painful than shopping for a bathing suit or blue jeans.  

I hoped it was just something she ate.  I wanted her to feel better.  I also needed her to go to school.  As much as I want to stay home to care and comfort her – I have a job.  Calling in because you want to be a good parent is generally frowned upon.  It’s a shame, but that’s the way it is.  For goodness sake, the United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn’t mandate some form of paid maternity leave.  If the Family and Medical Leave Act didn’t exist many businesses would want you back before  the afterbirth hits the floor. 

I did not have a choice today.  I could not go to work.  I didn’t have a babysitter and Child Protective Services frowns on leaving a first grader home alone.   I am fortunate that my boss was gracious and understanding.  Still, I  felt guilty and slightly embarrassed that I had to pull the “mom card.”  I know I shouldn’t be ashamed that I am a good mother.  However, in a country where women make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, we cannot afford to appear weak.   It’s the plight of most working mothers who are trying to juggle careers and children- while maintaining our sanity.  It’s not easy juggling children.  They are heavy.  

As good as it gets

A letter to my children,

I know you think life is hard right now.  I made you brush your teeth twice in one day.  I am also the monster that wouldn’t let you stay up late on a school night to play video games, with Barbies or to watch Netflix.  I had the nerve, because I love you, to make you eat something nutritious for dinner,  denying your request to feast on cookies.

You think everything will be better when you grow up.  You can stay up as late as you want and eat junk food.  The truth is as an adult you will long for sleep and run for miles to burn calories so you don’t end up on a reality TV show called “My 600- lb life” .

You are convinced that, as an adult, you won’t have to do chores and can spend money on whatever you want.   Not only will you do chores, you will do most of them.  You will spend money.  A lot of it ….. on bills.

I wish I could tell you life is better as an adult – that you won’t have to deal with the drama of high school anymore.  That is true until you get a job.   If you thought the kid who didn’t return your text is bad – wait until you meet the co-worker who would eat their young to advance a career.

So, enjoy these carefree days.  This is as good as it gets.

Deanna