30 days

I haven’t counted down to a birthday since I was a kid.  In fact, there have been years I didn’t even celebrate.   My birthday was basically wiped off the calendar eight years ago.  That’s because my middle child was born on the 24th of April.  My birthday is the 23rd.   I don’t mind.    What grown adult doesn’t want a Batman cake? Actually, contrary to popular belief,  I do not think I am that important.  

This year is different.   I have less than thirty days left in my thirties.  I am going to be ff-, fff-, ffff-  I am not ready to say it.  Everyone keeps telling me, “This is the new 30!”  My stomach and forehead beg to differ.  Sure, if you have the right doctor you can still look 30. 

Honestly, my issue isn’t about the number or sagging skin, but what the age signifies.  This phase of my life is over.  My uterus is out of order. Caput! Burned out.   That sucker is off the clock.    I won’t have another baby.  In fact, mine will head off to college in a few years.  I woke him up for school yesterday, his long legs dangling off the edge of the bed.  How could this be?  We just bought that bed. 

Where the hell was I when he grew up? Fifteen years went by too fast.    Forgive me for speaking in cliches, but I wish I knew then what I know now.    I would tell my 30-year-old self to appreciate each moment instead of waiting for the next one.  Don’t complain about the mess.  The laundry can wait.  Who needs matching socks anyway?  Leave the dishes in the sink or be a tree huggers worst nightmare and use paper plates.   Crumble up the to-do list and breathe. Well, except when changing a diaper. Close your eyes and hear their laughter.  Play.  Play with them and listen when they talk to you.  It will be very hard after an hour of playing Barbies or when they tell stories that don’t make any damn sense, but  really listen. You can log online later to see what Sally ate for lunch.  Besides, she is totally using a filter to make her pb&j look like a gourmet sandwich.  

 I would also tell myself to write everything down.  Keep a journal of the moments with your child that made you laugh and cry because the memories will fade.   Hell, you won’t remember why you went in the kitchen, seconds after you walked into the kitchen. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want another baby.   I just want to freeze time because I am not ready to let go.  Don’t push me Elsa.  My therapist says I don’t have to do anything until I am ready.

 “It  will be the best decade of your life,” said my best friend.  I am sure it will be good, but the best thing I did in this life was become a mother.  

Kit’s Mom

Apparently, this homework sheet was written in the 1950s.   

The instructions were to have my child read the story aloud and talk about the events in the story.  Okay, let’s do that.  I get up 30 minutes before my first child has to be out the door.  In fact, I am annoyed if I wake up a minute before the alarm goes off.  I haven’t had eight hours of sleep in fifteen years.  I need every second I can get.    Apparently, Kit’s mom gets up an hour early to do P90X, shower and cook breakfast. She even made bacon and had time to clean up the grease? On school days in my house you get juice, a bowl of cereal or, if I’m feeling chipper, a waffle cooked in the toaster.  I am not ashamed to admit I have given my children donuts and cake for breakfast.  Of course, I didn’t give them both at the same time.  Obviously, that would be unhealthy.  Before Bill Cosby was an alleged rapist he had an excellent joke in his act about why cake is a suitable breakfast.  

How did Kit’s mom have time to cook in between nagging children to get up, dressed and announcing the time over and over?  And why in the hell is she feeding Kit’s dad? He needs to get up and 6, too and feed himself.   Since she did cook the least he could do is put the newspaper away and actually have a conversation with his family.  Is there really a difference between reading something on paper versus a phone?  I ask this question because I was chastised by a passive aggressive old man in the doctors office.   He walked into the waiting room and plopped down with a book in hand.  I was seated directly across from him.  The seats in waiting rooms should be arranged like a movie theater instead of like an AA meeting.  I don’t want to make eye contact or have small talk with sick strangers.   The chairs in my dentist’s office are so close together you could knock knees with someone.  

 I could feel this older gentleman staring at me.  I assumed he was admiring my beauty.   I have reached the age where I only get second glances from men who wait in line for early bird specials.  I didn’t look up from my phone until he began to read out loud.  I quickly realized he wasn’t reading from his book.  He was slowly reciting the sign posted above my head, “Please turn off all cell phones while in the waiting room and doctor’s office.”  He didn’t have a phone.  He was telling me to turn off my phone without telling me.   I was minding my own business.  The sound was turned off. There were three other people on their phones.  I smiled and finished reading what I had started.    Back off, grandpa.  I won’t be pushed around.   I paid a $35 co-pay to be here.  I will use my damn phone if I want to.   Afterall, I’m not some doormat like Kit’s mom.   

Tears for Fears

“Mom, are you crying?” It’s a question my children ask once a month. I usually lie and tell them I am just tired. They aren’t ready to hear that the lining of mommy’s uterus is about to shed. They can relate to exhaustion. It’s extremely tiring having to fight with a sibling over everything. Last night the argument was over who got to point to a pigeon first. There is a series of books by Mo Williems about an elephant and pig. At the end of each book there is a pigeon hidden on the page.

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Okay, so it’s not hidden very well. I’m guessing Mo was “it” a lot as a child. My son pointed at the pigeon first. My daughter didn’t point first. She wanted to point first. “Let’s do it again,” I cheerfully suggested. My daughter refused. There are no ‘do-overs’ for children if they lose.

The P in PMS doesn’t stand for patience, but the S should stand for saint. The earth doesn’t stop spinning because my hormones are out of whack. It should, but it doesn’t. I still have to do things like help with homework and speak to people.

Last week I had to do both at once. My daughter’s school hosted ‘Family Reading Night.’ It’s a community event with different activities to encourage children to read. Some people just go for the free pizza.  If you want to catch a cold or vomit virus this is your chance.

You are herded from room to room to hear someone read or tell a story.   The children really enjoyed it.  Well, most of the children. I was in a group with Thing 1 and Thing 2. These twin boys were obnoxious. They are not children with special needs. They lack discipline. Their mother threw in the towel shortly after they exited the birthing canal.  At the beginning of the night she gave a half hearted attempt to corral them. It was similar to the effort you put forth to grab your wallet when someone else offers to pay for your dinner. The rest of the night she looked away when they were disruptive.

The ‘grand finale’ of this event was a demonstration by an enthusiastic  zookeeper.  Bless her heart for trying to teach a hundred or so children sitting on the floor about animals.  I applaud her for making the trip, but elementary school students cannot focus long. Just hold up the turtle and call it a day.

Thing 1 sat down briefly. Their mother decided to wait in the hallway while Thing 2 ran around and through the crowd of children. The P in PMS now stood for “Pissed off.” I got up and tried to catch him. Someone needed to tell him to sit down. It turns out I didn’t have to say a thing. We made eye contact and I gave him ‘the look.’ It was enough for him to run into the hallway with his mother. I hope they schedule this event at the beginning of the month next year.

Now, you do as I say, you pack up those things and take them away!

Banned

I was banned from the pet store for a week, but it has been lifted.  Rejoice! The restriction was put in place after I was late for an appointment.  I got caught in traffic and arrived 12 minutes late.  We have technology that would make the Knight Rider wet his pants, but people still haven’t figured out what to do at intersections with stop signs.   Drivers become confused, drooling idiots.  It’s simple.  Stop and go.  If you got there first, you go first.   

 Anyway, I walked into the store and immediately  apologized for being tardy.   The cashier cut me off, “Nope, sorry.  We can’t take you.   You’re late.”  She was like “The Soup Nazi”  from Seinfeld, minus the soup.  Plus, her apron was covered in animal hair.  I was blown away that she 1.) started a sentence with “nope” and  2.) was refusing  business.   “You have got to be kidding me,” I said hoping this was a joke.  “Nope, you’re late.  We can’t cut his hair.” Nope?  

She was a young girl.  Well, young to me.  I’m guessing she was in her early 20’s and wouldn’t qualify for a #1 mom mug.  A fellow mother would understand how challenging it was just to get the dog there.   The struggle is real.   I had a very small window from the time work ended and my job chauffeuring children to practice, music lessons, etc. began.   I pleaded with her,  “Isn’t there someone here that can cut his hair?”  She took joy out of my suffering, “My shift is almost over and we are completely booked.”   Her shift ended at 5 p.m. It was 3:43 p.m.   “Well, thanks a lot!”  I turned around and stormed out as soon as the automated door opened.  The sensor never works when you are in a hurry.  I was mumbling a few curse words on my way out.  

 I decided to call the store manager on my way home.   The Soup Nazi answered the phone and claimed to be the manager.   I later learned she gave misleading information.   I informed her that their policy is ridiculous and unfair.   She chastised me for not being punctual and said, “Don’t ever come back here.  You’re not welcome!”  Is this really happening?  I am not allowed in a store that sells fish food and cats.  I wasn’t going to take this lying down.  I could make a sign out of poster board and march in small circles outside the store.   Sure, I could do that if I were  crazy.   I’m not that far gone yet.  Instead, I went all Tony Danza and showed her who is the boss.   I sent out a tweet to corporate.   Don’t underestimate the power of a mom blogger.  Corporate quickly responded and was kind enough  to have their district manager call and apologize.   She also invited me to make an appointment for my dog.   I will not be returning.  I cannot trust my pet with a crazed woman with razors.    Nope.   

Falling slowly

I went to the mall on a Saturday night. If I were 15 this would be a wicked awesome story. I am not. In fact, I am climbing the mid-life crisis mountain. I am weeks away from reaching the peak and the air is getting thin. My children debated my age today. “No way! Mom isn’t that old,” argued my 5-year-old. My second grader replied, “Well, she is almost that old.” Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

I was reminded of my fading youth while strolling through the mall. It was swarming with loud teenagers wearing too much cologne. The Botox on my forehead is fading and my fingertips are stained from boxed hair dye. By the third week in the month I look like a Christmas tree in the 1980’s.

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I used to pay a professional stylist to color my hair. Now, I spend that money at the orthodontist. It’s just another sacrifice a mother must make. I have brittle hair that is three different shades of brown so my children won’t be snaggle-toothed.

The kids at the mall weren’t on a schedule. They didn’t have a plan. I had a list. I was walking at a brisk pace dodging people like cars in the game Frogger. One wrong move and I would’ve been taken out by a clan of high school freshman, a stroller or Hoveround. There really needs to be a Hoveround driving exam. I’ve seen people in the supermarket haul ass on those suckers and there aren’t any rules to obey.

I found myself mumbling out loud about the crowd. A few years ago, after a series of fights, this mall implemented a curfew. Why are all these kids in here? Then, I got a glimpse of my scowl in a store mirror. Man, I need to lighten up, let my hair down. I was a kid once. Besides, I am not that old. I got a little spring in my step. Then, I saw this fella.

A teenager wouldn’t have been phased by this. It aggravated me.  I wanted to help him tie his shoes. In fact, it took a lot of restraint to walk away without saying, ‘You are going to trip.’  I am that old.

What color is the dress?

I got sucked into the debate on the World Wide Web over the color of a hideous dress. This picture quickly went viral because some said it was white and gold while others claimed to see blue and black. I think the latter group lives in Colorado, Alaska or Washington D.C. The dress is clearly a dingy white and gold.

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It is amazing that we live during a time when a picture can be shared instantly with strangers around the world. Kids these days don’t appreciate the technology. They just expect it to work. Hell hath no fury like a child in 2015 forced to wait while an internet video buffers. I think a punishment for disobedience should be to lock them in a room with a box of VHS tapes and a VCR. They will straighten up after having to rewind just one. My teenager was actually complaining over how many steps it takes to get an Amazon Prime video to play on the television. Seriously? The video magically appears on the TV from a tablet.

My 7-year-old son is learning about the Pony Express in school. Could you imagine how long this dress debate would last if each reply was carried across country on a horse? How angry would you be if you spent a week carrying a “hashtag” in an envelope only to get a “favorite” back. Isn’t is astonishing that we are even debating the color of a dress? That is precious time we could be spending following every move a Kardashian makes.

Besides, the dress is awful. Unless you are a prostitute or traveling in a time machine back to 1993 to attend prom, you have no business buying this dress.

Here is my favorite response to the great dress debate:

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Here is a link to an article explaining the science behind why we see different colors : wired.com

Princess crackers

Dear Pepperidge Farm,

I want to thank you for finally making “Princess Goldfish Crackers.” You have no idea how many days my delicate 5-year-old daughter sat at the table watching her brothers eat and wishing she, too could have crackers. Unfortunately, her teeth aren’t strong enough to chew the manly orange fish crackers. Plus, being that she is female, the color orange is foreign to her. We only taught her the two colors a woman ever needs to know: pink and purple. As you can imagine, because girls are so emotional, I wiped away many tears during snack time.

I promised her that one day girls would get to enjoy crackers, too. I just didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime.

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We are going to celebrate this momentous day after we finish doing the dishes, vacuuming and putting away the laundry. Of course, we will feed the boys their goldfish first, putting our needs last. I am going to have my daughter send you a hand-written letter using a Bic for Her pen. I know that Susan B. Anthony is looking down from heaven with a big smile on her face.

Just like us!

Celebrities are just like you and me, right? US Magazine tries to prove it month after month with a section titled: “They’re Just Like Us!” It’s full of shots, snapped by Paparazzi, of stars just being regular folk. ‘They chew with teeth.’ ‘They clap with their hands,’ They walk one foot in front of the other,’ etc. Etc. I thought about this while watching the Academy Awards ceremony. I should clarify. I did not watch the entire show. I caught the opening segment, gave children baths, herded them to bed, watched some French guy refuse to wrap up his speech even when the music played, cleaned puke off a wall, took a shower, saw Patricia Arquette go all Susan B. Anthony on the crowd, folded laundry, emptied the dishwasher and packed school lunches. I was fortunate enough to see the incredible speech by Graham Moore. He won an Oscar for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for the “Imitation Game.” Moore talked about how he tried to commit suicide when he was 16-years-old because he felt like he didn’t fit in. Obviously that wasn’t the incredible part. It was his advice for kids like him that gave me goosebumps.

“I would like for his moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she is weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere, yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird. Stay different.”

Amen! He definitely earned his Oscar swag bag with that inspiring speech. The only gift bag I ever received for attending an event contained a key chain flashlight, a water bottle and coupon for French fries. Celebrities got a $168,000 swag bag complete with a vacation, liposuction and luxury condoms. What is a luxury condom? Is it bedazzled with diamonds? Ouch.

I don’t think I spent my weekend like a celebrity either. On Friday I painted a stand I purchased from the Salvation Army for $4.99. It was a wild and crazy night.

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On Saturday I returned five large garbage bags of soda cans to the store. I know the organic food nazis just let out an audible gasp. She drinks soda? She occasionally allows her children to drink carbonated beverages, too? Yes. I am the worst mother in the world. Anyway, there is a new business in town that counts the cans for you and forks over the cash. You no longer have to manually put each can or bottle into a machine. Only in America do we complain about having to raise an arm in the air to get a cash refund. I carried two bags into the store and returned to the minivan to get the rest. Unfortunately, one of the bags had shifted during the drive. It is unfortunate because of what happened next. I had to climb inside to dislodge the bag. There is nothing sexier than the ass of a middle aged woman sticking out the back of a minivan. I will give you fellas a minute to process that image. You’re welcome.

I grabbed the bag and managed to get one foot back on the ground. Just one. My other boot got stuck on something. There was nothing I could do. I was going down. Somewhere Pitbull was yelling “Timber.” I landed on my back. I hit hard. My head bounced off the ground like a tennis ball.

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I cursed and moaned as I pulled myself to my feet, looking around to see if anyone witnessed the fall. I could of broken a bone or had a concussion, but my first concern was whether or not someone was laughing at me. It was quiet. Then, off in the distance I heard, “Are you alright ma’am?” Not only did someone watch me bite it, but he called me ma’am. “I’m fine,” I said. He wasn’t satisfied with that answer, “Are you sure?” No. I wasn’t sure. I just wanted to get the hell out of there before I died of humiliation. Besides, if he was so damn concerned why didn’t he run over to help me get up.

I brought the rest of the soda cans into the store because I’m not a quitter.

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I walked out $46.55 richer. I’m also one step closer to being a celebrity….when the store surveillance video goes viral.

Freedom

I need to go on a rant. A recent news story got under my skin. You may have read about the un-retouched picture of supermodel Cindy Crawford that went viral. The photo was from a 2013 cover story shoot for Marie Claire magazine.

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People online applauded Crawford for showing the world what a “real woman” looks like. Apparently, none of these people have seen the HBO show Girls. I don’t think Lena Dunham owns an article of clothing and she is very real. I have been flaunting extra flab and cellulite for years without praise.

Cindy Crawford did not release this photograph. She isn’t on a solo mission to change how women are portrayed in the media. The picture was leaked on Twitter by British journalist Charlene White. The supermodel isn’t outing the industry for photoshopping pictures. She isn’t our hero. In fact, I bet she was less than thrilled when the picture made headlines.

Marie Claire is not putting the au naturel shot in a magazine either. The publisher did not want you to see what Cindy really looks like. The photoshopped picture from that shoot already went to print.

One columnist expressed sympathy for Crawford and called the unauthorized release of the photograph ‘body shaming.’ I disagree. She looks beautiful.

Besides, I don’t feel sorry for a woman who made millions of dollars by making the rest of us feel inferior. She rose to stardom because of her looks. I felt less beautiful when I saw her magazine spreads. As a teenager I skipped meals trying to get her body. I compared myself to a perfect woman that didn’t exist. My 5-year-old saw the photograph while I was writing this post, “Mom, she has a squishy belly like you!” I replied, “Yes, I guess that makes me a supermodel, too.”

It’s Magic You Know

I had the pleasure of co-hosting a local radio show last week. In two days there was a comic legend, a hockey hero and a magician in studio. Andrew Basso is a modern day Houdini. His signature act involves being handcuffed and placed upside down in a locked box full of water. He has to use a bobby pin to remove the handcuffs and pick the locks. He does wear nose plugs. Even magicians hate getting water in their nose. At what age does one realize he would be good at escaping from a locked box full of water? Do you experiment with inflatable pools and work your way up?

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Basso speaks with a thick Italian accent which makes his act more alluring. It just wouldn’t be the same if he explained his dangerous feat with a southern twang. Basso is a handsome man with jet black hair. It is short in length, but long on top. The sides are shaved. He combs his hair straight back and uses an excessive amount of hair product to hold it in place. If I were to guess I would say he goes with L.A. Looks. If this gig doesn’t work out Basso can always join the Thompson Twins. In the meantime, he is part of a traveling show called “The Illusionists.” There are seven magicians with different specialties: “The Warrior,” “The Manipulator,” “The Trickster,” “The Inventor,” “The Anti-Conjurer,” “The Escapologist,” and “The Futurist.” That basically describes every ex-boyfriend I have ever had. The show looks entertaining. I can relate to these men. As the mother of three children I perform magic on a daily basis. Here are just a few of my tricks:

1.) I can get a raucous child to freeze by counting to three. I don’t usually get to three. Sometimes I only have to announce that I am going to count or ask a child if he/she wants me to count.

2.) I can sense when a child is going to be sick, wake from a sound sleep, run to the bathroom with one eye closed and catch puke in a bucket.

3.) I can cook dinner while simultaneously solving 2nd grade Common Core math problems and never take my hand off the spatula.

4.) I can give the illusion that I enjoy playing with Barbie Dolls at age 39.

5.) I can run on the treadmill while reading my daughter a book.

6.) I can enter and escape a sleeping child’s bedroom without making a sound.

7.) I can make a bag of candy disappear at night.

8.) I can use the bathroom while breaking up a fight in the other room.

9.) I can make socks vanish from the bedroom floor.

10.) I can make toilet paper reappear on the roll in the bathroom.

The list goes on and on.