Thursday, June 30, 2016

Under Pressure

It's summer, which means my four kids, who don't get along with each other or each other's friends, are home.  Thank god we belong to a gorgous pool with a view of Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak that we pay almost $500 a summer for the privilege of being members to.  Except that I can't get my kids to actually go there and burn off all their teenage angst.  Which is making me really angsty.

In addition to the other daily irritants of being a parent.  

There's the endless reminders and constant nagging.  I didn't want to become this person.  In fact, I was sure being this curmudgeonly wasn't within my repertoire.  I was wrong. I used to be fun before I had kids, I swear!  But, what people don't tell you is that the descent into becoming a cantankerous bitch (or batard) lies in the very cummulative nature of parenting.  So when your kid does something wrong, you go back into the archives of your kid's screw-ups to dredge up all the other times he's done something similar.  First you stew about it.  Then you blame yourself because, obviously, it's all your fault for something you did or failed to do.  

Because, obviously, you're an atrocious parent

But, this post isn't about you, it's about me and how I can't get my kids to go to the pool and all that other annoying stuff they do and don't do.  And when something happens (or doesn't) with one (or more) of my kids I try to start off to really zen.  I really do. It lasts like two seconds, but still, it totally counts.  My internal dialouge goes something like this...

Ok Marie, think of this as one isolated incident, try not to think of the other 500 times this has happened and how pissed you are that this kid never learns his lesson.  WTF is wrong with this kid? Also why doesn't this kid ever invite friends over?  It's because he's the next Unabomber isn't it? I'm an abomidable parent.  Ok, calm down.  Just say the minimal.  One non-martyrish sentence devoid of  rage will do.  Then stop talking and I'm going to walk away and do yoga.  Because that's what good moms do.


This of course is never quite how it goes down. 

Oh, I start off with the one carefully crafted non-martyrish, rageless sentence that took me over a half an hour to construct.  Sometimes even over a day, depending on the exact circumstances of the incident.  And then said child retorts.  They're defensive because I'm on the offensive and now we're on two competing teams and I'm not gonna be on the losing one.  Because I'm the parent, dammit!  Which is when I start to lose it.  (It was actually much earlier in the scenario, but for the sake of the shards of my remaining dignity, let's pretend ok?)  I can feel the pressure building like a shaken soda bottle.  Just one more small twist and I'm going to spew everywhere.   And a half and hour martyrish lecture ensues.  And I'm filled with regret and remorse.  

This could've all been avoided if my kids just went to the pool!
Written in the most non-martyrish font ever.

  


Monday, June 27, 2016

Pack It Up


Although summer's cunning agent will tell you that summer is about relaxing we all know it's not. Summer is about trying to fit everything you want to do into the two and a half months you have to do it.  Take off at least half a month for rain days and buying school supplies to send your kids back to school.  Ok, take off a whole month for that.  So, you're left with a month and a half to pack in everything you want to do over the summer.  And everything you want to do will require one thing.

Packing.  

Don't forget the sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, hats, sunglasses, towels, goggles and, of course, most important, the food.  And then the real question...do you really want to pack that potato salad?  With all that mayo, that will be in the cooler for an undetermined amount of time, maybe even sitting in the sun.  DO YOU?  And if you do decide to risk it, don't forget to pack forks and plates.  But not those cheap paper plates that collapse when you put food on them.  And for god's sake, not the Styrofoam ones that don't biodegrade.  No, the expensive thick Chinet ones that you can use as kindling to start the fire for s'mores.  Don't tell me you forgot to pack the marshmallows.  Amateur!

Of course, that's not the worst of it.

It never is.  The worst of it, obviously, is camping.  Packing enough (non-mayonnaise based) food to last x amount of people (in our case 6, including teens with voracious appetites) for x amount of days. Food that will be floating in a lukewarm puddle of water by day two of your camping trip no matter what kind of ice packs you use.  It's inevitable.  It's also inevitable that the entire camping trip will be spent reminding kids that open the cooler every 15 minutes to shut the freakin' lid to the cooler.  Seriously, this the summer battle cry of parents everywhere that can be heard echoing from every pool, campground and backyard barbecue all summer long.  SHUT THE (insert expletive of your choice here taking into account the age of the child of course) COOLER!

Of course, that's still not the worst of it.

Did your kid forget to pack their hoodie?  Swimsuit?  Extra underwear?  Their glasses that they wear on their face every day of their life?  And forget a toothbrush, they definitely forgot that.  And did you forget to lock your food away at night and become a bear magnet?  Neglect packing wine?  You really are an amateur aren't you?  The wine gets packed first, in a perfectly packable Bota Box and the cardboard box can be used for kindling.  The empty bladder can be filled with water, hung from a tree and left in the sun to be used as a camp shower. This becomes a really appealing option on day 3 or more of camping.  I hope you didn't forget to pack  Campsuds so you can wash your greasy, matted down hair that reeks of ashy campfire.  And don't forget your pits.  

No, that's still not the worst of it.

The worst is coming home with a not-so-fresh crotch on little sleep because those assholes in the next campsite were singing Poison songs til 1am and then the birds started singing before 5am then having to unpack and wash everything you brought with you.  And I mean all of it.  But, then 5 days later, when everything's finally put away and all the snafus have become hilarious stories your family will tell for years to come, that's when your kid's head starts itching.  Your kid, who forgot to pack a pillow. who substituted someone else's random hoodie at camp, as a cushion.  Your kid who now has lice.  And you have to go through the list of everything you packed AND all the bedding (and everything else) in your entire house and wash it all over again with a whole new fervor.  

ADDENDUM:  The lice incident is a true life story that happened to one of my kids (who shall remain nameless due to the shame* factor) two summers ago.  We still don't know the exact origins of the lice because you can't exactly post "Whose (insert expletive of your choice here) kid gave my kid lice?" on Facebook because my kids are also on Facebook totally inhibiting my freedom to mortify them on social media.  Though I somehow (unintentionally) still manage to.

*Also, let's take the shame out of lice.  It only infects clean hair.  I may have repeated this over five hundred times that summer as my other kids mercilessly teased my lice infected kid, but only because they somehow miraculously escaped it themselves.  


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gifted

I have a gift.  Although it's not gifting things to other people.  Because I'm terrible at that.  It's not for lack of thought either.  In fact, if anything, I over think my way out of buying things for people because I'll convince myself it's not perfect enough.  Kinda the way I do with everything else.

My gift is screwing things (like gifts) up.  

Unfortunately, I'm married to a stellar gift giver.  Somehow he's able to look deep into the recipient's soul, then hand selects and presents the perfect present.   Do you know how stressful this is?  Creating an imbalance in our marriage.  I can't compete with this!  Not that this is a competition.  But, really it kind of is.  Even though he told me it doesn't matter.  I know it totally does.

 Because relationships are all about reciprocity. 

So, I started thinking about what to get my husband for Father's Day.  I thought about all the things he likes to do.  Fixing old cars, gardening, bird watching, camping, hiking and being outdoors.  Then it came to me.  I'd get him a kayak or a paddle board.  Except, somehow, without me saying a word or leaving an open window researching these things on-line, he figured it out.  "Don't get me a kayak or a paddle board, ok?"

  DAMMIT!

Back to square one.  Then I did what everyone else does to convey their love and gratitude for the man in their life.   I got him stuff for the grill.  Namely, a pizza stone and salt plates that you throw on the grill and cook on infusing food with a subtle Himalayan pink saltiness.  Then I showed the kids.  "This is all stuff you like, mom", my youngest and most direct child informed me.  And she was totally right.  I'd just bought myself a Father's Day gift.  

Because shopping for someone else guarantees you'll find a gift... 
for yourself. 

It was immediately after that, a couple weeks before Father's Day when my husband handed me a list, a cheat sheet, of things he wanted.  Ok, so now I could redeem myself in like a super lame way.  But still, redemption is redemption.  And I was beyond caring at this point.  I was going to reciprocate so hard.   So, I ordered an item that seemed perfect; a scope for him to look at birds.  This was definitely a selfless act of love that would represent how much I appreciate him, because I hate birds.   I know that makes me a horrible person, but I think I've already clearly established that at this point.  

There's nothing like giving someone the perfect gift.

Of course, that's not what I did though.  I ordered the wrong one.  I had a list and I ordered the wrong scope.  Because, I'll say it again, I'm gifted at screwing up!  I did ask him for a clickable list next time.  How can I screw that up?  I'm positive there's a way.  And that I'll find it.

(Also, it's my daughter Jade's 15th birthday today.
She will not be getting the horse on her list.
But she'll be able to drive a car soon...so she doesn't even need a horse.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Downtime


Summer when you get to laze around basking in the warmth of the sun untethered from the constraints of a schedule.   It sounds so idyllic.  But, I assure you it's not.  Because although I have downtime, with four kids, two dogs and one minivan I'm never sure how long it will last.  And usually it's as soon as I hop up on the hammock settling in with a book and it gradually stops swinging.  (Which is precisely when my dogs, Bonnie & Clyde, took off after a rabbit and ended up at an impromptu play date at their dog friend's house down the road and I had to go retrieve my Labrador Retrievers.  Right after this picture was taken. True story.)

The dog days of summer are actually spent chasing the dogs.

Not to mention the kids who invade my work space all summer.  Working from home means I don't get any work done over the summer.  Because although my kids are teens and extremely capable, (at least in theory) they are unable to find things like their shoes and whether we have jalapenos or not without a step by step tutorial in how to tackle this particular crisis from me.  Which doesn't make me feel important.  Just frustrated.  How don't they know this?  Also, how don't they realize the music they're blaring sucks?  Plus, I really need to keep a stash of non-organic foods for my kids friends I know don't eat organic at home.  Because their bodies are already polluted with crap and feeding them is getting expensive.  And honestly, I don't even like some of these kids.  

Sometimes when my kids do leave the house, it will inevitably be in four different directions.  At four  different, but overlapping times and they'll all need a ride.  And then all of their plans will change several times requiring a texting marathon with each of them.  (Besides the youngest who doesn't have a cell phone and will have to bum a phone from her friend or her friend's mom like a peasant.)  You know what I don't do well with?  Lack of structure and constant change.  Which is what the entire summer is.  Little snippets of time in which I can't even finish reading a chapter in a book.  Also, did I mention we don't have air conditioning in my house?  So my house is like a hotbox used for torture.  Which just exacerbates my stress.

And my kids wonder why I'm pissed lately.  
Because it's summer.
And I won't get any real downtime until fall. 
When they go back to school. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hate

PC:  creativeclass.com
There is nothing I truly hate, except for hate.  However, there are a myriad of things I dislike, despise and loathe.  And not to get political or anything, but I abhor Hillary Clinton pant suit blue.  Where does she even shop?  Or are those tailor made in that hideous color?  I know that color is supposed to evoke trust in her,  but I don't.  However, I trust Trump even less.  But, I don't hate either of them.  

There are two driving forces in the world.
Love.
And fear.

And fear is what fuels hate.  Fear can be born anywhere. Foreign or domestic. It really doesn't matter. It's pretty opportunistic that way.  It doesn't care about your income, religion, sexual preference or the color of your skin.  But those are the pretenses it professes.  Some people are born and bred on hate.  Some seek it out to fill a hole in their life.  Both are rooted in the absence of love.  For themselves and humanity.  Because if someone doesn't value themself, why would anyone else matter to them?  Not that this justifies anything.  

There is no justification for hateful atrocities.  

But there's also no rationalization for giving into our fears about these horrific tragedies. By building walls to keep people out.  By discriminating based on religion, race or sexual preference.  Spewing hatred right back.  Exacerbating the problem instead of seeking a viable solution.  Diversity isn't a dilemma, lack of acceptance is.  What we need to abolish is the fear of our differences.  

Because if hateful acts cause us to choose hate, 
the terrorists win.



Monday, June 13, 2016

Inspired


Photo Credit:  selfindulgentshop.blogspot.com

It was just last month that I wrote Failing at Failure about how much of a loser I am at writing which contained a lame article I submitted for publication.  That was justifiably rejected for publication because it was forced and uninspired.  The thing with creative endeavors is they thrive on inspiration.     And you can't fake it. Well, you can, but synthetic inspiration is pretty easy to detect.  Not to mention highly flammable.  So, don't try to iron the kinks out, because the whole thing will burst into flames.

Inspiration is organic. 

It starts off as a seed blowing in the wind, before it settles bedding down in the soil of a large open field.  The sun and the rain giving it sustenance to take root and grow strong.  To become what it was destined to be.  Until one day it's harvested, transforming into something entirely new.  An unassuming comfortable cotton T-shirt.  Modest enough to be worn under something else, but yet autonomous enough to stand alone.  Confident enough not to care which you choose.  

Inspiration is timeless.  

When all the trends have stopped trending, inspiration is what remains.  It takes time and can't be rushed or pressured.  It's consistent.  Grounded in soft-spoken truths.  It cannot be denied.  


For more inspiration you can read my newly published article, How to Be a Successful Failurehere.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Car Sharing


It's summer.  And I have four kids.  Kids who are going places.  Mostly to the mall, but sometimes to work.   Because  two of those four have jobs at two different places across town from each other.  The other two kids who don't have jobs have friends they want to go places with at two different places across town from each other.  Did I mention, I have one kid with a driver's license and one with a driver's permit?

And we all share one car.   

Sure, we have other cars.  Two of which are undriveable.  So, while some people have lawn decorations, we have driveway decorations.  Just without the cinder blocks, but only because we have an HOA.  The other vehicle is a manual transmission 1969 Karmann Ghia that seats two comfortably.  If you're comfortable squished into a small black vinyl coupe seat that's ripped and the foam exposed with a lap seat belt whose only air conditioning is cranking the windows down.   Which is the car my husband drives to work.  I've thrown out a lot of numbers here, so let's take a moment to add them all up, shall we?   

It sucks!  

You're probably wondering why we don't just get rid of the two cars that don't work and get one that does.  Which would be logical, obviously logic isn't part of the equation here.   The plan is, if the boys invest sweat equity into one of the defunct vehicles (specifically the 1966 International Harvester, not the 1977 VW bus so my boys don't get profiled by the drug dogs at school), they get to share it at no charge.  If they want their own car, they'll need to buy their own.  Because we're old school like that.   (If you could tell by the collection of old cars.)  So now we're in this Catch-22 situation.  They need a car to get to work.  But they also need to work to get a car.  

This is really inconvenient.  

That's what one of my sons told me after I explained to him he couldn't drive the car to work because I needed it to get other kids other places so he'd have to call and we'd come pick him up from work.  As if this inconvenience had somehow eluded me or something.  It's moments like these that you just want to state the really blatantly obvious.  You want to know what's inconvenient?  Parenting is really inconvenient.  And this is precisely why we're making our kids earn their cars, so they'll appreciate them.  Hopefully, some day they'll appreciate the fact that they had old school parents too.  But, probably not until they have their own inconvenient kids.  

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