Monday, April 28, 2014

Bad Mom

This does absolutely nothing to protect against the elements
(aka:  my  kids)
Maybe it's just me.  But, I'm venturing to guess that other parents have the same screwed up view of their own parenting as me.  Like, any negative trait of my kids I'm positive somehow came from me and my lack of cultivating better ones.  Lack of study habits?  Sloppy bedrooms?  Totally my fault.  Positive traits, I assume are inbred and I can't take any credit.  So this would account for kindness and ingenuity.  And a host of other wonderful qualities.  Because being a parent is extremely humbling.  And, I screw up and make a mess of this mom thing daily.

Here is just a minuscule sample of some of the most recent bad mom evidence.

I prodded Ember who is the biggest dawdler in the family.  And yes, I have labeled my youngest "The Dawdler".  I say it all the time and she hates it.  (Of course, somehow she got this trait from me even though I am the least dawdliest person on the planet.)  After finally getting her out the door and to the school, I notice something.  No one else is there.  At which point, I ask Ember, "Do you have school today?" "Oh, the teacher did say something about not having school."  She says.  But,  I'm skeptical. "It's not a holiday.  Why wouldn't you have school?  Why?  Are you sure?" Of course, I'm grilling her when I should have known she didn't have school in the first place.

Of course, this is the day I made lunch plans with a friend who desperately needed to get out of the house.  What to do?  I don't want to cancel.  And I want her to get out of the house.  Never mind that  my youngest is home and I should have completely changed my plans to have alone time with her.  But, no.  That's not what I did.  I got take out and invited my friend over.  I  made Ember her favorite lunch, grilled cheese, and allowed her to watch tv during the day.  A very special treat.  And a way to placate her while rewarding my own douchiness.

Jade is my organized child.  She of course did not get this from me, as I'm completely disorganized, which is why she missed that orthodontist appointment last month.   I  didn't even realize it until a few days afterward when I finally checked the calendar. But, this isn't about that.  This is about her making it into the school talent show with her all girl rock band friends.  Then a field trip ( I didn't know about) conflicted with a dress rehearsal (I also didn't know about).  Until a friend brought this to my attention and asked me what I was going to do about this conflict.  Ummm…what conflict?

This is a case where my laziness worked itself out.  When I excavated Jade's pile of papers, and found the field trip form, I had already missed the deadline.  Which just frees her up for the dress rehearsal.  But seeing as some of her friends are going on the field trip, she might have to play a couple instruments.  Unless one of the other moms arranged for them to have a special dress rehearsal the night before.  Wait, I think that might be what happened.  I should double check that so I can get the band equipment there. 

River wanted new glasses for quite a while.  Ones with transition lenses, like a friend has.  I didn't think much about it, until I finally scheduled an eye exam for him.  Didn't he just have an eye exam a couple of years before?  What could change?  Until the optometrist examined him and the kid is almost blind in one eye. Holy shit!  Omg! How could I not know this?  

I felt so guilty, we got him the fancy frames with transitions.  Hell, I would've taken him on a vacation to a Caribbean lasik clinic at that point.  When his glasses arrive, he's ecstatic.  He can finally see, even though the lens isn't full strength because the lens would be too thick to fit into the frames.  Two minutes after putting them on he leaves to go play tennis, of all things.  So my advice?  "Take off the glasses when you play tennis!"  Because seriously, he's been blind for god knows how long and if he gets smacked in the face, it's only a tennis ball, so it won't hurt that bad.  Not like a lacrosse ball or anything.  When I thought about the message I was sending, it was really 'you can break your face, just don't break the glasses.'  Which in retrospect, seems harsh.  Like my priorities are wrong.

Sky, the oldest,  has always had first born syndrome and felt compelled to keep the other kids in line.  No matter what we do, he will not stop giving advice no one wants and telling them exactly how to do everything. Even though I've made a desperate attempt to relieve him of this internal responsibility and compulsion,   I'm positive I'm somehow to blame for it.  And because of this and other factors at play, he is the child I butt heads with the most.    

 I was driving him to a track meet at Palmer High School, completely unaware I was taking him to the wrong Palmer High School, because there are in fact three.  Three I said!  How stupid is that?  And how stupid is it that I was sure there was only one in town without fact checking that first?

 Anyhow, I was telling him about my latest faux pas moment where I thought I said something to offend someone.  I have no recollection of the particulars of the story, because there are simply so many to choose from.  After I shared my complete embarrassment, expecting him to laugh,  he said the most touching thing to me. "Mom, you would never say anything to intentionally hurt anyone."

I'm not a bad mom.  I'm not a good mom either.  I'm both at different times.  And everything in between at others.  And my kids will learn from both.  At different times.  As I learn from them.  All the time.  

(And learn from my very latest mistake:  Do not search up google images for "Bad Mom". )

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde

They were found wandering the streets of Pueblo together.  Outlaws.  Renegades.  On the run.  Young and madly in love with each other and the freewheeling, carefree life that comes with the open road. Even so, maybe, just maybe, it was time to settle down.  For Bonnie and Clyde to have a family.  

Getting off the streets was one thing, but Clyde's wandering ways couldn't be tamed.  He was constantly testing the boundaries and disappearing into the night.  In search of something better.  Sometimes he'd come home of his own volition.  Other times he'd self medicate getting drunk on pizza dough and nearly ending it all.  He was reckless and overindulgent.

But Bonnie stayed by his side, despite herself,  following him wherever he went.  She tried to be the quiet and shy voice of reason.  The yin to his yang. Strong and self disciplined, except for her powerlessness over chocolate croissants.  No matter.  Clyde likes she carries a few extra pounds.  Her booty makes the perfect pillow for his weary head.  Bonnie's greatest weakness was simply loving Clyde too much.

As the years went on, Clyde began to mellow.  Becoming a bit less adventuresome and a bit more of a  homebody.  Bonnie came into her own, blossoming into a huntress bringing home the bacon.  Even if that bacon was a squirrel. They'd settled for the quiet life and they finally have a family who loves them very much.  

On any given day they can be found lying on the porch together staring off into the distance.  Remembering their adventures.  Content.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Girls Night Out

Photo courtesy of
We've been doing it for years.  Usually twice a year, sometimes more.  Four of my girlfriends and I go out for girls night out (GNO).  In the early years when our kids were little, it was more of an elaborate affair.  Stolen time away from the kids and husbands to talk about girl stuff.  Which of course means we end up talking about our kids and husbands.  That hasn't changed over the years.  The way that other things have.

It used to be that the evening would start with dinner.  Then we'd venture to a martini bar, stumble through an art gallery buzzed,  hit up a club and dance, mocking the creepy guy and even take a spin on a stripper pole. And there would be photos.  Not tons of photos, but scant photographic evidence that these events actually occurred.  (Since I didn't check with my girlfriends, none of this evidence will be posted here in a public forum.  But, trust me, they did occur.)  We were younger and crazier once.  But, not anymore.

You would think it would be harder to get out of the house with younger kids.  With their clinging,  spontaneous projectile vomiting and us moms just being way too tired to get dressed to go out. But, this just makes the escape from the confines of toddlerdum even more necessary to a mom's survival.  Now, we all have teenagers and don't need to schedule or pay babysitters.  Conversely, they can't wait for us to leave to go out and be rid of us for the night.  Cause we're totally embarrassing and they don't want to be around us.

Which makes it seem like we should go out every week.  Except now that we have teenagers, their social lives take precedence over ours.  And since our kids only have learner's permits at this point, we are still in the chauffeur years. So close to more personal freedom for ourselves and them.  But, not quite yet. And when they do have their driver's licenses, there's just more to worry about.  They know better than to text and drive right?  Whose party are they going to?  Will there be brownies at the party?  What exactly is in the brownies?  What are they washing the brownie down with?  And if they didn't do any of this, who else will be on the road driving on the same street at the same time as them that did all this or more?

From the time I suggested a GNO to celebrate my friend Linda's birthday, it took six weeks until all five of us had an evening, the same evening, free.  A month after her birthday.  If we don't celebrate her birthday does that mean it didn't happen and that none of us are in fact older?  But we are.  Maybe going to a hip new restaurant will revive our youth.

Brother Luck Street Eats.  Bar food with a twist and boasting a nightly gourmet menu served out of a dive bar.  I got the goat and risotto.  It was both gorgeous and delicious.  I should have taken a picture of it.  But I didn't.  I didn't take one single photo.  True to form, we talked about our kids.  Their activities, our daughters menstrual cycles and our impending menopause.  And the fact that no one can sleep anymore.  No longer woken by our young children with bad dreams, but by our urgent need to pee or hot flashes. Worst case scenario, both.

Archive photo of the nightly menu taken my last trip to Brother Luck

Tonight there'd be no bar hopping.  It was the night before Easter.  Everyone had eggs to hide.  Which is really symbolic when you're a woman on the cusp of  losing your own fertility.  We needed to go home to sleep.  So we could get up in the middle of the night and worry about our daughters' impending fertility.  And that before we know it,  we'd pass the cup to them.  And they'd all be getting together to get away from their own kids.  But, I'm sure they'll be passing a wine glass, not a cup, just like their mothers did before them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Circular Thinking

Yes, this is my original artwork.
This is why I'm not an artist.  Particularly, a drawer.
Sketcher I guess it'd be called.

I know I'm not the only person who does this.  I call it circular thinking.  When I'm not calling it "Wtf is wrong with me? Noooooooooooo.  Why am I doing this again?"  Which is way too long.  So I simplified it.  Also because I want people to take me seriously.  Kinda.  Sometimes.

Circular thinking is when something happens that really pisses you off.  Let me try to sound professional, like I really know what I'm talking about here and refer to this event as an annoyance.   And it sets your mind off in this crazy swirl of thoughts.  All of which you've had before.  Leaving you to sift and sort through them.  Which are pure emotion?  Are any of them valid?  And what the hell do I do with this crap now?  Until you find a solution.  Yes.  The same exact conclusion you came to the other 100 times this happened.  This, in my experience, usually takes about 3 days.  I don't know why, it just does.

The last time this happened to me was a couple of weeks ago.  I submitted my book for consideration at Bookbub, an on-line discount book retailer.  For them to sell the e-version for a measly 99 cents.  And then I got the rejection letter.  I'm usually quite good at brushing off this book bullshit.  After all, I've had a ton of experience.  Not to brag or anything, but I'm really, really good at being rejected.  I'm still getting rejection letters from agents and publishers from inquiries I sent from several months ago.  But, that day I was just pissed.  It was the last straw in a whole heaping saddle full of bendy, swirly straws that broke the camel's back.  


Now, I know how the system works.  I get it.  They have so many books that they can take and it's not a reflection of my work.  Or some such bullshit.  Not that I feel like my book is War & Peace or anything.  But come on, I firmly believe it is worth at least freakin' 99 cents.  So feeling angsty, I did what I normally try to refrain from, I posted an angry rant on Facebook.  And almost immediately, my phone rang.  

It was my friend and mentor, Leah, who had seen my rant and called to cheer me up.  Immediately, we started to talk about this whole circular thinking thing and learning the same lessons over and over again.  Bringing me back to the conclusion, that I'm going to continue to be authentically me.  And marketing?  Screw marketing?  At the end of the day, the most important thing is that I put out something honest that I'm proud of.  Sure, it's not perfect.  But that's the entire point.   That's when Leah said the most profound thing.  

We relearn the same lessons over and over because we learn them at a deeper level every time.
And every time the stakes are higher. 

Circular thinking spirals our thoughts both reaffirming and elevating them to the next level.  Which I hope to god is getting me somewhere closer to Nirvana. Or Kurt Cobain at least. And this my friends has been a lesson from Leah.

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Voice

As a desperately shy person, I feared my voice. That what I would have to say would offend. Or be stupid. Not well thought out. That I'd stutter. Maybe I'd unintentionally spray a little saliva when I opened my mouth. The list goes on and on. I solved this problem by just not talking. Shutting myself off from the world. And living inside my head. Which isn't really living at all.

My metamorphosis began when I started my blog and then catapulted when I was writing and publishing my book. I could use my voice without even talking, in print. I could be home in my tattered writing sweater (RIP: 3/17/14) all alone and not even have to open my mouth. This is awesome! The more I reveal through my writing, the more people seem to connect with me. Plus, they were seeing similarities in their own lives. And they liked it. I was, and still am, astounded by this. And encouraged to dig deeper. To do the things I really want to do like join a band, which I did last year. And to make idiotic videos because the mood strikes me. So what if I was driving a car at the same time.

Ok, maybe Visible Panty Lines didn't break up because I was a crappy singer. Oh, I'm a crappy singer alright, it's just that Jimmy quit and Joey got married. And that's what broke us up.  Or the real reason, Mama Beast and Baby Spice moved away. Damn them! Our song Hot and Cold with lyrics changed to be about menopause by our own Yoko could've been our breakthrough hit. I'm getting hot flashes just thinking about it.

On the way home from a work dinner with my husband last Friday night,  I was trying to check my phone to see if the kids had called. Nothing. Then I confessed I don't know how to pick up my voicemail.  This is when he told me I have a nice speaking voice. And that if he'd never met me and we'd only just spoken over the phone, he'd figure I was cute and nice.  And now,  a whole 25 long years we've been together, he compliments me on my voice for the first time ever.

But, when I think about it, his timing is perfect. Because I've finally come into my own voice. Alto, sardonic, unique and one that may be relatively pleasant to listen to, but is gritty, raw and doesn't spew bullshit.

Now that I've finally found my voice, I fully intend to keep using it. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Great Balancing Act

One of the themes in my book and its cover is balance.  The struggle to attain it.  And the constant juggling act it requires to maintain it.  Although "maintain" is much too oversimplified a term. Because even though I have made it a priority to be more mindful and in the moment in my life,  in an attempt to live a more harmonious and peaceful life, it is far from zen-like.

On any given day I disappoint myself at least a dozen times.  AT LEAST.  I chastise myself for losing focus.  Losing it with the kids.  Choosing carbs over kale.  Forgetting that orthodontist appointment.  And not having the fortitude to make my kids do chores on a regular basis.  Then losing it with them because I'm pissed off at myself and my lack of follow through.  In short, I lose it and drop the ball.  Or the sword.  A LOT.

When I was in my 20's, I did the least amount of exercise possible.  And I did it for one reason and one reason only.  To look good.  Now, that I'm in my 40's, the biggest reason I'm active is for my mental health.  It just makes me a happier person.  When I'm done doing it though.  Not before.  Or during.  My kids now know not to interrupt mom's workout time.  Cause if they ask me a question during squat lunges, they know the answer will unequivocally be "NO".  Ask me after I've showered and the endorphins are kicking in when I'm a happier mom and might actually ponder their plight or even say "YES".

Food.  Can't live without it.  So each day I try to make good choices.  I aim for unprocessed complex carbs, lots of veggies with lean meats.  And I try to jump start my metabolism by eating breakfast chock full of protein.  Usually eggs with greens.  But that doesn't happen every day.  When I go on vacation, it's even worse.  I can get way off track.  Although I willingly stray, I do so knowing I'll have to work extra hard later.  Because there are no excuses.  I know that if I get myself off track, I can get myself on track.  The earlier I do, the easier it is to get back to good.

I have a secret.  I'm completely disinterested in technology.  In fact, I hate it.  So I have the world's most ridiculous phone (WMRP).  Well, I did, until I upgraded it to the world's second most ridiculous phone when the WMRP finally died.  They actually discontinued the WMRP at Walmart.  That's how bad it was. I choose to have a ridiculous phone without internet access.   Because if I did I'd constantly be thinking about the things I should be doing on it or tweeting.  And I don't want to do that either.   I'm also too damn lazy to figure out my phone and the buttons are so small and my eyes are bad, all of my texts look like I'm day drunk. I use the laptop for e-mailing and social media like it's the 90's.  The 90's I SAID!  (In addition, our family only has one computer we share, which means I generally am not on when the kids are home, so I can be "present" with them while they're on the computer and I'm reading a book.  Yes, I choose to live this way!

When it comes time to wind down at night, I love a glass of red wine.  Or two.  Again,  I try to be mindful and not over indulge.  Which means I just recently broke up with boxed wine. Again.  First of all, it's sub par.  Second, that stupid spigot makes it way too easy to over partake. It's just so dang economical.  And life is too short to drink shitty wine.  So now, I've rebalanced and I drink much better wine, less frequently and I savor it.   On the weekends.  Although, last Thursday, I went out on a date with my husband for lunch and then dinner  with a friend and had a glass of red at both.  Some rules are meant to be broken.

I live my life with fewer delusions or blinders on than I used to. But, because I'm constantly re-evaluating, the down side is I see more flaws and mistakes now than I ever did before.  Which means a large part of this great balancing act is forgiving myself and moving on when I do commit a blunder.  So what if I screw up?  Everyone does.  The important thing is to keep trying to get balanced.  And feeling for even a moment, no matter how fleeting, that you've got it.  That makes it all worth it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Girls Rock

Photo of Pulpit Rock courtesy of
It was a gorgeous Sunday.  We had two choices. Allow the kids to reenact wrestle mania (four kids makes tag teaming incredibly appealing). Or go on a hike and try to exhaust them so they would forget how much they hate one another.  We opted for the latter.  Keeping the former as an option if the latter didn't work.  In my haste to get a husband, 4 kids and 2 dogs out the door, I forgot to bring the camera.  And for a hike that has incredible views of Pike's Peak no less.

The hike was the same as it always is.  Sibling squabbles over who gets to hold the dogs' leashes, who doesn't know quantum physics and who has seen Walking Dead at a friends house and how to prove that they did.  Their arguing reached an apex when we got to the top.  I wondered if one of them was going to start a treacherous game of king of the mountain.  That's when I saw her.

Doing that quiet freak out thing a mom does while trying to pretend she's not freaking out for the sake of her kids.  Who always totally know that feigned calmness is fake.  She had the youngest on her back in one of those backpack things that always dig into your back making that 20 pounds of kid feel like 100.  Even if you traded in your car for it at REI, it's destined to be dreadfully uncomfortable.  This is what prevented her from being able to get to her 5 year old stuck on a steep and pebbled portion of the face of the hill, too scared to descend.  While her 7 year old son tested the boundaries of reascending.

This is how I became friends with Rene.  Helping her boys and her back down the rock, with the baby lulled to sleep by the impending chaos in the backpack.  We slipped and stumbled our way down together.  My thumb was bleeding and my nose was dripping, lacking a tissue, I did the 5 finger salute.  Despite that, she took my hand for stability.  We chatted and found out we have a lot in common.  I'm thinking, I really like her.  And here's the conundrum.  Do we now refer to ourselves as blood sisters or snot sisters?

When we reached the parking lot, I gave her my number.  Later that day, she texted.  Wanting to take me out.
Deja fucking vu.

If you haven't read my book, you may not realize, I've made some really bad choices in fast friendships in the past.  I mean, I think I've learned from them and everything.  But, what if I haven't?  What if she turns out to be a fucking psycho?  I mean I don't think that's gonna happen.  But, of course, I didn't think that before either.  When that's exactly what happened.

Date day rolls around.  I walk in, she's already there.  The menu has totally changed and there's less options for her.  But that's not the biggest change.  She's pregnant.  She found out yesterday.  It was a surprise and right when her husband is set to be deployed.  And we talk.  Really talk about life.  Not bullshit.  Although shit was one of the topics we covered extensively.  But in addition to that, we talked about what it means to be a woman.  The joys and the nagging feeling that other moms are better than you.  Which of course isn't true.  But, it's the common denominator of all good moms.  Assuming that they in fact aren't.  This is why we need girlfriends.  To encourage each other and laugh at ourselves.  And because our husbands just don't understand the way a woman's mind works. 

This is why girls rock!

PostScript:  Thank god Rene didn't turn out to be a psycho.  A bit neurotic maybe, but I like my girls a bit crazy.  Cause god knows I am.  And we've gone with Snot Sisters right now fyi.  Although that's subject to change as the years go by.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Anxiety Queen

From a very early age I was entirely too aware I was painfully shy.  And even though I'm in my forties now and I've put forth tremendous effort over the years to conquer it, I continue to be.  I'm also prone to depression.  But what I didn't realize until fairly recently is that I'm also anxious.  Anxiety, you see, is the paramour of depression.  A villainous tag team.

So, when I saw Scott Stossel in one of the most uncomfortable and anxious ridden interviews on the Colbert Report I have ever seen, I knew I had to read his book.  I started it on the flight to Florida.  Oddly, getting on a airplane doesn't make me anxious at all.  My anxiety is purely social.  Specifically ignited by large groups of people. Where, among them, I will have numerous opportunities to embarrass myself.  Who may or may not be thinking thoughts about me.  If they are, I'm sure they're critical and unflattering.  It's a vicious cycle I can't seem to stop.

I've always been highly intuitive of other people's feelings.  I used to be too attentive to the emotions of others, letting theirs override mine.  In fact, I still have to keep a constant eye that I don't default back to that setting.  What I didn't know until I read the book is this phenomenon is a classic symptom of anxiety.   Over reading other people's signals.   To one's own detriment.  Guilty as charged.

In the grips of anxiety, my mind goes blank.  Totally blank.  I won't be able to think of anything so say.  Let alone anything remotely intelligent.  So naturally, if I am able to utter a word,  it'll be something completely stupid and thoughtless.  Which will only increase my anxiety and make me feel worse about myself.  This I knew.  But, I never made the connection that anxiety is at the core of my inability to remember and perform belly dance choreography.  Dancing on stage means there is an instructor, classmates or worse yet, an audience watching me.  Silently critiquing me.  This is all making sense now.  I don't have amnesia.

The day that's supposed to be the happiest day of your life, was one of my most anxious ones.  It started the night before at my wedding rehearsal.  Everyone's looking at me.  And it's only about 50 people.  The next day the number will grow to be over 200 people. That's 400 eyes.  And a photographer.  And small talk to make.  So I ditched my own rehearsal dinner and spent the night sick with vertigo, my stomach in knots, puking in bed.  The next morning, I didn't feel much better and did what I could to down some saltines trying to calm my stomach.  My girlfriend covertly walked down the aisle concealing a plastic bag "just in case".  Although I've been married nearly 22 years, I didn't realize this whole episode was anxiety until just yesterday.

Then there's the delightful irritable bowl syndrome link.  Again, when I look back, this totally makes sense.  If you've read the book and the blog post on me taking an urgently imminent shit in the Ambassador's toilet while at a party there this is but one of a myriad of examples I could give.  This shit has been happening for years and is mortifying.  Especially when there's no public toilet in sight.

In short, I've spent a lot of my life being desperately uncomfortable and exacerbated by the fact that I could shit my pants in public without warning.  And forcing myself to do things despite that fact. There've been a lot of comments that I don't seem timid my book.  And I'll take that as the highest compliment.  Maybe next time I'll leave some blank pages to symbolize the awkward silences that would occur in real life.  

Writers tend to be introverted listeners who prefer to write the things we cannot say.  That's not to say we all have anxiety.  Even though I'd bet most do.

Although I wasn't one bit anxious to meet my mentor, Leah, for the first time on my trip to Florida.  Cause we're both a bit askew.


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