Monthly Archives: May 2010

Schezuan

I’ve been in a really bad mood lately.  Lots o’ stress+ lots o’ whining= not so much fun. But I know that’s all going to change for a few short days. Yes, the Fric to my Frac, the Abbott to my Costello, the Ben to my Jerry, the Gin to my Tonic, The Rogers to my Hammerstein ( I could go on forever, this is too much fun) is coming to visit me!

We’re going to stay up late, laugh ’till it hurts, talk ’till we can’t, eat ’till we’re too full, drink ’till we’re too hungover, cry ’till we…well let’s hope we don’t cry this time. She’s going to tell me what a good mother I am, I’m going to watch her be a good mother.  We’re going to talk about our work, our kids, our husbands, our cities -well her city, my town.

Then we’re going to laugh about old times. Like the time we spent the night before her wedding in the bride and groom’s suite, ordering the “lover’s breakfast for two” and laughing about it until the champagne came out our noses.  We will remember the time our butts stuck together because up North summer is HOT and there’s no air conditioning. We’ll remember Paris, Sonoma, Vegas, New Jersey, Colorado, family vacations, attempting to jet ski — on one jet ski of course, old boyfriends and old friends.

We’ll remember our babies when they were much younger. We’ll remember when we were much younger.

But mostly we’ll just laugh and have a great time.

Then she’ll go back to her city and I’ll stay in my town and I’ll think about how lucky I am to have had a best friend for so long and for so much more time to come. And for a while, all will be right the world.

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“Parents just don’t understand…”

I’ve been meaning to write, but I’ve just been so busy. I hate when life gets in the way of my plans. I was supposed to be rich and famous by now, but silly little things like the dishes and what’s for dinner  keep interrupting my plans of grandeur.  Plus my teenager is taking up so much of my brain space that there’s nothing left for get rich schemes or PhD’s.  He’s a great kid, but Oh My…

Life with a teenager is like when you always hear about a newborn baby screaming through the night and you see a Hollywood movie scene of a dazed mother or father walking around with their pants on backwards and you think, “Yea right — that will never happen to me.”  Then karma socks you with a 15lb colicky milk sucker,  a high-pitched scream that only you and dogs can hear and you’re walking around with a diaper stuck to your shoulder and throw up permanently a part of your hair.  Forget about wearing your pants backwards because you haven’t gotten out of your pajamas for weeks.

Well that’s sort of what its like with a teenager, minus the diapers. But here’s the issue. Let’s start hearing from everyone about how it all will be ok.  A little advice from a been- there- done- that older mother who tells you they will stop acting liking an overgrown two year-old. Yes, terrible things could happen. But they could anyway, any day.  Definitely don’t tell me, Wow- this is only your first, you still have another and then.a.GIRL!

Come on– that’s like telling someone who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer — Uh oh, don’t forget you have two. Imagine when it spreads to that one!

Why would anyone do that? When you see a dazed new mother, these people must be the ones to walk up and say, “Oh, honey you won’t sleep for the rest of your life. Get used to it.” What? How about some nod of acknowledgment and simple, “Oh, honey it’s gets better and it is so wonderful. Wait till they say ‘I love you’.”

Let’s give up the terrorizing and try some humor. I always find that’s the best advice and the best way to handle anything.

A hefty dose of sour, to what is sure to be filled with saccharin.

There’s a little show on Sundays that I like to catch, called “Sunday Morning”, it’s full of  relevant news stories that aren’t made to offend or patronize or having you running for cover, because something sinister is right outside your door but  you must stay tuned until after the weather to discover what that is. It’s kind of like NPR on Valium. So I was psyched that they had a little piece on Erma Bombeck. I always loved Erma Bombeck, though she was before my time and I assume doesn’t have the audience she once did; my mother and grandmother had her books and I really enjoyed reading them. I was a mother at the totally mature age of 19, and was never the Martha Stewart type, so her hilarious stories of non-housekeeping and the boredom and insanity of motherhood struck a chord.

At the end of this piece on Bombeck, CBS showed a poll which stated 79% of mothers feel they have it worse off than their mothers. Ouch, we’ve come a long way baby. Hardly…but how could we feel that way? I’d like to say for starters it’s because kids today just plain suck, but I don’t want to deal with that therapy bill for my children so I’ll refrain. Now, for real, why? It could be our overreaching nature which I discussed here. Or maybe now we must be mothers and work outside the home to either keep up with the Joneses or even more likely, pay the electric bill.  Now, asides from our second full-time job, we are supposed to love motherhood more than anything. It’s supposed to be our sole reason for living. It is supposed to make us feel complete. Our house will be clean, our dinner table full of fresh healthy choices, our children will be stars not only in school but also in sports, our waist size will be small, our boobs huge, our savings fat, our college accounts for our kids even fatter, our style impeccable, our fundraising skills for the PTA exemplary, our success at our full-time paying job noteworthy, our parties legendary, our husbands  “satisfied”,  and us — well, what else could we possibly need besides the yearning to push our children for hours and hours on the swing?

Now while my husband is out-of-town working for Mother’s Day again, my spoiled children will need to be yelled out to clean the kitchen, my youngest will sit  and eat potato chips for breakfast because I their mother didn’t get to the grocery store, I’ll read the text from my father who every year reminds me it’s Mother’s Day (not like I haven’t been a mother for over 16 years, but just in case I forgot) and  I will be in bed seething with jealousy over a sister who chose to forgo that ever-present urge to never sleep soundly again and not have kids.

Happy Mother’s Day, may yours be more fulfilling than mine.

Perfection has its Price

I’ve posted so much about parenting and my children; I’ve decided to post about something else: my husband. The quintessential Pollyanna, the man who whistles in the morning after 3 hours of sleep, the man who never gets sick, the man who plays with his and other people’s children, the man who stands up to talk to you or to offer his chair, the man who looks you in the eye and remembers your name along with your grandparents’ names or your hometown, the year you graduated high school and your first pet’s name. Let’s face it — the man’s annoying!

No, you say? Really? Have you ever had a great night out, which you are paying for with your dear life the next morning with only 3.5 hours of sleep, and your husband is whistling Dixie in the kitchen because, “It’s just so wonderful to be alive!”  Once, I watched him save a cockroach. Seriously. Oh and he’s funny too — in a really bad sort of way. His jokes or puns are so silly, so utterly horrible, they’re funny.

So what do you do with such…perfection? Well for starters, you act like the yen to his yang. See, I wouldn’t be such a stressed out bitch individual if my husband wasn’t so squarely on the opposite end of the spectrum.  If he wasn’t so gosh darn happy all the time there might be a little more happiness and optimism left for me or possibly the other angry 10 million people in the world. But for some strange reason he loves me. Or as he says, “Something with an ‘L’…” I think it’s because he knows this yen and yang thing and he likes being the happy one.

I’m kidding, kinda. Anyone who knows him will know what I’m talking about. I see fear in their eyes because they wonder if one night he will crack and let out what must be somewhere, some 38 years of pent-up frustration and I’ll be the target. But hell, maybe I’ll get to wake up the next morning whistlin’ Dixie. Until then I’ll just pull the covers over my head and pretend he’s really stomping around and he’s upset over something, anything.

“You guys wanna go see a dead body?”

The other night my husband and I, along with our two younger children, decided to watch a movie together on a Saturday night. After skimming the selections it was a little um…challenging. I had to satisfy myself, my husband, a soon to be 12 year-old boy and my 5 year-old girl. Now, I of course wanted to watch “Up in the Air” but knew this was not quite a family movie. My daughter wanted “Princess and the Frog”, my son just wanted to go on the computer and my husband wanted some Mommy-Daddy time. Then I saw it, “Yes this will be a perfect Rated R family movie, and it’s FREE!”.  A movie seen so many times in my youth I could recite it…“Stand By Me”.  Before you judge, I curse like a sailor on a daily basis so I wasn’t opening up my children to anything they hadn’t heard before. My 5 year-old has a fascination with death,  so I knew the search for a dead body wouldn’t frighten her and I thought my son would enjoy it as much as I did at his age.

It was really interesting seeing the movie again, as an adult with a completely different perspective. I was struck by so many things in the movie.  I had forgotten the movie began with Richard Dreyfuss looking at an article in the paper about his childhood friend’s murder. I was already about to cry because although his real death (River Phoenix) was not murder, life imitating art in this sense was quite tragic.

But I’ll tell you what struck me the most: the kids’ freedom. Their ability to exist and explore. Of course this story is fiction, but in real life my childhood was full of adventure.

This doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. When did we become such a society of helicopter parents? I’m not idealizing the good ol’ days – they were really only golden to white males (middle and upper class white males). Even River Phoenix’s character bemoans his feelings of being trapped and stereotyped in a small town because he’s poor. Today we have a lot more opportunities for growth and the ability “to get out”. But will the next generation have the courage? These children can rarely leave sight of their hovering parents. Don’t start telling me about all the dangers. I refuse to believe that there is a child molester lurking around every corner. If there is, there’s always been one and children today will have no coping skills to fend them off.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Crime and kidnapping were just as prevalent as it is today, but I still took off on my bike in the morning and didn’t return home until dinner.  I actually remember trips to the store with a note from a friend’s mom to purchase her cigarettes. There were bullies, there were fights, there were broken teeth, bones and skin. There was that time I drove my bike off the dock into a moccasin infested lake.  My friends and I adventured through the woods, backyards which were supposedly off-limits, and sides of curvy  roads with no shoulders. We encountered danger and made it up when it wasn’t there. We rode our bikes across busy streets. We were essentially left alone. We were important to our parents and we knew it, but we also understood we weren’t the only focus of their lives. If there had been a dead body, my friends and I would’ve probably found a way to sneak off and go see it.

All dressed up -- right before we really grew up.

Our adventures as kids helped us navigate our much more difficult and challenging teenage adventures. When a friend’s car was stolen in New York City and we weren’t supposed to be there, our parents said “Hmmm, deal with it.” They didn’t come rushing to save us. Of course back then we could still be kids and teenagers and do stupid things and not ruin our life. Now, if a teenager is caught doing some of the things we did, they would probably be thrown in jail or out of school. The consequences are harsher now; is that why we hover? Is it the constant 24 hour news of all the terrible events of the past day? Did we do too much as children and are frightened our children will do the same? Or is it something as vain as believing our child is a complete reflection of us and everything and anything they do shows our incompetency as parents and individuals?

It’s interesting to ponder and I’m sure this constant hovering, over-scheduling, and over involvement will have its consequences. What those will be, who knows?  But don’t worry, we’ll find a mother to blame…