We ALL Deserve A Break Today Sunday, Sep 25 2011 


Yesterday while walking through the park and around the lake, I had another one of those episodes where somehow just putting in my ear buds and grooving to my raunchy yet oddly motivating booty music seemed to put me in my own little world. It’s really a bizarre character flaw and not nearly as cool as when the Potter kids throw on their invisibility cloak, though it works in a similar fashion. The loud thumping in my ears somehow hinders proper brain function and makes me think I’m invisible to the lowly peons around me. It happens at the gym all the time. Well, not that I’m actually AT the gym all the time. I just mean that when I AM there, it’s likely to happen and thoughts fly out of my mouth aloud. I know this happens because I’ve gotten weird looks from people right after they’ve gotten in my way and I’ve thought to “myself” how annoying they are. Barring the possibility that they are actual mind readers, it’s highly likely that irritated sighs and sounds escape from my mouth. My sister thinks I’m crazy. I think it’s funny. I need the music to keep me going anyway so there isn’t much of a choice and alone with my private thoughts (hell, maybe not so private if my thoughts become vocalized) I sometimes make sense of things in today’s hectic life.

As on any beautiful weekend day, the park was packed. There were hippies playing frisbee, couples sitting in the shade and on park benches, old men sitting along the seawall in their folding chairs with their fishing poles, boats launching, family reunions under the pavilions, and birthday parties. This Saturday night in addition to the flock of seagulls, there was a wedding party and groups of high school kids each with its own set of paparazzi taking pictures in front of the fountain all dolled up in their fancy gowns. So I ran. I ran so far away. I ran all night and day. I couldn’t get away. (Well, maybe I walked, but if I said that then you wouldn’t get the whole Flock of Seagulls song reference would you??) I didn’t want my picture snapped sans makeup in my funky sweat gear and ball cap photobombing all the beautiful people and becoming immortalized in family albums for years to come. I remember thinking when I saw the children’s birthday parties how I often wish my social set here would occasionally take things back to a simpler time when kiddie parties were simply cake and ice cream with pin the tail on the donkey.

Nowadays, things seem to be so much more complicated often resulting in unnecessary stress and expense. There are petting zoos and princess themes with teams of divas that show up at your house like Extreme Home Makeover to transform your daily “drab” inferior interior into a party fit for a queen but most importantly… the other parents. Look, I love those parties and the truth is, many people ENJOY throwing those kinds of parties so I don’t want to sound like one of the bitter people who simply can’t keep up and feels they must. I do think though that for the parents out there who feel discouraged and max out the credit cards trying to be the ultimate hosts and hostesses, maybe they should take a step back and think about what really matters and what it is their own children would really be comfortable with having. True, my own little ones attend these parties and want the equivalent, but perhaps they just haven’t been to enough of the simple ones where all they need is a bathing suit and sprinkler. Here’s what’s gone through MY mind when considering these options when money’s been tight:

  • Maybe my kid will feel like he’s the poor kid on the block – like the one who’s mama actually MAKES him where a homemade superhero costume on Halloween while Flash Gordon over there has real working light up stuff that shoots lasers or something at the big kids who get in his way of the candy. (GREAT! Now I’ve got Halloween anxiety which is quickly approaching after talking about my birthday party anxiety. 😦 )
  • Maybe if I don’t provide enough food for all the little children AND their parents, people will starve and kids will start asking their parents, “Where’s the pizza, Mama?” right in front of me so that I have to run and call Papa John like that was really the plan all along and give him my credit card so nobody passes out or worse… TALKS ABOUT ME!
  • Maybe if I go the cheap route and do it at home none of the kids will come. See, maybe their parents are kinda shy – or even bitchy – and feel uncomfortable having to sit on my couch with a bunch of other parents until all the cake has been eaten and the presents have been opened. That’s just awkward for some people and I TOTALLY get it. Maybe for them, sitting around on the backyard patio with all the properly coiffed mamas feels like high school all over again wondering which lunch table to sit at.
  • Maybe I need to casually walk my kid to and from class every morning and every afternoon instead of carpool line and chit-chat with the parents so that the new ones get to know me and think I’m friendly and won’t avoid the party because they don’t know any of the other parents.
  • Maybe some of these people can’t afford the barrage of parties every weekend and the presents that accompany them. I don’t want to make them feel like they HAVE to go, but I really WANT them to go just so my own kid doesn’t get disappointed that so-and-so from class isn’t there. (Don’t even get me STARTED now on the expense of birthday party presents every weekend when you’re trying to mask the fact that you’re flat broke at this particular stage in your life but are trying to please your own kids by allowing them to attend and the birthday kids by not disappointing them)

I remember last year when a friend of mine went through a similar dilemma. She was on a strict budget with three little ones and was pregnant with her fourth while her husband was serving overseas. These moms get my applause on a daily basis but ESPECIALLY when trying to throw together a birthday party all by themselves. I couldn’t remember all of the details this morning so I asked her about it. She actually had to ask WHICH party “disaster” I was referring to from this year. Was it the one where she stopped to pick up pizza and ice cream making her late for the party and arrived home with the only key to find the guests waiting in the front yard in the middle of January in COLORADO? Or was it the other one that she posted about on Facebook where hardly any kids showed? Damn! I felt bad for her, but I remember TONS of people commenting on her status and fessing up to trying to keep up with other PARENTS when what really mattered was the CHILDREN. She did a great job and her little man was happy which was really all that mattered. This is what she posted when she felt discouraged and all of  the festivities were complete:

Threw the world’s lamest birthday party this afternoon. But the guest of honor was happy so it wasn’t a total flop. My house was a mess. I took a nap instead of making cupcakes. (Luckily there were enough gluten-free ones that my friend brought for her son with Celiac to go around for all the kids.) We sang him happy birthday but there were no candles to blow out. He probably set the world record for speed-opening of gifts – all 6 in under 75(?) seconds. Then he played his new Wii games while ignoring all his guests.

I woke this morning to another old friend’s pictures from her son’s birthday party on Facebook. SHUT UP!!! I had no idea they still have birthday parties at McDonald’s. Are you KIDDING ME?!?! It looked like she had a few close friends for her son’s 5th birthday party and all those sweet little booboos wear wearing party hats and big ‘ol smiles. Not a grimace was to be found (and I DID look for that big purple blob. What IS he anyway??) I had a couple of birthday parties at Mickey D’s myself and lots of my friends did too. I have memories of the that chocolate cake with Ronald on top and the whipped icing with sprinkles. I still remember hand clapping to the all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun song. Who did NOT climb to the top of that big hamburger jail that used to be on all of the playgrounds and bounce on those spring-loaded Fry Guy things on Mayor McCheese’s turf? That was before Chuck E Cheese came into the picture and when the only THEME your party had to have was for the plates and napkins. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite because I LOVE a good theme party, but I’ve caught myself sinking enough money into these themes to where I’d have sworn Hamburglar came along and wiped out my checking account. This year we simply couldn’t swing the super fancy party favors that are a gift themselves to every tiny party goer so I took the kids down to Party City with instructions to get some little things to fill the plastic goody bags. After roaming the aisles and perusing the party picks, we finally found the Cars 2 display and the sales clerk asked me if we needed any help. Leave it to my kid to smile and say, “No thanks! We’re buying a bunch of cheap stuff made in China to put in the goody bags!” CRAP!! I was mortified but crap is what we bought and none of the kids OR parents seemed to mind when we handed them out. In fact, I think I’m super lucky. We got strong armed into having the festivities at the roller rink but I seriously doubt any of those other parents would have said a word if we’d blown up balloons and thrown streamers around at the park. My own anxiety about these kinds of things gets to me, but I’m thinking that I’m not alone. Retro is in, and if any of the other sometimes-anxious-overly-eager-to-please-their-child-and-live-up-to-the-standards-set-by-today’s-world folks wanna give it a try, cop a squat at the local park and don’t feel inferior to the folks with the back-yard carnivals at their McMansions. I promise you’ll see others doing the same, and don’t we ALL deserve a break today?

(For anyone interested: Check out this article from retrojunk.com I found when I started looking for picture. THIS will take you back!!) http://www.retrojunk.com/details_articles/4432/

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Kickin’ Up Storms & Puttin’ Out Fires Friday, Sep 2 2011 


I didn’t sleep much last night. It’s my own fault though I guess. Actually, it may be my mom’s fault! See, there’s a storm brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. When this happens, I can always hear my mom’s voice inside my head telling me EXACTLY what I should be doing to prepare. It’s gotten to where I no longer need her present to hear the nagging. There’s anxiety coursing ALL through my veins thanks to my maternal side, and when the weather vanes outside start spinning when the wind kicks up, EVERYTHING kicks up a notch. While pondering whether or not to race out and stock up on Spaghetti O’s and boxed wine for the inclement weather and possible power outage, I realized all of the things that I am used to having back at the house but do NOT have here at the apartment. THAT’S when I remembered the fire escape ladder that my mom purchased for us when we moved into the big two-story house, and I retrieved it when I picked up the kids last night from Dinner with Dad. The shitstorm that came from that was one for the record books. Hmmmm, hurricane preparations with Mom, or Fire Safety Lesson with the kids… I guess I’ll take the latter.

Mom, why do we need a ladder?

It’s just in case there were ever an emergency where we would need to climb out of the window.

The WINDOW?!?! What kind of emergency?

(This is when I remembered that fire phobia he “outgrew.”) Um, you know, just in case the doors didn’t work and we needed to get to our car.

You mean a FIRE don’t you! The box has a picture of a family with their house on fire.

Well, technically that could happen, but it can really be used for any type of emergency and it’s best to have emergency supplies on hand like how we keep candles and flashlights ready for hurricane season.

Why do you think we are going to have a fire?

I DON’T

Then why did you buy it?

I didn’t. Mimi bought it.

Why does she think we are going to have a fire?

She doesn’t. I mean, she KNOWS that we are NOT, but she always worries about everything anyway so she felt better buying this for us back at the house.

Then why did we bring it to the apartment?

Because we live HERE now and so I thought we’d keep it here.

But Daddy’s back at the house and now he doesn’t have anything to escape with. (eyeing me suspiciously like I’m an evil arsonist)

Daddy is like a Boy Scout and he has everything he needs there. He’s totally fine, I PROMISE.

So we’re going to attach it to the window?

No. It stays in its box unless we ever have to use it. I’m going to put it in Sissy’s closet because it’s right next to her window and that window sticks out the farthest. (Smile) So you don’t even have to look at it.

WHAT?!?!?! You are keeping it in HER room?! Why does she get to be saved???!!!

STOP. Nothing’s going to happen, but if there WERE some kind of emergency then we all go to her window and climb out. Period.

Her foot is probably going to get in my way and make me fall down the ladder and get a bodycast again!!!

(Long story short version: Yes, he DID have to wear a body cast for a couple of months when he was 2, but EXACTLY how he tumbled down the stairs isn’t TOTALLY clear. Everybody knows he tripped over Sissy’s foot, but there is no proof it was intentional and doesn’t matter anyway because she was SO WAY SORRY and TOTALLY freaked out that he broke a bone. Won’t EVER happen again. EVER. We’re paranoid people now and in a way like never before. There! Full disclosure.)

You’re not going to fall and you won’t get a body cast because we have a LADDER! (Sigh) Just follow her down and we’ll walk to the parking lot or something.

WHAT!?@!!? SHE gets to go FIRST??? That’s not FAIR!

Fine. If you want to go first, then you can go first. We’ll have our plan now like when you practice fire drills at school.

So you want to climb out now?

NOOOO!!! (God the neighbors would REALLY think we’re weird then. And I’m not going to the hospital with a broken bone on any of us from a PRACTICE RUN. Real deal only.)

Well, who’s going next you or Sissy?

Well, Sissy I guess. That is if ANY of us were able to quit fighting over what’s fair and what’s not fair. That’s why it’s best to decide now otherwise I’m thinking Daddy is the lucky one here. He just has to jump. I would have to convince two screaming kids that my escape route was FAIR before anyone even slung a leg of the ledge!

Well then we’d all die if nobody went, huh.

Nobody’s going to DIE! Go take your bath. (I’m going straight to the burning gallows of Hell for even planting this seed in my child’s head. Actually… TOTALLY my mom’s fault here again. SHE bought the ladder and SHE’S the one that threw that neurotic gene down my tree but never claims it and doesn’t know how any of us can be such ANXIOUS people. She’s like the cute little kitten that gets stuck in the tree and then claims to have been able to climb down herself if mass hysteria were to break out and the fire brigade sent to rescue her… after all she’d be the only cat on the block with her own LADDER!!)

10 Minutes Later… (Scene: Bathtub)

Is it fireproof, Mom?

What?

The ladder. because I’m not going to go down it first if it’s just going to catch fire or something.

The ladder is METAL, and we will never have to use it because there will NEVER be a fire.

So concrete catches fire easily then?

HUH?!?

The stairs. They must be going to catch fire even though they’re made of concrete otherwise we wouldn’t need the ladder and have to go out Sissy’s window.

Seriously. Just forget about the ladder. if there were an emergency, that’s the only time you’d even remember it.

Wait. I’m not gonna jump so we’re all just gonna be hanging there til the firemen come or something because that’s too far and I’ll get hurt, right?

No, sweet boy. The ladder reaches all the way to the ground because it says so on the box. (We both SMILE at each other. 🙂 Case closed!)

What if, when I get off the ladder, I step in fire ants though??? Heh Heh!! Get it, Mom?? FIRE ants!!! I made a joke!! 🙂

HAHAHA!!! Funny boy! I’m so proud of you. You must get that from me!

But what about my stuffed animals??? I love them! We’ll have to carry all of them out with us.

Nah. The firemen would spray the whole place with water from their big hoses and that would keep stuff from burning.

Then they’d get wet and ruined.

Fine. We’ll see.

I KNOW!!! We’ll keep some backpacks by the ladder to carry all our stuff out! I’ll be the one who says, ‘EVERYONE GRAB AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!!’

No. That’s someone else’s job. Get out of the tub.

Will the firemen say, ‘All clear!’ and then send us back for our stuff?

Yes.

I’m going to show all my friends any time I have a sleep over so they know we can climb out the window if we need to, OK?

Um… Fine. (AWESOME! Mamas are going to think I’m nuts. And if I ever catch him using it when he’s a teenager to sneak out and get a 6 pack or something, he might as well be in a bodycast because he won’t be going anywhere for a long time. Sigh.)

I’ve got the jibbers.

Don’t have the jibbers… whatever those are. It’s fine. Everyone will be safe and everyone has a job for anything unexpected so we’re TOTALLY good. Now get out of the tub. (HOORAY!! He SMILED which means he’s good and I must be good at calming his nerves then. Yay!)

I’m going to have nightmares. Can I sleep with you?

(Sigh) Fine.

HAHAHA!!!! SISSY!!!! I get to sleep with mom and you don’t!

(Sissy runs into the bathroom and starts off with, Moooooom!!! That’s not FAIR!!!!)

Dry off. Brush your teeth. Everyone get in my bed. Go to sleep.

Hey, Mom!

Whaaa-aaaa-aaaaaaa-aaat?!?!

I’ve been eating lots of fiber, SEE! I’m growing THESE!! (Points at his nipples and smiles proudly in the mirror)

Uh… I’m glad you’re eating fiber. Good. That means this conversation is over.

(I realize that he has changed the subject and this is my chance, so I sing the prayers and then threaten to kick them out of my bed if they don’t go to sleep. It’s a freakin’ SCHOOL night and I’m not going to get ANY sleep because they’re in my bed, but I feel so bad now about letting them see the ladder and ponder burning flesh that I must now deserve to be kneed in the back all night without any covers.)

Where does this kid get this from?? ‘MY MOM!!! It’s HER fault,’ I say to myself as I remember to go take my anxiety pill. As I gulp the water and feel the pill sliding down my throat, I get one of those movie-like flashback scenes where I suddenly have Deja’ Vu and realize I just took this pill while standing in this exact spot just a couple of hours ago. Am I going to overdose? Should I try and throw it up?? I throw up my hands instead and settle down to read a book. I mean, I HAVE to be awake now, right? I probably have to stay awake to make sure I don’t start getting woozy or drowsy from the double dosage… but it’s BEDTIME?!?! How will I know if it’s the medicine or just being tired??? BING! I have a margarita in the freezer that would TOTALLY calm me down, but now I’m too scared to drink it because of what it may do to me after taking two idiot pills!!! UUGH!! I think I have a stomach ache now. Finally I decide with the help of some friends on facebook that the heightened anxiety I’m experiencing will counteract the increased medication thereby cancelling out any harmful side effects and leaving a zero net effect. TA-DA!!! I’m a genius AND I’m still a good mom. The kids are sleeping soundly, and I’ll be right next to them on my 3-inch portion of the bed if they need anything. And if I don’t have what they need or an answer to some crazy question, you know what I’ll do??? I’ll call MOM and let them wake HER up. It’s all her fault anyway, and someday I’ll tell them that so they’ll be sure and blame HER and NOT me or blog about all the weird things I do on the internet or whatever it is that their generation will be doing then. Hell, I probably won’t even know what they’re talking about anyway, and I’ll just sit there oblivious like MOM does with MY blog. 😉