I’m a terrible soccer mom

It has been over a year since my mom died, and after her passing, my brother and I had to clean out her house.  It was horrible, time-consuming work, and we were both saddled with guilt over the truck loads we sent to the landfill or off to various charities.  Surely, we should be more sentimental.  Surely, we should want the dozens of photo albums, her full set of china, her old rosary, but we didn’t.  We both had complete houses, full of all we needed.  We saw how carefully she had kept our high school Lettermans’ jackets, trophies, and ribbons.  In the end, we pitched it all.

This memory was brought to mind lately when I was asked to create a framed memory keepsake for my oldest daughter.  It is a tradition at her high school that the moms each put together a collection of soccer memories and display them at the end-of-the-year banquet.  I can’t help but think this tradition was started by one of those scrap-booking moms with loads of artistic talent and way to much time on her hands.

I told Meg that I planned to compete for worst shadow-box of all time.  In my head I keep fast forwarding forty years and seeing her cleaning out my attic and tossing the shadow box in the dump pile.  And I am OK with that because, frankly, a middle-aged woman who hangs a tribute to high-school soccer in her kitchen is kinda sad.

Still, I have to put together this testament to her years of athleticism, and I am kinda pissy about it.  My current plan is to line the frame with money.  Then, in a year I can mail it to her at college; it will have value, and won’t end up in a landfill.

Meg in the goal, 2006

Meg in the goal, 2006

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she forced me to eat graham crackers

This summer I ate a lot of pie. . . and ice cream, and cake, and cookies, and candy.  When Labor Day hit, I knew I needed a sugar intervention, so I went cold-turkey on sweets and forced my family to deal with my grumpy mood swings.  I have been faithful to my new routine and have not had a speck of sugar in eleven days.

This morning, I got up early to take my husband to the hospital for scheduled shoulder surgery.  I have a history of being a very poor nurse.  If I had the choice between being a nurse and an indentured servant, I would have to go with indentured servitude.  I simply cannot stomach the sights, sounds, and smells of a hospital.  I would rather clean floors with a tooth-brush.

When my oldest daughter had oral surgery years ago to remove some teeth and make room for braces, I was instructed to replace the bloody gauze with fresh cotton.  I tried to complete this task, but had to stop, run to the bathroom, and vomit.

When one of my dogs had foot surgery in 2004, my mother had to drive over an hour to our house in order to change the dressing on my dogs wound, because every time I tried, I got sweaty and dizzy.

Today, at the hospital, while the nurse took out my husband’s IV and instructed me on his medications, I began to feel nauseous.  This sensation increased and was coupled with a light-headed, sweaty feeling.  The room began to swirl around me; I couldn’t look at my husband in his little hospital nighty and big black arm sling without feeling intensely ill.

The bad news is, I fainted.  The good news is my husband’s surgery was a success, and after I cleared my head, the nurse MADE me eat the sweetest, most delicious graham crackers I have ever had!

 

my track record is suffering

There have been moments since my oldest child was born that I have felt a bit cocky about my parenting abilities.  You know those events when you simply do or say the exact right thing and walk away feeling like the best mother in the world.  Unfortunately, my track record has suffered lately, as I have made a series of parenting mistakes.  For example, I allowed my four-year-old to walk around with pneumonia for three weeks before taking her to the doctor–not a stellar move on my part.  And last week when my youngest was throwing a tantrum over the fact that our new puppy didn’t want to snuggle with her, I said, “The next time you scream like that you better have a bone sticking out and blood gushing all over the floor.”  Perhaps not the most nurturing of responses.

Last night I went out to dinner with my girlfriends.  My oldest daqughter, Meg, was at soccer practice when I left, and I didn’t see her until I returned home.  When I walked in the door, she asked, “So, what teachers did you meet?”

I looked a bit like this:

deer in the headlights

deer in the headlights

as it dawned on me that while I was chatting, laughing, and eating with my girlfriends, hundreds of mothers and fathers where at the high school parent-teacher night, which I totally and completely forgot about.  The other disturbing information that came out of this exchange is that my son, husband, and youngest daughter all knew I was out to dinner, but no one bothered to pass this key piece of news on to Meg.  Apparently, when I am not home no one in my family talks to each other.

shake it off; you’ll be fine

Twenty years ago, before I had children of my own, I taught seventh-grade language arts.  I became a decent teacher, but my first year, I was a disorganized mess.  At one point, I had my students working on a group project.  Each group was assigned a short story to read and present to the class.  The presentation was supposed to include a dramatic scene from the story.

One of my groups painted a brick wall on butcher paper and taped the paper over a book shelf to be used as their backdrop.  In the final moments of their scene, one student, Heather, was supposed to punch a hole in the fake brick wall.

The scene went well, but when Heather threw her punch, she inadvertently landed her fist on the lip of one of the shelves.  Instead of punching through the paper, she ran her hand into wood.

She was momentarily stunned.  Obviously hitting wood hurts.  She asked to go to go to the nurse.  “Shake it off,” I said.  “You’ll be fine.”

The next day Heather arrived at school with a cast on her arm.  The poor girl broke her wrist.

I was reminded of this story yesterday when I took my youngest daughter to our pediatrician.  “She has a cough,” I explained.

“How long has this been going on?” Doctor Dave asked.

I counted days in my head. “It started when we got our new puppy.  I’m worried she might be allergic to him.  She’s been coughing for about three weeks.”

Our doctor listened here and there with his stethoscope.

“She has walking pneumonia,” he said.

Initially I was so relieved.  “So Ella isn’t coughing because of the puppy.”

“No,” Doctor Dave said.  “She is coughing because of the pneumonia.”

“So, I guess she’s probably not just gonna shake that off?”

Our new puppy, who did not cause Ella's pneumonia

Our new puppy, who did not cause Ella’s pneumonia

did you miss me?

Did you miss me?  I haven’t blogged since June 9th because I have been on summer vacation.  I have received a surprising amount of flack for my lack of posts.  To all my critics, I would like to remind you that this blog is not a real job and you are not actually my boss.  So, until you pay me a lot of money, or large quantities of peanut butter cups, I get to choose my own writing hours and for the summer months I chose iced coffee in my lawn chair.

I am certain you are eager to hear the details of my hiatus, so in a nutshell, here is how I spent my summer:

I visited the Berkshires.  These are mountains in Massachusetts, but if you were raised in the Northwest, calling these hills mountains will make you feel slightly stupid and secretly superior to all Massachusiettes. (I had to look this up.  Apparently a resident of Massachusetts is a Massachusiette, but my spell check does not believe that is actually a word and being a poor speller, I hesitate to argue with my computer).

I picked a lot of berries and baked a lot of pies:

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Berry Torte

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Pocket Pies

And my oldest tried to study for her SATs but mostly got sidetracked by the smell of pie.

We got a puppy from a rescue shelter:

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King Leonidas, four months old

My youngest learned how to swim:

Ella swimming under water

Ella under water

My son spent a disturbing amount of time wearing his snowboard helmet and goggles, counting down the days until snow will fall in the mountains.

Cole in August, waiting for snow.

Cole in August waiting for snow

And, by the way, our house got broken into and a bunch of stuff was stolen including my Prada handbag.

Note to the thief:  I understand the economy is bad, and for all I know you were fired from  your job at the mini-market, probably because you stole too many Snickers bars and gave your friends free pepperoni sticks, but listen, the Prada was a gift from my husband for our second anniversary.  Each year, Tim looks up what the traditional anniversary gift is.  On our second anniversary, he got me the bag.  Leather is actually the traditional gift for one’s third anniversary, but I swear he sincerely thought we had been married three years.  So, keep the laptops, but dammit I want my Prada!

never safety-pin anything to your underwear

Since it is prom season, I thought I would reminisce on the twenty-sixth anniversary of my own prom.

I went with my former boyfriend, Wake.  He was not my former boyfriend at the time.  If I remember correctly, he was my soon-to-be boyfriend at the time.  But, hey, it has been twenty-six years, so I may be a little off with my dates.

Wake’s sister was an amazing seamstress, so she offered to make me a prom dress.  I chose green taffeta; in 1987, green was the new black.  I loved the completed strapless dress, but it was a tiny bit too big around my chest, so my mom safety-pinned the dress to my strapless bra.

We had a great night.  Our limo driver was named Chester (I can’t believe I still remember that), and Wake sent dessert, pie I think, out to the limo half-way through our dinner.

When the dance was over, we headed back to the limo.  As I went to step into the car, my dress got caught on the heel of my shoe. (In case you are wondering, they were  dyed-to-match pumps from Leads).  Since the dress was attached to my bra, my entire ensemble was swiftly jerked down to my waist.  I did an ever-so-clever shift-and-shimmy move and simultaneously slid into my seat while I readjusted my bra/dress combination.

The car was quiet for several moments, and I exhaled with relief.  It appeared no one had seen my unintentional striptease.  Several yards out of the parking lot, John-Eric, a classmate and friend who was sharing the limo, leaned over my shoulder and said, “I totally saw that,” and burst out laughing.

The moral of the story is: strapless dresses, though cute, are generally a bad idea, and also, never safety-pin anything to your underwear.

Obviously, tanning beds were very popular in 1987

Obviously, tanning beds were very popular in 1987

Of course I kept my prom dress.  Didn't you?  Unfortunately my dyed-to-match shoes are MIA

Of course I kept my prom dress. Didn’t you? Unfortunately my dyed-to-match shoes are MIA

doodle-poppin’

My husband had a rather wild adolescence, so whenever our youngest child does anything remotely sneaky, I blame my husband.  Now, one could argue that my husband had a rather normal adolescence, and I had a completely abnormal one.  I was, in fact, so straight-laced as a teen, my freshman year in college I received the nickname the pure one, or simply Po for short.  Not only did I never get drunk, I never drank at all.  I never smoked, did drugs, stole anything, or snuck out of the house.  I never cheated on a test, and I never lied.  I skipped school once and after fifteen minutes of sitting with my friends at the donut shop, I found a pay phone and called my mom to tell her I was skipping school.  I was concerned she would worry if the school called her to report my absence.  The truth is, I was well into my thirties before I was even in the same room as someone smoking pot.  I am not entirely sure how I avoided all the normal pitfalls of puberty, I was either very naïve or wise beyond my years; I am still not sure which.

My youngest, who takes after her father in many ways, has a keen understanding of the moments she is left unsupervised.  The second I step into the shower, the moment I go to retrieve the mail, the very instant I answer a phone call, she bursts into action.  I call this behavior doodle-poppin’.  My definition of doodle-poppin’ is exhibiting mischievous behavior which is too funny to punish.

Monday, while I was weeding the yard, Ella made “soup,” which basically means she filled my stock pot with water and dumped in ten dollars worth of paprika and oregano.

Wednesday, while I was in the shower, Ella took all the wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift bags out of the closet and wrapped up stuff she owns.  When I discovered the mess spread from one end of the hall to the other, Ella began giving me these wrapped up items as gifts.

“This is a present for you, Mommy.”

How do you yell at a four-year-old who just handed you a stuffed rabbit wrapped in Christmas paper with the ears sticking out?

Then she handed me a gift bag.  I pulled out yards of ribbon and sheets of tissue.  “I don’t think there is anything in here,” I said.

Ella surveyed me with a disdain one might feel for a spoiled child asking for candy.  “The ribbon is the gift, Mom.”

“Of course it is.  I love green ribbon!!”

Today, while I was answering emails, Ella took paint and markers and colored all her doll furniture.  When I discovered the messy project, Ella could see the frustration on my face.

“I know you think this is doodle-poppin’,” she said.  “But I think it is art!”

PS  I went to take a photo of my daughter’s “art,” but my oldest daughter has taken my photo memory card out of the camera.  She did this a week ago to complete a school project.  I am certain I will never see my memory card again.