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.

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!

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.

my confession

Here is my darkest confession:  I don’t monitor how much TV my children watch.  Yipes!  I know, terrible, right?  But listen, I bicker with my teenagers over chores, and grades, and bed time, and cell phone use.  I insist on table manners, and firm hand shakes, and coughing into elbows.  I point out rudeness, and disrespect, and negativity.  I remind them to save their money, change their underwear, apologize with sincerity, and show gratitude.  I praise honesty, a sense of humor, creativity, and clean hair.  By the end of my day, I really don’t care if they are vegging out in front of Duck Dynasty as long as they are not smoking pot, injecting heroin, getting drunk, or cyber bullying!

My four-year-old has dialed into my slacker attitude when it comes to television.  She pays equal attention to the shows and the commercials.  She often informs me of shampoo that will make my hair shiny, detergent that will keep our clothes stain-free, and cereal that looks really yummy.  Last night at the dinner table, she told us that there is a machine that makes homemade ice cream.

“You just put in the ingredients, and the machine blends it all up until it is ice cream.  Can I have one of those?”

My strategy when one of my children asks for something is to formulate a vague response like, “That sounds sooooo interesting!”  And then hope they forget about it in twenty-four hours.  Frankly, with my four-year-old, this has been a successful approach, but in this instance it didn’t work.  This morning Ella came into the kitchen crying.  I have mentioned before that Ella is Scarlet O’Hara in pink footsie jammies.  She has a flair for drama and prefers to play the role of damsel in distress.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, my tone full of sugar and love (It is important to stay calm here so as not to escalate Ella’s anguish.)

She sobbed into her hands.  “You know that ice cream machine I REALLY wanted?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t have one,” she bellowed, wiping snot across the back of her hand.  “The man on the TV said you have to be eighteen years or older.”

happy birthday

Today is my brother’s birthday.  He is 875 years old.  OK, he is not really 875, he just looks it.  Ok, he doesn’t look 875, he just acts 875.  Alright, fine, he is 47 and he looks 52 and acts 17.  I hope he reads this; I am cracking myself up right now.

In honor of my brother’s birthday, I thought I would share a story about him.

Long before MTV aired its show Punked, my brother loved a good prank .  When he was a senior in high school, he orchestrated a massive practical joke.  First, he burned holes in an old t-shirt.  Then, he strapped smoke bombs around his torso.  Screaming, with smoke billowing behind him, he ran into the chemistry lab yelling, “I’m on fire!”  He proceeded to pull the lever on the acid-wash shower, dowsing himself with water.

Now, this is a pretty good prank, but it didn’t end there.  As a testament to the safety of the chemistry lab, but unfortunately for my brother, the acid-wash shower had never been used before.  No one knew how to turn the facet off.  As water gushed from the spigot, it became apparent that the drain didn’t actually work.  In the end, my brother flooded the science wing.

If an eighteen-year-old attempted this prank today, he would be suspended, arrested, water-boarded, and sent to Guantanamo.  In 1985, the teacher just shrugged and grabbed a mop.

my brother and I, 2007

my brother and I, 2007

So, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.  You look like a monkey, and you smell like one too!