Category Archives: mom

Random Crap

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I’m sick. But I won’t say much about that because I hate whiny sick blogging. Also – I refuse to accept sickness because I have too many things going on, like the girl’s birthday and Halloween madness fun drunkosity. And dammit, I refuse to be sick.

I will, however, say this about being sick: My mother will drive me crazy one of these days. I know she loves me and cares about me. And I know she worries. I do it myself – one kid sniffles once and I’m running through all the horrible diseases on earth (and perhaps the universe) in my head, while remaining calm on the outside. So I get it. I really do. But, I swear, if I hear one more accusation & demand that “You better start taking care of yourself!” I will punch someone.

Despite what she seems to believe I do take care of myself. I’m not diving into biohazard bins at the hospital in my free time. I take vitamins. I try to eat (somewhat) healthy. I get a flu shot. But a few years back, I had H1N1 and it did a serious number on my immune system – I still get sick more easily, and illnesses seem to hit me a little harder than they did before. And I have these two things in my house. These germ-filled pastries known as “kids”. So, Mom? When I am sick, if what is coming out of your mouth is anything other than the following:

“Poor baby!”
“Let me make you some soup!”
“Can I take the kids for you?”
“Here is some Nyquil/Advil/wine.”

Then, please – I’m begging you: SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY!

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In other news, I have the only golden retriever in the entire world that is not a love pig. Which is what makes the slobber & hair worth it. What the fuck?

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And I just got back from my annual work retreat at a lovely resort on the bay, where I had great food, lots of (free) booze, a massage, bike-riding, shopping and a sunset cruise. Only to return to a house that looks like pigs live in it. Not figurative pigs – actual farm pigs. And lots and lots of bullshit drama. So I am just going to think about this instead:

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Locked Out

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When I was growing up, my mom stayed at home with me. I always had a hot breakfast (unless I demanded Raisin Bran), always had snacks & dinner waiting when I got home, and always had a mom available during the day to come to school parties or pick me up if I got sick. Not that being a stay at home mom itself made her a good mom – I work outside the home and I’m a good mom – I’m just making the point that she was present – always at my beck and call.

Once I got into junior high, however, she stopped being quite as available. Which is fine – she had a right to a life – but it was more of a problem in 1980 than it is today. Remember – there were no cell phones, so if she wasn’t in the house and I or the school called – she couldn’t be reached. At times, I liked this. I loved the solitude of coming home to an empty house. I enjoyed following the recipes she left for me and getting dinner started. I felt grown up.

But at other times, I hated it. Like when I forgot something that I needed. Or if I wanted to go to a meeting or a friend’s house after school and couldn’t reach her to get her permission (I knew better than to just go). It was frustrating and there were times I resented her not being there (for many reasons). I learned to call my grandma (her mother) when I wanted to go somewhere, because Gram would always tell me yes and would stand up to my mother if she had a problem with it (Gram was – and at 92 – still is a badass).

My first year of junior high, I didn’t use the bathroom in school. I was terrified of stories (urban legends, really) of hazing that I heard went on in the bathrooms. So usually, by the time I got home, off the bus, and walked half a mile to my house (none of that right out front bus stop stuff back then), I usually had to pee relay bad. Really, REALLY bad. I would run into the house, drop my books all over the place (backpacks in those days were NOT cool), run like hell to the bathroom, and pee for about 5 straight minutes.

But one day, I got home and the door was locked. This was 1980 in a small town – we rarely locked our doors. But this day, for some reason, my mom did. So when I rushed down the walk & slammed into the door, only to find it locked, I pretty much lost it immediately. In addition to having to pee, I was tir4ed and freezing. There was about 8 inches of snow on the ground.

I immediately tried to get in a window, but my dad had recently painted them and they were stuck. We had a neighbor next door (the other neighbors were a lot further away) that we were friendly with and for a second, I thought about running over there, but I knew that I didn’t have time. I wouldn’t make it. And a millisecond later, it happened. I started to pee myself. Having a full bladder after avoiding the bathroom all day, I couldn’t stop it. And it went on and on. I was mortified. 30+ years and a couple of kids later, I wouldn’t even blink, but back then, I was filled with shame, even though there was no one around to see it. And since it was clear I had had a “potty” accident, there was no way I was going to the neighbors now. I just stood there, crying my eyes out and wondering what to do.

And for some reason, in my 12 or 13 year old mind, the solution was to sit in the snow. I guess I figured that if my pants were wet all over, it wouldn’t be obvious what had happened. So I did it. I sat down, already wet, in the almost foot deep snow. I rolled around. I let myself get good and wet. And when I was satisfied that I had camouflaged the problem, I got up & realized that I still didn’t know what to do. I stood there freezing, wet and tired and ashamed and cried some more.

Eventually, I found a tool my dad had left on the porch and used it to work at the dried paint around the window. I climbed in & immediately ran to my room to change. I was mad at my mom for not being there, mad at myself for not being able to hold it, mad at the hazers in the bathrooms that kept me from going in. I threw my pants in the washing machine (which was something I never did – my mom handled ALL the laundry) and jumped in the tub. My mom came home a few minutes later and I claimed I was cold and wanted a hot bath. I told her I threw the laundry in because I just wanted to help out.

As much as I wanted to yell and scream at her for not being there (and a lot of my anger went further than what had just happened – I was really mad at her not for not being there, but for being somewhere else), my shame was greater. So I kept my mouth shut. I never told her what had happened – how her not being there affected me. Instead, I just started getting hall passes and going to the bathroom during class. And I asked for a house key so I’d never get locked out again.

This post is part of Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop

A Typical Conversation with my Mother

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Me: We had a great time!

Mom: That’s nice.

Me: There was so much to do – skiing, tubing, bowling…

Mom: Hmmm…

Me: We couldn’t possibly do it all! I mean, we went from the room to the bar for a…

Mom: That’s nice – so what do you think about these shoes?

Me: They’re cute. Anyway, there was a party in the bar and then we went to another bar to see a band, it was gr..

Mom: Do they look OK? I like them. They were more than I wanted to pay, but I couldn’t pass them up.

Me: They’re great – I love them. So, anyway, the band was great and we enjoyed it. I was tired on Saturday, but I was bound and determined to go skiing. I was nervous, since it had been so long, but I sur…

Mom: Oh. So, how about this cover-up? Isn’t it pretty?

Me: Yes – it’s lovely. I really surprised myself with how well I did on skis. I was tired, though, so I skipped the tubing – besides, we still had a ton of other things to d…

Mom: That’s nice. Look at this dress I got! It was on sale so cheap – unbelievable, right?

Me: Un-freaking-believable is right.

Mom: Does it fit OK?

Me: It’s fine. Anyway, I have to go. I just thought I’d tell you about the weekend.

Mom: What? I’m listening.

Me: It’s OK. All in all, we had a good time- they really took care of us – a nice room, freebies, lots of activities, breakfast, lunch and dinner on them, and…

Mom: Did you really eat all those meals? That’s too much. I could NEVER eat that much. Hmmm.

Private Public

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Mr b called me something last night that got under my skin a little. No, not a bitch, or a nag, or crazy, or OhMyGodWomanDoYouEverShutUp, or any of the other many things I could be called. Instead, he called me “private.”

My first thought was Me? Private? HAHAHAHA! I mean, I am a blogger! If there is one thing that – by definition – bloggers are not, it’s private. We write about our lives and out kids and our families and friends and then put it out there on the internet for seventy hundred million people to see. I have a facebook page and a twitter account and about a million photos on flickr that pretty much anyone and every can see. I’m not private!

But then I started thinking about it and well, maybe he’s right.

The conversation started because I mentioned that the boy wanted to friend me on facebook and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Not because I don’t’ want to be friends with him, but because – and I know this will come as a HUGE shock to you – I have a potty mouth. I know!! You all thought I was a delicate flower, right? I have gotten friend requests from a few of the younger family member and have largely ignored them (other than some of the older teens, since they already know how I am) because of this – I don’t want to have to censor myself on facebook. I already censor myself at work, and in many social situations, and at scout and band booster meetings, and cheer practice – I don’t want to do it on facebook, too, dammit! Fuck! (see what I mean?)

Anyway, I made the decision that I would hold on to these years before he would die of embarrassment if I tried to “friend him” on facebook and let him in, but when he searched for me, my name didn’t come up. I mentioned that I might have my privacy settings set so people couldn’t find me, and mr b jokingly (mostly) (I think) said, “You and your privacy – you don’t want anyone reading your facebook, you have a blog I’m not allowed to read…Jeez!”

And he is right – one day last week when he was using my computer and I left facebook open, he teased that he was reading it and I jokingly (mostly) (I think) said, “I don’t want you reading it!” And when he recently started expressing interest in my blog, I jokingly (mostly) (I think) said “I don’t want you reading it!”

I felt a little bad each time, but brushed it off. But it – along with the latest proclamation of me being private – got me wondering: Why am I so secretive?

It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong – I’m not meeting guys or posting naked photos of myself (God help us all), or saying terrible things about him, so why wouldn’t I want him to read it? And I have come to the conclusion that the answer to that is the ever-logical “Because.” And that? Is no reason at all.

I think there are a few things that contribute to my being the way I am. For one – mr b has never had any interest in this stuff. So for the years that I have been blogging (and more recently “facebooking”), it has been mine. My own little escape – my thing that I didn’t have to share with anyone else. Anyone who is married and/or has children knows that it is hard to do or have anything that belongs only to you. I ask you – parents of young children – when was the last time you got to take a long, relaxing bath, or have a phone conversation, or read a book, or watch TV, or even go to the bathroom without someone interrupting you? Can’t recall? Exactly!

And then there is the way it has been approached. I would have been far less likely to bristle if mr b had said he wanted to sign up on facebook and add me as a friend. But sitting down and reading my page felt a little more intrusive.

But mainly, I think my “private” nature was something that I learned from years of dealing with my mom. I never had any privacy or control growing up. And before you go all parent on me and say that parents need to know what their kids are doing, blahlblahblah, I am not talking about normal parenting. I’m talking about a mother with a terrible suspicious streak and an assume-the-worst nature. She read my diary – not only did she read it, she blatantly broke the lock open and didn’t even try to hide it. And then pretended like nothing happened. She would open my mail. Not college acceptance letters and the like, but personal letters sent to me by my best friend in Florida. When we were 10 or 11! What could a ten year old girl in 1978 possibly have to say that she had any interest in? She went through my purse, read my notes, searched my room, listened in on my calls, and told me where to go and what to wear and what to eat and so on and so on and AAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

I grew up longing for privacy, and the ability to make even the simplest decision for myself, and time alone, without someone looking over my shoulder. It trained me to hide things that needn’t be hidden, just for the sake of hiding them, rather than for any real (or scandalous, or interesting, or juicy) reason. It’s not that I have been trying to keep mr b out of that part of my life, it’s that I have spent a lifetime just trying to keep a part of my life to myself.

Every five minutes I go back and forth, thinking, “I’ll let him read it.” Then, “No – it’s fine like it is.” Then, “But there’s no reason not to!” Then, “It’s FINE!

Right now – at this moment – I don’t know what I will do. I want to open up a little more. And I decide I will. And then the thought of it actually takes my breath away a little.

But I’ll try. I’ll think about it and I’ll try. It took a lot of years to break me, I can’t be fixed overnight.

Her Mom Probably Embarrassed HER, Too

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March for Maddie Giveaway is still going on. Can you help? Donate and you could WIN!
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Yesterday on the way into work, the radio station was asking for embarrassing mom stories and I immediately thought of…oh…one hundred million of them. Seriously. There are so many I couldn’t even narrow it down. I’m sure we all have them and I’m sure our kids will have them, too. Of course, in my case, I sort of get double, since my mom has an identical twin that I am really close to. And since they are together so much: Embarrassing times two.

If I had called in to try and win a prize, I would have been tongue tied trying to decide which one is best – like maybe the time my mom & aunt decided to dance (or actually “dance”) at one of my birthday parties, thought it would be a good idea to finish the big “dance” with a dip, so they yelled out “Dip!” and then both dipped. And fell into the TV. Yeah, that was fun. At least they didn’t fall into my Shaun Cassidy cake (I had him on my cake several years in a row. Shut up). Good times. (You know, now that I am thinking about it, that one wasn’t actually Aunt Twin, but my Aunt Cee, and since she reads this, I probably shouldn’t be telling you about it, but – and I hope you are reading this Cee – TOUGH SHIT! Because even though I love you very much, I still feel the pain and trauma of you de-pantsing me in front of Old Joe and sitting on me and doing that gross spit thing, and let’s not forget the time you locked me out of the house IN THE SNOW! WITHOUT SHOES! And I had to walk a whole block in the snow to get my mom and Gram to come home and fix your ass SO THERE! And also – after you left me pantsless behind the couch while Old Joe was visiting and you took off? He used to give me money! I WIN!!!!)
Ahem

Where was I? Oh yeah – the embarrassing mom stories. There are many, many more. The fact that my mom and Aunt Twin seem to think that if they don’t move their lips when they talk that no one can hear them makes for many, MANY ways to embarrass me. Like when the immigrant cab driver was driving us around Toronto and they were “whispering” about how they thought he was cheating us because “they say” that the cab drivers will do that and even worse, some will abandon you in a bad part of town and make you pay them to get you out, blahblahblah UglyAmericanCakes. Or the loud search for a non-Portuguese cab driver because one person they knew met a Portuguese man and he used her to get into the country (thus all Portuguese men are guilty of this). Not that Portuguese cab drivers are easy to spot or anything.

Or the numerous times she drove me to school in her pajamas (which in the grand scheme of things is not so bad, but when you are 15? Kill me!)

Or the time my we went to the pool and my mom mentioned that she hated walking past the front row of women in lounge chairs because she always felt like they were looking at her and judging her, and Aunt Twin said, “Leave it to me” and proceeded to make a GIANT ASS of herself as we walked by – presumably to make the focus off my mom, but OH! MY! GOD! I wanted to DIE!!

Or the time when my mom got mad at me for something stupid and then my Aunt Cee got mad at her for getting mad at me and then my Nana got upset because everyone was mad. And then my mom was chasing me, so I ran out of the house and up the street to the car (I don’t know – did I think I was going to drive away? I was 12 or 13.), and Cee was chasing her, and Nana was chasing us all. I jumped in the car and my mom jumped in after me and grabbed me by the hair (don’t get all crazy with the abuse claims here – anyone with a teen can relate to at least wanting to pull their hair). So Cee opened the door and grabbed my mom by the hair. And then my mom let go of me and grabbed Cee’s hair and they fell out of the floor onto the street between the car and the curb and rolled around, both refusing to let go of each other’s hair and my Nana was doing a Fred Sanford to get them to stop and I was sinking down in my seat praying no one would see this. And then the next day in school, not one, but TWO people told me they saw me and my aunt and my mom and my great grandma running down the street and when I tried to say they were crazy, they proceeded to describe the entire scene in front of the entire lunch table and then I died of embarrassment. The End.

(I feel the need to say that Cee is appearing in these stories a great deal. Cee – consider yourself ON NOTICE!)

But one of my favorites (??) was the time my Gram was watching me and my cousin Cheryl. I was eight and she was two. We ordered pizza with mushrooms, since it was our favorite topping. We got it from a brand new pizza place called Pizza Shack. In those days, all the pizza shops used canned mushrooms, but Pizza Shack used fresh ones. And if you’ve ever had fresh mushrooms on a pizza, you know they aren’t the prettiest things. Anyway, the pizza was good and we ate most of it. And then my mom and Aunt Twin came home. They took one look at those unpretty mushrooms and decided then and there that Pizza Shack was trying to kill us with spoiled, poisoned mushrooms. My mom called Pizza Shack and ranted at them about the spoiled, poison mushrooms. And though they tried to assure her that their mushrooms were perfectly normal, she was having NONE OF IT.

They were freaking out, crying and saying incoherent things about poison and hospitals and stomach pumping. I heard those words and decided that I would rather die of poisoning than experience that. So I told them I didn’t eat any mushrooms that night – I picked them all off. Somehow they believed me, despite the fact that I LOVE mushrooms, and the fact that there was no evidence of picked-off mushrooms on the plates. They looked at Gram next, but she’s a tough bird and told them to shove it (actually, I think her words were something like “you two are crazy and the mushrooms were fine and I’m watching my show and not going to any damned hospital so shove it up your ass, I need a drink and a cigarette!”). All that was left was poor Cheryl, who – at two – was too young to know what was coming and escape the crazy. The poor thing got packed up into the car and dragged to the hospital, where they had no choice but to believe that she had eaten spoiled, poisoned mushrooms and treated her with a nice big dose of ipecac.

Although I felt bad for her, I was glad I missed that torture. What I didn’t know was that I was in for an even more delightful treat. As we left Gram’s house to head home, my mom grabbed what was left of the pizza. I didn’t understand why, since she was so sure it was poison, but I was hoping maybe I could sneak another piece when we got home. Unfortunately, my mom had other plans. She drove to Pizza Shack. And while I sat in the car under the lights (where I thought everyone in the entire world could see me), my mom proceeded to stand on the front steps of Pizza Shack and announce to the gathered patrons that Pizza Shack served SPOILED POISON MUSHROOMS!! Then she dumped the remaining pizza on the steps and – Good Lord – jumped up and down all over them. Then she realized she couldn’t see me (since I was ducking down in my seat so no one would see me) and started yelling “Gina? GINA!?!” thus killing any chance I had of remaining anonymous.

Looking back I can laugh, of course. But that doesn’t mean I’m not doing my best to make up for it by embarrassing my own kids. It’s the circle of life, people.

Superhero

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My mom is like a superhero. Only instead of strength or speed or ability to fly, she has other powers. Like the ability to insult me without speaking a word. Or her super X-Ray vision that helps her to spot a single errant sesame seed, tipping her off to the recent presence of fast food. But one of my favorite of her powers is her ability to make everything and anything sound like an accusation.

I take the kids to her house every morning when I leave for work (or lately, the girl, since the boy has jazz band practice in the wee hours). I have been doing this for years. For 11 years, I’ve been dropping them off at the same time, every day, close to 5 days a week. Eleven years. Same 15-minute range of time. And yet Every! Single! Day! she ends up calling the house just when things are at their most hectic – I’m carrying bags to the car, trying to get The Girl’s shoes on, locating backpacks, signing papers, yelling out instructions to mr b and The Boy, packing snacks, and trying to get out the door. And just as I am in full stress mode, hands full, holding a kid…the fucking phone starts ringing!
“Aren’t you bringing the kids down?”

Yes mother yes I am. The same as I did yesterday and the day before, and Friday and the entire week before that, and the past ELEVEN FUCKING YEARS!!!!!! I AM COMING!!!

Sweet Chocolate Jesus, why does she have to call every single day?? She knows I am coming. And she says it in an accusing voice, as if I am late or somehow failing. All it serves to do if add more stress to my morning.

She doesn’t limit the use of her super powers to the morning only, though. She’s got another delightful use for it that I hatefully mockingly affectionately call, “Where were you?”

“Where were you?” is one that goes WAY back. See, my mom is very suspicious and defensive by nature. And that combination makes for some awfully fun phone conversations. It started when I was in college and she would call me when I wasn’t in my room. I’d call her back later and get “Where were you?” It didn’t matter what day or time it was – I could have been in class, at dinner, up the hall in a friend’s room – whatever. But if I wasn’t there to answer her call, she took it personally. If the call had come during the day, I said I was in class (because even if I were in the dining hall, I wasn’t going to tell her that, since that would open up the door for her to sing her favorite song, “You Know, You Should Really Try To Get Out And Exercise And The Weathers Getting Warmer So It’s Easier And You Want To Wear Cute Summer Clothes Don’t You And Really, I Am Not Doing This Because Of Your Weight I Just Really Want You To Be Healthy So Why Don’t You Go Walking And You Should Eat More Vegetables And I Only Want What’s Best For You.” God, I hate that song. If the call came during the evening (or early morning) hours – it was a whole new ballgame. And since “drinking,” “getting high,””skipping class” and “fucking” were not acceptable answers I generally when with, “At the library, Mom!” Needless to say, she was quite confused when my grades came in looking very un-library-like.

This continued on all through getting my shit together and graduating and getting on with my life, and then the defensive side joined in with the suspicious. Once I met mr b, I immediately got close to his family and started spending time with them. For one thing, they lived close by – it was easy and convenient to get together with them. For another, I liked them. So she’d call and I wouldn’t be home. Later I’d tell her I had been at SIL’s house, and I’d get, “Oh. You always have time for them.” Isn’t she sweet?

Truly, it wouldn’t matter if I had been with her the last 364 days, because that one day with “them” would piss her off regardless.

Over the years, I dealt with it in various way, including making excuses for why I was there, lying and saying I was elsewhere, and eventually, saying fuck it and not giving a shit what she said or thought. Eventually she learned to (mostly) accept it and truthfully, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass either way.

But she can’t quite let go of the “Where were you?” game. She like the Bret Favre of “Where were you?” And the prevalence of cell phones makes it even easier to spread her particular brand of joy. Because if she doesn’t reach me on the home phone, she will call my cell. This happened last night:

Her: I called you at home, but no one answered!

Me: That’s because we aren’t home.

Her: Where are you?

Me: Sigh.

(Oh – and also she can’t hear, so these conversations usually devolve into, “We’re at scouts.” “Where?” “Scouts.” “Stouts?” “No, SCOUTS!” “What? You’re out?” “Jesus CHRIST woman – we’re at SCOUTS! SCOUTS!!!!”)

It’s hard to convey it in writing – in writing it sounds like she is simply asking where I am, which is no big deal. But it’s the tone that makes it so special. The accusing, suspicious, put-upon tone. Like I am somehow failing her by not being home. As if I am out for the specific purpose of not being there when the queen beckons. God, it tires me out.

The irony of it is that my mom is the least homebody-ish person in all the land. From the time I was pretty young, she was always on the go. I would try to call her from school to let her know I had to stay for practice or see if I could go somewhere with friends and she wouldn’t be home. And in the pre-cell phone days, this was pretty damned inconvenient. Eventually I got tired of missing out on stuff and learned to go over her head call my gram – HER mother (who was and is a total badass) and she would give me the OK and then defend me if and when my mom tried to give me any shit about it.

I don’t want to make her sound neglectful, because she wasn’t – she was around when I needed her – she cooked and cleaned and came to all my activities and events without being overbearing (in that aspect of my life anyway), but she had her own life and she lived it. I spent a lot of time alone, but never minded it – I liked it. Except for when I needed to reach her and couldn’t. So it KILLS ME when she gets all indignant because she called me and I wasn’t home.

She can’t even help herself, though. It’s her superpower, after all.

Lunch with my mother

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I think I’ll have the barbeque chicken quesadilla.

That sounds good.

Yeah – that’s what I’m having – the barbeque chicken quesadilla.

I’ll take the barbeque chicken quesadilla.

What’s that honey? What did I get? I got the barbeque chicken quesadilla.

Barbeque chicken quesadilla Barbeque chicken quesadilla Barbeque chicken quesadilla.

Eww. I don’t like this. It has this barbeque sauce on it.