Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Best Mom Tip #142: Go to the movies

I fell in love with the movies in the summer of 1982 when my mom drove around town picking up my friends to take us all to see ET for my birthday. It was brutally hot (because it was August in Georgia) and I was so excited to be riding in a car with several other kids.

There were not enough seat belts, of course, but that was not a deterrent. We got someone from daycare without my mom being a relative or on the approved "pick up" list. We were allowed to go to the bathroom in pairs, but without an adult. My little girl is about the same age as I was that summer and I cannot see letting her take just a friend to the bathroom at our movie theater.

But in 1982 seat belts weren't required, if you told the daycare someone else would be picking up your kid it was fine, and being unsupervised for any length of time was allowed if you were with your friends and in a "safe" place.

I cried throughout the entire movie. In the beginning I was scared of the spaceship and the men running through the woods, in the middle I was so sad that ET had died, and at the end, I cried for joy that he was going home. It was the first time I understood the concept of happy tears.

Jay and I saw Super 8 this past weekend and it took me back to the moment when Steven Speilberg and I began an abiding relationship, the depth of which only I am aware. Indiana Jones was my first crush. I was really worried when the Gremlins started to eat after midnight. I wanted to be one of those kids in Goonies.

I got carried away and taken to a place of magic and possibility. I love fantasy and sci-fi, action and adventure, movies where stuff blows up, movies where there's love and magic, movies where there's strength and honor, movies about WWII, movies about the future or teen werewolves or boy wizards (although that really is born from a love of books). I do not like horror movies.

After Super 8 I had that same warm fuzzy feeling I got as a kid. The alien really wasn't that bad and he was going home. Jay and I held hands and I grabbed his arm every time I jumped from a monster appearance. We got popcorn and coke and m&ms.

I know not everyone enjoys movies like I do, but it is important to have those dates where you lean into your spouse, are allowed to snuggle in public, and get to eat chocolate without sharing any with your children.

I can't wait for our next date night and whatever magic our next movie might hold.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best Mom Tip #141: Get a lucky number

WARNING: This is not particularly funny. More schmaltzy, with a touch of melodrama.

Yesterday Jay and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on the 13th of the month. Traditionally, 13 has had a somewhat sordid past. Hotels avoid a 13th floor and Friday the 13th can apparently cause the mass murders of stupid teenagers. I think this bad image has something to do with there having been 13 people at the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified, but there's probably some pagan ritual from the Celts in there as well. I don't really care, honestly.

What I do care about is that we've made it this far. I have lived a lot of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. My childhood, and Jay's as well, taught us early on that life can turn on a dime. Each milestone, each year that we make it without disaster amazes and humbles me.

Both sets of our parents got kicked in the teeth in their 30s. Jay's mom and dad went out on a date one Friday night in February and his father died in the movie theater. Suddenly. We'll never really know why. Jay was 8.

My father began his overt fight with mental illness while my mother was pregnant with my brother. No one knew what to say, his illness wasn't considered a medical disability at the time, and we spent a lot of time with Daddy in hospitals on floors we were too young to visit. My mother had to drag 4-year-old me screaming from the hospital that Daddy is NOT sick, I can see him right there.

But nothing has happened to us so far. We've had three children without incident. We're older than both my mom and dad were when my dad got sick. We are older than Jay's mom was when she became a widow. And yesterday, we were married longer than Jay's parents were before his father died.

Jay is still younger than his father was when he died and I am still younger than my mother was when she developed her own near-fatal illness, but we've passed a lot of the milestones I really didn't think I'd see without some sort of disaster. I wish I could say that I now live without the fear and I just enjoy every day as it comes, but I am not that peaceful.

I am so grateful for what I have and I am stunned that it has all gone so well so far, but I still get afraid of what is around the corner. I'm hopeful for our future, whatever that may hold. I am excited that I get to share my life with my best friend and I am glad I made such a good choice when I was still more kid than adult.

That other shoe could totally fall and beat me about the head and shoulders, but for right now, 13 feels lucky.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Best Mom Tip #140: Cover everything in Lysol

You know what's disgusting? Children.

You know what's disgusting by association? My entire life.

I just scrubbed pee off of the bathroom wall. How my 2-year-old managed to get it higher than the height of his head is quite impressive and I'm sure that gift will win him bets in his teen years. But I don't ever want to know about that.

I don't want to know when other people are constipated.

I don't want to have bloody slobber wiped all over my shoulder because my baby son busted his lip while crawling too fast on the linoleum.

On some days, I manage to forget how gross my life is--I clean things up quickly and work the nasty (and I don't mean the funny/slutty kind) into the sweet and cuddly and it all seems worth it.

On other days, like today, I am so grossed out by my offspring that I am seriously considering going back to work (as a public high school teacher, mind you) just so I will be around cleaner people. That is sad.

I will never be able to touch that bathroom again until after I've coated the entire thing in Lysol. Thus far, I have scrubbed the toilet, the floor, and the bathtub. I've cleaned the sink and the walls. The walls, for pete's sake. I'm glad I had the foresight to use washable paint in there.

I find it disheartening to realize that the only time I will not have to deal with others' disgusting messes are the few years between when they all move out and before they start having their own children. That is at least 17 years from now, so I won't be holding my breath.

Speaking of holding my breath, what is that smell? Ohhhh, it's one of my children. How surprising. Gotta go change a diaper.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Best Mom Tip #139: Repeat what SHE said

Have you ever seen The Office? Of course you have. You don't live under a rock, for heaven's sake. Then you've also seen Michael Scott say, "that's what she said." It's an adolescent sexual innuendo joke that Jay and I use. A lot. I mean a lot, a lot. Here are some examples:

Me: (talking about potty training) It's disgusting and it's so hard.
Jay: That's what she said.

Me: (after a kid threw a towel on me) Why is there a towel on my head?
Jay: That's what she said.
Me: Wait, what? Why would she say that?

Jay: (talking about work) I'm just so tired of this every day.
Me: That's what she said.

Me: (searching through our unfolded laundry) I can't find any underwear!
Jay: That's what she said.

Jay: (commenting on how long it takes to leave the house with all of our kids) It just takes forever.
Me: That's what she said.

Jay: (trying to organize the garage) I can't figure out where to put everything.
Me: That's what she said.

Me: (washing dishes with our broken faucet that sprays water at my stomach) Why do I keep getting wet?!
Jay: That's what she said.

In our world SHE has a pretty bumbling sex life that is confused, chaotic, and possibly involves bondage (what with that towel on her head and all).

But it makes us laugh and giggle and puts our minds in the gutter instead of on our tree-lined suburban street (complete with HOA covenants and reminders to cut our grass).

Throwing in a naughty joke or two draws out the playful side of our relationship in the midst of the nagging problems of parenthood and home ownership. It all comes down to this: Do whatever it takes to make it last...

That's what she said.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Best Mom Tip #138: Buy some dark chocolate

I am incapable of giving up sweets. I can do it for a week or two and once I gave up chocolate for Lent, but that's about it. At the end of the abstinence period I go right back to searching for sugar in my cabinets.

I have tried not buying anything sweet at all so that I won't be able to eat anything bad for me. I just wait for the kids to go to bed before I make up reasons for Jay to need to go to the grocery store and say, "while you're a half gallon of ice cream and a big bag of M&Ms."

I will also make up sweet things from the dregs in my pantry. Milk and powdered sugar makes a pretty good frosting for Teddy Grahams. Once I just ate chocolate syrup by itself. It was really hard to lick the bottom of the glass. In addition, I have sprayed aerosol whipped cream directly into my mouth like I was a hungover frat guy. Unfortunately, I had to stop doing that when the kids got old enough to recognize the sound of the can.

I've tried buying my favorite sweet things (cookies, ice cream) and just eating reasonable portions. It seems that I do not have an off switch until I feel like I am going to throw up. I will buy a tube of pre-made cookie dough and eat the entire thing with a spoon, somehow convincing myself that they pasteurized it and I will, therefore, not be on the news for dying from salmonella contracted from eating a food that is clearly marked "do not eat dough raw."

I will buy a bag of M&Ms and pound them by the fistful while watching Sister Wives on TV until I notice that the bag is significantly lighter. For instance. (BTW, why did moving to Vegas solve their problem with the polygamy investigation. Is everything really legal in Vegas?)

So my solution is that every week I buy one Lindt 70% Cocoa candy bar. I eat one or two squares at night with my Coke Zero after the kids are in bed. Sometimes I eat one in the middle of the day when I cannot stand hearing someone else say, "mommy."

Sometimes I eat 4 of them and then buy more M&Ms and eat those, too, but that isn't all that often and seems to be tied to potty training.

I realize that I still have some sort of problem with dealing with stress that I am burying beneath a layer of flab and some really wrinkly stomach skin. But at least the flab isn't getting much larger. For now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Best Mom Tip #137: Run the numbers before you quit

So I mentioned that we're potty training our almost-three-year-old son. There are several reasons why I picked last weekend to start--he needs to be potty trained for school in August, I have spent 11 months with two kids in diapers, I am tired of him telling me I need to change his diaper...--you get the idea.

My husband was supportive, if not actually happy to be spending his Memorial Day weekend in the bathroom. I'm not gonna lie--it was a pretty terrible weekend. He peed everywhere. He refused to poop for three days and finally chose his pants instead of the potty. Jay and I were snipping at each other and questioning whether or not he (our son) was really ready.

At one point Jay said that at least he had finally found a way to make a three day weekend feel longer.

We googled just about everything we could about potty training 3-year-old boys and, basically, the internet is very noncommittal about the best way to do anything. Stupid internet.

I was feeling really discouraged and unsure of what to do. So, dork that I am, I ran the numbers. I took the total number of times he used the potty and divided it by the total number of pee/poop incidents in the day. I even used half increments for the times that he wet himself, but then stopped and finished in the toilet.

On Saturday, he was about 7% potty trained. That was not a great day.

By Sunday he was up to 33%. On Monday, about 55%. By Tuesday he was a solid 80% trained. Unfortunately, the one accident that day involved poop. Wednesday and Thursday continued in the same vein--one accident a day. Friday we had a bit of a setback, but it was mostly because I didn't make him go at regular intervals.

But accidents. Not even one. He pooped in the potty. He told me when he had to go. We went to church and out to lunch today and everything went fine.

I am cautiously optimistic--maybe, one day soon, I will be done thinking about this every day. I'm sure that my friends and family really need me to talk about something else. I know I'm bored with this topic and I'm the one who has to clean it up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Best Mom Tip #136: Sell your children to the gypsies

Now, my mother says that all the gypsies she saw roaming around Appalachia as a kid seemed to have plenty of children already and that she couldn't imagine any of them wanting to buy another mouth to feed. But I'm sure I could find one or two who might be willing.

Today I told my children that I was going to sell them to the gypsies after our trip to the grocery store. Griffin ran his hand along the shelving on the baby aisle, leaving a trail of baby lotion, pureed peas, and nose drops before I noticed and circled back to clean it up.

Charlotte tried to see how many laps she could run around the cart before we got to the end of every aisle. She also insisted on riding in the cart with the groceries until the weight of the watermelon and gallons of milk forced her out.

In the checkout line, both of my older children needed to use the restroom IMMEDIATELY so we left half of our groceries on the conveyor belt and went to the potty. To his credit, Griffin has not had an accident involving pee since Monday--even at the pool, Target, and now the grocery store. I'll give you a moment to realize that I added the "involving pee" caveat to that sentence.

The poop accident after dinner was made far worse by the fact that the kids had chocolate pudding for dessert and I couldn't tell where the pudding ended and the poop began. If you see me this week and my hands are cracked and bleeding it is because I have been doing my best Lady Macbeth impersonation--there is no amount of hand washing that will ever allow me to feel clean enough to eat pudding again.

So I'm looking for gypsies. I hear they have a new wedding show on TLC...