Friday, November 30, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. the Furnace

Since I just know you are all burning to know where Awkward Mom has been this week. Burning. Furnace. Get it? Come on, it was slightly clever....

So, Tuesday night our heat went out. Thursday night it came back on, with the assistance of 2 furnace technicians and some frantic prayers to Saint Maurus. (He is the patron saint of charcoal burners. He is also against cold weather, throat problems, and gout. He seemed perfect for the job.) The 2 days and 2 (very cold) nights in between are not something I want to relive, except to point out that a queen bed was not made to hold 2 awkward parents, 3 super kids, 6 blankets, and 2 cats. You will be warm but you won't sleep. Unless you enjoy sleeping half-off the bed with a foot in your face and a cat on your spleen. Needless to say, we all slept like rocks last night, in our own beds, with minimal feet to the face.

The upside to all this living in an ice box is the freedom to dress any ol' way you please. Way too cold for pride, so comfort rules the day. Luckily for you, no one decided to take a picture of me in my "hobo finery," but the Supers were more than happy to model these stunning sartorial statement separates.

Super P. is undaunted by cold. In fact, he was sock-less for most of the week, leading me to think he was gonna need Saint Servatus' help before long, but I digress. Super P.'s cold-wear consisted of donning a dapper sweater and calling it a day. Some of us are just more warm-blooded than others, I guess.
Super Baby's look was all about layers. Under this (way too big) sleeper, she is wearing 2 onesies, a pair of pants, and 2 pairs of socks. Stylish and snugly; there is no arguing that. She was also wearing a hat, but she got it off despite having no exposed digits. I am pretty sure she somehow used her teeth, and my general rule for dressing the children is: if you want something off bad enough to eat it off, I am not gonna risk putting it back on you.

Super Toddler rocks the Hobo-Chic look like he is ridin' the rails already. He claims that the trick to a truly authentic look is to simply not change out of your pajamas at all, for 2 days. Wearing the biggest hat you can find and wrapping yourself in whatever is handy also helps. But Super T. cautions to still take care when selecting a wrap; there's Hobo Chic and then there is St. Paul the Hermit. I think we all know what side of that sartorial divide you want to be on.

Fear not, Readers. All is warm and Super Toddler actually put on a shirt today. He balked at pants, but baby steps, Readers. Baby steps; they'll get there.

Now that Awkward Mom's fingers are thawed and she can type again, get ready. We did pictures at Sears again; here's a taste:

Epic, Readers. The next post shall be epic. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Christmas prep

Surprising no one, Thanksgiving took Awkward Mom out within the first moments of Thanksgiving Day. They all walked into Awkward Grandma's kitchen to be presented with a vat of Clam Dip and Awkward Mom was down for the count. The descent into decadence just went from there and she has only just emerged to realize that the rest of the world has been preparing for Christmas while she was floating in dreams of deeply oniony, slightly salty, creamy heaven. (Readers, it is that good, no joke.) Hence, she is late to the Christmas prep party. This also surprises no one.

I love Christmas. Like LOVE Christmas. Like sleeping in, on warm sheets just out of the dryer, while someone takes my kids out for the whole day, while I read trashy novels and eat chocolates love. It is a serious love affair, Readers. But until the day after Thanksgiving, I have no time for Christmas. And I never crack, I am strength itself. I don't even see the twinkle lights and stockings piled next to the Halloween candy. I breeze by the Christmas carols on the radio. The children plead for Snowman window clings and candy canes, but I am immovable. The Peanuts trilogy is limited to the Great Pumpkin and the Thanksgiving special; I act like that third DVD doesn't even exist. I am deaf to my children talking about Santa because I am stalwart in my appreciation of fall right through Thanksgiving. Basically, I treat Christmas like he is nerdy-not-quite-nerdy-just-about-to-bloom-into-full-on-college-hipster-cool and I am some impossibly beautiful ice queen from an 80s movie. Christmas-John-Cusack stares at me with all the naked adoration of being in love at 18 and I breezily laugh and hand him a pen. Don't you fret, Readers; we make up in time for the plane to take off.

Funny thing happened this year, though. While I was busy fully enjoying Thanksgiving with clam dip, my father's library, and an illegal trip to Best Buy, Christmas had a party and didn't invite me. It is like Christmas-John-Cusack got tired of waiting for me to come around and he moved on, with the rest of the school! That is what I get for playing hard to get, I suppose, but I feel totally left out. I feel like I missed an amazing party that everyone is talking about, and there is no way to catch up. No way to go back in time and sneak a listen at the Christmas station last Wednesday. Maybe get rid of those molding Jack-O-Lanterns or take down the cornucopia window-clings before we left for the Awkward Grandparents'. At least bring the Christmas decorations up from the basement, showing pure intention to Christmas-John-Cusack; let him know that my heart is softening, convince him not to give up on me yet.

I guess everyone needed Christmas pretty bad this year because they managed to stuff several Christmases in while I was driving back from Illinois. Not only are my mother's gifts for the Supers already in my basement. Not only has the radio been playing carols since Halloween. Not only did I pass about 1865 fully decorated houses on the way. Not only was everyone else invited to Christmas-John-Cusack's (totally decorated) house for a party this weekend. No. I also came home to find out that the Awesomes already have their tree up, we are invited to a holiday party at Marvelous Preschooler's house (they want me to bring the Jello again...yikes), and Perfect Neighbor has not 1, not 2, but 3 blow-ups Santas on his (completely leaf-free) lawn. One is riding a train. Are you telling me that people actually do things other than eat clam dip and lose at Scrabble on Thanksgiving weekend? Even the weird people 3 doors down who never mow their grass or bring their garbage can back from the curb have a wreath.

I don't even have a tree. Or a wreath. Or candy canes. Or any idea what we are doing for Christmas cards. Or cute light-up antlers to torment Super Baby with. Or a Nativity set that isn't broken and missing a wise man. Or a gift list. Or the slightest idea what anyone wants. Or cross-stitched- stockings that are finished (a craft-project that seemed like a great idea in July). Or holiday sweaters. Or egg nog. Or cookies. Wait, strike that. I was send home with cookies. I have cookies. That is the sum total of my Christmas preparedness at this moment in time. Some of my mother's cookies that are rapidly disappearing as I type this.

It might be easier to list what I do have. I have 18 leaf and 3 cornucopia window-clings. I have 2 molding pumpkins. I have a "thankful tree" that Super Preschooler made at school that I think his teacher made for him because he is apparently thankful for brothers and sisters, Jesus, and school. (Now, if the tree said he was thankful for angry birds, twinkle lights, and Skittles, I would be more apt to count it as his work.) I have a "nature wreath" that Super Preschooler also made at school that the cats got a hold of and is thus missing most of its nature; it is trying to maintain its dignity with 2 pines needles and half a leaf. I have 2 half-burnt apple-cinnamon smelling candles. I have a yard littered with leaves and twigs. I have a Super Baby who is loudly protesting her nap. I have 7 original Transformers that Awkward Dad would not leave his mother's house without; therefore, I now have 1980s (probably asbestos-laden) dust wafting through my living room. I have a Super Preschooler that has eaten nothing today but 3 donut holes and some chocolate milk. I have a Super Toddler whose nose hasn't stopped running since last Tuesday. I have 8 loads of laundry to do. I have Bing Crosby crooning Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and though Bing is quite able to create Christmas out of nothing, just one Christmasy thing going on is pretty sad, especially given how much I really do love Christmas.

Therefore, I am gearing up to haul my boombox over my head and let Johnny Mathis' Winter Wonderland convince Christmas-John-Cusack that I am serious. I may be late, but I am here and I am ready to give in to the magic that is Christmas. Consider this my romantic-comedy, running-through-the-airport, if-it-wasn't-a-movie-it-would-be-really-creepy, outrageous gesture of love. I am standing in front of the entire internet, Christmas, and I am telling you that I am in love with you. Mistletoe or not, I am planting a big wet kiss on you. Thanksgiving who? I am totally yours.

Mostly because my mother makes clam dip for Christmas as well.

Why was their Thanksgiving trip to Best Buy illegal? Oh, well, the mini-van has 7 seats, and Uncle Awkward makes 8. He may have ridden some of the way in the trunk. And by some of the way, I mean the entire hour long trip to Rockford. And the entire hour long trip back. But that is all I am saying until I am clear on what the statute of limitations are on driving infractions. The silver lining to all this is that the Awkward Grandparents now have a new computer, a fast internet connection, and are probably reading this right now. Hey there, Awkward Grandma; tell Dad I say hi! I know that Awkward Grandpa is totally refusing to leave his library for a flashing screen full of Awkward Mom's bloated phrasing.

Mom's just lazy; I've been Christmas-ready since last year. Bring it on Christmas 2012.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Thanksgiving

If I were a betting narrator, I would toss it all in and put up the farm for a Round 1 KO going to Thanksgiving. Awkward Mom has a bad history with holidays in the first place, then add that Thanksgiving is pretty much a villain trifecta bathed in kryptonite. I don't see her going up against food, family, and the festive fall favorably, do you?

We are heading to the Ancestral Awkward Abode to eat enormous amounts of food, watch the children get impossibly dirty (like summer-camp-level), and play board games with the Awkward Grandparents, who are super brains the likes of Professor X and MODOK. I'll let you guess who is which, but if you tell them that I compared them to a bald thought-peeking mutant and an evil floating head, I will deny it. You see, they won't see it; they don't have the Internet. And yes, they call it the Internet like they are time travelers who just beamed in from the Civil War. They sometimes have a dial-up connection that functions and they did buy a computer that some 13-year-old built in his basement around 1985, that occasionally works, but mostly, they are totally off-line. I think my father's contention is that when you have enough books to rival the Library of Congress, you don't need to mess with a little electric box that mostly contains porn, videos of cats, and this. (Number 2 looks like something Super P. wrote in school yesterday.)  I suppose Awkward Grandpa has a point, so we are going off-line for the duration of our battle with Thanksgiving, which kinda bites as I am sure I could have streamed it and made some money. The Trivial Pursuit rumble alone is going to be a blood-bath.

Enjoy your feasts, Readers; we are thankful for all of you! Remember, keep it awkward enough to be interesting and civil enough to still get together in 34 days for Christmas!

34're joking. Wait, you can't really be serious.

Happy Travels!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Phenomenal Dad vs. Merry Poopins

Readers; a guest post by Phenomenal Dad and guess what? It is phenomenal! Who knew, eh?
Ok, It is a bit long...Brevity, not really my strongest suit unless it is academic writing. Enjoy!

Awkward Mom may have her doubts, but I am confident in her. I am especially confident in her gardening skills. She has planted the seeds of guest bloggership and they are their way to becoming a full on garden of guests. That seed brings me here for this post. As I am dad to Phenomenal Baby, I guess that makes us the Phenomenal Family. A little background as this is my first post. For the past two years I have been a man of many hats; stay at home dad, doctoral student, part time faculty, and hero for hire. Having just recently defended my dissertation and taken on a FT temporary job.. things are certainly interesting around our house. My wife works FT and co-manages the Phenomenal Herd along with a bazillion other side projects.
In general I pride myself on being a pretty prepared dad. Phenom mom ( did anyone else read that and instantly hear do do do dodo menomenon in their head?) and I make an excellent team and balance each other out well. We of course have our moments, days, weeks etc. but overall we have a knack for falling into our child checklist as we head out the door. Like any team, we do have our specialty areas though. Early prep, budget and planning, are all typically Phenomenal Mom. I tend to do the on the fly, crisis intervention, improvisation stuff. This bit of info is particularly relevant for my post today as Phenomenal Mom is in Ireland with her Mother for the next 8 days (3 days have already passed).
Now with the planner in the house gone some things are just more…interesting. Phenomenal Mom left me an envelope of pre written checks for childcare and such and reminders to get me through (did I mention she does our budgeting and finances…yeah some days I wonder what I do too). This is awesome, but it still left me with Candy and Poo which is what I am focusing on today.
Ok, so this morning the big bet was, “Will I make it to church without Phenomenal Mom there to ride herd?” The answer as it turns out, is yes. We even got there before mass started! I am not exactly sure when a Phenomenal Baby becomes a Phenomenal Toddler, but if walking and getting into everything in creation, and climbing the walls, literally, are signs of toddlerhood, she is in the early stages. So anyway I had my coffee we all had breakfast, and Church went well. Phenomenal Boy drew on the backs of the offering envelope as usual. After Church I took Phenomenal Boy and Phenomenal Baby Toddler to the park where they romped and explored without incident for a little over an hour. They day started so well…until the nap. While Phenomenal Baby Toddler was napping Phenomenal Boy asked if he could have a piece of Halloween Candy. I gave him one piece. That is all he gets in a given day as too much sugar turns Phenomenal Boy into Dear Lord Stop Me From Swatting Your Arrogant Cranky Behind Boy. Though he knows the answer, Phenomenal Boy has the mistaken belief that I will cave to further candy requests if Phenomenal Baby is keeping me occupied. So for the rest of the evening after Phenomenal Baby woke up from her nap, every time Phenomenal Baby got a little fussy Phenomenal Boy asked for candy, ice cream or some random sweet we do not have. He then proceeded to pull out his candy bucket and “just look at it” while I was fixing dinner. “Get away Phenomenal Baby it’s mine!!” comes growling from the other room. I poke my head into the living room from the kitchen to see Phenomenal Baby with a fist full of Phenomenal Boy’s candy and a unopened airhead sticking out of her mouth as Phenomenal Boy pulls at the candy. Phenomenal Boy sounds very Hulk like as he yell. “My Candy! Not For YOU!” Now Phenomenal Hulkling …er..Boy is normally a very articulate 1stgrader. This confirms that a) maybe he needs real food in his body b) maybe he snuck some candy and c) he is fed up with kid sister. As I pry candy away from Phenomenal Baby, mini Hulk goes all Bruce banner and says “now can I have a piece of candy?” I lose it a little. “Really?!? This is when you feel it is appropriate to ask for candy yet again?!?!? Every time you say the word candy or ask for any food or drink that is not what I am making for dinner I will throw away a piece of candy.” Dead silence. Miraculously we all set together for dinner.
After dinner, Phenomenal Boy’s blood sugar is back to normal and he is chill playing legos. It all looks good until the poosplosion. Phenomenal Boy and I notice a stink and both look at Phenomenal Baby, who is standing there grunting…yup. Then she grins and walks a few steps before letting one rip and saying “uh Oh”. I grab the stink bomb that is my daughter and change her, The minute I open the diaper her hands go for the butt and she rolls. I stop the one hand and hold her on the changing table but the other hand grabs a fist full and she plants her heel in the diaper and shoves. I employ some tai jitsu and lock her in place while I use wipes to clean her off. I then strip off the now poo covered clothes and declare it bath time. I put naked Phenomenal Baby on the floor of her room (which is across from the bathroom). Phenomenal Baby does a cute little naked dance the way naked babies always do and runs to the boom box and points. I push play and she begins naked baby dancing to Mary Poppins while I quickly whisk away poo clothes and changing pad cover to be rinsed and scrubbed in the sink. I return 10 seconds later to Phenomenal Baby, in downward dog position watching herself pee on the floor. I pick her up and place her in the bath. Phenomenal Boy walks in laughs, looks at me and says “Hey dad can I ….watch a little Einstein?” I do not know if he intended to ask about the show or if my face reveled a message of “say candy and die!!” Phenomenal Boy got ready for bed without incident or hassle and Phenomenal Baby was bathed and snuggled into her sleeper (though it was the one with more snaps than a beatnik coffee house, because I am behind in the long war with my nemesis Laundry, but that is another post) and I decided that this was perfect to Share with Awkward Mom. So what is the point in this…Into all life there is balance and perfectly bland will never be as well remembered as perfectly chaotic or awkward. It is the goofy and strange that truly guides us and often defines the tales we tell and the memories we hold most dear. I will not soon forget my naked baby dancing to Mary Poppins, or maybe in this case Merry Poopins.
Poo, naked dancing, and enough comic references to fill numerous candy buckets. Thank you, Phenomenal Dad; we all loved it. Of course, you have ruined Mary Poppins for all time, but it was totally worth it. Hopefully, this is only the first of many guest posts from Phenomenal Dad! And don't worry that you aren't into the whole brevity thing; he is one of Awkward Mom's biggest foes, so no worries there. Our readers aren't super for nothing!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Guest Post: Manga Mom!

Manga Mom comes through, yet again. Bet she wishes she had chosen a less lazy ally....

Believe it or don't, my life is often painfully awkward. I'm the
mom at the park with no tissues when my four year old comes running for
one. So, in lieu of other options, I shamefacedly encourage him to wipe
his nose on the sleeve of his coat. Yup. I'm planting bad habits early.
Other moms are giving me horrified looks. I can't help feeling they're
well deserved.

I'm also the mom at the park with no water bottle for my son after
they've turned the water fountains off for the season. This is especially
awkward when he's sweating from biking enthusiastically around the
two-mile path. (I'm sweaty, too, at that point, which isn't helping. After
all, I wasn't biking. I was jogging to keep up with him. What? My bike
doesn't fit in my car.) More often than not, this precipitates a hasty
exit in the car. I have water at home, after all!

But my biggest nemesis right now is my son's penchant for dramatic
exits. When I walk in to pick him up from preschool, he screams and kicks
up a tremendous fuss. Why? Because I've broken his routine. He is very
attached to his routine. Normally I drive up and he's assisted to the car
by his teacher, but sometimes I'm early and don't want to sit idling for
ten minutes. Call me crazy. *sigh* On Friday when I picked him up, he
actually threw himself on the floor and screamed at the teacher begging
her to help him. All in front of twenty three other impressionable
children who must be convinced by now that I'm Baba Yaga. I tried being
patient. I tried asking him to take a deep breath. I tried explaining
calmly that it was time to go home. But his antics just got more
exaggerated with each attempt to soothe him. Eventually, I was forced to
literally carry him out, cuddled to my chest, thinking dark thoughts and
wondering if I could make myself invisible if I tried hard enough.

If there is a magical cure somewhere for this behavior, I would
dearly love to hear it. I think, perhaps, it's karma for something awful I
did in another life. Or a reflection of how stubborn his parents are.
Either way, it's definitely awkward.

Here's hoping everyone's Thanksgiving is low on stress and high on
joy. Despite the drama, I really am grateful for my son.

Manga Mom is not a tissue-hating sweaty Baba Yaga, we swear it. Although, her avoidance of water bottles does raise some interesting questions.....who else didn't like water, Readers? Any Oz fans out there? I tease, I tease, there is nothing wicked about Magna Mom. Thanks for the awesomely awkward, and just plain awesome, guest post, Double M!  And if you figure out that invisibility thing, please share!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Awkward Mom and Guest Posts

Basically, Awkward Mom is out of ideas, and she wants to steal yours.

Hey Readers, it's that time again! Time for me to bug you all about writing some guest posts about the awkward and the awesome in your lives. See these little dudes?

Double the awkward! Don't you love it?

Adorable baby on the left is Awkward Grandpa, adorable baby on the right is Great-Uncle Awkward. And those outfits, well, those are just awkward.

And I just know that you all have awkward tales to tell. I am sure you have awkward outfits to show as well, but if you wanna be shy about that, I will totally understand. You must have noticed a distinct lack of Awkward Mom pictures on this blog and I don't want to be a hypocrite. But awkward tales, now come on! I know that you all have those, and we have a strict alias policy here on Awkward Mom so feel free to hang all that awkward laundry out on the line. We don't judge.

We may laugh. We always sympathize. But we never judge.

Unless you are Perfect Mom. Then we totally judge.

Wouldn't Perfect Moms be preparing for Thanksgiving rather than wasting time reading this? Just saying.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. First Birthdays

Ugh, more bad, weepy, sorta poetry, a la milestone-morose Awkward Mom, who is decidedly not the reincarnation of Emily Dickinson. Skip to the pictures at the bottom if you don't want to deal with the puerile prose.

Super Baby-

The noise is thunderous, definitely a Mach 3. And sure enough, I round the corner to see the three of you playing some complex game involving poofing dragons and undoing ancient spells. To be fair, I think it is only complex in Super Preschooler's mind; the rest of you appear to be doing figure 8s through the whole house, clad in an assortment of dress-up clothes that are hanging on to your whirling bodies with hope. You are keeping up with your brothers; face vacillating between exhilarating joy and annoyance, as your hair keeps falling in your face. You blow it out of your eyes with adorable concentration, but I think you are fighting a losing battle against gravity and the tiara that is slipping toward your eyebrows. Everything seems a little too big today; over-sized crown, shirts sleeves flopping over your hands, Madi Gras beads that start around your neck but keep getting stuck under your knees, pant legs dragging well past your shoes. Well, they would, but you appear to have lost your shoes. You are wearing, well, it might be better to say that a cape is wearing you. A cape that Super P. plopped on you that reminds me of this picture I once saw of Princess Diana's veil; yours doesn't make a straight line up St. Paul's Cathedral, but arches up and over the coffee table, next to some legos, and over a battlefield of fallen action figures. It is also covered in Cheerios and cat hair. You still look as resplendent as any princess.

I stop to watch you all play. The boys rumble by, "Hi Moms" shouted and forgotten. Since you are only a year (today), I guess I am not so old hat. As you round the corner from the kitchen and stop to pull yourself up on the door frame, you catch sight of me and stop as if frozen. Then, as powerful as any glacier, a slow smile blooms across your face and, holding out both dimpled baby hands and falling backwards in your eagerness for me, you shout "Mama!" Your eyes don't leave mine as I rush to you and pull you up; they are sparkling with sass and sincerity. I crouch next to you and you dive into my arms, nearly knocking me over in your rush to whisper little secrets into my neck. Secrets they will stay; your rapid babble is way over my head. You snuggle me quickly, and then you are gone again, crawling after your brothers at a speed that defies some scientific law, I am sure of it.

We do this most of the morning. Each of you rounds the corner as befits your unique spirit. Super Preschooler dances round, blows me a kiss, and hurries past to poof some dragons lurking on the couch. Super Toddler barrels nearly through, clipping the corner every time. Then he shoots it with his laser gun for its impertinence, before climbing on top of the couch to join the rebel dragons in their fight for independence. You, my baby, my little one, my youngest. You crawl up to the corner and pat it softly; you hang onto that corner like a tiny WC Fields trying to get home from the bar. As you rock up on your feet, I imagine that I will see that grin once again on some far off day; it is blissful and slightly crooked in its guilelessness. You see me, and it is like you are seeing me for the first time, every time. The love in your face makes my chest tighten in awe. Then, you take the ultimate leap of faith and let go of the wall. You reach your hands toward me, at first just to wave. Rapid little waves in time with your giggles. Then, they start to reach, an ache in them that I can feel from here. Or maybe it is my own ache I feel. Little fingers, so small and perfect, vibrating in their urgency to touch mine. I acquiesce, and cover them with my rough ones, dry and already feeling the winter's wrath. You don't care. You cling to me as you attempt a few steps, get bored, and launch into my arms for an all too brief cuddle. Then, just like that, you are gone again.

The last time, well, the time before Super Preschooler decides that the dragons are defeated and ready to watch Timmy Time with him, you turn around and look at me before your departure into the kitchen. You smile, which my moody mind makes sad, and then you lift your little hands toward me and wave. A good-bye wave this time. The tightening in my chest intensifies and I can't stop the tears. You look exactly the same, but yet, something is totally different about you. The clothes still don't fit, but they are a little less big; I guess your first year just hit. The lessons and wisdom of the past 365 days just settled into your soul, and even your hands look different. Less baby, just slightly lengthened, a tad more capable. Hands that will one day wave good-bye to me from the driver's side window of an overflowing hand-me-down Camry. And I will wave back, while holding myself back from rushing after you to grab those hands and kiss them one more time. Counting those fingers as if casting a spell that will keep all ten safe and whole. But I won't and I don't. I merely smile and wave right back, as I will some bittersweet morning all too soon; a beautiful morning that I will have to admire through my tears. As I do today.

I love you-
Awkward Mom

Wow. Ummm...thank you for that cheerful take on Super Baby's birthday, Awkward Mom. Puts me right in the mood for cake. Speaking of cake!

Awkward Dad bought a Whole Foods cake, no one seems to know why.
Needless to say, we had no money for gifts as a result.

Waiting is hard!
Why can't you adults just put the lighter in the same place every time,
that way you would have it on hand at pivotal moments.

Super Baby was less than impressed; she is really more of a meat fan.

Super Preschooler more than made up for her lack of dessert love.

Even if you don't love dessert, doesn't matter.
The sugar will affect you exactly the same as every other child in creation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Ambition

Got your pity ready, Readers? You might want to.

Sometimes I really wish I was a 1950s housewife. I only spend like .01% of my wishing time on this particular wish, by the way...most of the time I wish for hover boards or for Mark Wahlberg to show up with a box of chocolates. I wish this one not because I would be a good 50s housewife. I would be the worst 50s housewife on record. I would be that one that all the other ones, in their pearls and gloves, would gossip about; shaking their adorable hats, perched just so on their perfectly done hair, and saying, "Bless her heart, but the child is useless." No idea why in my head all 50s housewives are southern, but there it is. No, the reason I wish I was a 50s housewife is that Valium would be a lot easier to get. No, I tease. Sorta. But the real reason is that no one would be asking me when I am going back to work.

Strangers ask me this. Friends ask me this. Family asks me this. But if I am being honest, the loudest voice asking me this is the one that resides in my head. The one that also shames me when I miss church, scolds when I lose my temper, and heaves a shuddering sigh when I balance the checkbook. It is usually my mother's voice (the checkbook sigh is always my dad), but it is nothing that she has ever said in real life. No, my brain just figured out that I give her voice a ton of weight, so when molding my self-doubt, it just appropriated her voice accordingly. Much as the advertising world has convinced us that Morgan Freeman thinks Visa is saving the world and if you use it, you will too. (Oh, and admire these Penguins, while you are at it.) Sadly, my mother has never received any royalty checks for the use of her voice, only strangely passive-aggressive phone calls from her daughter on the Sundays we all slept in. Needless to say, the voice is pretty powerful, and lately, it wants to know my 5 year plan.

Here is the real problem, Readers: My family tree, while full of awkward leaves and jam-packed with branches dripping faux pas like oh so many acorns, is also full of amazingly ambitious woman. The men aren't bad, but it is the women who stare at me from their perches, willing me to be more. My paternal Grandma was a musician, a teacher, and, if my father is to be believed, a feisty fashion plate who knew her way around some stunning flapper-ware. She built airplanes during World War II, and then got a Master's degree in Special Education, while raising 4 children (one a set of identical twins). She had a wit that would not quit, and, I imagine, would never resort to puns or cheap rhymes. The dress she wore to my parents' wedding hangs in my closet, and it definitely outshines my wedding dress, which lives next to it. My maternal Grandma is a dietitian, still drives cross-country by herself (at 88), skied well into her 60s, raised 7 children (one a set of identical twins), and wore a cape to my wedding. A cape, Readers. And she totally pulled it off! Early in her marriage, she and my grandfather set off across the country on move 2 or 3, with child 1 and 2, and her cheerful stories of sterilizing bottles at rest stops curls my hair. This summer, at my brother's Special Olympic swim meet, I watched her climb to the top of the bleachers for a better view, her sunglasses on her head, a hot dog in one hand, and a camera in the other. Basically, both women were college-educated firebrands who I doubt ever sat down for more than 10 minutes a day.

Speaking of not sitting down, wanna meet my aunts, Readers? Of course you do! My godmother was roofing a house just last summer, and she is taking a plumbing class next. This is in addition to raising 6 children and running a farm. My Dad's sister just got back from Russia, before that it was Santa Fe, before that it was China, before that I totally lose track. And that is just 2 of them. My aunts are business women, bankers, teachers, librarians, amazing, and mothers of even more twins. (I know, Readers, I know. With every pregnancy, I worry that my time has come.) My aunts are poets, politicians, and pragmatists; usually all at once. If the grass ever attempted to grow under their feet, I am sure they would simply put it in its place with a firm look. And the next generation is more amazing still. (Myself excepted, of course.) My cousins are doctors (of the people and animal varieties), scientists, artists, paralegals, social workers, mothers, and teachers. Let me just tell you about the teachers, Readers. (Sorry for that one, spirit of Paternal Grandma!) Heading into daily battle with the pre-teen mind is about the scariest thing that a person can do, and they do it effortlessly, breezily even, with a grace that belies their status as awkward relatives. Seriously, sometimes I think that the Baba Yaga snatched me from some deeply awkward family, tripped getting back into her giant mortar, and accidentally dropped me into my current family. It would explain somethings. (Look her up, Readers. That's no broom she's riding.)

For example, it would explain how my mother's only daughter could be me instead of, say, President of the United States. Long-time Readers are good friends with my mother and know all about her abundance and antics. I don't really know where to start here, the woman is kinda the definition of fabulous. Like this: she met my father at a Halloween party; he wasn't wearing a costume (duh), but she was dressed as one of the 10 Bridesmaids from Matthew 25:1-13. She delights in telling us that she was one of the "foolish" ones with no oil. She wears this scarf sometimes, a riotous explosion of colors, but if you look close enough, you will see that it is like a million very tiny pictures of a friend of hers. The friend who made it is the one whom she watches Sunset Boulevard with, their hands on their mouths eventually failing to stifle their giggles as Gloria Swanson inches toward her close-up. These are the people she hangs out with and occasionally goes to the track with. She says she just likes the horses. And she does like horses. No, strike that; she loves horses with all the passion of a 12-year-old girl.

My mother thinks the Exorcist is hilarious but is deathly afraid of tornadoes. She can cook, she reads about 5 books at a time, and she is never late. She has a Nativity set the size of a small town (like a real small town), complete with some dude selling wine, St. Francis, and about 16 people I am fairly sure were not even in Nazareth that winter. She also allows the children to add any action figures who might feel like adoring Jesus in-between games. Her reverent irreverence instilled a deep faith in me that exists to this day, and I doubt I would have any faith at all if it wasn't for her cheerful and chaotic Christianity. She greeted my brother's diagnoses of autism with a shrug because why would that change a thing about her love and his ability to have a wonderful life. She greets pretty much every new situation as a potential adventure and every new person as a new friend.

My mother went back to school when I was in grade school. She would study at 3 in the morning because there was simply no other time to do it. I can still see her; reading at the dining room table, the windows pitch black and the lamp glow making her look angelic and very very young. Then, she'd chase me back to bed, and she'd lose her angelicness completely. She got her Master's degree when I was 15 years old, and I do not think that I have ever seen her sit still for more than 10 minutes. Ever.

This is what I am dealing with, Readers. This is the legacy of the Awkward women; they may be awkward but they are ambitious and artful in amazing ways. Imagine my distress when bringing my gift to this feast of gifts. The table is laid with every achievement and talent imaginable, spilling forth in jewel-tones of blinding beauty. And here comes me, holding a little box. Crooked, saggy, probably leaking something. I lay it on a corner of the table where it lurks and slowly turns gray in the presence of so much color. A funny little box. A little box of funny.

Awkward Mom has informed me that if you are related to her, you are not allowed to respond to this and refute anything she has said. You are all fabulous, and if you attempt to convince our Readers that you are not, she will make every Thanksgiving from now until the end of time quite uncomfortable. Love ya!

Super Baby, I would tell you no pressure, but I think we both know that is a lie.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Waking Up

It is 8:46am at the time of this writing. We have already engaged in about 17 different battles. This is merely the tale of one.

So, I am having a rather disturbing dream where an army of Ankylosaurus (Ankylosauruses? Ankylosauri? Come on, English Majors; blow the dust of those degrees and help me out!) apparently think I am a gourd and are chasing me down a wooded glen in a game of D-ball. The Point-of-Fact guy is riding Hank the Ankylosaurus, holding onto his jaunty hat with one hand and waving frantically at me with the other, while shouting at me that Ankylosauri (I'm going with it. ) are herbivores and that I shouldn't worry. I totally start to worry when one of them begins nibbling at my hand like it is a tasty bush. I blink awake, in that combo terror/relief that accompanies bad dream wake-ups; I am literally half-off the side of the bed, my arm trailing on the floor, a hungry Super Cat licking my fingers. Finding this slightly more disturbing than the dream, I jerk my hand away and flip over; to be confronted by something decidedly more disturbing that both dream and a flesh-desirous cat. I find myself staring into the cold dead eye sticker of RoGun, who is tucking into Super Toddler's arms, as if he were an adorable kitten. After my initial impulse to hurl him from my son passes, I find myself grateful that at least Super Toddler transformed him out of gun-mode before he decided to cuddle him. With no interest in going back to sleep and being trampled by jock dinosaurs, I dispassionately survey the bed.

It resembles a sardine can. Super Toddler, RoGun, and I are cuddled in on the far right side, heads on a pillow. Baby Elmo, a Reindeer, and Awkward Dad are huddled toward the left side, bodies completely turned around, Awkward Dad's feet on his pillow and his arm draped over the end of the bed, where Super Cat is nudging it urgently. Super Cat 2 (the non-human-flesh-eating one) is sleeping in the deep center of the bed, spooning Super Preschooler and snoring. Super Preschooler is hugging a stuffed Zebra, and 8-foot-long Arcade Snake is in a perfect diagonal, his head and tail connecting my feet with Awkward Dad's feet in a grand circle of life, or at least a ridiculously crowded bed. The only one not here is Super Baby, who I can hear playing with these guys, who have little bells in them that are softly tinkling in harmony with her gleeful baby coos. I have an intense longing to crawl into her crib and go back to sleep.

That longing is quashed when Super Toddler jerks in a particularly active dream and sends RoGun slamming into my left eye. I kick Arcade Snake, which begins the game of Mouse-Trap; he vibrates past Super Cat, who merely yawns, which shifts Super Preschooler, which sends stuffed Zebra flying into Awkward Dad's face, which causes him to jerk his arm, which startles Super Cat into sinking his teeth into it, which causes an earthquake about an 8.6 on the Rictor scale as Awkward Dad awakens with all the grace of Samson tearing down a pagan temple. Next door, Super Baby hurls a roly-poly friend out of her crib with a roar not unlike her father's, RoGun slams into my face again, and I long to return to the Ankylosauruses (grammar variety, Readers; try it). I am despairing about this day already, when Super Preschooler slowly rises from his central nest, as lovely as a Buzz-Lightyear-pajama clad Venus emerging from the waves. He smiles radiantly in the weak morning sun and turns his beatific face to mine, hair haloing him like a vision. He picks his way through the Mouse-Trap wreckage, finds a way to squeeze into the microscopic space to my right, and settles into that child-sized space under my arm like he was born to fit there, which he was. He sleepily smiles at me and whispers, "Good morning, Mommy." Good indeed.

We may be losing some battles, but we are winning the war, Readers. Make sure to buy your war bonds to support the cause. What? Everyone loves World War II references, right? Oh, just Awkward Grandpa...OK, well then, go buy some chocolate to support Awkward Mom's sanity. Do your part on the home front, Readers!

Good morning or not,
Winning the war or not,
 RoGun is still giving me the creeps.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. First Steps

What do you mean "where is the Legoland post?" Haven't you figured out that things aren't exactly linear around here? More like those Family Circus cartoons where Billy be-bops all over town, climbing trees and whatnot.

Strap on your seat-belts, Readers. This one is bumpy.

So, Super Toddler and Super Baby have a First Steps class on Tuesday mornings. Usually Super Preschooler is, funnily enough, at preschool and does not attend, but today is Election Day and his school is closed. I thought about not going, but what the hey! I mean, I juggle three kids most of the time away, how hard can it be at First Steps? (Spoiler alert: very hard.) Plus, it is my turn to bring snack; not gonna mess that up, for, if these moms are anything like me, it is their first meal of the day.

I show up. On time. Children: coated, hatted, and looking weather appropriate. I have the snack, a non-offensive animal crackers, although I am taking a risk that they aren't organic. Even so, I am confident: things are totally looking good. I walk in and meet the substitute teacher and her daughter. OK. Wasn't expecting that, but OK. She asks me if Super Baby is walking yet. I tell her no, laugh, and make my standard joke about Supers taking their sweet time to do just about anything. She doesn't laugh. Hmmm...not looking so good all of a sudden. Oh, and that is the teacher asking me, by the way. Her daughter turns to Super Preschooler and demands to know how old he is. He tells her and she says, "Oh, I am four too. You are really short, like a baby. Are you sure you are four?" Sigh. Totally lost my early mojo with that one. But Super P. is made of stronger stuff. He laughs at her and says, "Yes, you are very big! Let's go play blocks, my big friend!"

They run off to play blocks and I hand my snack to the substitute teacher. She glances at it and seems to approve, or at least isn't too offended by its non-organicness. Super Toddler sees that the roller coaster toy is out and we lose him for the next hour. Super Baby decides to crawl up the slide and I breathe for a few minutes. This is fine. I can do this.

Except I totally can't. Super Preschooler drops a block on his foot about the same time that the roller coaster bearing Super Toddler plunges into the back of a little girl, and then Super Baby falls off the slide. Not being Multiple Man, I decide that Super Baby needs me first. I dash there, while shouting apologies at the little girl's mom and reprimands at Super Toddler. I holler for Super P. to hop over to me, while I scoop up Super Baby and feel her head for fractures. None. Put her down and focus on Super Preschooler's foot, but he is gone again; running up the slide. Guess he is fine. Super Toddler is gearing up to plow into someone else now, so I tear across the room to halt him mid-flight. He all but pops off the back of the car, so I snatch him and put him in a Cozy Coupe. Since he hasn't figured out how to go forward in them, he only rams the walls when he is those. Super Preschooler has acquired a new friend, a boy, who also seems to delight in racing up the slide and tumbling down the stairs in complete and total abandon of logic. Super Toddler is backing into a corner, and Super Baby is playing a toy piano with her face. Good enough.

Things go well, for a little while. There are a few things though. Super Toddler finds a way back to the roller coaster toy, about 17 times. Super Baby eats multi-colored rice out of the sensory table. Super Preschooler's pottying needs are brought to my attention by the teacher's aide, but we do make it to the bathroom, so I am putting that one in the win column. The mom who doesn't like me, and never has, doesn't seem to appreciate my calling her an "early bird" and admiring her "I voted" sticker; I get a lecture on civic duty for my sins. Substitute's daughter does not want to let the smallness of Super P. go and taunts him with "baby boy! baby boy!" until her mother makes her stop. Of course, the taunts start up again when he decides to play dress-up and steals the dress she wants. I shouldn't be so hard on the substitute teacher, after all, she is busy telling me ways to encourage Super Baby to walk and seems intensely frustrated by my lack of concern about the whole thing. Minor issues, really. A appetizer sampler of the awkward meal ahead. And just like that, it is time to eat.

We all wash hands. Well, Super Toddler decides his shirt needs a wash too, but let's not quibble about details. We settle down for snack, when an air raid siren emerges from the mom who already doesn't like me. "Peanuts! Peanuts! Who brought something with peanuts?!" She is intensely staring at the bag of animal crackers. I sheepishly admit to providing snack, but argue that no animal cracker I know of has peanuts in them. I mean, if they sell Peanut Butter Animals Crackers, I am not aware of it. Which is a good thing because I would buy them out and eat them all while lying on the couch watching Netflix and then where would we be? She shoves the bag in my face and points at this sentence at the bottom of the bag, in tiny lawyer writing, that states that these cookies where made at a factory where peanuts are present. I apologize profusely, but she won't even look at me while she gives her lecture about the safety of our children to the wall above my head. I repeatedly tell her that I am sorry, and she tells me that I should read ingredients and not just feed my children any "junk" I feel like. The teacher frantically rummages through the cabinets and comes up with some Cheerios, but the damage is done. The children want animal crackers, not Cheerios. Especially the plain yellow box Cheerios that the teacher is trying to get us all excited about. The mom who now hates me scoots her daughter, who is screaming for animal crackers, as far away from us as she can, while, loudly, hauling dish upon dish of snacks out of her diaper bag. I have the itty-bitty irreverent thought that her bag must be a portal to her refrigerator, but I am mostly occupied by fending off the hate lasers that are shooting out of her eyes and into my soul. This is when Super Toddler spills his full cup of water onto his animal crackers, lap, and 4 nearby children.

I scoop up some soggy crackers, hand them to Super Baby to rub on my shirt, and head over to the art table to feel sorry for myself. This dad who attends our class sidles up to me and tells me that his wife is about to have their next child and wants to know how I do it. I stare at him. How I do what? Completely and totally ruin my children's friendship value with my stupidity and awkwardness? Tumble through my day with the barest understanding of what I am doing? Consider it a successful day when no one in the house needs to go to the ER? I am near tears, eating wet animal crackers off my shirt, and realizing that I may have let that diaper of Super Baby's go too long, if the damp near my hip is any indication. But I don't want to scare this man, so I dredge something up from deep in my being and tell him that it will all be alright. I tell him that somedays you will wish you had more hands, but if you just give yourself permission to be late most of the time, you will be fine. And happy. Not content or OK or fine, but happy. And delighted in ways that you never knew existed. You will be as tired as you have ever been, but your sleep, when you get it, will be the sleep of those who do a good day's work. You will laugh more, cry more, feel more, and be more than you ever knew you could. You will learn to juggle fire knives while riding an elephant. You will mold and shape the next generation with your wisdom, and they will grow that wisdom within you, even as you change their diapers and break up their fights and wonder if running away from home is still an option. I tell him that I am so happy for him and can't wait to meet his baby. He seems relieved and at peace. And then Super Baby throws up all over his shirt.

That is enough, it really is. And we wish it was the whole story. Super Preschooler insists on sitting on the W square of the alphabet rug during Circle Time, which happens to be where Mom who Hates Awkward Mom is sitting. He is basically in her lap for most of the Wheels on the Bus. Super Baby decides to just lie down in the middle of the Circle Time rug, for reasons unknown, and Super Toddler reverts to old habits and rebels against Circle Time in its entirety, causing an early and abrupt end of class for all of us, a rapid, Fast-and-the-Furious exit from the parking lot, and a huge crying jag for Awkward Mom at the stop light. And then we voted, which is a whole other tale that you'll hear someday, if Awkward Mom stops crying.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Funerals

No, Awkward Mom doesn't battle funerals. Or even at funerals. She is awkward, not morbid. She is also 15 years too old to be gothy. Of course, I suppose Goths won't be battling funerals really. They seem like funerals might be their idea of a good time, might even use them as their secret lairs, like coffin benchs and control tables, purple candles and whatnot....hmmm, seem to be getting a little lost here. What was I saying?

So, we had to travel back home for a funeral, very unexpectedly, the day after Halloween. Like throwing stuff in a bag, calling the Awesomes to watch the Super Cats (thanks, guys!), and taking off for Chicago at 9pm. Funeral was at 10am the next morning, which lead to family stuff. And more family stuff. And, wait for it, yes, even more family stuff. We got back today. Yep, totally awkward, per usual. The Supers were amazing through it all, but I think Awkward Dad's promise of, "Hey, behave like angels and I will take you to Legoland" might have had something to do with it.

Dang it; follow-through just happens to be an Awkward Dad super-power.
We'll be back to tell you all about it, after we recover. About a dozen Awkward funerals aren't nearly as wearing on the parenting super-powers than room upon room of super-charged children, small chokable legos, and something called an Earthquake table. Off to take a 3 day nap, see you soon!