Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Locked Out

It was not my intention to be breaking into my house today. As fun, and frighteningly easy, as this is, it really wasn't on my to-do list this morning. 

Here's what happens: Super Preschooler has his Halloween party at Preschoool. He is dressed as old Obi Wan Kenobi. He is very clear on this point; he is old Obi Wan. Either he holds with the proper and awkward-family-sanctioned theory that the original Star Wars movies are simply better films, he much appreciates the acting prowess of Alec Guinness, or he prefers his screen time to be short and powerful, with a few ghostly voice-overs. Maybe he didn't want us to tie a little braid into his hair. Who knows, but know this. He is old Obi Wan if you want to compliment his costume. Anywho, he troops off to class today totally pristine; cape-clad and toting a dozen tootsie-pop ghosts. I pick him up with slightly less ghosts and covered in orange cupcake frosting. He is also massively high on sugar. 

Please ignore the Celtic cross brooch.
I know it isn't canon, 
but Obi Wan's mom couldn't find any safety pins this morning. 

So, I pick up Super Preschooler, high as a kite, and we run to the bank to kill the 30 minutes before Super Kindergartener gets out for the day. Of course, I fail to examine Super P's backpack before I tuck it back there with him, so I, naturally, also fail to notice the bugling trick-or-treat bag residing within Lightening McQueen's innocent zippered mouth. Super P. does not make this mistake and has consumed his weight in chocolate and pixie sticks by the time we arrive at Super K.'s school. I end up parking next to Spectacular Mom, so I spend a little time having some much needed adult talk. (No, it isn't dirty. It just isn't about Pinky Dinky Doo, which, interestingly, does sound dirty and also is not.) I rush up to the door and get Super K, bringing him back to the van so I can continue my adult talk. He and Super P. begin racing around the van, eating more of Super P.'s candy, drinking my diet Pepsi, pretending to drive, and generally being loons. They lock me out of the van, but, as I have the keys in my pocket and The Wandering Glutton (seriously, don't read his blog too hungry or you might drool on the keyboard) has wandered over on his way to pick up his daughter, I don't really care what the Supers are up to. I am talking to real live adults! During the day! Super K. and Super P. decide to pretend that the van is their spaceship and they spend the time "fixing" it with a screwdriver that Super P. has magically pulled from somewhere. I am thinking that voluminous robe of his. Their ship can't be too broken however, as the automatic sliding door seems to be functioning just fine. Over and over and over again. 

I don't tire of talking to Spectacular Mom and the Wandering Glutton, but Super Toddler can't undo her own car-seat, like her brothers can, and is losing her mind at being imprisoned while they run around and pretend to drive. If anyone alive wants to drive, it is Super Toddler. 

That is not her smile.
That is a grimace that says I would maim you if you were any closer. 

So, I dutifully say goodbye to adult conversation for the day and head home. Getting the Super Boys back in their car-seats takes a long time, especially Super Preschooler, who is so high on sugar and stolen diet Pepsi at this point that I think he is seeing things that haven't been seen since Timothy Leary was turning stuff on. Proof to my point is that Super P. tries to get to his backseat car-seat via the ceiling. It is so time to go home. 

I pull in the drive-way and the Super Boys are out of their seats and banging on the door before I am totally in park. So, it is going to that kind of afternoon. I open the well-used sliding door and they pop out. I go over to Super Toddler's side and unbuckle her. She launches herself out of her car-seat and drive-bombs the driver's seat, face first. OK, clearly, she needs some running around the van time. I leave her, unlock the house, herd the Super Boys inside, and throw my purse, 2 backpacks, 3 Halloween art projects, and 4 coats (it is now an unseasonable 60ish degrees, plus I don't think Super P. can control his own temperature anymore). I leave the Super Boys hurling dress-up clothes around as Super K. loses his uniform in one swift move that, disturbingly, looks like something out of Magic Mike, and I head back to Mario Andretti there in the van. I arrive to find her pretending to whirl the steering wheel around while waving at me from the, decidedly locked, front seat. OK. I'll just go around through the sliding door, except a sharp tug alerts me to the fact that the sliding door is also locked. All the doors are locked. Well, luckily I have the keys right here in my....purse. In the house. 

So, I head back to the house to get my purse to find that Obi Wan and a random storm trooper with a princess crown have locked the screen door. I ask them to unlock the door. They, deep in their play-world and high on Halloween candy, refuse. And that is how I end up banging and kicking on my front door while yelling, for the entire neighborhood to hear, "No, I will not go to Watto's shop to buy parts for your ship! Open this door before I cancel Halloween!!" 

Luckily for everyone involved, Awkward Dad listens to the weather report and had opened the sliding door in the dining room enough for Awkward Mom to wiggle herself and Super Fetus through. Halloween remains uncancelled, but we are thinking of hosting a pixie stick intervention for Super Preschooler on November 1. 

Turn on, tune in, and drop out indeed.....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Self-Praise

Let's just say that she isn't very good at it and leave it at that. Make her feel good and praise her effort at self-praise, OK?

I am never gonna be Perfect Mom. Don't have a chance at being Super Mom or Graceful Mom or Pinterest Mom. I don't even think I am in the running for Adequate Mom or Pretty Good Mom. Most days I probably come in second to Almost-Has-it-Together Mom, and she sends her son to school in pajama pants with marshmallows and candy corn for snack. And, I am mostly cool with that. I am just not naturally gifted in the maternal arts. We can't all be. If we were, all childhoods would be perfectly normal and functional. Goodness, that would drive all those therapists and self-help book writers out of business. Can't have that now. So, I am good with owning it; I am not a naturally great mother.

But what I am is a fighter; I don't give up. The gestating Super Fetus is testament to that fact. I am gonna keeping on moming until I get it right. Or even if I never get it right. I'll be like that karaoke singing mom that all the really good moms just roll their eyes at as I mount the stage. That's OK. I just like being a mom; might not be one of the shiny moms out in front, but I am happy back here mouthing the words in the chorus.

However, tonight was different. Tonight I left the chorus for a rare and quick moment in the hot spotlight. And I'll be honest, I was shining like a star. It hurts a little to brag about it, but I really was amazing. It was the standard long day. Awkward Dad was due home at 8pm at the earliest. No one napped. Everyone went nuts from 4-6, per usual. And yet, I got all children fed at a remarkably normal dinner hour, dressed in weather-appropriate clothing, and herded into the van for their 6:50 flu clinic appointments. (Which is an insane time for a flu clinic, but that isn't my call to make.) I trooped them into the waiting room. I cooed over the fish tank to distract them. I urged them to pay no attention to the toddler freaking out in the lobby, who was hurling books at her mother and screaming that "the shot was gonna kill" her. I resisted the temptation to tell the Supers that she was behaving badly and that shots hurt more when you thrash around anyway; no judgments from this corner. I was being extra mature tonight. I raised an eyebrow at her mother's promise to buy her a new toy if she calmed down, but I couldn't help that, I am not Perfect Mom, after all. I filed them all into the little examine room. I removed pants and shirts. I lined them up in a row and kissed them all repeatedly when they started to whimper. I was patient about the fact that the 5 minutes we were told to wait turned into 30. I told stories about warrior princesses and sensitive but brave knights that would have made the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose burst with pride; I was Scheherazade and my magic story-telling keep 3 children sane and calm for 30 minutes. Which is a spell-binding eternity in toddler time. When the nurse came in, I, stoically yet kindly, held each one down while she prepped the site, which everyone knows is the worst part. I braced them during the lightening fast shot and then let them cry out their betrayal into my chest, while bandaids were applied. Then I gently set that one down and caught up the next one, trying to escape under the examination table. I was equal parts efficient machine and supportive rock. Not a one was crying when presented with their suckers, and as they all sedately walked back through the waiting room like the little angels they really are, they drew every eye in the place. One father nudged his whining son and said, "Look at those little kids. They're not crying. It's no big deal at all." I smiled at him and didn't correct him. After all, I suppose he is technically right. It was no big deal. And it wasn't a big deal because, for one short moment in the hot bright spot-light, I was the big deal.

Let her have this. She is in charge of 2 Halloween parties this week and the only Halloween craft the woman knows how to make is the Tootsie-Pop/Kleenex ghost. 

See that mom there?
No, not the appropriately spiderwebby one.
The other one, the awkward one.
You might not know this,
but every once in awhile, 
that mom is actually a very big deal. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Church Sandwich

Food for the soul and all that. 

On Monday afternoons I go to my small group at church. We read a spiritually enriching book and have a discussion about it, thus enriching our own spirituality. Well. We try to discuss it over the noise of about 5-10 toddlers. It works some of the time. My spirituality has been enriched somehow, so I am calling it a win. What isn't a win is that Monday is back-to-back activity from about 7:30-3, with kindergarten, preschool, taking Awkward Dad to and from his morning work-site with the sketchy yet somehow expensive parking garage that he refuses to use, and small group. It is my errand morning, as I only have 1 child for 2 hours of it, so, naturally, I try to jam in grocery shopping, banking, post office, mall visits, and any errands that involved actually leaving the car. Those of you who have children and/or pets that travel with you will totally understand the urgency here.

The end result of this is that Monday tends to be an eat-in-the-car day. Sometimes I am awesome and actually pack food for us, but most of the time I am awkward and we end up eating fast food for lunch. I am not proud of it, but there it is. Today, we stopped at Subway in between picking up Awkward Dad and swinging by the house to drop him off so he could get his own car. He was going to his afternoon work-site with the nice and totally free parking lot that he has no problems with. I drop him off and head over to church to get set up for the small group. While I am not in charge, I am the one responsible for getting the keys out and opening up the nursery, which is where we meet.

As I pull into the church parking lot, I realize that Super Preschooler is still eating half of a turkey sandwich. He is the slowest eater in creation (when he deigns to eat at all, that is), so I should have predicted that the car ride from Subway to the house would not be enough time for him to even make a dent in it. Super Toddler and Super Kindergartener eat like they are in prison, so they were finished about the time we hit that red light 2 blocks from Subway, Awkward Dad was brushing crumbs off himself when I left him at his car, and I have given up eating until Super Toddler's nap around 3pm (she steals it otherwise). Therefore, he was the only one still eating. We often eat in the nursery, so this was not a big deal. I pulled them out of the car and headed inside.

Seems that I forgot that the keys for the nursery are actually in a drawer in the ushers' room. And the ushers' room is in the actual church. 3 children in the actual church on Sunday are no big deal. 3 children in the actual church in the middle of Monday sound like a herd of elephants. And there is always someone praying in there to disrupt and offend. I take a deep breath and prepare to be offensive. The kids are actually very quiet during this part; I have prepped them well and we are in there for a total of 15 seconds at the most, so I am not too worried. We troop in, with my usual directives to "shush" and "be quiet in God's house." They are as quiet as church mice (punny Awkward Mom!). I slip into the ushers' room and grab the keys, which proceed to make more noise rattling around in my hand than a herd of toddlers and elephants.

I pop back out to shoo the children downstairs to see them clustered around the notoriously low and tempting baptismal font. Super K. is dutifully making the sign of the cross with the holy water, as he has been practicing at school. Super Toddler is hauling one leg up the side, as if readying herself for a restorative dip. But Super Preschooler. Of course, Super Preschooler is bracing himself on the side with his right hand, holding his sandwich aloft, now mysteriously dripping, in the left hand, while he laps up holy water like a dog.

Me: Stop it! Stop it! What are you doing?

Super K.: What? Is it the other way? This is the way they taught me to at school.

Me: Not you, Sweetie. That was perfect. Super Toddler, get down!

Super T.: No! Swim! Jesus!

Me: No swimming with Jesus. Get down. Super Preschooler, stop it! Don't drink that! There is a water fountain downstairs. Did you put your sandwich in there?!?!?!

Super P.: (shrugging, smiling, and shaking the extra water off himself like a dog) Sure did. It was a little dry.

He has a point; there is nothing quite as evil as a dry sandwich. Guess he just trusts God to fix stuff like that. 

I can't stay mad at that face,
and I doubt that God is ever mad at that face. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Love spills

My Beautiful Super Preschooler-

I love you so much today that I am not quite sure my heart can fit all that love in it. In fact, I am sure it can't, which is why I have to try to write some of that love down here. It is escaping all over the place and making quite a lovely mess; might as well try to shovel some of it into this post. I am also sure of the fact that as much I love you today, I will love you even more tomorrow. My love for you will somehow always grow; it can't help itself. Here are some reasons why:

1. You call full moons "circle moons." You call crescent moons "slipper moons." I think you might be trying to say sliver, but slipper also sounds like something you would say too.

2. You let your brother wear your favorite monster truck shirt when it wound up in his drawer by accident, and you told him that he looked nice in it.

3. You worry that your pile of friend sticks are going to be cold this winter.

4. Your smile could power the entire planet easily, and it emits no carbon gases at all.

5. I find a rock in your pockets every time I wash your pants.

6. You would rather be old Obi Wan Kenobi for Halloween than young Obi Wan Kenobi. When asked why, you just smile mysteriously.

7. Strangers, friends, and basically everyone around wants to touch your hair. It is like the visual definition of freedom.

8. I can't think straight when you laugh. I think your laugh is all the proof anyone needs that magic exists.

9. When you see your shadow, you stop to dance with him. Every single time.

10. This:

I love you,
Awkward Mom

P.S. Thanks to all that knocking, Invisible Grandpa apparently brought you an invisible toy helicopter just for night-time, 2 sticks, a kiss, a Christmas key, several invisible items that are secrets, and a pumpkin feast.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Mess

I didn't want to give her that donut. I bought her those specially packaged Teddy Grahams that fit in the car cup-holder, just so that she wouldn't want one of the glazed donuts that I was taking home. I should have know better. I mean, I have had nearly 2 years to get to know Super Toddler and her appetite. (The child rung in her 9-month-old birthday and doctor's permission to eat any solids she could by promptly eating 3 tacos and a piece of cake) So, of course, Super Toddler flung the specially packaged Teddy Grahams across the car, while shouting DONUT! DONUT! for everyone in the Meijer parking lot to hear. I wasn't going to win that judgement battle; half the passing folks were glaring because she knows the word donut and half were glaring because I wasn't heeding her donut lust fast enough. I gave her the donut. It was horrifically messy. And I would do it again. Not because of her embarrassing shouting or my burning need to sugar up my children just because the Grandparents happen to be in town or it is Halloween or a random Tuesday. No. I did it because parenting is messy and I think I am actually fine with that. 

My lovely and loving children-

Life with me is never going to be perfect, organized, or even totally sanitary. But I can promise you that it will be fun, funny, and full of fierce love. It is also going to be messy. That, and the following, I can certainly promise you: 

I will let you finger paint on the kitchen floor.

I am fine with packing peanut fights and couch forts. 

I will let you put stickers all over the wall. 

Sure, let's buy more glitter.

I will allow you to eat in the car. Even if it is a glazed donut that you somehow smear pieces of on the window, the car-seat buckle, your hair, your sibling, the fabric seats, and the ceiling. I will even pull over to the side of the road when you get the glaze in your eye and start to scream like a banshee on fire. I will come back there and try to wipe it off you and your surroundings with 14 wet wipes, before I give up and just give you a big kiss that renders me nearly as sticky as you. 

I don't see why you can't pretend to be zombies with that old makeup. It isn't getting any other use.

I will let you make a volcano in the dining room.

I see that you have created a lake on the bathroom floor to float boats across; maybe that could be relocated to the bathtub for the time being, eh? 

I will buy the more expensive wall paint in an effort to not totally destroy the value of our home via peanut butter finger prints. 

What's a movie night without popcorn that will get trapped in the couch for 2 months?

I will allow play-dough, even over the carpet. Just try not to get it on the cat this time. 

Toilet paper mummies? Yes, that's a good idea. 

Yes, I agree that your rock collection might be cold, and yes, they can live in your closet for the winter.

I am cool with you pouring your own juice. 

Please help me make this cake. You can crack the eggs.

Next time you want to juggle, maybe pick something a little less challenging than glasses, OK? 

If you have to vomit and you can't make it to the garbage or toilet, you just go ahead. I'll catch it or clean it; it really is OK. Because vomit happens and I don't want you to feel bad about making a mess, on top of feeling sick.   

Sometimes accidents happen and they don't make you a bad person. It's just pee. Or poop. Everyone learns in their own time. 

Lysol is a wonderful thing that Mommy owns a lot of. 

Get messy. 

Dirt washes off, and if you ingest some, it might just make you healthier in the process. 

You are exploring, learning, and growing; most of that does not involve a lot of order and bleach. There will be time enough for order and bleach smells kinda gross anyway. 

You are more important that anything else in this house. Stuff is just stuff. But you are the priceless creations that make up the magical ether of dreams. I did not have you to have a perfectly orderly house for you to worry about keeping perfect and orderly. I had you in order to share my life and everything in it, and if some of that everything gets broken or messed-up or slimed in the process, so be it. As long as it isn't you that get broken, I am fine with whatever happens. I promise. 

I love you,
Awkward Mom

Sandbox? No. You can NOT have a sandbox.
I have to draw the line somewhere. Might as well be in the sand.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Movies -trilogy time

If you want to watch posts 1 and 2; grab some popcorn and head on over here. And here. Oh, and open up imdb. You might need it. 

As always happens this time of year, my children become obsessed with the Peanuts Halloween Special, the Peanuts Thanksgiving Special, and the Peanuts Christmas Special. They come together in a special box, and the children can't seem to limit themselves to just the Halloween one upon seeing the other two. That is OK; Halloween being the gateway to the holiday season anyway. Target certainly seems to think so. My point is, I watch the Peanuts a lot this time of year and it got me thinking; which Peanut character am I? For simplicity, I will limit myself to the female characters. I, of course, want to be the Little Red-Haired Girl. Who doesn't want to be the unattainable, mysterious object of someone's affection? I am not. That is pretty obvious. I am not mean enough to be Lucy, although I can approach her level of bossy on a bad day, and Marcie always seemed so sure of herself. I don't think I have that yet, even at the advanced age of 35. I am not Sally; she always struck me as a bit stalkish with Linus and I'm frankly not that bold. No. I think it is pretty clear who I am. I am Peppermint Patty, in all her odd, awkward, freckled glory. That's cool with me; it really is. Ultimately, Peppermint Patty is a misunderstood go-getter who means well; I am proud to have her as my Peanut. But I am not here to talk about that. I am here to talk about Super Toddler. Super Toddler and her fictional film fellow-self. Now, as far as Peanuts go, she is about as Little Red-Haired Girl as you can get:

I may be a little biased, but come on, 
the girl is a stunner. 

I am not quite sure that film as caught up with Super Toddler and her generation of womanhood yet. Strong, soft, warm, cool, magical, realistic, magnetic, and totally touchable. Real with a million flaws and a million more skills that render them experts at navigating a tricky world by the age of nearly 2. A solid sisterhood in tiny pink Converse sneakers. Super Toddler is such a full person that no one really comes close to being her true celluloid sister. But they sure try out there in Hollywood, they sure do try.

See her enormous eyes gazing back at you from the gorgeously quiet depths of silent film. Watch her playfully wink at you, or feel her pain as she cries. It's all there; marvel at the magnificence she can convey without a single word, through those anime-huge eyes. She can throw Theda Bara's queenly sass, Janet Gaynor's gentle joy, Maria Falconetti's mysterious wealth of soul, and Clara Bow's magical it all at you with just one strong steady stare. She's as sweet and doll-like as Lillian Gish, but there is something lurking just within, reminding you that her Greta Garbo is getting ready to burst forth from the screen like a tornado. It's all in those eyes; luminous lakes both.

But then she speaks, and the ladies of the early talkies speak with her, and in prater just as zingy and fast as any Girl Friday. Her giggles are as adorable as Claudette Colbert, but don't underestimate her. The girl's got stuff to do and places to be, and she is gonna do it with all the vim and nerve of Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, and Joan Crawford. (Minus the wire hangers, of course.) Basically, the child is the entire cast of the Women wrapped up in one teeny tiny never-still body.

My tastes run old and slightly melodramatic, so I see Super Toddler more easily in the peek-a-boo shadows of early film, with those towering noir dames, true-blue farmer's daughters, pistol-fast molls, and cheerfully plucky waifs with hearts of gold. There is something larger than life in Super Toddler, so she reigns supreme in the sweeping expanse of Old Hollywood. Super Toddler can do it all. She'll keep the home fires burning, casually solve a few mysteries, do a bit of lawyering, whistle, become a business tycoon, go on a cruise, and protect the French Resistance. You know, all in a day's work. And she will do it all in high heels and a ridiculous dress because Super Toddler makes anything look good.


Just because I see her more easily in black and white doesn't mean that she does glow in glorious technicolor as well. Was there ever a child more Adventurously Alice or Daring Dorothy or Spirited Sarah or Spunky Sorsha or Defiant Dale? No, there was not. Super Toddler is bold and fearless; bring on your witches, evil spells, or goblins. She's not scared of you or your unfortunate tights. And Super Toddler isn't gonna wait in a tower for kisses or such nonsense either. She'll kiss you when she is good and ready, after the defeat of this here Orc army.

Yeah, I'll get to you in a minute.
I'll bringing order to the galaxy right now.

Super Toddler can rival any great modern actress for emotive ability. She just blooms from a mysterious, light-dappled place within herself, much like Meryl Streep. (Despite what Awkward Grandpa might think about overrated scenery chewing.) She is as unique and quirky as Diane Keaton, and just as captivating. She dazzles like Michelle Pfeiffer, but radiates with the grounded beauty of Viola Davis. She's as hilarious as Melissa McCarthy and as sassy as Jennifer Lawrence. She could out-princess Amy Adams, if she felt like it. She can be as coy as Angelica Huston and as earnest of Vanessa Redgrave and as boisterous as Loretta Devine; often in the same moment. She has the completely otherworldly and ageless wisdom of Judi Dench, and she is just as cute.

Just as cute. 

Of course, she is so much much more. No one role or film or image, no matter how iconic or beautiful, could ever capture this little girl. I am fairly confident that nothing will ever capture her; she'll run as free and wild as she chooses, with periodic rests for snacks. When they finally do make a movie about Super Toddler (and know you this, they will) it will be an anemic and pale cousin to the Super Toddler that lived life fully, conquered the hearts of all she met, and was already braver and more fascinating at nearly 2 than most adults. And the movie will still be massively amazing and win every award in creation. Because that is what Little Red-Haired Girls do on their off days.

Well, of course, I'd like to thank the Academy.....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. the Future

As long as I get a hover-board one of these days, 
I am good with whatever the future holds. 

The world is full of folks who think the future is doomed. Who think this upcoming generation of children is hopeless and dumb and unfocused and selfish and addicted to their iPhones and uninterested in building relationships with their fellow human beings. These folks also seem to think everything is going to seed and that the future holds nothing good and that I will never get my hover-board. These naysayers might have some valid points; the other day, I did see a teen walk into a wall while texting. But I am still gonna ignore them because: 

 That smile. 

And that one. 

Because his favorite toy, and perhaps best friend, is a stick. 

And he does this everyday, sometimes twice. 

Because she can't even read yet, but that isn't going to stop her. 

Because jumping onto the bed will entertain them for hours. 

And she is watching the Charlie Brown Halloween Special 
and is deeply concerned about the Great Pumpkin. 

Because he likes the idea that other countries exist. 

Because he thought the elephant looked sad, so he hugged him.

And she would do anything to protect him.

As would these two. 

Because the future is in excellent hands.

No, I am not worried about the future. And neither is the woman who I ran into at the store the other day:

Fairy Godmother: Look at you, with this beautiful group of angels! Is your future ever bright!

Me: Yes. Yes, it sure is.

Fairy Godmother: So is mine; you should see my 14 great-grands. 

Me: I am sure I will. If they are wonderful as you, I bet they will be going places. 

Don't you guys worry; we are gonna get those hover-boards yet.   

Just because. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Bees

Bees. Why did it have to be bees?

They told the children not to eat their apples on the hay ride. They told the children the open apples would attract bees. They told them this like 5 times and shouted it after us as the tractor rumbled and dragged Super Preschooler's field trip into the orchard. But since when has Super Toddler ever listened to anyone? Ever. She isn't likely to start today.

Here she sits, dead center on the wagon bed, calmly and defiantly eating the apple that she started eating 2 seconds after pulling it off the tree. I can't stop her unless I want a repeat of the tantrum that happened when she found out that she wasn't riding a horse today, so I don't even bother.

I, personally, have no problem with bees. I kinda like bees. I remember giving my 2nd grade presentation on my favorite animal; the bee. I loved the complex order to their hives. The intricate dances and communications. The subtle variations in honey, given the flowers used. That the worker bees were all female and able to do anything, while the male bees were kinda lazy and called drones. Drones, what an awesome word. I loved that presentation and I was very proud of it. And of my aunt, who has keep several hives on her farm for years. And of the fact that my aunt found a tiny bee-keeper suit so I could go with her to visit the hives. Despite, or maybe because of, all this bee-love, I have actually never been stung by a bee; in fact, the only pain bees ever gave me was the cruel response of Perfect 2nd Grader to my presentation. "Only you, Erin. Only you would pick a bug as your favorite animal. God, you are so lame." And anyway, that she was a human drone is hardly the bees' fault, so I don't hold them responsible for that. I still like bees.

Maybe as a result of this or maybe because they are awesome, my children have no major fear of bees. They usually just stand still until the bee goes away. Super Toddler, who likes to take everything to the next level, would probably pet them if they landed on her. She is fearlessly eating this apple in the middle of the hay ride, while all around her head bees buzz and dance. The children from Super Preschooler's class are not so nonchalant and the screaming is getting a little loud. The boy next to her is really starting to freak out. I am feeling guilty for letting her eat the apple, but the bees seem to be dive-bombing apple-eating and non-apple-eating children (no, Super Toddler isn't the only rebel on this hay ride) with equal vigor. One lands on my shoulder and I don't have an apple at all. The mom next to me screams and starts to slap my arm rather hard. I suppose I should thank her, but I am distracted by Super Toddler's neighbor's impassioned shriek.

Of course, time slows down and I get to watch it all in freeze-frame awfulness. A bee lands on his cheek. He completely loses his mind and basically punches himself in the eye, killing the bee and causing the bee to sting him near the outer edge of his eyebrow. I am not sure what order this happens in; the bee may already be dead when her stinger is shoved into the little boy's brow by his own fist. This, of course, happens to be the only child of a helicopter mom, who has brought his equally helicoptery grandmother along for the outing. The melee that follows is impossible to describe, but I have a feeling war zones might be calmer.

Speaking of calm, during all of this, Super Toddler continues to placidly eat her apple. An apple that a bee has landed on. Super Toddler smiles at the bee, waits for the bee to take a drink of her dripping apple, and then gently shoos her back into the orchard. She resumes eating her apple. I look up to catch the death glares emanating from both Helicopter Mom and her mom. It is an uncomfortable ride back to the barn, I can tell you that.

Well, uncomfortable for everyone except Super Toddler and her bee friends.

I can see it now; 
"The honeybee is a misunderstood and fascinating animal."

Like mother, like daughter.
Someday soon! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Bragging

I have been out of my house all day, so Buzzfeed and I have a lot of catching up to do. This will be short. Well, short for me. 

I have a ton to tell you guys! But that is gonna have to wait. Due to some poor planning on my part, we went from field trip to park playdate and straight into the bath. (both the apple orchard and park had SAND! Can you imagine?! Shudder.) I forgot to defrost what I had planned for dinner and I have a church meeting in a couple hours. Might not sound like a lot to you, but I aim to dress, keep the kids alive, and maybe do about 1 thing a day. I want to pass out. But I have to tell you guys this first.

One wonderful aspect of Super Kindergartener's field trip was the fascinating and mysterious phenomenon that always happens when I drive the car. He forgot I was there. All 4 kids I was driving from his class forgot I was there. I have no idea if they can't see me from the backseat or if they think cars magically drive themselves and I am napping up there, but they all started to behave like no adult was present. I know this because it was the same kind of conversations they have when they are alone in their room. You know, when I eavesdrop outside with a glass pressed against the door.

I secretly (OK, not so secretly) love to peek in on my children when they are not aware of my presence. It lets me know what's working, what isn't working, who they like, who they don't like, what they are like, and what I really need to work on. Now, this is gonna sound totally braggy, and for that I truly apologize, but Super K. is doing just fine. I feel semi-OK bragging about this because I honestly have no idea where he gets his fineness. He is a testament to nature over nurture, because nurture is currently considering serving apple donuts for dinner.

The child is a wonder of diplomatic proportions. Today alone, he calmly and gently broke up fights, encouraged sharing, and volunteered his own toys from the backseat, even though they were sneeringly called "baby toys" upon arrival in the van. He was constantly berated by the cool kid in the class (a child merely considered cool by this 5-year-old set because he has a couple of behavior problems, no filter, and a tendency toward manic shouting), and Super K. never lashed out or caved in. He just calmly and sweetly maintained his identity. I have no idea how he does this:

Cool K.: I love Rock and Roll. It is the only music.
Super K.: I actually prefer Christmas music.
Cool K.: That's so dumb. It isn't Christmas.
Super K.: Yeah. But that is what makes it special.
Cool K.: Whatever. I like Rock and Roll. It's cooler.
Super K.: That's great!
Cool K.: Unlike you! Totally dumb.
Super K.: Everyone likes their own music. That is cool.
Cool K.: I guess.


Cool K.: This car smells! And it is very dirty. Our car isn't dirty. My mom actually cleans it.
Super K.: Yeah, my mom doesn't really have time, but she cleans it sometimes.
Cool K.: Not much. My mom has a special vacuum for our car.
Super K.: Neat. My mom just uses the one at the gas station.
Cool K.: Well, it smells.
Super K.: Yeah. That is because we eat in here. Would you like a Cheez-it?
Cool K.: Oh. Sure!


Cool K: Gimme that toy, Shy K.!
Shy K.: (Hands it over)
Super K.: You should really say please to Shy K.
Cool K.: Whatever.
Super K.: No, it isn't nice to take toys like that. He was playing with it.
Cool K.: (throws it at Shy K.) Here then!
Shy K.: (whispers) Thanks, Super K.
Super K.: Yeah, throwing isn't nice either. Don't you have rules in your house?


Super K.: That's a nice pumpkin you picked out, Cool K.
Cool K.: It is better than yours!
Super K.: Maybe. I kinda like the shape of mine though.
Cool K.: But it isn't as good as mine.
Super K.: OK, but I still like it.
Cool K.: Mine is better!!
Super K.: Yeah. That's OK. I still like mine.  
Cool K.: Fine.

But my favorite was toward the end of the trip.

Cool K.: What's your room like?
Super K.: It is green. And I have a bunk bed that I share with my brother.
Cool K.: I don't share.
Super K.: OK. We have lots of toys and a night-light shaped like a bug.
Cool K.: Don't tell anyone, but I am afraid of the dark.
Super K.: That's not a big deal, so am I. That's why I have a night-light.
Cool K.: I have one too, but it is still too dark.
Super K.: Yeah, I know. It's OK.
Cool K.: Really?
Super K.: Yep. Wanna Cheez-it?
Cool K.: Sure. Your car still smells.
Super K.: Yep.

How does he do this? Where did he learn to do this? And why isn't he running things? I am pretty sure the government would never shut down if Super K. was in charge. I have a feeling nothing would ever shut down and everything would smell like strawberries and taste like rainbows.

That said, I totally don't want him to be president. 
Too much exposure, judgment, and assassination possibilities.

But the true power behind a puppet throne? 
Yeah, that'll work. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Field Trip Eve

It isn't half as fun as Christmas eve....

So, tomorrow is my first outing as a Kindergarten volunteer. I am driving 4 children (including Super Kindergartener) to an apple orchard. I won't get into the fact that I was not thrilled to be talked into (guilted heavily) doing this or the headaches that went along with getting all the paperwork in order to be approved as a school volunteer. (The fingerprinting alone was nightmare inducing; imagine Super Toddler trying to climb onto the fingerprint machine and take a "picture" of her tongue and you about have it.) No, what's done is done and I am looking forward to spending this special bonding time with Super K. and his classmates. But, like with any eve; there are thoughts and worries about the upcoming event that swirl about in one's mind. Including:

1. Do I have enough duct tape to keep the broken glove box closed for the duration of the trip?

2. Did the teacher really say that this place was 40 minutes away? I kinda hope she was kidding because that seems really far and I doubt the other parents will approve my using AC/DC to stay awake at 8:15am for the drive.

3. How much chocolate and/or baked goods should I bring to Amazing Mom for agreeing to watch Super Toddler and Super Preschooler at the unholy hour of 7:45am? And will she be alive and/or sane when I come to get them at noon?

4. Should I vacuum the car? I am leaning towards no. I have not yet met a child who doesn't appreciate floor Cheez-its.

5. Is it OK to feel slightly indignant that, after having viewed my "assignment" and the break-down of volunteer cars email, I now realize why I was guilted into driving? The only other parent from our classroom is only driving her children and the teacher is driving the other 3. It also appears that they segregated the Half-Day Kindergarten children, which they swore up and down to me at the beginning of the year they weren't going to do. Is it too early in the year to develop a "put-upon, poor-me, I-have-to-do-it-all-where-are-the-other-stay-at-home-parents" parent attitude? Probably, but I feel one starting anyway....

6. What am I going to wear? Side-note; I have really got to get some maternity jeans. This leaving the button open or using a hair-tie is getting old. Plus, I am pretty sure that accidentally flashing my lady parts at a group of 5-year-olds violates that form I signed about keeping the children safe from creepers and flashers.

7. Is it going to rain? It is going to suck if it rains.

8. Why did some kid have to start a rumor they were going in a bus? Now Super Kindergartener is mad at me for driving and thus preventing him from riding in a bus that he was never riding in anyway.

9. Is it wrong to not like other kids? What if the kids I get are gross? What if they are mean to Super K.? OK, that is loony. Who would be mean to Super. K.? But what if they are bratty and annoying or take off their seat-belts and go all Lord of the Flies on me? Did she really say the drive was 40 minutes? Wasn't there a closer apple orchard? This is Michigan, for Pete's sake. Surely there are apples closer. I have about 20 in my house alone. They could all come over here, save some gas....

10. Why oh why did I agree to do this?

We know why she agreed to do it; for the awkward stories she can tell you after she gets back! Why do anything really, except for the tales to tell later. Speaking of, catch you later, Readers! 

40 minutes?!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Unmoming

It's kinda like unwinding, only there is usually more wine/whine involved. 

Identity is a funny thing. Not exactly haha funny, unless you identify as a comedian or something. (Not clowns, those are never funny.) As an American, I think I was taught early to identify myself by my job. Well, I quit my last paying job about 5 years ago, and, I'll be honest, the years after I quit were a little tricky, identity-wise. Awkward Dad was in medical school and then interviewing for a residency, which involved a lot of parties with doctors. Parties with doctors are decidedly not parties like my mom throws parties, with pinatas and confetti and tons and tons of cake. No, I am talking about work "parties;" which for me rank somewhere amid going to the dentist and renewing my driver's license at the DMV. I am introduced to someone whose name I promptly forget and whom I am never going to see again, and the first question is "So, are you a doctor as well?" After I produce my shameful "no," then I was asked what I did do. As someone who, at the time and since, fulfills nearly all of the self-esteem creation, feeding, personality guiding, health protecting, diaper changing, bathing, dressing, and maintaining of 3 other lives, this was simultaneously a daunting and simple question to answer.

"I'm just a mom."

Well, that's all fine and good (ignore the "just," I am well over that now), but tell that to a room full of doctors and the results are not going to be the warm-fuzzies that a mom, especially a new mom, is looking for. I have experienced the blank stare. The vague smile and walk-away. The clueless "oh, I meant for money." The fake "Well, that is God's work" or "The most important job;" these are always accompanied with a patronizing smile that you long to wipe off their faces with the wet wipes you always have in your purse anyway. The avoidant "That's nice, oh, I seem to need some more wine." The incredulous, "Wow, I could never do that! I just love working too much." (Because raising new life isn't work, I suppose.)The flat out rude, "Don't you get bored?" or "Why did you go to college then?" Or my favorite, "I bet Awkward Dad is just the greatest Dad."

This was getting old and I didn't want to risk Awkward Dad's career chances by starting to randomly punch people at parties, so I developed a defense. It is the defense I typically use; I got funny and I got sassy.

Party goer: Are you also a doctor?
Me: Lord no, isn't one in a family enough?

Party goer: And what do you do?
Me: As little as possible!

Party goer: Are you a doctor as well?
Me: Why? Do you have a rash you want me to look at?

Party goer: What do you do, Erin?
Me: Oh, I like long walks on the beach, Pina Coladas, and answering personal ads.

Party goer: Will you also be specializing in psychiatry?
Me: God no. Are you about to tell me some weird trauma from your childhood?

Party goer: So, where do you work?
Me: Here, there, mostly the bathroom.

Party goer: And you do....
Me: Oh, nothing much. Just kinky sex and stuff like that.

In defense of my defense, I was postpartum or pregnant for most of these and not hormonally right in the head. That last one felt really good though.....

I have grown as a person since then, and I have grown in my motherhood. I am no longer a new mom, but a seasoned mom of three with another on the way. I no longer attend doctor parties because babysitting is expensive and I don't want to waste it standing around in a room with people who just want to talk about insurance companies, "interesting cases" that make eating difficult, and how much money they make or intend to make. And since I am pregnant again, I can't even get drunk to deal with the parties, so no thank you. Luckily, Awkward Dad doesn't want to deal with them either. For a doctor, he actually has a surprisingly low tolerance for other doctors. He would rather hang out with the kids and me, which is pretty awesome.

But I am supposed to be talking about unmoming, which I am now very bad at, as a result of all this motherhood growth. The thing is; I have gotten so comfortable and used to being "just a mom" that I don't really feel like anything else. This is just another way of identifying solely with my job and no real growth at all!

Ever been around a bunch of stay-at-home moms? Expect a lot of poop discussion, milestone comparing, and complaints about bedtimes. We're no better than the doctors! And just as unpleasant to eat around. Gross.

Like everyone, I am constantly struggling to be a full person; well-rounded, interesting, interested, balanced, and happy. This is not easy, as you all know through your own struggles to be full people. Hobbies help. I don't really have a lot of hobbies. I like to write, but then I end up writing all about my kids. I like to read, which is usually interrupted by little fingers that want to "read" my book. I like to watch movies, and those are either interrupted by little eyes who want to know "why that bad man shot that other bad man" or big eyes that won't stay open because it is now too late around 10pm for all adults in this house. I already explained that babysitting is expensive and I find crafting to fall in the same fun category as doctor parties. And I can't drink because I am pregnant; dang, but I suppose drinking isn't exactly a hobby to aspire too.

Friends help a lot, but most of mine have kids and try though we might, we usually end up moming during our encounters. Either physically, because we are on a playdate or mentally, because our spouse just sent an adorable picture of our toddlers and everyone just has to see it. We try but we can't exactly help ourselves. We're moms and nothing brings out your mom flag faster than hanging out with moms.

I don't want to go back to working for money right now. It isn't practical with Awkward Dad's schedule and frankly, I like being at home with my kids. Someday I might work outside the home again, but that isn't what is going to solve this unmoming issue. I will always be a mom and that is OK. It is more than OK; it is the natural progression of my life journey and it is freaking awesome. I love what being a mom has done for me and my world view. I just don't want to get so lost in moming that I forget that I am a whole person. Being "just a mom" is good for no one; not me, not Awkward Dad, not my friends and family. But mostly and most importantly, it is not good for my children. How am I supposed to raise well-rounded, interesting, interested, balanced, and happy full people, if I am not one myself?

So, tomorrow, Awkward Dad and I have a sitter coming at noon (I have been saving all summer!) and we are attending the first MET at the Movies presentation of Eugene Onegin. To read more about our MET at the Movies adventures read here.) Anna Netebko is in it, so Awkward Dad is ultra-ready to soak in some culture. That's cool with me because she is singing opposite Mariusz Kwiecien. Oh, poor me.

So, whether my appreciation of opera is a pure love of the music or something else entirely is not something I am going to get into; it is not moming and that is a good enough start for me. 

Too much?
Maybe, but some of these opera folks go all out.....
You are right, though,
A horned helmet would be much more apropos. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Tearful Moods

Dang, hormones are strong things! 

My lovely loving children-

It's October 3rd, 2013, and it is supposed to rain today but the sun is out instead. I am sure, by now, you know that the weather is sometimes like that. We are hanging out at home and Mommy is in one of those moods where she takes a lot of pictures of you, hugs you randomly, and cries a lot. I am also sure that, by now, you know that Mommy is sometimes like that.

You are all so damn beautiful. And wonderful. And magically marvelous. And a million other words that I have forgotten how to spell in my awe of you. I mean, come on! This is what you are doing, right now:

Well, it's what one of you is doing. 
The rest of you got tired of taking pictures and ran away to play legos. 

Just so we are clear; I do NOT care what you end up doing for a career. If you even have a career. Who you end up loving. What you end up being interested in. (However, if it is sports, you are gonna need to be patient with my slow learning curve.) Who you end up voting for. What you end up thinking is important. How much money you make. How many friends you have. How pretty or smart or talented the world says you are. I don't care. I just want you to retain whatever it is that makes you want to play Star Wars on the stairs. Whatever it is that makes you create giant lego creations that you say are airplanes for invisible monkeys who need to get to the moon. Whatever it is that makes you patient and kind enough to leave your game, heeding my tearful calls for hugs; hugs right now!

You don't have to stay my little children forever; God knows that you couldn't if you wanted to, but please, keep that little child-like part of you that makes you curious and loving and open and everything good that the world might try to sarcastically and cynically siphon out of you. Don't get me wrong, the world isn't a bad place. It can just sometimes be a cold and jealous place. It can be a place that needs someone like you. So, go warm it up with your mile-wide smile.

Well, not just yet. Not today. Today, play Star Wars on the stairs and give your hormonal and pregnant Mommy some hugs.

Awkward Mom

P.S. Hugs right now!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Awkward Mom vs. Grammar

Don't fall down the rabbit hole.

Super Kindergartener: Hey Mom, I learned a new prayer at school today!

Me: Awesome. How does it go?

Super K.: Well, I forgot most of it, but I am not sure I like it anyway.

Me: Oh, how come?

Super K.: There is a part about thigh bounty. I don't even like chicken.

Me: (choking noise) Honey, I am pretty sure that is "thy bounty."

Super K.: No, no. It was thigh.

Me: No, it is thy.

Super K.: Mom, that isn't even a word.

Me: Yes, it is. It's an old word that means your. In the prayer "thy bounty" means all the good stuff that God has given you.

Super K.: Oh. Are you sure it isn't thigh?

Me: Yes, quite sure. Catholics aren't likely to be talking about thighs in their prayers.

Super Preschooler: Well, our prayer we say is better and funner. There are no weird words in it.

Me: Sweetie, no prayer is better than another one. And thy isn't a weird word, it is just an old word.

Super K.: I don't think it is a word.

Super P.: Yeah, it's weird. Our prayer is funner than Super K.'s new prayer.

Me: No, it is not.

Super K.: No, he is right, Mom. Our prayer is funner.

Me: More fun.

Super K.: See? You agree with us.

Me: No, funner isn't a word. The right term is more fun. But no prayer is more fun than another one anyway.

Super K.: Funner isn't a word, but thy is? Funner at least sounds like a word.

Super P.: Our prayer is funner! Stop saying it isn't!

Super K.: I'm not thanking God for chicken anyway.

Seriously, do NOT fall down the rabbit hole. The caterpillar will make you conjugate verbs and none of it will make sense anyway. 

I have to admit it;
they are more funner than a million chicken prayers.