Monday, December 22, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Good Enough

Every Advent, I reach a point when I just accept that I am going to have yet another good enough Christmas. It is usually into the 20s of the month. I am alternatively staring at everyone else's perfectly poised Christmas cards that I have hanging all over the place and the giant pile of ours that has yet to be stamped, signed, and addressed. I glance into the living room to see the aftermath of a massive toy explosion or, if I am lucky, the actual explosion, in process, complete with projectiles that give Super Toddler yet another bruise. I turn to look in the kitchen and am met with a sink overflowing with dirty dishes, no clean counter space, and cookie bits strewn all over the floor, sprinkle-side down. I look up to be confronted with cobwebs or I look down to be confronted with crumbs and smears of unknown origin. Then I run out of directions to look, so I look inward but it's scary and messy in there too. The Chipmunks Christmas album is playing for the 14 time that day and it's already dark at only 4 in the afternoon. It is at this point that I declare Game Over, accept that it's gonna be another good enough Christmas, and drink a large glass of wine. The years I am pregnant during the good enough declaration, I eat an entire box of store bought cookies because someone dropped all the homemade ones on the floor.

The good enough Christmas is fine. It works. Someone's present isn't quite right. The Christmas cards arrive on January 2nd. The tree leans. Some of the cookies are burnt. We never did make it to the Nutcracker that year. There is too much glitter and not enough egg nog and someone needs a diaper during the dance floor becoming a pool scene and I miss my favorite part of It's a Wonderful Life, yet again. But, the children are happy. The presents are wrapped. Some contingent of us makes it to church. We eat a lot of delicious things, feel warm fuzzies off and on, and generally make it through the season intact and still loving each other.

But I really wanted a good Christmas this year. Not good enough, GOOD. Now, I am not fool enough to ever think that my Christmas is going to be perfect. Or even orbiting perfect, but I hope, year after year, for that magical, mythical Christmas that they write songs about. Warm and festive. Stress-less and easy. Calm and complete. It has yet to happen in my world, but I seek it, year after year. Much like the pictures I take, year after year, that fail to be those perfectly poised ones that arrive at my house from all our far flung friends.

Our pictures do not turn out perfectly poised. Our pictures are messy. Our pictures are fuzzy. Our pictures are downright crazy. Our pictures are awkward. And year after year, I take them. And year after year, I sigh. And year after year, I use them to send out funny and hilarious Christmas cards that people tell me they love. They might be lying, but they say it, nonetheless.

But this year, well, this year, I can't even do that. There is no pile of unaddressed Christmas cards. There is no card. Not one. I just didn't get it done. The good enough Christmas got declared and that was the thing to go. I don't know if this is good or bad, but I suspect it just is. This is just me this year. Late and sorry and disorganized and feeling like George Bailey when he comes home after finding out that Uncle Billy has lost all the money and Tommy just sits on him and piles tinsel on his head. I am gonna just sit here and cry and let someone pile tinsel on my head, and that's alright.

Because here's the thing. After the tinsel piling, everyone comes over and gives George all their money and Clarence gets wings and bells and singing and Harry is home and it's great. OK, yeah, well, I may be glossing over the whole George-not-existing-Mary-being-an-old-maid-Pottersville-part, but I don't have all day here, People.

There is a reason Christmas is celebrated for a whole season. No one can sustain a magical, perfect, jolly time for a whole month or even 12 days or, let's face it, even a solid day. Like anything else, it ebbs and flows, and I happen to be in an ebb. A tinsel-head ebb. But I will shake it off and flow again soon, maybe even later tonight. Who knows; weirder things have happened. And that's good enough. Maybe good enough is good. After all, happiness wouldn't be happiness if that was all you felt, right? You would just kinda plateau-out and be content all the time. I guess that sounds okay. No. That doesn't sounds okay. That sounds incredibly boring.

And I don't want boring. I want messy, fuzzy, downright crazy, and awkward. 
I guess what I want is the good enough Christmas. 

We wish you all good enough Christmases 
with a few tinsel-headed ebbs 
and way more Zuzu-petal flows! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. No Jeans

So, last night is Super 1st Christmas concert and the email notices where very clear that this is a dressy occasion and there were to be no jeans. It took me 3 emails and Awkward Dad asking "you're wearing that?" to realize that meant me as well. Oh crap.

I live in jeans. They are really all I wear. They're comfortable, durable, and dry spit-up comes right off them with a little water. They hide all manners of sins, even hips that have lived through 4 children. Jeans hold stuff in, and I have stuff to hold in. Jeans are great! You can dress 'em up with a cute top and some heels. You can dress 'em down with Awkward Dad's college sweatshirt and where the hell are my shoes anyway..... You mostly dress 'em down. But you don't dress them at all for the school Christmas program. You wear a dress and hold a baby in front of you at all times in case anyone happens to look at you too closely. Dresses don't hold stuff in. Spanx holds stuff in and I forgot to buy any because I thought I could wear jeans to the Christmas concert.

Anyway, the point is, I am wearing this dress and feeling all self-conscious and ugly and fat and whatever else, so my goal is to hide in this pew, behind Super Baby, occasionally peeking at Super 1st around this pillar and then escape at the intermission. Awkward Dad decides to foil my plan by taking the baby and saying "Can you take Super 1st to meet his class? I want to talk to the Wandering Glutton." (Blog is amazing! Check it, I'll wait.)

So, I am walking down the school hallway with Super 1st, trying to look invisible and not make eye contact with all the beautiful moms, catwalking about like they wear dresses for a living. Two middle school band members slip into the hallway behind me and this happens:

Middle School Girl: Everyone looks amazing! I wish I could wear a beautiful dress and heels.

Middle School Boy: Heels are dumb. You look fine.

Middle School Girl: But they are so pretty and they would make me super tall.

Middle School Boy: Heels are oppressive and make women walk funny because they are all pointed forward and off-balance.

Middle School Girl: You don't understand.

Middle School Boy: I understand fine. You don't need heels.

Middle School Girl: I guess. But still....

Middle School Boy: Stop it. You are pretty the way you are.

I sidestep to let them walk past me, but before I turn completely away, I manage to catch the Middle School Girl's eye. Her bandmate is right; she is totally pretty the way she is. She smiles at me and mouths "Your shoes are so amazing," while Band Guy isn't looking. I touch her arm, point at his retreating back, and whisper "Well, you should listen to your friend." Her eyes sparkle at me and her smile slips into a lopsided grin that makes her even more beautiful, before she winks at me and chases after him down the hallway.

I watch them for a minute, lost in some crystal-ball and navel gazing that makes me happy like I haven't been all night. Super 1st tugs me back to reality and we race over to his classroom, where I drop him off amid squeals and hugs and gushes about everyone's finery. I compliment several outfits myself and manage not to compliment-ninja away ones that I receive. It's all warm and festive and charming, and by the time I am walking back to the church to join my family, I stop pretending to be invisible and catwalk a little myself. Until I trip on the stairs.

Band Guy is right; heels are dumb. But Band Girl is right too; mine look amazing. As do I.

Well, they didn't specifically say "no overalls,"
now did they? 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Crazy

I have been parenting for almost 7 years now, and I am pretty into it. However, even with all that intense study, I have only discovered 5 parenting truths:

1. No one else knows what they are doing either.

2. You are never going to use that wipe-warmer.

3. The heart capacity on a fully functioning parent numbers in the infinities.

4. Buy the good wall paint.

5. Don't step out of your crazy.

We all have different crazy, but it's all crazy. Maybe yours involves getting up at 5am just to take a shower, doing the daycare/school road rally while you pump in the car, and trying to assure clients that the spit-up on your blazer is nothing to worry about but their fourth quarter earnings are.  Maybe your crazy is walking through the Lego minefield like a ninja, dodging half the toy missiles and catching the rest, only to hurl them into the toy box across the room for a string of 3-pointers not seen since the '92 Bulls. Maybe your crazy is playdate crazy, when you calmly assess the craft table and remind the visiting child that "No, Sweetie, confetti is not food." Maybe your crazy is making dinner with a 2-year-old on your leg and your mother in your ear and 899 thoughts in your head. Maybe your crazy is shopping with 4 children crazy or running the church nursery crazy or feeding the baby, answering emails, talking to your spouse, and encouraging your 4-year-old to not pick knives for his first juggling item crazy.

Whatever your crazy is, you are rocking the stuffing out of it. You are bobbing and weaving and reacting like a World War II flying ace. You are creative. You are quick. You are utterly fabulous at what you do. You are surfing this tsunami of crazy and you are amazing; Super Mom even. So, whatever you do: Don't step out of your crazy.

Let me repeat that: Do NOT step out of your crazy.

If you, for whatever reason, take a step back and actually look at the amount of crazy things you are required to do in a given day or actually count the toys on the floor or try to figure out how you do what you do every single day, all bets are suddenly off. Because you will then actually see the crazy. Crazy is like a forest; while you are in it, you are not remotely aware of the enormity of it. But if you see your crazy forest with someone else's eyes, it will suddenly be all vast and enormous, like on some topographical map,  and you will set off a very powerful energy vacuum that will sweep through the entirety of your body and render you completely exhausted and good for nothing except your bed and about 4 of your favorite movies.

Now, I think you should take to your bed with 4 of your favorite movies on occasion, just as a preventative measure, but you and I both know that you can't be doing that every day. There is crazy to deal with. Therefore, keep your head in the game, Dear Reader, and don't step out of your crazy. Stay right in there and rock it out. You can do it!

Christmas Crazy is a whole other level; 
Don't step out of it unless you are ready to take to your bed 
with enough cookies to get you through 6 movies.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Super 1st. vs. Church

Yes, yes, I have a Disney post for you guys. Somewhere. It was right here, mixed in with all these slightly sticky mouseketeer ears and pirate eye-patches and Rapunzel wigs. Where is it? Oh well, it can keep. Much like the laundry that I still have to finish. I'm here to tell you about Super 1st's battle of the day.

OK, so here is the back-story: Super 1st's class was in charge of the school mass today. Not alone, mind you, although a mass completely planned by 6-year-olds would be pretty interesting. No, they were paired with their 8th grade buddies and all given parts of the mass to participate in. Super 1st's job was to read one of the petitions. The first petition to be exact. Now, we have only been home from Disney 3 days and aware of this for 2. Someone forgot to check the homework folder until Wednesday morning, and no, I will not tell you who. Therefore, he has been practicing like a mad hatter (mad petitioner?) for those 2 days. And this is no easy petition, folks. It has big words in it; words like community and intensify. Words that become common, commodity, and communion or industry, itunes, and tension when he gets nervous. But he got it down and done and was super ready to petition when he left the house this morning.

OK, even further back back-story: Before Thanksgiving, Super 1st's class decided to have a fundraiser so they could purchase some of the items off the giving tree. They collected cans and bottles, which, if you live here in Michigan with us, you know carry with them a .10 deposit fee. They collected these recyclables for weeks and took them all to Meijer on Wednesday to turn them in. We sent in 2 bags of cans, but better mothers than I helped load them all into the machines, helped the children buy their giving tree items, and generally taught 30+ children about the true meaning of Christmas. They raised over $700 dollars toward their gifts and a real Christmas tree for a family in need. Today, at mass, they were going to bring up their wrapped gifts and put them under the giving tree.

OK, so, here is where these back-stories collide: I'm not there. Super Toddler attempts to re-baptise herself every time we take her to adult church, so Awkward Dad took some time off to attend and listen to Super 1st petition. Oh wait, I mean, the word of God manifest in the sacredness of the Catholic mass. I am lazing at home, not listening to the word of God, but Bo on the Go with the little Supers when I get this picture texted to me from one of the sweetest moms in the class:

And I think, oh, that's cute, he's so tiny that the principal has to help him up to the mic. And then, this one arrives:

And I think, wait, why is the principal up there with him? She isn't supposed to be. Did he get too scared to say it? Did he get nervous and ask for commodities and tension? Then, this shows up:

And I happen to look at the time and I think, unless the priest gave the longest homily in history, they should be way past the petitions. This is 12 years of Catholic school and 4 years of Jesuit college talking here, Readers. What is going on? Then, the phone rings and it is Awkward Dad. This happens:

Awkward Dad: Hey.

Me: What happened?! Why is he up there with the principal? Did he get scared?

Awkward Dad: Are you here? Where are you?

Me: I'm at home. How's Super 1st?

Awkward Dad: Slow down. How do you know what happened like 5 minutes ago? You are freaking me out.

Me: Sweet Mom just sent me 3 pictures of Super 1st. 5 minutes ago? Are you calling me from the middle of mass?!

Awkward Dad: No! It's over. I'm in the car. Here's what happened: the whole class brought up the gifts for the giving tree right before the petitions but then they all marched back to the rear of the church, so when the petitions started, he wasn't up there. His was first, so his 8th grade buddy kinda panicked and read it himself. The other buddies waited for the kids to come up and read theirs. Super 1st went up but his was already read so he started to cry. He pretty much cried all through communion, so the teacher and the principal arranged it so that he could read his at the end of mass. Of course, she basically had to hold him up because he is so short, but he was happy to be reading it. He was as loud as could be and I can promise you God hear every part of that petition. As did most of Ann Arbor.

Me: Is he OK now?

Awkward Dad: Sure. And he got every word right, even intensify.

Me: Well, I suppose it is to be expected.

Awkward Dad: What is?

Me: You know us. We always bring the...

Me and Awkward Dad: awkwardness.

Awkward Dad: Jinx!

Me: Go to work.

Awkward Dad: You're just mad you didn't jinx first.

Me: I did. In my head.

Awkward Dad: Love you!

It's true. That poor little boy is jinxed with shortness and awkwardness and a host of other nesses via me and his wonderful father. But his sensitive sweetness and ability to make it happen, no matter what, well, that's all him.

All his super little intense self.