Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Summer Binge

The last week of August is my traditional summer binge. In a blind panic, I try to stuff every single summer thing that I failed to do during those long leisurely days of endless sun and time. It's a good time. OK. No, actually, it's not. It's incredibly stressful and tense, and it usually ends with me shouting at the children, "Get in the van, we are gonna have some fun! I don't care if you're tired; get in the van! It's your last week of summer! Hurry! Hurry!" Then, I dissolve into tears, usually on the front lawn, for all the neighbors to enjoy. Super Kindergartner, ever thoughtful, will bring me a Freezie-Pop and we will sit out there and watch cars until I calm down.

Because you see, I'm trying to carry all the legos. Have you ever tried to carry all the legos, Readers? Well, there are a lot of them and they are weird shapes, so when you try to carry them all, they tend to fall and then you step on them and one rolls under the radiator and a baby eats one and it pretty much sucks. Each lego, by itself, is amazing. Unique and fun. And all put together and looked at from a couple steps back, they are pretty amazing too. Strong and solid. But in a big messy pile that I am trying to carry across the room? No, that's just a big messy pile. Summer binge is a big messy pile of legos and I'm not doing it this year. Nope. This year the summer is just gonna have to end quietly, with me and the Supers, eating Freezie-Pops on the front lawn, watching cars. No lego carrying at all.

Plus, I have school-supply binge, school-shoe-binge, and a full-on Super-Toddler-is-going-to-preschool freakout to have this week. I just don't have time for summer binge this year.

Stop carrying all the legos.
It never ends well!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. 6 months

So, we love half-birthdays in this house. (Mostly to get more cake.) Anywho, Super Kindergartner's half-birthday is next week and Super Baby just had his first one ever a few days ago. So, to celebrate, here are all my 6-month-old angels! Wonder if things have changed at all over these many 6 months......

First 6-month-old Angel.
Professional Picture.
Sent out in the Christmas cards that were on time that year.

Second 6-month-old Angel.
Taken by Awkward Mom on an actual camera.
Snapped during a stimulating session of
let's work on stacking blocks and sitting up.

Third 6-month-oldAngel.
Taken by Awkward Mom on a phone camera.
Quickly taken to show Awkward Dad this crazy onsie that I found hilarious. 
(While texting Awkward Dad the picture,
this angel might have fallen off the couch.....)

Fourth 6-month-old Angel.
Taken by Awkward Mom on a phone camera. 
I just took this picture for the sole purpose of this post. To take it, I had to remove the blanket from this angel's mouth. I also had to move 13 different toys that this angel's siblings decided to place on him. 

Yes, it appears that there have been a few changes 
over these many 6-months......
more babies to kiss, more half-birthdays to celebrate, and much much more cake!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Band-aids

"Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a miracle worker!"

Actually, I'm not a doctor either. I'm just a stay-at-home mom with questionable homemaker skills and a lot of self-doubt about my adequacy as a mother. But that's not the point. OK, well, it becomes the point eventually, but right now, the point is that Super Kindergartner has a new lovie.

OK, here's what happens: Super Kindergartner is very compassionate. It's one of his 5 main super powers. Therefore, it was no great shock that, while at the Reptile Zoo today, he fell in love with a gift-shop stuffed turtle with a tear in the leg. I normally say no to gift shop purchases, but because inconsistency is one of my 5 main super powers, I said yes to the lame turtle. I mean, are you gonna say no to the combination of "But Mom, he needs extra love; he has a broken leg." and this face?

No. No, you are not. 

Super K. lovingly carries this turtle all the way home, tucking him under his shirt so he won't get wet in the freak rainstorm we encounter and gingerly placing him on a pillow upon arrival. He is sitting next to his new friend, explaining the plot of Rio 2 (rain calls for lazy movie days), when I causally mention that I might be able to sew up that tear.

Super K.'s eyes grow huge and solemn. He looks at me with new respect and whispers, "You can fix him?!"

"Ummmm...sure. Well, I can try."

And I try. And I do. And, well, I fix him.

Super K. is ecstatic. "Mom, you are amazing! Could you fix Chuck? He has a rip on his nose. I put a band aid on him, but you are much better than a band-aid!"

He rushes away while I ponder being "better than a band-aid." Could I actually be better than a band-aid? Do I actually have some worth and skill and ability to offer? Maybe I am halfway OK at this whole stay-at-home-mom thing. Maybe I am more than OK. Maybe being just a stay-a-home mom is something I could rock, rather than merely survive. And maybe there is no just in "just a stay-a-home mom" or, if there is, maybe it's more of the morally right kind and less of the only kind. Maybe I don't have to be a doctor or lawyer or even work out of the home at all for my children to respect me. Maybe what I do is just as good. Maybe I am good.

Holy cats, that's a lot to take in; I am gonna have to brew on this for awhile. But one thing is certain, Readers. I am currently floating on air because my son thinks I am better than a band-aid. Better than a band-aid!

No, I'm not a doctor.
I'm a god-damn miracle worker.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Adult Parties

No, no, not that kind of party. Awkward Mom's trip to Chicago wasn't that exciting!

Now, I have a lot to tell you; many many adventures. But I also have a van to unload, 4 children who think we are still on central time, and a husband who brought back 3 bins of "treasures" from his childhood home that I have to find places for in this home. Therefore, I will save most of my sagas for later and just tell you one tiny tale.

At one point in our journey, we attended the party of one of Awkward Mom's oldest allies; The Poetic Playwright. He is setting off on a journey of his own (graduate school) and was holding a goodbye party. We happened to be in town to see him off, which was great. But, of course, I have to make things a touch awkward.

Now, this was decidedly an adult party. As the Poetic Playwright is an adult, this seems rather natural. I had fully intended to pop by the Poetic Playwright's place well before the party time of 8 p.m., give him our gift, chat a little, and leave before the children turned into gremlins. For a wide variety of reasons, this did not happen, and we pulled up in front of the Poetic Playwright's apartment at 8:25 p.m. Gremlins in tow.

We actually had to wake 3 of the children just to walk in the building. Super Baby snuggled into his baby wrap and went back to sleep. Super Toddler popped into Awkward Dad's arms and went back to sleep. Super Kindergartner zombie-walked to the door with hate in his eyes and lead in his legs. And Super Preschooler? Well, Super Preschooler danced up the walkway with a toy in his hand, a skip in his step, and a song in his heart. He's always been a bit of a night owl.

We stumble into the happening and are greeted with dead silence. OK, well, not Awkward Dad. Awkward Dad is greeting with wild abandon by a friend he hasn't seen in ages and they disappear to talk music and happily slap each other on the back and dude-hug in the kitchen. Super Kindergartner rolls his eyes at the whole scene, loudly dubs it "totally an adult party," and wanders off in search of anyone who will talk to him about Angry Birds. Super Toddler slips out of Awkward Dad's arms, finds the food, and starts shoving chips into her mouth. I am pretty sure she is still asleep. This leaves me standing in the middle of a circle of impossibly cool theater folks who were probably having a very animated and cheerful conversation before I landed in their midst wearing a sleeping baby and holding the hand of a blond little boy who is merrily opening and closing the little ball in his other hand. They look at me. I look at them. All the insecure feelings about not fitting in and being a total loser rise up in my throat and block anything halfway intelligent from coming out. I continue to stare around, blinking occasionally and trying not to hyperventilate.

Super Preschooler either isn't aware of this tension, or is and decides to fix it. He squeezes my hand once and then lets it go, before sauntering into the middle of this adult circle, gently tossing his little ball up and down in his hand. He lands center stage and looks around, making eye contact with everyone in the room, one at a time, allowing the anticipation to build to a fever pitch, before gleefully shouting, "Hey! Look at this!" and hurling the little ball straight at the wall. It seems to explode but it merely pops open to reveal the little robot inside, rolls around a little, and lands at Super Preschooler's feet. He scoops it up, grins at his flabbergasted yet delighted audience, pronounces the word "transform!" in his best magician's voice, and runs down the hallway to find his brother. I stare after him for a second before turning back to the smiles pointed at me and the many kind and welcoming "how-old-is-hes" and "what-an-adorable-childs" and "where-do-I-get-one-of-those-transformers!"

Transform, indeed. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Out Being Awkward

We are Chicago-bound, to visit some family and spread our awkward joy on the other side of Lake Michigan. Catch you on the flip-side, Readers! Hopefully with winsome tales from the Windy City!

Now to get all of this in the van;
who has seen Mommy's keys lately? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Some Errands

It was supposed to be easy. It was supposed to be seamless. It was supposed to be a little bit of nothing. What it was supposed  to be was 3 simple errands, at a total of 2 places, to be completed in the hour before we were meeting Awesome Mom at the Children's Museum.

1. The doctor's office to pick up Super Preschooler's and Super Toddler's vaccination records.
2. The school to drop off said records.
3. The school to get 3 long-sleeve shirts and 1 pair of pants to supplement Super Kindergartner's uniform wardrobe.

It was supposed to be easy.

It wasn't easy.


1. It rained.
2. It rained like Noah's ark was gonna come floating down the street any second.
3. Boots and raincoats and umbrellas keep everyone dry except the mom who has to herd children in boots and raincoats and umbrellas to the van. Children who suddenly have all the freedom in the world to dawdle and sight-see and daydream and leap into puddles because they are wearing boots and raincoats and umbrellas.
4. It takes more than 2 hands to load an infant car seat into the van and hold an umbrella. At some point you will have to make a choice about who is going to get wet in this scenario. It isn't going to be the baby.
5. The drive from our house to the doctor's office is not long enough to dry out. Not even remotely.
6. See #3 and add a stroller.
7. It takes 15 seconds to pick up the vaccination records, which is one tenth the time it takes to unload everyone and walk in here.
8. It takes twice that to reload everyone because Super Toddler sees a water fountain and everyone suddenly needs a drink. Guess walking outside and opening one's mouth is just too hard.
9. I am so frazzled at this point that I get lost driving back through our neighborhood to the school. Take a minute for that to sink in, Readers. I got lost. In our own neighborhood.
10. Even with getting lost, it is still not a long enough drive from the doctor's office to the school to dry out.
11. See #6 and picture me trying to desperately protect the vaccination records under my shirt. No. Never mind. Don't picture that.
12. Getting buzzed into the building, opening the door with my hip, pushing in the stroller, counting the children to make sure they all get in, and dealing with umbrellas take twice as long as the entire doctor's office trip.
13. I am told to take the vaccination records down 2 hallways and down 2 flights of stairs.
14. I make it down the 2 hallways and to the first set of stairs before it occurs to me that I have a stroller.
15. I leave the children at the top of the stairs with the stroller, and all the lurking ghosts that this school must have, before booking it down both flights of stairs, slipping into a door, and stumbling into the office I am looking for.
16. The coordinator of the preschool is on the phone and mimes me to wait.
17. I mime to her that I can't and kinda throw the vaccination records at her.
18. I run back to the children, am relieved no ghosts made off with them, and work my way back to the main office.
19. Super Toddler needs a diaper change. Very badly.
20. I pull into the nearest bathroom. The one with no changing table. I change her on the floor. We are all soaking wet. This is as disgusting as you might imagine.
21. This is a grade school bathroom so the toilets are tiny with little flower-shaped toilet seats. Super Toddler demands to "go potty."
22. Since Super Toddler just "went potty" in her diaper (in quite dramatic fashion, by the way), there is no need for her to do so again on the flower-shaped elf toilet.
23. Super Toddler says she is going to sit there until she goes again.
24. I try to refute this argument with some logic.
25. I lose.
26. After about 10 minutes in the bathroom, Super Toddler produces something she deems suitable and then washes her hands for about 5 minutes. I dress her and race back to the office.
27. We ask where the uniform exchange is.
28. We are told that it is up 2 flights of stairs.
29. I haul Super Baby out of the stroller and am halfway up the stairs before the secretary says she can turn on the elevator if I want.
30. Super Toddler has developed an aversion to elevators, so I say "no, thank you."
31. I resume climbing the stairs.
32. I forgot about Super Preschooler's aversion to heights but am quickly reminded of it when he starts howling from the bottom of the stairs.
33. I go down and carry him, and Super Baby, up the stairs.
34. Super Preschooler continues to howl in anticipation of the downward trip to come.
35. Super Toddler starts loudly insisting we visit the bathrooms up here.
36. Super Kindergartner wanders into a classroom where some poor teacher is trying to set up her classroom in peace.
37. I can't find any small long-sleeved shirts.
38. Repeat #34
39. Repeat #35
40. Repeat #36
41. Repeat #37 and size 5 pants seem rare too.
42. Super Toddler finds a "secret set of stairs" she wants to explore.
43. The idea of secret stairs sets Super Preschooler into a new wave of howling.
44. I finally find some long-sleeved shirts and 1 pair of size 5 pants.
45. I pretty much run down the hallway and back down the stairs, leaving Super Preschooler and Super Toddler at the top, screaming.
46. I buckle Super Baby in the stroller, tell Super K. to guard him, race upstairs, and carry both Super P. and Super T. down.
47. I poke my head in the office door, shout thanks to the secretaries over the noise of my children, and flee.
48. The fleeing is slowed by #3.
49. I race back the house, park in the driveway, and just sit there for a second contemplating what kind of a circus we would be downtown at the Children's Museum and how close to the edge I really am.
50. I pick up my cell phone to text Awesome Mom when it rings.
51. I answer it to be confronted with the coordinator of the preschool, who has no record that my children are enrolled for the coming year. We process this for awhile until I say, "Well, they are in the preschool enrichment program." And she says, "I have nothing to do with that program." I sigh. Heavily. She hears me sigh. Heavily. She says, "Why don't I just take these to the right person, Sweetie." I thank her and hang up.
52. I look at my phone to read the text that came in while I was on the phone.
53. That text from Awesome Mom says, "Hey, it's raining. Want us to just come over instead?"
54. I text "I love you. You are Perfect" before I realize that is creepy. So, I write "Yes, that sounds great" instead.
55. The journey into the house from the van and the shedding of rain items and my saturated clothing is long enough to warrant its own post, but I am too tired to write that now because I just did 3 errands at 2 places that were supposed to be easy.

"You really think anything is ever gonna be easy again?
Oh Mommy, that's hilarious." 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Making Friends

Making adult friends is a challenge. Making adult mom friends is a super challenge. And making adult mom friends when one is awkward is like the boss battle in a video game. (i.e. very very big super challenge) The whole reason this blog started was to chronicle my odd, desperate, and inadvertently hilarious traverses into the scary world of mom friends. It didn't start out very promising (flash-back, if you are feeling brave), but I hope that I have learned and grown in the last 4 years. My expanded circle of mom friends would seem to prove that I have, but I am not awkward for nothing.

Navigating the waters of adult friendship is a bit like piloting a crowded boat that seems to list to one side, while blind, tired, and hungry. It isn't easy. At least, it isn't for me. I really don't have any idea what I am doing most of the time and that leaves me prey to a ton of misunderstandings. Misunderstandings that love to lead to my most dangerous and self-destructive thoughts. 

"Why did she look at me crazy when I asked what the Ferber method was? Why don't I ever read those parenting books? I'm so stupid." 

"Why hasn't that mom accepted my Facebook friend request? She only has a full-time job, 3 children, and a household to run; it can't be because she is busy. It must be because she hates me." 

"I see that no one is commenting on this post, it must suck. I must suck. I am a terrible writer. Why do I bother? " 

"Well, that was dumb, can't believe I did that. Won't be returning to that playgroup any time soon." 

"Why am I always the one asking that mom for playdates? She never asks me. I think she is just being nice, but doesn't really like me." 

These thoughts go on and on; I have had a lot of practice honing my self-loathing. A seeming lifetime of viewing myself as the outsider. The unwanted. The one everyone pities. It doesn't seem to matter that there is little to no evidence that anyone currently sees me this way. I will find it, twist it, or just plain make it up; I have a low self-esteem to justify here, people. 

Which then leads to the checkmate move of the unloved; "Fine. Don't play with me. I'll just take my toys and go home." 

So, I am sitting here, seething at ghosts. Nursing make-believe hurts and self-inflicted wounds, when I happen to glance up at my children, happily playing some complicated game involving a homemade obstacle coarse. (thank you, America Ninja Warrior). They move so differently; from each other and certainly from my lumbering ship of self-pity. Like usual, they are such magical manifestations of the skills I so totally lack. 

Super Kindergartener moves with an effortless limber grace. He navigates the treacherous waters of friendship with the abilities of Michael Phelps crossed with a mermaid. "Let's play princess. Don't wanna play princess? OK, let's play house. Don't wanna play house? OK, how about princess house?" He's a peacemaker, an includer, and a gentle glue holding many a playdate together. And when his negotiating skills fail, he just waits. He waits with a patience I certainly didn't give him. He places all his cards on the table and holds nothing back. Pride is of no use to Super Kindergartener. He sets all his toys in front of his friend, smiles, and waits for him or her to be ready. His patient understanding that others just move in different times and to different rhythms is light years ahead of his age. It's light-years ahead of my age. It's light years ahead of any age really.

Super Preschooler is no less graceful but his movements are much smaller. He swims slowly through the friendship water like a benign and solitary whale; massive and magnetic. Super Preschooler is going to play whatever it is he wants to play whenever he wants to play it. Legos in the middle of a Frozen showing. Reading in the dead of the night. Flower picking in the center of a soccer match. Super Preschooler is Ferdinand the Bull and he's quite happy under this tree, thank you very much. Now, if you want to join him, he'll usually just shift over and hand you a flower, but he won't go dashing after you. You'll come to him if you want to, and believe me, you'll want to. 

Super Toddler flips through the waves like a playful dolphin; all cheer and energy. She claims most new acquaintances as "my friend" despite mere moments of knowing each other. She'll tackle-hug and then laugh off any avoidance or rejection. She knows that's their issue, not hers. Her beauty is unique and total; strangers can't help but smile at her when she races by, trailing laughter and random toys in her wake. Don't be fooled by age; the friendship waters at age 2 can be just as scary and frightening as those bigger adult rapids. Super Toddler bounces off jagged rocks and hurt feelings with a fierce and fearless joy. There are adventures just around this bend; don't get bogged down in the sluggish shallows. Risk it all and soar above the waves; letting the mist of misunderstanding blow around you, like so much nonsense. 

Super Baby can't do the obstacle coarse yet, but he watches them with eyes that burn with bliss. He swims around the floor with outstanding range, given that he is limited to rolls, tiny leg pushes, and wiggles. His gentle love of any who hold him or come near him is guileless. His trust is total. He accepts you as you come and peers into your face with acceptance, not with preconceived notions or theories to prove. Plus, he has a smile that reaches his eyes every single time, which is no mean feat for anyone, be they 5 months or 50 years. 

How are they like this? Where did they learn this? It certainly wasn't from me; me who can't even muster up enough self-confidence to believe that times have changed and I am not that lonely 12-year-old anymore. But then, like a splash of water, it hits me. (Well, there may have been some really water involved. It appears there is a water-gun section of the obstacle coarse.) What hits me is the shocking but rather warm splash that they did get it from me. All this self-confidence. This strength. This effortless and graceful running through life. They have that because I have created a home and a world where it is safe to try things. It is safe to fall. It is safe to make mistakes and say the wrong thing and not know how to do something. It is a safe world they are growing up in, and who manages that world but me. Silly, awkward, not-quite-with-it, sometimes-piloting-the-ship-into-the-rocks me. Is it perfect? Nope. But neither is the world I am preparing them for. 

In my own flailing failing way, I have taught my children to swim. And just look at them go. 

Wow. Just look at them go. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Screens

We are surrounded by screens. Blinking boxes that demand our attention and, if we're not careful, our souls. Screen is a multiplier villain; he has a ton of clones running around, trying to mess with us. TVs. Computers. Phones. Bombarding us with images that we need to live up to; commercials, perfect Pinterest creations, our frenemy's photos of her trip to Aruba. We start to panic; we suck, our lives suck, everything sucks. The parent stuff is the worst. Everyone seems to have perfect children, but us. Everyone seems to be making kale. Everyone seems to have early readers. Everyone is better. Everyone but us. Envy takes over, or maybe despair. The one that visits me, via Screen, is crippling self-doubt. Screen has many minions that he uses to suck up souls. It's so easy.

But you know what else is easy? Looking to the left of the screen and seeing this:

Or this:

Maybe this:

Ample evidence that you are doing just fine. You wanna know why? Here's why: You maintain life. Life, Readers! You nourish and tend to the very matter that the universe is made of. You are star tenders. You are the guardians of the future. You feed the minds that will rule the planet one day, often watering that fertile soil with your own tears. And you are magnificent gardeners, Readers, because your plants don't just stay alive; they thrive. They grow. They take over like kudzu. The life you maintain is astonishing in grace, power, and ability. And it is that way because of you.

That's easy too, Readers. Just a little shift of your eyes to the left. Or right. Children like to move, so they may be on the right now. Oh wait, they might be back on the left. How are they so fast? What are you feeding this life of yours, Readers? Miracle Grow?

Yes, I realize that it is rather strange to convey this message via Screen. But life, as well as parenting, is messy and inconsistent and awfully awkward, so I am choosing to just go with it. Just going with it has served me pretty well thus far. 

Here's some more evidence we are doing just fine. 
Someone invented a mustache pacifier.