Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear Fellow Mother Of Boys...

Dear Fellow Mother Of Boys,
Below is a link to a posting by however prior to sharing it with you, I thought I'd add my own two cents...
1) If your husband has extensive travel commitments, after day 4 of him being away, DO NOT put yourself in a horizontal position on the floor or a low couch. You will be tackled and there will be attempts to engage you in wrestling. And you will likely get hurt and someone will end up in tears. Most likely YOU.
2) Dance with your boys often every day if you can because upon entering Middle School you will be forbidden from dancing in public...or singing anything that resembles THEIR music, or wear a bathing suit that may not cover your chin and toes.
3) Do not ask, "Do you like my new haircut?" Boys do not develop a poker face until they learn how to play poker (our house, age 10 as I consider it math), and the will respond with, "Uhmmm..." Or in my case, "You look like a boy."
4) When you open the door and 2 or more boys are standing over the potty, simply ask them to clean up from said, "Sword Fighting," as it's inevitable that someone's going to miss. On the flip side, they will have great fun even though you will never quite understand the challenge yourself!
5) Buy a membership to Costco for them, and a membership to a gym for you...they only grow vertically and can consume calories at a miraculous rate.
6) Never, never, ever, never judge another parent. Every child is unique and a blessing in his own way. So are the Mother Of Boys!
Benj, Elliott, Jeremy- I love you more than tongue can tell. I love you more than there are fish in the ocean, stars in the sky, chocolate chips in the chocolate chips pancakes... and you are the greatest gifts I have in my life. If you ever get around to reading my posts, please don't ask me to un-post...?!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

They Can Dress Me Up But They'd Rather I Didn't Go Out

I bought a pair of running shoes at Dick's Sporting Goods yesterday. They were discovered by Dan and the boys today... "NO Mom!" "Absolutely not Mom!" "They look like you took every highlighter from your desk and decorated your shoes with them. Are you in need of attention Mom?" And then, I looked to my baby, my little Jeremy. "Uhm, no. I agree with them. Those are just the ugliest shoes."
Number 1: Unlike the male members of my family, I am actually running. Began running a year ago and despite having bought new Asics for my son and a few pair of Nike's for the others, one Mallin Man has yet to join me on the track. Woosies! My niece and nephew ran with me this summer. Maybe I should have bought them running shoes!
Number 2: Who asked for their fashion advice anyway? The new, absolutely adorable Asics sport bright polka dots against a white background. So girlie! So cute! I love my new pair of running shoes! I can hardly wait to put them on in the morning and I smile just thinking bout making my way downstairs to watch the View while racking up miles on the treadmill. Doing so, BTW- while the rest of the house sleeps. Woosies. It would appear that Girl Power literally "runs" this house.

Since when would I seek fashion advice from my children? Every time my oldest son sees me, frowns and comments on my Mom jeans I respond with, "Hey Benj the Calvins may be from Costco but your education ain't! Go study." I'm not exactly the picture you see in fashion magazines with the big X over the face. Then again, I can't justify what jeans cost now.

They hunt, they wear camouflage and bright orange for heaven's sake. They fish, they wear...well, whatever they find regardless of whether it matches or not. Sometimes the clothes are not even necessarily on the right person or clean for that matter. They throw together an outfit for leisure or dress, you can bet is will involve a white t-shirt and flannel. Those shirts are a staple in our house like milk & Oreos. A day doesn't go by that there is not flannel and a T seated at my table.
Hello?! And you want to advise me on my workout shoes? My adorable polka dotted workout shoes are the cutest thing since ruby red slippers.

A few hours ago in the kitchen, Dan looked at me sideways. "Might you," he gently inquired, "want to iron that?"
Uhmmm... This would be the crinkle scarf that is sewn in little feminine waves. I paid for these waives just as I paid for the polka dots.
"Actually, it's the style. Much like the weathered Packer tshirt I bought you. You know, it's supposed to be a little unique." He's looking at me with the deer in headlights look. "You know the one. The one you like to wear... a lot" Truth be told, I love seeing my husband in his Packer t-shirts. As he is to his family, to his friends, and to those that he works with, so too is Dan loyal to his team. I love this about him. And I love that he thought my scarf was fashion challenged.

I don't actually mind that my boys speak their mind about what I'm wearing. In a really loving and protective way, they are trying to take care of me. I bought a pair of leggings to wear with my high winter boots. While putting the finishing touches on my outfit, Elliott came in. "Is that what you're wearing to the Lenny Kravitz concert?"
"Do you really want to look like a suburban housewife at a Lenny Kravitz concert?"
"Uhm, you think?" I turn around now so he can see that along with the leggings and long sweater there is a little tank top and a very cool (if I may say so myself) necklace.
"Oh, okay bye." And he exits in a hurry. I guess he may have preferred the suburban housewife look after all?

And so, we have yet another issue to work out, my boys and me. I have to dress in a way that they like but it shouldn't call any attention to the fact that I'm a girl? I guess I won't go buy that camouflage bustier and legging set I've been admiring...

Friday, March 2, 2012

SIRI, find SIRI!

Friday morning my husband drove me to the airport for a 7:00am flight and then turned right around and headed back home where he readied the kids for school. Bless his evolved Dad of 2012 soul for when my dear, dear and former neighbor invited me to spend a few days with her out of town, I jumped. Just a few months prior to departure, Dan had booked my flight so that my parachute could land in Miami. Gotta love those Frequent Flyer miles or if you've read my prior blogs, Munchausen Miles.

I, though initially jumping, went vacillated as to whether I should leave my boys. Two middle schoolers and a high schooler with busy schedules, I wondered if it was fair to Dan. On one hand, Dan works long hours, including most evenings. Then again, as a dear and very honest long time friend reminded me (following my third flip flop), I work plenty hard too. Mother, and homemaker, my world is pretty demanding as well. People actually want and pay to hear what Dan has to say. My little customers...not so much. Dan, a die hard entrepreneur, has lived in an exciting corporate world filled with endless, grueling hours of work but also a great deal of travel and fun and fulfillment. I love being wife and Mother to my family. That said, I am, as the primary hands on parent, always available to my family either at home where I work most days or when I'm out and about by phone. I drive them to school each morning and pick them up at the end of the school day. There are no assigned days off and the majority of my days are related to things I manage for my family and our home. I can be reached by texting, even when I'm teaching or working hospice or somewhere volunteering in the school my children attend each day. Dan has absolutely become more involved in our children's life over the years and would certainly be able to manage for a long weekend. No more flipping or flopping. Time for me to travel and have fun outside of Minnesota.

My first hours in the Keys were uneventful. I sat looking at an extraordinary view of the ocean, leisurely eating a fresh salad with fresh filled Mahi Mahi. Granted I was still wearing black leggings and boots and a shirt with a long sweater looking like quite the tourist in 75 degree and sunshine but I didn't care, even a little. I wore these clothes intentionally as upon my return, I needed to go directly to school for two evening meetings. But that was four lovely, leisure days away and until then Dan would manage everything and blissfully, I had no where to go and all day to get there. it would be hours later until I would realize that my phone ringer was still turned off from the flight. The text, "where is..." and "Dad won't let me..." arrived long after dark.

I awoke the next morning at 10:26am. What an awful house guest I am! My dear empty nester, retired snowbird gal pal has been an earlier rise since I've known her- almost 18 years. By the time I exited my bedroom, my hostess Debbie had already eaten breakfast, read the local paper, walked her dog, gone out for her bike ride, was on the second load of laundry and was now finishing up her crossword puzzle . She was well into the fourth hour of her day. I, on the other hand, still had moisturizer drying on the tip of my nose and was making a b-line for the Keurig machine, eager to load my Caribou hit.

"Oh Debbie, I'm so sorry and so embarrassed, I can't believe my first day here I slept in so late. I know you get a jump start on the day. You did mention the other guests rave about the bed in there but gosh, I really slept like a rock."

Debbie just knowingly smiled. "It is the most incredible bed- I'll grant you that but with 3 young boys, a house to run, all of your volunteer work up at school and now hospice..." Pause. "Elliott being sick...oh and the stress of your recent strike..."

"Very funny little Missy." We are both smiling now. All of this and more seems a million miles away. "Well, when you word it like that, perhaps I should go lie back down!" Nothing like a gal pal to support you and encourage self care. After all, who takes care of the Mom?

No time or desire for rest now as the sunny blue skies of the Keys are awaiting us. A leisurely tour of the neighborhood followed by another lunch ocean side are on today's agenda. Pinch me. This is a long, long way from the morning routine back home. And it would soon come to pass that I would feel even further from home as within 24 hours my iPhone would be stolen from under my nose and we would be stranded in a boat that unexpectedly ran out of gas.

Suffice to say, what happens in the Keys stays in the keys. Beginning at 4:20 pm, we would join my husband on a journey as he remotely tracked my iPhone on Find My Phone. Initially he texted my MIA phone, "if found please call" and left his own cell phone number. Unfortunately before the law enforcement would even arrive to the home of my hostess, my phone had crossed the ocean, stopped at a gas station, stopped at a barber for a haircut, hung out at a residence just spitting distance for a police station, and then to our frustration, disbelief and yes- amusement, SIRI the IPhone went into an apartment complex, left the apartment to hang out ocean side and a few minutes later she went back into the complex. At this point we were all a bit vested and glued to the computer screen watching my phone travel.

SIRI was powered off shortly after 10:00 pm when the first squad car went to retrieve her. At midnight, when she was tuned back on, Dan was getting a little annoyed and he and our youngest son went rogue. "If you return this phone to the police station- less than a block from your current location, we will not press charges. We have tracked you..." and then Father and son proceeded to list every stop these hoodlums had made since first making off with my phone. Jeremy (who was up well passed the ascribed bedtime I had written in the notes Dan requested) asked if our last text could be, "FU!"
"Absolutely not! We are not going to stoop to their obnoxious level nor are we going to make them angry on the off chance they have a change of heart, do the right thing and return my phone." Always a Mother, I really needed to take the high ground here.

"FU, you F'in F'ers. Give me back my F'in phone Mother F'ers," is what Debbie and I actually came up with but I was certainly not going to share that with my boys. They were having enough fun and excitement for one night. Admittedly though, I most certainly did fantasize about sending it.

Speaking of which, the police officer who responded to our initial call (due to traffic, almost 2 hours following our initial call to the police station), more than made up for the delay in looks and professionalism. And in fact, I think the Keys community should consider a Law Enforcement Calendar. (For charity of course! I'm happily married, going on 20 years. That said, I'm on vacation- I'm not dead. And actually you would have had to be a corpse not to notice him.) Perhaps Debbie can post an order form on Facebook if the house tour fundraiser gets old and they do decide to have a new sort of fundraiser.

At two am, the final showdown of our tracking adventure when three squad cars arrived, the criminals shut her down again. Poor SIRI. These thieves were not the sharpest knives in the drawer and had fired her up again so Dan who had been checking the computer tracking on and off as was directed by the police, had called the police back with any news. Before she was sadly, ultimately and remotely "wiped" and shut down by Dan, she sat in the parking lot for hours but only after Dan's final text. In his defense, it had been a long night tracking my phone and talking with various dispatchers and police officers. And well, if he was about to take a $700 hit, he was going to get his entertainment monies worth. On the off chance my children do secretly read my Blog, I'm not sharing the text. (If you're reading this guys, just tell me and I'll share verbatim, what Detective Daddy/Clint Eastwood sent in his final text message.

I awoke a little earlier the following morning. Sun and fun, shopping and lunching were waiting. Debbie grabbed her phone and purse. I wanted to do the same, as well as check in at home but quickly realized I didn't have my phone. "Those F'ers!" How would anyone text me? I felt so far away. Then again, no one could text me. I felt so far away... We headed out for a bike ride, some souvenir shopping and lunch. We had to stay on a schedule today as before dinner Debbie had planned for a little boat tour with local friends. Let's call them The Gilligans.

This is where "what happens in the Keys stays in the Keys" comes into play.
Suffice to say, gas tank unexpectedly reading empty, we quietly coasted in our boat for a little while in that wise, veteran wife learned manner. Together, as the Captain of the boat steered, Debbie, boat hostess Mrs. Gilligan and I practiced uncomfortable silence and the Homecoming Queen waves as we passed neighbors relaxing on their docks. A good wife knows when to remain silent, not offer suggestions or, G-d forbid- directions. A good wife, secure in her marriage also knows that come the next day, none of the neighbors will hear of this but certainly there will be a few little references throughout the day like, "too bad Deb didn't have her iPhone." And, "hey at least we weren't stranded on some remote island in the middle of the ocean like The Skipper, Thurston and Mrs. Howell?"

Like all good things, so too must my trip come to an end. I had a wonderful vacation with my friend Debbie and all of her fabulous neighbors. The weather was perfect and grilled fish twice a day was a treat I could get used to. I hope to return with Dan one day as I think he would enjoy visiting the Keys as well. Good bye dear Keys, good bye and thank you Debbie, and yes-good bye Siri. You did an exceptional job of keeping me connected to my family and without you I truly missed feeling connected (except on a few occasions like when I read my book by the pool, when I was dining and conversing, when I was sleeping, when I was on the boat…). I hope, in memory of you Siri, one of my kids will develop a means to, before "wiping" one's phone once it has been stolen, shock the mother fu&*%# who steals it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Munchausen Miles

For those of you who are not familiar with Munchausen By Proxy, the term refers to a disorder by which a Mother illicits the attention and sympathy of medical professionals through the intentional sickening of her children. It's actually not funny in real life when you think about it but today does not feel like real life to me. I feel like I'm living in a sitcom and when I awaken, I'll have three little boys in GAP t's and elastic waisted matching shorts and this will all just be a silly dream brought on by listening to the ridiculous Mothers conversations between Mothers of teenagers who clearly have problems in the parenting skills area. Or so I, naive young Mother still wet behind the ears, thought (judged) before my own little cherubs blossomed into teenagers.
I have been humbled.

I am writing following the third pediatric doctor's appointment today. My Tuesday began with an early morning call from the school nurse regarding our middle son. A subsequent mid morning visit to our pediatrician was next and was followed immediately by a visit to Children's Hospital of Minneapolis for additional testing- the lovely Pertussis nasal sweep, a distant cousin of the absolutely kid preferred Q-tip strep throat gagger. Perfectly articulated by our little patient, "absolutely worse than the resetting of my arm Mom." First poor guy brakes his arm. Then his mother goes on strike (during which time he's happily OD'd on Velveeta Mac&Cheese and sporting stiff- from too much detergent and hung to dry boxers…) yet my boys is unwilling to end the strike with the rest of us. He cant sleep and now the potential diagnosis of Whooping Cough. Poor kiddo...

And so, I respectfully submit to Mothers of America, and nutritionist everywhere: Can you guide your somewhat resistant family to "eat clean" and yet agree to the rare request of a Mc Donald's drive thru when you're A) running late B) admittedly frazzled and C) feeling badly for the middle child who may or may not haven fallen between the cracks on the illness sidewalk because he's rarely demanding (though stubborn) and more often than not, an easier child? Does talking and ordering food-like products into a voice box outside make me not only Major Bad Mama but also Captain Food Hypocrite? We did just stop at the pharmacy to pick up the prescribed anti-biotics so perhaps a boost of extra antibiotics that I'm sure found its way into the "hamburger" may be considered a good thing…? Justified!

Golden arches bag handed off to the back seat, finally today- though booked 2 weeks prior, our final medical stop of the day. Time for the follow up visit for our youngest son; a recheck on his sprained foot. A frequent and recent visitor to this Orthopedic Surgeon's office, perhaps my car may just go on auto pilot like they do on Delta flights so I can eat too. (If you're keeping track, as of 4:30 pm, 4 conversations with medical professionals- not including the lovely ladies at the front desks and the booking departments, and the pharmacist. No time for a sit down lunch.) As this day progresses, I'm feeling like my strike was 2 years ago and I'm now back- full throttle and fueled with petroleum based cheese and a GMO bun... And like every fossil fuel dependent, good American consumer, I'm racking up the miles. Nice footprint legacy today...

Actually, I left out the one medical conversation- a brief email fired off to the pediatrician in the wee hours of the morning (prior to school nurse call) when my middle son awoke with another coughing fit- hence appointments 1-3 (see above). My unsolicited advice to any parent: Spend as much time and resources looking for your OBGYN as you wish but what matters most in your little Black Doctor Book is your pediatrician. Dr. Hobbs has saved our boys both literally and figuratively. And it doesn't hurt that both my husband and I think he's armed with not just a plethora of medical knowledge and the best in his field (just ask Minneapolis St Paul Magazine). Dr. hobbs is armed with a great sense of humor and relaxed manner, and he has put us at ease more than once in his office and at the hospital. Don't let that demeanor fool you however as when in the midst of an undiagnosed illness running rampant through our internationally traveling son or a limb dangles at an angle that is unfamiliar to me, he certainly runs show. I've never shared the last name of my babysitters as there are those that will recruit them from right under your nose and book 3 years worth of Saturday nights but I am, against my better judgment- mentioning our doctor's full name because if you're a parent of boys like mine, I'd be a rat not to pass it on.

Thankfully home after the long day but very much aware that the night is young and G-d only knows if we're headed out for an additional prescription or doctor visit yet again. (I speak from experience). So following our very busy medical day, I am ceasing the moment to write during a more quiet period. I actually think it's somewhat cathartic to write following a day like this so if it's not a hit with you at least I'm feeling a little better. My husband, bless his post-strike heart, is working to catch up at the office after being out of town. He offered to pick up dinner as I was a bit swamped today and never quite made it to our neighborhood grocery store- Costco. My youngest son, post sprained foot check up, is completing homework at the kitchen table. My middle son,though still coughing, is alive and well following the morning's events and pity lunch. He is resting comfortably in his room upstairs- where I run up to check on him when the kitchen reminder timer dings. And our eldest is "stranded here" as I won't give up my car just in case there is an after hours emergency- a 5th visit to a medical professional. Again, the night is young. I'm not ruling out anything and certainly I'm not going to jinx myself…again.

The existing jinx is about 16 hours old. I will mention here that late, late last night (officially early this am) we returned from a trip during which we visited 8 colleges in 4 days with our eldest son. Before finishing up on my arrival-home-to-do-list, I remember thinking to myself, "hey, it may be 2:30 am but my husband and I were able to travel away from home and two children without a fall, a break, an ER visit for stitches or a Strep outbreak. It's a good week, a good trip." That is when Elliott joined me in the kitchen to inform me of his coughing fit. I shared with him that I was updating my Blog and mentioned aloud that this may be a record for us. In the last 4 years there have been countless incidents when we have left town and our children have taken ill or gotten injured. Well, you may ask, "why don't you stop leaving town?" If only it were that simple. First, it happens when we're home and when we're away. (This was just a good 4 day run.) It happens if we're traipsing through a Rainforest or through the Northwoods. My children don't discriminate. Injuries and illness occur whenever, wherever. Second, there isn't enough bubble wrap for my boys. My dear friend Dana suggested bubble wrap for my three sons. There is not enough manufactured in these United States to protect and contain my wonderful boys. Third, you might want to try not to judge. It didn't bode so well for me as here again tomorrow I will sit- insurance card in hand and countless hours ahead of me at the dining room table sorting out what I paid for who, when, where, and why. I am using my Delta Visa to pay these numerous bills as I am a shameless miles whore. After the last four years my husband and I have made a pact that one day soon we're going away, alone where there are no cell towers. Note to self: tomorrow do an iPad search for "currently attending med school student, looking for part time work with children". And, notify school and pediatrician of pending travel plans...

With reference to the aforementioned pact following whirlwind 4 years of our life with 3 very busy boys and our injury/illness list up until now…it is admittedly a dream light years away. In the meatime a few friends have suggested that I should write a book about my life as the Mother of 3 boys. The challenge- there doesnt ever seem to be enough time now and later I don't think I'll ever remember all of this! How my day (and life) with our kiddos has gone so far could absolutley fill a few chapters but for now it seems, a blog will have to do.

Bare with me now please as though detailed, there's some logic here. I'd like to run down a few things in case it triggers my memory later when I'm lounging on a beach, on some exotic island writing my book. Perhaps even a little humor here too. After all, laughing is the best form of medicine. If necessary, and you struggled with the sequence of today's doctor visits, perhaps keep track of who broke what and where with Post-its and pen? It's what I do and it seems to work. (If nothing else, you'll support 3M, a locally based company and the manufacturer of Post its. They also make the finest bandages and sterile wraps and I for one, absolutely need them to stay in business.). And perhaps one day I may call you for the Cliff notes?

First thing this morning, as I mentioned, the school nurse called to share with me her concern about my Middle Schooler's persistent cough. We've spoken before.- Nurse Karen and I. This MIddle Schooler has struggled with his broken arm for 6 weeks now. It's big, it's awkward and he can't sleep very well. But It's all relative though as three years ago our eldest broke his arm only 6months into the same school year at his then, new school. 6 weeks later, after a few days out of his cast, he was in a ski accident over Spring Break in Aspen. This is the call a parent dreads as he was there with another family. After a brief stay in the ICU of the Aspen Hospital which specializes in trama, we brought him home in a wheel chair with a breathing apparatus, 2 broken arms- surgically pinned and repaired, strained ligaments in his leg, and later we would discover, a significant concussion. (Thank you Dr. Sunberg, our beloved Orthopedic Surgeon who actually diagnosed the head trauma.) Same kid contracted Strep and Staph while doing service work in Fiji and returned to a subsequent 3 day stay at Chiidlren's Hospital Minneapolis. Last year, thankfully, he returned home from Australia with just a little sleep deprivation. So I guess, looking on the bright side, last year was a good year for our eldest.

I can not leave out the youngest child as truth be told, as is the case with many a baby of the family, our littlest tyke is tougher than the sum of his two brothers and parents combined. An enormous heart, generous beyond words, and a quick witted sense of humor, this bright baby of the family has caused the least of the gray hairs that quickly overrun my head. In fact, I believe Nurse Karen has recently had our youngest in her office with his sprained foot. We discovered at a recent visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon of son 1 and 2 that son 3 has been walking around on a sprained foot for upwards of 3 months. As for his visit to Nurse Karen, I'm not certain but he may have been in there last week as well to rest his booted foot. Otherwise, barely a mention until it hurt enough for him to limp into the kitchen and complain of intermittent pain once or twice a month. Today though it was our middle son in the capable and caring hands of Nurse Karen. I hear she has a new couch in her office. Maybe I could visit Karen too- as just the attempt to document the last 4 years is giving me a headache. That is, if she can squeeze me in between my sons' visits.

Are you still with me? Need a fresh Post It? Back now where we began today and where we will stay- with our mIddle son who had intermittently complained of that cough that appeared and disappeared intermittently over the last few weeks. It prevented him from getting sleep though this is not unusual for him. We call him "The Thinker." He's our most lovable pickle-in-the-middle and he goes with the flow so when he occasionally referenced his coughing initially as no big deal, we thought the same. (He does a lot of work in that beautiful brilliant head of his before surrendering to sleep. Likewise, during his waking he has any number of fascinating insights and facts to share. Cough was not high on his list.) Hence the reference to the crack and the sidewalk. Frankly speaking, I'm not certain that had this been our first born, 6 month old baby, we would a) been home watching him sleep and/or had the baby monitor set to 10 on my nightstand and b) would have phoned and woken the pediatrician on call with very little attention paid to the lateness of the hour.

Another injury for the record, if you are eventually going to accuse me of Munchausen should be disclosed. Before doing so however, take a few minutes to add to your contacts: Dr. Hobbs (Pediatrician) and Dr. Sunberg/Dr. Lane (Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons)). Add Minneapolis Children's Hospital (especially friendly and easy to navigate this enormous facility but perhaps because I am a former volunteer at Children's Hospital as who better to empathize with visiting patient families than a Mother who has sat in the OR waiting room herself). Next, enter under "O" for Orthopedic Surgery Clinic Gilette Childrens St. Paul, and "P" for physical therapy at Gilette Children's West. (Mention our name at Gilette's as they may remember us. While scheduling Jeremy's follow up PT appointments for his foot, our other son suffered a coughing fit and proceeded to throw up in the garbage can under the complimentary coffee bar in the waiting-room. Youngest son immediately hobbled over on one foot to enthusiastically share the details.) Occupational therapy visits were best at Minneapolis Children's. And finally, enter "C" for Cosmetic Dentistry (lost a front tooth to a water ski) Bassett Creek).

Wait. Don't log off. Dang it! "V" is for the flippin' Vet! Our dog Ricky, the batteries in her collar must need replacing,-ran through the Invisible Fence this morning and she is now limping across the kitchen floor. Well, get it line Little Miss Ricky!
I'll try and get her an appointment for tomorrow. Sometime after 10:00am as I've got to get through that stack of medical bills and insurance submissions. Perhaps the vet accepts Delta Visa as well? I could use the Frequent Flyer MIles. Or should we call them Munchausen Miles?!
Hey, call me what you wish but the more frequent flyer miles the closer I am to that tropical island vacation with Dan...

Monday, February 20, 2012

California Here We Come

I'm on an airplane en route to Los Angeles. I have such fond memories of traveling to LA as a child. We had family in Beverly Hills and traveled there every few years. The glamour of Rodeo Drive and the famous neighbors were a trip in itself. When I was 16 years old and beginning to consider college and moving away from home, I traveled there alone to stay with relatives and college friends of my parents. One day, early on in my visit, I vividly recall walking outside to enjoy the morning sunshine. A neighbor, still wearing her housecoat, with the most vibrant head of red hair I had ever seen was also outside and retrieving her morning paper. We exchanged a brief hello and friendly wave. She looked so familiar but I couldn't quite place why I recognized her. Later over breakfast I mentioned that a kindly neighbor and I exchanged a pleasant wave and "good morning" but that I couldn't quite place why she looked so familiar or why I would recognize anyone so far from home...

"Oh, that's Lucille Ball."
Whao! Dairy State Teen in greener pastures. Seriously? My hosts, "had some 'splaining to do." I love Lucy! Always have. In fact, when my first son was born and awake for the fifth time in five hours and nursing in the wee hours of the morning, occasionally we would quietly have Nick At Night to keep us company. Lucky for us it was usually I Love Lucy.

Decades later, here I sit aboard an airplane returning to Los Angeles. And once again, I don't quite recognize the person next to me. He looks so familiar but I can't quite place him. Like most men of his generation, he's plugged in and logged in. No ears to hear me and eyes glued to the screen in front of him, unable to see me. His loss as I consider myself a fairly decent conversationalist. I certainly love to talk about my children but I know that can be so boring to travelers so I often keep my private life private and discuss a variety of other engaging topics. Actually, I enjoy listening on airplanes more than speaking because I find the stories of strangers fascinating. Suppose it fits with my profile as a writer. I like new stories and interesting people.

I wonder about the story of the man next to me. Curious where this journey will lead the stranger next to me. Will he enjoy his time in California as much as I intend on enjoying mine. What sorts of things will he be drawn to on this trip? Will his travel lead to meaningful work or mostly a life of leisure? What educational and career opportunities does the world hold for him? Will he return to Minnesota if he falls in love with California. He's an attractive young man. Is he in love with anyone now? Is she good to him? Will she be as good to him as I can be? Will she love him and keep him safe. Will he be blessed with children? He has such a childlike way about the way he moves. He's actually not moving just now as he's fallen asleep. So sweet... His dirty blond hair has fallen over his right eye and he's leaned a bit into my seat area. I won't move him though because I'm enjoying having him close...

As a little boy I would teach him," this is your friend's bubble and that space is your space and bubble. " I would make an exaggerated pretend circle around myself and then one around him. But recently he has built a wall where there was once only a temporary bubble circle around himself. It feels like a lifetime ago when I could crawl into that bubble circle and hug and kiss him. I could wrestle him and tickle him until we were both gasping for breath between our loud, uninhibited belly laughing. Now I am outside the bubble, looking in.

Gazing down at my seat mate, he vaguely reminds me of the little boy who liked me to play with his hair and tell made up stories using his name as the lead character. The little boy I used to know wanted to spend every waking moment with me. How many times did I read Curious George and Frog And Toad before he would agree to nap? Countless afternoon episodes of Mr. Rogers, together on the couch and even more hours outside, we were joined at the hip. Sometimes together, and then eventually over time, alone he began to explore if I promised to watch from the kitchen window.

It seems like only just yesterday that a very, very excited little boy ran in from the backyard asking for help with his Oshkosh Bygosh overalls as he did what I affectionately called the "Potty Dance". Shifting his little toddler self from one foot to the other and back again, barely standing still long enough for me to undo the overall clasps. "Potty. Hurry Mommy!" Then, having reached his destination, bathroom door slightly ajar he would yell to me in the kitchen, " I found a frog. A big one! I'm going to name him Frog. He's my best friend. And, I'm going to need another Tupperware and put holes in the top please. And I'll bring him in my room so he can sleep next to Fish. Okay Mommy? Mommy, okay?"
"Sounds like a plan Boo. What do you think Frog likes to eat?"
"I'm not hungry."
I pause...
"Oh Mommy, actually I am. Can I have some Ritz Bitz in the blue bowl please?"
And out he comes, heading in the direction of the kitchen, struggling to clip his overalls back together- his latest attempt at independence.
"Flush and wash please." He turns back the other direction while yelling over his shoulder.
"I needed your help first." My bad. If only I knew then that the day would so quickly come when he'd no longer ask. When he'd no longer share all the names of his friends (Should I just call that one Girlfriend when reminding him she is not welcome upstairs to see Fish?!) When he'd prefer to eat out alone rather than in the kitchen with me.

When did the young man next to me stop asking for my help? And when did the tables turn as now he carries my bag and tells me, "Jeez Mom, you need a nap." Tomorrow morning we will begin our first campus tour in what is sure to be a whirlwind weekend of looking at potential colleges for the stranger next to me. This is but another leg of the journey that will take my son further away from me and that much closer to all that I have imagined and dreamed for him.

Time to turn off all electronic devices as the plane is beginning its descent into LAX. I guess you could say I of course always knew that this moment would be coming but so soon? It feels like the journey just started. What if I need more time? What if I'm not ready? I have more to say. There's more I want to do together. I'll stay up late with you now instead of turning in early. We could watch old reruns of I Love Lucy and eat Ritz Bitz.

He as gotten my carry-on down from the overhead storage. He's motioning me to enter into the aisle in front of him. Everyone seems to be moving forward so I will journey forward as well. Rather, I will just fall in behind. This is his journey now so lead the way my son. California here we come...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes Even The Straightest Of LInes Has To Bend

As I drove to DSW today, my friend Adel singing and the sun shining, life was so good. Not to mention, in my wallet the $20 rebate coupon from DWS that has been burning a hole in my pocket for months. That sweet baby was mine to play with for the next 45 minutes. Should I buy boots? It's the end of the season so probably a huge sale and oooh so many varieties to choose from... Should I buy some updated espadrilles? I think they're in fashion or was that 2009? Or should I buy something high and sexy for date night? Who am I kidding? I always reach for my flats so I can be ready to run or walk fast. There's a blog title: Why Do Mothers Always Have To Think About Running?

I enter the store, admittedly my heart rate up a tiny bit with excitement, a little spontaneous tune playing in my head. While I'm walking (fast of course), sung to the tune of I'm A Little Teapot... "I am buying shoes that will fit my feet, even when my stomach's out and my butt is full of stale Peeps." Up and down I peruse the long, lovely, dreamy aisles of shoes. Up and down the boot aisle. Nothing. Up and down the new spring styles. Nothing. Up and down the back wall labeled Clearance. Nothing. Back the other direction and up and down the athletic shoes. Nothing. Why nothing? Hmmm... When was my last hit of Peeps? Is my blood sugar low. I'm no longer singing. No spring shoes, no spring in my step. And then, like the walls opening on the Price Is Right, I see the prize. A light shines down on a pair of gray Converse high tops.

My dear Elliott, you have been weighing on my heart since last night's refusal to sign off on the contract. The initial surprise and frustration I felt has long since dissipated. I see that you're hurt as you never wanted this strike and you were, in fact, the first one behind closed doors to say how sorry you were and that you would try and see the clutter and dirty dishes. But now, in the middle of DSW, I see the light. I see the need for me to cross the line to you, olive branch in hand. Actually, I see the need to have a pair of gray Converse high tops be the carrier dove for said branch.

I miraculously find among the stacks, gray Converse high tops in your little size- 13. Will you be a size 14 yet this year? At age 12, you were a size 12. Age thirteen you were a size 13. The shoes the size of a man. The height of a man, now towering over me. The vocabulary and reasoning skills of a man. (The appetite of an army of men.) And yet the heart, still so much a boy and so easily broken. The same maternal instinct and self respect that guided me to the picket line, now guides me to come a bit more to your side.

When you return from school today, at the door of your room you will find my olive branch. I hope that you will see it as it is intended, and not as a bribe. The shoes are yours regardless of how long you continue in your refusal to sign. But maybe, just maybe one day you'll understand that sometimes Mother Knows Best and this was best for our family and yes, me.

I wish the strike would not go on. I'm ready for the rainbow...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Breaking News! Sexy!

There is nothing sexier than watching my husband...
do dishes.

You so know it's true! And well, watching as husband washes the dishes, while I put away the food, our youngest loads, and our eldest heads out to fill my gas tank... it's a Kodak moment! (Not one of their recent company moments though 'cause that Chapter 11 business is just sad as we grew up together.)
Strike over. Sorta. Tonight our youngest son pulled out a paper plate on which he had written a contract to put an end to the strike. With a few additions of my own, like 15 or so that include taking out the garbage and recycling without being asked, being spoken to by pleasant people in the morning, feeding and watering and letting out the dogs...not complaining when Mom's singing and if possible, letting Mom hug her children once a day- I'm happy to report 4 out of 5 have signed.

It's gonna get interesting now...
Know that I respect my child's autonomy. I respect my child's right to pretend he's already a practicing litigator. I also respect that on some level he's been a little hurt in all this. From his Middle School perspective, I was willing to go on strike from taking care of my family. He's processing what may have felt like a sort of abandonment or that I jumped ship. Admittedly sad and hurting from this refusal to sign, I hope that one day he'll understand and see that this wasn't just about me. I did this for our family too. I truly believe that he will be a better roommate, a better life mate and a better parent himself one day...
In the meantime he's gonna be smirking while eating a whole lot of mac and cheese with frozen peas and nitrate turkey/ham. And that's okay. He's standing his ground. And honestly, for this and a million reasons more, I couldn't love him more than I do right now as my heart would explode.

We're heading downstairs to watch Modern Family in a few minutes like the rest of America. The kids say I remind them of one of the Moms and it's not Sofia Vergara. It's all good. And well though a school night and not a fan of television on school nights in general, I believe a family that laughs together and does dishes together and learns together and signs contracts- almost all together, stays together...
Did I mention how sexy my husband looks when he rinses out the dishcloth instead of leaving it in a clump in the sink?!