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?!

It's All about him and Him.

I want to be very clear. I am not a proponent of Mom On Strike in order to change the behavior of your husband. Psych 101- you cannot change the behavior of others, you can only only change your behavior and how you respond the those around you. That said, this strike has given me yet another gift. I am seeing the man I married for who he really is and for who, in this next chapter, who we have the ability to be as partners in this life we have built.

Over dinner last night, which by the way my husband planned from start to finish including a great movie, vegetarian Indian food, and a lovely pink coffee mug, a gorgeous pink watch, and an age appropriate workout top. The planning and details of the evening spoke volumes to me. There was a whole lota Debby girl pink. Full disclosure here- there was a glitch in the timing of the date as our teen got into a little fender bender. Everyone, thank G-d (more on this later) is absolutely fine but, well- life happens, especially when you have young adults living out their lives independent of you. If your kids are still eating peanut butter and jelly, asking you to sign permission slips and playing with boxcars, you're safe...for now. As a friend once told me a long time ago, little kids little problems. Big kids, bigger problems so plan on a lot of hard work, and hope and pray for a little luck from above.

And so, Valentine's Day 2012 began with a bump in the road (no pun intended) and with my husband and I engaged in a brief conversation about cars and teens and logical consequences. And Valentine's Day ended with me falling hopelessly in love with the man I married, all over again. I saw him as I did when we first began this journey. Dan is the man your grandmother, when asked, told you to build a life with just such a man, as she survived war and the Depression and lived enough of life to know what love and commitment and marriage and family is about. On her 50th Wedding Anniversary, as you looked on, she gazed at her husband with such admiration and love and respect that it made your heart swell and you longed to be so blessed... My husband- wise, kind, loyal, loving, brilliant, thoughtful, capable, confident, funny, fun, interesting, a great listener, dedicated to those he loves, he is open minded and open to change. He is observant and intuitive. He is a talent and works hard for the things that he believe me. He believes in our family and the paradigm shift that is currently taking place. For these reasons and a million more, I am blessed that Danny came into my life. And FYI- he's so not available! Self described workaholic, more than occasionally house blind, sometimes over tired and highly irritable, "folicly challenged" (Sorry, still no rug for this man Grandma Mae)- all 6'4" beautiful, burly bit of him is mine.

Okay, stop rolling your eyes. (You may want to save that for later...) I'm done but it needed to be said because this stage of the strike is all part of what I believe is the intended process for me and my family. Just as there are stages in Hospice and the end of life, so too are there stages in living and learning. As Dan so thoughtfully communicated to me last night over curry and wine, the strike has to transition now from a "me vs. all of you" to Mom & Dad vs. our darling little cupids. The cupids, BTW- that we have built. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day and so the rebuilding of our little pyramids is going to be a process. But I assure you, the day is coming when the words will be uttered... "Where's your Moses now?" Yup, I'm calling in the big guns...

Where's your Mama now?! She's here, never left. Her love has been here since the day you were conceived and only grown and strengthened over time, but you may have to walk and wander a little bit without her holding your tent together. She will continue to love and guide you on your journey through the dessert but you need to accept a few things. Number 1, bread doesn't fall from the sky. And when it does show up, don't bitch about the fact that it's GMO free and too healthy tasting. Number 2, I have climbed mountains in an effort to learn how to raise you and keep you safe from harm. Listen to the words I speak (And don't even think about interrupting me again or you'll feel my wrath!) as they come from not just my heart, but people and places that have taught me how to love and how to live. Stop and listen (shut up is another phrase not permitted in my house or believe me you...) and you may just learn something. Number 3, those tablets that you, still wet behind the ears discount, instruct "Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land up which the Lord they God giveth." (Exodus 20:12) They made the Top 13 Greatest Hits for a reason.

Mom and Dad (with the guidance of our own parents and those that have come before us and yes, Him and all the gifts that believing in something greater than ourselves teaches) giveth the privledges and experiences that afford you a wonderful life. And Mom and Dad can taketh away. "Snap."
I will accidentally pocket dial you 10 seconds after I've called to ask you where you are and who you're with and what you're doing. You're better at technology that I am. And that's okay. I will ask you again if your homework is done because I was multi tasking at my desk when I asked the first time and yes, I am getting older and a bit forgetful but that's okay. I will make an occasional dinner that is best served to the disposal but there's cereal and that's okay because at least I tried. Some nights I may not want to be in the kitchen when you guys are listening to "Dub Step" or "Cayenne" West (I didn't know his name but I know it now) and that's okay because I'm a 44 year old woman and I prefer Adel, who BTW- owned the Grammy's. That's right. You go girl. I'm okay and you're okay but forgetting the Golden Rule and that 5th commandment is just not okay.

The strike continues. I love my family and we're admittedly a little lost right now but we'll get there. Some journeys take 40 years, some 40 days. Today we've hit the 4 day benchmark. At least we're walking together... Off to yoga and a little prayer time too. Can I pray that someone buys milk...?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Little Valentine Cherub Is A Little Sh#*

I had a lovely cup of coffee at my desk working on my morning blog. I followed that up with a great workout while watching my girls at the table (Barbara, Elizabeth, Whoopie and Joy). Returning, showered to my desk (don't often get that shower in until late in the day but please don't tell anyone as I always hope that the nicer workout jacket gives the impression of calm, cool, collected and clean), I took care of the bills and returned school emails among a few other housekeeping-at-the-desk sorts of things. As it's Valentines Day, I ordered myself a pair of end-of-the-season boots off Zappos before heading off on 2 hospice visits. Following my visits, didn't really need to return home to prepare the kitchen for anything so I took myself out for a Valentine's Day lunch at Brueggers where I did my follow up notes for hospice and then texted my friend Sonia and enjoyed a brief but fun conversation with my friend Faith. It was another really great balanced day. Most importantly, I breathed like a normal person all day and even stopped to use the bathroom whenever I wanted instead of rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. And then I headed to pick up the cherubs...

Oh my little middle cherub... You, my dear, just bought yourself another couple of Pillsbury crescent rolls!
As we're unloading from the car, I can feel my workout and I mumble, "Uhh, I'm so sore..."
"Hard day of blogging Mom?" A little smirk spreads across his face as he exchanges a look with his school friend (it was that little "Owned her!" thing they do nowadays).
"I'll have you know that I had a hard workout this morning. And, my little cherub you just bought yourself another strike day. I do more in a day than you can even begin to know, even when I'm on strike. My hospice clients and families recognize that..."

So this comment, among others, leads me to the reflections of the day. This little exercise of striking has raised so many doubts in my mind about the choices I have made. Self doubt is brutal and admittedly a bit terrifying as I clearly have some things to figure out. Coming up on almost 20 years as officially a stay at home Wife and Mother, I've watched as my friends have built incredible careers and balanced it all and appear to have it all. And make no mistake, I am as should you be, very aware that my friends work extremely hard and deserve a great deal of credit. But I've watched and listened as their children squeal with delight over home baked cookies, a family dinner, and when their mom takes time away from the office to volunteer at school- they are heroes. Not the case with my cherubs. There's whining when they don't like the dinner I've prepared or if I've- heaven forbid, bought the wrong kind of bread you cannot imagine the revolt. When I pass my kids in the hallways at school as I leave a committee meeting or en route to volunteering in the Media Center they look over and say, "Hey. You're here? Did you bring snack?" My dear, dear husband, bless his heart, has worked long, long hours but even he has evening engagements and the occasional trip or seminar that thrills him and entertains him and facilitates conversations about the world over cocktails and dinner. For the most part he can really come and go as he pleases because firstly, I'm always here. And, it's all, other than the occasional sporting event with work friends, about the career that supports our family. I've spent a heck of a lot of nights talking about Wallace & Grommit and cars and trucks and snakes over mac & cheese while standing at the counter measuring out a dropper of pink penicillin. I've spent more hours that I can count begging my kids to get homework done and clean up after themselves when all I really want to do is watch the boob tube or go to bed or take a bath without having to explain why, when or where or talk naked through the door as my bath water gets cold because, "just one quick question Mom..." I've cleaned and cleared so many things over the years that I think perhaps that is why my back quit me?! Countless hours standing over the stove and at the sink. I have run my home with so much love, so much care, so well for my family. Don't misinterpret my message here. I chose this life and for the most part I have been so fulfilled in the blessings that being present has provided me. But I think that perhaps the time has come for a change as clearly it has really only meant so much to me. And well, I'm finding that not being chained to the kitchen and the demands of everyone else's every little need is quite- well, it's pretty awesome! And rewarding!

I'm a realist in that the strike is new and the novelty could wear off and I may long for doing, doing, doing for the family. And maybe I'll tire of the mess and last minute thrown together meals from the freezer but I gotta tell you, I don't think so. There's a part of me that has had a look at the other side of the mountain and when you're over there, the fact that the counter top is sticky with last night's dinner or that the recycling didn't make it out doesn't matter after all. The joy and freedom of doing less for everyone else around here and more for those who actually appreciate me- it's so rewarding. So fulfilling and rewarding. Today, I discovered or perhaps finally just internalized that there are many people out there that are actually, genuinely interested in what I have to say and my opinions. And heads up, they don't interrupt me when I'm speaking. That in itself is refreshing and oohhh so nice. I'll have you know that my client today (92 years old), actually teared up when I offered to make her a recipe that her mother used to make. She told me that I was pretty AND she thinks I'm funny. (So did the guy in the elevator but he was admiring my Valentine's Day necklace if you catch my drift...) Now she's someone worthy of a few hours of baking in the kitchen. As for the kids, let 'em eat cake. Or in this modern day, Pillsbury crescents!

Sorry to plagiarize but It's Time For Change in 2012. And the change maker is going to have to be... ME. I need to take a step back and evaluate what's not working for me because clearly it's been working pretty darn well for everyone else. I need to own that as I created it and so I'm going to create something else- the paradigm shift. The change that's coming has to work for me and of course for them. But first me, right?

Bottom line, my little cherub, I'm not a Blogger or maid or a cook or grounds keeper or a farmer or a hospice worker or school volunteer or a dishwasher. I'm not at the family punching bag when each member of this family has a bad day or a nurse. I'm not a dog walker or Dr's appointment maker. I'm not a chauffeur or a shrink. Not a doggy do-do picker upper or a forgot-my-permission slip school runner. I'm not a nutritionist or naturalist (read the blog about the number of reptiles and pets this house has hosted). G-d knows and if you ever meet me you'll certainly know, I'm certainly not a trophy wife- but then again I haven't exactly let myself go and sat on my arse eating everything that I bake with love for my family. (Jeez, I have to run and lift weights for the sole purpose of keeping up with my life!) I'm not a hired shopper or PA (personal assistant for those of you who live in my world). I'm not a teacher, tutor or tax accountant. I'm not each of these. I'm all of these and so much more. And, it would have been enough... I would have continued on indefinitely if there had been a little more respect, appreciation and more contributing from my guys to the work around here. I own it, and that in itself is a gift to me today. Happy Valentine's Day to me today! Today I learned that in fact, my heart is big enough for my family and for me and for all that I am to the world beyond these kitchen walls.
The strike must go on...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fairy Valentine's Day G-d Mother

I was tucked in bed and just didn't feel right about not celebrating Valentine's Day as we have for 17 years... And so, I called upon the "Fairy Valentine's Day G-d Mother" to manage on my behalf. I want to reiterate that I am not crossing the picket line. And I cannot be help responsible for the actions of the "Fairy Valentine's Day G-d Mother". Below is the note that the kids will find when they awaken. Gotta go find good hiding spots. I mean, gotta go back to bed. ;)

Note to my kids:

As you know, your mom is sadly on strike… She was therefor not able to prepare and provide for you, the traditional Valentine’s Day basket that she has lovingly created and hid for you to find each year.

And so I, the Fairy Valentine’s Day G-d Mother, has instead taken matters into my own hands. Following breakfast this morning, save a little time to look for your Valentine’s Day basket as it is hidden an waiting for YOU… ;)

It is my sincere hope that you will enjoy your Valentine’s Day and know that your Mommy loves you more than you can ever know. More than there are M & M’s in this basket, more than there are fish in the sea. She loves you more than there are clouds in the sky or leaves on the trees. You are so very, very loved…



Your Fairy Valentine’s Day G-d Mother

PS. The way to end the strike is to forever promise to appreciate your mom and help her when she asks and even when she doesn’t… She’s actually a really, really good Mommy. (Just a little advice from your “other Mother”.)

Alexander Had A Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day

I picked up a very exhausted child early from school today. I was expecting an excited and very happy child who was leaving school early to finally, after 4 long weeks, have his full arm cast removed. So not the case however, as the individual who entered into my vehicle was the character from a book I have read to each of my three sons time and time again…BTS (Before The Strike).

You may be familiar with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well, "Alexander" (a walking zombie with a cast) just accompanied me from school all the way to the doctor's office and he was a real downer. Following the blissful hours of my first day of freedom, this was quite a shock to the system. Suffice to say the experience was light years away from the hot yoga studio and my coffee earlier with Barbara, Whoopie, Elizabeth and Joy. Admittedly, I did feel a pang in my heart as he recounted his long, tiring day as I, like you, am sad when my child is sad. How does the saying go? You are only as happy as your most unhappy child. I had a very unhappy child this afternoon. (And I was soon to discover, he was not alone…)

"Worst day. This day is just the worst. And I don't foresee it getting better any time soon. This strike is so unfair. It's not me you're mad at and I think it's such a bad idea," proclaimed "Alexander".
You may recall that last night son "Alexander" was the child who was beaming as he cooked up a white plate special (as in everything on the plate is white and processed; bleached white flour, white sugar and dehydrated white potatoes.) Later he topped it off the night with a bowl of Rice Crispies and then went to bed just shy of midnight. His younger brother was enjoying the dinner special as well and kept him company during the late hours of Grammy replays. This morning they both woke up groggy with less than 7 hours sleep under their belts, and they headed off for a full day of school where lunch was, as if by divine intervention, a baked potato bar. Well, between the string of meals over the weekend and today's eating and lack of sleep, certainly "Alexander" and his appearance as he loaded himself into my car, makes sense. Alexander continued on complaining and informed me that he was sent to the office today because he spaced out for 3 minutes in math class as he tried to keep himself awake. He also shared, in an effort to fully disclose the trip to the office (as on occasion, like 3 days a week, I am actually in the Middle School office and talking with the administrators), that he fell asleep more than once today. (Come to think of it, just moments ago his younger brother put his head down as he ate the dinner he prepared with his daddy and I think, though not I'm not completely certain, that he was asleep there for a few moments.) Tears welled up in "Alexander's" eyes. I felt the pang in my heart grow stronger. My poor sweet, one arm-one casted arm, walking zombie, baby. He truly had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Strike over?

And then just like a rain shower in the Rainforest, my sympathy ceased. That rush of empathy dried right up. Alexander spoke the words that would have me waving that picket sign from here to kingdom come and all the way to tomorrow's hot yoga class. "Mom, your strike is ridiculous. You made a decision to have kids and to stay home and take care of us. It's a little late to change your mind now, don't you think?" Oh no he didn't. Ooooh yes he did!

I'm heading up to bed. It's 8:30 pm and my novel is calling… More tomorrow unless I trip on one of those garbage bags that have yet to be picked up off the middle kitchen floor.

Toe, The Line

Today, as I approached my kitchen counter, I put my toe right up to the picket line...and stopped. My day will not begin with the completely organized and beautifully clean and clear island as has been the custom for 20 + years. A bummer for me more than anyone. Then again, I won't have my usual rushed cup of java while standing at the counter serving the kids breakfast and vitamins, readying them with their backpacks and shoes and forgotten belongings, refereeing the early am bickering, and helping get them out the door and into the car so we're not late. I will not pick up, clean up or wipe up after them. Today I woke them and they managed themselves. Benj, our eldest, offered to drive his brother and I said yes, and crawled back into my still warm bed. (Full disclosure: I did instruct Driver Benj to drop them off at the Middle School door as one has a cast boot and the other, with his full arm cast, looks surprisingly similar to C3PO without the ability to close his coat. Again, some things I need to manage.) I will not recycle the empty cereal box and 2 empty milk containers. (They've blown through 2 gallons since the strike began. Suffice to say cereal is the staple, as were the Oreos but those are long gone.) I will not put away the dishes, the scissors or dirty napkins, the yet to be collapsed and folded grocery bags strewn across the floor, and certainly I am not touching the dish cloth that is in a clump in the sink. That bad boy is gonna stink come 3:30 pm. Instead, I've enjoyed my morning in a new and different way. Over a cup of coffee- sitting not standing, I watched the View. Today's hot topic ironically- that a woman who stays home should not have to defend her choice to do so. "HA!" I told the kitchen TV. "No but they sure had better defend their dignity and make certain no one takes them for granted or fails to appreciate all of the hard, hard work they're gonna do!" You go girl. Then I got up to refill my coffee and stumbled on one of those darned grocery bags.
In case you're wondering how I'm going to fill the day, I'm heading to a later yoga class as I slept in today. Then I'm going to pray for my children's teachers as I took a little survey of the recent grocery shopping expedition findings. Between the sugar in the pineapple juice, the nitrates in the- forgive me Rabbi, Oscar Mayer Ham, the grain free cereals, the Pillsbury Processed Crescent Rolls... well, I'm not certain that brain bifocals, a tap-dancing teacher on a technology table, and a straight jacket could help a student focus for a full day. (Dan did, to his credit, buy cottage cheese. When the milk runs out, they can put it on cereal...) I'll keep you posted on the day's progress once dinner is not served but here's a little tidbit that I want to share amidst the details of my day and attempts at humor. Before falling asleep last night my husband said, "you know Deb this is really hard on Jeremy. He's sad. He's young and doesn't quite get it like the other two. Give him a little extra love." After removing what felt like a soccer punch to my gut, and I could swallow the lump in my throat, it was too late to respond to my husband as he had fallen asleep. But here's the coulda, woulda, shoulda: "Dear husband, as wonderful as you are and have been through the first day of this strike, it's the four of you, not just 2 teenage boys and little, dear Jeremy. And of course I know this is impacting our youngest child. ( As I have done since the day I could feel him in my belly, I sang him his lullaby, and played with his hair and rubbed his back while I told him how much I love him...) I do not, in this process, deny my children care, love or nurturing. Nor do I love or adore you any less. But when did I become the mistreated, disrespected, bossed around maid? (Well, unless we subscribe to the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of thought and you treat your maid extra special.) Bottom line, I need everyone to develop a greater and genuine awareness and appreciation of all that I do. With that awareness, I expect everyone to see opportunities to give and not just take. And you all need to take a moment, stop, listen and learn because I've been singing this song for years but no one listened. Can you hear me now..? How about now...? Can you hear me now?" I'm a Mom On Strike. That said, I love my family and I love my job. We just need to talk contract negotiations...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day Is Done...sorta.

It has certainly been a unique, relaxing and very important day. I set out to teach my family a lesson and in fact, it is I that has learned a lesson or two. First, I have finally come to realize and truly internalize what the many, many wise woman that have come before me have shared. The work of wife, Mother and homemaker is honorable in that it is selfless, constant and sadly often unrecognized by the individuals who benefit from it each and every hour of each and every single day, including Sundays...or in my case, Saturdays. My family has had a taste of all that goes missing when I am not working to take care for their every need but this experiment will continue because well, they enjoyed some of what they tasted but perhaps after a week or so that may get old fast.... Or not as the dinner menu had more preservatives than any human being should attempt to ingest in a lifetime and the kids were beaming with pride. (Though perhaps that "beaming" was a side affect of toxic chemicals turning their digestive tracts aglow?) Dinner menu: Dehydrated potatoe soup with chunks of lunch meat and shredded Mexican cheese, cheese popcorn and Pillsbury crescent rolls. Hey, at least they knew to pair a protein with a carb?
The second lesson and additionally so wonderful- my loyal and loving husband, my beloved Danny... A self admitted workaholic (which I will hopefully come to terms with, in this, our third decade of marriage ;) ), recovering from Strep, he managed to support me through this first official strike day. Offering me a fresh cup of coffee this morning and the gift of a nap only a few hours after I had awoken, he really stepped up. This afternoon he invited me to a movie. Tonight he took the kids grocery shopping and joined me in the basement as I watched the Grammy's. He surprised me with his unwavering allegiance and yes, dark chocolate covered strawberries at the end of the Grammys. It's going to be admittedly difficult to walk upstairs now as I know the dogs have been crated too long, I don't believe the oven light or fan were ever turned off, and well - there is a path of cheese popcorn up the stairs and well into the kitchen... Should I tell them to let the dogs out as they are my two favorite quicker-picker-uppers. Can you say, "Come Hoover!? Come Swiffer!" Should I go remind the kids to brush their teeth and charge their laptops for school tomorrow?" I can't. Tomorrow is another day and the strike must go on. There's more learning on this curve. If you're looking for me, I have planned for a long yoga class in the mornin and I'm meeting a gal pal for lunch. I need to prepare for a hospice client as I'm looking forward to something special that I can bring for her on Valentine's Day, and then I'm going to clean out and reorganize the guest bedroom and unpack some of my girlie pink belongings and pictures. It will be interesting to see what it feels like to have the day be about me and not everyone else. And, if you are wondering, don't frett as I am of course taking the kids to school, the doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow, and to their after school activities but dinner and all things related to food, friends and furry folks is on the males in this house beginning at 3:30pm. "What's for dinner...?" Don't know. Not ready to cross the picket line. Better yet, what's going to happen tomorrow morning as the younger two are bright eyed and bushy tailed, shoveling cereal down as dinner didn't quite hold 'em. Hmmmm... It's 11:10 pm. Do you know where Mother is, boys? On strike. Good night. Novel's awaiting...

Day1-Buy The Cow

Probably a good idea for these boys to buy a cow as it would appear that I am the only member of this family who knows to put the milk in the refrigerator after pouring cereal. And well, its gonna get expensive when gallon after gallon spoils and has to be poured down the sink. Well, assuming they smell it before dunking their Oreos!
As for my day so far, I highly recommend Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. My other unsolicited advice however- if on strike and reading in the peace and quiet of your bedroom- lock the door. In the last half hour I have had one son try and talk me into helping him clean his room with him, a task by the way, that I asked of him back in December. "Mom," he begins his appeal, "logically, how long do you think you can actually keep this up? Your maternal instinct will kick in at some point and when that time comes, do you want to be welcomed back into total chaos? You should help me with my room now. Mom, come on. Enough." Pause. "Mom, what is that? What are you doing raising your arm up and down like that in the air? That's just weird. What does that even mean?" (In fact, what I'm doing looks very similar to when, as a child on a road trip, I would pump my arm up and down as the truckers drove by and they would, to our juvenile delight, honk their loud truck horns. Then everyone in the car would applaud. I assure you, no ones's applauding now...)
"That, my dear, is my invisible picket sign. I simply cannot cross the picket line to your room. Sorry. Best of luck." He leaves shaking his head but unbenounced to me, our bedroom door is now a revolving door.
Enter another son. "Mom, that's enough! Dad is awful. He just told me to fill up his car and yours too. I have plans! Go talk to him please. I need to leave! He's crazy! Your strike needs to be over. I'm not spending my Sunday doing chores for Dad!"
Oh, but that's where you are sadly mistaken my little prince. If you would just pitch in every now again, Daddy would not be outside removing the car battery from the vehicle you drive, you would have already filled up our cars and well, I wouldn't be on strike, now would I?!
Wait for it... Wait for it... and the arm goes up with the imaginary picket sign again!
I'm about to log off and return to reading my novel but guess who should just arrive next through the revolving door? Did my sons cross paths in the hallway?! "Mom, guess who isn't going to get their iPod!? This is all your fault! We're not going!" Crocodile tears rolling down his angry face,"dumb, stupid strike!" He exits. (FYI- Thems fightin' words as "dumb" and "stupid" are outlawed in these parts. )
But wait, as now entering through the revolving door- husband Dan. (If you've lost count- number 4 of 4 of the males in this house) More later... Gotta go show him my picket sign.

Mom On Strike

After years of riding the roller coaster of the frustrated and taken for granted homemaker, I decided to take action. Rather, I decided it was time for less action. Less talking, less nagging and most importantly, less doing for the males in this house is the plan. Yesterday I announced that I was on strike. This morning I awoke feeling incredibly rested. Interestingly I realized, this is what the rest of my family feels like on a Sunday morning as they sleep in and pay no mind to what will be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the day's chores including braving the crowds at Costco...and the careful, detailed "Franklin Planner planning"that takes place each Sunday afternoon in preparation for the week's responsibilities involving 5 individual schedules, cleaning, organizing, errands, meal planning-shopping, prep time- cook time- serving- clean up, school communications, homework, various kid related appointments like the math tutor and the doc visits for middle son's broken arm and youngest son's casted foot, paying bills, the dogs (dog #2 still battling ear infection), house maintenance, teen maintenance (until you have one, you can't yet understand that, in itself is a full time job), after school driving, and then there's my personal commitments which include volunteering at school at least twice a week, the shul and my work in hospice care...

Officially Day 1 (announcement came yesterday at 5:00 pm) . Awoke to what appears to have been an after midnight Gremlin party in my kitchen. Dirty dishes with caked on cheese and heaven knows what else, and opened food everywhere- including the almost full remaining bag of Boar's Head turkey breast that I bought pre-strike. I told my husband that the kitchen was a pit and he woke the suspected culprit immediately to clean it up. Culprit has now cleaned up his mess and headed back to bed. Bummer because when he awakens there will sadly be no turkey to eat. No bread either as he left that for the dogs to eat. Speaking of dogs, just discovered them drinking out of the toilet. They don't feed and water themselves. Mentioned the dogs were drinking in the bathroom to my husband. He was easily able to locate the dog food canister as it is in the center of the kitchen next to the dog dishes. Hope someone remembers to let the dogs outside in a little while or there's going to be a mess on the floor... Equally important , they hopefully remember to let them back in before someone registers a complaint with the police department. My personal plan for the day is cleaning out my closet, reviewing some hospice care materials, and curling up with the novel that's been sitting on my nightstand so long that I can't quite remember if I actually read it or not. Later, I'm sitting down and watching the Grammy's just like the guys sat down and watched the Super Bowl last weekend. And believe me you, no one asked if that would fit into the schedule. In fact, I believe what my little cherubs asked was what sorts of Super Bowl foods would there be. Hmmm... To be or not to be... the Mom on the roller coaster...? I'm done "beeing"! Busy, busy, busy, bee doing for everyone and too little participation from everyone else . So, that is the question and starting now, this Queen Bee is leaving the nest to the worker bees. Wish me luck or at least that I can wear blinders...