Category Archives: Family

A chocolate cone with M&M’s, please

I took my kids to get ice cream today.

That’s it. There’s no punchline. There’s no funny anecdote. No moral. No bittersweet ending. No big lesson.

Just…I got ice cream with my kids today.

My son, who is 5, chose chocolate. In a cone. With M&M’s on top. He was emphatic about that. Lots and lots of M&M’s, please. I suspect it was the please that made the women behind the counter add extra, turning it into an M&M cone with a hint of ice cream.

My daughter, who is 2, then chose chocolate. In a cone. With, and here’s the twist, M&M’s on top. Lots and lots, pwease. The counter woman practically dumped the entire M&M bin over her cone.

My son ate his like someone twice his age. Methodical. Minimal stain damage. A mature grasp of the melting-to-dripping timing. He even sat on his napkin so it didn’t blow away, an advanced outdoor eating move, if I do say so myself.

IMG_20190414_185454_097

My daughter ate hers like a feral baby wolf. Just ate it with her entire face. Napkin? Who has time for that? By the time she was done, she was more chocolate than girl, inside and out. Luckily, most of it wiped off when she ran to me and gave me a big, sticky, spontaneous hug.

IMG_20190414_185454_098

And that’s it. Then we went home.

We didn’t even talk about anything interesting. I remember Riker was telling a rather long story about a robot who could turn different colors, which led to Mae telling me an even more disjointed story about how she was a robot cat who loved purple.    

So why am I even bothering to write this down, to share this with you? To be honest, this one’s more for me. I want to remember this moment. How small their hands looked holding those giant waffle cones. How big their eyes got when they took that first bite. The way the sunlight glinted off their red hair. How good the spring breeze felt.

When you first become a parent, you never think you’ll forget anything. They lay that baby on your chest and that moment is emblazoned on your mind and heart like a tattoo. And so you think it will always be like that. That you’ll remember every beautiful minute with them from then on with complete and utter clarity; the way they yawned, the way they smelled, the way they grasped your finger in their iron grip.

But you do forget. No matter how hard you stare at them, no matter how many photos you take, the moments still slip away on the relentless tides of time.

I don’t even remember what my daughter’s first word was anymore.

I’m always writing about my life, my family, my feelings, my failings. But in-between all the writing, all the reflecting, all the making-sense-of and making-fun-of, in-between all the updates and photos and pithy comments, is ordinary, boring, old life. Like today. A day that was full but ultimately added up to nothing because life doesn’t always make a good narrative. There was no epiphany, no greater meaning gleaned from anything.

There was only ice cream.

But I don’t want to forget it.

So, today, I took my kids to get ice cream. And it was a glorious, chaotic, loud, exasperating and beautiful mess.

The end.

Advertisements

What? Me? Jealous? No. Pffft.

Guys, I hate to be THAT wife, but I need to brag about my husband for a little bit. He just added the title of “children’s book illustrator” to his already impressive resume. A title he managed to squeeze in while working at his regular demanding journalism job and coming home to his regular demanding wife and kids who are always up in his face the second he walks through the door.

I am so proud of him. This is a guy who literally worked his way up from paperboy to now whatever his current fancy title is at the Boston Globe (a fancy title, mind you, that I definitely know but just don’t feel like typing out right now).

And he’s not just a hard worker, although he is that. He’s also genuinely talented. Which is probably why he’s succeeding both professionally and creatively. Which is great. It really is. He’s amazing and deserves everything he’s accomplished. He has really lived up to his potential, unlike some people he’s married to.

Ha! Ha!

What? No, I’m just kidding. I never had much potential in the first place. Ha! Again. Oh, we have fun here at this old blog of mine. A blog that no one reads and never goes viral. Good thing I have a successful man to stand behind.

Oh, what’s that? No, YOU sound slightly jealous.

Besides, what good would it do if I was jealous? We’re a team, me and him. Him and me. I also reap what he sows. Especially now that we have kids. Every success he has means we can pay the bills and not be homeless and get as many toppings as we want on our Friday night pizza. Including FRESH basil.

More importantly, I love him and want him to achieve all his dreams. So what if the highlight of his week is a cool book signing event and mine is working out a lose/lose situation with my youngest child where if she’ll just SIT on the potty for two minutes she still gets M&M’s even if she doesn’t actually pee or poop.

So no, I hate to disappoint you, but that feeling I’m currently stuffing way way way down deep is definitely not a twinge of jealousy. I fully understand why my own creative endeavours have to take a backseat right now while I take care of our young brood.

Although, if I’m being truly, albeit reluctantly, honest, my husband is also really conscientious about taking over the child care duties whenever possible to give me time to work on writing career.

Yeah. Yeah, I know. Wow, he really IS great.

What? No. That wasn’t sarcasm. Hey, I’m a lucky, lucky woman and I realize it.

It’s just, I mean, at some point isn’t him being so generous and fair just rubbing it in my face that I too have dreams I want to accomplish and he fully supports them? Like, where does this guy get off?

You know what he did last week? Deep cleaned the kitchen  Like, got all the stains off the stovetop that I had just accepted as a permanent part of the decor. The insensitive jerk.

Oh, that sounds a bit harsh, does it? Well, what else do you call doing all the chores around the house so I can spend the weekends working? The nerve of him. It’s like he is taking away all the plausible excuses I could use for why I still haven’t finished that first draft of my “novel” like I promised myself. Or the six children’s books I started writing and stopped because apparently plot is an important part of a story. Basically he’s leaving me no choice but to accept the fact that I’m the one responsible for whether or not I’m successful at my own career.

Total bastard, right?

Look, all I’m saying is that he works incredibly hard so that I can stay home and raise the kids, which I wanted to do and which I love doing, while also giving me time to work on my writing projects, which I also love, and thus making it almost impossible to blame him for anything. I mean, what the hell? How dare he.

AND, speaking of how dare he, how dare he also prove that hard work pays off. I’m a writer. Most writers don’t actually want to write. Writing is hard. We just want to BE writers, sitting around in coffee shops and bars and daydreaming about the day the book we never actually sat down and wrote gets magically published.

Oh, but here comes old Mr. Sit Down And Do It proving without a doubt that doing something is the only way to get anything done.

Sigh. I guess the only thing I have left is to actually work hard, now that he has cruelly taken all my excuses away.

I just hope I can forgive him some day for being such a wonderful and supportive partner.

 

A time to laugh, a time to weep (but mostly weeping)

They say to every thing there is a season. Which is why I suspect we have winter. Misery, depression and blanket fort binge-drinking need a season too.

But, and I think I speak for most of us when I say this, it is high time to turn, turn, turn onto a new season. Before I burn, burn, burn Mother Nature TO THE GROUND.

sketch1552870069387

It’s the same thing every year. Winter overstays its welcome until I get so frustrated that I physically start trying to punch the arctic wind as it hits me in the face. Thus making ME look like the crazy one. But I’m not crazy. Winter is crazy. I’m not crazy. HahAhaAhhaA! It’s winter’s fault I’m karate chopping the air and scaring small children who pass by.

I JUST WANT TO FEEL MY FINGERTIPS AGAIN.

sketch1552871529343

And that’s when it happened. Right when I was on the brink (or perhaps just a little past it), it came. Did you guys smell it? Taste it? In the air? As soon as I opened my eyes that morning, I knew. Everything was the same and yet, subtly different. It wasn’t even that much warmer. Ten degrees, tops. But it was a DIFFERENT kind of warm. The kind of warmth that makes you remember that you used to be more than just a bag of freezing flesh stuffed into flannel pajamas and wrapped in a Snuggie burrito.

The first spring-like day had finally arrived. The first day where the sun wasn’t just a distant ornament hanging in the sky, but an actual star producing light and heat. The first day where everyone poured out of their houses, blinking in bewilderment at their neighbors, like “Hey, I vaguely remember you!” The first day of the rest of our lives because we were all, at long last, free from the icy grip of that monster, Father Winter.

And yes, I hear you. Okay? I hear you. “Um, well, you know, technically spring doesn’t start until the equinox on Mar…”

SHUT UP. Let me have this. I have been walking my kids to school through a winter wasteland for four and a half months. I don’t remember what it’s like to not have thermal leggings on underneath my regular mom leggings. I need to believe winter is over.

NEED.  

“Sure, but I mean, don’t get your hopes up. It’ll definitely snow at least one more time.”

OH, WHAT’S THAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF FLOWERS SPROUTING AND BIRDS CHIRPING. AND NOT THAT SAD WINTER CHIRPING EITHER. HAPPY FREAKING WARM SPRING CHIRPING.

“But you realize that spring is an extremely volatile season, right? We are in for months of sleet and mud and generally unpleasantness.”

Oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening again. Too busy admiring these brand new flip-flops I just bought.

“The forecast for tomorrow is calling for hail and a high of 43.”

Oh, burn in hell.

At least it’s warm there.

Shoot, I might join you.

Look, you can throw facts and forecasts and freezing rain down on my delusional parade all you want. But I’m staying firm in my belief that winter is now over. I got a taste of what life used to be like a million years ago where a quick trip somewhere didn’t involve 20 minutes of shoving squirmy toddler limbs into elaborate outerwear. And it tasted delicious.

It tasted like hope.

Hope of a new world. A brighter, greener world. A world where my pale face turns slightly less pale and people stop asking me if I’m sick.

And I am eating it up until I vomit.

Then going back for seconds.

Potty Training II: The Sequel (Even Squishier)

Humans are good at many things. I mean, just look at all the things we have learned to ferment in only a few short millennia.

sketch1552399773989

But perhaps one of the things we are best at is avoiding doing things we don’t want to do. We have mastered this skill. Utterly mastered it. Individually and as a group. Our avoidance skills will be the number one thing aliens from outer space write in their field notes while studying us.

Observations on the Human Species by Dr. Blekblorrrg

Made contact today for the first time. Although the biped I ran into, who calls itself a people, immediately tried to erase the memory by consuming large quantities of fermented berries straight from a bottle. (Interesting side note: They also appear to worship cats and cheese).

You think we got to the top of the food chain because of opposable thumbs and tools? Nah, son. It’s because woolly mammoths had no idea how to avoid extinction and we’ve managed to put it off until at least 2100.

But it’s not just on an epically global scale where we practice these skills. Take, for instance, the lengths I have gone just to avoid having to potty train my youngest child. Sure, she’s only two, but when she asked me last week, point-blank, “Momma, can I go pee in the potty?” I responded “Absolutely, honey. We can definitely do that. Next week.”

Look, I know I should. I really should. Just rip off the metaphorical diaper and let the river of urine and frustration flow freely. But I have a very good, very valid, reason for putting this entire thing off.

I don’t want to do it.

I mean, I’ve already been through this with her big brother. And before him, it was training the dog. And before him, it was training the husband.

sketch1552400098902

At this point, I’m over it. When did I get promoted to PeePee Police? It’s a giant bowl, for crying out loud. All the peeps and poops go in it. Then flush, bang, boom, you’re done. Can’t you just, like, train yourself, sweetie? Like how you taught yourself all those curse words I definitely had nothing to do with?

There’s just so much work involved. So much patience involved. So much ruined furniture involved.

Unfortunately, my daughter is giving me little choice at this point. Trying to get a diaper on or off her little tushie these days is a saga of epic portions. As soon as she even thinks I might be thinking of changing her diaper, she runs. She hides. She wrestles. She kicks. She escapes. She’s recaptured. She bites. She stands in the corner. She cries. She finally accepts her fate. Ha! Just kidding! She runs off again, her little cheeks flapping freely in the wind.

So, it’s time. That’s the thing when you have kids. You can’t put things off forever. It’s not like avoiding doing your taxes, where you probably have a good ten years before anyone catches on. People will definitely notice a 12-year-old wearing diapers.

But all this does bring up the important issue of why are there no programs where I can just drop my kid off for a week and she comes back completely potty trained? I mean, I can get Taco Bell delivered to my door at 4 a.m. seven days a week but I still have to potty train my own children?

sketch1552400460289

Come on, fellow humans. We’re better than this. Once we can no longer avoid doing something, at the very least we should then be able to pass the responsibility on to some strangers we pay to deal with it.

Let’s not let down Dr. Blekblorrrg and his research team.

 

Snow Day But Today

It begins with a whisper. A mere whisper of a rumor. Riding on the coattails of a rising and moaning wind. But it’s enough. Just enough to light a tiny spark of hope against the unrelenting bleakness of a never-ending winter.  

However, since nothing is in writing yet, it’s business as usual for the moment. You head up to your room, almost giddy. You haven’t felt this kind of anticipation since Christmas Eve, which feels like an entire lifetime ago. You told yourself you weren’t going to do this but the urge is just too delicious to resist. So as your head hits the pillow, you allow yourself one small maybe. Not likely, no. Slim chance and all that. But…maybe.

Then the what-ifs come quickly galloping in. What if, though? What if it actually happens? All that time, that unstructured time, stretched out before you.

…what if…

Before you know it, your eyes snap open. A brief moment of confusion in the dark and then you remember. You scramble out of the intricate tangle of blankets. You run to the window and allow yourself one furtive glance outside. A lacy wall of beautiful white battling the dark sky greets your eyes. You give your thumping heart permission for one small leap.

Maybe indeed.

It’s the only time the news is actually relevant to your life. Boring people saying boring things. But underneath them are the slow and sacred scrolling words that could change everything.

Please, PLEASE, you quietly breathe to yourself in the blackness of pre-dawn. Most days you can’t bother to wake up before the sun. But not today. The stakes are too high. You can’t risk missing a moment of this potentially epic day.

You just need a break. From the daily grind. From the expectations. From, let’s face it, life.

Sure, you’re only 8-years-old, but are you not human too?

They’re only up to the B’s. Who knew there were this many places in the world that started with the letter B? You know it will be many, many long minutes before they get to the specific words you are oh-so-desperate to see. Still, you barely allow yourself to blink.

After what feels like a lifetime, and maybe it is (you are only 8 afterall), there they are. Those beautiful, beautiful letters floating past, practically smiling at you.

YOUR SCHOOL: CANCELLED.

A scream escapes your lips and you run around the living room, arms raised above your head, releasing all that pent-up anticipation in a series of feral whoops.

A snow day. SNOW DAY! An entire day off. Just for you. An unexpected holiday gifted to you from the very weather gods themselves.

And to thank them, you promise not to waste a second of this beautiful gift.

Cut to 30 years later. You are now a parent yourself. While making dinner (that, let’s face it, no one is going to eat), you hear it again. It’s been a long time since you’ve heard it, but you could never forget the sound of that whisper. Ten inches predicted overnight. Maybe…

What if…

You need this. You need an unexpected day off to remember what’s important. To remember that life is not just one long and mindless march forward, going to the places you are supposed to go and doing the things you are supposed to do. That it isn’t just putting pants on tiny, squirming, resistant legs and hollering at them for the seventh time to brush their teeth because you are going to be LATE FOR SCHOOL. AGAIN.

You allow yourself to look out the window. Nothing yet. You sigh and stir the spaghetti.

Just one day off, you plead to the air. One day off where you aren’t required to do anything. Where you don’t have to get anyone anywhere at any certain time. Where you don’t have to try to stuff wild humans into domesticated clothes and then stuff them into a coat and hat and gloves and then stuff the entire package into the car. Please.

Suddenly your phone dings. Then pings. Then vibrates. An email. Followed by a text. Followed by a voicemail.

YOUR KID’S SCHOOL: CANCELLED.

A bit anticlimactic, sure. Not like the old days. But still, that old feeling of pure joy manages to comes through.

Thank you, weather gods. I promise not to waste a moment of this beautiful gift.

Starting with not bothering to put pants on anyone.

 

A (rented) room of one’s own

They looked bigger in the pictures online. The rooms. My compliments to the photographer.

The pictures also managed to somehow downplay the whole floral aspect of the room. Which is quite the accomplishment as well. Did you ever sleep over at your grandma’s house in the 1980’s? It looked just like that. Complete with the four-poster bed and the beige, eternally out-of-date, carpet. And, of course, the floral wallpaper. The floral curtains. The chair in the corner covered in clashing floral upholstery.

I didn’t even know flowers had it in them to be so aggressive.  

But this room, it’s mine. For two nights at least.

My husband kicked me out of the house. The beautiful bastard. He had silently watched for months as the daily grind wore away at me, chipping relentlessly at those parts of me that were buried underneath the gargantuan title of MOM.

sketch1551143493236

He watched and watched and then said enough. Take three days. Go somewhere. Just you.

There were a thousand reasons not to go. Seven hundred of them, at least, being things that had to be done IMMEDIATELY. He let me spout off a mere handful of these reasons before interrupting me with perhaps the two most beautiful sentences ever uttered in the English language: “I don’t care. You’re going.”

As I type this I have a Harry Potter marathon on the supernaturally tiny TV they provided. I’m reclining on a ridiculously comfortable bed (with floral bedsheets) surrounded by books and graphic novels and back issues of magazines and newspapers that I wouldn’t be able to finish even if I had three months.

I keep waiting for an interruption. For a knock at the door. For a feral howl of my name to reach my ears. For…anything.

It never comes.

I’m so happy.

sketch1551144020555

Remember your room from childhood? From when you were a teenager? How it was your sanctuary? The place you could dream in, wonder and plan who you would become. It was perhaps the only place where all the possibilities and all your potential was allowed out in the open.

It has been a very long time since I had that feeling.

“What are you going to do?” my friends asked me when they heard I was temporarily running away from home.

Nothing.

Nothing?

Nothing.

Or perhaps everything.

I don’t know and it’s delicious.

In the end, I do things. And then I don’t do things. And then I think about doing more things but just lay in my beautiful but possibly haunted rented Victorian bed for a bit longer because sometimes just thinking about doing things is better than actually doing them. I keep checking the time. An old habit from my old life, with kids. It’s going slow, the minutes and hours crawling forward, in no hurry to get anywhere. I briefly debate stealing this precious clock.

And then, perhaps the most magical thing of all happens. I start to miss them. My family.

It has been a very long time since I’ve had that feeling.

It’s lovely.

And, I now realize, vital.

sketch1551144516331

I don’t know how I can ever repay my husband for this gift, for these three days he gave me to remember who I was, who I still am, underneath all the MOM. And to remember all the reasons I decided to take that title in the first place.

But should he ever feel the need to run away from home, I know a place.

 

Because who doesn’t want aluminum for a gift?

Well, well, well. I never thought it’d come but here it finally is. At the end of this month, my husband and I will be celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary!

…yay…!…?

Yeah. I know. Not that exciting.

I mean, ten years, yeah, of course. That’s a huge deal. You made it an entire decade. It’s the…copper anniversary? Bronze, maybe?

Holy crap. I just looked it up. It’s the tin or aluminum anniversary. Also, I stole a glance at the ninth year gift. It’s willow or pottery. I mean…what? Who made these rules? (Because my guess is it was either an extremely practical woman or an extremely clever man).

“Thanks for putting up with my farts for ten years, honey. Here’s some tuna.”

“Aw, the dolphin-safe kind. Just what I always wanted. Thanks, darling!”

sketch1549934178935

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes…

But nine years? Eh. At nine years your anniversary plans are likely squished in-between giving your kids lice treatment because there was another outbreak at preschool and a meeting with Todd, your semi-dodgy accountant but he’s the only one you can afford.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for marriage and am personally very happy my husband and I are still going strong. (I don’t want to brag or anything, but I am not the easiest person to live with).

It’s just that after nine years of building a life together, the building part is mostly done and now it’s just a whole lot of maintenance. Maintenance that sucks up all your time and energy and money. Especially when you throw children and careers and pets into the mix.

Take, for example, this very moment right here. I am attempting to type this sentence with a two-year-old squirming on my lap while my husband texts me about his crazy morning at work and I text back “Crap! We need band-aids and juice boxes. Can you get them after work?” And then my 2-year-old almost breaks my laptop and I yell at her and she starts crying and the dog starts barking and my husband texts me back he has a late meeting but will as soon as it is done.

That is what nine years looks like.

Nine years is spending 27 minutes trying to figure out who can take which kid to their dentist appointment.

Nine years is silently and mutually agreeing to ignore the awful noise the dishwasher makes every time it’s turned on because there is no money in the budget currently to fix it.

sketch1549935425714.png

Nine years is yelling at each other in strained voices about the ridiculously high vet bill and then 30 seconds later, in a perfectly calm voice, bringing up which cake you should get for your son’s birthday as though nothing had happened. Because sulking is only for couples with the luxury of free time.  

Nine years is “hey, come look at this…should I go to the doctor?”

Nine years is constantly forgetting to kiss each other goodbye but always remembering to get extra pickles for them when ordering take out.

Nine years is a horror movie and two bottles of wine on Valentine’s Day.

Nine years is mostly communicating via memes when apart.

Nine years is a truly impressive Tupperware collection.

Nine years is “I did your laundry. It’s in a giant pile on the bed.”

Nine years is a truly comfortable silence. Interrupted by a truly impressive fart.

Nine years is realizing all that sugary sweet marriage advice you got at your wedding was useless. Never go to bed angry (um, then we’d never sleep). Never keep secrets from each other (those secret stashes of fancy chocolate are the reason my family is still alive some days). Would you rather be right or married? (I’m never wrong so it’s a moot point, Aunt Carol).  

And, if you’re very lucky, nine years is wanting to do all this god-awful mundane business of living– the bills, the cleaning, the obligations, the never-ending youth soccer games, the grocery shopping, the novella-length kindergarten registration packets– with no one else but them.

I love you, Ryan. And I can’t wait to clean out the kids’ closets this weekend with you.

Which reminds me…

Get some wine at the store too.