Category Archives: Humor

St. Momma’s Academy for Wayward Children

Greetings and salutations new students! I am pleased to welcome you as the inaugural class of St. Momma’s Academy For Wayward Children. I’m looking forward to a most maddening semester with all of your beautiful, perfect faces.  

Just a few details and tidbits to go over before I hand out the MAE, I SAID STOP LICKING YOUR BROTHER syllabus. Firstly, we have a unique schedule here at the academy. Classes start promptly at Whenever Momma Has The Energy and ends exactly at Momma Is About To Use The Big Curse Words. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served whenever I get around to it and the menu will always be macaroni and cheese because I have given up already and so help me if you keep rolling your eyes at me, Riker, I will make you write a 1,000 word essay on how pretty I am, kiddo. Now, at St. Momma’s Academy, you are allowed to go to the bathroom whenever you need, however, this does include the caveat that you cannot go at exactly the same time as Momma. 

Alright, well, once I pass out these syllabuses (syllabi?) I feel we have put in a good day’s work for today already and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Now take this packet and go away. Farther. No, farther. FARTHER. 

Music 

Introduction to the Quiet Game

This semester we will explore why silence is sometimes just as important as musical instruments. 

Art 

Stick Figure Technique and Design

I can only teach what I know, tiny scholars. 

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Science

ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE!?: An Exploration of Modern Pandemics

This course will explain all the scary things you are hearing on the news and will mostly consist of reassurances that mommy and daddy and your grandparents and everyone you know and love will most likely not die any time soon. 

Math 

Fantastic Fractions

We’re just making a crap ton of cookies and I’ll let you guys hold the measuring cups and hope you learn fractions via osmosis. 

Physical Education

The FUNdamentals of Squirrel Chasing

First kid to catch one wins $20 and a cookie. GO! 

Reading

Accio Phonics!

We will be reading all the Harry Potter books together. No! Stop whining. I said, WE WILL BE READING ALL THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS TOGETHER. 

Home Economics

Advanced Beverage Science

The morning class will focus on how to operate the coffee maker while the afternoon class will learn basic cocktail recipes. Lab work will be evaluated daily. 

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Writing Economics

Exposure Don’t Pay The Bills, You Prick

This intensive course will explore why Momma makes little to no money as a writer even though she works her ass off. Extra credit given to any student who offers hugs when the professor inevitably breaks down in tears of rage. 

History 

The ‘90’s Were A Hell Of A Time, Kids. 

We’re just going to look through Momma’s old photo albums while I drink whiskey and you guys drink apple juice in fancy glasses. 

Media Studies

History of 1980’s Cinema

This mandatory elective will be M-F afternoons until possibly bedtime. Homework assignments include multiple viewings of “The Goonies,” “The Princess Bride,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Willow,” among others. Any complaining results in automatic failure.  

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Quarantine Letters from the Home Front

March 12, 2020

My Dearest Husband, 

It feels like yesterday I held you in my arms, only for us to be ripped apart by this cursed virus that is sweeping across the country. What I wouldn’t give to see your face again. Alas, I know you must do your duty, though it is a most difficult one, and figure out how to turn our diminutive bedroom into a viable home office. 

Though only a door separates us, it may as well be an ocean. For you are a world away, valiantly battling the Zoom app with its broken video link and internally struggling with the weighty decision of whether you care if your boss sees you in your pajamas, whilst I stay on this side, taking care of hearth and home in my yoga pants. We are walking an unknown road together yet apart, my love. But never doubt where my heart lies. 

The children send you their deepest affection and this drawing of a pirate ninja unicorn. 

With All My Love, 

Your Devoted Wife

 

March 13, 2020

My Darling Husband, 

I thought perhaps I saw a glimpse of your unshaven face shuffling around in your robe early this morn and my heart leapt at the sight of it. But by the time I called out, this specter had already refilled his coffee mug and disappeared back into the murky depths of the bedroom. Oh, my beloved, when will the world return to normal? I fear we will not come out of this as the same people we once were. 

To distract myself, I am helping our eldest learn to read. His teacher has been most accommodating, sending numerous worksheets to be printed out at home and link after link after link of educational things we ought to be doing. I admit it is most overwhelming but I find courage within myself by imagining how burdensome it is for families across this nation of ours and knowing I must do my part as well. 

Eternally Yours,

Your Faithful Bride

 

March 16, 2020

Dearest Love, 

I am trying, somewhat in vain, to remember how hard all this must be on our children. The world has gone mad and if their mother cannot make much sense of it, what chance have their young minds?

Yet, I still do not feel that is a reasonable excuse to steal all my lipsticks and paint the dog in various vibrant and long-lasting hues. Oh yes, that is indeed what your children just did. The little one also blew a raspberry in my face when I divulged to her that there would be no cookies for breakfast. 

Well, as you can imagine, it took everything I had to spare any and all rods. But as it says in the scriptures, children are a gift and a reward. Although if I do recall correctly, Jesus never had any children of his own and God stopped after one. 

I feel my delicate constitution cannot take much more of this, dearest. Which is why I drank all your beer. 

Love,

Your Temporarily Jovial Spouse

 

March 17, 2020

Dear Husband, 

As I write this, it is late morning. A dreary, rainy morning sure to turn into a dreary, rainy afternoon. Already the children have broken a chair and the hound has vomited on the rug before deciding to poop in the only room that has carpet. ‘Tis not quite the auspicious day I was hoping it would be. 

But I strive to take heart in the small things, such as it being the Day of Saint Patrick. I felt it only appropriate to participate in the festivities, if but alone. And early. 

Relatedly, we are out of wine. Also the vodka from the freezer is gone. 

P.S. Did you eat my leftovers? They were clearly labeled with my name, darling. If you wanted eggrolls, you should have ordered some for yourself when I asked what you wanted from Golden Dragon yesterday. 

Signed,

Your Hangry Wife

 

March 18, 2020

Husband,

Supplies are low and morale is flagging. I had to squash a coup d’etat when word got out that there were no more fish sticks. I know it is a fraught journey to the grocery store in these awful and uncertain times but seeing as how I am hungover (you know my delicate constitution) I feel it is essential that you go. 

I will miss you, oh husband of mine, as you embark on this treacherous voyage. But how lucky am I to have such a considerate partner who leaves behind dirty socks all over the house as a constant reminder of his presence in our life during these troublesome days. 

Regards,

Wife

 

March 20, 2020

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m going for a walk. I threw an entire box of Cheerios on the floor so the urchins should be occupied for awhile. I am uncertain of when I shall return. 

P.S. The children set the kitchen on fire.

 

My very particular set of skills is finally needed

Being a stay-at-home parent is an underappreciated job. Luckily, it’s also a job which results in a lot of expertise that has very little value outside your immediate family and involves absolutely no social standing.

Which is fine. We don’t do it for the glory. We do it because childcare costs in this country are ridiculous and out of control. (And, like, for love or whatever). 

All of which is to say that society places little worth on the ability to spend all your time with your family without murdering them, not even once. 

And then came the coronavirus. In times of great uncertainty, in times of dire need, leaders can emerge from the most unlikeliest of places. Which is why, as this pandemic is sweeping across the country and everything is closing and everyone is realizing they will be forced to spend all their time in very close proximity to their own families, with no escape, nowhere to run, me and my fellow brethren are finding that our skills are finally in demand.

Fellow caregivers! It’s our time to shine, baby! *ties hair up in messy bun and straightens sweatpants*

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Alright, now one of the most important things to remember is don’t panic. They’re just your family. You will survive this. Probably. I’ll be honest, I don’t know your family. But I’ve been stuck at home with mine for six years now and other than an extremely bloated wine budget and premature aging, I’m only mildly psychologically damaged. 

First things first though, what are you doing? Putting on real pants? Aw, that’s cute. I mean, if it makes you feel good go on ahead but, honestly, you’re probably going to regret it. Real pants just remind you that there is a real world out there, a real world that you are no longer a part of. You need something with stretch, with elastic; something that won’t judge you when you are stress-eating leftover chicken wings above the sink. 

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Of course, one of the biggest adjustments you’ll have to make is that within these walls during the day, time will cease to have meaning. Mornings will fly and the afternoon will be frozen. Minutes can feel like hours and hours can feel like regretting the decision to ever have children in the first place. For example, it should be mathematically impossible to watch “Frozen II” 43 times in one day and yet there it is, still playing in the background, for the 44th time. 

At least now with all this extra time we can sit down to a nice, big, family breakfast, I hear you thinking. But nope. You’ll try, of course. At first. But your eggs taste like poopy butt and you did the hashbrowns wrong (there’s brown on them!) and she just wants CHEERIOS and he wants butter with a side of bagel. NO! UNTOASTED! NOW IT’S RUINED!   

Time to start your workday. When I’m not getting yelled at for my poopy butt eggs, I moonlight as a writer so allow me to share what I’ve learned about working from home with children. Prepare for your productivity to go down immensely. Possibly to zero. Even if you have a home office with a door. Doors don’t stop children. Nothing stops them. Also, children can sense when you need to concentrate and/or are on an important call. This is when the little one will crawl on your laptop like a cat and the older one will burst in naked and fart on you while giggling manically. 

Hey, remember back in your former life when you had the autonomy to go to the bathroom whenever you needed to? Yeah, that’s gone. Even if you ask every single person in that household if they have to go to the bathroom before you go in there, and everyone says “no,” someone will still bang on the door within eleven seconds demanding to be let in because IT’S AN EMERGENCY and THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO GO THEN. 

If you want a snack, you either get real good at slipping in and out of the kitchen unseen or you make snacks for everyone. 

Sound? What sound? Oh, that? That’s just the 3 p.m. sibling screaming match. Right on schedule. Now, wait for it…hang on…in just a moment…yup, the elderly dog’s fevered barking in response. There’s an encore of this performance at 4 as well. And 5:15. Sometimes 7. 

Oh, don’t look so disheartened. Look, you will want to kill them at some point. Likely multiple points. This is totally normal. I mean, don’t. Kill them and whatnot. It will reflect very poorly on your parenting. But it’s completely valid to feel like you want to.

Here you go. You’ve earned this. I call it a martini but it’s just straight vodka in a martini glass.

And just think, only five more hours until bedtime. 

Tissue? 

 

Lord of the Remote

I don’t like to think of myself as dramatic, but every once in awhile a scene like the one described below occurs and I have to humbly accept my imaginary Oscar for best dramatic performance in a domestic situation. 

Son: Hey mom, can we watch “Lord of the Rings”?

Me: (dropping everything in my hands) I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT SINCE YOU WERE BORN.

Son: Mom, are you ok?

Me: (grabbing special edition extended DVD boxed set) Sit down and prepare not to do anything for the next 13 hours!

Son: Can I go to the bathroom?

Me: No. 

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I’m kidding, of course. I let him go to the bathroom. 

Once. 

The point is, we really are living in a magical time. A time where technology makes it possible for us to share everything we’ve ever loved and obsessed over with our children. EVERYTHING. Most of it at the click of a button. Even more amazing is that it’s something we already take for granted even though this instant nostalgia wasn’t around even a mere generation ago. 

I have no idea what my mom’s favorite TV show was when she was growing up. This is mostly because as her child I was genetically inclined to think everything she liked was dumb and therefore of no interest to me. But also she had very few outlets to share these things with me. Reruns and VHS tapes were pretty much it and that was only if some balding, cigar-chomping, TV executive (I’m just assuming they were all like that in the ‘80’s) decided they were worthy of reruns and/or VHS immortality. 

Meanwhile, my children have seen my favorite childhood TV show, “David the Gnome,” so many times they could write a passable doctoral thesis on it in multiple crayon colors. (Alas, my favorite childhood movie, “The Neverending Story,” didn’t go over as well because us ‘80’s kids were built of stronger stuff and didn’t get hysterical every time a beloved horse character committed suicide via swamp quicksand). 

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It’s not just movies and TV shows either. Thanks to the Nintendo Classic Edition, my kids and I have spent hours playing Mario Bros. together, side by side, just like I used to do with my cousins. The only difference now is that I’m finally the best player and my generic Mountain Dew has been replaced by generic Merlot. 

I’m basically getting to relive the best parts of my pop culture past while bringing my kids along for the ride. This is an extraordinary power and like all extraordinary powers, it’s super fun to abuse!

Take, for example, the fact I’ve been trying to force the Harry Potter books onto my firstborn for years. Pretty much once a week we have some version of the following conversation:

Me: You ready yet?

Son: For what?

Me: (in bad British accent) ‘arry Potter! 

Son: No.

Me: How about now?

Son: Nope.

Me: Now?

Son: Please stop, mom.

Me: Accio Interest!

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And THEN, after buying multiple Harry Potter Lego sets and T-shirts and light up wands and a sorting hat and discreetly playing the movies in the background and leaving the books scattered all over his room, my son brought home a worksheet from kindergarten and under the question “What is the title of a book you want to read?” he wrote “Hrry Pottr Nubrw 2.”* 

Did I trick him into wanting to read the books? Did I gaslight my own child? Did I grift my own flesh and blood?

Yup.  

It’s just, my kids have the WORST taste in entertainment. It’s all “Little Einsteins” and “Paw Patrol” and “Muppet Babies” but not the awesome old “Muppet Babies,” the new ones with the weird penguin. 

They don’t even like the good Disney movies. All the Disney movies ever made right there at their fingertips and they keep requesting “Sleeping Beauty,” the one where the princess is worthless and does nothing and has one job, not to touch a spindle, but what does she do? She touches a spindle because she’s human garbage. 

So, while I would never dictate what my children can and cannot like, because that would be wrong,** all I’m saying is that while they are still too little to figure out our three remotes and the convoluted sequence of magic buttons you have to hit in order to make them obey your every command, I’m merely going to gently guide them in the right direction. 

The right direction, of course, being “The Goonies.” 

*First, so cute, right? Second, I have no idea why he wants to start with the second book in the series but gaslighters can’t be choosers. 

**Right? It would be wrong? Or…no, no, it’s wrong. 

When your kids have too much scream time

I had always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t follow the crowd. As the type of woman who blazed her own path, made her own destiny. I was a lone wolf. Who was also a unicorn. Who moonlighted as a succubus on days when she was feeling grumpy. 

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Then I met my stupid adorable future husband and we started dating and everyone said “get married!” and we were like “ok.” Then after we got married, everyone said “have a kid!” and we were all “sure, who needs a disposable income?” Then after we had a kid, everyone said “have another one!” and so we did mostly because we were too tired to think of reasons not to. 

Then, when we were drowning in tiny, adorable, self-destructive gingers, those same people had the audacity to tell our exhausted, disgusting, overwhelmed selves that we couldn’t plop those kids down in front of a TV so we could get a moment’s peace in the diaper-stained tsunami that was now our lives. 

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Oh, and not just TV. This was a moratorium on all screens. Phones. Tablets. Laptops. Laptops that turned into tablets. 

“No screens! It will destroy their brains!” everyone shouted while sending torch and pitchfork gifs to our phones. 

And that’s where I finally broke with the crowd. Because do you know how long a day is when you are stuck at home with small children? It’s 57 hours. And that’s just before noon. I had no idea what to do with them. I’d read books, I’d build forts, I’d play hide and seek even though they hid in the same damn place every. single. time. (Spoiler alert: It was inside the fort). Then I’d look up and realize 12 minutes had passed. Which is when I would pull down all the window shades and put on “Sesame Street” with the volume super low, the kids pushing their faces against the television in order to actually hear Elmo. 

“It doesn’t count if no one but me knows” I’d whisper to myself while creepily rubbing my hands together villain-style. 

Look, I know too much screen time can have negative effects on children. I’m not saying everyone is wrong. I’m just saying they need to acknowledge that the alternative can be just as awful. That without any screen time, everything devolves into scream time. Mostly by the parents. 

Kids are more than capable of destroying their brains the old-fashioned screen-less way. Take this innocent little exchange between my kids I overheard the other day:

6-year-old: Ok, so put on your cape…

3-year-old Ok.

6-year-old: And then I’m going to push you off the bed…

3-year-old: Ok. 

6-year-old: And we’ll see if you can fly!

Me: NO! 

Or this one…

6-year-old: Did you get them?

3-year-old: Yup. 

Me: Get what?

*crickets*

Me: GET WHAT?

6-year-old: …nothing.

Me: *gets up and confiscates the big pair of scissors and three steak knives the 3-year-old is hiding behind her back*

6-year-old: Well how are we supposed to play pirates now?

And for everyone who claims that video games make kids violent, I’m not necessarily disagreeing. But I am saying that so do sticks. My children are constantly picking up sticks and using them to beat each other relentlessly. This usually escalates until they are using full on tree limbs to bash each others skulls in, which is when the park magically closes and we have to head home. 

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The thing is, sometimes you need screen time to make sure your children stay alive. To make their savage little butts sit down for a hot minute and kill pixels instead of each other. 

And sure, maybe it will eventually turn their brains to mush. I, of all people, am likely to find out considering both of my kids can quote the entire “Princess Bride” movie verbatim. But honestly, have you ever heard a 3-year-old yell “He didn’t fall!? Inconceivable!”? I’d argue it’s cute enough to warrant a reasonable amount of brain mush. 

In the end, I think, it’s all about balance. Let your kids play on their tablet guilt-free. Enjoy the quiet and peaceful non-homicidal atmosphere without beating yourself up. And then have them turn the tablets off so they can use them to hit each other over the head. 

When life hands you spoiled milk, make bathtub gin

Ask any parent what their worst nightmare is and then immediately cancel any plans you had for the next three days. Because that’s how long they will take to answer you. Because parents are worried about everything.

For instance, among my top worst nightmare scenarios are:

A serial killer named Meatclaw kidnaps my children.

My daughter dies of scurvy because all she’ll eat is plain noodles. 

My son turns out to be awesome at soccer and all my weekend days have to be spent sober and pretending to like soccer.

My grandchildren will have to participate in The Hunger Games in the dystopian future, which they will lose because no one in my family knows how to shoot an arrow OR how to do a fancy side braid.

I get cancer and die. My husband, overwhelmed with grief, gets tricked into marrying my vapid, bimbo nurse Trixie after my funeral and she then raises my kids to be the kind of humans who genuinely enjoy keeping up with the Kardashians.

Prohibition comes back and I am arrested for Googling “how to make bathtub gin”.

And none of those things address the daily onslaught of new things we as parents are told to be afraid of, like haunted YouTube shows that possess children and studies that prove babies who didn’t learn Mandarin in utero will never get into college and that helicopter parenting is causing rebellious kindergartners to start snorting pure uncut sugar.

Of course, it’s not all death and delinquency and illicit moonshine runs. The mundane can be almost as terrifying when you have kids. For example, at some point on that mental list that every parent has, probably down around No. 37, is the nightmare of the missing sippy cup.

Oh god, the dreaded missing sippy cup. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s been on the back of your mind for awhile, the fact that you can’t remember the last time you saw it. And even though you’ve been known to struggle with anything above second grade math, you instantly do some fancy algebra in your head and deduce that there are two in the dishwasher, one in the cupboard, two they’re currently drinking out of and one being used as part of a load-bearing wall in the Fortress of Generic Blocks in the living room. 

Which leaves one completely unaccounted for. And after some more fancy mental calculations, you realize it’s been unaccounted for since Tuesday. And nope. Not that Tuesday. Last LAST Tuesday.

That’s not even the scariest part. The scariest part is that, unlike all of the tiny missing socks (which is about 1/3 of the total tiny sock population) and all those missing pens from the junk drawer, which I imagine are living blissfully together on some tropical island with all 12,000 of my missing bobby pins, sippy cups never stay lost. Oh no. They will mysteriously show up again. Right when their contents have ripened to their peak of nightmarish horror.

And despite the fact that when you asked your children to help you find this very same cup two weeks ago and they just did a series of figure-eights around your legs while repeatedly asking “where did it go? huh…”, it always, inevitably, reappears in their little hands when it makes its grand re-entrance, not yours.

Then, when that moment comes, that moment when one of your precious angels that you spent 36 hours bringing into this world on the sheer power of creative curse words alone runs up to you with a brightly painted cup of toxic sludge, a million more horrific questions run through your mind:

What unholy concoction is now in there? And has it gained sentience yet?

How much spoiled milk can a 30-pound body take before permanent damage occurs?

What strange alchemy must take place to turn apple juice that shade of green?

Or…wait…I think this used to be orange juice?

Does grape juice ferment into alcohol after so long? And if it does, how much prison kiddie wine did my child just drink before he alerted me that he found the missing cup?

How worried do I need to be about mold, because there are no less than 11 blog posts littering my Facebook feed at any given moment about the dangers of mold growing in sippy cups?

The good news is that there is hope. More than hope, actually. There is a foolproof method to never losing another sippy cup again. And that method is to only let your child drink water from here on out.

A sippy cup full of water has never, ever been lost in the whole, long, sordid history of parenthood.

 

I’m losing (not that I’m keeping score or anything)

Considering my ten year wedding anniversary is coming up, I felt I should probably write something about it. Because LOVE! And BIG DEAL! and stuff. So I spent two hours staring at a blank page while deftly avoiding destroying my keyboard with Cheetos finger dust. 

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I need inspiration, I eventually says to myself. TO THE GOOGLE. And as usual, it did not disappoint. So many women with very white teeth and very tall boots are just bursting at the seams to tell you all the secrets to their happy marriage. With their blogs featuring pithy titles such as “10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 10 Years in Marriage” and “What Marriage is Like After 10 Years” and “How We Keep the Romance Alive After 10 Years of Marriage.” 

You guys ever read a marriage anniversary blog? If not, allow me to sum up ALL OF THEM. 

“I married Jeff (or Jason or Jaysen or Jaxon) on a beautiful beach in some exotic locale that you probably can’t afford. And wow. What a journey it’s been. We didn’t know a lot back then but we knew we loved each other. 

Make NO mistake, however. It takes work. With his demanding but highly successful career and my vanilla writing that is somehow pulling in six figures and with raising our three extremely symmetrical children, our marriage is far from perfect. I mean, I once almost FARTED in front of my husband! Can you imagine? 

No, we aren’t perfect. But we are perfect for each other. We’ve been through so much together, from middle class status to upper middle class status to that time I got bangs. Oof. Through it all, though, we’ve grown closer. Everyone told me when I got married that it would be hard but I love my spouse now more than I did 10 years ago.”

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The one thing, however, that all these anniversary blogs agree on (once you get past all the shiny hair photos) is that to make a marriage work you cannot keep score. If you do, the score will never be even and there will never be any winners. Only resentful losers. 

It’s one of the few things I actually agree with them on too. Because I’ve been keeping score since Day One and it turns out I’m the resentful loser. 

Yeah, I’m LOSING. He is decidedly the better partner. Because I married a handsome overachieving jackass.  

My 10 year anniversary gift from him? Three days alone in an adorable cabin in the woods far away from our family. If you’ve ever had small children (or been within three feet of small children) you’ll understand what a tremendous and thoughtful gift this is.

I made him a coupon book featuring drawings of stick figures doing naughty things.  

You know what this guy did after Christmas? Cleaned and organized our gross, messy attic. A task I had been meaning to do for half a decade. A task that I had been dreading. A task that was taking up valuable mental real estate in my head. And then…poof! Done. Marked off the list without me having to even ask. 

Meanwhile, I once saw a spider in the house and very intrepidly killed it via drowning it in a gallon of bug spray. Did I mention this was on my husband’s desk? And then when he got home after a long day of work, I immediately yelled at him from atop the dining room table “There is a drowned spider corpse on your desk and I need you to get rid of the body and clean up the crime scene!…oh no, sweetie, you’re going to need way more towels!” 

He supports my dreams. Even the dumb ones. And I don’t mean in the “yeah, I totally support that, babe!” and then immediately goes back to scrolling on their phone way. That’s my method of support. I mean he gives me the time and space to pursue them. 

He’s the better gift giver. He’s the better baker. He’s the better nurse. He’s the better cleaner (like, he mops…what?).

He’s the less dramatic one. He’s the one with no history of gaslighting. He’s the one who has never made me feel guilty for being human. (And I am deeply, deeply human). 

He’s just better at…marriage. 

So, to sum up, I got a caring, hard working, supportive partner and he got someone who growls if you try to take the remote away from her. 

But at least I’m better at one thing. I am by far the smarter one. I knew enough to not marry a loser. 

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I’ll see you all in the spring

I never really understood those people who claimed that time is relative. That time is not absolute and can speed up and slow down depending on where you are, or how fast you’re going, or other amorphous, discombobulating, big word science stuff. 

Then January happened. And kept happening. Wouldn’t stop happening. It was a January that lasted for seven years. It was a January aging in dog years. 

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But hey! We all survived! And before murdering anyone (I’m assuming)! It’s now the beginning of February. Winter is officially half over. Which I feel I would be much more excited about if my one child hadn’t been coughing since November and the other one didn’t currently have a low-grade fever and runny nose that is going to last until April. 

I look forward to seeing you all again in May. Possibly June. Most likely 2034 when these two apple-cheeked petri dishes move out of my house. 

Honestly, it wouldn’t be that bad if these perpetually sick children had the decency to come down with an illness that makes them want to lay on the couch all day watching TV. You know, like any decent sick person with morals would do. But nope. My kids only get the germs that prevent them from going to school or library story-time or eating normal food or doing any chores BUT leaves them with enough energy to destroy my home and my sanity and my immune system. 

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I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fighting to get all my oxygen needs through nostrils that were only 13 percent operational. I’ve been dealing with an endless line of noses running so hard they would likely qualify for the Boston Marathon. And I’ve been riding a mucus tsunami like Moana crossing the sea to return the heart of Te Fiti, which is a very apt comparison considering I have seen “Moana” 116 times in the past five weeks. 

“Mom, how come you’re not sick?” my son asked one day while casually handing me a distressingly soggy tissue. 

“Because I have mom immunity. And I drink whiskey for medicinal purposes. And also technically I’ve been sick since the day after Christmas but everything still needs to get done because life is cruel and unfair.”

“Oh. Is dad sick too?”

“Yup.”

“Where is he?”

“Army crawling to work. Y’all expensive and we need to keep our insurance.”

Everyone in this stupid house keeps breathing all the same stupid air making each other sick but we can’t leave because we’ll make other stupid people sick so we stay stupid inside trying not to stupid kill each other while our stupid germs have air orgies and make new germs that we breathe in that make us sick all over again. 

And even when we get better, we’re not really better. And if we are better we aren’t better for long. Every time my son comes home from his school filled with other walking pathogens disguised as children, I can practically see the germs gleefully jumping from his hand to his backpack and giddily lying in wait for the moment when he asks me to carry it home for him and I give in because I’ve had 42 fights with his toddler sister that afternoon alone and my spirit is broken. And then those germs jump onto my hand, supersonically shouting out their battle cries and hacking away at my white blood cells with their super tiny axes.

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Or, you know, however germs work. 

There’s been so much sickness lately, in fact, that it’s gotten to a point where I’m a bit insensitive about the whole thing. 

“What? You’re sick again?”

*child finishes puking* “Yeah.”

*sticks thermometer in ear* “I mean, you only have a temp of 102. Here’s some Tylenol and a shovel. The driveway needs to be cleared out.”

*child has devastating coughing fit* “…ok…Momma…”

“And then after we can watch ‘Moana’ again!” 

*child gives thumbs-up from fetal position on the floor*

So, like I said. I look forward to seeing you all again in the spring. When everyone is finally healthy but all our allergies have kicked back in and we spend the majority of our time sneezing in your face. 

 

Good thing I’m not one of those sentimental moms

I vowed long before I ever had children that I would never be one of those overly sentimental mothers. You know the kind. The ones that make keepsakes out of their children’s teeth and first baby curls, like some sort of socially acceptable child body part hoarder. The ones who ugly cry at their kid’s preschool graduation ceremony (like that’s actually a thing, an actual important event). The ones who “ohh” and “ahh” and frame little junior’s drawing of a green horse that looks, let’s be honest, like a terminally ill Jabba the Hutt.

But not me. Nope. I mean, come on. The whole POINT of having children is to raise them and then get rid of them. To turn them into fully functioning adults who can deal with their own boogers and climb off the couch in a manner that doesn’t resemble a skydiving incident gone horribly wrong. Yet these weepy parents want to keep their kids in some sort of infantile limbo, nostalgic for the days when their precious babies hollered from the bathroom “mom, come wipe my butt!”

Pfft. Pathetic.

And then…

And THEN…

You knew there was an “and then” coming, didn’t you? Of course you did. You’re not an idiot like I am.

And then I had children. 

My son, my eldest, needed a haircut. His first. Too many “stop chewing on your hair” reprimands and running into the wall boo-boos because his bangs were blocking 87 percent of his vision finally pushed my hand. Not that I was putting off his first haircut or anything.

That would be too sentimental.

I waited until the morning of the day he was going to have his pictures taken by my photographer cousin. Not that I was waiting until the last possible moment or anything.

That would also be too sentimental.

It just happened to work out that way. And don’t you dare think for one second that me scheduling the hair appointment to coincide with a trip to visit family in my hometown in Ohio (800 miles from my current home in Boston) just so my high school friend would be the one to cut Riker’s hair had anything to do with sentimentality. It didn’t, ok? 

It didn’t.

It was simply because I couldn’t stand the thought of some stranger’s dirty, disgusting hands pawing through my baby’s pristine ginger curls and heartlessly chopping them off like they DIDN’T EVEN MATTER. Like they weren’t made from the most precious stuff ON EARTH.

And yes, I’m sure that the fact that I asked Samantha if she could cut me off just ONE of his curls as a keepsake might look, from the outside, like a sentimental request. But I was just being practical. In case, you know, something, god forbid, ever happened to Riker and we needed a sample of his DNA to give to a mad scientist who would then use it to create Riker’s identical clone.

And sure, then asking her to cut off another keepsake curl might seem a bit ridiculous, but hey, you never know. Something could always happen to Riker’s clone and it’s always good to have a backup-backup plan.

And ok, fine. Perhaps asking for that third curl to also be cut and gingerly wrapped up in plastic was overkill. But what if, I don’t know, a fire destroyed the first curl and then a plague of hair-eating locusts destroys the second one? What then, huh? Am I still being overly sentimental? Or just incredibly reasonable and forward-thinking?

So, plainly, as you can see, I have kept to that vow I made long ago to never be one of those overly sentimental parents. Even now with Riker about to turn 6 and my youngest preparing to go to preschool next year and the fact that I can’t remember the last time she fell asleep on my chest and that he no longer gives me a hug and a kiss before walking into his classroom and tomorrow they will both be leaving for college and they’ll never call and then move across the country from me and I’ll never see them but maybe next year, Mom, and the cat’s in the cradle and some crap about a silver spoon or something…

…Sigh…

And all of that will be just fine by me. Just fine. 

I have my shrine of baby curls, a creepy pile of preserved baby teeth and that damned ugly Jabba horse drawing to keep me company.

 

A glass of astronaut juice

She wasn’t my grandma. I should probably start with that. Officially she belonged to my cousins. The matriarch on their father’s side. 

But Grandma Knapke’s screen door always opened just as wide for me as it did for her verified grandchildren. On those blazing blue summer days, the five of us would spill out of the van and pour into her house, stirring up small whirlpools of chaos and sound in our wake. 

She was a small but vital part of my childhood, her face looming large in my memory. And her laugh. That very distinct laugh is forever seared into my brain. I loved that laugh. I remember wishing I was funnier as a kid just so I could hear that laugh more often. 

This was the angel who introduced me to Tang. The drink of the astronauts. Flashy space juice. It was the most exotic thing I had ever had. No one in my life up until then had loved me enough to let me have Tang. Grandma Knapke let me have it by the pitcherful.  

Her house smelled completely different from my biological grandma’s familiar smelling house. It smelled foreign and therefore fancy in my eyes.

My very intense but short-lived skateboard career began and ended in her driveway. 

She took a bunch of us into town one day. Her hair was in curlers, secured in a hair net. She didn’t care. That was the day she became my personal hero. 

Her kitchen is the kitchen I always think of when I’m reading a book and the characters are standing in a kitchen. She’d probably be surprised to know it was featured in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” and “Little Women.” 

I remember one lunch in particular, a mob of us sitting around her table. My plate was piled comically high considering I was 7-years-old. She cocked an eyebrow at me and said “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” I nodded sagely at her, like I knew what that meant. I had no idea what she meant. But I remember thinking how wise she sounded right before I spent the rest of the day with an agonizing tummy ache.  

I got the news a few days ago. Grandma Knapke passed away at the age of 93. Leaving behind a large and loving and wonderful family.

And one freckled stray whose eyes are still too big for her stomach. 

It takes a special kind of person to open their doors to kids that aren’t theirs. To make them feel loved. Make them feel like they belong. It’s hard being a kid. It’s so easy to forget that as an adult. Which is why kids need all the open doors and hugs and special astronaut drinks as they can get. 

I was luckier than most. I had the best grandma in the world. But I also got a Grandma Knapke. A woman who took in an only child whenever she showed up and made her feel like one of the pack. 

And as I get older, and raise my own family, I can only hope I have it in me to emulate her love and spirit. That in the end there is a person who, when they hear my name, thinks back with a smile and remembers sitting at my table in perfect happiness. Fancy astronaut drink optional.