Time for a Check Up

I was at one of those trampoline jumping birthday party places with a friend recently.  While our kids played dodge ball and bounced out some extra summer energy, we had a nice talk.  She shared something with me and then added, “Oh, I hope that’s not TMI.”  I laughed and reminded her that she was talking to a giant over-sharer.  The conversation went on from there and my friend said something to me that others have also mentioned in the past, regarding the state of my marriage.

“I see you as such a strong couple, ” she said.  “You seem like very good communicators, and you make a good team.”

I thanked her, then reminded her of a very critical fact.  Yes, Sheepdog and I work very, very hard at our relationship, but it is far from perfect.  We fight, disagree, act selfishly or immaturely, and go to bed mad at one another just like everybody else.  We have different interests, hobbies, and schedules.  We have dealt with big and little struggles and we have been through counseling several times.  There was a time about nine or ten years into our marriage when we actually decided to get a divorce.  But then we let down our defenses and started enjoying each other and our family and decided that divorce was one of the dumbest ideas we had come up with in a really long time.

Even though we worked through that craziness, we occasionally get off track again we get to a point where we act more like porcupines than dolphins.

This is an excerpt from one of our recent conversations:

Sheepdog:  “What’s wrong?  Why are you so grouchy?”

Me:  “I’m due for my period on Saturday.”

Sheepdog: “You are either on your period, about to get your period, or just getting over having had your period.”

Me: (expertly executing the evil wife death stare)

Sheepdog: “What?”

Me: “I can’t hear you over the glorious sound in my head of me hitting you with a shovel.”

AmericanGothic

So close… if only it were a shovel and she got to hold it.

So, just like you would change the oil in your car every 6,000 miles, or you swap out the air filters in your HVAC system quarterly, or you check the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months, or buy new running shoes after 3 or 400 miles, Sheepdog and I felt like it was time for a marriage check up.  Yesterday we went back to counseling, and we will keep going back until we get things back on track.  And we are both very hopeful.

Today we celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary.  I say “celebrate” purposefully, even in the middle of a rough patch, because it is certainly something that we are very proud of.  It is hard to stay married to one person for a long time.  It is hard to stay friends with one person for a long time.  It takes a lot of energy.  People constantly change and evolve and life is hard and kids are demanding and work is stressful.  But Sheepdog and I are doing it, and we are committed to doing it for as long as we both shall live.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Dear New(ish) Neighbor Across the Street,

I planned to come by and say hello.  I intended to introduce myself.  I wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood, and do all the welcome-y things that good neighbors are supposed to do, just like Mr. Rogers taught me (well, maybe not the singing and the acting out stuff with puppets and toy trolleys and such, but you know what I mean).  Sigh.  But I haven’t.  And now literal months have gone by.  And I feel really bad about it.

mr-rogers-hello-neighbor

I can make all of the excuses.  You moved in during Spring Break.  Spring Break!  During Spring Break this year I was busy in Florida hating the beach in the rain along with too many loud people inside of a too small house.  And then we got right back into school and activities and all of the things, so dropping by to say howdy to you fell to the bottom of my to do list.

Plus, you’re a dude.  And from what I can discern with my mad private investigator skilz, you do not have a wife but you do have a couple of every other weekend teen-aged kids.  What if you just went through an ugly divorce and now you hate all wife-type women?

And you rarely seem to be home.  I saw you walking your tiny dog in the mornings while I was waiting with the boys for the school bus.  But I never see you at other times of the day.  What am I supposed to do?  Sit on my front porch and wait for you to come home from work, and then go knock on your door?  What if you come home from work and immediately have to go to the bathroom?  I would be knocking and you would either have to poopus interruptus, or ignore me (because now I know you are home… I just watched you pull into the garage).  That would be so weird.  And not a little awkward for everybody involved.

I had a plan to bake you some brownies, which is what some very nice new neighbors of ours did when we moved into our house seven years ago.  But every time I bake a batch of brownies, somebody in this house eats at least one out of the tray and wrecks the possibility of gifting the whole batch.  OK, you got me.  I’m the one who eats them, but that’s neither here nor there.  And now I resent you a little bit for making it super convenient for me to eat brownies.

Then, I decided I would buy some Greenies treats or a toy for your dog.  I went to PetSmart down the street and I had a traumatic flashback to the time that I thought it would be a great idea to adopt two puppies at once, but I got so anxious that I had to return them after only 48 hours and my kids still hate me to this day because of it and I feel like a broken human being because I guess I don’t truly like dogs and the whole experience was just horrible.  Well, thanks for bringing that whole nightmare back up.

Maybe I will bring you a housewarming gift instead.  A six pack?  Maybe you don’t drink.  How about something crafty or homemade… soup mix or take out menus from local restaurants?  Something decorative or practical for the house… candles, a photo frame, a house plant?

A front door mat?

A front door mat?

OK, OK.  This is going in a weird direction.  I feel that I have made this way more complicated than it needs to be.  Let’s start over.

Welcome, neighbor.  Better late than never, right?  Here is my family’s contact information.  We’d love to get to know you.  Feel free to stop by anytime.

P.S.  I swear I’m totally normal.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

 

 

Mama’s Got This

Sheepdog and I had just finished playing a fantastic game of hide and seek late last night, when a text came in from Kid A.  A friend had alerted her that somebody just “hit” our driveway with shaving cream.

I like to refer to myself as "highly procreative" rather than "a slut," but to each his own.

I like to refer to myself as “highly procreative” rather than “a slut,” but to each his own.  D-minus for creativity, Class of 2015.

Ah, Junior/ Senior Wars.  A time when high school kids can play lighthearted pranks upon members of the opposing class.  A little toilet paper here, some shaving cream there.  Some call it a rite of passage.  Some call it fun and funny.

I call it stupid and a ginormous pain in my ass, especially when I am hosing off my driveway in my pajamas at 1 a.m.

The police department calls it vandalism, especially if it escalates.  Shit just got real, yo.  On your permanent record.

There are always going to be fartknockers who wreck it for everybody else.

Sheepdog and I do not condone Junior/ Senior War activity and we do not allow our kids to participate.  But I was alerted via Facebook that some juniors’ houses in the neighborhood got TP’d the night before, so I took precautionary protective measures in anticipation of my senior getting a little something-something, just because.  Cutting down the two river birch trees from the front yard a few years ago wasn’t going to be enough.  I tapped into my Jersey Girl/ Boardwalk Empire roots and asked myself, What would 3-Pops do?  But, since the answer to that question likely involved a baseball bat and some knee caps (not really my style), I decided to go a more technologically advanced route.

IMG_0271

If you mess with her cubs, you had better be prepared to hear from the Mama Tiger (Swiger, like tiger).

I love a good penis on the garage door as much as the next girl, but I am a little concerned that all of your penises (and there were many) look like cacti.  If you were drawing from memory, you might want to get that checked by a doctor, Picasso.

I love a good penis on the garage door as much as the next girl, but I am a little concerned that all of your penises (and there were many) look like cacti.  If you were drawing from memory, you might want to get that checked by a doctor, Picasso.

An apology would be nice, but I won’t hold my breath.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

All Are Punnish’ed

I was talking to a mom at the baseball field last weekend.  Her son is on Kid D’s team, the Padres.  She also has a daughter in 5th grade and another son in high school.  He is 16.  We were bonding over the scourge of parenting teenagers.  Because that crapfest is more complex than a Gordian knot.

Gordius was the King of the capital city of ancient Phyrigia (located in the Ankara Province of Turkey).  He tied an intricate knot and prophesied that whoever untied it would become the ruler of Asia.  According to ancient tradition (and Wikipedia), Alexander the Great simply walked over and lopped that thing off with his sword.  And guess who was King of Asia from 331 – 323 BC?

Way to think outside the box, ATG!

Way to think outside the box, ATG!

As far as I can tell, one of the big hurdles with kids seems to revolve around one central theme… honesty.  Even the best of them are inclined toward half-truths and omissions.  “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission” is the song of their people.  There are various degrees of lies being told and sundry ‘failed-to-mentions’ which they are failing to mention.  And there does not always seem to be sound reasoning for the lack of candor.  One of my kids lied the other day about taking a shower.  To what end, you dummy?  I just don’t get it.

So, when you kids get caught – oh, and you will get caught – whether it is for throwing a party at your house when your parents go out of town for the weekend, or for picking your boyfriend up before school even though it has been explicitly prohibited because of the very unsafe left turn out of his neighborhood, or for wearing yoga pants out in public even after your father has said very clearly and with very little exception, “NO YOGA PANTS TO SCHOOL,” we, as your parents, have to come up with suitable and effective penances in order to deter this bad habit.

Sheepdog and I over the years have employed penalties that run the standard gamut from ‘go to your room’ to ‘give up your phone.’  We have explained that lying begets more lying, it does no one – the liar or the person being lied to – any good, and, most importantly, it hurts your heart by causing guilt.  It has proven most effective with our kids when there is a retributive theory of justice (the punishment fits the crime), but also when the punishment is tailored to the offender.  I once heard a story from a mom who kept a pile of bricks in her backyard, which she would make her very logical son move from one location to the next for absolutely no purpose whatsoever, whenever he deserved punishment.  Another mom made her daughter hold a sign up at a busy neighborhood intersection that said “I disrespected my parents by twerking at a school dance.”  Now that’s hardcore.  But was it actually effective with those particular kids?  That is the ultimate question when it comes to punishments.

Recently, Kid A was making some bad choices.  Sheepdog and I sat her down and yelled had a discussion with her about the behaviors we wanted her to adjust.  As incentive for her prompt alterations, we decided that she, an 18-year-old girl who has been driving her own car for two years, had to ride the dreaded bus to school.  Dun dun dun!

Who says parenting can't be fun?

Who says parenting can’t be fun?

Shortly after I texted Sheepdog, Kid A sent me a message that her boyfriend had just broken up with her.  It was not a huge surprise given recent events, but she was still sad about it.

IMG_0223

And now she’s all mad at me.  Whatever.  I’m just sitting here, trying to cut my way through this giant knot.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Things We Share and Things We Keep to Ourselves

As it so happens, more often than not these days, it was just me and the boys at home on Friday night.  Kid C was sleeping at a friend’s house, Kid B was at the high school to watch baseball and soccer games, and Kid A was at a meet and greet for her currently number one college choice (Go Jackets!).  Sheepdog was working late.

I wanted to make a nice dinner since I hadn’t cooked very much since we got back from our vacation.  I bought some steaks and planned to grill them for Sheepdog and myself after I put the boys to bed.  The boys, however, were getting peanut butter sandwiches and calling it a night.  I wasn’t wasting good, grass-fed beef on those ingrates (“It takes too many bites for me to chew it all up!“).  No problem.  More yummy cow for me and your father.

But first, I needed to take a shower.  If you’re going to woo your husband, you need to start with the basics (although ‘dirty’ is rarely a deterrent when it comes to my husband and lovin’).

So I spread the peanut butter, poured the milk, and turned on the SpongeBob.  I set the boys up for success and asked them to please give me ten minutes.  Don’t answer the phone.  Don’t answer the door.  No one goes in or out.  No couch jumping, stair diving, or playing baseball in the living room.  Please try not to hit your head on anything (it happens more often that you can imagine).  Come get me immediately if someone is choking.

I went upstairs.  And miracle of all miracles, I actually got to take an uninterrupted, hot shower.  I even shaved my legs.

I came back downstairs and praised both boys for their excellent behavior and ability to follow directions.  Their faces beamed and their chests swelled from the accolades.  Then I noticed a notepad sitting out on the counter.  I asked Kid D if he was starting a new grocery list.

“Oh, no, Mom, ” said Kid D, matter-of-factly. “Someone knocked on the door while you were in the shower.”

“…aaaaand?…” I prompted him to link it back to the notepad by waving it about in the air.  “Who was at the door and what exactly did you do?”

“A man was at the door.  I didn’t know who he was.”

Awesome.

“So I told him to hold on a minute and I came in here and wrote a note.”

Oh, crap.

“And then I took it to the door and held it up for him to see.  And I never opened the door, Mom.  Because I know that I am not supposed to ever open the door without you right here.  I just showed him the note.  The man smiled and said he would come back later.”

"Gary was just taking a shit."  Bathroom meeting, Weird Science (1985)

“Gary was just taking a shit.” Bathroom meeting scene, Weird Science (1985)

It says, “My mom is in the bathroom.”  Apparently, I need to teach some more stranger danger lessons around here.  And maybe a lesson or two about “things we share and things we keep to ourselves.”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

************************************************************

About an hour later, I received a message on Facebook from a friend in the neighborhood.

Mystery man identified.

Joy to the World

OK, so I’ve been a total slacker lately.  First, all of this horrific winter weather crap happened.  I don’t know if I have seasonal depression, or just depression depression, but I was definitely on the verge of curling into a ball in the corner.  Then Sheepdog and I escaped for eight days in Mexico.  It was glorious… sun, exercise, quality time with my husband (high-five to us for breaking the headboard), and complete autonomy over my day.  It was complete and total bliss in paradise.

It physically hurts me to look at this picture right now.

It physically pains me to look at this picture right now.

But everything has a price, so we returned to a gaggle of kids with multiple versions of the plague.  The only place I got to show off my tan was at the stupid doctors’ office.  I mean, the kid who puked on the floor in front of the check-in desk didn’t even mention my glow.  Not once, the selfish little bastard.  What a complete and total waste.

It already feels like a month has passed since our trip, yet we have been home fewer than six days.

But I think it is safe to say that things are starting to turn around for us in the health department.  Antibiotics and other various medicines have started to work, viruses are running their course, and quarantines have subsequently been lifted.  And today, praise generic zithromax, everybody left the house for work and school at their regularly scheduled times.

But not before a few of us had a morning hang-out in my bed, starting somewhere around the six o’clock hour.

First to crawl in with Sheepdog and me was Kid E.  He succumbed to a stomach bug earlier this week, but rallied within 24 hours.  I attribute this exclusively to the fact that he has finally been named Star Student in his kindergarten class, with his reign to begin next Monday.  It also happens to be his exact half-birthday.  “Abuzz with excitement” is a bit of an understatement when it comes to describing this kid right now.  We even already started filling out his information packet, which lists facts and favorites about him.

Family Pets: Robo Fish.  Why, yes, it is battery-operated.  Mainly because the mother can't handle taking care of even one more living thing right now.

Family Pets: Robo Fish. Why, yes, it is battery-operated inside of an empty, plastic bowl. Mainly because his mother can’t handle one more living thing right now.  Case in point: the dead, yellow leaf in the middle of the potted plant.  Don’t you judge me.

Much of our conversation this morning consisted of him asking questions about himself (Q: What is something special I have done for someone else?), followed by me prompting/ providing answers (A: Well, you brought home all of that homework for your big brother, who has already missed four days of school this week.)

Please, please, please do me a solid and let him be well enough to go back to school today.

As if on cue, Kid D bounded into our room and crawled on in with us.  Kid C arrived shortly thereafter and squeezed in as well.  Everyone was feeling good and planned on going about their regularly scheduled programming.  Joy to the world!

This week I have been overwhelmed upon re-entry to my real life.  I have post-vacation blues.  I am tired.  I am sick of everybody getting sick.  So I am sitting here, watching the rain fall outside my office window, daydreaming that I am out by the pool in the warm sun with a cold beer in my hand.  At 9:42 in the morning.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

NSFW in the Hair Care Aisle

NSFW – (from http://www.urbandictionary.com) Not Safe For Work. Used to describe Internet content generally inappropriate for the typical workplace, i.e., would not be acceptable in the presence of your boss and colleagues (as opposed to SFW, Safe For Work).

Unless, of course, you work in a strip club or in the porn industry, right?

This past weekend, after having been in the house with Sheepdog and the kids for Atlanta’s Snowmageddon 2014 for six long days, I decided to go out and run some errands.  The kids and their friends had eaten us out of house and home during our impromptu vacation, so I headed for my number two most frequent check-in on Foursquare, the grocery store.

I loaded my cart with the basics, then checked the list to see what other goodies the kids were asking for.  One of the requests was “the conditioner that you use that smells good.”  Considering the fact that I have no less than 9 bottles in my shower, I had some detective work to do.

So I moseyed on down to the hair care aisle, and started pulling random bottles off the shelves.

Pop! went a lid.  Sniff.  Eh, I thought to myself.  That one’s just okay-smelling.

So, I tried another.  And another.  And another.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  They were all starting to smell the same to me until…

Pop! went a final lid, and the creamy, white conditioner shot out all over my face, my hair, and my chest.

Oh, how I wish I was kidding.  That totally happened.  And my kids are old enough now that I no longer carry a roll of paper towels in a Mary Poppins carpet bag just in case.

I remember making a sort of moaning, why-me? kind of noise, which – in hindsight – probably did not help my NSFW status.  I ignored the people around me as best I could while I tried to get all of the conditioner off of me, but I was imagining the worst-case scenario at the same time… mothers pulling 180’s with their carts while shielding their young children’s eyes, and dirty-perv men lingering and watching me while they pretended to peruse their Just For Men grey-blending options.  Please, oh please, do not let anybody have a cell phone camera pointed at me right now.

Is that hair gel?

This is what my hair looked like by the time I got to the checkout line

When I was finished with my clean up on aisle 10, my elbows and hands were silky smooth.  Then again so were my face, my knees, my pants, my fleece jacket, and the grocery cart handle.  There was not a rough patch of anything anywhere, but I decided that it actually smelled really good (thankfully, because that smell stayed with me for days), so I threw two bottles into my cart and moved on to the next aisle.

Oh, the lengths this mother will go to in order to check something off the to do list.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…