Yo’ Mama and the CIA

I told Sheepdog back at the very end of February that I was bored.  Bored of using my mad Tetris skills to load the dishwasher, bored with devising creative punishments for kids who do stupid things, bored by folding laundry (yes, even fitted sheets).  Bored of driving all around this overpopulated suburban utopia.  Bored by Netflix (gasp!).  Bored with writing, even.  Bored, bored, bored.  Just bored.  Pffft.

This is boring.  I'm bored now.

Sheepdog, being a manly man, went into problem solver mode and sent me away.  In March he put me on a plane to Key West and attempted to curtail my ennui with balmy weather, college roommates, and cocktails.  I had a good time.  I don’t do things half-assed, so Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag (that’s me being bored with reading children’s literature) just kept keeping on.  I came back from my long weekend happy, hungover, tired, and sick, … but still bored.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 5.27.15 PM

Speaking of beach bags, I even tried shaking things up with an impromptu break in spring by taking a (partial) family trip.  Kids C, D, E, and I road tripped on down to the white sand paradise of Cape San Blas, where we roasted s’mores, dug holes to China with the cousins, and avoided sharks.  A great time was had by all (except maybe the shark), but afterwards I was still eh.

I spent April managing schedules, cooking and washing, and – of course – driving.  Why is there so much driving?  I decided to rally and crush my job hand-on-the-plow style.  In the life game of Rock, Paper, Scissors of Behavioral Traits, I supposed that tenacity would beat boredom every time, but it seems I was incorrect.

So by the beginning of May I was bored and wrong.  Even wearing my hair up in a high ponytail wasn’t helping.

And then I got excited.  About the possibility of a short-term, full-time job.

I know, right?  Who AM I right now?

You may be wondering what kind of insanity pool I would even consider dipping my pinky toe into, given that I am currently in the midst of actively raising and parenting five children and running a house while my husband holds down a very demanding and stressful career, complete with out-of-state travel and various coaching/ volunteering jobs.  I assure you, this job would be awesome.  And it would be hard, but we could make it work because it is only for a few weeks.  But I am sworn to secrecy about it and I can not tell you anything else about it while I await a hiring decision.  As I told the kids, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.”

Now they all think I’m going to work for the CIA.

Just thinking about the possibility of something different has breathed new life into my soul.  I wasn’t even looking.  It simply presented itself and now I want it more than anything.  Even though I laughed until I almost peed while I updated and edited my resume.  It took a whole lot of Bondo to fill that 14-year hole in my work experience.  What’s another term for “overqualified ass-wiper?”

In the meantime, I am still a SAHM, and this week is the week of all things Mother’s Day.  I had a tea to attend on Monday, where Kid E recited a poem he wrote entitled “I Love You More Than…”  He included lots of homemade food items and our neighborhood water slide, for which I was very grateful, but Minecraft was suspiciously left off the list.  At least I know exactly where I stand with that kid.

Also this week, Kid D came home with a new repertoire of ‘Yo’ Mama’ jokes:

  • Yo’ mama is so stupid, she got locked in a mattress store overnight and she slept on the floor.
  • Yo’ mama is so short, you can see her feet on her driver’s license.
  • Yo’ mama is so ugly,  Bob the Builder looked at her and said “I CAN’T FIX THAT!”
  • Yo’ mama is so dumb, she played ‘Got Your Nose’ with Voldemort.  Then he killed her.

The kids and I roared with laughter as he told each new joke.  The other kids joined in and added their favorites as well.  Then somebody started machine gun farting or something like that, so I put an end to the stand up routines.

That night as I was tucking Kid E into bed, I was feeling nostalgic about him still being little and sweet and I felt the need to explain to him that Yo’ Mama jokes are actually people making fun of moms and he shouldn’t be mean.  And since Kid E is the sweetest kid ever, he said he understood and then he made up his own joke and then he grabbed my face and said, “Yo’ mama is so fast that she wins every race that she runs.  Like that, Mom?”

Exactly like that, kid.  I guess am totally winning, even if I don’t get that other job for the CIA.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

You Are My Mother

My three sisters and I usually go in together on group gifts for all of the major holidays.  This Mother’s Day was no exception.  We got Mom a new beach cart – sweet, right?

The deal is that we also send her our own cards.  However, I frequently forget to mail mine.  This Mother’s Day was no exception.  To make up for it, I wrote my mother a song, sung to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine,” originally recorded in 1939 by the Pine Ridge Boys from Atlanta, with a copyright 1940 by Peer International Corporation, words and music by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell.  P.S.  I’m going to butcher all of that right now.

You Are My Mother by Stacy Swiger

The other night, mom, as I lay (not) sleeping
I dreamt I mailed your Mother’s Day card
But when I awoke, Mom, it was still on the counter
So I hung my head and I cried
You are my mother, my only mother
You make me happy (well, most the time)
You’ll never know Mom, how much I love you
Because I forgot to mail your lovely card
I’ll always love you, because you’re my mom,
You grew me in your baby oven
You changed my diapers, you kissed my boo-boos
You were the first to give me unconditional love(n)
You are my mother, my only mother
You make me happy (well, most the time)
You’ll never know Mom, how much I love you
Because I forgot to mail your mediocre card
You taught me so much, like “please” and “thank you”
You taught me how to write my name
You taught me how to cook, and bake, and sew things
You showed me that having kids can drive a mom insane
You are my mother, my only mother
You make me happy (well, most the time)
You’ll never know Mom, how much I love you
Because I forgot to mail your bush-league card
You survived my teen years, then planned my wedding
You watched my kids when I went back to work
I am so sorry for the times I hurt you,
When I was selfish, annoying, or a jerk
You are my mother, my only mother
You make me happy (well, most the time)
I’m telling you now Mom, how much I love you
Oh, I’m so happy I never mailed that effing card!



A Mother of a Holiday

“That’s it!”

“I have had ENOUGH!”

“I am not going to put up with you ingrates any more!”

“If I have to say it one more time, my head will explode!”

“OK, I’m done.  You have broken me.  Are you happy now?”

So, it’s been fun at our house the past few days.  Please, sense my extreme sarcasm.  I have said all of the above, or comparable paraphrases, at least once in the past 24 hours.  I don’t know if it is a full moon rising or shark week right around the corner, or what, but I am a right angry mother.

Kid D has been home sick all week.  It is not his fault that he is sick, but for-the-love-of-all-things-holy, why do boys have to be so freaking needy when they are sick?  It is a cough and some mild puking.  It’s nothing to get in a kerfluffle about.  I realize that the whining is a genetic male defect, and I know that you’re bored, but please let me sit on the toilet without you knocking on the door so you can tell me that Craig Kimbrel had his 100th save against the Giants last night, and he’s the second youngest pitcher in the MLB to do it, and you’re hungry for something but you just don’t know what.

And Kid E has decided to stop sleeping through the night again.  For no reason.  He says he gets lonely.  I’m too tired to even come up with a response to that.  The broken sleep thing kills me.  There is not enough coffee in the world (especially when Sheepdog and Kid A take the very last K-cups in the house) to fix me right the next day.

And the girls are in full-on battle mode with each other.  Kid C came to me and complained that Kid B is a tyrant.  They share a bathroom, and Kid B has apparently set forth some rules that Kid C does not necessarily agree with.  They fight over time limits in there, closed doors and lights.  This morning Kid C was straightening her hair in the dark so as to not awaken the Kraken.  They fight about who left what in the shower.  And Kid A and Kid B constantly fight over clothes (clothes that NONE of them ever put away after I have lovingly washed, folded and delivered to their rooms each week, even after I have reminded them daily).  I tell them they have to learn to figure it out on their own, otherwise they will get eaten alive in a sorority house or in the workplace with dudes or on the playground with the other mommies when they grow up.  Stand up for yourself, but be kind and thoughtful to the people around you at the same time.  But nobody listens to me.

Until I have had enough.  Then they all had better lend an ear.

It got so bad with Kid A that I gave her a Come to Jesus in the kitchen when she got home yesterday.  She has had a really rough year, but enough is enough.  Enough with the disrespect.  She is dismissive to the other kids and rude to me, unless she wants something.  Her phone, laptop and car are all up on the block for repossession if things don’t improve ASAP.  She is never home and when she is, she is usually disagreeable.  To a degree she is “just being a teenager,” but there are some behaviors that are simply not acceptable.  So the rest of the kids got dressed down last night or this morning as well.

Did I mention that Sheepdog is in California for work and some biking?

Motherhood is hard.  There are no instructions or rules, so you just have to make stuff up as you roll along.  And not only do I second guess some of my decisions, but everybody else around me does as well (don’t worry… I most likely judge you right back).

Also, motherhood never ends.  You have to do it when you are sick, or tired, or sick and tired.  You have to do it on weekdays and holidays (even the federal ones).  Sometimes you have to do it when you husband is on a business trip, or crappier yet – sometimes moms have to do it all alone.

This is getting really negative.  I need to make a U-turn.

There are also a ton of rewarding things about motherhood.  I can’t articulate any of them right now, but deep down I know that there are a lot of great reasons to purposely choose motherhood as your life sentence.  There really are.  I swear.

OK, not such a great effort, so I’m heading back to my rant.

Do you know what I really hate?  I hate Mother’s Day.

There, I said it.

I hate all of the commercialism, the flowers (dead in a few days) and the cards ($5.99 for folded paper, really?) and the candy (did you not see me struggling to work out every day this week?).  I hate the stress of coming up with the perfect gifts to let my mom or mother-in-law know just how much they mean to me.  I hate that dads and kids are forced to create a perfect day for moms on this randomly designated Sunday in May, because it rarely rises to meet the mark – for the dads, the kids or the moms.  I hate that my annual trip out of town over the second Sunday in May (Mother’s Day – Run Away and No, He Didn’t!), got canceled again due to scheduling conflicts.


So, here’s what I propose.  Get rid of Mother’s Day.  It is too much pressure on everybody involved.  Nobody has a relationship with their mother that is simple enough to be tied up with wrapping paper and a bow, and everyone involved knows it.  Just make sure to tell your mom (and any mom, for that matter) how great you think she is, whenever the thought strikes you.  You don’t have to save it for any particular day.  Crappy jewelry turns green or goes out of style; a compliment is forever.

And maybe you could also put away your clothes, stay in your own bed, don’t talk back, and be nice to your sister.  Oh, and get well soon, Kid D.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Mother’s Day Tea

Today was very important for Kid D.  He woke up vibrating with excitement and secrecy.  He put on his best dress shirt and tie.  He has been working hard for weeks preparing for a very special Mother’s Day Tea, which his first grade class held this morning.  It was a Very Big Deal.

Since I was invited and all, I got out of my pajamas dressed up and headed over to the elementary school for the festivities.  Every year the first graders put on this show in order to make their moms get all sappy and sentimental and to watch them cry in public.  I mean, they play “Wind Beneath My Wings” as background music, for cripe’s sake.  There is always plenty of sweetness and love and lemon pound cake and itchy dress clothes and video cameras and it is just totally awesome.

This year did not disappoint.  One smooth operator wore a tuxedo!  The kids all sang “Puff the Magic Dragon,” which is a much sadder song than I ever remembered (P.S. I looked up Honah Lee and it is a fake place.  I’m bummed.)  They also each wrote and read aloud a poem with the theme “I Love You More Than…”  The kids this year included standard things like “video games,” “the chocolate chip pancakes you made me for my birthday,” “our trip to Disney World,” and “our dog, Mutley.”  But my favorite this year was when one little blonde girl said “I Love You More Than… Dad.”  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, even though I don’t think she actually meant to say that.  It was part of another sentence or something but the way it actually came out was truly awesome.  I wanted my kid to say that.

Puff, let me introduce you to my friend, The Giving Tree. Tree, this is Puff.

There were little notes and drawings and pictures talking about moms posted all around the classroom.  There was a whole wall of mom portraits obviously drawn by the kids.  For some reason, we all looked very angry in those renderings with scowls on our faces and nobody could tell which one was supposed to be them, but they were still cool.  Then there were these Runaway Bunny-style short sentences.  You know the book by the Goodnight Moon lady that has a petulant little bunny rabbit who tries to leave his mommy and every time he says he’s going to morph into something to get away (a rock on a mountain, a fish in a stream, a sailboat), his mother always adapts into something that can catch him (a mountain climber, a fisherman, the wind).

This was Kid D’s version:

If you are the baseball bat, I will be the player who hits a home run with you.

Well, hmmmm.  Now most of us are well-versed in baseball metaphors.  With that in mind, his project seems dirty, right?  I will acknowledge that my brain has permanently set up camp in the gutter but this seems pretty wrong.  It actually sounds like something Sheepdog said to me just last week.  I can tell you emphatically that baseball to Kid D is just baseball, but with his father being straight outta West Virginia he can’t be playing fast and loose with words like that.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

I am Rich

I promise that I will not bore you with all of the sappy details of my Mother’s Day haul, but suffice it to say that I am a very rich woman.  Rich with love, and all of the stuff that really and truly matters (except on the day that the mortgage or the car payment is due, huh?).  I was not with my family on the actual holiday, so I had all of the loot from my kids waiting for me when I got home.  I cheated and went through everything when they were at school so I could be ready to feign excitement over the crappy gifts and rein it in on the ones that really make me bawl my eyes out when they eventually got opened in front of them.

I truly treasure the gifts that measure them when they are little (tiny handprints with poems, school pictures of the kids with little notes reminding me that time goes by so quickly – all the stuff that I later save in their Boxes of Love in the basement) because I can look back and actually see how tiny they once were, but honestly those gifts are kind of boring.  I am a big fan of the practical gifts, like paper flowers that have chores written on the back which I can trade in when I need help, but they get used quickly and destroyed immediately by the giver so I won’t cheat and use any more than once.  I’d have to say without question that my favorite Mother’s Day presents are the things that show each kid’s personality and really remind me just how different each of my kids are.  I was not disappointed even one iota this year.

One of my kids found a song that makes her think of me (WRONG! if you are humming the Elton John classic “The Bitch is Back”), learned to play it on the guitar, then performed it for me.  Another kid just went with the classic “I Love You” and a big hug, testing my constant assertion that I do not ever require a gift from them on any of the mother-honoring holidays (I swear I don’t).  Another gave me a full bouquet of the aforementioned chore vouchers.  The other two gave me a bunch of presents that they obviously made with love in school.

One of my all time favorites is the fill-in-the-blank questionnaire.  I look forward to these every year.  Some gems from this year’s batch include:  Her favorite food is real food (as opposed to fake food, or did he mean carbs, which I haven’t had in three weeks and I miss so much), Mommy and I like to ride the thing with the brown seat (a horse?  the car? sorry, no clue), and My mommy is the greatest because Daddy is the greatest too! (focus, kid, he has his own holiday in a month).  I particularly loved the drawings that went along with Kid D’s present.  On the one of what I supposedly looked like when I was six (his age), had me clearly wearing red stripper platform shoes.  Apparently, he is a little more like his Daddy than I even imagined.  He also scored big points with the topical and complimentary one that said “My mother is good at bloging.

Sucking up on Mother's Day. Mom says, "Do This." Kid replies, "OK." Oh, so this is fictional.

You can't spell for crap, but you get my age correct? Osum.

My heart is full every day, even if my patience bucket is not.  Each one of these presents shows me that my kids are learning that you should let the people who are important to you know that they are important to you in your own way.  Do it with words, pictures, music, a love note, a hug or a smile.  Do it on Mother’s Day, on their birthday, but also do it today and next Monday and again on the fourth Thursday in November (oops, that’s Thanksgiving – but you get my point).  Do it in your special way and on your own terms, because unconditional love has no rules.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

No, He Didn’t

Mornings, "Mother's Day, Run Away" style. I'll never tell what is in my mug.

I also considered calling this post “Payback is a Female Dog,” but enough about animals already.  If you read Friday’s post, you would be aware that I have gone out of town every Mother’s Day weekend for four years now.  My weekend is filled with a whole lot of nothing but reading, sleeping, and pondering the wonderment of life.  I am actually still pondering right now.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I awoke on my own, had a great cup of coffee while watching boats go in and out of the marina, leisurely read the paper (Shout Out!  The Press of Atlantic City), and went to a fantastic Mother’s Day service at the church in which Sheepdog and I were married (Shout Out!  Rev. Ron Watts).  Then I came back and fell asleep on the deck for over an hour.  It was a fantastic day.

After a simple veggie burger and tomato lunch I decided to check in with the real world and read some emails.  Sheepdog always says that he is never quite sure that I will return from one of these trips (and rightfully so), so he is careful not to call me too often, leave too many messages, or generally bug the crap out of me.  See – I told you that Sheepdog is a very smart guy.  Yet on Mother’s Day, in a very uncharacteristic twist, this is the email that Sheepdog sent me.

To: Me
From: Sheepdog
Subject: Mohawk

Happy Mother's Day!

A friend saw the picture and after she stopped laughing hysterically she said that’s either the kind of thing that you find incredibly endearing, or the kind of thing that you will kill your husband over. (Shout out! Payback is a female dog).

Wish me luck for tomorrow (and maybe wish Sheepdog a little luck too)…

4th Annual Mother’s Day – Run Away

"I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again." - John Denver, "Leaving on a Jet Plane," 1966. Also, - Me, today.

Sometimes I need a break.  If you are a mom and you don’t need a break once in a while then my hat is off to you, you big, fat liar.  If I can get away – just for a few days now and again – from the crazy and the schedule and the whining and the chaos, then I can better handle it all with patience and understanding and without child protective services ever needing to get involved.  Plus, it helps me to shield Sheepdog from the insanity (I try to have most of it under control by the time he comes home from work).  Fortunately for me, Sheepdog recognizes and appreciates all of this and he sends me away often.

Last year I went to the Dominican Republic for eight whole days, while he stayed here to care for the kids and work from home at the same time.  Then (with only 36 hours notice!) he sent me to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for another eight days in February.  Last weekend I attended my cousin’s wedding in Atlantic City, and I was out of town for three days.  So when my annual solo escape for Mother’s Day fell on the very next weekend I didn’t even consider going.  But Sheepdog is awesome, so he is making me go anyway.

Mother’s Day, Run Away is my weekend to do nothing.  I will not wipe one butt, nose, nor dirt-smeared face (unless we’re talking about my own).  I will not intervene in one sibling argument, nor will I help drive anyone to or from an activity.  I will not give anyone a bath, nor will I put anyone to bed (thirty-seven times in one night).  I am going to sleep for twelve uninterrupted hours, listen to good music, read books and trashy magazines, then take a nap on the deck.  I will probably be bored after one day, but I will force myself to enjoy it.

If you see Sheepdog at soccer or tee ball or meandering the aisles at Kroger, please stop and tell him how awesome he is.  Maybe even flirt and tell him how sexy it is that he sends me off for some alone time.  He will totally dig that and thus be encouraged to send me away again.  And next year you can feel free to join me.

Unless you need someone to wipe your butt.  Then you are on your own.