Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You Never Really Know Someone Until They Pack a Lunch for You

It was a particularly crazy morning racing all about trying to get kids ready for school. I have discovered that I can save time by using the same tool for flat ironing my daughter’s hair to quickly press my my clothes if I stand really, really still. Finding myself completely out of time, I asked my 15 year old son to please pack lunches for he and his sister (and maybe pack of bag with coffee and Motrin for me.) After the dust had settled from our early morning free for all, we were in the car headed to school.  That is when my son made the most intelligent observation.... “You know Mom.... You never really know someone until they pack a lunch for you.” The wisdom of this struck me in such a way that I was awed by it. He is so correct. When my mother prepares lunches for the kids, everything is home-cooked, compartmentalized, crust is removed from sandwiches and a loving note has been attached to a freshly baked cookie. When I prepare their lunches, they never know if the crust will be removed from the sandwich or not - it depends on my mood of the morning and how far behind I am. A crust-free sandwich is a sure indicator that I am sane and ahead of schedule. I will toss in some chips and a pre-packaged brownie. Feeling badly about the evil poly-saturated, trans-fat partially hydrogenated glutonous bromine that I am certain is in that brownie - I toss in some guilt fruit. "Here honey, have an orange that we both know you can’t peel, but I will feel better knowing it ranks high on the food pyramid." I’m not certain, but I think that bromine stuff might be what goes in my hot -tub. Heck, it preserves brownies and pool water. Must be good stuff. No time to write a note, so I throw in a coupon or a copy of the water bill that happens to be laying on the counter. At least they know it is from me. If my kids aren’t getting guilt fruit from me, their father is packing their lunches. He will toss in a leftover piece of catfish from last night’s dinner, a piece of red onion that has been sitting on the counter overnight, a family size bag of stale Cheetos, and a can of evaporated milk - it does say milk on it, you know. The contents of our packed lunches so represents the lives we lead. My goal in life is to prepare a lunch with crust-free finger sandwiches that are prepared with all organic ingredients, individually wrapped, fresh fruit hand picked from my orchard of seedless, easy to peel oranges, a home-made brownie baked with love and not pool chemicals, and a note that says, “Your mother is well and all is right with the world.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm Going to the Gym Today, I Swear....

I had plans of focusing on me today and was going to start that diet and exercise program one more time. However, any working mom knows how this is going to turn out. Here's how it goes.... Plan to go to the gym. Pack running shoes, water, and tiny workout tops. Feeling good about this plan.... Urgent text message arrives: "Mom, Forgot to tell you it's your day to bring snacks to school." Off I go to the store to look for 25 individually wrapped healthy snacks that meet the guidelines of the state nutrition standards, but probably taste like drywall. Unfortunately, healthy snacks in cellophane seem to be limited to candy covered brownies or cheese crackers. Both gross. The fresh fruit section looks good, but God help us if we serve something protected by mother nature in a sanitary organic fiber.   No...  it has to be in plastic to keep out e-colli. I settle for individual packages of gold-fish crackers and orange juice. But - while there, I see the lasagna noodle boxes and think, "Hey - My family deserves a home cooked meal." - So pasta it is. The gym is pushed back so I can boil noodles and spend my evening assisting with algebra homework. Note - If you have two meats and three cheeses, one can easily calculate the number of options you have for a 1 meat, 1 cheese lasagna if a= meat and b= cheese. My daughter comes in and announces that she has to write a narrative story and film it.... TONIGHT. The pasta is in the oven and then I'm off to hunt for video cables, disks and battery chargers. Four hours later, we are full of pasta, the Academy is calling me to inform me of our nomination for best short skit and bedtime is nearing. The gym still waits, but there are children to bathe and prayers to be said bedside, so the workout never happens. Feeling guilty for not working out and finding "me" time, I hear the chocolate bar calling out from the cupboard. The earth shifts slightly on its axis, rolling the peanut butter jar my way. I turn on an old Jerry Springer re-run just to feel better about my own sanity and slowly dip one rectangle of chocolaty goodness into the peanut butter jar feeling fully satisfied about life. Hershey and Jif have no clue of the real power they have over working moms.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Healing Power of the Car Wash

I had to have my son at school early this morning for a field trip. It was dark, I had no caffeine in my body and I never saw the large dead animal in the road. My son swears I ran over a mongoose. My daughter says it was a werewolf. I'm going with previously killed cat. All the same, it's such a gross feeling running over a dead animal. I'm certain that running over a live animal would be much worse, however. I will head to the car wash later today to remove the werewolf parts from the underside of my car. The car wash is therapy for me. It's a place of healing and wellness. It really has nothing to do with cleaning my car. For $7 I can pull forward into my own special place where the cares of my world will be washed away. I put on some Van Morrison, pop a soda top, and sit back and relax as bluish green oozy bubbles cover my car and wash away what ails me. For an extra dollar I can can get a crystal clear top coat that should protect me from all the evils of the world - like werewolves and mongooses (mongeese?). It's cheaper than a therapist and no appointments are needed. When the world becomes overwhelming, my family knows where to find me.... in stall #1 selecting my options.

For the last two weeks I've been fighting a headache and nothing has cured it. I've tried pressure points and soothing thoughts to no avail. I am forced to call the doctor for some type of pill to relieve the pressure. I planned on a relaxing weekend letting my head heal and having some "me time" until my daughter announced last night at bedtime that she wanted to be in a Beauty Pageant...  IN TWO DAYS! Nothing like last minute decisions. Unfortunately, I do not have the skills needed to do big hair, but I do have a good understanding of outsourcing.  By 10:00 p.m. I had secured a dress, a make-up artist, and a hair dresser.  Thank God for beautiful nieces who pity me for my lack of girly genes.  We have evening wear, sports wear, and I'm scouting out a make-shift cat costume with rhinestones and other sparkly things we can put together for a quick talent act. I'm taking head shots with my cell phone and blue-toothing them to my printer. I figure by noon on Saturday, I'll be sitting in a darkened auditorium in a post narcotic haze watching leaping cats and tap dancing wonders blurr across the stage. By Sunday I'll be back in the car wash as friends drive by commenting about how often I clean my car. Little do they know....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Working Moms' Mornings

Somewhere back in time, women stood up and said they wanted it all. They wanted to be mothers and wives and executives and business owners. To have all of this would be great, but what they forgot to mention was that it still required having a wife at home or at least a husband that could cook, clean, do laundry and more. At our house, a common expression heard is "I can't do it all!" Now, my husband says this and we all laugh. I say it and people disappear from sight. My version is a little more scarier and intimidating because I actually am doing it all. My husband moves the dishes from the table and piles them in the sink and exclaims that he has cleaned the kitchen. He wants a thank you and a pat on the head. I actually load and empty the dishwasher, scrape up the hardened remains of red suckers from the floor, bleach Kool-aid stains out of the counter, sanitize the liner of the freezer, fish refrigerator magnets out of the cat food bowl, and sweep up bird seed that the Parakeet who lives in our kitchen has tossed out of his cage in acts of rebellion. Now, that's cleaning the kitchen! The toughest part about being a working mother is the mornings. Working mothers around the world shudder at the sound of the alarm going off. It's not because they require additional rest, but because they know what awaits them in the next two hours. Mornings at our house could drive the most grounded woman mad! I strive for order, but it just doesn't come. Our daughter has a menagerie of pets that she cares for. She is very responsible in her pet care duties, it's just that there are so many of them. She loves them equally, but it takes a lot of time to hug and kiss 4 kittens, two cats, a caged bird, 4 fish, a flying squirrel, a dog she claims is a wolf but isn't and a pet deer. This morning as I was gluing together a model of the skeletal system, my husband managed to shut the door on a kitten's head - don't worry- the kitten is fine. Pete, the rebel Parakeet would not stop his incessant chirping (he's obviously just gone mad living here) and my daughter's hamster, July, who is the Houdini of the rat world, escaped again and kept darting across my kitchen with stolen almonds. I informed my husband that I had to go to work early, so he would have to take the kids to school. He informed me that his boat was hooked up to his truck and he had a flat tire. He didn't mention the unpleasant smell of deceased bait fish that was coming from the boat, but we were sure to notice this before too long. The cab of his truck was filled with hunting and fishing gear (note hunting season ended two months earlier) and there was no room for passengers that didn't want to exit the vehicle smelling like fish bait or deer scent. I had a board meeting to get to and the parenting duties had to fall to my other half. The kids were out of luck. They were going to school in the Deliverence truck. "Just pretend it's a ride at Six Flags, I told them." As we all headed out of the driveway to school and work and play, the belt on my car slipped and began screaming, the bird was screaming, my daughter was hanging out of truck screaming, and the voices in my head were screaming. My husband is limping down the driveway with one flat tire, still pulling the boat, as little dead bait fish fly out of the tank with each wobble from side to side. When I was in elementary school and drew the picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I don't think this is quite what I drew!  It's even better!

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...