Tag Archives: parenting

A Strange Tale of NyQuil, Rodents, and Random Christmas Lessons.

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Let me start by inserting a spoiler alert. I wrote this after shotgunning about a gallon of NyQuil.

Yesterday I was bragging to my husband, Scot (who’s fighting off a tiny cold and is bedridden for the foreseeable future…likely until America pole vaults off the fiscal cliff) that due to my impervious genetic make-up, I haven’t been sick for two or three years.

Today I’m tired, achy, sore, and my voice has dropped a couple of octaves (which is actually kind of cool in a Darth Vader-like way when I yell “You don’t know the power of the dark side!” at my kids), I’m annoyed by the presence of a mouse we’re rodent-sitting for my daughter’s 3rd grade class during winter break, and my teeth hurt.

Clearly, I’m sick, which brings me to Christmas Lesson #1: Don’t bring strange animals into your home during the holidays. Or ever. 

Not cute. Image via preparednesspro.com.

I’m sure, due to my clinically proven, bionic DNA, that I’m not sick in the traditional fa-la-la-la-la kind of way, but have actually contracted Hantavirus from the vermin presently residing in a cage in the hall, and must immediately enter a self-constructed isolation chamber to keep my germs from spreading. That my dwelling will contain a posh heavenly bed overnight air-shipped from the W Hotel, soundproofed walls meant to muffle the screams of my children as they beat each other due to lack of parental supervision (remember, Scot’s sick too), and the entire Twilight series on DVD is really none of your business.

As I wait for someone to help me construct my self-constructed parallel wellness universe, I decide to crawl into my daughter’s bed (because as Alpha Mom it’s really all about my health after all, plus Scot’s in ours with his baby cold) and sleep. Due to my spiking fever, I also sweat, a lot, and dream not about sugar plums fairies and stockings hung by the chimney with care, but mimes….evil clown-like ones walking naked around my house with 80s-style boom boxes on their shoulders blaring Kajagoogoo.

Christmas Lesson #2: Read all warning labels before self-medicating and resist the urge to download any bad 80s music while ignoring the aforementioned warning labels.

Don’t bring this dish to your next office holiday party. Image via addictiontreatmentmagazine.com.

After about an hour of tossing, turning, and stalking that cute guy in the A-Ha video, I wake up to find a plate of cold spaghetti, fourteen low-salt Ritz crackers, and a glass of something that looks suspiciously like Michelob Ultra by my daughter’s bed. If nothing else, my kids know that alcohol makes mommy a better person, which could technically be lesson #3, but that would be pathetic.

In a traditional blog post, this is where I tell you how amazing my children are, imply or directly state that they’re more intelligent than yours due to my superior parenting skills, and incidentally, that each just won the World Series Championship of their respective sports (I don’t disclose that they competed in the loser’s bracket and rode the bench the entire season).

I know my kids better than that though, and as you’ve probably figured out, my fever is at its peak, the NyQuil is coursing through my veins (I can’t feel my cheekbones), and there’s nothing normal about what I’m sharing.

Not to be fooled by my children’s faux-sympathy, I realize that in my over-the-counter-drug-induced fog, I promised them they could open presents sent from their grandparents in Kentucky after lunch, because I’m not ashamed to buy time at someone else’s expense when I need to sleep. And I need to sleep. Desperately. But they need me to eat.

Christmas lesson #3: If your children want any big ticket items this holiday season, pawn them off on your out of town parents who feel like it’s somehow their fault that you live so far away.

Our family is A-OK with buying love.

Our family is A-OK with buying love.

And now here I sit, semi-alert on the sofa and banging out this post that may or may not be based on actual events. The kids are skillfully playing the video games I asked their grandparents to send, gifts I requested not to improve their vocabulary or bionicize their IQs, but to buy me the much needed time to do nothing that every parent should have during the holiday season, and really, all year long.

I’m getting sleepy again, so that’s it for my Christmas Tale. It doesn’t make any sense, yet here I am, happily typing away as everything below my kneecaps goes numb. If you don’t like it, feel free to say so. I’ve developed a thick skin (Literally. It’s all rubbery and translucent due to my Hantavirus.). Plus everything feels all warm and fuzzy and blurry right now, which is awesome. I just love the good tidings of comfort and joy I feel when I chug cough syrup, our family spends quality time together.

If you do like my story, consider gathering your loved ones around the fire tonight and passing it on. Maybe it will become one of your family’s most beloved holiday tales, a tradition cherished and requested over and over, so much so that I’ll be forced to self-publish and sell millions of copies so you can read it to them for years to come and I can actually build my aforementioned isolation chamber. In Hawaii.

Truth be told, NyQuil is expensive, and at the rate I’m going, and I could use the cash.

Today marks my one year anniversary on WordPress. This is a slightly edited version of my first post. At the time, only my mom and  some lady I accosted in the grocery store parking lot read it. Thank you to anyone and everyone who’s taken the time to stop by and read my work. Your support is the best Christmas gift ever, even better than a case of NyQuil.

How Do You Move Forward When You’re Grinding All Your Gears?

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As humans, we’re constantly in motion. But motion and movement are two very different things. Just because you’re in motion doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going anywhere.

Trust me on this, I know.

If I could catch a ride with Richard Branson on his uber-expensive Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, I’d easily be able to assess the difference between the two. But first I’d hit him up for drink. Specifically? A glass of 1907 Heidsieck. At $275,000 a bottle, it would help defray my ticket price while momentarily absolving me of the guilt associated with blowing the kids’ college tuition just to prove a point. BOGO at its highest and best use.

Space cowboy Richard Branson. Image via cognitivelibertyuk.wordpress.com

Space cowboy Richard Branson. Image via cognitivelibertyuk.wordpress.com

The second thing I’d do is settle in to check out the real estate, because isn’t leveraging my children’s future to see the world from a different point of view all about perspective? I imagine myself staring out the window at an earth below that looks less and less like the picture we all try to paint on a daily basis. Not so much a three-dimensional place anymore, but from way up above? A ginormous chessboard marked with clearly defined grids, gateways, and boundaries, as tiny balls of energy collide, advance, deflect, promote, dodge, gather, seek and recede in an endless effort to check the king.

Image via portwallpaper.com

Image via portwallpaper.com

Fascinated with the sparkly surface patterns of intricate motion that everyone on earth longs to be, and all happy-tingly-woozy from my six-figure, speed of sound buzz, I’d almost miss what I didn’t know I flew so high to see. Something small and seemingly insignificant situated inside the massive advance of energy that everyone else on board paid a lifetime of 401K savings to witness.

I’m talking about inert matter. Those pinpricks of light that mimic motion, but whose movement is an optical illusion: running in circles, dancing in place, and bumping up against imaginary walls. As everyone else on board focuses on the obvious, I’d be able to drill down a little deeper. But only because I’ve been there. Stuck. In motion, but not really going anywhere.

Image via trojantimes.org

Image via trojantimes.org

Looking back at my adult life, it’s easy to categorize it into a series of phases.

Phase 1/1980s: The Sussana Hoffs era of Big Hair and Big Dreams.

Big hair is hot. Image via houston.culturemap.com

Big hair is hot. Image via houston.culturemap.com

Phase 2/1990s: The Yves Saint Laurent era of Big Black Suit and Big Career.

Don't look at my body. Look at my soul. Image via www.girlsguidetoparis.com

Don’t look at my body. Look at my soul. Image via http://www.girlsguidetoparis.com

Phase 3/2000s: The Barbara Billingsley era of Big Belly and Big Bills.

That’s not me. OK it is. On the verge of birthing an alien.

I’ve always considered myself fairly stealth, able to move seamlessly in and out of various roles at-will to the beat of a metronome perfectly synchronized to my tune. But about three years ago, on the cusp of my 40th birthday, everything changed. For someone who’s always been confident enough to chart her own course, I suddenly found myself drifting. I was lost and knee-deep in the weeds without a compass, while a storm of my own design grew larger than it appeared in my peripheral view.

Somewhere between my career and the kids, buried in a pile of laundry or possibly lurking inside a box in the basement that I hadn’t opened for years, I lost my perspective and appreciation for the life I’d so carefully built. I don’t know how it happened, but it felt like I simply woke up one day yearning to be anywhere and anyone but who I was. Confused, I couldn’t seem to recognize the woman looking back at me in the mirror when I washed my face every night.

No matter how enlightened I become, I will always hate matching socks.

It’s easy to get lost in a pile of socks.

I was that person who, although constantly in motion, wasn’t actually moving. Busy with my responsibilities as a parent and a wife, I had somehow forgotten about the inner workings that support the common denominator between the two, and then the kids went off to school, and could tie their own shoes, and make sound decisions without being told how, and I realized that I had unintentionally parked myself on an island and hadn’t taken the time to learn to swim. Even in the middle of paradise, isolation is lonely, and days on end of the most beautiful sunset somehow lose their color. Things that shine on the surface, like the tiny balls of energy you might see from outer space, sometimes look entirely different from the inside out.

Telluride, CO August 2011

When you’re stuck, you’re forced to stop. You don’t have a choice. And then when you’re ready to move forward, you have to look around and figure out where you want to go next rather than simply allowing the tide to sweep you along. That initial inertia and subsequent plotting of a new path has great value, even though in the moment it feels miserable, like treading water in quicksand.

One of the side effects of getting lost is the unexpected places you get to visit on your way to a new destination. Like for me? Writing. This blog is a direct result of a yearlong, step-by-step, rocky hike on a circuitous path. And I’m still going. I’m a constant work in progress, but I’m now comfortable with my ever-changing state of being because I’m doing the work to figure out where I want to end up. Plus I reserve the right to change my mind, which is a great back-up plan when all else fails.

I believe that in life, we all get stuck at some point. Whether it’s due to things like divorce, disease, death, or distraction, almost everyone loses their way. Sometimes we have to move backwards to go forward, or hit a bottom so hard that the force of impact acts like a catapult up to the top, but the a-ha realization at the end, when lessons are learned and intersecting lines actually connect, is priceless. It isn’t easy, but almost everything worth accomplishing in life is born from some type of hardship or loss. So what about you? Are you simply in motion or are you actually moving? It’s a question worth asking, even if the answer isn’t what you want to hear.

Taking the road less traveled and finding my way.

I Think I’m Smarter Than You

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No, not you. The you I’m referring to in this post is my seven-going-on-seventeen year-old daughter, Essa.

Running short on time and long on things to do, I had a simple conversation with my little girl the other day that went something like this.

Me: Essa, we’ve gotta pick up Taylor and Grace. Get in your car seat and let’s go.

Essa: Seriously Mom? Car seats are for babies.

Me: No, Essa. Car seats are for kids, and even though you like to think of yourself as someone who falls outside the National Highway Traffic Safety guidelines, you don’t.

Essa: Fine! (cue heavy foot stomping, something large and likely expensive crashing in the laundry room, and an exaggerated door slam)

It takes me about an hour to locate my car keys on any given day, and by the time I’d wrenched them out from under the bin-organizer-thingy in the hall that everyone ignores as they toss their shoes on the floor, I wasn’t in the best mood. When I got outside? This is what I found:

Here’s the thing. On paper, Essa did exactly as I’d asked. She got in her car seat. Never mind that she planted it on top of Taylor’s longboard, raced down the driveway sans-helmet, and flew across the street without bothering to look in any safe direction, raising her arms in some kind of “take that mom” victory cheer at the end.

Technically, she didn’t do anything wrong.

And this is where I detect the germinating seed of a growing problem.

My daughter, in many ways, is a lot like me, but her singular brand of Essaness is emerging about twenty years ahead of schedule…just in time for me to deal with it for the next ten.

So in an effort to keep both of us alive, I’m offering her a one-time only Guide to Getting Through the Next Decade Under the Same Roof as Me. Otherwise? Life as she knows it will exist solely within the confines of the four walls better known as her room, and we’ll both bear the pain of incarceration.

 Ten Ways to Act Like You Respect Me Even if You Don’t

1. Don’t be so obvious. It’s a lot easier to steal my wallet while you’re patting me on the back.

2. Compliment me. I’m especially vulnerable when being told I look younger than I am. Twenty-eight is a good place to start.

3. Tell any adult you encounter how much you admire me: your teacher, a friend’s parent, my therapist…kind words, even if completely fabricated, go a long way.

4. Timing is everything. If you can work it so I hear about this fake compliment right after you’ve told me I don’t look old enough to have had three kids? You’ve earned an entire week’s worth of heavy sighs and exaggerated eye rolls.

5. Pretend to be nice to your brother and sister. When you coldcock your brother in the head right in front of me it stresses me out. Hit him when I’m not around.

6. Don’t do drugs. Period. If you put any substance in your body that I’ve never let into mine? It won’t matter if you fake like me or not because I will kill you.

7. Synch your calendar with my cycle. There’s one day a month when you’re better off camping out in the scrub oak behind the house with a flashlight and some beef jerky rather than crossing my path.

8. Force those huge, expressive eyes to lock meaningfully with mine and channel a vibe of “wow mom, your wisdom just blows me away…thank you for being so magnificent” when I’m trying to teach you something rather than “I’m so blah, blah, blekity blah bored and stuff, and like, anyway, who do you think you are, and you so don’t get me and all that and are you done yet because I have better things to do.”

9. Use your Montessori education to your advantage. Less drama + more smiling = more peace = less restriction = more fun. See? A + B = C = D = E. Simple math that makes no sense is genius.

10. When in doubt, always tell the truth because I’ve not only been right where you are, I’m a step ahead of you. My genetic code is responsible for all the back alleyways and side streets on your map, and there’s no place you might dare to go that I haven’t already been.

I understand the theory of evolution, that my childhood took place in the Mesozoic Era, and you’re way ahead of wherever I was at your age. But slow down. It seems like only yesterday when you climbed into my lap, looked directly into my eyes, and asked if fairies were real. You’re an amazingly intuitive, intelligent little girl, and if you’ll take my hand and hold it over the next ten years like you’ve done for the past seven? I crisscross-applesauce promise I’ll let you go when it’s time for you to fly.

A Strange Tale of Rodents, NyQuil, and Random Christmas Lessons

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Let me start by inserting a spoiler alert.  I’m writing this having just shotgunned about a gallon of NyQuil.

Yesterday I was bragging to my husband, Scot (who is fighting off a tiny cold and is bed-ridden for the foreseeable future, likely until next year’s elections) that due to my impervious genetic make-up, I‘ve not been sick for two or three years.

Today I’m tired, achy, sore, cranky, and my voice has dropped a couple of octaves (which is actually kind of cool in a Darth Vader-like way when I yell at my kids: “You don’t know the power of the dark side!”).

To top it all off, I’m really annoyed by the presence of a mouse we are rodent-sitting for my daughter Essa’s 2nd grade class during winter break.

Clearly, I’m sick, which brings me to Christmas Lesson #1: Don’t bring strange animals into your home during the holiday season.  Or ever. 

I’m sure, due to my clinically proven bionic DNA, that I’m not sick in the traditional fa-la-la-la-la kind of way, but have contracted Hantavirus from the vermin presently residing in a cage in the hall, and must immediately enter a self-constructed isolation chamber to keep my germs from spreading.  That my dwelling will contain a posh “heavenly bed” overnight air-shipped from the W hotel downtown, soundproofed walls meant to muffle the screams of my children as they beat each other due to lack of parental supervision (remember, Scot is sick too), and the entire Twilight series on DVD is really none of your business.

As I wait for someone to help me self-construct my self-constructed parallel wellness universe, I decide to crawl into my daughter Grace’s bed (because it’s all about my health after all and Scot is in ours, with his baby cold) and sleep.  Due to my spiking fever, I also sweat; a lot, and dream not about sugar plums fairies and stockings hung by the chimney with care, but mimes….evil clown-like ones walking around my house naked with 80s-style boom boxes on their shoulders blaring Kajagoogoo.

Christmas Lesson #2: Read all warning labels before self-medicating and resist the urge to download any bad 80s music while ignoring the aforementioned warning labels.

So, after about an hour of tossing and turning and stalking that cute guy in the A-Ha video, I wake up to find a plate of cold spaghetti, fourteen low-salt Ritz crackers, and a glass of something that looks suspiciously like Michelob Ultra by Grace’s bed.  If nothing else, my kids know that alcohol makes mommy a better person.

In a traditional blog post, this is the part where I tell you how amazing my children are, imply or directly state that they are infinitely more caring than yours due to my superior parenting skills, and incidentally, that each just won the world-series championship of their respective sports (I don’t disclose that they competed in the loser’s bracket and rode the bench the entire season).

But I know my kids better than that, and as you’ve probably figured out, my fever is at its peak, the Nyquil is coursing through my veins (I can’t feel my cheekbones), and there is nothing normal about what I’m sharing right now.

Not to be fooled by my children’s faux-sympathy, I realize that in my over-the-counter-drug-induced fog, I promised them they could open presents sent from their grandparents in Kentucky after lunch, because I’m not ashamed to buy time at someone else’s expense when I need to sleep.  And I need to sleep.  Desperately.   But they need me to eat.

Incidentally, before passing out, I also added that they had to clean the house and sanitize the mouse cage, because really, why should I be the only one in the family with a lab-rat disease scrubbing toilets?

Christmas lesson #3: If your children want any big-ticket items, pawn them off on your out-of-town parents who feel like it’s somehow their fault that you live so far away.

And now here I sit, semi-alert on the sofa and banging out this post that may or may not be based on actual events.  The kids are skillfully playing the video games I asked their grandparents to send, gifts I requested not to improve their vocabulary or build their tender IQs, but to buy me the much-needed time to do nothing that every parent should have during the holiday season, and really, all year long.

As I fade in and out of consciousness, there’s a rhythmic hum of machine-gun fire in the background as they earn the required points to upgrade their MP5Ks to M14s and shoot each other into oblivion.  I just love the good tidings of comfort and joy I feel when I chug cough syrup, I mean, when our family is spending true quality time together.

I’m getting sleepy again, so that’s it for my Christmas Tale.  It doesn’t really make any sense, and yet here I am, happily typing away as everything below my kneecaps goes numb.  If you don’t like it, feel free to say so.  I’ve developed a thick skin (literally, it’s all rubbery and translucent due to my Hantavirus) and can take it.  Plus everything feels all warm and fuzzy and blurry right now which is awesome.

If you DO like my story, consider gathering your loved ones around the fire tonight and passing it on.  Maybe it will become one of your childrens’ most beloved holiday tales, a tradition cherished and requested over and over, so much so that I’ll be forced to self-publish and sell millions of copies so you can read it to them for years to come and I can actually build my aforementioned isolation chamber.  In Hawaii.

Truth be told though, I actually need the latter to happen because NyQuil is expensive, and at the rate I’m going, and I could use the cash.