The Gift

June 22, 2015

This morning I had to go to the post office to mail a baby gift.  The post office is my least favorite of all the awful places I take my kids, gynocologist included.  It’s quiet, and everyone is standing in line with nothing better to do than judge me when my kids act up.  There are a million things lying around that pull their fingers in like a magnetic force field.  Boxes, envelopes, pens.  There’s a ledge underneath a squeaky mail slot and they love nothing more than to run over, hoist themselves upon the ledge and open and close that door.  Over and over and over.  I do my best to rein it in but there are three of them and one of me and… well I’m still working on growing four more arms.

This morning was no different.  I told them they could sit on the ledge as long as they SAT there, no jumping off.  My four-year-old responded by looking me square in the face and jumping off with a “whatcha gonna do in front of all these people” sparkle in her eye.  What I did was grab her hand and told her she had to stand next to me in line.  Which she liked about as much as me dumping a bucket of spiders over her head.

The fit began immediately, and escalated with each passing second.  Which there were many of as I waited for the four people in front of me to mail livestock to Timbuktu.  People continued to file in behind me.  The typical people you would expect to be in a post office at 9:30 on a Monday morning.  Mostly 50 and 60-something-year-old women and one 70-something-year-old man who were all reflecting on what a better job they did raising their kids than I was doing right now.  My face burned and I was terrified one of them was going to say something to me.  Clearly I should know what to do.  If I were a better parent she wouldn’t be acting this way.  She was screaming now, on the floor, and I wanted to die.

From behind me I heard a voice.

“Man I remember those days!”  Immediately a chorus of laughter and resounding “Yeah!”s rose up to the ceiling like a hymn.  Another woman laughed and said, “Wow, the way she’s throwing herself on the floor is Oscar worthy!  And I should know – my daughter is twenty two and STILL does that.”  Laughter.  Then another, “My daughter is FORTY and still does that!”  More laughter.

“We’ve all been there honey,” another said.  I swiped my debit card and turned around.  Everyone was smiling.

“Hang in there!”  The man said.

My normal ability to ham it up as the center of attention was gone; I was without words as my eyes welled up and I bit my tongue to stifle the tears of relief.

“Thank you for saying that,”  I said to the woman who dared break the silence and start it all as I walked out past her.  “It makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one in the world whose kids throw tantrums.  You don’t know how much it meant.”  My eyes sheepishly scanned the room.

Almost in unison, every person laughed knowingly and began talking at once.  “Oh no!  You’re not the only one!”  “We’ve all been there!”  “You’re doing a great job!”

All I could do was nod at them and smile as I grabbed my other two girls off the ledge and walked out to my car with a huge lump in my throat.

And then I realized how little it takes to break someone down or pull someone up.  To make someone’s day takes so little, yet it so rarely occurs to us.  So here’s your reminder.  Tell someone they’re doing a good job today.  The Starbucks drive through girl.  Your librarian.  Your kids.  Your spouse.  It’s the best gift you can give without a trip to the post office.

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I Guarantee My Summer Break Sucks Worse Than Yours – A guest post by Ma Ingalls

6.14.15

Ah, summertime!  Three months of sun, sand and surf.  A hiatus from the rigorous school year schedules as we relax and recharge.  Unless, of course you’re this girl.  Then it’s just another day in hell. A typical summer morning involves me waking up to four little girls and a disgusting beast of a man in my one room shanty.  And I’m not using that word in a melodramatic, guttersnipe sort of way.  It’s a legit, straight up shanty.  I can see wild animals trying to get inside to eat us through the gaps in the boards.  And because we’re only one small step up from sleeping in a tree, summertime means it’s hot as fuck in here.  I have one dress and it smells like smoldering balls.  I can’t escape myself.  All six of us share bath water and guess who’s last to step in that nasty ass shit. I can’t even. And one room… well… let’s just say that *somebody* is going to need therapy when they realize what they’ve born witness to all these nights *points at kids*. Speaking of, being as they can’t really venture far from the shanty because of the wild animals and getting lost in the wilderness and such, and we live in BFE so play dates are out of the question, my kids are up my ass.  I […]

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Death at a Funeral

6.08.15

When the speaker announced my name as the winner of the Huffington Post essay competition, the feeling of elation may have eclipsed that which I felt at the birth of my children.  Hell, it may have eclipsed the joy I feel when thinking of my own birth.  Coming from a blogger, that is saying a lot.  At some point my essay will appear on HP, but I wanted to share it here first as a special sneak peek; sort of a ‘thank you’ to my readers.  Also putting it here first means my Google rankings are going to go through the roof.  Enjoy.   “Girls, I have to tell you something about Uncle Bill.” Uncle Bill was my husband’s 97-year-old Great Uncle. A rock star on the 1930s tool and die scene, he later became an unapologetic hoarder of machine parts when he retired. His basement was packed wall to wall with a bevvy of broken washing machines, deep fryers and pieces of push mowers and god help the person who dare lay a finger on any of it. Unless, of course, you were interested in buying something. Then he would happily part with whatever it was at a price only slightly above market value. In his later years, his treasures expanded to things like sofa paintings and rotting bags of fruit that he “bought […]

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A Better Place

5.28.15

It was weird being alone in the car with my 4-year-old.  She’s my middle child and we never have one-on-one time.  “I really need to make more time for just the two of us,” I thought as we drove down the highway.  But that would have to be a different day.  Today we were going to our first appointment at the children’s cancer center. A few weeks prior I had noticed excessive bruising on her shins.  When I say excessive… they looked like rotting bananas.  “Wow!  She must play hard!”  Everyone commented.  Did she?  I didn’t know.  She seemed to play about as hard as any other kid.  The red flag came about two weeks later when I was getting her ready for a bath.  I took off her dress and was startled to see an angry black and purple mark so big it nearly wrapped around her torso. “My god!  What happened here?” She didn’t know – it didn’t hurt.  I called my doctor the next morning, after an all-night debate in my head between the overreactive mother wasting her Pediatrician’s time for a few bruises, and the terrified mother who tried not to think about what this might mean. “It’s probably nothing,”  my doctor said the next day, handing me an order for bloodwork.  “But let’s just check.” I believed him.  The lab […]

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Summer Camp

5.21.15

Last August I dropped my first-born off at Kindergarten, drove home and cried the entire day. Today is her last day of school and I am again spending the entire day crying, but for the exact opposite reason.  Three long months of togetherness with a 3, 4 and 6-year-old are staring me in the face and it is terrifying.  Yes, before they started school we had tons of together time, but back then I just didn’t know any better.  I forgot how sweet the taste of freedom really was and I don’t know if I have the strength to go back to that place. This year my two youngest have both been in pre-school which translates into, after drop off and pick up time, exactly two hours and twenty minutes three times a week all to myself.  Two hours and twenty minutes isn’t really enough time to do much of anything, except renew my sanity.  One day I run errands – AKA get my toes done or shop for potted plants.  The next day I go for a glorious, long outside walk.  Something I used to do all the time but had to table once I had kids because I come close enough to a heart attack without pushing a jogging stroller filled with 70 pounds of kid up the hill.  And the third day… […]

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The Pay in Pain

5.11.15

“Men are always such babies about this part,” the estethician said, pulling a small metal tool from her drawer. We had come to the extraction portion of my facial, which meant the pleasantries were over and it was now down to business. If you’ve never had a facial, extractions are when the estethician first turns herself into a witch, then uses Satan’s fiery dick to unclog your pores. Each one feels like a flu shot and they could go on forever but most will stop when they see they have brought tears. “Women are so much tougher.” She said. I gave her a ‘true dat’ closed mouth smile, my lips pursed tightly so as to cover my gritting teeth. “You know what’s the worst, though, is that laser hair removal.” She spoke the truth. About a month ago I began laser treatments on my underarms and bikini line. The laser they used is marketed as painless, and it totally was. If painless feels like someone is grabbing handfuls of your labia after setting their hand on fire. The burning smell alone coming from my groin was the stuff of nightmares. Until now, I’ve never questioned enduring pain for beauty. My cuticles could grow completely out of control if I don’t have them cut down every few weeks. And these Invisalign? Well who wouldn’t want to […]

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To Elliot On Her Sixth Birthday

5.06.15

Dear Ellie, A few weeks ago I picked you up from school and you jumped into the van, breathless and electric with energy.  “Mom guess what!  Wendy had some extra magic and she gave me some!  I’m magic now!” “Wow, that’s great!  What kinds of things can you do?” “Well, I just think about something and then I can make it happen!” Suddenly I had an idea. “Hey!  Wouldn’t it be cool if you could make something really awesome appear, like a bunch of cookies?” “Oh yeah!” “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.  Close your eyes and concentrate really really hard on cookies and maybe they’ll appear on the kitchen counter.  Imagine some big cookies in a brown box.  You got it?” Silence from the back seat as you squinted your eyes and concentrated. When we arrived home I expected you to be amazed at your new found powers when you ran to the kitchen to find the box of cookies I bought earlier that day.  I teetered on telling you the truth because I thought you might get freaked out or have a heart attack or your little head might explode right then and there.  But to my surprise, you walked in, nonchalantly grabbed the box, opened it and ate a cookie like it was no big deal.  There had been no doubt […]

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