Friday, October 16, 2015

Pants On Fire

“But it’s a lie. That note is a lie.” 
I was surprised to see him standing there. He wasn’t supposed to be up for another hour. 
I was explaining to his very reasonable and understanding 12 year old brother that I put a note in his backpack saying that he was sick the day before. So if anyone asked just go along with it. 
“But we weren’t sick. We were in Altoona,” Little One chimes in.
The 12 year old rolled his eyes. “Yeah, but mom will get in trouble for keeping us out of school, so we are just saying we were sick!” He then looks at me and says “You know I already told some of my teachers that I probably was going to miss yesterday, right?” 
Damn-it. No I did not know this, because I didn’t even know that I was definitely keeping them out of school that day. And it was ONE day. I had already lectured them on the responsibility of making up for that day, by doing extra work. Uhhhgggg! 
Lets step back a couple of months. It was August. My birthday just passed and it was a nice Summer day. We spent the weekend at the shore with my parents and some good friends. I asked The Hub what he wanted to do for his birthday in October.  We thought of the cool weather and changing leaves if the next season. He said he wanted to take the boys to see Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, PA. 
Really? I thought. Altoona? Trains? Altoona? It shouldn’t have been a surprise. He is a train/history geek and our boys are following in his footsteps. They get pretty damn excited to see trains and when they see his excitement it just takes the experience to a whole other level. 
OK, Altoona it is. I researched on Trip Advisor and found a very reasonable Microtel that included breakfast. The prices were good, but then again, it’s Altoona. Who wants to go to Altoona? Oh right, we do. That is why I booked it. 
The weekend weather was not hospitable. We drove up after school on Friday. The ride is about 4 hours, give or take. The plan was to view the changing colors of the leaves and the beauty of the Allegheny Mountains.  It poured.  It was approximately 48 degrees and rained off and on from the time we left the boys’ schools on Friday until late Sunday afternoon.  The mountains were extremely foggy. Like can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face-let-alone-pretty-leaves, foggy. 
This did not deter the train-spotting or the Railroader’s Museum or the famous Horseshoe Curve (which we went to see TWICE) or the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Park and Museum, or the Gallitzin Tunnel or the Rail-fan’s Overlook. We did all these things, umbrellas in hand and giddy smiles on their faces. I was along and smiling, but would sometimes retreat to the car for a little respite. 
I mean HOW MANY FUCKING TRAINS DOES ONE NEED TO SEE? The horseshoe curve was pretty neat, but it was cold and rainy BOTH times we went. They HAD to wait to see more trains. 
OK, I promised myself I was not going to be cynical or dampen their enthusiasm.  I was happy to see them so happy.  I did really enjoy how excited they all got and how geeked-out they were over everything train or history related.  I mean how many guys would want to spend their birthday taking their kids to see sites?  The Hub is a great dad and a wonderful person all together.  If he wanted Altoona, by God, Altoona it was!  My love for them was the only thing driving my ass up there.
That leads us to the decision making process.  The weather was not fun, however the forecast called for a clearing up on Sunday evening and a beautiful crisp 60 degree, sunny,  Monday.  We made the executive decision to keep the kids out of school on Monday and to wind our way home via a very scenic route, to enjoy the leaves and beautiful early-fall weather. 
“But it is a lie. The note is a lie.” Little One repeats. First grade is a big deal and he takes it very seriously. He loves his teacher. LOVES her. 
“I know, buddy. I am sorry. You are right, I shouldn’t lie. You don’t have to do anything, just hand the note to your teacher,” I said.
Little One looked at me like he always does when he is on to me, “The lie note?” 
I looked back “Yes, the lie note. Do you want waffles for breakfast?”
He ate his breakfast and was off to school.
When he got home I asked him how his day went. He responded that it was a good day. I tentatively asked if he gave his teacher the note. 
He very matter of factly said, “Yes, and I told her that you lied. I told her it was a lie note.”
I looked at my husband who looked back at me and we just stared at each other. The Hub asked him, “Well, what happened?”
He said, “Well, I didn’t give her the note right away. I just told her that my mom wrote a note that I was sick yesterday but that is a lie, because I wasn’t sick. I was in Altoona. She said thank you but she still needed to see the note. So I gave it to her. I gave her the lie note.” 
I was simultaneously, proud, mortified and exhausted. Little One then went into the living room to watch SpongeBob. The Hub and I looked at each other and cracked the hell up. I mean I can’t fault the kid for telling the truth. I can’t fault him for calling me out to his teacher. So I decided to send the teacher an e-mail. 
Luckily she is a very kind woman. Luckily she found the humor in his calling me out along with the humor of my mea culpa e-mail. Luckily she explained that she understood my keeping him out of school that day and that his education does not only take place in those four walls. She also told me that he used the Horseshoe Curve in one of he writing projects that day! 
At least I am raising someone who believes in honesty and integrity even when his mother is a liar. I must be doing something right! Right? 
It’s all good though, I was paid back. The First Born who was all too happy to lie, threw up. On the bus. On the way to school. That very day. So I had to go up to his school to pick him up before school even started. He is still complaining about all the work he missed being out 2 days in a row. 
Moral of the story, don’t lie. And if you do, make sure at least one of your kids calls you out. It’s better for everyone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


When I wake up in the morning, I do not have to think about my skin color.  

When buy makeup, I do not have to go to a special store.

When I buy hair products I do not have to go to a special section of the store.  

When I go to a hair dresser I do not have to find one who can do "my kind of hair."

When I get my boys dressed, I do not have to think about their skin color and if what they are wearing makes them look threatening. 

When I go out the door I do not have to worry about how I will be perceived due to the way I look.  

When my boys go to school I do not have to worry that other children will be frightened by them or will exclude them because of how they look.

When my husband leaves the house I do not have to worry about him being pulled over for no other reason than being the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood.  

When I go shopping I can aimlessly wonder the isles without having to worry that someone will assume that I am going to steal something. 

When my boys act out in school, I can be assured that the teacher will contact me to discuss the problem, not call the police. 

When my husband is on a job site and managing the work, he will not be second guessed or thought of as cocky or uppity when he tells people what to do.  

If I get pulled over for no good reason, for say, changing lanes without using a turn signal, and I am frustrated and running late and have an attitude, I will not have to worry about that officer illegally forcing me out of my car and arrest me for resisting arrest.  

When my boys go out at night with their friends, I do not have to worry that they will be targeted and harassed because of what they look like.  

When my boys go to college and do something stupid, like get drunk or get into a fight, I will worry, but will not have to worry that they will be beaten or killed by law enforcement.  

When my boys apply for a job, they will not be prejudged when sitting down to the interview.  

When my husband and I walk into a restaurant we will not be the only people who look like us.

When I walk into a supermarket, school building, dollar store, movie theater, church or out my front door, I will not be the only person who looks like I do, nor will I be noticed at all. 

When I speak my mind, When I speak my truth, When I tell my story, I will not be second guessed, questioned, and responded to by being told that racism or what I have experienced does not exist anymore.  I will not be told that I am antagonizing or “dividing.”  I will not be told that I need to rise above it.  I will not be told that others have had it just as bad.  

That, my friends, is privilege. 

While I love and support my black brothers and sisters, I will never know what it is like to walk in their shoes.  While I support #BlackLivesMatter I can not begin to feel it.   This is not putting myself or my experiences down. This is not discounting my struggles as a woman.  This is not discounting my struggles when I was poor.  This is not dishonoring all that I have done or overcome to be where I am.  This is just, very simply, trying to understand the culture of America and what others have and continue to deal with and hoping that others can do the same.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I Am Famous!

Here is the link to the Listen To Your Mother YouTube channel. LTYM Baltimore 

I was in their show in May of this year.  I was part of an amazing group of women writers who read their words to a live audience.  

All of us came from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different ages, different stages of life and yet we all connected in a profound and beautiful way.  Each of their stories is relatable and beautiful.  Some - like mine - are funny, some are heart wrenching, some are complex and some are extraordinarily simple.  All are truth.  We are all connected in so many ways.  

The show itself is a tapestry that flows from one story to another.  I would really suggest that you watch it all the way through.  I love these women and have bonded with them on a deep level.  I consider them sisters and friends.  Please listen to their words.  Hear their truths.  Be inspired by their strength.  

Momma O

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What Is Best (For my son...When he graduates..... In 2022)

“I know!”


You have been telling me that since you were 9.

You didn't know, but you learned.  I would tell you important things and each time you were convinced that I did not know what I was talking about.   There were many times that you were correct.  I really didn’t know what I was talking about.  There were many times that I told you what you needed to know and prayed that you figured out the rest.  As our first born son, you really got screwed.  We had no clue what parenthood entailed or involved.  We were all learning together.  Hopefully you learned as much as we did along the way.  

You watched your father and I, and learned all of our bad habits.  You learned that a bathroom can go almost 2 weeks without being cleaned.  You learned that a “dinner” can mean a bowl of cereal and an ice-cream sundae.   You learned that after a bad day nothing tastes better than a beer or two. You learned that stress sometimes makes people say dumb things.  You learned that lying can sometimes be ok.  You learned that you can get away with spending an entire day in your jammies watching movies and eating junk food.  You learned that calling out “You cock-sucking, mother-fucker!” is only reserved for inanimate objects that my have caused you physical pain i.e. stepped on legos or road rage.  You learned that you can procrastinate and still get things done.  

But despite all that, hopefully you learned other things from us.  If you were paying attention you may have learned that laughing helps most situations.  You learned that love makes people sacrifice without complaint. You learned that complaints can be therapeutic.  You learned that therapy is a good thing.  You learned that it is important not to stay mad.  You learned that everyone puts in their fair share, but not all at the same time.  You learned that family is the most important thing in the world.  You also learned that family does not always mean related-by-blood.  You learned that just because you disagree with someone does not mean that you don’t like them.  AND just because you agree with someone doesn’t mean you have to like them. 

We were not perfect parents and even less perfect teachers.  We want so much for you. But the most important thing that we want is for you to be happy.  We have tried to show you how to be happy, even knowing that is not something you can "teach" someone else.   I have my own version of happy, and your father has his.  We have another version of happy together.  It takes some work to find happy and even more work to find happy with someone else.  Personal happiness is something that changes, grows and evolves.  We will always be working towards it.  

So when I say I want you to be happy, that requires some work on your part.  You must remember that you deserve to be happy.  You must strive to help others in their own pursuit.  You also have to remember that even though it may seem distant at times, it is right there inside you. 

You are going to make mistakes and misjudgments.  I am still doing that, and I am OLD!  Your young mistakes and misjudgments will impact your life, but no matter, you will always have your father and I for a soft place to land.  Even if you post those mistakes on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other social media site there is.  We will still be there for you to land, but I can’t promise it will be soft.  And when I say “land” it just means that you can get some hugs and possibly some sympathy and a place to "reset". We will not fix your mistakes.  Because we won’t.  Even if you want us to.  We will have to stop ourselves and trust that we have prepared you.  It will kill us to watch you struggle. But we will stand behind you even when we know you are headed in the wrong direction.  You will figure it out.  You will and you will become better for it.  

I know that “you know”  most of this.  I want to make sure that when you walk out of this house into your own life, you also know that nothing in this world could ever make us not love you.  Unconditional. Constant. Evolving. Love.

The process of birth is so much a metaphor for life.  I know you love when I talk about your birth story.  You were stuck in my uterus and had to be taken out by an emergency c-section.  I think about that and how your dad and I were so scared and stressed.  But you knew what to do.  You waited.  You were patient.  For 22 hours until the doctor said you were starting to get agitated.  At that point they were wheeling me in for the c-section.  A c-section was NOT in my birth plan.  As a matter of fact NONE of those previous 22 hours were in my birth plan.  So at that point I was willing to do anything the doctors and nurses told me. Including having a c-section, while they reversed my epidural because of my convulsions in response to it. But somehow you knew that your big-ass head was never going to fit through my vagina.  (That is funny, because I know, right now, you are cringing and saying "Jesus, MOM!" I have to get my laughs in sometime!)  

So, I thank you.  I thank you for not following my plan.  It was better for both of us in the long run.  You left my body the way you needed to.  Now you will leave our house the way you need to.  You have always pursued your passions with your own gusto and originality.  If you continue in that vain, you will be just fine.  We only want what is best for you.   What is best for you.  What is best for you?  

I can year you now.  

“I know.”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Momma's Frustrations of Daily Life

7 Things that frustrate me daily - in no particular order.

1). Sitting.  I just want to sit down, for over 20 minutes without having to get up.  As SOON as I sit down, someone needs something.  Whether it is a cup of water or a snack or a shoe tied, or a Minecraft emergency, or even a “but I wanna sit there” complaint.  It seems like a conspiracy hatched by the kids, the dog, The Hub and even my own bladder.  None of these factors in my life will allow me to be uninterrupted for an extended period of time.  And by ‘extended’ I mean over 15 minutes.  

2). My face.  It is looking older and older.  I FaceTime with my little brother who lives in Hawaii.  (Yea, I know!)  And I am overly distracted by the little ichat box with my talking face in it.  It looks old and haggard and saggy and old.  The wrinkles aren't that bad, but the saggy, baggy neck, chin and jowls are upsetting. Should humans have jowls?  Also the bags under my eyes are super puffy and the some of the freckles are running into each other.  I am only 42, but I see what 72 may look like, pretty clearly!  

C). Homework.  I am sick of the homework.  My 11 year old’s 5th grade homework is enough to have me hate school all over again. It is time consuming and tricky.  He is sloppy and rushes through everything.  So I have to be the ogre and have him re-do it so that a human being from this century can read it.   He does not seem to learn that if he rushes through to get it done quick, it is only going to take him 3 times as long to finish.  I have said it before, I don’t know how his teachers have not throttled him as of yet.  Is there anything less logical and more pig headed than an 11 year old boy?  

You like me, you really like me!
D). My social media problem.  Notice I did not say addiction.  I am not ready to go that far.  I can stop any time I want to. It hasn't interfered with.... OMG I just got a comment "liked" by Jenn Mann of People I Want To Punch In The Throat!  No Way!  Where was I?   I know.  I will just keep rowing down that river in Egypt.  I like it.  I am a social person, and I like the perceived notion that people actually listen to me.  Even if it is just a Facebook “like” or a re-tweet.  No one listens to me in my real life but they do on my computer. Look, you are listening to me right now!  Wait, wait, don’t go.  Let me entertain you!  

Sub-paragraph Q).  Cooking.  I actually love cooking.  I enjoy creating meals and having them all come together.  I enjoy putting it on the table and looking at my feast.  I love serving the plates and taking that first bite after savoring the smells.  If it were only that simple. The creating of the meals is interrupted continuously.  I forget my overall vision for the meal.  Then the complaints start before I finish.  
“What are we having?”  (said in an incriminating and volatile tone)

“I don’t WANT that for dinner!”

“I HATE (insert here: any food item that I am currently cooking)!” 

“But I am STARVING and I don’t like any of that stuff.”

“You NEVER make anything I like!”

“Honey, isn't that (insert here: pan of food he has never cooked in his life) on too high?”

“Do we have any (insert here: something we don’t have and wouldn’t go with the meal anyway)?”

“Why did you make it that way?”

“Is this your own creation or did you follow a recipe?”
Then we sit down to the table, that no one seemed to remember how to set, and I am hopping up and down like a bunny getting all the things that were forgotten, like a fork, the butter, salt and pepper, cups for drinks, said drinks, napkins, etc.  Then after all the complaints - and I have inhaled a cold dish of food - the clean up process starts.  I HATE cleaning up after I have cooked. HATE IT. I am a messy cooker.   But it is usually a toss up of cleaning the kitchen or doing the bedtime routine.  As much as I hate cleaning up, I will choose cleaning up, every time! 

Z). Sleeping.  I need a night.  Now it is not nearly as bad as it was when the kids were babies.  I am not that sleep deprived.  I shouldn’t even complain about it…. Ok for all of you parents of babies out there, I won’t.  I won’t dare complain, because I am still getting about 6 hours more sleep than you are!  

6). My Body.  I don’t care much about how she is looking lately.  She can be covered up and disguised with clothing, but I do care how she feels.  That is pretty crappy!  Knees cracking, elbows popping, shoulders aching, back straining and ass dragging!  It has to do with age… and eating improperly… and lack of exercise…. and weight, but I am going with blaming it all on age.  

VII).  Laundry.  OH Sweet Love of all that is Holy, I hate the laundry.  I hate everything about it.  The sorting. The fishing dirty, little underwear out of dirty, little pants that are inside out. The dirty, little balls of stinky socks. The super-stinky basketball clothes.  The pre-pubescent stench of the 5th graders clothes. The soaking wet towels thrown in the laundry on top of and underneath more gross clothes, that sat for days. Loading the machine then forgetting to change it over to the dryer.  Then having to rewash the mildew smelling load again.  Ugh! The folding and putting away that NEVER gets done.  Then looking at the hamper and seeing it is full again and always for ever and ever, Amen!  

It can be daunting, mundane and tedious, but I read this and then kind of hate myself.  WTF do I really have to complain about? So what are your frustrations?  Are they as meaningless as mine?

Friday, January 9, 2015

We Came, We Saw, We Quit Our Membership

Yea, Yea, Yea, I know!  You hate all of us non-fit, newly resolved, noncommittal types who just committed to your gym.  The gym you go to every other day no matter what.  

We are taking your parking spaces, we are taking your equipment.  We are taking up all the space at the front of your exercise class.  We don’t know where we are going or what time anything starts.  We look overwhelmed and at the same time cocky because we are now ‘going to the gym’ and ‘getting in shape.’  Finally!  Something that you have been doing for years. 

What makes us so special?  We now act like we own the place. We forget to wipe up our funk off of the stair-stepper after our grueling 20 minutes. Only 20 minutes and we look like we just took a dip in the pool.  You see, we sweat so profusely because this is the most movement we have had since we had to run into McDonalds from the parking lot when they screwed up our drive-in order.  

Some of us start a program that we were able to do 10-15 years ago, like no time has passed.  Only after, realizing that a lot of fucking time has passed!  Some of us just walk into the fitness room and jump from machine to machine, pretending that we know what we are doing and then get bored.  Some of us start a fitness class with other newbies and realize that it is not as easy to walk out in the middle of class when everyone can see you leave.   

Just be patient.  It won’t last long.  Mid February, maybe early March, we should be clearing out soon enough.  A few of us will inflict an injury - on ourselves.  A couple may even provide some excitement being taken out on stretchers!  

Instead of getting mad at us and cursing our brand new work out clothes with matching bag, sneakers, and headband, try to have some pity.  We really don’t know what we are doing.  We may act like we are ready for the workout routine.  But we are not.  We may act as if we love going to the gym.  But we don’t.  We may try to keep up with the crazy spin lady. But we can’t.  

There are some who will find that fun.  Find that spark that will light their ass on fire.  Then they will love going to the gym.  Some will start to feel really good and realize how healthy they are feeling.  They will actually look forward to their work-out.  Be kind, because some of those will be here the rest of the year!

But the rest of us, in all reality, are scared, miserable and tired.  We don’t like working out.  We don’t want to get off the couch.  We hate seeing all you svelte committed exercisers, rolling your eyes at us.   Our motivation to start getting in
shape is usually a vane one - just so we don’t have to buy the next size up - just so we can eat a few pieces of pie and not look 5 months pregnant.  Is that too much to friggin' ask?  However, vanity will not be enough to keep us motivated. We will search for a better motivation.  But what-the-fuck-ever!  We won’t last.  We never do.  We will skip a week and then 2 weeks and then 3 months will have gone by and we will cancel our membership. That is…. until the open enrollment is offered next January!  

Until next year.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Growing Pains

The holidays bring out the best and worst in me.  I was an absolute mess before Christmas.  The planning, the spending, the worrying about the debt-ing, all made me an emotional mess. Oh and did I mention that our house is up for sale, and we have to have the house show-ready?”  That combined with memories of Christmases gone by and the reality that my boys are not babies or even toddlers anymore.  They are getting bigger and this, or the next Christmas may be the last ones that they believein Santa.  When that happens, a certain magic will be lost.  

It seems that we try to hold on to a piece of the past no matter if it is healthy or not and the holidays give us the opportunity to do that.  Baking what our grandmothers baked, putting decorations up that remind us of our childhood, trying to recreate experiences that we had as children for our own children.  

The trick is not losing ourselves in the past, not succumbing to the old ways that we used to use to survive.  There are roles we played as children that can be carried into adulthood that no longer serve our best interests.  

My goal as a mother is to make the roles of my boys good ones, to allow and even facilitate the changing of those roles as they grow. I know I am going to be a major topic in their future therapy sessions.  I cant escape that, but I want to mitigate the damage.  I want to - for lack of a better term - not pass my neurotic shit on to them.  I want their lives to be about them and what they want and need, not what I want for them. 

My personal struggles have been fighting my own narcissistic tendencies and my need for validation, control and attention.  Well the attention thing may be out of the question, because well. blog about ME! But I am learning that I can validate myself.  Control is something that I am learning to let go of, one white knuckle at a time. 

I am finding it easier to see my role as a mother as one of a guide and not a leader. A behind the scenes coach and support system rather than a director.  This is needed as they are becoming older.   Lil One is only 6 and I can still bask in the glow of his cuteness and cuddle-me-ness and his looking to me as the one with all the right answers.  He is a smart cookie and so easy going, and I may be able to hold on to that for another couple of years.  

But First born has been discovering himself apart from us. It is exciting and frightening to watch. First Born is 11 and I have started the transition into someone who really does not know anything. I am the one to be tested and argued with at any cost.  My natural urge is to fight this.  But I am realizing that that will not help.  I have to let him make mistakes. I have to let him fall.  I have to make sure that I validate his feelings, even when I think that he is being rid-god-damn-diculous and overly dramatic.  I have to allow that to happen. If I fight it, I fight him.  He has enough angst and frustration, I dont want to play the lead role.  I am also realizing that he still needs the hugs and cuddles that I give Little One.  He leans into me when I am going over his homework. He lets me fix his hair in the morning and still gives me a kiss goodnight.  I have to be welcoming to that for as long as he still needs it.  I have to not push when I go to give him a hug and he backs away and only does the one-arm-patting-the-back thing.  I need to give him his space and allow him to grow.  

It is so hard and so emotional!  So much more emotional than I thought it would be.  There are times, especially during the holidays, when I ache for First Born to be that little wiry monkey who would fly into my arms and tell me - with his speech impediment - Momma I yuve you soon much.’  I miss when he would pat the floor next to him and say, Momma, you pway dis twuck and I pway dat twuck.’  I daydream of the nights spent on his rocking chair in his room, when he would tell me what songs he wanted me to sing to him before bed.  I would sing and his sweet little voice would join with mine on the parts that he knew.  I miss that little guy.   I miss the role I played.  I miss how good I felt being able to comfort and fix all of his problems with a hug and a kiss.  At 11 he still needs me but in a way that I have to learn.  The early years came naturally. These years are going to need some research and patience.  The roles are changing. 

Everything is new but we are the same.  Can we change?  Is it possible that we dont change but become more of ourselves as we improve?  When we were born, were we wired as perfect beings and then life happens, parents happen, mistakes happen and our wiring is short circuited, then re-wired?  Are the improvements we make actually working our way back to our original wiring?

I sit here typing this with tears running down my face.  I know that growing pains are as much about what we as parents go through as it is for our children.  I realize that growing never stops and I have to continue my growth as a mom.  I have to figure out the next stage and allow my sons to figure it out as well.  I cant scoop them up in my arms and tell them Mommas got you, baby.  Everything is gonna be all right,and expect that to work.  I am going to have to find something that makes me feel as good as when I could still do that.   How do you find that?  How can I get that back?  Am I supposed to get that back?  How do you come to the realization that that part of your mothering role has been played and is done?  How do you look back on that and smile with pride instead of cry with longing?  

When I looked at my sons when they were first born, I knew in my heart and soul that they were perfect beings, full of love and abundance.  Their lives are a wonderful journey back to that love and abundance.  They will go through highs and lows, beauty and pain, joy and failure and I will be there.  I look forward to being there in the background, always there with a soft place to land when they need it.  In the meantime I will still be on my own wonderful journey learning and playing the roles I need to play.   Someday making it back to my own original wiring and returning to me.