Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tough Week

Between the dead squirrel in the pool and burning three of my fingers on a very hot iron and watching my little Bandits get the snot beat out of them twice - well, between all of that, it's just been a rough week.

Why is it that when you're down, nothing seems to go right? Doesn't seem fair (Imagine me crossing my arms and stomping my right foot as I say that).

I have just been hovering above a depression lately - just slightly above it, but knowing it is there. The blue thread weaving in and out. The feeling that things might not get better, though everyone else around me feels certain they will. The feeling that I just don't have the energy to make it through the day right now. I know part of my problem is a lack of faith. But a part of it, too, is the little blue thread I have talked about before - the depression that seeps in from time to time, sometimes when you least expect it, other times when you know it will. Like now - things are tough, so I would expect to feel a little down. But it doesn't make it any easier.

I'm fine. Just down today. Just wanting one thing to work out right now. Just one small thing. And I might just have to start digging deeper to find those things. Oh - I've got one... Madalyn asked me to read her a story yesterday. Might sound usual to some, but not for me. Madalyn has never cared to sit down and look at a book. David did from such an early age, but not my little girl. She doesn't sit still for much. But yesterday, while I was on the phone with my mom, she came to me with a book and asked me in her sweet little voice if I would read her a story. And I am so glad I was home with her to do that, no matter how hard it's been lately to be here and know that financially I could be doing so much more. I am glad I had the chance to read her that story. And she sat and listened to it all, and it was really a great little moment for us. We don't get many of those, me and Madalyn. Not many at all.

So that's what I'll do. Try harder every day to look for smaller things to be happy about. Because they are there; I know they are. It's just this damn blue thread that wants to convince me otherwise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Charmed Suburban Life

Oh the thrills of daily life never cease to amaze me.

Yesterday was day one of grass cutting for the week. I know it may not make much sense to some (including my dear husband to which none of my actions seem to make much sense) but I always split the grass up into two days of fun. Front one day, the back the other. I push them both and bag the back, so it's quite a chore. And I just can't bear to do it all in one day. So yesterday, I did the front. When I woke up this morning, I knew I had to do the back.

I put on my bathing suit (yes - I will cut the back while behind the fence in a bathing suit), got all my stuff in order, and rounded the kids up to go out back. They were planning on swimming and playing while I cut the grass. Until....

David called me over to the pool and said, "There's a dead squirrel in the pool."

Surely not. There was no one here but me, and surely I wasn't going to have to deal with a dead furry mammal in the pool. Surely. But as I peeked over the edge, I could see it was true. There really was a dead squirrel at the bottom of the shallow end right near the wall. Almost as though he had made it over to the side but couldn't figure out how to get out. Luckily he wasn't bloated up and looking crazy. None the less, he was dead, and he was in the bottom of my pool, and I had to figure out how to get him out.

Not exactly how I planned to spend any amount of time today. Suddenly, the grass cutting chore I so loathe looked like fun in comparison to animal corpse retrieval.

Of course, I called Scott. I don't know why, but maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I thought there might be a chance he knew someone with a helicopter and he'd just say to me, "Oh, dear, sweet, precious wife - don't you fret about the little squirrel. I'll fly in in a jiffy to save your day. I'll get that pesky squirrel out of the pool for you." But, no such luck. There would be no knight in shindig armour coming in to save the day this time. I was totally on my own.

I told the kids to stand back. And then I made Buddy back up, and I told him that I just knew he had something to do with this whole squirrel thing. And I got the net that is intended to fish bugs and leaves and the occasional stray golf ball from the pool - not dead animals. There was a part of me that was afraid once I lifted him out of the water the little squirrel would gasp for air and then attack me. Weird to think, I know - but squirrels just really freak me out. Birds and squirrels, I just think, in general, should not be trusted. They just seem shady to me.

Anywho - I took the net and gave him a little nudge under the water just to be certain, you know, that he wasn't some sort of aquatic squirrel. He wasn't. He was definitely dead. And I almost barfed when I started to lift him out, but I somehow held it together. And then I took him to the back edge of the yard and chunked him over the fence into the wooded area behind our house. When I chunked him, he actually hit a tree and ricocheted off it. It just didn't seem right to do that to a squirrel, but what little bit of compassion I might have had for him was gone because he had died in my pool.

David said, "Oh, wow... he's frozen."

"No, dear David. He's dead."

So then I told the kids they couldn't swim today. Not gonna swim in the water that the dead furry animal was in until the super-chlorinate cycle has gone through.

After my squirrel incident, I had the pleasure of scooping mounds of dog feces out of the grass in preparation of cutting and bagging two humongous contractor size bags full of grass.

A day in the life of my charmed suburban life.

(Side note - hope anyone who reads this knows that I do greatly appreciate my charmed life. I am so lucky to live in a great house with a pool in the back and have great kids and a wonderful dog. However, I am incredibly honest enough to admit that it sure would be nice to be charmed enough to not have to cut your own grass and remove dead animals from said pool. Just sayin'.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Come Apart

The come apart - the fall out - the painful truth... marriage is not easy. Reality TV has reached uncharted waters with the obvious marriage problems of Jon and Kate Gosselin. Anyone who has seen the first season of their reality show and then watched last night could see the obvious. You don't have to read a tabloid magazine to see that they are completely falling apart. Completely falling apart.

It's like watching our seven-year-old baseball team fall apart on the field. It's like watching a building that took over a year to build implode in a matter of seconds. It's like watching a tree fall. You wonder how something so meaningful can just fall apart right in front of you. But it can.

I guess I could speculate on what has pulled the couple and parents of eight beautiful, healthy kids so far apart. Maybe it's the show - the invasion of privacy they so willingly invited into their home, the obligations that the show has brought to their relationship, the money, the big house, the big bills, the staffers around them all the time. Maybe it's the business their family life has become. Maybe it's Jon's behavior - the going out like a twenty-something, the drinking, the photographs with other women. Maybe it's her fault - her zest for fame and fortune, her traveling, her controlling and demeaning attitude with her husband. Or maybe it's all these thinks combined and magnified by the public eye. But no matter what the cause, the result is the same - a sad situation, a broken family, a love buried under the rubble.

I watched last night with such sadness. A little because I know how it feels to be struggling. Marriage is hard no matter what your situation. No matter how much or how little money you have, no matter how controlling or free you are with your spouse, no matter how many or few children you have - this marriage thing ain't easy to do. Two people, ever changing and growing, trying to live together and raise kids is quite difficult. And let's face it; these days, when things get tough, most people get out. And even though I have know several people during their divorces, I have never the ins and outs of a marriage falling apart. Last night, you got to see her side and his side and then them sitting side by side talking together. He thinks he's right, she thinks she's right, and clearly neither of them are anywhere near being right.

I think there is a lot one can learn from watching this unfold in front of the public eye. What's it all worth - you know? What are the money and the big house and the exciting vacations all worth? Can your kids be just as happy with less stuff and two parents that love each other? Or would they be okay with acreage and time split between the two? This is a big issue that my household has struggled with in the past two years - the how much is too much question. The more stuff we have accumulated, the more pressure my husband feels and the more he works. It's a vicious cycle - work more, have more, want more. And it's a place where a family can completely fall apart and lose focus. Let's face it; it's just so easy to lose focus of what's really important in our society.

I think that's why I feel so drawn to this story - Jon and Kate Plus Eight. The reason I have watched every story about them and read every article and Googled their names. I want to learn something from their experience. And I think what I am seeing thus far is that society as a whole needs to scale back and realize the things that are really important - a happy family and a healthy marriage. The rest is just icing, you know - fluffy white sugar on the top. Not necessary, but nice none the less. But I tell you what... I'd rather have a cupcake with no icing than no cupcake at all any day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hula Girl

The other night, one of the moms on our baseball team brought a few hula hoops to practice. Another mom was preparing for a birthday party - a carnival theme with classic carnival games - and she wanted to have several hula hoops there, so it was one mom helping another out. You know the drill. Anywho - Madalyn had never even seen a hula hoop. And being the mule she is, she was bound and determined to teach herself how. The other two girls there are a full year and a few months older than her and also just taller and bigger. In other words, I didn't think my long and lanky four-year-old had a chance of learning.

She began her attempt with a rather unconventional method - some sort of hiking up of the leg while thrusting it around her hip with her arm. All the moms got a kick out of watching her try, even to the point of tears. But as we continued to watch her continue to try, she got better. And better. And better. And within an hour and a half, she was out hula-hooping the other two girls by a long shot. This little bitty ball of fire had taught herself to hula hoop right in front of my eyes.

Of course, we had to stop at Walmart on the way home and buy two of them for our house. How could I deny her the pleasure of showing her daddy what she had learned?

And what did I learn from watching her? No matter what that little girl may go through in life, she'll be okay. She has a belief in herself that I don't think I ever had. She didn't cower down to a stinking hula hoop as big around as she is tall. She just kept going, and she never stopped. And that's just her - she never stops. No matter what the obstacle is in front of her, she'll find a way to move it. She may move it herself, or she may scream and kick and punch until someone moves it for her. But, none the less, she'll get it moved. One way or the other. I think I just might like that about her after all. Even though it causes some long days around here, it just might work to her advantage down the road. Maybe it will keep her from making some of the bad decisions her mama has made along the way. Or maybe she'll make twice as many as I did just to spite me. But something tells me she'll be something mighty one day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Has it really been 25 years?

Some of the cast of The Cosby Show was on the Today Show yesterday morning promoting their new DVD boxed set of episodes. I could have sworn they said that the show is 25 years old. Has it really been that long? Was I really seven years old when that show first aired? Am I really 32 now?

My Facebook status yesterday was something along the lines of the fact that I miss those simple times of The Cosby Show. I remember watching it every Thursday night. I watched it in syndication, and still, if I'm flipping the channels and find it on, I will stop and watch it. The comedy is clean and timeless, and so are the family issues they deal with as well. What happened to the good old days of the Eighties?

My biggest memory surrounding The Cosby Show was the purchase of our first VCR. We were all abuzz in the household - a machine that could record television for you to view it at your leisure - even fast forward through the commercials. What a technological feat! I can see my den on Croydon Road in Montgomery clear as day in my mind along with my dad standing at the TV and VCR with the instructions setting it to record. The first show we recorded and watched on our VCR was The Cosby Show.

But those were the days, right? No answering machines. No real video games. No household computers. Certainly no cell phones. Kids actually played instead of being entertained. We could stay outside until after dark without much fear from our parents.

Was it that those days were so much simpler, or was it that I was young and carefree? I think a little of both. It's tough living in this automatic, high-tech society. It's even tougher to raise kids in it. They always want more, and these days there is something new to want every day. And it's just coming at us at record speeds. TV, internet, electronic billboards... a constant flow of information and outside influences pushing their way in. Caller ID, voicemail, cell phones - there isn't a private place in the world now.

Funny true story - about a month ago, we were in Centerpoint for a one day baseball tournament. When we arrived at the park, I needed to go to the restroom and we weren't sure which field we were playing on yet. I saw a restroom and pulled Madalyn with me to make her go before the game got started. It was a one-seater bathroom attached to a concession stand that wasn't open yet for the day. When I locked the door, I noticed it was a little tight (it was a deadbolt type lock). When we had finished our business, I went to unlock the door. I couldn't. The lock wouldn't move. It wouldn't move at all. I put down my bag and began to fight with it. On the inside, I was really freaking out. There are some bathrooms I wouldn't mind being stuck in, but this wasn't one of them. And then there was the fact that I'd be stuck with Drama Queen of the Century, Madalyn. I continued to struggle with the lock, and Madalyn began to get concerned as well.

"It's stuck? You can't get it, Mama?"

As she watched me struggle even more, she really began to panic and cry. I kept telling her it would be okay, and that I'd get it somehow. And finally, the four-year-old asks me this question: "Do you have your phone?!?!?!"

It's funny that our society has become so dependant on the cell phone. So much so that even a four-year-old thinks of it in a precarious we're stuck in a yucky ballpark bathroom incident. I mean, Dr, Huxtable didn't have a cell phone. If I remember correctly, he had an old school rotary dial that sat on the sofa table in the living room. And he and Claire would be in the midst of conversation, and the phone would ring, and it would be the hospital calling about a woman in labor. And Dr. Huxtable would exit stage left just below the stairs that led up to the bedrooms. Those were the days. If Dr. Huxtable had whipped out a Blackberry full of texts and emails, we would have frozen in our seats. We would have thought, "Wow. How cool is that? But that will never happen..."

Amazing the difference 25 years can make.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just do what makes you happy...

Now you see how busy I was last week. Had I not been in a state of perpetual business, I would have blogged about this outing the minute I got home on Wednesday evening. But I couldn't. And it has taken me this long to take a picture of my picture I painted at Sips 'N Strokes and actually sit down and write about my experience. Let me just say that this was the most fun I have had in a very, very, very long time. Come to think of it, I can't say that I have ever had as much fun as I did that night. It was just a different sort of fun, if you know what I mean. A creative fun. A get your juices flowin' kind of fun. A start with a blank canvas and end with something beautiful fun. It was unlike anything I had ever done before, and I enjoyed every minute.

I went with my good friend and neighbor, Keri, and her cousin and one of her closest friends. I thought I would like it as I have always enjoyed doing little crafty creative things. But I was still apprehensive when we walked into the little art studio filled with women and wine bottles. But there was something about the studio I liked; it was messy - paint everywhere, splatters on the walls, stools, smocks, and tables. It was a place I felt I could do no wrong. A place where any mistake could be covered with the stroke of a brush. All the colors and brushes and blank canvases. The blank canvas - that's the part I loved the most. It was mine, and I could do with it as I pleased. And the instructor was so laid back and encouraged us to mix our own colors and make it our own.

At one point, the instructor had the audacity to say out loud, "Just do what makes you happy." And I tilted my head like a puppy dog and said aloud, "Do what makes you happy?? And what does that mean exactly - this do what makes you happy stuff?" Because where else in life can you actually do what makes you happy, you know? There's just never been a time in my life where I simply thought about what I wanted and did just that. I am sure there have been isolated incidences, but they are few and far between. I am a known people pleaser and mediator and tend to not like to make any waves. So for anyone to give me permission to do what makes me happy and know that nothing bad will come of it -no one's feelings will be hurt, no one will need an $150 an hour therapy session because of it, it will not come back to haunt me years down the road - my heart turned over. It truly leaped for joy.

And so I painted. I painted my little flowers - well, actually they were large, obnoxious flowers. I mixed the colors. I did what I wanted to do. I laughed. I just had a good ole time. And this is what I ended up with.

Good times, I tell you. And I can't wait to go back so I can have another chance to do what makes me happy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day One

Day one of Summer break with the four-year-old. Dear me. It promises to be a long one.

Spankings (And, yes - I do believe in spanking my child. Gasp in horror if you like, but that's how I roll around here. And I can only imagine how bad both my kids would be if I had chosen to spare the rod.) have been plentiful around my home recently. I just find myself in a state of intolerance lately. I am tired of repeating requests ten times. I am tired of raising my voice all day. I am tired of being ignored and disobeyed. I am sick of my kids (mainly the youngest) just not minding. I carried them in my womb, and I was miserable the whole time, and I had stitches in places where stitches just should not be, so, therefore, I would love to be minded just 75% of the time around here. Thank you.

This morning, we started out a little rocky. Madalyn got into my makeup bag which included a bottle of fingernail polish. She carried it into her brother's room and commenced to paint her nails. Thank goodness this time she didn't get any on the carpet. Yes, I said, "This time." That means that Madalyn and I have been over this before. So, this time, she was smart enough to hide the polish in one of her little purses when she was done. Only problem with fingernail polish is that you can't hide the smell or the end result. And so by 10:00 am, Miss Madalyn was receiving her first spanking of the day.

Not two hours later, I found her in David's room again, another bottle if fingernail polish in hand and in the process of going over the morning's first pedicure with a different color. You see, my friends, this is why we don't get along very well, me and my daughter. She really believes that she's gonna get away with this stuff - honestly believes it in her soul - and therefore continues to do the same things over and over again, feeling certain that this time she'll outsmart me.

I also found her in possession of the entire contents of my personal makeup bag. She had brilliantly disguised it by putting it into another little purse of hers. Like I would really look in there and think, "Oh, wow. What a coincidence. Madalyn and I like the same kind of mascara. And she uses Bare Essentials, too. Amazing." Oh, this child never ceases to amaze me at what she'll attempt to pull off. Never.

Insert spanking number two.

Just about two hours later, she kept trying to lure me into David's room to show me something. When I finally obliged, I found an entire hot dog bun broken up all over the floor. Someone help me please. Someone please tell me what I can do to keep this child from driving me over the edge this summer?

Insert spanking number three. Along with the spanking, I made her vacuum up the mess. Bless her heart, she is not even as tall as the vacuum cleaner yet, but I lowered the handle and turned it on and made her do it.

I'll spare you the fourth story in its entirety. But yet again, it involved her not wanting to mind. It is a vicious never-ending cycle that keeps my insides spinning like a freaking tornado to the point where I think surely the sirens will go off at the local fire station. But they don't. And I am left to try to calm the storm inside myself somehow. Somehow.

I just wonder why I was paired with Madalyn. Why did God think I could handle this? What does He want me to learn from her? I know I shouldn't doubt my abilities as a mother to the little souls I have been given, but I do. And I guess all I can do is just do the best I can do. But day one of Madalyn vs. Crazy Mama - hold on and let me check the score card - winner by total knock out is Madalyn. She definitely takes the belt today.

The Thrill of Victory / The Agony of Defeat

I'm still alive. I haven't fallen off the edge of the Earth into the fiery pits with dragons and all. I've just been busy. Last week was a complete and utter blurrrrrrrrr. It was the little one's last week at preschool and her musical program. And lots and lots of baseball practice leading up to our big baseball weekend in Mississippi. My house is disgustingly dirty, there are many loads of laundry to do, and yet I sit here at the keyboard.

We headed out toward Mississippi on Friday around 1:00 pm. I did something I had never done before - I checked my son out of school for no reason at all other than to go play baseball. This is just something I never dreamed I would do, and had it not been the end of the school year, we probably would have waited until after the bell rang that afternoon to leave. We had two games scheduled on Saturday morning, so we wanted to go ahead and get there and settle ourselves in for a winning weekend.

Saturday was amazing. Our boys were on fire. Their bats were hot, and they could do no wrong on the field. The first game was a total annihilation - final score 20 -1. The second game was a little more of a battle - we only beat them 8 -0. But our team had a total of seven out of the park home runs. We were the talk of the park - the fans from other teams, all the coaches, and even the umpires were all abuzz about the Bandits. It was just a truly magical day. But we must have sprinkled all our magic dust out the car window behind us as we drove away, because the next morning, when we arrived back at the park, all the magic was gone.

Our boys could not field a ball. They couldn't catch much in the air, and what they did manage to catch popped right back out. Between base running and fielding combined, there were around twenty errors on the field in those six innings. And we lost - we lost 12-10, but it felt much worse than that. Much, much worse. And so we tucked our tails in between our legs and got in the car for the four hour ride home.

The thrill and the agony. Such is life. When you're on top, it's easy sailing. When everything clicks - when it's all magic and fun. But when you start making mistakes and the odds pile up against you, that's when things get tough. And they got tough for our little team yesterday. It was a real tough game. No one in particular to blame. Everyone made mistakes - big mistakes. But they battled and rallied right through them all. Unfortunately, they didn't win. But you don't always get the win.

No - you don't always get the win. But you don't always get to see a seven year old boy hit his first baseball over the fence. You don't always get to see another mama's tears of pride when it's her son that hits it out. You don't always get to hear twelve boys rallying around one another and chanting and cheering in their sweet little voices when they are up and when they are down.

I won't always get to experience all of this. It makes the agony all worth it somehow. The joy of this weekend far outweighed the pain.

And so we'll hit the practice field tomorrow. I am sure the boys are even more disappointed in the loss as the parents. And they will work harder and harder for that next win. For the next chance to feel the magic and thrill of victory.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A little freaked out... just a little.

Okay - so preschool is almost over. And regular school as well. And I think we all know what that means... I will be alone with the kids for the entire summer!!!! AGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Deep breath in............. and release.

I have known this was coming - the end to at least a few moments of peace in a week. And it isn't just the peace and quiet I long for. The knowledge that you can go to Publix or Walmart without having to referee sibling rivalry and arguments is comforting. Being able to clean an entire bathroom without having to fix a cup of milk, change the TV channel, search the house for Piggy and blanket, etc, etc, and so on is priceless.

Along with Summer does come some good. Letting the kids sleep in. No bedtimes. No spelling words. Days in the pool. A nice tan. Popsicles. Cold beer... okay, the kids can't have the cold beer, but I can. And I know I'll need a couple extra to make it through the Summer.

So, Madalyn's last day is tomorrow. David's last day is next Thursday. And I am just going to try to cram as much into these final hours as I possibly can. If only it were possible to buy groceries for the next two months and store them all so I wouldn't ever have to take both my kids to the store.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Being a Mama

Yesterday was nice... a nice, quiet day. Well, maybe it wasn't all together quiet, but still the same a day devoted to the appreciation of moms. We slept in until 8:30, which is much appreciated around here as we rarely sleep past 7:00. Then Scott cooked breakfast, which is good as it gave me a chance to fold some clothes while Madalyn asked her daddy a half a million questions while he turned bacon over in popping hot grease. Seriously, the questions from a four-year-old are a lot cuter when they are being posed to someone else and you're simply listening in on them.

I cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast, however. The OCD in me has a hard time letting anyone clean up my kitchen.

We then got dressed and headed down to Millbrook for our nephew's second birthday party. This worked out fine as we killed two birds with one stone - attending a family birthday party, and Scott seeing his mom and grandmother at the same time. And I managed to avoid having to cook or prepare the second meal of the day.

We returned home in the late afternoon and watched the kids swim a little while Scott grilled some dinner. My neighbor and I enjoyed a little Crazy Mama's Day lemonade and chatted about the joys of having your own day. Let's see if I can remember any of the joys we listed... hmmmmmm. Let's see here... I'll get back to you on that one.

If I seem slightly unappreciative of the day itself, I might be. Some how, every year, I end up not seeing my mom at all. And I haven't really figured out how that works yet, but there's always some reason. And that just kinda makes me sad. It seems like it has been harder since we moved to Alabaster. It's not that far away, but it's just far enough. And then it's an issue of my husband making his own plans. Then I have my own ideas about what I would like to do. And then in the middle, I have my kids. So what I would like to do tends to get put to the side. And then this year, a birthday party was thrown into the mix. So, another Mother's Day without seeing my own mother - the woman who means the most to me in my life.

Being a mom is hard. And usually, if you are a mom, you are also a wife, which is even harder. And here lately, I have been struggling with both these roles. It seems it just isn't what I expected it to be. I don't think I thought it would be a fairy tale, but I didn't expect it to be this hard. Two little people pulling in different directions, a husband's needs and demands, and then the rest of your family pulling at any loose end they can find. I am somewhere here in the middle, though nothing revolves around me at all. I hold it all together, but I do nothing for myself. It's the ultimate oxymoron.

I look at my life and my struggles and I see how hard it is for me. And then I think about what my own mom went through, and I realize I never saw her complain. I never knew if she was stressed about life. Did I see the stress and she just excused it as something else (like I do sometimes with my kids)? She never seemed worried or frazzled or shaken. We moved to three different states, my brothers found trouble as teenagers, I had my heart broken a gazillion times, I had jaw surgery and braces, we had financial difficulties, my brothers played basketball and baseball, she worked full time for most of my life, and I can't remember a time in my childhood that I heard her complain. She was and still is an amazing mother. Still the rock. Still the glue. Still solid through it all.

I just asked my mother the other day how she has done it. She and my dad celebrated their forty-something anniversary. I mean, how do you do it? Day after day after day. On the days when you would rather do anything else in the world than be a mom or wife (or either). How do you pull it all together and do it anyway? Is it worth it all in the end? Does this part get better? It must - this part - this in the middle part where you feel like it's such a struggle to get by in every aspect of your life. Still trying to figure yourself out. Still trying to decided what kind of spouse and parent you want to be. And to think my mom decided all that right in front of me and I never even knew it. Never had a clue.

I sure do hope my kids can't tell how un-pulled-together I really am. How I just fly by the seat of my pants during most situations. How most times I struggle to find words to explain things. But how much I truly try every day to be a better mama than the day before. Gosh - it's hard.

The close of my Mother's Day was the greatest part of the whole day. We had tucked both kids in bed, and Madalyn called me back in her room to tell me a secret. It's always so interesting the secrets she tells. Of course, when her daddy told me it was her mama she wanted, I confess, I rolled my eyes. But as I leaned down and asked her what she had to say, her little words made the trip back up the stairs worthwhile.

"I lub you, mama."

She then informed me she had another secret. I mean, what could be any better than the first?

"I lub you da most."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The things I thought I'd never do...

There are so many things along my little way in life that I have proclaimed I would never do. So, so many. I can remember at the ripe old age of seventeen just wanting to cut the grass so badly. I begged my dad - please let me cut the grass. I thought it would be a great way to get out in the yard and get some sun. He declined. Something about he didn't want me out in the front yard in my bathing suit for all the neighborhood to look at. I think I understand where he was coming from now, but then, I was crushed. Why, I don't know, because just a few short years later, I proclaimed, "I will never cut the grass. That's man's work."

I now cut the grass. And I hate to do it. I sweat. A lot. The other day, I sweat so much that it was rolling down in to my ears. And I always end up with a headache afterwards. I also obsess about how straight my lines are and which direction I should cut this time. It is just one of those things I swore I would never do that I now do.

I remember a time in my life I wasn't certain I wanted children. In fact, I can remember feeling pretty sure I didn't want them. That was during the time I worked at the mall, and there's really nothing that will convince you that you don't want kids of your own more than working in a small coffee shop and watching young mothers come through pulling their hair out and repeating their child's name 163 times while in your store. I remember one Saturday afternoon when a young mother came in with her son, James. I know his name because his mother said it before every sentence she started. "James, don't do that. James, come here. James, don't touch that." I remember looking at her like she were from another planet and thinking to myself, "I will never be like that." Hmmmm. Here I am, some fifteen years later, pulling my hair out as I type and definitely knowing now what planet that poor, young mother came from. The pits of mommy hell, that's where. And there's nothing worse than the pits of mommy hell taking a field trip to the mall and entering one small coffee shop full of breakables. And I now understand why she was there - she NEEDED that coffee. Like no body's business, she needed that coffee. And if I knew then what I know now, I would have thrown in a bottle of whiskey with her purchase just for good measure. But I didn't know. I didn't know her frustrations, and I certainly never believed that I would be her one day. Just not with a James.

I also never dreamed I would shovel poop in my backyard. Never dreamed it. I can remember watching my mom as she would retrieve the shovel and walk around hunting the piles of feces and scooping them up one at a time. "How gross," I would think. "I'll never do that." Now, I think I could do it every day, as I am certain Buddy poops seven times in a 24 hour cycle. I can scoop it all up, and guaranteed, within minutes, he is at it again. It just never stops. And if there is one thing to make you question your place in the world, it is definitely walking around your own darn yard and hunting piles of poop that belong to an animal that can't even talk. Just doesn't seem right. Seems like it should be the dog cleaning up after the humans.

I also can remember watching my mom brush her teeth when I was younger. She would just brush and brush and let the foamy stuff from the toothpaste sorta run down her hand. Yet another thing I swore I'd never do. It just seemed so weird. How could she stand all that stuff on her hand? Just a few weeks ago, as I was brushing my teeth after drinking my morning coffee (yet another thing I thought I would never do - be addicted to coffee), I glanced up at myself in the mirror and realized that all the foamy stuff from my toothpaste was dripping all down my hand. And it just didn't phase me. Didn't seem so gross anymore. I guess after you have picked up piles of stinky dog poo, cleaned up vomit off of carpet, washed your kid's poop out of the bath tub, dug splinters out of a kid's toe, had snot wiped on your leg, found boogers on the door of your car, cleaned up cat puke from every square inch of your home... well, I guess after you have done all these things you thought you'd never do, nothing really phases you anymore. Not much at all.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Little Book of Poems

On Saturday, I made a little trip down to my mom's to visit. There's an old trunk that used to sit in my room in the closet of one of her bedrooms. It is small and has a picture of two kittens playing with a ball of yarn. How sweet. It is filled with things of my childhood, and she has begged me over and over to take it to my house. But it's heavy, and I really have no place to put it, and so I put her off each time she mentions it. This Saturday, the kids wanted to see what was inside. A couple of albums - literally, records. A scrapbook of all my New Kids on the Block memorabilia. A few old yearbooks from my junior high days. And a small book of poetry.

Where I got the small cardboard bound book I really can't recall. I would assume from my writing grandmother, the one who has encouraged me to move the pen in my hand since I was old enough to put letters together to form words. The cover is a scene of a garden in an impressionist manner - lots of green and colors all about. The inside is full of blank pages with lines in true journal style. And I filled over half these pages with my own words between December of 1993 and April of 1995. During those times, I kept a pen or pencil in my hand. I kept journals of all my feelings and drama and longings and dreams. I had stacks of old notebooks and legal pads with words. And I take it I wrote some poetry back then, too. It's not that I had forgotten, but rather that part of me has just kinda been tossed to the side and replaced by adulthood. I have read them all, and at first I laughed out loud at some of them. But the more I read, the quieter I got.

I miss the old me.

I wouldn't want to go back to being young again for anything else in the world. And those words on those pages of all the hurt and disappointment I felt back then just reminded me of that even more. I was so insecure. So needy. So shattered and torn. But I was so honest. So innocent. So hopeful and full of dreams. I felt so much... really felt all these feelings and then put them down in the most genuine way. And I miss that side of me.

I would give anything to have those old journals. My ex-husband threw them away while we were dating, and it makes me sick now. He was an idiot, but I was the bigger idiot for allowing it to happen. It just seems like from that point on in my life, the fire in my soul just slowly died. Just slowly burned itself out. I just wish I could read all the pages and pages of feelings I wrote about - the dates, the heart aches, the loneliness, the hopes and dreams. All of it. I didn't know then that there would come a time that I would read a page of my own thoughts and not remember them. But that time has come.

Some of my poetry was cheesy and contrived. But some of it was pretty good. Some of it I remembered exactly who and what it was about, but most of it, I did not. Some had dates and notes about them. Some were titled. And all of them were written by a girl I don't know really know anymore. A young, young girl.

I'll share one with the world in honor of that sweet young girl with big dreams -

September 28, 1994

It gets kinda lonely in the trees.
No one else around
With whom to share the breeze.
And those Northern winds -
They leave me far beyond the crooked stream.
The grass may wave,
The birds may chirp,
But no one ever thinks
Of how it feels to be the one
To lose its evergreen.
Somewhere beyond that cloud,
I know there lies for me
An open field with open dreams -
An open destiny.
But until then, I make rest here
And look down at the world,
Slowly swaying back and forth,
Blowing in the wind.

Monday, May 4, 2009

All in a day at the ballpark...

Yesterday, we made the trek to Auburn for a one day baseball tournament. I think it might have been the longest day of my life.

The alarm went off at 5:20 a.m., and I quickly got up to get cleaned up for a day of sweat and sunscreen. It makes no sense really to shower before such a day other than the fact that you have to shave your legs to wear shorts. And that brings about a whole other topic - the fact that I have become one of those moms that will put on a pair of shorts despite the fact that my legs aren't tan. My goodness, it's hot, and I can't bear to wear a sweaty pair of capris all day. So I have become one of the offenders who will blind your eyes with pale legs. And I am over it.

We left the house around 6:45, which is pure insanity. PURE INSANITY. I know it is, and I do it anyway because my kid loves it so much and just really is that fun to watch on most days. Yesterday, however, was a little different. He just didn't seem himself. With nine at bats, he came around the bases only twice I think. And it was by no one's fault but his own. He popped out every time but once. His batting was just completely off yesterday, and it made a long day seem even longer.

The park itself was nice but a little small. The fields were so close together, and there was not much room to spread out in between games. Foul balls were all over the place, so you found yourself dodging them every ten minutes or so. The trash cans were overflowing, and the concession stand was poorly equipped for the number of people who were there. I stood and waited for twenty minutes - maybe longer - for food at the concession stand and never got my full order. I finally asked them just to refund me for one of the meals because I just didn't want to wait any longer. So Scott and I nibbled off of Madalyn and David's food. We decided at the last minute not to bring our sandwich stuff, and I sure did rethink that decision yesterday when it was too late to do anything about it.

We also had the threat of severe weather looming over our heads all day. I knew it was coming; I had looked at the radar that morning before we headed out. So, from the beginning of the day, I had doubted we would get to play the whole tournament. But as the day progressed, and the winds picked up, and the calls from people at home became more frequent and urgent, I became more and more worried. I could see the headlines: BALLPARK ILL EQUIPPED TO HANDLE WEATHER EMERGENCY or DOZENS DIE AT LOCAL BASEBALL TOURNAMENT. I could also picture myself on one of those tornado specials on the Weather Channel - you all know the ones - and I would most certainly have to say that I heard a sound like a freight train and how I clung onto the toilet in the cinder block building at the ballpark. It just isn't how I'd like to go or lose a loved one, so I was a little panicked on the inside. My good friend and I were the only ones who seemed to be concerned, so we devised our plan on what we would do and where we would take the kids. We saw a utility / storage room underneath the press box and thought that at least we would be safe from flying debris from the heavy winds there. So that's what we did. As soon as the ump called our last game, the winds picked up and we swept the kids inside the little room and waited.

Thank goodness it didn't last long. The winds blew strong for a few minutes, the rain poured down, and we hovered in the little room full of baseball bats, folding tables, and various ball park necessities. David was hardly shaken from any of the day - not the seven times getting out on the field, nor the sixty mile an hour winds, nor getting up at the crack of dawn to drive to Auburn to find yourself huddled in a stuffy utility closet with thirty people. All David could think about was the hundred or so baseball bats stored in that little room. He actually had the nerve to pick up a couple and act like he wanted to try to swing them. That activity was quickly halted by one Crazy Mama who had definitely had her fill of fun at the ballpark for the day.

The good news for the day is that despite all the inconveniences and stresses of the day, my little Bandits managed to bring home another championship trophy. And somehow, it makes it all worth it.