Getting Old Is A “Beep”

Clock by CrassLast night, as I was hugging my son goodnight, he shared, “You’re skin used to be softer.” Love you too, darling! But he’s not alone. A while back, my daughter walked in after I’d stepped out of the shower, catching an eye-full of my backside. Her comment, “Oh, Momma.” And it wasn’t a, “Oh, Momma, we need to start walking.” No, this was more like, “Oh, Momma, I’m so sorry you lost your leg in the war.”

When my husband turned fifty, I made a horror film for him. (Camp Reformation – went straight to DVD). At the end, the killer is revealed. She wears a sweatshirt marked “50.” When her twin (the non-evil one) asks her why she’s murdered all the teenage campers, the psycho explains, “Because getting old is a bitch!”Camp Reformation

Oh, I thought that was a great line at the time (I was forty-two.) Turns out…not so funny. Truth never is.

Yes, from an emotional standpoint, aging is a wonderful thing. You’ve lived through enough experiences to know that life is cyclical, that there are tough patches, but they will pass. You begin to understand what’s worth arguing about or accepting and moving on. You look at supposedly mundane activities – the family sitting around the table, eating spaghetti and not arguing – and realize it’s a special moment.

But the physical side is harsh. As my daughter made VERY clear, hineys do not age like fine wine. Now, when my peers talk about their implants, they’re referring to dental work, which is probably for the best. Let’s face it, at a certain point, breast augmentations are a little ridiculous. I mean if you take an old, sagging pillow case filled with flour, then add a grapefruit, is it really going to look any better?

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful husband that eases the pain of this downhill journey. Maybe he’s delusional or just a very smart man, but he Spectaclesstill tells me I have a great body. Of course, there’s also the fact that he’s legally blind without his glasses. Doesn’t really matter. As long as those babies come off before I put on the Barry White, I can put JLo to shame.

“Spectacles” courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser. Clock photo by crass,

A Mother’s Confession #583

When my daughter was little, I joined a moms group. At the first meeting, I met a woman who’d covered her home with note cards – on everything from toasters to toilets – Madeline Baby Pic001identifying the object in both English and Spanish so her toddler would learn to read in both languages. Up until then, I’d felt pretty good that my daughter watched “Dora the Explorer” while I napped on the couch. She’s still not bilingual, but my girl knew what a backpack was by age three.

Acknowledging my less-than-stellar mothering skills has given me the freedom to accept some of my questionable choices. Case in point – Confession #583.

My daughter has an extreme fear of needles. To the point that she’ll stress for three weeks prior to a physical on the off-chance an immunization is required. The good news: heroin will never be her drug of choice.

At her last physical, the doctor ordered a routine blood panel which required fasting. After three months of her traumatic refusals, I decided it was time to take matters into my own, devious hands.

It was the long-awaited day she was getting her braces removed. A milestone event that would surely outweigh the horror of a needle prick. The ortho appointment was at 9 am. I explained we needed to leave early and take the access road to avoid traffic (truth). That we’d get Starbucks on the way (truth). I didn’t mention we were stopping at the lab beforehand (lie of omission).

It wasn’t until we pulled into the lab parking lot that realization hit. At first she laughed, Eyes by Lynn Kelley Authorthinking I was joking. Then the tears came. Then she screamed how horrible I was. How she would never trust me again and refused to get out of the car. I told her she had to. We had an appointment (lie), that if we didn’t show, we’d be charged (lie), and it would only be a minute (could’ve been a lie, but prayed it wouldn’t be).

Praise God, in twenty minutes, we were in, out and pulling into Starbucks. A few minutes of trauma versus three weeks of worry. I still think I made the right call. Halfway through our lattes, she admitted it was actually a good plan, even said I should do it the next time. Wow! Maybe I wasn’t so bad after all.

IMGA0954Later, as we headed into the orthodontist’s office, she looked over and smiled. “You do realize, thirty years from now, when you think we’re taking you to brunch, you may end up at The Home.”

Wasn’t it Crosby, Stills and Nash that sang, “Teach your children well?”

Special thanks to Lynn Kelley Author for her photo entitled “Eyes.”

Have a Ticky-Tacky Christmas

Tuesday, I went to a friend’s home that was decked out for Christmas. The tree was dressed with gold, red and ivory ornaments – evenly spaced – and finished off with a massive amount of tiny white lights. Beautiful and elegant.

IMGA0936Later that night, I studied our tree. Not quite the same.

Perhaps it’s because the tree is obviously plastic. The branches are shiny, some bent upward at a 90-degree angle to hold heavy ornaments. Maybe it’s because half of our ornaments sit at the very top of the tree, a necessity because our cats believe theDSC00762 Christmas tree is the greatest toy EVER created. Thanks to the latter, a significant number of our figurines could star in Boxing Helena.

But here’s the thing. I love it.

IMGA0935The tree is full of memories from three generations. I have a felt teddy bear my grandmother made, long before fabric glue was invented. And then there are the special pieces from the first Christmas my husband and I spent together. He decorated my Ficus with sparkly ornaments and lights (20 different flashing patterns straight from the Vegas strip.) Two of the ornaments have survived the cats, but this year, the lights finally gave out. I’ve kept them anyway.

We have the kids’ homemade beauties. Every time we hang my daughter’s shimmering gingerbread man, I’m reminded of the festival at which she depleted the church’s supply of glitter glue.

But it’s not just the tree. One of my favorite pieces is the advent calendar myIMGA0917 grandmother made us. Oh, we loved pinning “ornaments” on the felt tree. These trinkets consist of Cracker Jack prizes from my dad’s youth. My favorite is the Glenn Miller album. My kids are already talking about who will get this cherished piece when I’m dead. I guess that’s a sweet thought.

Whether your home is decorated with plastic, mangled pieces or is a designer showcase out of “Southern Living,” I hope it fills you with joy. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with good health, much love and great peace.

Help us out, Hallmark

My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this summer. It was a fabulous day. Yes, a big milestone, but more importantly, we celebrated during a peak.

Anyone who’s been married for more than a year, knows that the path of marriage consists of peaks and valleys. The peaks are what keep us going. They remind us why we married our soul mate.

And then there are the valleys. You’ve heard of “the seven-year-itch?” In my house, it was “the seven-year-hate.”

Hallmark thrives on peak times. The week of my anniversary, overflowing with emotion, I skipped down the aisle, reading every card with tears in my eyes, so moved by the words that reflected my love. I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, so I bought several, including one of those expensive, “extra-postage-required” cards. (Now that’s some love!)

But during the valleys, when it’s time to buy the obligatory card, we’re left hanging. There’s nothing out there that conveys our true feelings. We scan the cards, cringing at the words we can’t stomach to send. And it’s not just anniversaries. Think of Boss’ Day.

So I’ve come up with some ideas that Hallmark should consider.

Anniversary:

As we celebrate the day of our marriage, I want you to know… I hate your ass right now, but I’m sure it will pass. Happy Anniversary!

Daughter’s Birthday:

I can’t believe you’re sixteen. Through the years, my love for you has only grown… But if you don’t stop your smart-mouthing, you’ll be at your grandmother’s before you can say, “Facebook.” Happy Birthday!

Mother’s Day:

Mom, we’ve been through so much over the years, I could never put into words all that I feel for you. But on this Mother’s Day, I’m so happy to share… My therapist says I don’t hate you as much as I used to.

Hallmark, you can’t use these, but I’d be happy to start a new line for you. Maybe something like:

Get Real. When You’re Mad Enough to Tell the Truth.

School Days, School Forms

The beginning of the school year is full of traditions. Buying new pens and folders. Waking up the kids at 5 am instead of noon. Establishing after-school routines that will end all homework stresses. Throwing those out after day one, when you learn your son had a book project he was supposed to complete over the summer but hasn’t started.

But my favorite tradition is the “First Day Packet.” Maybe it’s called something else in your town, but I guarantee, if you’re child attends a public school, you will receive the large envelope of forms that are so vital, they must be completed before your child will be assigned a locker or even allowed in the cafeteria.

There are the basics – immunization records, emergency contacts, the fifty-page district policy book that you’re required to read and sign, acknowledging you’ve done so. Right.

And then there are the guilt forms. The ones that claim you can improve students’ educational experience by heading up cookie sales or chairing the horticulture committee (which means you’ll be pulling weeds in front of the school). Of course, you’ll want to support the science department by buying a science-class-spirit shirt. They’re not required, but strongly encouraged to support the science department – which happens to be chaired by the teacher who will be determining your child’s grade, thus GPA, thus future college.

But the ones that really blow my mind are the ever-growing “liability” forms:

“I acknowledge that if I do not sign and return this form by ___ date, my child’s photo will be published in the yearbook even if her bangs did look ‘OMG, horrible’ that day.”

“I give permission for my child to use the internet while at school and will not hold the district liable if he/she should use the medium to hook up with a sixty-year-old pervert from Ohio.”

“I understand that the use of any sports-enhancing biophysical substance will result in the automatic disqualification from all UIL events.” That’s cool. I support that. But my daughter’s in choir. Is blood doping a big problem in the show choir circuit?

And the forms go on and on. It’s enough to make you consider homeschooling.

Whooooa! Hold-up. Nothing could be that bad.

Oh, Momma . . . It’s The Mammo

Twenty years ago, my preventive healthcare consisted of one annual exam. An awkward moment with the OB/GYN, then a “Thank you. See you next year.”

But times change, as have my body and medical recommendations. My preventive healthcare is now a part-time job. I feel as if I schedule more appointments than Lindsey Lohan’s parole officer. (I know, I know. That was hateful, but I couldn’t resist).

Health checks are the right thing to do for EVERYONE!!! But with cancer on both sides of my family tree and having been a teenager in the ’80s when we weren’t concerned with SPF and thought baby oil was the ultimate suntan lotion, I am particularly adamant about getting my recommended check-ups.

There’s the mole check, colonoscopy, ultrasound (unfortunately, not the belly kind), pap smear, and blood work – with which I somehow end up with the sweet girl who’s completing her internship. And last, but not least, the always-pleasant mammogram.

Last week, I had the grand slam (not at Denny’s, unfortunately). I’m talking pap, ultrasound, blood and mammo. My doctor runs a one-stop shop. It really isn’t that big of a deal, but oh, Momma, it’s a good thing you have a year to forget about the mammogram.

I think it’s my vain concern for my breasts that bothers me the most. With age, gravity, and three years of nursing, the only thing perky on this woman is my personality. Then to have the printing press stretch them out even more . . . well, I fear the girls will be at my waistline after three more of these exams.

But I’m not going to kid you, it’s uncomfortable. This stranger (thank God, a woman) is manipulating my breasts more than my husband has in twenty years of marriage. And she wants me to move the rest of my body in some strange positions. Direct quote: “Stick your bottom out, bring your stomach in.” What is this, a Playboy photo shoot?

And all the while, you try and pretend that this is just a normal day in the jungle, chatting away about nothing in particular. “Last month, we took the kids to … Son of a B—-!” Yeah. There is the pain. But it’s just momentary.

And let’s face it. Nothing hurts as much as the weigh-in.

On a serious note, I can’t stress enough the importance of these exams. This momentary discomfort is well worth it, if you can reduce your chances of having to battle cancer.

I Wish We All Could Be California Girls

My family just got back from our annual trek to Carlsbad, California – a quaint, little, beach community just north of San Diego. Each year, I’m blown away by the power of the ocean, the glorious weather, and the people. The beautiful people.

And I don’t mean beauty from within. Oh, everyone is friendly, and I’m sure they’re lovely souls, but I’m talking the exterior package. As in, “Wow! Barbie really does live.” And the guys . . . let’s just say I’m captivated by the sport of surfing.

But this year, as the week progressed, I realized a strange phenomenon, like in that movie, “The Stepford Wives.” There are no ugly people in this town.

This place is the epitome of Darwin’s Theory. If you’re ugly, you don’t work in Carlsbad. And if you don’t work, you can’t afford to live there, which means the only available mates are the beautiful ones. Hence, the stunning population.

Last week at the beach, I settled in, humbly accepting my status as a foreigner. Even if I hadn’t been the only one wearing a sweatshirt or using the blue and white-striped beach towel issued by the hotel, my thighs – a side effect of the lazy-ass syndrome from which I suffer – would’ve given it away.

I checked my kids, making sure their heads were above water and no fins were circling, then began my people watching, gathering proof for my theory. I didn’t have to look far. Right in front of me were two girls and a guy, probably twenty or so. Locals, for sure. If their bodies hadn’t given it away, the faded sheet they lay upon ended all doubt.

The girls were on their stomachs, tiny bikinis barely covering their firm, cellulite-free bottoms. Just as I was beginning to question my sexual orientation, the guy stood up. Oooh, sweet Daddy. Nope, I’m definitely straight. Broad, defined shoulders, six-pack abs, and . . . hello! You get the idea. I had to bite my lip to keep from gasping. (Wait, that’s the “Fifty Shades” girl.).

I must have made some noise, because they all looked up. Embarrassed, I waved my arms and motioned for the kids to head in. After all, we’d eaten lunch an hour earlier.It was time for ice cream.

So I’ll never live in California. Oh, well. I’ve been told I have a great personality.

Thirty-Seven Shades of Pink

I’m one of the gazillion women who were pulled into E. L. James’ Fifty Shades Trilogy. And I mean pulled, as in I’ve never been more grateful that you can download a book at 2 a.m.

But I’ve also heard that men are reading it to see what the fuss is. Many say they’re more confused than ever about what women really want.

So guys, in the spirit of helping out couples around the world, I’ll let you in on a Dom/Sub fantasy many women secretly dream about:

He undresses her, slowly, adoring every inch of her body, telling her how beautiful, firm and sexy she is. How he loves the red dents where her jeans pinched into her muffin top. How the cellulite on her ass turns him on.

He leads her to the bed, then ties her down. Not too tight, but to show he’s in control. Next he blindfolds her, whispering, “You must trust me.”

She nods, too nervous to speak. From there, he puts on music, something dark but soothing, perhaps Chopin’s Nocturnes. The next thing she knows, she feels a strap of leather gently gliding over her body.

In a dark voice, he says, “You will do what I say, or I will punish you with this.”

Her breath catches.

“You will lie here while I make long, passionate love to you. You’re not to make any effort. Just take the pleasure I give you. Then I’ll untie you, but you will not get off this bed. You must stay and take a nap while I take the kids to the grocery store. If you get up, I’ll know, and I will punish you.”

She nods again, her pulse racing.

“After that, I’ll bring you a glass of wine, but you must stay in this room. I’ll put on the first season of “Downton Abby,” and you have to watch all the episodes. The kids and I will clean the house. If you get up and try to help, I’ll tan your hide.”

His breath caresses her ear, and in a low, sexy voice, he asks, “Do you understand?”

Her voice shakes, “Hell, yes! . . . I mean, yes, Master.”

 

 

 

Are You Kidding Me?

This week, I crossed one more milestone on my path of parenting. The last-minute project. The project that’s worth 60% of the grade. The project that was assigned three weeks prior and is due in two days. The project that hasn’t been touched.

So last weekend was spent riding my son’s . . . tail. It was traumatic for both of us. You know there are seven steps of grief. Well, I found there are also seven steps to this phenomenon.

Shock: “What the hell do you mean, you haven’t started?”

Anger: “I hope you’re happy. If you flunk this class, you’ll have to go to summer school.” Of course, I don’t know if that’s the case, but it catches his attention.

Hope: “You can do this. I’ll help you.” In my son’s case, that involves me typing.

Frustration: It kills the writer in me to simply take dictation. I can’t resist the occasional prompt: “If your hero is an adventurer, how could you reveal his personality? Maybe you could provide some actions that show what he’s feeling.” My son’s response: “Nah.”

Another Round of Anger: “I can’t believe I have to hold your hand through this process. Do you realize how much of my time I’ve wasted helping you? You’re grounded for the whole summer!”

Acceptance: This is not my project. It’s a huge undertaking, so at this point, I’m just hoping he can pull off a “C.” That’s what keeps my mouth shut while I type narrative that switches between past and present tense on every other page.

Joy: My son actually gets excited about the project. I leave for a much-needed Girls Night Out, and upon my return, he proudly shares his project that he’s finished on his own. He’s even included some impressive symbolism. There’s hope he won’t end up living in my basement after all.

In the end, he received an “A” on the project. So much for learning a lesson. Is he that talented? Is our school system that mucked up? At this point, I don’t care. I won’t have to haul his . . . tail to summer school.

I know, I know. I should have let him suffer the consequences of his choices. So consider this blog a gift from me to you. As long as I’m raising kids, you’ll always feel better about your parenting skills.

 

 

Can We Be Honest?

Confessions of a Burned-Out Concert Mom

For any of you with school-aged children, you know that May is the busiest time of year – school parties, field trips and concerts for every program out there. Our kids are in band, theater, choir and dance, and we average about two shows every week. You’d think we’d love it. You’d think.

But here’s the awful truth: I don’t care for the shows…except for my children’s parts. Oh, let me tell you, when they’re on stage, I can’t keep the grin off my face or the tears from forming (the latter being from pride, not lack of talent). And yes, there are some students who are so gifted, they get my undivided attention (unless they’re sharing the stage with my child). But then there’s all the rest. And there’s a LOOOOOOOT of all the rest. These two-and-a-half hour concerts make a Jerry Lewis telethon (showing my age) look like a 30-second commercial.

Who decided that students need to sing EVERY verse in a song? Hasn’t anyone ever heard of, “Leave them wanting more.” And don’t think I’m the only hater. Case in point: Last night, as the singer was going into verse three, I heard the sighs, the shifting, the very quiet moans from the people behind me. I was in the first row, so I pasted on a smile and gave the girl encouraging nods. When the fifth verse started, I turned my gaze to the accompanist and burned her with telepathic messages begging her to stop.

To make matters worse, my kids are first-year students. This means their classes usually play/dance/ sing one or two songs at most, while the rest of the program pays tribute to all the other classes, usually focusing on the graduating students. That’s fine. They deserve it. But can’t you just let my kid go first? Do I have to sit for an hour and a half to wait for one song, and then wait another hour to hear the second one? Couldn’t they come up with some kind of fast-pass?

“Your child is scheduled to perform between 8:02 and 8:12. Please report to the auditorium doors by 7:50.”

Oh well, it is what it is. We have three more events in the next eight days. I’ll have my camera, bottle of water, and a shawl. It gets cold in those auditoriums. And I can hide my iPad while I read my book.

I know. So rude. But you know I’m not alone.