You know you're in the Mother-Hood when...

You Know You're in the MotherHood When...

You've sniffed a spot on your shirt and been able to determine the origin of said spot with CSI efficiency.

You let someone see you basically naked because he said he was an anesthesiologist.

It's a good day if you actually had time to shower, without interruptions or an audience of any kind.

Your meal plan has consisted of eating whatever mac and cheese is left in the pot after you've served it to the kids.

A drawing of you with a head the size of a watermelon is the prettiest picture you've ever seen.

Everyone but you being asleep counts as "alone time."

You feel a sense of accomplishment if you read an entire article in People magazine in one sitting.

You can name 3 out of 5 Backyardigans - you know you can.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Deep Thoughts - Why am I Writing When I Should Be Sleeping?

There's laws against drinking and driving and advice about drinking and dialing, but perhaps we should think about covering the dangers of not sleeping - and blogging instead.
I just finished reading one of my best friend's books. Yeah, I know a person who wrote a book - a real one with a cover and everything. Not just any book, but a memoir. I don't know what's more astounding, the fact that I somehow snagged such a talented friend, but that we're old enough (in fact, I'm six months older) to already have things to memoir about (that so just became a verb.) I realized, as I lay in bed last night after I finally made myself stop reading and get some sleep, that we all have memoir-worthy experiences, we just don't take the time to sit down and take stock. It wasn't until my husband (who is a very sound sleeper) turned and mumbled, "what are you doing babe?" that I realized I was lying there, in the dark, talking to myself. Perhaps my memoir will focus on my inability to realize when the thoughts running through my head are actually coming out as an audible conversation with myself. What I found running like hamsters on a wheel through my mind was how much my small circle of friends and I have been through in our lives already. Sure, you have the typical college war stories (mostly humorous, at least they are now) and the "what was I thinking" exes stories (I will admit, I have more of those than my friends, but it gives them something to laugh about, all these years later; and I'm a giver.) We have the engagement stories, the weddings - and the bridesmaid dresses to go with them. Then there were the babies, some planned, some surprises but they all never cease to provide us with ammo for great moms in the trenches stories. Then came some of the sticky, less funny, full on grown up stuff. Friends who tried to save their crumbling marriages, only to find out their now ex-husband was a total train wreck. Friends who faced major crisis in their relationships, separated then made the painful decision to divorce - only to reconcile and remarried their ex. That same friend called me three weeks into marriage #2 (with husband #1) and tearfully admitted that she may have made a huge mistake. Friends who called me and told me that, somehow all the doctors he'd seen for various respiratory illnesses the past few months had somehow missed the big diagnosis - cancer. Friends who came into my life at the same time I was dealing with my best friend fighting for his life and allowing me to sob uncontrollably, while they refilled my wine glass and reminded me that it's okay to let the dam burst every once in awhile. After going to my third funeral in five years, all for people my age, I had come to the conclusion that the universe was pretty f*%#ed up. In fact, if you had Googled "bitter, angry & utterly confused" - I'm pretty sure a picture of me giving the universe the finger would have popped up (and then probably some inappropriate stuff you never imagined would pop up, per the norm with a good Google search.) After finishing Cathie's book tonight, the thing that keeps resonating with me is change is inevitable. We age, we move, we work as hard as we can at a job and realize quitting isn't failing, it's admitting we deserve better. Would the 37 year old me have walked past the 20 year old me and thought, "wow, she really has her act together." Um, no. But the 20 year old me would probably have puffed on her Marlboro Light and felt bad for that "older lady" who obviously hadn't had time to get her roots touched up lately - and wondered why she's wearing yoga pants with bleach splatter on them. But honestly, both of those chicks are pretty damn cool, yoga pants or not. I have no doubt that, for the rest of my life, my emotional barometer will fluctuate from giggling at something that would have made Erik bust out in his world famous belly laugh to tearing up because I won't hear that laugh anymore. And there's not many days that Leslea's voice doesn't make itself heard, whether it's telling to bust out the heels once in awhile or reminding me it's okay to ask for help. The dam does tend to burst more frequently, usually when I'm questioning why I would make such a fast friend in someone who helped me deal with losing a lifelong friend - only to be blindsided by her own death less than two years later. Then I suck it up and remind myself that I was extraordinarily lucky to have Erik in my life since I was 8 years old; and just as lucky to have Leslea in my life, if only for a brief couple of years. My memoir wouldn't be worth writing without the many chapters of my life that they touched and will continue to touch. With what was lost, what I have in front of me becomes more and more cherished every day. My husband (who I am sure doubts my sanity on a regular basis), my kids (who know their mom is a huge goober) and my friends - some who have been around since the Clearasil days, others who I finally got brave enough to let into my life after fearing I had some kind of hex on me and the bestie from Texie (okay, that sounded way better in my head) who landed right in between. I can't stop the changes and I may not always like them, but I have super cool friends, like Cathie, who remind me that we are all hurdling through life everyday; but, as far as I know, Cathie is the only one who has written an absolutely amazing book about her life so far. If you are my friend, and you are reading this while you take a break from writing your own memoir, my apologies - I owe you a latte, or a shot, whatever you prefer. Depending on which friend it is, I can probably figure it out, that's not going to change.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Picker Too?

You’re not supposed to pick.
You’re not supposed to pick a fight.
You’re not supposed to pick scabs, pimples or your nose – or anyone else’s nose.
You really shouldn’t pick at a loose thread, you could unravel the whole sweater – well, that’s more like pulling, but go with me on this.

Hi. My name’s Tiffany and I am a picker.
Don’t worry, your nose is safe.
I pick unwanted pizza toppings off my slice. I pick at blemishes – yeah, I shouldn’t but since my skin seems to be unaware of the fact that it’s not 15 years old anymore and continues to break out at will; it will deal with the consequences, dammit.
I pick my cuticles, again, could be considered more of a tugging – but let’s not be picky.

I take my annoying habit one step further however. I am an emotional picker.
I pick apart conversations and over analyze everything.
I pick at problems until, many times; my incessant picking actually spawns a whole new batch of problems to pick apart.

It’s like my problem was a Gremlin and I fed it after midnight, under water.

I pick over things that have already transpired and somehow convince myself that, if I would’ve picked a different course of action, everything would be better, or at least different, which may not necessarily mean better – just different.

I pick at relationships that many others would just leave alone. You know, that friend you have that used to be super tight with that has morphed, slowly, into more of a “Christmas Card Friend?”
Yeah, I’m the one who can only go so long before I pick at that dilapidated friendship; I reach out and text or call or email. We have a great conversation (if I get a hold of them) and I hang up with a smile on my face, convinced I’ve rolled the crash cart out just in time to revive our flat lining friendship.
Fast forward to weeks or months later, when I’m picking at that same problem again, vowing not to keep picking a dead horse (normally people say beat a dead horse, but animal cruelty is never an option) - knowing eventually I’ll cave in and pick at it again.

If you need help with a problem and have to pick someone to help you come up with a list of pros and cons with you, I’m your girl.
I’d probably wonder why you picked me to help you. (See over analyzes everything.)

You’re probably wondering why I picked this topic – as it appears I have painted a picture of a rather neurotic, grass is always greener (or at least fairly better manicured) on the other side kind of hot mess sort of gal.

In my own defense, since I’ve been analyzing what I’ve written several times, I do pick apart simple decisions as well. Yesterday, after flip flopping for a bit, I picked a lemon scented Yankee Candle over a beachy scented option.
Tonight I picked a sugar free Paleo muffin over Thin Mints for dessert.
I feel good about one of those decisions. I really love Thin Mints.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Losing Thelma

Six months.

It’s been ½ a year since I lost one of my very best friends.

That word, “lost” doesn’t really describe what happened. I’ve lost friends over the years. We lost touch, we grew up, moved in different circles, gone to different schools and moved to different states. I lost friends who, for whatever reason, made the choice to not nurture our friendship and gradually withdrew.

It was as unexpected and as sudden as a bolt of lightening.
Last July, I went outside one morning and saw my friend getting into a car to go to the doctor. The bad headaches she couldn’t seem to shake had finally taken their toll and she decided it was time to get checked out.

A few hours later, she was admitted to the hospital.

Not long after she was admitted, she was transferred to another hospital which specialized in treatment for stroke patients.

As much as I wanted to break every speed limit law and bulldoze my way into that hospital room, I knew she had been poked and prodded by nurses and doctors and she had a very large and loving family who had been there with her. We texted back and forth and she asked me how late she could call, because once everyone went home, she really wanted to talk to me. My response, of course, was no matter what time she called, I would answer. That night, which was a Monday – the day after she was admitted, she sounded better than she had in weeks. She finally relented and accepted the help medication could bring (she hated taking medicine) and her headache had diminished to a much more bearable level.
We talked and laughed and discussed her diagnosis, which was very serious.
But, as with everything else she did, she had a plan and was ready to start at step one in the direction she needed to. I, of course, told her over and over what she already knew which was no matter what she needed – I was there.

Two days later, on Wednesday, as I was dropping my kids off with my parents,
I got the news that she had suffered a stroke.
The drive from my parents’ home to the hospital was the longest ride of my life.
I went over every possible scenario and came to the conclusion that she would be fine, it would take work and patience and time to recover, but she could do that.
My friend defined the word feisty – this wasn’t going to get the best of her.

I walked into the hospital and was met with looks from her other friends and family filled with mixtures of hope and fear, of worry and of faith.
At this point, all we could do was wait.

That night, before I went home, I went into her ICU room and saw this person who never sat still for a moment resting in her hospital bed. Her head was bandaged and her eyes were closed and I couldn’t help but think how much she would have HATED that hospital gown they had her in, not the cutest, but she could wear anything and look like a million bucks.
I said only a couple of words to her as I took her hand, and she squeezed her response back to me. She knew I was there.

Thursday brought the worst news imaginable; she suffered another stroke, now both sides of her brain had been compromised. It was determined on Friday that the only functions her brain was still capable of were her respiratory and circulatory system.
Told you she was feisty.

Her family made the selfless decision that she had fought this harder than anyone else possibly could and had the doctors take the machine assistance away from her, to let her go peacefully.
I was given the privilege of having a moment with her to say goodbye.
As I walked in that room again, I saw my friend lying there, as she had been before, but this time, she wasn’t there, not in that body. I could sense she was there, with all of us, but she wasn’t trapped in that broken body anymore. Her fighting spirit had battled long and hard and it couldn’t be contained in that beautiful vessel anymore.
It may sound weird and very Oprah-Deepak Chopra-y, but I could just sense a palpable difference in that room.

She hung in there, on her own, until early Saturday morning.

Leslea Robyn Mercer was 35 years old.

She and I had only known each other a relatively short time, but it was one of those relationships that was meant to be – we felt like we had known each other forever.
She had moved in across the street, literally was plopped into my life at a time when I really needed her. Not long after I met Leslea, I found out my lifelong friend, the godparent of my daughter, had cancer. One those days that I went to his house or his hospital room to visit, I used up every ounce of my positive energy filling my time with him with happiness and laughter and silliness.
On those days when I wasn’t with him or I felt like I needed to be worried or sad or mad about his diagnosis, Leslea would just let me vent. She’d let me be pissed off and she wouldn’t try to make it better, she’d just let me be.
When he lost his courageous battle with cancer, Leslea sat on my couch with me and let me cry, something I don’t often do.
She taught me that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it, it’s okay to play hooky every once in awhile and not feel guilty about it and it’s absolutely necessary to buy cute shoes, even if you have nowhere to wear them.

In the days following her death, I questioned why the universe would send me someone so special at such an important time in my life, only to take her away again so quickly.

Then I realized how lucky I was that the universe sent her to me at all.

Leslea was hell on wheels, full of love and the most loyal person I’ve ever met.
She pushed me to be braver, more confident and implored me to not worry so much.
She and I had made lots of plans, things I probably wouldn’t ever have thought about doing without her, but now that I’ve known her, I can’t imagine not trying them.
She was the Thelma to my Louise.
My partner in crime and the biggest cheerleader I’ve ever had.
I can still feel her elbowing me in the side, hearing her say,
“Come on Tiff, what have you got to lose?”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

These Boots Were Made for Mockin’

So, yesterday morning when I was walking my four year old into preschool, I was bombarded with a feeling of total inadequacy and general blah.
I saw, across the parking lot, two other moms escorting their young children into preschool. Both had done their hair (whereas mine was pulled up in that ½ ponytail, ½ bun, just get the f*^% outta my face manner), both had cute clothes on – we’re talking actual coordinated outfits (although, if it pleases the court, I must point out there WAS some gray lettering on my sweatshirt that matched the charcoal yoga pants I was sporting.) I think calling them charcoal takes it up a notch, no?

I didn’t see so I can’t be sure, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they both probably had jewelry on – and not just the necklace they put on a few days ago for their daughter’s choir concert and just hadn’t taken off yet (yeah, me again, but it made my sweatshirt feel fancy)
They most likely picked accessories that matched those cute outfits. I was in such a hurry this morning; I didn’t even put my wedding ring on before I left. Amazingly, I didn’t get hit on at Starbucks – even while appearing to be being single. Maybe it’s because I also appeared to be homeless.

The “piece(s) de resistance” were the boots; one had knee high black boots, the other knee high brown. They were the pictures of the perfectly stylish moms – fall edition. As I was thinking of the new knee high boots hibernating in my closet, Little Miss Brown Boots turned slightly and I noticed that, not only was she cuter than a spotted puppy in a red wagon, but she was also pregnant.
Not just sort of/early on/is that a baby bump or bloating? pregnant – she was belly button popped out the wrong way so far you can see it through her (most likely) designer maternity shirt from across the parking lot pregnant.
Darn her! Here I felt tired and entitled to my schleppy (yeah, it’s a word) appearance, but there’s no way (even with my seriously overdrawn sleep bank account) that I was MORE tired than Little Miss PREGNANT Brown Boots. Those boots were the breaking point. With every click of the heel, I felt more and more like Humpty Frumpty.
Those boots were totally mocking me. My Nikes wanted to kick their ass.

As I got back in the car to head out, I rattled off my list of reasons why it was okay for me to be in my sweats, make up-less (did I not mention that earlier?) and totally schleppy.
I tried to Stuart Smalley myself out of feeling like I the “before” to the “after” pictures.
I work from home, there’s no need to get out those, lay flat to dry or (gasp) dry clean only duds. I was planning on trying to hit the gym later that day, so wearing my work out clothes was really just trying to be prepared. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!

Yeah – those were pretty much it.

Sure, I could have thrown on some jeans, grabbed a cute shirt and pulled on my brown boots. I would’ve looked a lot cuter for those 3-4 minutes I spent in the school.
I may have been able to give those mommies a run for their money.

Then I realized, if I did that all time, how could I possible expect to shock everyone on those rare occasions that I DO put the whole package together?
I'm all about the sneak attack. I just have to get some sleep first.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Baaaaaaaaack

This is me. Blogging.
One year (and a little more, but let’s not get finicky) since my last blog.

Really? Has my life been so vanilla (no disrespect Robert Van Winkle) that there have been no “blog worthy events” in the last 12 months?
Sadly, no – my life has been very bloggable – but my creative juices have been very shriveled and raisin-like.
What little bits of creative juice smoothies I could squeeze out were used for my not-close-to-Pulitzer winning monthly articles in Search Parker and South Aurora Magazine. Hey, I’m published, I’m gonna plug it.

Tonight I was logging some much needed “adult time” – no offense to my beautiful children, but occasionally I enjoy speaking to people taller than 4 feet about subject matter that is anything BUT American Girls, the latest episode of “Good Luck Charlie” and playing the uber-fun game of “where’s my paci?”
Sitting next to a good friend, I was called out.
With no warning, I got a “You need to start blogging again!”
(Yes, she exclaimed this proclamation, it warranted an exclamation point.)
Relentlessly, she continued on, “your blogs are so funny, you should write more.” Without missing an beat, she leaned towards another buddy sitting across from her and asked, “have YOU ever read her blogs? They’re so great!” Again, exclamation point totally needed, she was excited, or liquored up, it’s hard to tell.

Nevertheless, the challenge was thrown – start blogging again.
Oh, and make it funny. No pressure.

So as I ponder where my best source of inspiration may lie – Walmart on Black Friday springs to mind – I promise you (my three and a half readers (I know at least one of you only skims the blog) this – I WILL blog more.
I WILL find more people to single out in odd circumstances and poke fun at them.
(Myself included.)
I WILL be overly sarcastic and borderline inappropriate when needed.
I WILL find uniquely absurd situations to shine a spotlight on and bring to your attention.

Here’s the first – when you’re at a restaurant and someone orders water, with extra lemon wedges, only to squeeze (half a lemon) into their glass then add sugar/Splenda/Truvia whatever to it – is that stealing lemonade or just a perk of creative ordering?

Discuss amongst yourselves, or blog about it – whatever works.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Leering Unicorns

I am surrounded by birthday carnage.
Literally, I am sitting on my couch, soaking up the quiet that comes with everyone else being asleep except me. But if I were to get up and take a step in any direction, I would step on a birthday party land mine.
My son turned 3 today. He also had his third birthday celebration today. I am hoping this trend is discontinued, as he may not survive his 21st birthday if he has 21 birthday parties. The idea of planning and hosting another party is literally making my nails bite themselves right now.
Don't get me wrong, I love parties. I love going to them, I love helping to plan them, I love hosting them. What I don't love is biting off more than I can chew, and while my mouth is full of more than I can chew, I start to choke on the minutes that tick by as my procrastination habits creep up. Oddly, I can start to procrastinate pretty quickly, which is kind of ironic if you think about it.
For party number one, I hosted our family for lunch over the weekend. Not a huge chunk to bite off, as it was our family, so there's no fooling them. I did clean like Martha Stewart on speedballs, because I like to try and shock my mom every once in awhile.
Then came the "take the treats to school" celebration on Monday morning. In the age of everyone's allergic to everything, I took the easy option and bought pre-packaged, ready-made snacks so that if someone walked down the hall and inhaled the aroma of these treats, thus causing an allergic reaction, they'd have to sue the manufacturer and not me.

Now Tuesday was rolling around, which was the actual day marking the anniversary of my son's birth and the day of his party with all his little buddies from school. I thought I had laid the ground work for a fairly simple party for my son. Just a few kids from his preschool class for about two hours in the afternoon. Post lunch time, pre-nap time. No muss to fuss. Then I Googled.
I Googled party ideas, snack ideas, game ideas. I ended up going to three different stores looking for green apple sour straws, which I never found, to cut up and become the antennae for the alien cupcakes I made. I planned two games to play in the back yard - then Mother Nature decided to deal a cold, rainy day card. I moved the games inside, but they lost a lot of luster. I ran out of time to make another game that was a version of "pin the tail on the donkey" and figured no one would be the wiser but I still felt like I jipped the kiddos somehow.
I watched a handful of 3 year olds play gleefully with several toys I had put out. They ate their cupcakes and toted their treat bags and seemed to have a good time. Still I was left with a uneasy feeling of "not good enough."
Completely self imposed, I know, but I couldn't help but think that the house could have been cleaner, the party could have had more organized games and activities, I could have had better/different/more food.
Maybe it's because I'm competitive by nature. Maybe it's my low self esteem monster that was ever so prominent when I was younger coming out to stretch its muscles. Who knows. All I know is I'm pretty sure my son had a great time. The moms of my son's friends seemed to have a good time (and if they didn't, they're too nice to tell me!) and that's all that really matters. I can tell myself that all I want, but every time I look up, my eyes meet with the eyes of a big pink unicorn (stuffed animal from my daughter's room, not a hallucination brought on by late night cupcake frosting) and I swear that unicorn is judging me. It's wondering why I haven't picked up all the toys yet. Wondering why the bright plastic table clothes haven't been rolled up and thrown away yet. Probably wondering what the hell she's doing downstairs on one of the kitchen chairs instead of being upstairs with all her plush peers.
If I wanted to get all Freud about it, I guess I could say the unicorn isn't judging me, I'm judging myself - although Freud would make this whole thing about my mother, and that's another story entirely.
So, okay, I'm judging myself. I think all moms do this. We put all this pressure on ourselves to make our kid's costume for the play as well (if not way better) than the one our neighbor made for her daughter or decorate our house as beautifully as our best friend, or throw the holiday party that people actually want to go to instead of dutifully make an appearance for. Whatever the reason, I have a feeling that unicorn will keep leering at me for a long time to come. If I had a therapist, I would tell her it's deep seeded esteem issues stemming from not being nominated to Homecoming Court in high school. My mom would say that I just don't manage my time well and offer to help me clean my house. My sister would just tell me that I'm a goober, lovingly, and then give me a hug.
My friends, most of whom are moms themselves, tell me I'm way too hard on myself. All of these people generally shower me with compliments, which then feeds my ego just enough to make me want to try and top myself the next time around. It's a vicious circle, but that leering unicorn needs someone to judge and sometimes it takes all the motivation I can muster to get through an average day, not to mention a special occasion. Even if that motivation is my assumption that my kids toys don't approve (made worse the later in the evening it becomes.)
So, with the holidays lurking right around the corner, I better get to it, cause those holiday decorating ideas and perfect pumpkin dessert recipes aren't going to Google themselves.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crazy? Party of One? Your Straight Jacket's Ready

I had it.
One of those moments that sneaks up on you where suddenly you feel like you are really about to lose it. One of those moments that is the culmination of a million little things that when you pile them up, become a mountain of irritability and crazy that makes you fantasize about speeding down a scenic highway, top down (without your hair getting messed up) towards a gorgeous B&B - BY YOURSELF!

"Mother Leaves Children with Husband and Disappears for Days."
Yeah, if I read that headline most any other time, I would think, "What the hell is she thinking? They must be so worried about her. Her kids must miss her terribly!"
After my moment today, I am so Thelma to that mom's Louise.

Sometimes, you just need to take a step back.
Granted, most of us don't have the time, resources or appropriate child care to take off to Cali for the weekend, but you'd be amazed what five minutes locked in the bathroom with a Diet Coke and People magazine can do for you.

Fact is, this "Mom" gig is a full time job, but there's no workman's comp - so my much stepped on toes just have to make due with a pedicure every once in a great while and the always cute, "Sorry Mommy."

Last time I checked, there's no overtime pay - but I firmly believe this is why the DVR was invented. I can watch the program of my choice without commercials and, more importantly, without pleas to watch "Go Diego Go!" incessantly. I can only imagine how much my mother would have appreciated having DVR'd episodes of
St. Elsewhere and Magnum P.I. in her late night survival kit. I think she finally figured out how to use hers now, so I firmly believe the only fair thing to do is send her my kids for a few days so she can really appreciate its genius.

I take solace in the fact that I am not the only mother out there who feels, from time to time, like she has completely lost it. Who's certain that she's made some monumental error in raising her children and is convinced that the gummy bears she let her kids have will trigger a chemical reaction in her kids' brains that will increase their chances of dropping out of college.

Seriously - I better not be the only one out there.

Luckily, these trips to the dark side are just that, momentary jaunts to pretty much the polar opposite of my happy place. I guess, if I want to get all Oprah about it, I could say that the little wonderful moments that happen all the time wouldn't be as wonderful if we hadn't just calculated the cost of full day versus half day pre-school in our head. Twice.

Moments like my daughter hugging me and saying, "Thanks for cleaning up my room for me Mommy, I really appreciate it," or my son holding his arms out as wide as he can and saying, "I love you dis much Mama!" mean that much more to me after moments like I had today. And frankly, that "love you dis much" move saves my son on pretty much a daily basis.

That moment earlier, when I thought about DNA testing to see if my son's father's real name was Damien, seems like days ago. The kids are sleeping soundly. My DVR'd episode of Ellen is on in the very quiet background and I can relax and take a deep breath - without wondering if that weird smell is something the kids did or the dogs did.

So this Mom will live to fight another day. As long as I have Diet Coke in the fridge and my People magazine subscription is paid in full.