Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I am laying in bed last night with my arm hanging completely over the side, my poor fingers getting more and more numb by the second, thinking: Why? What did I possibly do to deserve this? I am so tired, I can't possibly stay awake another second. And yet, I can't possibly sleep with my arm like this. And why, you ask? Why can't I put my hand in a more comfortable position? Well, that would be due to a 4-year old gremlin who says he can't possibly go to sleep unless he is holding my hand.

[I know what you are thinking. Why on earth is my 4-year old gremlin even in the same room as me? Let alone laying on the floor next to my bed holding on to my hand? There is a simple explanation for that, and it is this: After almost 2 decades of fighting with my children to go to bed, I have come to the conclusion that I don't care how or when or why they sleep. I just want them to go to sleep. So I can. Not the best policy, I know. But I'm tired. I'm old and I'm tired. And I just want to go to bed.]

But I digress. And laying as far as I can on the side of  the bed so that I can hang my arm off, so my gremlin can hold my hand while he falls asleep, apparently puts me in a contemplative type mood. And I think back to almost 15 years ago when my oldest was this age. Until she was 5, I was a single mom. It was just her and I against the world. Out of necessity (we shared a room) and mutual love of snuggles (maybe me more than her) we slept in one big queen bed together. When we moved into a bigger place where she could have a room of her very own, she wanted nothing to do with it. It was a very long process to get her to her own bed in her own room. One of the steps in that process was to put her in her own bed next to mine, where, did you guess? She wanted me to reach across and hold her hand.

Another time when my children refused to be soothed unless I held their hand happened on two different occasions with two different children. Only this time I was driving. Do you have any idea how hard it is to hold your hand out to a child in the back seat of a car when you are driving? The entire time, I was just imagining the horrific ways my arm would be broken if I were to (due to my left-hand-only steering technique) get into a car accident. I would need pins and surgeries and months of rehab just to be able to use my arm again, I just knew it. But every time I tried to slip my hand out of those tiny little fingers and back to its rightful place on the steering wheel, she (it was one of my daughters both times) would undoubtedly jolt awake and cry for my hand once more. It was a long, excruciating car ride, let me tell you.

I can almost measure time by the hand-holding events in my children's lives:

  • They wrap their chubby hand around my one finger as they begin to learn to balance and walk, able, but terrified to do it alone...yet.
  • Holding on with a death grip as we cross the street together. Me, the one with the death grip this time, them, in a state of zen-like oblivion. 
  • A different kind of death grip as I drag my child by the hand screaming and fighting out of a store, restaurant, church, insert-any-public-place-here. Both of our faces red, but for entirely different reasons.
  • The first day of school. They are holding on to my one hand with both of theirs. Fearing for dear life for what kindergarten might have in store.
  • Disneyland. This time they are pulling, yanking me in directions I can't possibly go in all at once. They would let go in a second if they possibly could, but I hold on tight, not wanting to lose them in the sea of similar parent/child conjoined hybrids.
  •  Nervous, getting ready for opening night of her first ballet, my 9-year-old grabs my hand as we walk into the backstage area.(She had just finished screaming at me for not doing her hair quite right and "purposely stabbing the bobby-pins" into her head. But all is apparently forgiven now.)
  • My wonderful, independent 12-year-old surprises me by running up from behind and grabbing my hand as we walk towards the middle school for Back-to-School night. She drops it (of course) as we enter the front doors. It was so brief I almost could have imagined it. But I didn't.
  •  Heading into the auditorium for graduation. My beautiful 18-year-old and I hold hands in a gesture of relief, triumph, pride, closeness, happiness, sadness, and love.
These, of course, are just a few of the moments in the almost infinite experiences of hand-holding I have had as a mother. But trust me when I say, they get markedly fewer and much farther between. So cherish those finger-numbing, sweaty-palmed, death-gripping moments. Before you know it, the hand they want to hold is no longer yours.

At least that's what I tell my self when my arm is hanging off the side of the bed, completely devoid of feeling at 1:00 in the morning.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear Blogspot, Why Don't You Prove I AM a Robot??

I don't like having to prove things. People should just take it for granted that I am as funny, fabulous, and neurotic as I say I am. Maybe I've been a mom for too long. Maybe I was already all practiced up from being an awesome{bossy}, fun-loving{controlling}oldest sister. But I really like the phrase: Because I said so. Just 4 short words. Ah, but they convey so much. They say: Leave me alone. I'm exhausted. They say: I promise I know better than you. I promise. They say: I don't want to deal with you right now. They say: Seriously?? I have already given you a million reasons, and you don't want to hear any of them so this is what you get. They say: Just trust that I am an expert on everything. You're welcome.

Just a few short words, but oh so chockfull of wonderful meaning.

I certainly do not relish having to prove things that I, myself, already know are so. If I don't know something, I will usually say I don't know it. If I do know something. Just trust me. I do.

Yes, I am intelligent and hardworking enough to possess a college degree. I promise. What? I have to prove it. FINE! I'll go back to school and finish.

Yes, 12 year old. I am {mostly} smart enough to help you with your math homework.

Yes. I will prove it by letting you yell at me while I help you with your math homework.

Yes, Obama. I really cannot afford a ridiculous health insurance policy with a $10,000,000 deductible. You don't believe me? OK. Try to fine me for not having health insurance. No really. Try.

Yes, helpful Home Depot or WalMart salesperson. I really can find what I am looking for without your inept help. Truly. I am fairly certain I spend more time here than you do.

Yes, mechanic. My car really is making a strange noise. No, I did not imagine it. Yes, I know the difference between an engine noise and the radio. Even though I am a girl. No, I did not take time off work to bring it to you just for fun. Just drive it. I promise.

Yes, random stranger who is calling me in the middle of homework, and screaming, and homework, and dinner, and chaos, and life. I really don't have time for your survey. No matter how brief. Seriously.

That's all I can think of right now. But I swear I spend half of my life proving things that I already know to be the truth. So if I want to catch up on my blog reading (instead of spending one more freaking minute doing homework.) And if I want to post a comment on a particularly funny or touching or true blog post by my friend, or my sister, or a stranger, I don't want to have to prove I am not a robot to post that comment. I don't care if you do ask nicely. Trust me. I'm not.

So why don't you prove that I am.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What's In My Bag

Many of you have probably seen, while flipping through the pages of your favorite glossy magazine, a darling little blurb called What's In Your Bag? or something very similar to that. It's where they ask a celebrity to empty out the contents of their purse and take a cute picture of the contents and have the star explain all the little things they just couldn't possibly live without. It usually goes a little something like this, "My skin would simply die in this dry winter air (of Hollywood, California) if I didn't have my mum + bub ultra-gentle lotion with me. It's infused with fresh pawpaw fruit, (which no one has ever heard of outside the lyrics of a Jungle Book song) so you KNOW that it is ultra-expensive and works ultra-good!" Or, "The reason why I keep my youthful glow has nothing to do with expensive make-up, plastic surgery, or Photoshop and everything  to do with spritzing myself with exactly .4 fluid ounces of No. 7 Hydrating Mineral Spray every 13.7 minutes. It's a must have!"

I am not sure what the purpose is exactly. Perhaps to make the famous person seem more real or down-to-earth to us? (Because let's face it, who doesn't carry around $80 lipgloss in 3 different shades?) Or maybe to humanize them a little? (See, even celebrities carry around 100% pure fruit snacks and banana chips to give to their nanny to give to their kids.) Or maybe it's even to make us think that WE can be just like insert-name-of-beautiful-superstar-here by purchasing a certain mineral powder or nail polish. (I don't care if you are their spokesperson, Kate Hudson, I still don't believe you use Almay foundation.) Whatever the reason, it must be a popular feature because almost any assorted women's magazine has something similar to it in it's pages.

Well, I'm no celebrity. But I do have a purse. And it is full of crap. Could I live without most of it? More than likely. Does that motivate me to clean it out? Ever? Um, no. As a matter of fact, in my closet are probably 10-13 previously used purses that still have crap in them. Mostly because there was no need to switch it over when I changed purses, and I'm apparently too lazy to do anything else with it. And if you were dying to know what I carry around in my purse, well, today is your lucky day.

#1. Toys
At any given time in my over 18 years of motherhood, my purse has been filled with various selections of toys. I don't put them in there on purpose. I'm not that nice. How they end up there, I'm still really not sure. I don't know if I absentmindedly throw them in there so as not to leave them at various doctor or dentist appointments. Or to avoid sitting on them in the car. I don't know if my kids put them in there on the off-chance that they will ever want to actually play with them. I don't know if perhaps in a last ditch effort to single themselves out from all the other quazillion toys at the house, the toys actually put themselves in my purse. I'm not sure. I just know that for almost 2 decades if you looked in my purse you were pretty much guaranteed to find at least one, but most likely, several toys there. I have migrated over the years from Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, and Barbie shoes to cars, Legos, and action figures, but the theme is still the same: My purse is not my own.

#2. Paperwork
My purse is kind of my all-in-one diaper bag, medicine chest, file cabinet, and cosmetics case. I always seem to end up with a giant stack of who-knows-what paperwork. It changes all the time. And apparently I am never near a trash can because very little of it is anything I need. That's not to say that I don't need any of it. Because the things that are stuck in there between the junk mail, school book orders, and recipe cards are sometimes very important documents. Like medical records. And birth certificates. My purse also serves as a timeline of some sort. For instance, I can tell you that I have not changed my purse in at least 5 months. Because right on top of the pile is Fantasia's graduation program. From May. It is now October. Don't judge.

#3 Earrings and Necklaces
Most days I wear earrings. Some days I wear a necklace. For some reason, on almost all of those days I can go for most of the day without even noticing that I am wearing any jewelry at all. And then, suddenly, I get to a point in the day (typically around 4 or 5 o'clock) when I cannot stand to wear them any longer. Like I feel like I'm going to die if I have them on for even one second more. I don't get it. But, whatever the reason, 9 times out of 10 my jewelry ends up in the pocket of my purse by the end of the day. Then I can't find it when I want to wear it next. So I yell at my kids for losing it. Then I find it in my purse. But I keep yelling at my kids for it anyway. Because it's fun. And probably they deserve it for something.

#4 Receipts
A million of them. From nowhere important. Most of them so faded that you can't even read them anymore. I don't know why I save them. My kids never even bother to try anything on until after they have ripped off, shredded, colored on, chewed on or otherwise ruined the tags. So there is very little chance that I ever would be able to return or exchange anything. I'm also pretty sure that as of yet, groceries and movie tickets are still not deductible on tax returns, so that's not the reason. I think that maybe the next time a cashier asks, "Do you want that receipt in the bag or with you?" I just need to say, "In the trash, please. In the trash."

#5 Gum and Candy Wrappers
You notice the total and complete absence of actual gum or candy? Yes, often I buy myself gum to have in my purse and every now and then I throw in a mini Kit Kat or a handful of Starbursts to snack on later. Much less often, are the opportunities I have to chew said gum or eat said candy. Why, you ask? My children are bloodhounds. Greedy, devouring bloodhounds who take no thought for anyone but themselves. They never think to answer the question: Why did mom buy this pack of gum? Mostly because they never think to ask the question in the first place. Obviously I bought it so they could pillage it all and leave nothing for me. Duh! I take that back, they leave me the wrappers. Always the wrappers. As a sad reminder of what might have been.

In addition to these fun items, there is also usually some used Kleenex (Not pictured for obvious reasons. You're welcome.) A handful of pencils with no lead and pens with no ink (Because having lead or ink would render them useful, and then my kids would have them instead. To draw on the furniture with.) And a variety of over-the-counter drugs to get me through the day including, but not limited to, ibuprofen, Excedrin migraine, allergy medicine, heartburn medicine, etc. And an old 2-week dinner menu and accompanying grocery store list. (Because, you never know. I might very well make dinner again someday. It may just come in handy.) Also about 15 hair elastics. (Although, when I actually need it I can never seem to find even one.)

So there you have it. The purse of a non-celebrity. Not a thing worth more than $3. It doesn't get any more human or down-to-earth than that. And, please, don't even ask me what's in my car.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Back to School

So it turns out that I am back in school. At forty. Which, if it isn't already your worst nightmare, it should be. You'll just have to trust me on that. It used to be that I thought I was somewhat intelligent. And capable. And then I went back to college. Now the only thing I think I am is old. And...well, old. It is no one's fault but my own that I find myself in this predicament. You can even ask one of my professors who said in the syllabus that college is for people without the obligations of work and family. (I personally am of the belief that on-line classes should be taught by professors who aren't jackasses, but what do I know? I don't even have a degree.) Knowing that it is my own fault doesn't really make it any easier, though. In fact, it very well might make it harder. There is nothing like higher education seasoned with the acerbic salt of regret to make a truly pungent dish. We'll call it Rueful Noodle Casserole.

At any rate, I said you would have to trust me that going back to school at a certain age is rather difficult, but really, I will tell you exactly why. So here it is:

The Top 5 Reasons Why Going Back to School When You're Old is Poopy

1. 2Long Ago 2Be Rembered
Do you know what's harder than taking a college math class right after high school? That's right. Taking a college math class more than 20 years later. Like when your teacher says things like, "You all remember the slope-intercept equation, y=mx+b." And you are like, uh...the what-whatercept equation? No. I can't say that I do, Professor Smartypants. Or when you know for sure that you already learned all of the parts of the brain and their functions, but now think a hippocampus seems like a place for scholarly African herbivores. And the basal ganglia sounds more like it might be a tiny crew of fragrant herbs than a neuron cluster. Let's just say that there is nothing like time to completely dull the senses and rob from your memory all things academic that you studied once before. Now, the lyrics to Boys Don't Cry by the Cure? Yes, those I somehow remember. But the year Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel. Um, no. It is almost like starting from scratch. Except for that nagging feeling that you used to actually have more knowledge than you currently possess. It's a sad feeling indeed.

2. Homework² + Dinner + Job = Exhausting
You know what happens when you get old? You get really tired. Helping my kids with their homework was never my favorite task. But helping my kids with their homework when I have a ridiculous amount of homework myself? Well, that's just madness. I keep thinking, I'll just do my homework after they go to bed. Except guess what? They can outlast me. And then some. They don't go to bed. They are like tiny little machines that take in tiny amounts of food and can run forever! I, on the other hand, take in large amounts of grains, protein, candy, caffeine, and anything else I can get my hands on, all to no avail. By 7 pm, I could pretty much crawl into bed. And stay there. Forever. Add that to the fact that they keep asking me what's for dinner. Every. Night. I'm like, LOOK! I just made dinner last week. What do you guys want from me!? Dinner apparently. Dinner and attention and help with their homework. Demanding little beggars.

3. Everyone in school is younger than me
By everyone, I actually mean everyone. My classmates. My TA's. My professors. More than likely, even the university president is younger than I am. It wouldn't surprise me. I remember feeling old when I was 21 and attended some classes at a local community college with my sister. Then about 10 years ago I attended some night classes at a University of Phoenix distance campus. There were lots of people younger than I was, but not everyone. I felt old then. I thought when I started on-line classes at USU that there would be at least a few people my age. Nope. Not even my professors. Ok, maybe one. But the rest of them are younger than I am. A lot younger than I am. With 4 degrees each. Show-offs. My Psych 1010 TA conducts weekly webcam lecture sessions that we can attend. I tried once. I can't do it. He's like 12. I cannot manage to take him seriously. He does them from home, and I just want to call his mom and tell her to make him to clean off his dresser. It's ridiculous how old I am. 

4. Student Loan Debt
Debt is never fun. Student loan debt, as far as debt goes, is not terrible. They work with you. They give you 10 years to pay it back. The interest is comparitively low. However, I am currently at the age where most of my peers are finishing paying OFF their student loan debt. And that's for their graduate degrees. If they've deferred. And here I am, borrowing more money. Lots more money. I will probably be paying back student loans AFTER I am finished paying off my house. What the heck? Maybe I can do automatic withdrawals from my retirement checks.

5. Citations
I saved the best for last. If you have yet to hear of MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style, thank your lucky stars. No really. Thank them. For some reason, I went through all of high school, and even some of college completely ignorant of these evil acronyms (and their Peter Cetera related counterpart.) I don't know how I got so lucky. It was at UOP that I was first introduced to the nightmare that is APA formatting. It seems innocuous enough, right? Just 3 little letters, how harmful could it be? You know what else is a 3 letter word? Bad. And Gag. And Ick. I won't even get into 4 letter words. That's a topic best left untouched. If you don't know about these obnoxious styles of formatting, I will just tell you this. They are from the devil. They were invented simply for the purpose of seeing just how badly you REALLY want to graduate. What's that? You don't mind writing a paper? Ok. Well now do a running header. And set 1" margins around the entire document. And number your pages. And include an abstract. And put your punctuation OUTSIDE your in-text parentheses. And compile a works cited page. With the second line of every work indented. And don't just tell me the day the on-line document was written, tell me what day you accessed it. And, oh? You've got all that down. Well, dang it, we came out with a new edition. That's not how you do it anymore. I will just say with complete candor, that it takes me longer to cite a paper than it does to research and write it. No kidding.

Well there you have it my friends. The reasons why going to college when you are old enough to have a daughter in college is, at the very least, daunting. And embarassing. And scary. And often times depressing. But since when does that stop me? Since never. What's that? I'm supposed to be working on an English assignment right now instead of blogging. Fine. You caught me. I'll talk to you in a few years. ...Or maybe the next time I don't want to do homework.