Mommy (and the Seahawks) For The Win!

seahawks

FOOTBALL: an American game played between two teams of 11 players each in which the ball is in possession of one side at a time and is advanced by running or passing

Today I will spend time sitting on the couch watching football.  Not because I’m one of the Seahawks’ faithful fans but because everyone else is doing it and jumping on the bandwagon gives me an excuse to eat my weight in appetizers and refill our growler at the local brewery.

But, kettle corn, seven layer dip, and hoppy IPA are not enough to distract me from the fact that watching football involves a lot of cheering over the relatively small accomplishments of grown men.

They run forward three feet.  Hooray!  They knock the other grown-ups down.  Hooray!  They throw and catch a ball.  Standing ovation!

I can’t think of a female equivalent.

I’ve never heard anyone applaud for a lady walking on cobblestones in heels.  Eleven ankle-busting cracks averted! I’ve never seen a standing ovation for a woman who makes it through the grocery store with kids.  Three out of ten items on list procured!

Can you imagine if motherhood was a televised sport?

Mommy is up and out of bed before the sun.  A gain of two yards on the play. 

Floors swept.  Laundry sorted.  A gain of three. 

Quick shower.  Hair brushed.  Make-up on. 

It’s a Mommy first down!  

There’s stirring in the backfield.  Kids are awake.  Mommy makes a healthy-enough breakfast followed by efficient teeth brushing.  Clothes are on with minimal complaining. 

Mommy is within field goal distance. 

Oh, no!  More food is on the floor than in the bellies and an important to do list has been turned into confetti – a loss of ten yards. 

Mommy attempts to regain good field position by raising her voice and using “the look.”  It doesn’t work nearly as well as she had hoped.  Penalty marker on the play. 

Impatience results in turnover to Kids.  This could be a game changer.

Kids come back strong with toy messes and whining.  Mommy effectively uses screen time as a distraction and forces Kids to punt. 

Mommy returns for forty yards.  Lunches packed.  Shoes tied.  Coats zipped.  Keys found.   

Mommy pulls off an on-time school arrival. 

TOUCHDOWN MOMMY!

With espresso shots on the offensive line Mommy continues to play strong through the first half.  Calls are returned.  Emails answered.  Complete sentences spoken. 

Mommy enters half-time commute with a slight lead. 

In the second half, Kids come out rested and strong.   Mommy struggles to fix dinner while fending off complaints and toy disputes.  Mommy’s running game is losing steam. 

Late in the fourth quarter both Mommy and Kids show signs of exhaustion.  Kids are becoming less coordinated.  Minor injuries and penalty markers on the field.   

Reading, pajamas, potty breaks and stalling tactics take the game into overtime. 

The game is called when Mommy and Kids realize nobody knows the score.

Today I will clap and holler for the incremental progress of grown men down a green rectangle.  But, tomorrow I’m going to want some clapping and hollering over my small victories.

And if some scantily clad pool boys want to waive feather dusters around, that’s okay with me too.

Go Seahawks!

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An Email Allergy

ALLERGY: exaggerated or pathological immunological reaction (as by sneezing, difficult breathing, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states

I appear to be allergic to email.  Specifically emails about contagious afflictions.

As far back as co-op preschool, I noticed that emails about lice in my child’s class made me itch.  For days.  Sometimes weeks.

I thought my email allergy was specific to lice emails, but I’ve recently discovered that it is worse than originally suspected.

This week, I discovered I am also allergic to pinworm emails when I had a severe reaction to this message in my inbox:

There is a case of pinworms in our class…Symptoms include itchy bottom and rectal discomfort — oh, and little white worms coming out of your bottom and laying their eggs.  Sorry for the bad news.

Ambiguous Arithmetic

pregnancy test

Anticipation: the act of looking forward

It’s the only time I can remember standing in front of store shelves searching for the highest priced option. Decades of necessary frugality had internalized a unit cost calculation that nearly always resulted in Crispy Rice instead of Rice Krispies for breakfast and inevitably favored mac and cheese in any color box but blue. And yet, there I was, reaching past one small box for a nearly identical small box that cost three times as much.

I didn’t want to scrimp on this purchase. If I was going to pee on a stick I wanted the highest quality stick on the market. In the absence of empirical data to fact check the marketing claims about accuracy and speed I had decided to judge quality by price.

I tossed the most expensive box in my basket alongside the few filler items previously selected to make the purchase of a pregnancy test look like a casual afterthought of a trip to the store primarily motivated by a need for bananas.

Home with my bananas and my pregnancy test, I read the instructions in detail. I’m a college educated woman but not acquainted with the point at which my urine qualifies as midstream. Aiming for good enough while prioritizing dry hands, I did my part then waited an excruciating three minutes while the test did its part.

During the three minute interlude, I worked to ignore a twinge of guilt. In pregnancy test commercials, the wife emerges to a waiting husband and reveals the news. I had left work early for the express purpose of taking the test alone. Partly because holding a plastic stick in the midstream of my urine while Husband stood outside the bathroom door tracking my progress through auditory clues sounded like the least romantic couple activity I could imagine; but mostly because I wanted a few hours to savor the knowledge alone. It was an act of uncensored selfishness in response to a gut feeling, a truth written in estrogen ink by ancestral authors, that this was my last chance to have something all to myself.

I approached the test on the glass ledge above the sink – mentally noting that my next order of business should be to disinfect said ledge – ready to accept my fate in the form of a plus or minus sign. Instead, I saw a blurry horizontal line and what I thought could be a perpendicular line. Or, maybe not. It was nothing like the picture on the box full of high contrast and easily recognizable arithmetic symbols. I’d been duped and paid extra for the privilege. I’d splurged on the blue box mac and cheese only to discover the same freakishly orange powder that was no more closely related to cheese than the powder in the Western Family box.

I hypothesized that the ambiguity of the symbol was the reason the EPT legal department was willing to sign off on the 99% accuracy claim. Reasonable minds could disagree on whether the test result indicated that I was or was not pregnant. I imagined a court trial with my pregnancy test bagged as People’s Exhibit 1 and held up before experts who would offer conflicting testimony until my physical form revealed with clarity what the test did not.

Confident enough in my junior high health course knowledge to know that there was no such thing as being sort of pregnant, as the test results suggested, I turned to the most accurate source of medical knowledge I could find (Google) and read about interpreting the results until I was convinced that any hint of a perpendicular line counted as a plus sign.

I sat on the couch, fingers hovering above my laptop keyboard and let what I’d suspected for weeks soak in. I was pregnant.

My brain began to digest the news. This was something exciting. The most exciting thing that had happened since Husband had asked me to marry him. In fact, it felt similar. An engagement ring marks the beginning of the anticipation period preceding a wedding. A positive pregnancy test marks the beginning of the period preceding a birth. I allowed myself to be carried away with the fun similarities. Babies and weddings are both cause for celebration! Both come with parties! And presents! And registries! And presents!

I kept sitting. My brain kept digesting. I was going to change shape. I was going to squeeze a baby out an alarmingly small opening (or so I assumed at the time). I was going to be a mother.

Holy $#!@!

I had all the parts necessary for birthing a baby, but I was nowhere near qualified to be a mother.

Suddenly, Husband could not get home soon enough. This was too much to bear alone.

I thought about how I should share the news. Should I go big or keep the reveal understated? Going big felt too much like a proposal and this wasn’t a question. Husband didn’t get to choose whether or not to accept the results of my pregnancy test.

I cooked dinner and listened for the sound of Husband’s shoes on the porch all while trying to imagine a world in which a human called me Mom. I had good intentions of playing it cool and calm and not letting on about the anxiety that had been growing all afternoon.

Good intentions failed.  The moment Husband’s butt hit the dining room chair, I unburdened myself by blurting, “I have news…”

Babies in the Basement

MASH

PREDICTION: a statement about what will happen or might happen in the future

I first met my children in the basement of my childhood home.  Or, at least, the concept of my children.  Becky held the pen and was about to determine the trajectory of my life on a sheet of scrap paper.  Because, you know, back then LIFE was easily boiled down to five essential components: type of dwelling; job; type of car; name of partner; and number of children.  With earnestness only seen just before jury verdicts in TV dramas, Becky geared up for the big reveal.

Would I live with my current crush in a mansion with two adorable children and a Lamborghini or was I doomed to a life of disappointment in a shack with Mr. Plan C and oodles of children?  Even then, I knew that two children seemed about right and that oodles of children was not for me.  Oodles in this case meant four because you had to list four numbers to play MASH and it was the 80s in the suburbs – shunning reproduction altogether by suggesting zero as a number simply wasn’t an option.

I knew just enough about cars to list the same four every time.  I imagine modern day girls list minivan as their uncool but palatable option.  They probably also use an app instead of lined paper with the spiral fringe attached. I listed station wagon.  The wood paneling was implied. I lacked the foresight and humility to list “Honda Accord with paint highlights on the bumper from fixed objects in parking garages.”

We didn’t think to question that we would have absolute authority to name the creatures we grew in our uteruses.  [Note to Reader: Proper term is the result of hindsight and personal growth.  Babies still grew in tummies back then.]  We selected names for our future children with no consideration of what our future spouse’s preferences would be.  Plus, Jake (please let it be Jake) seemed like the kind of guy who would be proud to father a child named after one of the New Kids on the Block or a character on Saved By The Bell.

Those who have knowledge don’t predict. 

Those who predict don’t have knowledge. 

Lao Tzu

96% of the Time

GUEST: a person who is invited to a place

I’m excited to have my friend Dana visiting today as a guest blogger to share about her approach to kid creativity (and the messes that come with it).  I’ve known Dana for more than two decades, but don’t see her in the flesh nearly enough.  Although, now that I know I can send my kids to her house to paint, the three hour drive to her town doesn’t seem so far. 

***

A mom friend came over for a play date and was in awe of my willingness to let The Smalls paint in the house.   It’s true.  96% of the time I say yes to creativity, even when the outcome will be a horrible mess.

When The Smalls are creative, I see amazing things. Sometimes I’m not sure about the specifics of the amazing things I’m seeing and need to tactfully request that The Smalls tell me about a particular creation. I’ve learned that just because a creature has nine legs, lion is not necessarily an inappropriate guess.  I’ve come to understand that “Drawing legs is more interesting than just drawing a tummy.”

Saying yes to messy creativity doesn’t make me immune to being annoyed when The Smalls leave creative carnage in the wake of a masterpiece.

Saying yes doesn’t mean we avoid mishaps. Like the impressive pumpkin tattoo drawn upside-down by my two year old that lasted for nearly three weeks (Crayola’s definition of washable, not mine).

Dana 1

Saying yes just means that after The Smalls create a Jackson Pollock all over my great room I clean up with a smile on the outside (occasionally letting a caps lock string of profanities loose on the inside) knowing that the rainbow of handprints made because they wanted to see a rainbow and it wasn’t “raining and sunning” today is a fair trade for some quality time with baby wipes and a mop.

Dana 2

I say yes because the joy of creative expression outweighs the hassle of cleaning the defiled hallway and bathroom that inevitably follows “Bloody Extra #2” washing up all by herself…

…96% of the time.

Alphabetical Anatomy

alphabet body parts

PHONICS: a method of teaching people to read and pronounce words by learning the sounds of letters, letter groups, and syllables

Dear Kindergarten Teacher,

Daughter is enjoying the Letter of the Day series you are doing in class. She was excited to bring her Daddy Dragon for D day last week.

But then, you unwittingly started something on E day. In an effort to be inclusive you announced that everyone in the class brought something that started with the letter E – their elbows!  Now, Daughter is thinking of anatomical parts for each letter.  She is thrilled to be bringing her nose and her nipples to share this Tuesday.

Please accept this as our blanket apology for anything that comes out of Daughter’s mouth during the remainder of the Letter of the Week series.

Your phonics curriculum is causing us to reconsider our “call it by its proper name” parenting philosophy.  We would appreciate advance warning of V day; we may elect to have a strategic absence.

Again, our apologies.

Breasts: A Brief History

Illustration by Marie-Eve Tremblay

Illustration by Marie-Eve Tremblay

BREASTS: either one of the two soft parts on a woman’s chest that produce milk when she has a baby

Yesterday, the mailman delivered my contributor copy of Working Mother magazine’s October/November issue. I’m excited to have a humor piece in there.  The illustration by Marie-Eve Tremblay tells a story on its own, but if you want to see the words, check out Breasts: A Brief History.