Enough

When is enough, enough?  Is there ever a time, as a wife and a mother, that I can throw my hands up in the air and (not wave them like I just don’t care…) say – to hell with this, I’ve had enough!  Theoretically, I did just that the other day.  I went on “strike” *insert hysterical laughter here*.  What was I thinking?  That all of a sudden the kids and husband would hear the archangels singing and try to fix everything that I’ve been bitching about?  Pfft.  Yeah, right.

I have teens.  I don’t have really young kids.  In less than 6 months I will have an 18-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old.  Oh, and a 38-year-old…*ahem*.  Yet, at some point these four individuals must have fallen and smacked their precious heads on some sort of hard surface and have completely and utterly forgotten how to use their senses.  Particularly the sense that tells them there are chores to be done – your bathroom looks like it’s growing something in the sink, the dogs have no water, you might have worn that a time or two since the last wash cycle, there’s a smell coming from your bathroom that is going to disturb the neighbors, and OMG you must be sleeping with a zombie because that’s what your room smells like!

So, I lost my shit.  Again.  I explained how absolutely tired I was of being the maid.  Because that’s how I feel…blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda (like Charlie Brown’s teacher only more life-like).  Most days it’s not worth the fight and I just handle it all myself – working, cooking, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and mopping, doing the leftover dishes that must have been wearing an invisibility cloak the night before, cleaning the house, and doing every stitch of laundry Mr. EMT and I own because otherwise he will attempt to ‘do’ laundry and we’ll forever be throwing shit in the dryer on wrinkle-free.

The strike lasted a day and a half.  The day I lost my shit, Mr. EMT was home from work and school, a rarity these days.  Thus, I sent him a message and explained what I saw that morning and that I was on strike until I saw the rest of the family learn to pick up after themselves and do their chores.  He had them clean, and clean well – for exactly one day.  It lasted for one day.  Because the dishes wore an invisibility cloak yet again last night, I refused to cook.  Make yourself something to eat, I said.  Heat up leftovers, I said.  AND DO THE MOTHERFUCKING DISHES, I said.  Well, not so drastically, but that’s how I wanted to say it.

I woke up in a little better mood today and I decided I would rather be pissed off and bitchy than to live in a crappily maintained home.  I was going to buck up and do all the stuff I didn’t do since Tuesday when I got home today.  However, insert a call from The Little’s school and I’m right back to wanting to scream ‘Enough is Enough’!  He got into trouble….again….albeit the first time in 3 weeks.  He’s a work in progress, but that’s for another post in the future about dealing with middle school kids with two parents who don’t often agree on parenting style.

With all that being said, I realize I cannot actually give up.  I have to remain married to Mr. EMT even though I wanted to punch him in the throat this week; I have to remain a mother to three unappreciative adolescents and try to remember that one day they will thank me for this shit; and I have to remember to buy another bottle of wine before I get home….because enough may very well be enough, but that does not count for wine.

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Oh Alice, how I love thee

March 12

Bedtime stories

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent? Did it influence the person you are now?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has long been one of my most favorite and influential books to date.  Though in truth there are so many that helped shape who I have become.  Each time I read Alice I take something new from the book.  It’s the only book that I can say has grown with me when reading it during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  In my opinion, it makes this particular story timeless.

The loss of childhood innocence, learning quickly that the world will think you too small or too tall, never really being the right fit for what is needed.  As an adolescent, this struck me to my core.  In fact, I held on to it for far too long.  During puberty and into early adulthood I had the horrible feeling of not being enough.  It took me a long time to grow out of that – to figure out that I’m good with me and I don’t need approval to be me.  Through this story, I, like Alice, learned that I am the right size, after all.  I learned not to let the opinions of others dictate who I was to become.

The Cheshire Cat, with his broad grin and fearless behavior, can be thought of in so many translations. As a child, I thought him to be the secret, imaginary friend that tried to get you in trouble by leading you down a path you didn’t know and then disappearing.  As an adolescent, I thought him to be cunning and too knowledgeable.  The best line, for me, was when she asked which way to go and after she answered she didn’t know where when he asked, he simply said it doesn’t matter she will end up somewhere.  How true is that?  We never really know which path to take, but no matter which one it is, it leads us somewhere.  There is hardly a right or wrong.

The Caterpillar is another example of changing each time I read this story.  A simple three-word question and with it says everything.  “Who are you?” She has such a difficult time answering him, you can only assume she doesn’t know who she is anymore.  She’s changed.  Don’t we all?  She insults the cantankerous caterpillar by explaining it is dreadful being only 3 inches tall after all the caterpillar is only 3 inches tall.  Alice who struggles with her own image judges harshly the caterpillar’s size though it’s the same as hers at the time.  We often run into cantankerous, confusing people, but it doesn’t do well to insult them.

This story mostly taught me about adversities in life.  How the world constantly changes and confuses.  It taught me to expect the unexpected and learn that sometimes there is no logical answer to it and that’s ok, we’ll get through that maze one way or the other.  In this way, the story taught me to be more open-minded, not to follow simply to follow and to go with my gut in all journeys through life.  Life is a mess of puzzles, problems, oddities, and no two people are the same or think the same; we have to learn to accept it and move on.

 

Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality
Les Brown

 

By the wayside

There are so many positive attributes that have come from technological advances over time.  Computers have paved the way for personal growth instead of just being a big box in an office from which to run reports.  Social media has proven to be a means for people to unite from all over the world who would not normally do so.  It’s been a bridge that has connected people who would have lost contact for years, maybe even lifetimes.  Smartphones have made it easier to keep in contact, keep busy, organize life, and become more productive when used properly.  All these lovely creations have brought so much more depth to people’s lives by bringing others easily within reach – technically.

However, like all positives, there’s a negative somewhere.  It’s like my mom used to say, there is no hate without love and vice versa.  It’s the classic yin-yang of technology.  Because we’ve become so reliable on technology a lot of other areas of our lives have either changed or diminished altogether.

Tradition, as we knew it just twenty years ago, has all but gone by the wayside.  Ask the younger generations how many Christmas cards they receive, and of those how many are from their generation.  How many birthday invitations come in the mail for children?  Who, other than the ones older than generation X, sends birthday cards?  These simple traditions have been replaced by evites, texts, Facebook messages, posts, and emails.  The only letters I have hand-written and mailed in the last few years have been to my grandmother who is in a convent.  When is the last time you printed a picture to put in a photo album?  Personally, it’s been a couple years for me as I am just as guilty.

Never mind these simple traditions, what about the big ones?  We’ve become a society so busy with our technologically organized lives that we forget to plan for the big events or we’re too busy to do so.  Family reunions happen less and less.  One part of my extended family hasn’t been together for a holiday in years, and I mean years.  My children don’t even know who some of these people are and I grew up with them at every birthday, every holiday, and every family event.  Today, I see their posts via Facebook and pictures via Instagram.

Technology has begun to rob us of what we once held dear.  We may not be so wise of it right now, but it’s there creeping in slowly like the mist of morning fog.  Don’t let your traditions fall by the wayside, grab them and hold them and then pass them to the next generation like that old creepy doll collection from your great-great somebody or other.  You never know, one day they may be worth something.

This week, we borrow from Nonamedufus and his self-titled blog, “Taught By My Example.”

“I love to spoil them.” and/or “tradition”

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Location, Location, Location

I’ve heard it’s all about ‘Location’.  What ‘it’ is and where that ‘location’ is, well that’s a secret unknown to me.  I’ve never claimed to have all the answers, or even how to find them.  I have, however, discovered recently that taking a bubble bath is quite a thought provoking adventure that leads to questions and sometimes answers.  It’s like all those popping bubbles whisper things, or maybe it’s just the wine.  I digress.

We recently moved…again…for the 3rd time in 17 or so years.  See, we were the stable parents living in the same place for years and then WHAM we’re pretending we’re gypsies with no firm roots to any one place.  That’s not true.  We really aren’t pretending.  I never claimed to be a great parent, either.  What’s with all this rambling today???  As I was trying to say…we moved.  It’s been an adjustment for us all, but much more positive than I thought it was going to be.

Maybe that, too, is a lie.  Maybe it’s not so positive that I’m deliriously giddy about the fact my kids are all scraped up.  Again, no claims on great parenting.  But they are in this condition because for the first time in their lives they are outside on bikes riding around with other kids more than they are inside watching TV or playing electronics.  It’s like they’re real kids.  Real kids who ride bikes.  Real kids who come in sweaty and gross from a day of play.  Real kids who laugh and fall down a lot.  Real kids who learned to ride a bike when they were little and haven’t been back on them at length again until now so they keep flailing around like little drunk bicyclers.  It’s pretty fucking awesome.

The lesson today kids is that Location really is everything.  The only trick is you just gotta find yours.  Hey! Didn’t I say I don’t have all the answers?

Book intimacy

Book Intimacy is a phrase I used the other day to The Eldest.  He’s approaching 16 years of age and as we all know, he knows everything.  As it is, he is actually very intelligent and the volume of useless, but fascinating, information he holds astonishes me.  Clearly he gets this from my side.  *Ahem*

Moving on. The Eldest is what one would consider tech-savvy.  Though I suppose most at his age are.  He’s just recently turned over his laptop, but he’s had one for years.  He has the newest Galaxy whatever phone.  He has an Xbox that the poor kid endured hours and hours of manual labor to earn enough money to buy.  He has memory cards and flash drives and who-ha’s out the wazzoo.  Clearly, he’s technical.  I should beam with satisfaction as my job is I.T. Coordinator, but truly all of this saddens me.

Why, you ask?  Because.  It sucks.  I know I exude my wide vocabulary and writing/speaking skills here, but in reality I’m well versed and learned from an early age the importance of little things such as grammar, spelling, eye-contact when speaking, general politeness, etc.  I fear this new technology ridden world and what it’s doing to children.

Hence the phrase I used with The Eldest the other day in a lengthy conversation.  He has been begging for a tablet or iPod touch for ages.  He has yet to receive either and will likely not receive them any time soon.  A snippet of the conversation went a little like this:

The Eldest: Mom, don’t you understand the copious amount of learning that I could do with a tablet?  Don’t you want that for me.  I only have two more years left in school.

Me: Copious?  You’re pulling out the big guns now.  And by the way, I hate to tell you that you have 3 years of high school and another 4 of college.  7.  You have 7 years of school.  You’re a sophomore this fall, it’s summer so that year still counts.

The Eldest: You knew what I meant, Mom.  *sigh* Ok, let’s work with this.  7 years, I can learn a lot in 7 years.  I can learn more from a tablet whose unyielding knowledge avenues are at my very fingertips.

Me: We have a library of information in our own home, 2 sets of encyclopedias, a home computer on which you can google to your hearts content.  Tell me where you would go to learn on a tablet that you could not do so at home or school.  Which is where you will primarily be for the next 7 years.

The Eldest: I could use it to read more.  I could download the Nook app and read more.  You always make us to read and this would make it so much easier.  I could read on trips in the backseat.  I could read anywhere I want.

Me: As a close to this conversation, I will say this.  You’ve made an excellent point, however it wasn’t strong enough to persuade me.  You have a phone which has internet allowing you to google as you need to.  You’re completely capable of carrying books with you which makes them as mobile as a tablet.  You need to learn book intimacy and then we’ll talk.

After a large set of sighs and a face palm he understood he wasn’t getting the blessed tablet and dropped it, for now.

To be honest, he almost won me over with his use of the word copious.

To Dream or Not To Dream

I am blessed with a good memory of my childhood (which is strange in and of itself as I often can’t remember what I ate yesterday).  I lived in a time where we could leave our doors open, when there weren’t leash laws so dogs followed the children playfully throughout the neighborhood, a time where mud pies and ‘lightening bugs’ were the highlight of a summer, and a time where the biggest worry was what everyone was going to wear the first day of school.  The neighborhood I grew up in is now one that no one would want to drive through without being fully armed, but when I lived there it was full of young families where every mother knew every child and didn’t hesitate to scold you and send you home for dinner.

Summers were spent outside since there weren’t a lot of families with video games.  My family bought a Nintendo64, but we were the kids that would rather play flashlight hide and seek rather than be inside with the ‘old people’.   One of my memories isn’t just one at all.  Nearly every day I spent time laying at the top of the big hill of our driveway staring up at the clouds watching them morph from dinosaurs to Volkswagens.  I could do that for hours, and often did when time permitted.  It was laying there and looking into the blue sky that I began to dream of a future I could hardly imagine.  As a child, it was hard for me to think past Christmas that year, let alone ten or fifteen years ahead.  It wasn’t until the game MASH became popular that made me really start to give my future self some thought.  I had big dreams.  I was going to live in a Mansion, marry Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, drive a red mustang, live in California, have 3 kids, and be a teacher.  Yes, I was going to be very happy and this little game started my most memorable childhood dream.

Naturally, I knew I wasn’t going to marry Donnie Wahlberg, but everything else seemed plausible in my mind though I later changed my idea of a Mansion to a really nice middleclass brick home.  The only thing that really panned out was that I am a mother to three children.  In my dreams, I never really considered becoming pregnant at 18, dropping out of college, spending three years as a single mom, eventually marrying the father of my son, and struggling to just stay within the lower-middle-class spectrum.  Those weren’t my dreams at all, even sans the MASH game.

For years I struggled with this.  I had to let my childhood dreams go and welcome reality.  I realized that the loss of my dreams didn’t change the quality of the life I’ve lived.  We have finally landed squarely in a decent home, have an SUV big enough to cart around a 10, 11, and 15 year old, a retirement plan, and while I’m not a teacher, I get to play one at home when homework is too hard.  Dreams have a way a making one feel inadequate when they don’t come true, but I’m just happy to have what I have.

This is my submission to the weekly writing prompt from Studio Thirty Plus

Normalcy or the lack thereof

Can I just say to all those mom’s out there that are outdoorsy and all ‘go team’, you are a better mom than I am.

Anywho, my husband thought it would be a great idea to enroll the youngest (The Little) in scouts.  I’m certainly not against this; boys need to know various things that are taught in scouts and it would give the two of them bonding time and all that jazz.  Male camaraderie, if you will.

The husband is an EMT (finally) so he works 24/48 shifts.  He signed The Little up last Thursday, and boy was he excited.  It was really sweet, actually.  Last night was their first meeting.  Naturally, Mr. EMT was working his 24 so I needed to take The Little to the meeting and do the introductions and whatnot.  Sounds harmless, right?  I had enough time after the office to go home, cook dinner (chicken with white wine mushroom sauce – does that sound like I am outdoorsy to you?), and forget to grab a pair of flip-flops to replace the 3-inch heels.  We arrive and there are tons of kids and dads with a few moms, but mostly dads.  Some kids in uniform with ribbons that match that of a soldier in his twentieth year of service and others in civilian clothes like my poor Little.

There were 3 or 4 grown men in these uniforms as well.  I looked for them to guide me as to what den(?) my son would be in.  None of them knew.  He was either a boar, bear, webble, fox, or a smattering of other animals.  I couldn’t quite follow as he lost me after something called a weeble-o.  What the hell kind of animal is that?  Clearly, I was not the right man for this job.  After a scout chant, a prayer, and some kind of hand gesture, we move to a circle.  Now, in my mind I think of campfires, smores, singing, rules, or something of the sort.  HA!  No, that’s not what these uniformed overgrown kids pretending to be adults had in mind at all!

Burly Man:  “Parents!  You are to follow your scout and their leaders down the trail behind us”

My mind: Wait, trail behind you?  You mean that overgrown forest with no wooden path?  And follow where exactly, to the end of my existence cause I’m in heels mister…

Squirrelly Man: (in a much smaller voice) “Ok scouts, grab the kid next to you, hold his hand and then raise your hands above your head!  That’s right, boys!  This is your buddy.  Where he goes, you go. Mmmmkkkkk? Alright, let’s go!”

My mind:  Where’s my buddy – don’t I need a buddy?  Does that kid attached to The Little look shady?  What if he heads off a cliff or something?  That seems a bit too vague of a statement, sir.

After hiking on the ‘trail’ and learning all about deer poop, scrubbing of antlers on trees, berries that would probably be the same ones that almost killed Katniss in Hunger Games, and white dots on trees that mark your way – we end up in this enormous field.  There’s an erect tent in the middle and several bags alongside of the tent.  My feeble, indoorsy, HGTV mind didn’t grasp what was happening.

Burly Man: “OK Parents, grab your scout and head to a bag, we’re learning the proper handling of tents, pitching them, and putting them away”

My mind: We’re what?  Are you seriously telling me this little bag holds that big ‘ol tent in it?  Orange is not a good color, btw, it will surely attract bears.

I look around and see one of those soldier-type kids and I’m all like, “Pssst, hey kid, you look like you’ve been here a while.”  The kid looks exasperated at me already, “Yeah, I’m a what-ever-animal-is best, do you need help with this?” and then he laughs.  He actually laughs at me.  Poor Little had already started to unpack the tent bag and was well on his way.  I’ve heard rumors that our family owned a tent, I suppose he and his father have worked on this before.

All ended well, our tent was set up and then put back and we hiked our way back to ‘base’.  I was sweating and panting profusely, pretty sure at least twelve blisters, and about four thousand mosquito bites, I was spent.  They offered a Gatorade, I declined as I was disappointed no one handed me an Absolute and soda for my efforts.

I had hoped for a quiet, normal school year when the children went back, but it looks like normalcy will involve sweating in places one ought not to sweat, bug spray, the purchase of hiking boots, and flasks canteens.  Go Team!

This is my writing prompt submission for Studio Thirty Plus