Thursday, March 31, 2011

It hurts me more than it hurts them

Day six:  The pain of parenting

Parenting tests my limits as a human.

I love my children more than In 'n Out Burgers and Cadbury Eggs...combined.  I know.  That's pretty intense, right?  There are many things I do for them that I would never even CONSIDER doing for another living soul.  

Cleaning up vomit: no way.

Stopping every ten miles for potty breaks on a road trip:  I don't think so.

School science projects:  no way in ****.

Watching every last Harry Potter and Batman and Barbie movie:   Fuhgettabout it.

But for my kids, I endure, because I love them.

What I do not love about being a parent is parenting.  I'm not talking about hugs and kisses and story time.  I'm talking about threatening and ordering and arguing and negotiating and disciplining and whining (uh, my whining, not theirs).

When my parents would use the old "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" line on me, little did I know that the pain to which they were referring had more to do with the rising of their blood pressure (they don't call it the silent killer for nothin') than with the stinging of their palms brought on by a swift smack to my bare tushie.

Now, thirty something years and four childbirths later, I get it.  I really do.  Loving my children is a piece of cake.  Parenting them is overwhelming and exhausting on the best of days.  Being a single parent adds a whole new set of challenges to the mix.

From the time I get home in the afternoons until they go to bed at night, it's them against me.  Their four against my one.  And before I know it--like next week--those four will all be taller than I am.  Smarter, too.  A couple of them already are.

I don't like those odds.  Please pass me my blood pressure medication...and a Cadbury egg.

Sorry I'm not sorry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frogs are people, too

Day five:   Looking both ways

Anyone remember that old video game called "Frogger," the one where the idea was to move your little frog across the road without him getting smashed by cars?

Side note:  Typing that just made me think of growing up a country girl in the middle of the blazing hot Arizona desert.  I'm suddenly remembering walking down the dirt road in front of our house during the summer months and finding the crispy, paper-thin carcasses of frogs who hadn't quite made it to the other side.  You wouldn't believe what an afternoon in the Arizona sun will do to the slimy remains of a recently mowed-down amphibian.  I would even pick them up.  It's true. You do NOT want to know the kinds of stuff these hands touched during my childhood years.  I could go daaaaays without bathing.

But I digress.

Working at a major university, there are days (like Monday through Friday), when I feel like somebody has plunked me down in the middle of a game of Frogger.  I'm the car.  College students are the frogs.  Suicidal frogs.

January.  Dead of winter. Sheets of ice and sludge on the roads.  I'm driving through an intersection as a seemingly intelligent student meanders along the sidewalk to my right.  Suddenly, without even turning her head one way or the other to check for traffic, she's in the crosswalk in the middle of the street.

How did she--?  Why would she--?  Is she mentally--?

These are the thoughts racing through my head (throw in some four-letter words if you want the full effect) just as I'm getting my money's worth out of my anti-lock brakes.  Picture a screaming, swearing, panic-stricken woman in a mini-van swerving and sliding all over the street in an attempt to avoid hitting one not-so-innocent pedestrian.  Also imagine said pedestrian being completely oblivious to the five car pile-up she has just caused.  Onward she toward her lily

Hey, she's late for driver's ed.  No time for such trivial matters as safety or being aware of her surroundings.

Though the incident I refer to here happened in winter, this is not merely a seasonal problem. Class is in session year round.  And when class is in session, students are everywhere.  EVERYWHERE, I tell you!   Darting into the street like frogs in a video game.

Stupid, blind, suicidal frogs.

Hey, don't mind all of us insignificant people driving the cars.  After all, we've got brakes and we know how to use 'em, right?

I wonder what an afternoon in the Utah sun does to the remains of freshly mowed-down college students.  Something tells me it won't be long before I find out.

Sorry I'm not sorry.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't be a hater. Embrace the love.

Day four:  Mushy junk

Enough with the PDA's.

Oh, you're one of THOSE couples.

Get a room already!

These are just a few of the phrases I've been hearing and reading lately as I explore this new world of public adoration and affection on Facebook and in real life.

I've got myself a new man.  Well, he's ten years older than I am--50--so maybe he's not THAT new.  But he's new to ME.  This new-ish man of mine likes to make sure that the world knows exactly how he feels about me.  I'm learning that this makes some people slightly uncomfortable...or jealous.  Probably jealous.

Hey, it's okay.  I am totally with you on this.  I've been both--the uncomfortable one AND the jealous one--at one point or another in my life.  Sometimes I was one or the other.  Sometimes I was both all at once.  Yes, I'm a mess.  No need to restate the obvious.

Even as a child, I can remember that whenever I would see my parents hugging or kissing, I would get really upset and order them to stop immediately.  Come to think of it, they got divorced when I was in my 20's.  I hope that wasn't my fault.  Oopsie.

Back to my point.

I've just never been comfortable with others' outward displays of affection.  I tend to be somewhat private about these things, so I'd be perfectly happy if everyone else would just keep all that mushy junk to themselves as well.

But my new-ish guy is broadening my horizons (AND my thighs with all of his baking and dessert-making).  He thinks I'm freaking awesome (my words, not his) and he is NOT afraid to shout it from the rooftops.  At first I didn't think I was going to like that so much, but I'm finding that it's nice to feel loved and adored and to be able to do a little neener neener dance from behind the keyboard as all of the peeps in my virtual community read post after post about the most amazing girl in the world (that'd be me, according to Mr. New-ish).  I won't lie.  I'm kind of digging it.

Something to keep in mind:  This totally awesome girl came from a life--not so long ago--where her "loving companion" could barely muster up the desire to look her in the face or carry on a three-minute conversation.  After being privately starved for emotion and attention for so many years, this girl is going to sit back and enjoy being publicly adored for as long as she possibly can.  

Sorry she's not sorry.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is this seat saved?

Day three:  The sin of seat saving

I love the people I go to church with.

Side note:  I know the correct way to write that would be, "with whom I go to church," but that sounds so uber proper and stuffy, so I'm sticking with the illiterate's version this time.  I'm throwing that out there as a preemptive strike against anyone who wants to call me on it.

Where was I?  Oh yes, church love.

I believe the people in my church and neighborhood are some of the finest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.  I would never dream of pointing out any flaws in their character.


If I HAD to...

I wouldn't, of course, but if I HAD to...

I'd be forced to bring up the issue of seat-saving.  You know, holding a place on a bench or in a row for people who are not yet there but who will be eventually (like probably WELL AFTER the meeting actually starts)?  It's often done at movie theaters or concerts or sporting events.

I'm not referring here to the use of humans as placeholders.  I have no problem with that.  If a few of one's family members arrive early or on time and want to save a few seats, I'm all for it.

What I must protest is the use of inanimate objects--NON-PEOPLE--as a means of saving numerous seats (like an entire row) for friends or family just so that said friends and family don't have to make the bothersome effort to get there in time to get a good seat  (good=cushioned pews as opposed to folding metal chairs).

I have three words for the perpetrators of such a transgression:  Tisk, tisk, tisk.

This hasn't been a problem until recently.

I'm one of those on-time kinda gals.  For the most part, I'm typically early to most events.  I might add that, with four kids to wrangle, this is no small task, especially when it comes to getting us all to church in a timely manner.  But, with a few exceptions, we manage it.  I might also point out that those "few exceptions" are almost ALWAYS my kids' fault.  No really, it's true.  They're mega cute, but they have little regard for punctuality.

Sunday mornings at my house are often laden with much blood, sweat and tears.  Just ask any mom who's ever had to get multiple kids cleaned and pressed and out the door by herself in a matter of a couple of hours.

I need a nap just typing about it.

So imagine my deep discouragement when I show up to church ten minutes early, only to find that the comfy seats are already occupied.  I don't realize this, however, until I have walked right up to the end of the row, ready to sit down, and discover to my horror that the bench is lined with one or more of the following:

Ziploc bag of Lucky Charms
ABC gum

I'm not kidding you.  People get pretty creative with this seat saving business.  And it's serious.  If I were to carefully move that ABC gum out of the way so that my family, who are ACTUALLY PRESENT IN THE BUILDING, could sit down, I'd have a fight on my hands.  I'd be considered...well...rude.

I've tried arriving earlier.  Quarter 'til:  saved.  Twenty 'til:  saved.  Sun-up:  saved.

I give up.

When I lived in Arizona, seat-saving got to be such a problem that our local leaders came out with a formal policy on it.  It went something like:  "Knock that off.  If you want a place to sit, get yourself here and sit your righteous tushy in the seat."

I'm paraphrasing slightly for dramatic effect, but that was the gist.

As a mom, I get annoyed with my kids when they use the "that's not fair" line on me.  Life isn't fair.  I remind them of this on quite the regular basis.  But on the subject of seat-saving, I have to say that using items from your diaper bag to save numerous spots on a pew just isn't FAIR to the rest of us who get up extra early and work extra hard to get to church on time and get a good seat for our loved ones' righteous tushies.

I figure if it's important enough for our leaders to mention it, it's important enough for a worn-out, cushy-seat-lovin' mommy to bring it up, too.

Sorry I'm not sorry.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Take THAT, Miss Itty Bitty!

Day two:  Working out with skinny people

I've been hanging out with a personal trainer for a few months now. Despite the cosmetic evidence to the contrary, I love to work out.  If I ate properly as diligently as I worked out, I'd look more like Jillian Michaels and less like Chris Farley right about now.  I'm workin' on it.

My awesome (by "awesome", I mean "skinny") friend Jen and I have been sharing personal training sessions for a while.  She texted me the other day and asked if I'd mind if she brought along her ALSO SKINNY sister-in-law (by "ALSO SKINNY", I mean "cheerleading, Zumba dancing, teeny tiny size two wearing").  I admit I was slightly intimidated at the thought.  I was sure that Miss Itty Bitty was going to come in there and wipe the floor with the both of us (by "the both of us", I mean "me").  I imagined her standing over me with her foot in my back, flexing her miniature-but-chiseled bicep, laughing in that sinister way that skinny blonde girls do. 

As we got into the workout, I became less and less worried and...well...okay...mildly ecstatic.  Itty Bitty huffed.  She puffed.  She struggled.  She groaned.  She grunted.  She got nauseous.  

I laughed--to myself, of course.

I'm not completely heartless.

Poor Itty Bitty.  She didn't know that when she met me this morning, she would become the personification of all the skinny girls from high school who ever made me feel bad about myself.  I was secretly out to defeat her, though the battle really wasn't with her.  So I guess I owe her some thanks.  By letting me show her up, Itty Bitty helped me gain a small personal victory.  Don't get me wrong.  I like her.  I just needed to beat her.  

Sorry I'm not sorry.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring snow? Yes, please.

Anyone remember that Pollyanna thing I did a while back, where I wrote every day for 30 days about something I'm thankful for, or something that makes me happy?  I've decided it's time for a repeat.  Sort of.  I started a series of "Sorry I'm not sorry" posts and never really kept them going.  I was flooded with letters and emails from fans who were mourning the death of that series.  Yeah, that's so not true, but at least a couple of people mentioned that they missed reading those posts.  I've missed writing them.  I've let trivial matters like motherhood and romance and a paycheck and bills and sleep and sanity keep me from my passion in life:  snark as an art form.

So, for at least the next 30 days, I'm back at it.

Today's topic:  the weather.  

I have a love affair with Utah's weather.  I simply do not understand all the complaining I hear from long-time residents of this beautiful state.  It usually starts some time in February:

"Enough with the snow already!"

"Why does it have to be so cold?"

"Will I ever see the sun again? If I don't see the sun, I just know I'm going to DIE!"

Granted, I've only lived here through three winters now, but so far it's been the same experience every year:

Winter comes.  The temperatures drop.  Snow falls.  Snow stays for a while.  We all enjoy a white Christmas.   We sled.  We ski.  We build snowmen.  We throw snowballs and laugh.  We make snow angels.  Little boys pee their names in freshly-fallen powder.  Holidays are over.  Everyone wants the snow to go away.  March comes and snow and rain continue to fall.

Side note:  March is known as Utah's wettest month.  People probably assume that it's because of the amount of precipitation that falls from the sky.  But I believe March is known as the wettest month because of the FLOOD of complaints that come POURING on to Facebook and out of people's mouths about our "miserable" weather.

April comes along.  Tulips bloom.  Everything blooms.  I had never seen so much color until I moved to this beautiful state.  May...June...July...warm days and gorgeous nights.  Summer ends.  Fall comes and all of the colors that come with it.  Crisp temps, shorter days, orange and gold leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows, Halloween.  Then winter returns and the cycle repeats itself.

So how is it that, after only living here for three years, I seem to be the only one who sees that there really, truly is hope for the end of winter and the beginning of balmy weather?  Yes, we will see the sun again.  Yes, the temperatures will warm up.  Yes, the snow will stop and it will all melt and bring us those rivers we love to picnic by and those blossoms we love to smell.

In other words, it will all be okay.  Winter is not the end of the world as we know it.  Everybody take a deep breath.

It's snowing today.  My kids are out playing in it.  I LOVE spring snow.  It coats everything in white for a few hours, then the temps warm up and it's gone as quickly as it got here.

Having come from the hell on earth known as the southwest desert, I can tell you that all of this variety makes me do a happy dance.  I no longer need to keep oven mitts in my car to avoid having my fingerprints permanently melted off into the steering wheel.  I get to hear weather reports with words OTHER THAN "hot," "unseasonably hot," "record drought," and "spontaneous human combustion warning in effect until midnight."

Variety is the spice of life.  If the weather was what some call "perfect" all of the time, something tells me we'd still find ways to be unhappy about it.

I love the spring, summer, and fall weather just as much as the next person, but I love the snow, too.  I know that I annoy the snot out of the locals when I get all giddy about the snow...yes, even the spring snow.  I do it on purpose.  Some people scrapbook for fun. I enjoy annoying people.

Sorry I'm not sorry.