Wednesday, May 22, 2019

From night lights to Fortnite: I need like 10,000 more tissues please



I swear, watching your kids grow up is so fucking hard.

I thought it would be easier because Chuck and I are cool and hip, despite the fact that 50 is quickly encroaching.* We strike that perfect balance of discipline and freedom. We don't yell — a lot — and we let the kids know 50 million times a day that lines of communication are open.

We are the parents who say, "You can tell us anything." And we mean it.

(And we have learned many disturbing things about body hair and anatomical exploration fueled by innocent curiosity — thankfully only involving one body at a time.)

Then there we were last night at Junior's chorus concert. It was over, and everyone was congregating in the foyer. Junior saw his two best friends and picked up the pace. I asked him to slow down so we could get pictures with his brothers and grandparents.

"But my friends are going to leave," he said.

"But you're all dressed up, and I want to get a picture of you and your brothers."

He looked at Everett and Cam and scowled. Everett, at eight, is still happy playing make-believe and coloring. He has become obnoxiously uncool to Junior. Cam, who is four and stubborn and obstinate and independent and pushy and forthright and doesn't acquiesce to anything, throws a somewhat tightly wound Junior into high alert.

"Do I have to?" he sighed heavily.

"Just a few."

As I clicked away, Junior looked downright morose. Everett and Cam bickered on either side of him over a stuffed monkey and who was going to hold it.

"Guys!" Junior yelled impatiently. "STOP!"

I adopted the tone of displeasure.

"BOYS!" I yelled.

I just wanted a nice picture. JUST ONE NICE PICTURE HOW HARD CAN THAT BE, GUYS?

By the time we were done, Junior's friends and parents were starting to disband. Thankfully one of the mothers got a photo of the three friends and shared it with me. When I looked at it — shocker — Junior was beaming.

Still, I didn't put two and two together.

DUH.

"Why do you still look so blue?" I asked Junior. "You got to see your friends. We even got a picture!"

Then, at 2 a.m., as I lie awake strung out on Sudafed for my allergies, I thought back to my own middle school years. As much as I remembered my parents, what I remembered more was my friends.

DUH.

I heard myself from earlier that night, telling Junior not to rush to his friends — not to leave us behind. I heard myself scolding him for not staying with his brothers for the perfect picture when the truth is, I have a million pictures of the three of them together.

It's not about him and them anymore. It's about him and his friends, and this is just the beginning of him leaving them, and us, behind.

Hopefully he'll keep coming back.

But man, that day you walk into their bedroom and find their favorite stuffed animal on a ledge instead of in their bed? The one that is ratty from being covered in baby slime and spit-up, that's been washed and dried so many times its fur is knotted? The one that used to go on sleepovers and cause sheer panic if its location was unknown?

That, uh, was a tear jerker moment.  


I know it's normal. I know it's part of the cycle of life. I just didn't think it would be this hard. I will say this: After years of feeling wretched guilt that the boys just wanted me — I used to have to hide behind the couch so Junior wouldn't see me — it is sweet restitution to see Junior seek out Chuck for advice, company, male camaraderie — and for video gaming advice.

(That's the other thing I didn't think would be this hard. %^&#%^@*^*@%^ video games. Fucking Fortnite. Can I get an amen?)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Shoes every mom should have. No, really, they should come home with the free formula samples in the hospital bag

I still want these shoes. I've wanted them so badly for so long, ever since I saw them in Vogue. I want to wear them at the bus stop. I want to wear them to school functions. I want to wear them to the park. I want to wear them all day and all night because to me, they are the embodiment of motherhood: You have got to shake your shit the entire ride —and fast — or it will eat you alive.

Perhaps I'm being extreme. Forgive me. I have three sons and we never sit down. Ever. Shoes with flames just makes sense to me. Plus, I've had two kids home sick this week with the flu and I'm high on Dude Perfect fumes. (This shoe? Would it survive a shoe flip? A drone launch through a basketball hoop 50 yards away? Probably.) You can't watch Dude Perfect 24/7 and not feel like jumping up and running the eff around.

See, I am a runner! I told you!

If I owned these shoes I would never give them up. If I'd been wearing these shoes while I worked at Mulletville Corp, and my boss wanted to borrow them I would have said no. Hell no.

Chuck, if you're still reading this blog, which you assured me you are, I NEED THESE SHOES for Mother's Day. I can wear them in my teepee. I can wear them to bed. Just the shoes! Do you get what I'm saying? You can call me Rocket Man, er, Woman.

Please?!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Taking the rum out of running

Did I mention I've started to run? Not at night. And not away from home. But real, legit running. In fact, after a month of walking and running (I guess, ralking), I can almost make it all the way around the track at the town's park.

If there were any attractive men in this town — other than my luscious husband Chuck — I'd be able to complete the loop no problem because as we all know (us runners anyway, wink, wink) all it takes is one attractive person on the sidelines to keep you moving.



The best part of running, of course, is bragging to everyone about how you do. Every chance I get, I remind Chuck that I'm going to outlive him by 50 years because of my newfound cardiovascular prowess. He loves it.

"Shut up," he says. (After 20 years of co-habitation, I know this really means "I admire and worship you.")

How do I love running? Let me count the ways. I love how running makes the extra fat on my ass flop in the wind. I love how my eyeballs struggle to focus as my feet pound the pavement. I love how much more agile I feel chasing my three sons around the house, and up to the park, and up the stairs, and through malls and state parks.

Run, run, run!

Most of all, I love how I can spontaneously decide to go for a run, even if circumstances aren't quite ideal.

Case in point: this Saturday. Chuck had a buddy over, and he loaded us up on Dark and Stormies. If you've never had one before, it's a drink concocted of dark rum and ginger beer. It's sweet, peppy and goes down way too easily with French Toast and bacon. Bonus: all that sugar makes you extra feisty. So feisty, in fact, you don't realize you're sauced until it's way too late.

(So, so late.)

"I can't parent," I told Chuck after I'd slugged down a few. "The room is spinning."

Chuck, who has the constitution of 10 cows on steroids, said breezily, "I noticed."

In my sugar-laden, intoxicated blur I had a brilliant idea. "I'll run now!" I told him. "I'll run this off."

Before he could say boo, I raced outside and started down the street. I was wearing Junior's Lego Crocs and I couldn't figure out how to get the hood of my sweatshirt off my head, but I was on a mission. I made it to a stop sign, then rounded the corner up a hill. That's when my brain started to pound. Or was it my feet?

I chuffed though, and I puffed, like a good little engine from the Island of Sodor — "Mrs. Mullet is ra-acing, raacing so she'll barf" — until I got halfway up the hill and was struck by how I must look to my neighbors: a hooded, hunched runner in Crocs, zigzagging my way up the hill to Vomitville.

"This is crazy!" I slurred to no one. I was out of breath, dizzy, and my legs felt like rubber.

I turned and started the slow jog back. The jog of shame. The bounce of blame. Whatever you call it, it sucked. When I finally got home, I crawled through the door, past Chuck and his friend — who knew enough not to ask how my run went — and passed out on my bedroom floor.

"Back so soon?" Chuck said, peeking his head in.

"Shut up," I moaned. (After 20 years of co-habitation, he knows this really means "shut up.")

When I woke up the next morning, the cotton rope from my sweatshirt hood had left a snake-like imprint on my left cheek, my chin was crusty with drool, and my big toes had big blisters.

"How's it going?" Chuck asked.

I showed him my toes.



"Perils of running," I said, shrugging. "I'll be back out in no time." Then I put my face in the waste pan and threw up. He shut the door behind him, leaving me alone with my blisters and my thoughts, namely Thank God it's Sunday and not Monday, thank God it's Sunday and not Monday.

Will I drunk-run again? Probably not. And it'll be awhile before I touch dark rum. I'd like to write more but that snaggly image above of the half-painted toenail and nasty blister is making me gag, so if you'll forgive me I'm going to — yes! you guessed it! — RUN.

Ew. Toes.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The wheels on the bus...just don't go 'round and 'round some days



"Sure, your son can come over tomorrow morning," I told my neighbor. Her son Dylan rides the elementary school bus with my son, Everett, and she sometimes needs to leave for work before the bus comes. On mornings Dylan doesn't come over, I drive Everett and his brother Cam to the elementary school, where they're both enrolled.

"I'm working from home tomorrow," I said. "It'll be an easy day for me."

(Universe: 'Easy,' you say? Mwahaahahah.)

At 7:30 a.m. the next morning, Dylan knocked on our door.

"Instead of taking the bus," I asked him, "do you want to ride with me? It'll give us extra time for breakfast." He nodded. At 8:15 a.m. we piled into the car.

"Will we have enough time?" Dylan asked. "The bus line ends at 8:20."

"Of course," I assured him.

Five minutes later Dylan alerted me that the bus line had ended.

"You can walk in with us through the pre-school entrance," I said breezily. Why is this kid so fixated on the bus line, I wondered.



We arrived at the elementary school and, like every morning, I encouraged everyone MULTIPLE TIMES to exit the car. It was now 8:25. We were on the verge of late. Everyone climbed out but Dylan. What is up with him this morning, I wondered. I waved to him from the car. "Come on! We're here."

He got out of the car but didn't bring his backpack.

"Honey," I said, "don't you need your books?"

"Why?" he asked.

Aggghh! "BECAUSE WE'RE LATE AND NOW WE'RE HERE."

He looked at me like I was crazy, but got his bag.

"Why weren't you going to bring your bag in?" I asked.

"Because I don't go to school here!"

What? 

"Yah, I'm a grade higher than Everett," he said. "I go to the intermediate school."

I smacked my forehead. Spectacular.

As I walked Cam to his pre-school class, with Dylan trailing behind me, some of Dylan's former teachers recognized him and said hello. They looked at me — the woman who wasn't his mother — quizzically.

"Long story," I said with a big smile.

After I'd dropped off Cam I drove Dylan to his school. "I wonder if they'll let me sign you in tardy if I'm not your parent?" I wondered aloud. He shrugged his shoulders.

Luckily they did — after his mother confirmed via phone I hadn't abducted him for the morning. But it was now 8:45 a.m. and I needed to be back home for a 9 a.m. conference call. I jumped into the car and turned the key and...nothing. Then, the wheel locked.


I Googled "locked wheel" and uncovered a trick for unlocking it so I could get it out of Park. As I did so, the car rolled backwards into the parking lot, which is also the bus lane. I slammed on the brakes but it was too late: the car was in the middle of the lot.

Aggghh!
Aggghh!
Aggghh!  

At first, people trying to leave thought I was still in the act of pulling out of a spot, so they waited patiently. Then they honked. I waved them past. Then they got creative about going around me.

I called Chuck, who, by some act of God, was at home feeling sick and therefore still able to come to the rescue.

"Didn't you leave an hour ago?" he asked.

"THAT ISN'T IMPORTANT!" I cried. "I am in the middle of the parking lot. A line is forming. A long line."



"I'll be right there," he sighed.

Ten minutes later, he showed up. As I stood outside waiting, I shrugged apologetically to the people in their cars and made stupid, clownish faces of contrition. Most people ignored me or worse, glared. Suddenly, our car bellowed to attention, and Chuck pulled it back into a spot.

"What the FUCK did you do that I couldn't?" I asked him when he got out.

"Don't turn the wheel so much when you park," he said. "I have to get to work." He kissed me on the cheek and drove off.

I looked at my phone: 8:59 a.m. I jumped in the car and drove 100 mph home, raced onto my computer and dialed into the conference call. I tried to temper my heavy breathing by pinching my leg until it hurt a little.

"Good morning, Mrs. Mullet!" Mrs. Heckenspleck said. "You're just in time."

"GREAT!" I said.

"And how is your morning so far?"

"GREAT!" I said. "Just great."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting: One woman's triumphant journey with a fork*

This year is different, and I've been trying to figure out the why and how of it — the moment of change, if you will — because honestly, I've been wishing for things to be different for awhile now (e.g., I want to move, I want to change jobs, etc.).

Although my last post was ripe with self-pity ("Woe is me, my kid is sick on my birthday"), I think the moment of change started there, and that it had everything to do with my cake.

See, usually on your birthday, you have to eat dinner before you have your cake. You have to add 20 minutes for digestion before someone presents you with a cake lit with candles. Then you have to wait for someone or a group of people to sing to you. Clap, clap.

Next, you blow out the candles and the cake is whisked away to be cut and re-presented to you in a square (depending on how many people are at your gathering, this could take two to 30 minutes). If you have children, there's dissent about who got the biggest piece, who got the first piece, etc. Finally, if your cake is missing silverware, you need to find a fork. And if you have a toddler, he or she will have inhaled his or her piece and be begging you to share yours just as you're about to dig in.



That's like two hours of prep time and waiting for a piece of cake — precious time spent at the hands of others. In a nutshell: There's cake protocol, and you're not in charge of any of it even though it's supposed to be YOUR day. 

This year, though, I got astride that cake and rode it like a cowgirl. Dinner first? Nope. Singing to me? Nope. Clapping? Not a peep. Candles? Not a one. I didn't want anyone spitting their germs on it. Waiting? Nope. Cutting? Hell yah, I sliced into that bad boy and shoveled it into my mouth. In fact, over the course of the next few days, I ate the entire cake without sharing a damn crumb with anyone.

I cut through — pun intended — all the pomp and circumstance and took what I wanted and I swear, things have been different ever since.

For one, I started a new freelance job. The best part is that they had to postpone their holiday party to early January, so I got to attend and meet the whole crew. The people are fantastic. I haven't been to a cheery office holiday party in like 20 years. Morale was so low at Mulletville Corp, I'd forgotten what it felt like to be around a functional group of celebratory people. Bonus: There was more cake.



We finally knocked down walls in our home. We're five people in a 1,400 square foot house, plus a large dog and plump cat. After seven years of living here, I can finally open the refrigerator during dinner without having to ask someone to slide their chair over. Ditto for opening the oven.

We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Mass., for the weekend because after being sick, dealing with the gray of winter, and sanding and taping walls everyone needed a dose of fun. It was expensive as fuck, even after Groupon and coupons, but my middle kid wore his water park bracelet for two weeks after we got home. (I'll post more about it later.)


Finally — and this is the most important part of how this year is different — I started writing a book. I'm 56,000 words into it, which is the farthest I've ever gotten (and a big reason why I haven't been on here as much). I've been procrastinating about this for decades. No more.

So there you have it. This year is different. Yee-fucking-haw. If you've been wishing for the same I highly recommend that on your birthday, you have someone buy you a cake (for some reason, it's not the same if you buy the cake yourself) and then, when no one's looking, you dive into that mother effer. Screw protocol. Screw waiting. Life is short. Just eat your damn cake.

*No, that is not the actual title of the book I am currently working on, but I really kind of like it.

Friday, January 4, 2019

I may just eat the whole damn cake

Well, it's that time of year again, aka, my birthday.

Last year I compiled a list of my birthdays and noted how many of my children were sick on each birthday. I really only did that so someday, when my children start showing me convalescence home pamphlets and dropping hints, I can pull up my handy list and tell them to go to hell.

This year, in a bout of optimism I haven't experienced since I was a virgin, I made plans for me and Chuck to spend the day at a local spa. It wouldn't cost a damn cent thanks to a mountain of spa gift certificates I've amassed since 2007, the year Junior was born (and consequently, the time in my life people started assuming I was a stressed out mother and needed a day at the spa).

Things were looking so good! I booked the sitter. I walked around all day with a kick in my step. My sweet mother, who is under the weather, dropped me off a cake and said, "You look happier than I've seen you in awhile!" Then she started hacking and excused herself.

But, children. They pick their noses and sneeze on each other and lick each other's faces. They are vile creatures. No sooner was Everett was off the bus than he said, "I don't feel well." His face went white. He asked for the puke pan.

He has a fever.

So I canceled our spa reservations. While I was waiting for Chuck to get home from work, I opened up my pretty birthday cake and cut out a huge ass piece.



And ate it for dinner. No lit candles to blow out (i.e., no germs). No singing aloud (i.e., no germs). Just face feeding and me.

I may just have invented a new tradition.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Truth be told, I'd rather be Rudolph than Chocolate Chip

Well, well, well, here we are again. A mere eight years ago I wrote this:

I left work early yesterday. I was walking around like a hunchback because of terrible stomach pains. Then came the fever and chills. I was green. When I got home my husband Chuck was on the phone. I heard him say, “Mrs. Mullet’s sick again. Me? I’m fine. Never felt better.” I think he even whistled. Smug shit.

Tonight? Smug shit part deux.

I've had a cold since Tuesday. It's the same one that's been circling the house since before Thanksgiving, infecting the children, the schools, the grocery stores, the babysitters. My babysitter. I thought I was impervious this time but on Tuesday, when I brought Cam to Chuck's office so I could sneak away to a quick meeting, my throat was scratchy AF.

I told Chuck as much when I got back, and he announced proudly "I feel juuuuuust fine."

"You'll get this too!" I hissed, spinning on my heel and leaving with Cam.

On my way out, one of his co-workers — a woman Chuck's co-workers affectionately call Chocolate Chip because she has so many little newts on her face and neck — stopped me in the hall and asked if she could have a minute.



Immediately my heart started pounding. When one of your spouse's co-workers asks for a moment in private it can only mean one thing: your spouse's penis has been canvasing the office building.

"I wanted to show you something," she said. "This is a little awkward..."

Dear gawd. I held my breath.

She handed me Chuck's coffee mug.

"Chuck never cleans this," she said. "He just pours new coffee on the old coffee from the day before." She pointed inside. "Look, there's mold."



"Gross!" Cam and I both said.

"We're worried he's going to get really sick."

I thought of Chuck's earlier pronouncement, "I feel juuuuust fine." His smarty smarty pants grin.

I smiled at Chocolate Chip. "If he's made it this far, I'm sure Chuck will be juuuuust fine. But it's sweet of you to mention it."

"Sure!" she said. "Bye Cam!"

So that was Tuesday: learning that my husband's hygiene is causing people concern (but at least not his penis) and coming down with a cold.

And now it's Saturday and I've been binge watching Hallmark holiday movies and blowing through tissues like a madwoman because I am still mother effin sick.

So sick I had to miss out on Chuck's cousin's Christmas party tonight.

Chuck took the three kids to the party and left me to revel in solitary confinement with my mucus. He did call me, though, to say he missed me. He even put me on a video chat so I could say hi to everyone. Halfway through my garbled greeting one of Chuck's sisters started to laugh and said, "Look! Mrs. Mullet's nose is so red!"

"Like Rudolph!" someone else cried.

There was loud laughter.

"They've been drinking," Chuck whispered.

"It's fine," I told Chuck.

"Well, feel better. And don't worry, I feel juuuuust fine."

Oh Chuck, I'm not worried.

Coffee, honey?

From night lights to Fortnite: I need like 10,000 more tissues please

I swear, watching your kids grow up is so fucking hard. I thought it would be easier because Chuck and I are cool and hip, despite the...