Wait, I’m Not Dying?

Warning: The following is a snapshot into my psyche. Much like the movie, The Blair Witch Project, it’s mildly frightening with an unsteady focus that may cause motion sickness and/or trigger epileptic seizures.

I’ve done it. I’ve reached another milestone in my nihilistic life schedule: my 44th birthday. Against all of my personal expectations I exited my 43rd year of existence still breathing. Amazing but true.

If you’re scratching your head right now and wondering why this is such an astounding feat, you can step back in time and read this bad boy to catch up to speed. I’ll wait here.

Take your time. No rush. I've got to pick up my son from preschool but he can wait.

Take your time. No rush. I’ve got to pick up my son from preschool but he can wait.

Even before my mother died I was obsessed with dying young, a notion fed perhaps by my fervent belief that I was Martin Luther King Jr. reincarnated as a small white female and my misguided romantic notions of martyrdom. I staged my own death at the tender age of five to gauge my family’s reaction. For the record: their reactions were extremely disappointing and I immediately wrote them out of my will, a slight that moved them even less than my faux-death, despite my impressive collection of tattered stuffed animals. Those people were cold.

Actually I was pretty zen about the whole idea of an early death for most of my life, having adopted a Richard Bach death-is-merely-a-new-adventure attitude. I was fairly certain that after death I’d achieve total enlightenment, a huge welcome party at the pearly gates and a perfect complexion, all of which seemed pretty freaking cool. Then I had kids and my zen went out the window along with my sleep schedule, replaced by the irrational fear that I would leave my children to struggle without a mother in Captain Agro’s Mini Boot Camp for Semi-Orphans.

Despite the uncanny likeness to Castro, Captain Agro believes in a strictly Wipe-Your-Own-Butt policy.

Despite the uncanny likeness to Castro, Captain Agro maintains a strict Wipe-Your-Own-Butt policy.

You would think that after my malignant shoulder tumor turned out to be a sore muscle brought on by advancing middle age and I didn’t suffer a fatal heart attack while training for my 5K, I would’ve been freed from my psychotic burden. Not so. By the end of the year I’d battled Parkinson’s, MS and various forms of cancer all within my own imagination while lying in bed planning my memorial service, which by the way will be way better than the memorial service I planned for myself when I was five.

Anyway, I was expecting to feel relieved and elated about breaking the 43rd barrier, like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I figured I might even throw myself a Dodged That Bullet party or have some sort of wild weekend in Vegas with The Hangover cast. However, when it came right down to it, the thought of outliving my mother didn’t make me want to party. In fact it just made me sad. Just when I think I understand my own psyche. What a buzz kill.

Zach is taking this particularly hard.

Zach is taking this particularly hard. He didn’t know my mother but he was really looking forward to the wild weekend.

And to top it off I was over-scheduled, which made it hard to properly obsess and wallow in my angst. I kept thinking, “Is this how I want to spend potentially the last few months of my life? I should be reaching enlightenment sitting in an ashram in the heart of India or some other deeply meaningful nonsense that will vex my husband.”

Then (BAM!) my birthday came and went and life went on almost as if I wasn’t the center of the universe, which is weird because I’m pretty sure that I am.

Kidding. I was just trying on narcissism as a possible replacement for hypochondria.

So I’ve been wandering around a little aimlessly in these first couple of weeks of my 44th year. I mean, my death is no longer imminent and my memorial service is already planned, what to do with myself? Perhaps I’ll look at these as bonus years and just do whatever the fark I want (within reason–I do still have children to care for). The ashram is probably out…or maybe not. Do ashrams have reliable child care? I could be ashraming next week. Who knows? I’m a wild card.



Photo Credits


Slumber Party Remedial School

I was queen of the slumber party in my youth. I don’t often toot my own horn but this was something I did well. All I needed was a Ouija Board, an inappropriate movie, some junk food and my dad’s trademark lax supervision to rock an event.

1984 was an exceptionally good year in the slumber party circuit.

Shout out to Dad’s super-relaxed parenting style. It’s a shame my children will never know what that’s like.

However, it’s been a (ahem) few years and some skills are perishable. I should probably have enrolled in slumber party remedial school, because despite my impressive resume, I spent a good portion of my daughter’s slumber party dropping the ball. By the end of the day I felt like I’d just returned from a 5 hour booze cruise on rough seas. I practically crawled to bed after telling the girls that there would be no more requests fulfilled due to my impending collapse.

The whole week my focus had been elsewhere on other obligations. When I woke up Saturday morning, I realized that precious little had been done to prepare for Riley’s birthday slumber party and Hubs would be gone all day having a big boy play date.

Big boys playing dress up with toys

I panicked, tapped into some mother-guilt, forgot my slacker mom sensibilities and over compensated for my lack of preparation with some ill-fated last minute plans.

Now a logical slacker mom might have paused, thought back to what she enjoyed at her own childhood slumber parties and realized that 8-year-old girls don’t want parent-imposed schedules in their sleep overs anyway. They have their own ideas about what they want to do. So here’s a novel idea: ask them. However, I’d used up all of my logic for the week and I was too busy nursing my silly idea that this, being a birthday sleep over, should be different and therefore more special.


So my plan went like this:

  • 1:00 guest arrival
  • 1:15ish head to our neighbors’ pool.
  • 4:00 manicures
  • 5:30 pizza and birthday donuts.
  • 7:00 movie
  • 9:00 giggling while pretending to sleep

It sounded like a great plan to me. I prematurely congratulated myself on being such a rock star.

Ever notice that any phrase beginning with the word “premature” is automatically a bad thing? Premature baby, premature ejaculation, premature menopause, premature gray, premature congratulations…all bad.

First of all, I neglected to make sure that Riley’s best friend could actually arrive at 1:00. As it turned out, she couldn’t. Then the girls hadn’t seen each other all week and wanted some time to bond over their Beanie Boos collection, which went right through pool time and into manicure time. Beanie Boos require a lot of bonding–must be the giant eyes. They’re haunting. The Bette Davises of plush toys.

They are so sweet, like tiny stuffed animal zombies.

My friend, who I’d enlisted to help with the manicures showed up and we forced strongly compelled completely disinterested girls to get their nails done.  I had conveniently forgotten that I possess the manual dexterity of a raccoon–just enough to dig through the garbage, but not enough to execute delicate spa services on tiny, thoroughly chewed nails. So I completed 1/2 of one manicure while my “client” complained about the horrible salon service, until my friend was merciful enough to fire me and take over.

This took us to 5:00, when of course the girls decided that they were ready for the pool. Because a pool is more enjoyable when you’re cold, hungry and sporting freshly painted nails. You could drive a tractor-trailer through the holes in this logic. Not to mention that the timing would interfere with the allotted time for nail drying and cut into the joyous partaking of pizza and donuts around the dining room table.

I started to illustrate the obvious problems with their plan when I was struck by either an epiphany or an aneurysm. Because of the pounding in my head it was hard to tell the difference. Whichever it was, I finally realized the error of my ways.

This was Riley’s birthday. If she wanted to spend it becoming hypothermic, waterlogged and ruining the manicure she hadn’t wanted in the first place, then by God, I should let her. I shut my trap, took the kids up to our neighbors’ house and plopped them in the hot tub. There they stayed until 8:30, enjoying pizza and donuts and partying like polar bears.

“Smile for the camera or my mom will make us get another manicure.”

Honestly, I think my headache and fatigue may have been my 8-year-old self trying to kick my @ss from the inside, out of frustration over my slumber party ineptitude.

What about you? Any birthday or slumber party horror stories? Better yet, any fabulous tips for my next one? Obviously I can use any help and pain reliever you have to offer.

Slacker Mom Confessional – Spirit Week

This morning we all woke up late. Well the kids woke up late and I uncharacteristically decided to shower as soon as I got out of bed due to the fact that my hair had molded into some sort of 4th grade art project during the night. The shower put me behind schedule.

Personal hygiene is my nemesis.

So we were all running behind when I realized that it was Crazy Hair day at my daughter’s school. This is spirit week and Crazy Hair day was the day to which Riley had been looking forward all week. She had big plans for Crazy Hair day, namely to dye her hair the color of the rainbow. All week long I told myself to prepare and all week long preparation was preempted by other, more pressing things on my to-do list, so this morning found me woefully unprepared.

However, Riley hasn’t had the best week. She’s been stressed out about learning multiplication and the upcoming state testing and bummed about a hundred other little things.  Being a sensitive, dyslexic seven-year-old ain’t easy some days. Because of that, I wouldn’t even consider scrapping the rainbow hair plan despite having insufficient time and preparation. Desperate mothers aren’t ruled by logic.

I'd dye my butt rainbow colors for my daughter if it wouldn't simply traumatize her.

I grabbed our food coloring, my creme brulee ramekins, some conditioner, a toothpick and a sandwich baggie in a rush and went to work.

Okay, so my organizational skills are suspect even when I’m not under duress. My manual dexterity is sub par. And I multitask like a drunken bachelor. This partially explains why I grabbed such nonsensical items.

You know what you can accomplish with a toothpick, a baggie and a lot of food coloring in a tiny white bathroom? Complete multicolored chaos. Like a mac truck and the Easter bunny collided.

Jackson Pollock bathes here.

The only thing that really didn’t take color was Riley’s hair, which sent me into a panic, because I just couldn’t accept the look of disappointment on her face after all the carnage. I made a last minute decision to stop rinsing the colored conditioner from Riley’s hair in an effort to keep at least a hint of rainbow on her head. Then we ran out of time before I could thoroughly blow dry Riley’s hair so I sent her to school with wet, slightly slimy, mildly tinted hair, a bright blue ear and random smudges and smears everywhere else. She was shivering when I dropped her off at the gate and well on her way to developing Spirit Week pneumonia. But she was happy about having colored hair and that’s what’s important, right? Right?? Right!

I took this picture after school. Greasy, colored hair makes Riley feel edgy like a 7-year-old runaway or a Calvin Klein model.

When Conor and I triumphantly returned home I remembered that both the rent and preschool payment were due…five days ago. Those two items were also preempted by other items on my to-do list. Understandable. It’s not like housing and education are important, right? Ask any politician.

I threw a check and one of Riley’s drawings into an envelope (my little way of reminding our landlords that we have adorable children who make up for my delinquent rent payments) and hustled Conor out to the car. We dropped the rent at the same post office that houses our landlords’ p.o. box to speed delivery. I briefly lamented about the waste of another stamp but since I can’t even remember what current postage is it’s hard to really get indignant.

We're happy even on the verge of being incinerated by the giant sun--who wouldn't want us as renters?

Then we headed to the credit union, conveniently located nowhere near our home. I like to pay our preschool in cash because they are extremely relaxed about cashing checks and Hubs tends to get excited upon finding extra money in our account. When Hubs gets excited, he celebrates by purchasing something. The preschool inevitably cashes the check right after Hubs’s celebratory purchase. And then Mama can’t go to Vegas…I mean the grocery store.

On a side note: I only refer to myself as Mama when I’m gambling or experiencing a financial windfall which is exactly never.

Now at that point I hadn’t eaten yet, which is not a good thing. Important parts of me shut down when I don’t eat: patience, empathy, motor skills, cognitive function. And Conor was overdue for his every-15-minute fuel intake as well. The inside of my car sounded like a road trip with the Bickersons of Bickerville. Conor loudly expressed his disdain for the post office, the road we were on, all roads around us, going uphill, going downhill, “pleases” officers, banks, cars, air, you name it, he hated it and I was only slightly more pleasant.

I had to carry Conor into the credit union due to his sudden attack of “pleases”officer-phobia and that took a little longer than usual because, in my low blood sugar state I couldn’t remember how to get to the front door. Afterward I couldn’t remember where the freeway on-ramp was and ended up on the wrong freeway headed to no place in particular. I should have picked up a souvenir and some breakfast.

Oh look, we're here. (image via dreamstime)

When we were finally home and I was dancing around in the hallway, waiting for my son to get done with the bathroom, so that I could relieve myself and then eat before ending up in a puddle of my own tears and urine, I remembered that I had missed the play date I’d scheduled for Conor by an hour and a half. What else could I do but light my to-do list on fire and sit down here to write my confession?

You see I’m not a slacker mom because I don’t care. I’m a slacker mom because I don’t possess the mental faculties to be super efficient and still sane. God made me mildly funny and then got distracted and left the room before he added organizational tools. I’m okay with this. I love myself and all of my deficiencies. My kids seem to be okay–I don’t think disorganized parenting caused Riley’s dyslexia or stunted their growth.

Disorganized parenting is the leading cause of messy hair and extended pajama wearing according to the Surgeon General's office.

However if you were thinking of putting me on some sort of important committee for the future of society, you might want to rethink that choice. Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow is available.