Sunday, May 10, 2015

One day they'll thank me

"One day" has arrived!

“Chicken and potatoes again?”

“You didn’t go to the store yet? We’re almost out of milk!”

“What are these stacks of clothes on my bed?”

I don’t know what my kids think I do all day. One recent morning at the bus stop, they announced that they “hadn't had time” to brush. Astounded, I reflected on the morning’s hubbub: my middle son simultaneously eating breakfast, doing homework, and complaining; my oldest doing anything he could to distract him (which was something akin to yodeling after I insisted he keep his hands to himself); my youngest telling me he needed help putting on his shirt (what he needed was attention, because he has been dressing himself for years) – all against the backdrop of an early conference call. The dog and cat orbited me as I made lunches and scurried around collecting things that everyone would need that day – recorder, library books, extra shoes – while checking periodically to see if the washing machine was done, because if I forgot to move the clothes to the dryer, they might not be ready for folding during my afternoon conference call.

“No matter how busy I might be, I still make time to brush my teeth.”

“But you get to stay home all day, Mommy!” my older son reasoned.

Does he assume I am sitting around in my pajamas watching Nickelodeon and eating toaster pastries?

“Where’s my homework?”

“Is it still in your backpack?”

“I don’t know. Can you look?”

“Nope, I’m busy with the dishes.”

“I’m not doing it then!”

“Well, think again, ’cause I’m sure not gonna do it!”

“You never do anythingfor us!”

What is so absurd about that comment is that most everything I do is for them or because of them.

My children are my “why.” They are why I get up (earlier than I might like) in the morning, why I have the telecommuting job I do, why I “vacation” at a local beach rather than at a Caribbean resort, why I drive a Mommy-wagon, why I have toast crusts for breakfast and half-eaten chicken “noggins” for dinner, and why our house is decorated in the fingerprint-and-strewn-toy motif.

“We’re, like, the only kids that don’t have a Wii!”

“You have X-Box set up in your den in the basement!

I wondered if they would ever appreciate how good they have it.

But then I remembered the Mother’s Day card I had given to my mom the year I graduated from college. I found it amongst her keepsakes, shortly after she passed away. “Thank you for all your love and support, and sanctioning, advising, encouraging, cooking, and everything else… You have given up so much and made so many sacrifices for us. I guess I’ve just started realizing this and I’m very grateful.”

Apparently, gratitude increases as awareness grows. Maybe it will be that first time my sons do their own laundry, plan and execute a family meal, or insist that everyone stop shouting and kicking in the back of the car – it might take time, but I am sure that one day they’ll thank me. I am eternally grateful to my own late mother, as the magnitude of all she has done for me continues to unfold.

This story was originally published in a literary magazine that is out of print and also appears in my book Snakes, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tales.

The 50th post

I recently wrote my 50th post on my Boy to the World! blog, which was mostly inactive but I figured I’d better at least mention that I published the book that was born from the site. It's a good thing I remembered to renew the domain (two days before it expired).

I have a few things published recently. One is a re-telling of Moneyfesto (explaining the difference between wants and needs to my kids) on Liberty Cannon, which is a new platform for me (and a little outside of my usual scope, which is good, but at the same time, there are a lot of new guidelines to figure out). The other, The Right Choice, is on Ten to Twenty Parenting and is about letting two of my kids go to a school play by themselves, but second- and third-guessing myself after another mom’s comments. I have another story queued for publishing there -- it's about my youngest having to make a choice between a party and a hockey game.

This week I have a column in the paper about someone returning a $50 bill that I lost in the supermarket? Who does that? Apparently one of the lovely people in our hometown supermarket.

My "day job" has been particularly intense lately and overflowing into the time I wish I had to write (but should probably be walking the dogs instead, since the weather is all of a sudden terrific and we could all use the exercise). 

Someone commented in an online writer's group that she knew someone who had quit social media, lending an air of mystique to her writing. Imagine how much simpler life would be without the constant influx of data and the need to be "always on," or the feeling of that you're missing something if you're not and the supposed need to time (and schedule) keyword-laden and relevant posts to promote your _______________ (product, work, whatever). But what if I looked at social media like cable TV. I missed that at first when I gave it up but now I hardly think about it at all. I don't mean ALL social media, like blogs and blogging platforms (just like we didn't give up all shows -- we still have Netflix), I mean Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+ -- as well as all the ones I haven't figured out yet, like Reddit, which is not visually appealing to me, but probably would be to people who have a large amount of disposable mine, who have recently earned their smart phones, which in itself has handicapped my ability to have a conversation with them, but they do text me more frequently these days.

I went to a two-hour women's retreat yesterday (yes, only two hours as opposed to the two-day retreats my kids have time for) and brought a small journal to take notes. It reminded me how nice it is to just write for myself, and to doodle if I want to. 

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...