Nearly every morning, I take a shower. When I step out of the shower, I wrap a towel around my horde of curls and stand naked in front of the huge mirror over our vanity. I assess my belly, once smooth and firm, now scarred and soft from the hard work of pregnancy and three c-sections. I grimace with a something akin to irritation at my thighs – no matter how many miles they’ve run, or how many squats they’ve done – they can never quite escape the dimples of cellulite, now exacerbated by time and gravity. I save my harshest criticism for my ass. No longer the petite derriere of a twenty-something, age and heredity (and more than a few french fries) have contributed to its metamorphosis. It’s somehow larger, but smaller – wider and flatter, criss-crossed with stretch marks. Firm? Only when I’m clenching those babies tight enough to crush a soda can. It occurs to me that I’ve conducted this same ritual for decades – in different bathrooms in different homes in different mirrors – and I’ve never been satisfied with what I’ve been looking at. Today, I would give anything to have those 24-year-old thighs or stomach or ass but, when I was 24, it wasn’t good enough. Surely, there’s a lesson in that alone that should go something like “be happy with what you’ve got, because someday you’ll be wishing you had just that.” Let’s be honest, aging works in mysterious ways. Stray hairs are akin to the rings of trees – the number is a sure indicator of age. The random strands are like phantoms – I can feel them there, but my eyesight has declined to the point where I can’t actually see them. The same goes for some of the finer wrinkles on my face. Nearsightedness is God’s Photoshop. The further I stand from the mirror, the better I look – a self-inflicted blur filter.
A few weeks ago, my middle daughter absolutely needed to have a puppy. In spite of the fact that she’s 14, she was standing in my bedroom, tears rolling down her face, showing me pictures of adorable puppies available for adoption that she had to have. It must have slipped her mind that we already have two dogs. I would think she’d remember them since she’s constantly yelling for them to “Get Out!” of her room. No, guess not. Jillian has a history of passionately wanting something for about 24 – 28.5 hours. In fact, I have 4 cactii downstairs as proof. Excuse me, 1 very phallic cactus and 3 succulents. Why a teenager who keeps her room as dark as Dracula’s tomb would want 4 sun-loving plants is beyond me, but I indulged her.
If you’re here looking for a post that explains how I installed our bamboo floors or how we replaced a toilet bowl in our house, you’re going to be disappointed. Maybe some other time. What I’m about to tell you will save you years of time – I’m sure of it. These words of maternal wisdom are the result of years of careful research and experimentation. I can tell you with nearly absolute scientific certainty (margin of error +/- 68%) that, instead of delegating tasks, you should do it yourself, Mom.
When you’re the parent of teenaged girls, they ask you all sorts of questions. These questions seem straightforward enough, but like a desert in a war zone, they’re really booby trapped. Let’s face it, the reality is that we didn’t actually DO (or NOT do) many of the things we advise our own kids to do (or not do.) That’s how I found myself talking to kids about drinking the other night.
Let me set the scene: we were enjoying a sushi dinner the other night, with all three children, along with our “fourth child” – a friend of the girls’, who spends so much time with us that she might as well move in. Which, by the way, would be fine, because she’s definitely the most responsible of our kids. Considering our recent track record for peaceful meals out, we were having a surprisingly pleasant time. And then…
I have a deep and abiding love for my car. In addition to being able to fit just about anything from IKEA in the back, and having the driver’s seat perfectly molded to the shape of my ass, it’s my home away from home. More accurately, it’s my home in the driveway of my actual home before I get home.
As a mom, we spend hours logging miles behind the wheel of our cars bringing our children to and fro. Driving to and from school, various sports activities, and evening events – our fingers spend more time clasped around that steering wheel than our spouse’s hand. It’s not an exaggeration to say that my Toyota and I are in a committed relationship. I look out for her, and she looks out for me. (Yes, she’s a she. The Supreme Court said we can make it official, so don’t judge me.)
My oldest daughter has had her learner’s permit for about a month now, and she’s already sent one unfortunate chipmunk to the Great Nutty Beyond. She may send me to the same place, although instead of the nuts, I’d prefer chocolate ice cream and Diet Coke.
I am the mother of a teen driver.
Many of you have already been through the harrowing experience of getting into the passenger seat of your own vehicle with your child behind the wheel. Something about it feels inherently wrong, like that friend’s husband who always kisses you hello on the lips. As a mother, (and is it the same for fathers?), images of both your lives flash before your eyes. You remember the time she accidentally steered the pink motorized Barbie car into the house, and you just know it’s a sign of what’s to come.
I have a love-hate relationship with certain electronics. I am deeply in love with my iPhone, even though we sometimes need to spend a little time apart to recharge. My son’s XBox, on the other hand? I hate that thing. It’s a soul-sucking demon that lives in the basement. It would eat my son alive if I let it – sucking him in for hours at a time on Minecraft. (On a related note, it’s astounding to me that a boy who can build a multi-level castle, complete with livestock, a diamond wall and an indoor pool in a town he created on Minecraft, is utterly confounded by the concept of turning dirty socks right side out.) Last weekend, the girls were begging to head to the Fireman’s Field Days in a small town not far from ours. The prospect of getting Jack out of the house and away from a television screen was very appealing, so off we went.
I love my dogs. I’ve often said that when I die, I want to come back as a dog. Not as just any dogs, as MY dogs. (I realize that would be a little challenging if I were dead…but go with it!) They have the life – they eat, they sleep and they get loved and snuggled every. single. day. In fact, as I type this, Bella is sleeping to my left and Nikki is curled up on my feet – not AT my feet, ON my feet – which works out for both of us, because my feet are always cold and she’s always furry.
Motherhood and guilt. The two things are tied together like teenagers and cell phones. In truth, it’s as difficult for me to recall a time I wasn’t feeling guilty about some choice I made as a parent as it is to recall a time I took a shower without interruption. It seems as though we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t: I felt terrible when I was working full-time and now I feel like I don’t do enough for the kids now that I’m not. I feel guilty when I don’t get them the thing it is that they want, or I feel guilt about the message I’m sending if I do. I don’t give them enough responsibility – or maybe I give them too much. I want alone time with my husband, but then I feel badly that I’m not spending enough time with them.
In 1981, I was among 750 million other television viewers watching the wedding of Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. I was 10. Maybe you were one of those 10 year olds who could care less about an actual Prince and Princess getting married. I wasn’t. I had reserved the viewing time on our lone TV and I had made sure the antenna was positioned just so. I dragged my blanket down to the sofa and had what was the epitome of elegance in my 10-year-old mind: chocolate milk in a glass with a stem and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut into fourths, people. Fourths.