Excess Baggage? You've Got It Too


Recently on my way home from New York, I was cursing myself for oversleeping and getting a late start to the airport. I'm a procrastinator and hate mornings- a bad High stack of luggagecombination for early departures. When I arrived at the airport, I raced down the walkway, rolling my suitcase, and landed in the skycap line out of breath.

"You're overweight" said the skycap.  

"Jesus. Well, good morning to you, too," I said, shrugged my shoulders, and mouthed a "What the fu-?" to the guy behind me.

"Ma'am," the skycap continued "you've got excess baggage."

"Seriously?" I asked. "Is it that obvious I'm marginally, or maybe somewhat f*cked up just from looking at me? You can eyeball me in an instant and know I've got issues without any knowledge of my parents' divorce, my test anxiety, a bullying ex-husband, and my I've-just-about-had-enough-of-happily-married-couples? Are my fears and resentments really that palpable?"  

"Lady, you have multiple bags and they each need to weigh less than 50 pounds. This first bag is tipping the scale at 102 pounds."

"Oh," I responded, "Yeah, that one is filled with resentments. It's actually lightened up quite a bit in the last year, but I've got a way to go."

Whatever, lady, your baggage is clearly over the limit. You wanna take a moment and remove some of the excess?"

"Oh, I see.  So let me get this right," I said. "On this cold, windy morning, you want me to get down on my knees on the rough ground in my brand new $27 Donna Karan tights, bend over, despite a line of nine businessmen behind me, unzip my suitcass, reveal my unconventional packing methods to the world, risk the possibility of my unmentionables catching a gust of wind, at which time I would have to chase my Hanky Panky stretch lace panties into oncoming traffic where I'd likely be hit by a bus full of South Koreans fresh off the plane for a great exchange rate vacation in America. Yeah...  No, I don't think so."

"Ma'am," he said, "you've got too much baggage. You've got to deal with it."

Woman on couch"Right here and now, on the curb at LaGuardia, you want me to deal with my excess baggage? Really? And just how do you suggest I magically deal with it? Do you have a leather couch beyond that conveyor belt? Can you just deduct years of emotional abuse from my Sky Miles account? I've made a lot of progress post-divorce, but 45 years of baggage, that's gonna more time than a layover in Detroit."

"Ma'am, we try to keep this drop area a drama-free zone, see the sign over there? You look resourceful, I'm sure you can find a way to reduce your excess baggage."  

Emotional-baggage-claim"Buddy, I'm a divorced, 45-year old, single mom of three boys. I'm seriously at the bottom of the food chain. Read plankton, dude. I'm shocked you can actually even hear my voice."

I continued my rant, "I've got an entire bag filled with resentments. Another is cholk-full of divorce lawyer and therapy bills. You think I can just stuff the excess baggage into another bag to lug around? Or, worse, convince a sweet, lonely man to take these things off my hands for a while?"

"Um," piped up the guy behind me in line, "I don't mean to be rude, but I can't take on her excess baggage. I'm on my second mortgage, third wife and my son was expelled from another school last week. I've hit capacity."

"I guess you're stuck with it" said the skycap. "I'm gonna have to charge you $135."

"I'm good with that," I said, "Those carry-on types are total bores. You see, that fourth bag is my bucket list. I'm headed to all kinds of unknown destinations on the next leg of my journey. I can't wait to see what happens next as I continue to get stronger, more confident and adept at leaving the past behind."


Alone for Christmas?

In about an hour I'm heading to Christmas mass alone.  I'll see families gather, little girls in their holiday dresses, little boys with wet hair, trying to keep a stubborn cowlick down. I admit, it's hard to watch. My little boys are in a different city with their father.  It will be this way every Christmas Eve so I need to learn to accept this new normal. God, I hope he wet down their hair.

Lonely woman at christmasDespite the holiday ads, TV music specials and festive decorations, the holidays can be the loneliest time of year for many. The pressure to be happy and excited can be overwhelming! If I think about past years or the way I imagined the holidays would be I get emotional. I get all wound up in what I thought life would be and that precludes me from the ability to just stay in the moment and be grateful for what I do have. 

If you are alone this holiday, without friends or family, the good news is that like any other day, Christmas is just 24 hours. When I break things down into 24 hour increments and remind myself to stay in the moment -- not focus on how I want the moment to be, or how it used to be, I can make it through. Admittedly, sometimes I need to break it down further and focus on getting through hour by hour. Nevertheless, knowing the day will pass in 24 hours, just like all the other days that have come before it, helps me weather emotional holidays. 

If you are feeling alone, just know that you are one of many feeling that way today. It's normal. No, I'm not a psychiatrist, but I'm human and therefore speak from experience. It's ok not to dance around with scissors and scotch tape singing, "Fa-la-la-la-la..."  In fact, that's just plain weird. This time of year, I believe it's most important to take good care of myself, so when those happy moments come my way, I'll be healthy and ready to enjoy them, thus no scissors-dancing.  

 Hey-- Merry Christmas. Hang in there.  And remember: you are not alone.

 

 


My Rolling Stone Interview and World Premiere Christmas Video for Louis C.K.

I'm in love.  I admit it's an unusual relationship. We've never been on a date. We've never kissed.  He's never called me.  In fact, he doesn't even know I exist, but I can feel it's love from the queasiness in my stomach.  Maybe that's the Christmas tin of Chex Mix I just inhaled...but I think it's love. 


Mondays are good, tooThe truth is, I've been in love with comedian Louis C.K. for quite some time. I wouldn't say it was a factor in my divorce, but my feelings for him have been strong for a while. Even though he has no idea I'm alive, I think we'd make a great couple. We're both divorced (see? it's totally destiny.)  We both eat pizza. We both like ice cream.  And we both swear a lot.  It's a solid 
foundation. 

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God Bless Our Mess on the Anniversary of Sandy Hook

Crazy boys

Written December 14, 2012 following the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  Reposted December 14, 2019 for the fifth anniversary. My heart continues to be heavy: for those who will forever mourn, for the gratitude I have for time with my children, and with frustration that so many more continue to lose their lives as a result of gun violence.

 

 

The last couple days my sons were with their father and the house was quiet.  I found myself repeatedly walking in and out of their bedrooms, just to feel close to them.

There were underwear, socks, shoes, Lego figures, Webkinz, jeans, shin guards, and sheet music strewn about their bedroom floors. Clean and folded laundry, yet to be put away the previous week, was gathering dust. I found pistachio shells, an empty juice box carton, and Popsicle sticks under one bed. Under another, I discovered a crumpled blue sport coat, two overdue library books and my missing phone charger.

In the bathroom, the floor was nearly covered. Underwear. One damp towel. A Hardy Boys mystery. A massive hamper sat less than an arm’s length away. Toothpaste streaked the countertop. Dixie cups arranged in a pyramid and dental floss wrapped intricately around the empty toilet paper holder were clear signs they needed a magazine rack. The spatters on the mirror made me smile. I knew they were a result of laughter as they brushed their teeth. 

No doubt it was a bit of a mess, but I loved it. I savored it. In that moment, I took pleasure being surrounded by the messiness of childhood humanity. I walked back in the room of my youngest child, just 8, crawled under his covers, bruised my butt on a light saber and closed my eyes. I prayed for all the families in Newtown, CT, and humbly gave thanks for receiving the gift of more time on this earth to relish the disarray of being the mother of three boys.

Bring on the chaos

 

 


Embrace Adventure? Easy For You To Say, Helen Keller

Woman as super hero

 

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” according to Helen Keller. Yeah, sure, easy for her to say.  Ok, I take that back.  Probably not so easy for her to say. But let’s be honest, just finding the ladies’ room was likely an adventure for Helen Keller.

I’ve had plenty of adventure in my life.  Waking up on a park bench in Monte Carlo with my passport (and a few chips) tucked safely in my underpants. Jumping on a handsome stranger’s motorcycle in Greece to get to a nightclub open even later.   Finding myself alone on an empty, docked ferry, unsure of which country’s port I had reached and when. I could go on, but I think you get the unfocused picture.

I’m pretty sure Helen Keller wasn’t advocating blackouts when she referred to daring adventures.  Perhaps she was encouraging people to live without fear; to take risks despite our vulnerability.  But let's be honest, Helen Keller never had to hear a biting, “I told you so.”  I’m not saying there are benefits to being deaf and blind, ok? So don’t pull that quote from this piece.  But there's no doubt it’s easier on the ego to fall, fail, or make a fool of one's self when we don’t see eyes rolling or hear a crushing “Duh. Did you seriously think that would work, anyway?"

 

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Attitude of Hurry, Dude!

The time between Halloween and mid-November is a blur.  I moved so fast on auto-pilot from one event to the next.  Book reports, soccer games, hockey practice, Cub Scouts, play practices, math meets, guitar lessons, piano lessons, drum lessons, haircuts, shopping for winter jackets, snow pants, boots...  I need to slow down.  Take a breath. Smell a rose, or at least not another stinky sock.

No time of year is more fitting to reflect and savor life than November, the month dedicated to gratitude.  And do I have an attitude of gratitude? Nope. I'm completely focused on myself:  my lists, my drama, my kids, my life and all the sh*t I need to accomplish between now and January 1st.  I've seen your gratitude lists on Facebook

 

and overheard grocery cart wheelfriends' conversations about feeling thankful for the people and things in their lives.  I have friends with parents in the hospital, friends recovering from knee replacement surgery, friends who have lost loved ones.  Where am I?  I’m like a whirling dervish with a jet pack, covered in Sharpie and Sticky Notes. And I'm going to get it all done, dammit, just watch me.

Yesterday I walked in the grocery store and I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. There I was, in the middle of America, probably the safest place on Earth, with a wad of twenties in my pocket, able to buy all Beansthe food I wanted. Did I take a moment to be thankful? Did I savor the fact I can provide nourishment for my growing boys? Nope. I swore loudly for choosing a cart with a string-wrapped, uncooperative wheel. Then under my breath, I cursed other shoppers who had the gall to be there and potentially get in my way. 

My crooked cart and I cringed at the endless aisles of food.  Was I grateful for the abundance of available sustenance? Nope,  I was completely annoyed there was so much food.  There are folks starving, having to butcher their goats or pets. And I was up in arms about having to choose some foods over others. Decisions about green beans: fresh, organic, canned, frozen, french-style, whole, cut, mixed with wax, with almonds, without almonds, pickled...

The bread aisle put me over the edge: white, wheat, rye, oat, potato, 7-grain, 8-grain, 12 grain, whole grain, whole grain wheat, whole grain white, split top, flat top, carrot top, Hawaiian, Italian, Texas-style, with raisins, without raisins, reduced-fat, added calcium... Clean up in aisle eight, because I'm going to lose my sh*t.

  Bread aisle

The onset of the holidays makes me anxious. I'm on a schedule, folks. The mother ahead of me with a booger-covered-crying toddler and 75 coupons...  Jesus, for the sake of time management, coupons should be confiscated from parents with annoying children.  The checker with so many body piercings?  Not cool.  I wasn't going to let Vampire Girl check my eggs for cracks. And did I feel sorry for the sap dressed as a turkey handing out deli samples? I ran over his foot on the way out.  This ain't free range buddy, pedestrians rule.

Only when I disengage from the rat-race of the world, am I truly able to reflect and be thankful for all I have in my life. Two years ago, what I thought to be my white-picket-fence-dream blew up in my face;  divorce, custody battle, 20 pounds of comfort food weight gain and a fear of the future that is indescribable. Without the help of family, old friends, new friends, teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and the kindness of strangers, I'd still be hiding in my bathrobe, dreading the future.

I'm also thankful to you, readers, for your encouragement, enthusiasm, clever comments and inspiring personal notes.  With such a huge network of support, I know I can face any hairpin turn that comes my way, no matter how many turkeys cross my path.

But let's be clear.  Between now and January 1st, when I'm on a self-proclaimed, serious mission, like buying one last roll of scotch tape, or running out last minute for more AA batteries, if you're driving too slowly ahead of me, I'll likely tailgate, beep obnoxiously, and then give you one of those WTF gestures because I need to get through my list. I apologize in advance,  I really do.  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd be grateful if you wouldn't flip me the bird if my children are in the car.


My Acceptance Letter for Project Divorcée, Season One!

Dear Ms. Testwuide,

Congratulations!  You have been selected as a contestant to appear on the inaugural season of Project Divorcée.  Modeled after the successful Project Runway series, Executive Producer, Heidi Klum, has decided to try her recently ringless hand, at a new reality show. Project Divorcée will pit women at their lowest point against one another, in order to win a prize package by further losing their dignity.  

We have reviewed your audition tape and processed your application. We feel you embody the perfect mixture of bitterness, apathy, and vengeance. When combined with your delicate emotional state and raging sugar addiction, you make a perfect reality TV character.  

Too tight jeans

We feel your too-tight-sized-14-mom-jeans, high likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes during production, and constant collection agency calls for unpaid therapists' bills will make you an instant fan favorite.

Your file was missing some paperwork. We require all divorce lawyer’s bills be sent to our offices to authenticate your eligibility. We recognize shipping is costly. We understand the pure poundage of your particular legal bills has reduced your transportation options to ground service only. We thank you for chartering a train to transport these documents.

The winner of Project Divorcée will receive $25,000 for Vaginal Rejuvenation, a Lifestyle Lift , a set of Glamor Shots, and a one year supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream created exclusively for our show, Manic Xanax. 

Please sign the enclosed documents agreeing to the following:

  1. Continue your diet of saturated fats, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars and any recipes by Paula Deen.
  2. Purchase a clean bathrobe as it appears from your audition tape to be your signature wardrobe piece. A silk robe with shoulder pads, high slit, and no middle zipper may make you more palatable to male viewers rather than your current Cheeto-stained fleece.

Unlike Project Runway, contestants for Project Divorcée are informed of their weekly challenges in advance in order to schedule therapy sessions as needed. The first challenge requires contestants to don pre-divorce evening dresses that still fit. "Fits" is defined as "zippers to top while contestant breathes continuously." Contestants will then attend a couples’ cocktail party solo. You will be judged on your ability to smile, engage in friendly banter, and remark "I'm so happy for you," at least ten times during the evening. The winner of challenge one will receive two Ambien and be allowed to spend the next 24 hours in bed.

We look forward to your arrival in Allentown, PA for the first season of Project Divorcée.

Sincerely,

Myles Seabrunner and Barton Winkler

Associate Producers

Project Divorcée

 

 


What Do Your Jeans Say About You?

 

Lucky you verticalI may be watching too many late night infomercials, but I'm tired of the message that women over 40 are old.  I hear about bladder swings, vaginal rejuvination, Lifestyle Lifts, Muffin Molds and more.  When I saw an ad for Not Your Daughter's Jeans, it just put me over the edge.   40 isn't old!  I cranked out this letter, sent it and feel much better. Just wanted to share it with you. 

 

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I Bet You're On Fire, Too

Over the years I've chosen theme songs for my life.   Everyone does this, right?  I mean, I can't be the only one who imagines walking in the door of any party, meeting, interview or parent-teacher conference carrying a boom box blaring my personal theme song to drown out my self-doubt and your critical eye. Thankfully Apple has made this scenario a lot less awkward with the invention of iPods and ear buds.

PlatformsWhen I filed for divorce, it's no surprise my theme song was "I Will Survive." Gloria Gaynor knocks it out of the park.  I went to the vintage store, purchased platformed disco shoes and bedazzled the crap out of them.  Not only do they lift my spirits, but man, they look good.

When the boys and I moved out of the long-time marital residence, my song was definitely from The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "You're gonna make it after all...." Can't you hear it now?  "Who can turn the world on with her smile..."

After putting on my screens at the new house, I was so impressed with myself, I couldn't resist doing an MTM (standard move of mine - throw hat in air, smile MTMand spin.)  Without a doubt, my sons thought I was nuts.  But in my head, I was feeling Mary-Tyler-Moore-screw-you-Mr.-Grant-take-no-sh*t-conquer-the-world-on-my-own vibes. And who can't use a little dose of that every day?

Unfortunately, self-destructive thoughts creep in my brain and camp out.  After receiving negative messages from a spouse for well over a decade, I believed them to be true. Even worse, it became natural to think that way.  If only I was prettier, thinner, smarter, richer.... Oh, you're right, sorry to bother you with my ridiculous thoughts, you've had a long day at a real job... Absolutely, you know best. What do I know?  You get the picture - and it's not a pretty one.

As a rational person (and after a lot of therapy) I know those negative messages are false. My opinions matter. I am smart. Changing my hair color, whitening my teeth or having bigger boobs won't make me more worthy of love. I'm already worthy.

But here's the kicker:  even though my brain knows those messages are false, my body operates on instinct.  When reminded of a past negative message like, "Do not call me, text me or email me at work;  I have paying clients that are way more important than you," my body automatically has a visceral reaction. I physically feel anxiety, loss of breath, and the sensation of being punched in my gut.  

The worst part is, instincts are hard to retrain.  After having the habit of being on the defensive for so long, I am amazingly skilled at interpreting things negatively and not feeling worthy of others' time.  And then what happens?  The old tapes in my head start to play: If only I were... You are right, that was a ridiculous idea...I am sorry I bothered you.

In summer I saw the movie, We Bought a Zoo, in which a father gives his son some words of advice and inspiration. He says:  "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."  

You might wonder, how do we muster that twenty seconds of insane courage?  Get yourself a theme song. 

When I've got my theme song playing loudly in my head, it overrides the self-doubt, negativity and fear.  I get a I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass-that-I've-got-a-run-in-my-tights-and-screw-the-man-I-like-who-doesn't-feel-the-same-toward-me-and-yes-dammit-I-do-look-good-with-dog-drool-on-my-boob attitude. I don't have a glamorous life. I don't have a full social calendar. My jeans are too tight. I have fines at the public library. I'm lonely. I spend way too much time at Kwik Trip.

But with Alicia Keys in my head, there is no room for negativity and self-doubt.   As seen in my music video below, her words and music have the power to bring out the positive from deep within.   My overly-sensitive-average-single-mom-life makes me feel like a "Girl on Fire."  Just click the play button and enjoy.  I bet you've got some fire in you, too!

 

 

 


Road-Tested Travel Tips To Keep Parents Sane

Although I consider myself an expert in many areas of parenting, like how to maximize the longevity of boxers, using a double dose of cough syrup for any ailment, and how to clean fingernails with the tip of a paperclip while driving to school, I feel I have exceptional authority on long-distance travel with boys. As many schools begin their fall breaks later this week, I thought I'd share some of my road-tested tips in the event your family is heading out for a few days. 

There is no doubt satellite radio, a cooler on wheels, a DVD player with headphones, and a couple audio-books are all good bets to make a family road trip a bit more comfortable. But the stakes are just a bit higher when traveling with boys in a small, confined space for hours while simultaneously operating a large motor vehicle on unfamiliar roads at speeds of 75 mph.  Parental sanity, not comfort, tends to be the priority.

Tip Number 6:  Rolling Backpacks

Cornhead
Dude, we're from Wisconsin. We wear cheese. Besides, that cob won't fit in your backpack.

Rolling backpacks allow kids to haul their own stuff, even if it's heavy.  No more: "It's too hea-----vy. Can you puh-lease just carry it?" Each boy needs his own rolling backpack for his electronic game systems, chargers, books, games, blankie, and stuffed animals.  Any purchased souvenirs must fit in the rolling backpack which makes saying "no" to rifles, cone-heads and large rocks pretty easy. Pulling a rolling backpack inhibits kids from running too far ahead allowing you to keep up, and your blood pressure can stay down. In addition, unlike traditional backpacks, rolling backpacks are on the ground so they cannot easily be used as weapons against one another when standing in boring lines or crowded elevators. 


Tip Number 5:  Jobs for All

Hugo the Recorder
The Recorder keeping track of our s'more intake, crucial information.

As a single mom, I can't do it all, so every boy chooses a job for the trip.  My youngest is the Lookout.  He looks for bad guys, lightning, curves in the road, and booby traps. His job requires binoculars and a much needed diagram indicating his "left" and "right."

My middle son is the Recorder. He records unusual sightings like a bear peeing or a running cantaloupe (turned out to be an antelope.) He is responsible for writing down shopping lists, fast food orders, and game scores. His tallies of buffalo poop piles and creative abbreviations like "J.C." (just ketchup) keep us laughing.  

My oldest is the Navigator which requires attention to detail and excellent computer skills. Who needs Siri when I have my own Go-to-Guy? Before I can spit out the question, he's got the answer:  "Got it, Mom!  Check it out in 3-D."  Sketch Artist, DVD Master, Fart-Counter, Snack Man, and Mr. Muscles are some additional jobs to help a family trip run a little smoother. 

Tip Number 4:  Scooters or Ripsticks

RipsticksBoys feel the need for speed.  They are physically incapable of being restrained and confined for hours at a time.  And as a parent, unless I have some strong happy pills, I, too, am incapable of being confined for a lengthy period of time with them.  Don't fight nature.  Accept it. Although a stop at a park to swing or climb on a jungle gym is a nice respite, ten laps at full speed on a scooter or Ripstick around an empty church parking lot provides a faster and more satisfying energy release. Park the car. Turn up the tunes. Let 'em ride.  Not sold?  Scooters and Ripsticks never get flat tires or lose a chain. Pack the scooters, rent your bikes at the destination. 

Luggage carts
I love the anonymity of travel. I have no idea who these kids are.
Tip Number 3:  Luggage Carts

 Upon arrival, a group of luggage carts in a hotel lobby is a welcome sight for my sore eyes.  Kids are so wired to get out of the car, I let them each have a luggage cart as I pretend to completely not know them as I check-in at the front desk.  

Let them unload the car, one item at a time, in order to make as many elevator trips as possible.  Let them use luggage carts as over-sized skateboards, jungle gyms and bumper cars.  Hey, I figure, the longer you can put off going to that gross, under-chlorinated hotel pool full of strangers, the better. Right? I have used the luggage cart technique on many trips and have yet to be asked to leave a hotel.

Tip Number 2:  Gum

Get your butt to Costco and load up on gum - lots and lots of gum.  Hubba-Bubba, Bubblicious, Bazooka, with sugar, without sugar--- any kind will do!  

DSC09398
A quiet, happy traveler.
It is a fact that cars become quieter when kids chew gum. Boys do not yell or shout with multiple pieces of bubble gum in their mouths. They chew the gum.  They add more gum.  They talk about their gum. They compare gum. They inquire about others' gum. They blow bubbles. They add more gum and then they repeat the process.

Chewing gum is an activity in and of itself that lasts longer than coloring, Tic-Tac-Toe, or I Spy. So moms, don't be stingy with the gum! Don't be tempted to save the gum for a meltdown or moment of desperation. Leverage their love of gum.  Gum is your friend.  

In my experience, kids never, ever tire of gum. After chewing gum all day, when presented with the dessert tray in a restaurant, my youngest politely asked, "Do you have any gums?  I'll just have a gum." 

And My Top Traveling Tip:  Gatorade 

Eli w Gatorade
Gatorade: don't leave home without it.
Large, plastic bottles of Gatorade are the number one must-have for any long trip with boys.  Gatorade containers are so big, kids never ask for more! No one complains of thirst or fights over the last one. When the first boy finishes his Gatorade, the discarded, wide-mouthed jug conveniently becomes the communal urinal.  Peeing in the car results in hours of fun and conversation for boys:  "Mom, want some Gatorade?"  "I think I'm stuck."  

When a jug of Gatorade is in the car, the driver can relax knowing there will be no pressure to find a bathroom "Now!!!  Not five minutes, Mom, now!"  Your car now has a fully functioning urinal.

Say goodbye to finding crumpled, 6-ounce juice boxes and cellophane straw wrappers all over the back seats. Say hello to reducing your family's carbon footprint by bringing Gatorade on your next family road trip with boys.  Warning:  this tip could be disastrous with girls.  

 

DSC09404Yep, it can be frustrating, exhausting and down-right crazy when a family takes to the road together.  All the planning in the world will still result in some sort of not-the-end-of-the-world disaster.  But there are few things better in life than sharing an adventure with the ones we love!  

 

Happy Trails to you!

 

 

  



I've Got Something in My Pocket

As a young girl,  I dreamed I’d someday be the mother of two demure daughters.  I'd dress them in pink Polly Flinders dresses, white tights and black patent leather shoes. Quietly they'd play for hours, my two little angels, with Dressy Bessy and Mrs. Beasley. In my fantasy, we'd shop for the Barbie Townhouse, sell Girl Scout cookies, discuss Nancy Drew mysteries and debate which Hardy boy, Frank or Joe, was the cutest. 

 But then I gave birth to three boys. 

I'll be honest, my romantic childhood fantasies of motherhood never included:

buying Shout, Gatorade, and Goober by the case. 

falling into the toilet bowl...repeatedly.

washing urine off the walls, seriously guys, still?

stepping on piles of seemingly innocuous, yet unimaginably painful teeny, tiny Lego pieces.

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Soccer Mom on Steroids

Soccer sidelinesI’ve never thought of myself as a competitor. I’m not athletically inclined. On the 9th grade basketball team, I sat with my legs crossed on the bench, daydreaming of becoming Carol Burnett.  My disgusted coach would shout at the highest decibel level her manly, stout, body could exhort:  “Testwuide, this ain’t a Christmas tea, sit like a man.  Pay attention.”  What-ever… just puh-lease don’t put me in that game.

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Have You Had “The Talk” With Your Kids?

Recently I had "the talk" with my kids. I had put it off too long, which was truly irresponsible. Although my children are still relatively young, it's best to have certain discussions before they know everything and I'm just another embarrassing mom.  

I knew the subject matter of our discussion would be uncomfortable. Some could argue that not drinking, not smoking or not having sex are far more pressing topics.  But with three boys, I've got to pick my battles.  My gravestone and final resting place are far more important than teenage pregnancy or drug addiction.  

Instructions at graveAs single mom, I ponder what my final resting place will be like.  Walking through the cemetery, I panicked to realize I might land in the bumpy last row of our family plot, next to old Augusta Bach. A distant cousin, Augusta was a pathetic case who had no husband. My great-grandma begrudgingly agreed to toss her in the back for eternity. 

When I filed for divorce, I felt relief in being alone.  In fact, my epitaph might have read:  Beware of Dog.  However, now that time has passed, I can't deny I fear being alone forever.  I secretly yearn to have the words, "Beloved and super hot wife of...." engraved on my stone for all my posterity to see. 

The fear of being alone causes me to have unusual reactions around happily
married folks. When I witness couples holding hands at the grocery store, I want to smack that happiness right off their faces. Permanently dressed in a black turtleneck and yoga pants, like a middle-aged ninja, although lacking any sort of stealth, I fantasize about nailing three perfect flips at warp speed down the baking ingredient aisle and karate-chopping their hands apart.  Swish, swish, swish, hi-yahhhh!!  In my fantasy, at the last minute a bag of flour drops off the shelf providing a smokey veil into which my cart and I would vanish.
 

As a result of hating the happily mairrieds, I don't want to be stuck next to those annoying, well-adjusted couples for the next 200 years. Therefore I took the boys to the cemetery for a simple "do and don't" session.  Don't get me wrong, they don't need to go overboard.  I don't need a "statement" grave.  

I don't have issues about the size of a penis.

Boys at penis grave

Nor do I have a Napoleon complex. 

Napoleon complex FS

I don't need to pay homage to a lost testicle.

Indirect kick

But after walking the cemetery, surrounded by so many unique symbols of love,  I've decided not to give up on finding true love, the sequel.  And in the event I do get that second shot, all of eternity will know. The boys have strict instructions to order a hot pink, grossly bedazzled gravestone which reads:  "She's Goin' Down."

 




Amish Paradise

School has been in session for about a month and I have already driven kids back and forth to 22 soccer practices, 15 play rehearsals, 9 swim lessons, 4 guitar lessons, 5 piano lessons, made 60 brown bag lunches, folded 47 loads of laundry, tied 88 soccer cleats and spent $847 at Costco.

I’m running away to Amish Country.

Eight years ago, driving back from Cleveland, OH, after spending Thanksgiving with relatives, the DVD player in the car was broken and the kids were hyped to the max on candy corn.  By the time we reached Indiana, I was clawing at the door.  I had to get out.  I had recently quit drinking and the nail polish remover in my cosmetic bag was seriously tempting. It was dire. 

We pulled off the freeway, found a hotel, and splurged for the biggest suite in the place.  Upon arrival in our oddly homey accommodations was a sign that read:  

No alcohol or tobacco products permitted on site.  However, we have 29 kinds of pie. Welcome to Amish Country.

 

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Fitness Club, Schmitness Flub

Dr scholls finalSince I pray that some day, some one will want to be naked with me again, I was encouraged to stop in a local fitness center and fill out an application form. I've posted it below. Sorry it's tough to read. I shouldn't open the mail when my blood sugar is low (which is pretty much never since 9,072Thin Mints were just delivered to my house.)  

Health form final 1
Health form fianl 2


72 Hours to Get Ready For a Date? Yep, at Age 45.

Since I am recently divorced, my friends have nudged me to get back out there and date. Out where? I ask.  I mean, there is not a strong market for the 45-year-old-non-drinking-stay-at-home-mother-of-three-sons demographic – or as I like to call it, “the three penis package deal,” but I have been willing to give it a try.

Friends suggested I try Match.com, eHarmony or HookUpsForMoms. I’ve given a couple of these sites a shot, but to be honest, I just don’t have the energy. In fact, I almost fell asleep on my last date.  Don’t get me wrong, the date was hardly boring; he was an engineer, funny, handsome, grown children – the total package.

The problem is that at 45, it takes me 72 hours to get ready for a date.  By the time he picks me up, I’m ready for a good night kiss.  The days of preparing for a date by adding a second pair of shoulder pads, a half can of Shaper hairspray and my ID are long gone.

72 hours. Can you fathom how long 72 hours is?  It’s twice as long as my kids are in school for a whole week and longer than one of Britney Spears’s marriages. In other words, one little date is a serious time investment all designed to look like it took no time at all! 

 

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I Pledge a Redux to my Sags

Over the last few weeks, just like you, I have spent hundreds of dollars buying school supplies I never needed as a kid.  Strange things like hand sanitizer, entire reams (500 sheets!) of paper and $100 calculators.  I've ordered the Lands' End school uniforms and in a moment of weakness purchased trendy, expensive shoes that will likely not fit any of my sons in six weeks.  

The fridge has been organized.  The take-out containers have been tossed.  Single- Best back to school pic everserving, processed foods I can launch into lunch bags in a fury are stacked high. Each son has received his "back to school" haircut and we have had another lesson on the importance of deodorant.

In addiiton, I've washed my pink, fuzzy bathrobe so I will look presentable driving the kids to school.  It would be beyond embarrassing to have a car accident in a robe covered in chocolate ice cream stains and Cheeto-finger swipes. All in all, I'm feeling pretty prepared for the new school year.

The annual ritual of getting kids ready for school always sparks a desire within me to become more organized, more productive and just get my act  together all around.  The sight of glossy folders, the quick huff off a Sharpie, and the perfectly tipped crayons make me want to label stuff.  But just for a fleeting second.  I ponder properly filing things. I could fish my passport out of the filmy make up drawer and glide it smoothly into a crisp file folder marked "travel" or maybe just "P."  But that feeling passes too, content knowing my passport is safely tucked next to a jar of wax. And since I probably won't need either for a while, why mess up a system that works?

In the past years of experiencing the turmoil of divorce, even armed with the best of intentions, already by the Thursday after Labor Day, my urge to organize, lose weight, and get a bit of exercise, seems to die as easily as slow flies in August.  

But this school year is going to be different.   Not only are my kids going to learn all kinds of math stuff I won't even be able to fake understand, I, too, am going to make forward progress. Newly divorced, I'm no longer in a holding pattern, wondering if I should stay or go.  The tough stuff is behind me and the living is ahead. 

Therefore, on this first day of school, as all students across America will recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I, too shall make a pledge to get my divorce-comfort-food-cherry-pie-very-large-ass off the sofa to declare my goal for the school year.  If you've been "on hold" and let yourself go, come on, get up and say it with me:

"I pledge a redux to my sags and the bloated state of Abdomenia.  And to my stomach... that bitch which expands:  deflation, smaller bod, irresistible with dignity.... til the jugs start to fall."

 

 


Up in Smoke

I'm tossing my life's plans out the window.  For dramatic effect, I'm going to light them on fire, blast "Chariots of Fire" and watch the ashes drift slowly to the ground. I'll only need the ringtone version since I live in a ranch, but the fiery ball of frustration will be something to behold nonetheless.

You see my friends, I need freedom from expectations. I've come to realize that the fewer plans I make, the better, because very few things actually turn out as I expect. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining.  No sir-eeee.  I mean, I've attached a lot of high expectations to a lot of crummy plans.  

In college I set out to be an International Relations major simply because I rocked a trench coat.  Truth be told, I didn't actually take into account it was a white, patent leather trenchcoat, had massive shoulder pads and squeaked when I walked. But a spy has to look good, right comrade?   But alas, I failed Russian, Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall, and my asymmetric hairstyle grew out.

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