I have a tendency to be a little fucking strange... a lot awkward and more than a fair amount of weird. “So, you’re quirky?” Yeah, yeah. Quirky. In my early 20’s at a casual work lunch, my boss told a story about how a woman accused her of flirting with her husband. My boss told us her response to the wife was, “Please, I don’t want your short, bald husband.” Everyone around the corporate lunch table laughed... except me. I was confused. So I asked her, “Wait, how did you know he had short balls?” Now, just like everyone around that lunch table, you might be thinking to yourself, “WTF!” Let me explain. What everyone else heard: “Short bald husband.” A man of small stature with little to no hair on his head. What I heard: “Short balled husband.” A man with remarkably ‘short’ testicles. Yup. This is me. This is my brain. It took me quite some time to accept myself. When someone asks, "How are you?" I'm no longer surprised when my response is, "Feeling things. Living earth." I expect a few puzzled looks every so often. Why do I respond that way? I have no fucking idea. I want to say, "Awesome. Thanks for asking. How are you?" But it seems, from time to time, I'm not capable of such simple small talk. And, as luck would have it, my being awkward isn't reserved for chit chat. I can also make a total ass of myself when trying to do something nice for others. Take this past Friday for example. I just wanted to buy coffee for a fellow Starbucks lover in the drive-thru. Instead, I think I may have lost my local shop a repeat customer. No way that woman will be back and risk bumping into me again.
It was the last day of school for my boys and, of course, I woke up late. I spent the morning running around yelling and searching for missing shoes before finally hopping into the car, barefoot and still in my pajamas. Typical mom shit. Fifteen minutes after I dropped them off, I got a phone call from my oldest son. "Mom, I forgot my science textbook. You have to bring it to me now or you'll have to pay for it." Yup. Typical kid shit. After changing into more presentable attire, I made a second drop-off at the school. I let out a frustrated sigh as I pulled away. Of course, this is how the last day of school would turn out. The adrenaline started to wear off from rushing around and my head started to throb. I needed coffee.
During the drive to Starbucks, the DJ on the radio was talking about the Mister Rogers documentary. It got me thinking about stepping-up my kindness game. I wanted to start doing more good deeds for "my neighbor." This would be my first step towards disaster. There I was, a car away from ordering my coffee in the drive-thru. As I opened my wallet to check for cash, I realized I had two $10 Starbucks gift cards. This was it. This was my time to shine. I would buy coffee for "my neighbor." But not the normal way. EVERYONE buys for the person behind them. I would buy for the person in front of me. How? Well, I'd walk up to their car window, hand them a gift card and say, "Your coffee is on me today. Have a great day!" Then we'd share a smile and life would seem a little less bleak. I truly believed that’s what would happen before I opened my door and stepped out.
Maybe I should have walked slower, but I was excited. I had a little pep in my step. And in my voice. I can see now how that "pep" could translate to carjacker, but at the time I was riding high on my impending act of kindness. I never expected to cause a sense of impending doom. As I leaned down next to the open car window, I noticed the driver was talking with another woman in her passenger seat.
"Hey!" I called out. The woman's head spun around, and her eyes bulged from her head. She was leaning so far away from me; her torso was in the other woman's lap.
"AHHH! OH MY GOD! WHAT?!" She yelled in a panic.
"A $10 gift card for you," I said as her eyes scanned my hands for weapons.
"WHAT?! OKAY. FINE. I'LL TAKE IT." She was still yelling. I assume in an effort to assert dominance.
"Yes. Gift card. Coffee." I pointed. I was Tarzan. Me, carjacker. Her, terrified.
"OKAY. GREAT." Still yelling. It was obvious that she wanted me to go away. I stood there for a moment or two, silent. I was trying to quickly think of something to say to defuse the situation, but I knew I'd only make things worse. I then thought, "What the fuck are you doing?! You're still standing here. Silent. You look insane!" It was time to leave.
I walked back to my car and ordered my coffee. I watched as the woman in front of me paid with cash and not my gift card. Then I watched as she pointed me out to the cashier, who gazed back at me with a very puzzled look on her face. I started shaking my head and laughing at what had just happened. Why did I shout "Hey!?" Why couldn't I have chosen a less intimidating greeting? A nice standard, "Hello," would have sufficed. Also, why didn't I try to reassure her that I was just a nice person with a good intention? Instead, I turned into fucking Sling Blade!! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME?!" I pulled up to the drive-thru window and paid for my latte. I'm certain while I was there, they made sure to get a clear shot of me on the surveillance footage. A print-out of my face would definitely be posted in the manager's office the next day. Only I could go from "Good Samaritan" to "Gift Cardjacker," in the blink of an eye. Sorry, Mister Rogers. I tried. This neighbor just comes off more like stranger danger .
It’s funny how things in life align sometimes. You'll often find two separate and seemingly unrelated things can wind up being cut from the same cloth. For instance, my blog's name and an incident with a co-worker this past week. Considering the context of each of these things, I never saw how one would relate to the other. Now, I'm a little blown away by how a teenage boy's comment foreshadowed my need to add "Philly" to mommymouth.com.
Last week, one of the young men who washes dishes where I work was overheard saying Megan Fox was hot but had “lost her value” after she had kids. I can hear every mom in unison, "WTF did you just say?!" And, gurrrl, I hear you. Now, I think we all know the little turd at work didn't really mean she lost her human value. What he meant was, she wasn’t the same “spank bank” material for him anymore now that she was a mother. Initially, I felt hurt by what he said and wanted to school this kid on how "women are more than just a vagina" while also pointing out that he was "just a dick" for saying something so ignorant. Then I realized I didn't really give a shit if I was something a teenage boy fantasized about, and Megan Fox would undoubtedly go unfazed by losing her spot in his browser history. So, what was really bothering me?
I started remembering how I felt less sexy right after I gave birth to my oldest son and how I had wondered if I was less desirable now that I was a mom. This teenager's comment had obviously brought back the memory of how that felt. Fortunately, I have since moved past such a ridiculous idea. With a little help from my husband (who gets excited at the site of me removing my socks) and by doing a lot of growing up and learning that sexy is a lot more than superficial bullshit.
After I talked myself off the ledge, my mom-brain switched on. I had let my insecurities distract from the fact that this comment was made by a kid, acting like a kid. His whole life is wrapped up in superficial bullshit. He's not talking with his buddies considering the emotional response he'll illicit from his pigheadedness. He's just trying to reassure everyone that he's NOT into "mom porn." Now, being a kid doesn't excuse his bad manners and he was "scolded" by a fellow co-worker, but he's still got a lot of growing up to do. And, that growing up could lead to a real affection for mom porn, which is quite popular apparently? Hence, my need for a blog name-change. Leave it to me to put together two seemingly innocent words and have them lead people to something totally unrelated to my blog. Hey, live and learn, right?
I wrote this "Letter of Apology" to my mom a few years back and it still makes me giggle. Thinking about what a handful the boys were makes me glad to be past that age, but it also makes me yearn for those times when they were so little. As crazy as it sounds, I do miss the craziness. But more than anything, I miss the innocence... and definitely the naps too. If I'm going to be really honest, I'm dreading puberty. I'm not ready to have a house full of "dirty socks." I just want to rewind and go back to the bitty babies who only saw boobies as a meal- the age when they not only kept it in their pants, they kept it in a diaper too. I'm feeling way too far from tot and much too close to teen, and its FREAKING ME OUT, MAN! The time, where has it gone? I'm sorry I never believed my mom when she said how fast it would go. I guess I should add that to the list of apologies below....
This is my formal letter of apology to my mother for all of my toddler shenanigans. In writing this apology I am hoping to lift whatever curse/hex she put on me long ago. You know, the one that goes, “I hope you have a child JUST LIKE YOU someday!” I scoffed at those words long ago, but they aren't so funny anymore. Not only do I have a child like me, I have two of them. I know my Mother is thrilled by this because anytime I call to share one of the kids' most recent mind boggling stunts, she usually responds with, “Yup. I remember when you did that.” And I swear I can hear her grin through the phone, basking in the karmic retribution. So, since my experiences have bared such a close resemblance to my Mother’s, I will use them as models for what I am so whole-heartedly sorry for.
Mom, I want to apologize for never letting you get ANY quality sleep, EVER. I’m sorry I would wake up sixty times throughout the night. I’m sorry that each time I woke up it would be just before you dozed off. I’m sorry you would wake up just as you started to doze off when I didn’t wake up because you were sure I stopped breathing. I’m sorry I woke up from naps early on the days you needed to get as much shit done around the house as possible before dad started calling you Peggy Bundy. I’m sorry dad started calling you Peggy Bundy. I’m sorry for being one of the main reasons you had SO much to do around the house.
I’m sorry for pulling all the books and movies off the shelves. I'm sorry I left a clothes trail wherever I went. I’m sorry for spilling ev-er-y fucking drink I got my hands on. I’m sorry I then played in those drink puddles and was somehow able to splash them to the ceiling.
I'm sorry I only ate cheese puffs for an entire month and made you question what kind of person you were for letting me do that. I’m sorry for telling you the food you cooked was "yucky" when you tried to make something new. I'm sorry I would eat corndogs dipped in my chocolate milk instead, and tell you how good it was while you dumped $70 worth of food down the sink. I'm sorry you would eventually find $70 worth of food CRUMBS under the couch cushions, along with 3 crayons broken into 200 pieces, 17 mismatched socks, a salt shaker, your good tweezers, and your car key you paid $300 to replace.
I’m sorry for getting into your makeup and putting lipstick, blush and eye shadow all over me and the walls. I’m sorry I also crushed it into your beige carpets and made it impossible to yell at my Picasso-clown-face without laughing. I’m sorry for eating your expensive face creams and then screaming so loud that you couldn’t hear poison control tell you I’d be fine, but may have diarrhea.
I’m sorry I had explosive diarrhea right before you were trying to run out the door to make an appointment on time. I’m sorry I pulled my diaper off and pissed and shit all over the house. I'm sorry that after I was potty trained, piss and shit still ended up all over the house. I’m sorry that what made it in the toilet was your cell phone, your toothbrush, your hair brush, rolls of toilet paper, markers, crayons, toys, shoes, jewelry, etc... I’m sorry I also tried to eat every one of those items.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be pleased 85% of the fucking time unless you gave me fruit snacks. I’m sorry that you were sorry after every time you took me to a grocery store, mall or restaurant. I’m sorry you had severe anxiety attacks when you went to those places WITHOUT me, due to post traumatic stress. I’m sorry for running faster than the fucking roadrunner immediately after learning to walk. I’m sorry I climbed up every object taller than myself like a monkey with a death wish. I’m sorry I had the brain of a gnat and the fearlessness of Evel Knievel and would jump off, into, and onto the most dangerous places possible. I’m sorry I found each and every sharp-ish fricken thing in our house and stuck it in or around my face.
I’m sorry I made you crazier than a shit house rat. Truly, I am. After all the things I put you through, I can not express in words how amazed I am that I survived past my toddler years. And when I say “survive” I don’t only mean because you didn’t strangle me after I destroyed irreplaceable or expensive items, I also mean because you were always right there to catch me when I would jump from the top of the steps while you stood at the very bottom. I owe you one... or two.
Your Very Remorseful Daughter,
Remember that time you went bathing suit shopping and the lighting in the dressing room was amazing, and every suit you tried on made you feel like Princess Ariel's hotter mermaid sister? Me fucking neither. At least not recently. Before you start rolling your eyes at me, stop. I'm entitled to irrational moments wondering where my 21-year-old body went just as much as the next person. And for every day I've looked in the mirror and wondered why my husband hasn’t shipped me off to a bell tower yet, I've also had a day I saw my reflection and thought, "Dang, beauty! Beast sure out kicked his coverage." I'm human. This story isn't about one of those beauty moments though. This is about one of those moments when I feel like I'm still in my twenties and I wonder whose quasi aging skin sack has taken over my body. And what THEE FUCK did she do to my ass!?
Two months ago, I started going back to the gym after a 3-year sabbatical. I even started eating better. I've told people I'm doing the Whole30 diet but really, I'm doing more of a Half15. Cause wine. And cheese. And fuck your rules, I'll do what I want. (Not really. I'm just hangry right now.) Despite my flexible dieting I've been feeling confident about my body getting stronger and healthier, inside and out. So, when I realized it was going to be May soon because of a Justin Timberlake meme, I got excited to bathing-suit shop.
Fast forward to me at the mall. There I was. Standing nearly naked in front of a full length, three-way mirror in a dimly lit dressing room with bad overhead lighting. I had turned around to see how my ass looked and was met with two deflated butt-cheeks melting down the back of my thighs. "What the fuck!?" I couldn't believe what I was looking at. "That's not my ass. These bathing suit bottoms are shit." I quickly moved on to the next suit. A red one-piece that I imagined myself looking Baywatch AF in. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. (Nope.) Next one piece. Disaster. I started wondering if all one pieces were thongs now? That had to be it. I summoned an employee to assist me.
"Hi. Did you need help with something?" I opened the dressing room door with a shirt wrapped around my waste.
"Yes. So, I'm wearing a medium-long and it's too small. It keeps going straight up my butt. I guess that’s the thing now?
"Really? You don't look like you're that tall. And this looks like it’s fine up top. Do you maybe have a bigger butt," she asked me with a 'yas girl' grin on her face.
"Uh. Maybe. That must be the problem. Never mind then. Thanks." I shut the door.
"Ok. Let me know if you need help with anything else."
I didn't need help with anything else. I knew what the problem was, and it wasn't a big ass. It was a looong ass. When did this happen? Why did this happen? What did I do to deserve this? I was immediately furious at my husband. How could that dickhead not tell me my ass looked like it had a leaf blower pointed at it, PERMENANTLY!? No "blowies" for him for at least a month.
Shoulders hunched and feeling betrayed by my own body, I shuffled out of the store and made my way back home. After I gave my husband an undeserved earful about how terrible he was for not telling me my ass was disgusting and I needed to hit the gym, I listened to him give me an earful. And basically, he made me realize it wasn't the droopy butt on the outside that was disgusting, but the droopy butt I was being on the inside that was. I mean, Ariel was a fish. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a hunchback. And beauty and the beast, do I really need to say it? All fairytales, yes, but also stories that remind us that what matters most is love and acceptance. I'm not talking just from others either. I'm talking love and acceptance for our fucking selves. So what, my ass needed work. "That was no reason to go spiraling into an 'I'm repulsive, no blow jobs, bathing suit boycott' black hole," according to my husband. And he was right. The booty can be worked on, but the shitty way I talk to myself and feel about myself will linger.
Fast forward to me in front of my computer. Here I am. A 34-year-old woman. A writer. A mother. A wife. But least of all, my aging ass. I'll do squats another day. Today, a little of what I love and whole lot of laughing at (accepting) myself. And a little wine. And cheese. And a "yas girl" grin on my face.
I don't always love being a mom. Gasp! I know, I said it out loud. But it’s exhausting, it's terrifying, and it's a thankless fucking job. Sometimes I could use more than just a "bathroom break, “ and I could definitely always use more than just some sugar in my coffee (please send whiskey). Now I love my children very much, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to googling grade-school dormitories. I have two boys, Kaden and Shane. Kaden, lover of all things sports, is a fiercely independent 11-year-old. And Shane, an imaginative 7-year-old, is jam packed with as much silly as you can take. Maybe more. Like any household with kids, we have our fair share of fights, messes, and mayhem. And then there are some days I wonder if the folks over at Mommy Headquarters are dropping serious mother-loads on me when they need a good laugh, which seems to be often.
By the last day in December, I had developed an eye twitch, microwaved my coffee so many times it was radioactive, and, gun to my head, couldn’t tell you what day of the week it was. I had experienced the same exact series of events every day for an eternity when it I suddenly stumbled upon something different. Today... today someone shit in a cup.
"Oh my god. What is this? Is this POOOOP?!" I heard the boy's bare feet begin to sprint across the hardwood floor.
"What!? Where!? Can I see!?" Their voices were full of excitement.
"This is not cool. This is gross! Who did this!?"
"Not me," they both insisted.
"Neither one of you did this? So, I guess it was me or dad. Or did someone break in our house, poop in a cup, and then leave?" They both stared back at me with grins on their faces and no answers to my questions. "Tell me who did this right now or you're both in trouble."
Kaden's face turned from grin to grimace, "It wasn't me! It was probably Shane."
"No, it wasn't! Shut up Kaden!"
"You shut up!"
"Both of you, stop saying shut up." I was getting nowhere, and the shit-cup was about to start a shit-storm. "Forget it. Both of you go back to what you were doing. When I find out who did this, you will be in serious trouble."
I dumped the poop in the toilet and threw the cup in the trash. My face would be twisted in disgust for the rest of the day, occasionally interrupted by shrugs of bewilderment. I thought about submitting my two-weeks-notice to Mommy Headquarters as I walked out the door to hide in my car for 5 minutes (the bathroom had become a trigger). As I shut my driver's side door I could hear the end of Hotel California playing in my head, "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave." A solid reminder from my subconscious that I couldn't quit; this wasn't that kind of job.
Just as I started to laugh at myself, I was startled by a hand banging on the window. It was Shane.
“Mom! Kaden threw a Lego at my head."
The disgruntled momployee in me wanted to ask, "But, did you die?" Instead, I rolled down my window, chuckling to myself, and said, "Next time, duck."
"Alright, I'm coming." I turned the car off and headed back to the grind (I needed to microwave my coffee again anyway).
As I stood in front of the microwave one final time, I imagined myself vacationing on a remote island. A place where all the cups were full of margaritas and the only thing full of shit was the bartender who insisted he'd "need to see some ID." I didn't love being a mom that day but adding this to the list of things I'd forgive and forget did reaffirm my depth of my love for my boys. There was no question, my cup runneth over.