Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Better Part of Me

I had a very humbling experience this week. Wow, where even to begin? I'm not sure I can quite put words to this, but here goes...

I've been stressed. It's mostly the normal things, really. It's nothing a couple of million people don't feel on a daily basis as well- the usual things. Not enough money, too many bills, rooms falling apart immediately after being cleaned. I personally call this state of mind general hamster in a wheel syndrome. Normally, I am affected by this syndrome briefly and then I get over it and move on.

Occasionally it sticks to my ribs a bit longer than normal and that's when I become infested with the grouchies. Hamster in a wheel syndrome has led to the particular crabby disposition that I've been in this week, and as much as I myself don't like me when I'm like this, I can only imagine how those around me feel about my attitude when I get like this.

Adding to my Hamster feelings (which come with an intense desire to stuff my cheeks full of chocolate, by the way) is Critter. He screams. And although I'll give it to him because his screams vary, they are all painful. Occasionally I find them piling on top of me in compound interest fashion, ALL OF THEM-from his happy scream to his excited scream to his no that's mine scream all the way to his angry scream.

When all is said and done at the end of the day, I sometimes feel like the bank of Mom has been filled to maximum capacity. Critter also throws a few major temper tantrums into the daily deposit with the ease of a million dollar corporation owner playing the stock market. "Why don't you give me two shares of Tantrum Monday and an additional five shares of Hissy Fit Thursday?"

Maximum capacity banking deposits and ongoing hamster in a wheel feelings leave me feeling drained. There's no better word for it. Crabby, cranky, useless, and both emotionally and physically drained. Lately, it's gotten so bad that I don't recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror.

Enter Smoochie. He's a good kid, and tries very hard to please both me and his father. He's got this incredibly sweet disposition and is totally affectionate. For the most part, he's just a good kid. But he is a kid, he will push the boundaries a bit.

Lately his affectionate traits have led to some discord in the home. He loves his little brother so much it makes my heart ache with pride. He wants to kiss and squeeze and generally love and snuggle with his brother while Critter wants nothing of the sort. A vicious cycle of snuggle-scream-mom says give the boy some space-10 minutes of quiet-snuggle-scream-mom says give the boy some space begins.

Part of the problem is that Critter has only recently learned to walk, so Smoochie's affections wind up knocking the boy down like a bowling pin and (yep, more screaming) Critter winds up hurt. After about a million rounds of this, I'm prone to snap. Loose it. Run screaming around the bank vault with a can of hairspray and a lighter.

On Tuesday this is pretty much what it looked like in our home. Both boys were in the kitchen, and I heard Critter scream and cry in pain. I ran to the kitchen to get him. Smooch was there and I assumed that it was just another part of the cycle. (Did you catch that? I said ASSUMED)

"What happened?"

While scooping Critter up to comfort him, I gave Smooch time enough to get about two words out.

"How many times have I told you to give him space? Why can't you just back off and leave him alone? I am SO TIRED of telling you to give him room to move and-"

After laying into the boy I realized what had actually happened. Critter had been playing in the pantry because the door had been left open and Smoochie, being the good loving brother he is, was trying to keep him safe and closed the door. Because our pantry is actually on about a 2 & 1/2 ft ledge and back about a foot, Critter (who'd been leaning into the ledge and trying to climb up) got his fingers pinched on accident as Smooch closed the door.

It was too late. I'd hurt Smoochie's feelings. Not only that, but I had not allowed the boy to express himself. For starters, it breaks my heart to know I've hurt his feelings. To make me feel worse I had a sudden and vivid memory of all the times I was not allowed to speak as a child. It was frustrating, and to my own personal childhood development it was soul crushing not being allowed to speak my thoughts. And here I'd just done the very same thing to my own son.

There is nothing more humbling than looking my son in the eyes and knowing I must apologize for a hurt I've been the cause of. I know there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and that moments like these will happen, but I would give anything to never ever be the cause of pain or heartache to my child. He'll get enough of that from everyone else in life. Mom's are exclusive in their capacity for love for their children, they should at the very least be exempt from causing their children pain.

I knelt down and looked him in the eyes. I apologized to him as he cried. I apologized for snapping and yelling and for not giving him the opportunity to speak. I told him I was wrong, my behavior was not acceptable, and that in the future I would try very hard to give him the chance to speak.

He looked at me with tears still flowing down his cheeks and said, "That's OK, Mom."

He leaned over and gave me a hug.

HE gave ME a hug.

It was in that moment that I was humbled beyond words. My 7 year old son had just shown me exactly how to be a better person.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dear So and So...

Dear So and So...

Kat from 3 Bedroom Bungalow writes a weekly series of letters to others, and this week I had a few of my own to write, so I thought I'd grab her button and join in.

Dear Dude with the weed wacker at the neighbors (outside my window) at 7am this morning,

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

Not a Happy Camper,

Dear Tweezer Making People,

I love your angled tweezers, they are a wonderful thing for this girl who's eyebrows turn into a forest if not bushwacked on a more often than weekly basis. I'm a right handed girl, and my right eyebrow is the epicenter of perfection. However, when it's time to thin out the left eyebrow, the angle is all wrong and I wind up trying to remove a single hair at a time with what feels like needle pointed chopsticks. Would it be that difficult to create tweezers set at the opposite angle? I'm beginning to look like I morphed into Harvey Two Face with the face of Groucho Marx. It's not pretty.

Thank you,

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Thank you for understanding that my son LOST lost his tooth and had nothing to contribute to his tooth pillow. Also, thank you for writing him a nice note explaining that you find all teeth, no matter what, because my boy was seriously stressing. I did not know that you even found all of our dog's puppy teeth. Personally, though, that seems kind of creepy to me.

P.S. Are you male or female? If you are male, it makes my spidey sense tingle- I don't wish to be rude to a dude giving away cash, but do you have any female assistants?

Smoochie's Mom

Dear Starbucks,

I miss you. I yearn for you. My life is incomplete without your frozen caramel embraces. Someday we shall meet again and when we do, there will be great joy and celebration.


Dear Mom,

I realize that you've been a mom for 34 and 1/2 years, which makes you a pro with your guilt trip abilities. I do believe that you have brought things to all new heights with the (widely visible by others) facebook Guilt Trip. Lemme tell you that changing your status to "I sure wish I had new pictures of my grandkids to look at" and causing all 105 of my uncles to harrass me via comments is just shy of shooting up a pizza joint with your tommy gun and calling yourself 'The Godmother'.

Your (posted both video AND pics of your grandsons) daughter

Dear Sister,

How ON EARTH did you not fall pray to Mom's facebook guilt trip and how do I find that ability?

Don't make me give you an atomic wedgie to find out,
Love me

Dear Schedule,

If you cleared up one weekend between now and October I would not be heart broken. I would, in fact, be estatic for a little free time.

Frantic Chas

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gone Promming

In life there are varying levels of ready. For each person, ready means something different. For some, it means I still need to put on my shoes. For others it means I've got one foot out the door and you'd better hurry up if you want to actually BE IN THE CAR before it leaves. Through my own experiences, I have set the standard for my own personal types of ready.

There's running to the store for a gallon of milk ready, when you make sure the hole in your jeans is not in an obscene place and the (I should have washed it this morning) hair is completely hidden by your baseball cap. After all, the bling on the cap should make up for the lack of shine on your hair, right?

There is Winter in the Midwest ready when you can throw two layers and your bulkiest sweater on and blame your extra holiday baked goods bulk on the layers.

There's Summer in the Midwest ready when you spend entirely too much money on the swimsuit that looks the least offensive of your choices and practice how to wear your wrap/cover-up/towel as a cloak of invisibility between the mad dash from the lounge chair to the pool and back.

There is going out for dinner and a movie ready when you actually take the time to make sure your clothes are little peanut butter hand print smudge free and your hair is clean. If your date is lucky, you might spend a moment putting on some makeup first.

There's wedding guest ready when you primp a little more, making sure you floss your teeth, apply lipstick, and blow the dust off your most painful pair of heels because they're the only ones to match your dress, and heaven forbid you wear shoes that allow you to focus on something other than the pain in your feet for an entire evening. That, I believe, is the sole reason for open bar- to drown out the pain of one's footwear.

And last but not least, there's prom and personal wedding day ready. This ready isn't practiced on a daily basis, and is often extremely time consuming. By the time you are done you have primped, preened, shaved, plucked, sucked, plumped, lotioned, and powdered every pore you own and even the few you rent.

I was very excited last week at the thought of spending my first 2 child free days with Bonehead for company since the birth of Critter over 16 months ago. As a result, I found myself at 2pm last Thursday with my head feeling dizzy with anticipation and promming it up for a trip to Lake Something or Other in Wisconsin. I tried to remember the name of the lake, but finally decided that it didn't really matter. What mattered was I was going to GET AWAY! With my HUSBAND! Wooo! Hooo!

The time approached for our departure, and we left in high spirits. Even when we hit rush hour, nothing could diminish my mood. We arrived and realized we were in the middle of freaking nowhere. Our first clue?

Absolutely no cell phone reception. None. Now normally this might have been a blessing, but we were at a camp ground we'd never been to before and meeting friends (Craig & Julie) a solid hour and a half (at least) behind us who happened to be carrying with them the tent we were borrowing. Oh, and also, we had instructions to try and get as close to the group of Craig's friends from work as we could. Someone was already there (who we'd never met before) and had a site and we knew only that we should look them by looking for a White Hundai SUV. Oh, and we had a first name-Pat-which ironically enough could be either male or female. Go figure.

To add to the fact that we had no cell phone to tell our friends where we were or find out where the SUV might actually be, the oh so helpful dude at the camp office told us to "just drive around until you see a spot that looks good and then come back with the sight number". Feeling absolutely clueless, we set off into the quickly approaching darkness to locate strangers whom we did not know and had never met before with a bi-partisan name driving an elusive white SUV.

To shorten a story that involves asking random strangers if their name was Pat, if they knew a Pat, what constitutes a tent site since people seem to be just throwing their tents up any old where, if they might some day know anyone named Pat, if they'd consider naming their dog Pat and letting us camp next door to them, and Bonehead throwing himself into the middle of the road in front of a White SUV and yelling "PAT!!!" to a perfect stranger who could or could not possibly actually be the person we were looking for, we found the spot where we were supposed to be camping. (Wow, if that doesn't constitute a run on sentence, I'm not sure what does)

We pulled into the spot, unloaded the van, and Bonehead went back to the office to pay our fees and try to figure out how to let our friends know where we actually were so we could sleep in a tent that evening. I stayed behind at the campsite and sat- just in case our friends showed up because our minivan was with Bonehead at the office.

It was during that brief period of eternal silence that I learned a few things about myself. For starters, I am 100% addicted to technology. I found myself wishing over and over again for an internet connection. As it was, we didn't even have water at our campsite.

I also discovered a deadly new Wisconsin mosquito migration. It's funny, though- even though I doused myself in mosquito repellent they kept migrating to the Isle of Chas. Seriously, by the time I got home on Saturday afternoon, I counted 50 bites on one ankle alone. I was in pure misery for a few days for sure.

In spite of all that, as I sat there at the picnic table 100% alone for the first time I could remember in recent history, I could hear the wind shift and sway the tops of the trees. As dusk settled a little deeper into darkness, I could hear the frogs croak and the crickets sing their melodies into the summer evening. I could also hear the deafening roar of the millions of mosquitos in, on, and around my ears. While I sat all dolled and make-uped up, (plucked, shaved, perfumed, and lotioned, mind you) offering myself up as a medium rare filet mignon to the Wisconsin mosquito in a campsite with neither cell phone reception, electricity, water, OR a tent (for the time being), I had an epiphany:


I'd let you know what I was thinking at 2pm that Thursday afternoon, but apparently I was 100% certifiably out of my mind.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Haircuts of Terror...

Into every boy's life, a first haircut must fall. I'm a wuss who couldn't bring myself to remove my baby boy's curls. In order to better preserve the curls, I vowed I would not cut them until after Critter started walking. Critter became fully mobile at some point between 4pm July 2nd and 12pm on July 4th while Mom and Dad were both away on a camping trip. It could have been in order to keep up with his older cousins, but I'm holding fast to the Spite-Your-Mom-For-Leaving-Me-For-Two-Whole-Days-For-The-First-Time-Ever-Theory.

The dawn of Tuesday brought first haircut day. Critter chronicled it for us. Here's a look.

No, Mom, please don't cut my hair. I will brush it, I promise.

I know you are up to something...

This is what most of the pictures my Mom takes look like- can't you just hear her in the background saying, "Look up, No! Hold Still, Look up!" over and over again in a continuous loop?

These are my infamous curls, freshly brushed and wackadoo.

Pure. Torture.

I will get even for this, Mummo.

Yes my first sucker is good, but leave me alone I am plotting revenge. You just WAIT for the next diaper change, Chickee!!

Afterward at Grandma & Grandpa's. Grandma fed me so it's all good now.

Well, almost.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Playing Catch Up

I've been gone. I didn't plan to be gone so long, but packing for a camping trip and busy holiday weekend turned into no time to blog for an approximate eternity. Even now, I am blogging on borrowed time- I should most definitely be doing dishes or laundry or picking up after hurricane Critter or something. I'll expand a bit later on the things I have done and places I have seen, but for today I offer up a treat of epic proportions. There have been some major changes at Chez Neurotique.

Critter is Mobile.

Not just mobile, but mobile and full of bean dip and mischief as well. Here, lets see if this works. I'm attempting to put the very first video on my blog. As you can see, the little guy listens to me about as much as the rest of the world does...

Please keep in mind, the screams you are about to hear below are screams of delight, as opposed to the screams of terror, the screams of anger, or the screams of cantankerousness which are easy to mix up in Critter language. Please tune in tomorrow for a prime example of the scream of anger.