This shouldn’t be so hard

Midlife Sentence | This Shouldn't Be So Hard

Late last week, as we pulled up to an event center at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, I flashed back to the moment we arrived at a hospital more than seventeen years ago. I felt the same kind of excitement and fear now as I did back then, minus the Lamaze breathing.

“I have no idea what’s about to happen.” I told Mike.

We’d been looking forward to seeing our son, but for most of the past six weeks, knowing he was safe and also not under our roof, what I’d been feeling mostly was relief. After a difficult year and excruciating last three months, we’d needed the respite.

That’s a hard feeling to have about your child.

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I’m clearly not the mom I once was

Midlife Sentence - Mom of Teens

The other day I entered my son’s bedroom on some errand or another, and realized something important. It had to do with the olfactory impact of enclosing an adolescent and his Axe body spray in a small space with a fish tank and an only halfway clean lizard terrarium.

I realized my gag reflex has returned.

I’m not sure why this surprises me, but it does and I’m kind of sad. I used to have an iron stomach when it came to unpleasantness. But my once desensitized sniffer must have been part of a latent superpower that surfaces when I need it most; like back in the day when I’d decide whether a toddler needed a change by putting his diapered butt right up to my face. When this superpower is fully engaged, I can scrape dried poo off my shirtsleeve with the aplomb of a Ludlum CIA operative pitching a Molotov cocktail at a Russian mafia stronghold and then taking a slow-motion saunter toward the camera with a wink and a hair flip.

I have to tell you, that thought made me do a Google search for something like this:

Midlife Sentence - mom of teens
Photo by Film Frame – © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

But then I stumbled upon this … and it made my day.

(and, well, let’s be honest, it probably more accurately resembles me leaving the scene of an explosion). 

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42 ways we’ve likely annoyed a teen today without even trying very hard

Colin_handWoke him by barging into his room first thing in the morning to make sure he wasn’t dead after his alarm had been blaring for ten solid minutes

Barged in again when there was no further sign of movement for another twenty minutes  …

… while busting out a refrain from The Sound of Music

Reminded him that it was approaching 7am, and that (in a dramatic, movie trailer voice) the bus waits for no man

Suggested he change into clean clothes

Clarified that by “clean” I usually mean “clothes that don’t look like you’ve slept in them”

“….or like they’ve been balled up in pile in the corner”

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Teen Drivers and the Tao of Natural Consequences

2015-10-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-man-night-smoke-red-Joel-CampbellWhen the kids were little, I was known for making threats that would be difficult, inconvenient or downright impossible to carry out.

Mostly, this consisted of vowing to deposit a passenger or two on the side of the road if they didn’t stop arguing, or to “turn this car around” when we all knew wherever it was we were headed was someplace I particularly wanted to be.

I loved the whole “natural consequences” idea the Love and Logic practitioners touted. I gave it a good, college try for a while.

I rarely got it right, though. Somehow “I’m sorry your inability to clean your room has resulted in your being late to the birthday party because you can’t find your shoes,” always morphed as it was coming out of my pie hole.

What my kids ended up with was usually more like: “I’m sorry you can’t find your shoes, jeez, what HAPPENED to your ROOM? Oh MOTHER OF ALL THINGS HOLY WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO BE ON TIME FOR ONCE?”

Like that … but with more profanity.

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Don’t make me shop with these people


Do you want to know what I enjoy more than clothes shopping for myself?

… That is to say, more than hauling my carcass to some monolithic mecca of commercialism smack in the center of an asphalt plane crowded with cars? More than wandering through crowds of gabby, smelly shoppers and their sticky progeny meandering four abreast at a rate one might compare to plate tectonics? More than perusing aisles crammed with textiles which, regardless of how they look on a mannequin, will transform me into something lumpy and wan in the warped dressing room mirror under fluorescent lighting not fit for a morgue?

Want to know what I enjoy than that?

I enjoy taking my younger son shopping for clothing. That, my friends is a real treat.

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Cookie Ghosts and Other Reasons You Probably Don’t Want a Dinner Invitation

NYTimes Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I came home the other morning, my cookie was gone.

I’m still in a place where that sort of thing shocks me.

I crave sweets only occasionally, and then I just want a little taste. The other morning after a run, I thought I heard something calling me from the cupboard: the very last cookie from the batch of Tollhouse dough Jack talked me into at the store the other day.

The very last cookie and I have always had a special thing.

By the time Mike and I were married, he had learned to save the last cookie for me. Always. It may be a while before I want it. Doesn’t matter. Until that thing grows legs and walks away, the very last cookie is spoken for. By me. It’s only fair. I probably haven’t had any of the other cookies it came in with, I’m a one cookie woman.

The foundation of our marriage rests on the last cookie in the box.

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How to talk to your mother

A communication guide for teenagers

Jack and I were in the car the other day, rushing to get him to his violin lesson.

I love that he still plays violin, and that we’ve gotten way past the screechy stuff to a place where I get to hear some lovely after-dinner music – a therapeutic follow up to the hours we have to spend browbeating the kid into practicing … but perhaps a topic for another blog.

On this particular day, like most, we were late.

It’s moments like these I almost despair of him ever managing on his own. The kid is fifteen years old and I swear he hasn’t learned to tell time or put his underwear on right-side-out yet.

“I told you we were leaving in five minutes, which is when you should be finding your shoes and getting your music together,” I said.

Listen to me, going on like I am the world’s most prompt person. I always think I can eek out one more thing before flying out the door, and that maybe all the stoplights will be green, that the traffic will be light, that I’ll be able to slip in just before the meeting starts. It happens. Sometimes.

Mostly not.

Rude, I know, this late thing.

And, it was kind of my regular MO anyway, then kids came along and compounded the problem about a zillion percent, as kids will.

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I so freaking love these people

boysTwo brothers, give or take six hours between school and bedtime, so many things to fight about.

Things like:

Who gets shotgun on the ride home.

Who got it last time.

Who had it all last week, for crissake.

Who left the empty Cheetos bag in the back seat for someone else to clean up (righteous indignation being best expressed by flinging said Cheetos bag into the way back – indicating that mom apparently is the “someone else”).

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I don’t really know what anyone is talking about

Last year Jack kept using the phrase going ham, which took a few weeks for me to figure out meant throwing oneself into the task at hand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in: Lookit that dog, going ham with the Frisbee.

Or: I saw this guy in his car at the stoplight, going ham with the music on his radio like no one was watching.

But apparently less often: I’m going to go all ham and get my homework done before dinner.

I thought it was kind of a micro slang thing, a term he and his buddies starting using at school for no discernible reason other than it added another check on the teen cred score card. I wasn’t sure why they settled on cured pork for their idiom, but that was beside the point. Even if it made sense, it’s hard to get anything to really go viral if you’re only working with the teensy student body that makes up his school.

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Speaking of pot …

pot_smoker copySo, as I mentioned, last week Jack asked his dad and I for our thoughts about pot.

Being the seat-of-our-pants kind of parents we are, it hadn’t occurred to either of us to coordinate what we were going to say when this subject inevitably arose. That was stupid. Both of us at Jack’s age were doing things that could have had consequences. We knew parenting teens could get bumpy.

We have had conversations about how little we looked forward to dealing with teenage shenanigans. These conversations weren’t as productive as they should have been. They tended to favor nostalgia over strategy, and end with prayers of gratitude that no one could post selfies on social media when we were teens.

Other than that we’ve been living in happy-sparkly-unicorn land where gumdrops grow on trees and don’t cause cavities, and we’ll use a magic wand to deal with teenagers when the time comes.

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