Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quote Un Quote Parties

My neighbor, one of my best friends, coerced and all but forcibly made me come to her house tonight for one of those "parties" where another woman tries to sell you something. I won't say what it was for fear of incriminating the innocent, but I am not afraid to say this: aren't these "parties" the ultimate in suburban wife bullshit?

I hate them more than I do baby showers and bridal showers. I hate them more than air kisses with women who don't know me yet squeal with gushing fondness when they see me at cocktail parties. I hate them more than I hate women like that.

Only because another neighbor offered up her 11 year old daughter to babysit for an hour or so, I went. I didn't buy anything. I admit I heckled the seller. I was not supportive; I rolled my eyes. I feel guilty about it now.

That poor girl, she was just trying to make an extra buck (and get me to sign up to shill this crap to my friends so she could make more bucks... But I digress.) I mean, we're all together, enjoying a cocktail and some crudite, just, you know, CHATTING, and why shouldn't we, why wouldn't we, SHOP?

I love shopping. I love bargains. I love the feeling of unpacking my finds at home and congratulating myself for covering all the bases: dish soap, a new centerpiece, underwear. What I don't like are these shopping parties: I guess I prefer to do my spending in private.

It's really more than that. These gatherings make me feel like my network (the official term), my posse (my term) is being infiltrated and tainted, and worst of all, used. I conjure up meetings in corporate headquarters that go something like this: "Yes! Con the lonely suburban ladies into thinking it's a night out and gosh darn it! They'll buy, buy, buy!"

So I resist. I don't need these goods (no matter how cute they may be) to get together with friends. We do fine by ourselves. God knows, we don't need alchohol to buy stuff.

I am in a nasty mood -- maybe because I had to come home early from the "party" (I hate that) -- or maybe because the teenage rebel in me snears at the grown-up me and says straight to my aging face, "You must be kidding." But who am I to kid? Truth be told, that hour (and 15 minutes) I spent there tonight was actually, well, mildy fun. I wanted to stay longer. I could have done without the balloon blowing up and popping contest (which I won), but clever women exist everywhere. And they were there tonight too: the woman married 35 years who loves the loud chaos of my kids as they scramble across her yard, the woman with the big job I never knew she had, the friend, who like me, is suffering the side effects of a loved one with cancer.

We women, we have our ways. We sneak around the selling. We interrupt the seller: we find our ways to connect.

And the woman, that mom, moving her product? She made a killing tonight.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Doing Something

Today my son had a friend over, an official play date. My motherhood calculus worked like this: one three year old boy (in diapers) + one three year old boy (in diapers) = a small taste of the apocalypse. As it turned out, it was a marvelous day, one in which I got more done (and by that I don’t mean cures for disease or essays on philosophy, but organizing closets and drawers) than I have on any other day over the last three weeks.

The date concluded with a conversation between those two small boys, hands entwined, as follows:

C: “Do you like my new poos (shoes)?”
K: “I do, I do, sure. I love them.”

My two daughters never played with their friends like these cats. The boys needed no guidance from me. They listened to me. They listened when I said don’t crack the hockey stick against the glass door, or don’t drink the bubbles, or don’t smack each other’s heads with water guns on the trampoline. Every time I asked them to stop, they did. Like when I said don’t take apart the train table and don’t chew food and spit it out and laugh, because I get that that can be funny, but it’s not THAT funny.

It’s a new world for me with boys. When I pulled up to his driveway, C said “tanks for takin’ me home.” Like a drunken soldier, he was polite to the end.

My girls were so busy today – in the ‘hood and at Brownies, it almost made me miss them. I even had time, while discussing who would pick up who with a neighbor, to inquire as to the laundry detergent I sniffed on her kid: it smelled clean and good and I wanted some of that. We both admitted this was an utterly lame and embarrassing conversation, but I swear if we were ballsy enough we might have shared coupons.

I let all three stay up a little later tonight (7:30) as if they had earned some collective reward for not entirely pissing me off me today. When they were packed off in bed, I sent off another update about my 22 year old cousin with leukemia: it’s only been one week and two days, yet the list of people who care and want to know swells so huge. Her parents send me updates daily, which I add to in my own way and then pass along. I feel gratified to “do something” and am completely aware that there is little I can do.

It occurs to me that this feeling, this idea, this thought, sums up my life completely. I push “send” on the email button and I hope for the best.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


B is at her first sleepover tonight. She spent 45 minutes packing her bag, including a washcloth with a ballerina on it (wha?) and slippers. She literally fell out of the car, and then again over the strap of her bag, smacking flat on her face in their driveway, leaping up to announce: "I'm okay!"

Have you ever seen the movies with the pretty-spazzy-clutzy girl? She's her.

For the first time in 7 1/2 years, we don't have a crib in our house. Tonight, K is attempting to sleep in a real bed, rocket ship sheets and all. I would have kept him in the crib until he was 8, but I am hoping this move to a "big boy" bed will be the psychological push he needs into "big boy" underpants. Wishful thinking perhaps and the kiss of death to a good night's sleep, but while I am wistful for 7 1/2 years straight with a crib, I am not so much for 7 1/2 years of poopy diapers.

R has worn the same camo cargo shorts (from the Boys section of the Gap) for three days, changing into her shiny black soccer shorts only to sleep. Problem?

My in-laws came to visit today for an 8-hour "lunch". They wanted to see the kids, which I appreciate so much, but the girls spent most of the day running through the neighborhood, under-dressed (by their grandmother's standards, and mine too, I suppose, if I chose to wage that war) and were completely unimpressed by the visit. Gummy worms from Gramma lured them back inside, to which B said "Mom, you were right -- she always brings candy." And then the grandparents paid them for their report cards, and they wondered why we hadn't.

It is raining. P is leaving for a week tomorrow as I count down the days to the school auction I am running (on Thursday) and for which I have been insanely busy for most of the last 3 months and for which he will not be present. I wish I didn't have the "see ma! see me!" mentality still at 37 but I do, and it makes us both feel a little sad: I wish he could witness what I am trying to do. He wishes he could be around more. He is a good guy nearly always, despite consistently thinking my big event is on Wednesday instead of Thursday, and I know if he could he would be there.

So tonight while he coaxes a three year old ninja and five year old jock into bed for what will be the first time in at least three weeks and the last time in at least one more, and while my sweet little seven year old girl jumps on the bed at someone else's house, I sit downstairs, with the rain and the dishwasher pounding away, just trying to acknowledge it all, trying to act in the moment, so to speak.

Life is moving so fast! Does writing it down slow it at all? Probably not, probably no. But for five minutes, I do think about it, and maybe that's the most you can expect to get from life when you're living it. Five good minutes to realize that in the midst of change and chaos and everyday crap, while the world swirls on and your kids grow up despite you or because of you, you've got your five minutes, need to have your five minutes, to listen to your dishwasher and the rain alone and nothing else but your heart.

Bad Day

Raining, sleeting, awful -- exactly at the time I need to pick up R and her pal. I pack B (home sick day three) and K (we almost all three fall down the stairs) into the car and off we go. Drive around the school block a couple times, no parking and most of the downtown is flooded. It is now pouring.

I illegally park in the hill-y school lot, fuck it. There are about 12 spaces and I am happy to get the last one. Put on parking break, leave on car, leave kids there and go get Rory and her pal. Feet soaking before I get in the building (Uggs suck). Truck back out with R & A; wind now whipping, hair sopping.

Car not where I left it.

Has slid down hill and is lodged in snow bank. WITH KIDS IN IT.

Minivan has no oompf and won't reverse. No one helps. Cotton mittens useless when it comes to digging out wheels. Water freezing on my face. NO ONE HELPS.

Ease off parking break, tell 5 kids to be quiet, and gun it over snow bank, swerve down winding, one lane, ancient road and off we go.

Safe and sound.

Get home, go online, order two pairs of Sorel boots from Zappos and consider SUV.

Mac and cheese poured into bowls. Kids dig in. R says, "Mom almost killed us today."

These are the days I freaking live for.