Friday, May 23, 2014

Yo mama

Sometimes, when I find myself repeating the same funny story about my kids a million times over, it makes its way into the hoped-for posterity of my blog. This is such a story.

(P.S. Jack, when you’re 30 and you call BS on this tale, let me assure you it happened exactly as I have transcribed it here.)

Jack came home from school earlier in the week, and he was kind of upset.

Me: Hey, what’s wrong? You seem bummed.

Jack, near tears: Mom, my friends made fun of you all day. I had to defend you from the beginning of school until the end.

Me: Oh, crap, Jack, did they find my blog?


Me: Honey, what in the world were they saying? Why did you have to defend me?

Jack: They...sniff...they said...

...fingers tapping...encouraging raised eyebrows...get on with it, dude...

They said, “Yo mama drives a truck!”

They said, “Yo mama is so old, she walked into an antique store and they kept her!”

Me, trying very, very hard not to laugh: Sweetheart, thank you for defending me. But “yo mama” jokes are a type of joke, and they’re not really jokes about me.

Jack, relieved: Really? They weren’t talking about you?

No, honey. But thanks for sticking up for me.

Jack: Well, it didn’t make sense anyway. I told them you drive an SUV.

Ba dum bum.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Letter to my son's third-grade teacher

Dear Mrs. E.,

Did you like Jack’s habitat? We thought that was such a cool assignment – pick a habitat and make a diorama. I used to really, really love making dioramas, so this was right up my -- er, his -- alley! Your explanation of your expectations was clear and I instantly asked Jack which habitat he wanted. He selected the mountains. I very gently suggested that mountains might be a common choice and asked him to consider something more exotic, like the Serengeti, but he was really clear he wanted the mountains, and this was, after all, his project. I really can’t stand those overbearing mothers who don’t let their kids just do projects themselves, you know?

We were running short on time, and your letter did say parents could help, so I went ahead and went to the craft store while Jack was in school. I thought I’d dump a bunch of things on the table and let him at it! He didn’t really understand the role of the blue cellophane, so I told him I thought a mountain stream was a great idea. He loved it.

Now, I thought it would be cool if the mountains were made of paper mâché, and that takes a really long time to dry, so I did spend about three and a half hours making the mountains and baking them in a 100 degree oven while he was in school. Clearly that was a mom job, right? I mean, ovens and all. Total danger.

He did paint them all by himself. To be helpful, I created a little palette of three mountainy colors on a paper plate, and told him to just go nuts and let his imagination run wild.

The horned owl swooping out of the sky was my idea, and Jack did try to affix the fishing wire himself, but, honestly, you and I both know he’s all thumbs so it was easier for me to do it myself.

He didn’t like all the moss I bought. But I quickly googled it and told him that the mountain goats I bought do, in fact, eat moss, so he didn’t seem to mind as I added more and more moss every time I walked by.

He was super excited when he came home and saw that I glued Goldfish into the stream! I told him that made the outstretched claws of the horned owl more realistic, and he liked that so much he worked it into his presentation.

And the clouds. Weren’t they great? He was adamantly against clouds, but I had his sister run up and grab a few cotton balls and I taped those suckers in and even he agreed they look good.

Now, the mountain goat stuck in about an inch of dried hot glue on the very top of the mountain? Jack wanted to be absolutely certain you could tell that mountain goats climb mountains. I pointed out that the baby goat I had delicately tip-toeing up the mountain (with minimal glue) was sufficient, but he disagreed, and hey, it’s his project, right? So that part was all Jack. And the end of my glue gun.

Anyway, hope you loved it. He worked very, very hard on it.

(Truthfully, though, I still don’t understand why my husband patted him on the back this morning and said, “Don’t worry, buddy. She told me I could help, too.”)

It was great fun and he learned a ton! Fabulous project. We’d love to see more like that.

See you soon!

Mrs. Kennon

Friday, May 9, 2014

Another Hallmark holiday, right?

Very few holidays are more exquisitely complex for me, or generate as much emotion in me, than Mother’s Day.

I get teary because I know in my heart that to be called “Mommy” is the greatest gift God will ever bestow on a woman. Whether you gave birth as a scared teenager or a single mom or a happily married wife; whether you used a surrogate or IUI or IVF or prayer; whether you adopted or fostered or raised a family member’s child, you worked to get that title and, by virtue of having it, you have been touched by an almost indescribable and permanent love.

If you know me, you know how I feel about my children. They are, simply, my heart. They inspire giant love and awe and frustration and laughter and I wouldn’t change one single thing about either one of them.

But Mother’s Day goes beyond those two little ones I’m lucky enough to have.

Mother’s Day is my mom, eight years gone, who taught me to go to church and to use proper manners and to avoid chewing gum in public and to tell dirty jokes with panache and to choose the right fork and to make perfect crème brulee and to always, under all circumstances, hand write a thank-you note.

Mother’s Day is my mother-in-law, who taught me that you’re never too old to float leaf boats down a creek or play sardines with enthusiastic grandchildren or sit on a deck and count stars. She taught me about vegetable gardening and flowers and hummingbirds and orange-juice cake. She taught me that a mother’s love is available to anyone who needs it, and that it doesn't run out, even if you get in a fight with her son.

Mother’s Day is my sister, who raises two boys as a single, hardworking mom. She does it with humor, optimism, faith and lots of wine. She has her hands full all of the time, but never hesitates to reach one of those hands out to me when she thinks I need it.

Mother’s Day is my three sisters-in-law, some of whom needed miracles to have babies and some of whom needed miracles to agree to marry one of my brothers. I am bound to these three women forever; we are part of a completely dysfunctional, totally insane and unconventional family that makes every event one to remember, for better or for worse. We drop by each other's houses, attend countless happy hours together, brag about our kids to each other, live through drunken family Secret Santa exchanges, host each other's families and keep quiet about years of inside family jokes.

Mother’s Day is the friends and neighbors I’ve met through my children; the ones who drop off flowers or invite me over for coffee or text me a joke to put on the kids' lunch napkins or pour a glass of wine at a playdate pickup. They’re the friends I didn’t even know I needed, and now they’re the ones I can’t live without.

Mother’s Day is the friends I have had for so long I almost need a calculator to count the number of years. We studied for high school exams together, skipped school together, attended proms and football games together. We visited each other in college and went on vacation together and served as bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. We held each other’s newborns and have shared parenting advice and struggles for nearly 16 years. These are the speed-dial friends that make time and distance apart evaporate with a simple, “Hey, what’s up?”

Mother’s Day is the teachers who, I swear to you, treat my children like their own. It’s the teachers who have offered hugs and jokes and giant smiles; it’s the teachers who have made my children love to learn.

So for me, Mother’s Day is about being thankful for my own children. It’s also a silent (or, in this case, written) tribute to all those women who touch my life in a million little ways and make me a better mom, a better wife, a better sister, daughter and friend.

Cheers, ladies. And happy, happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you. I love you all. And Mom, you're still here, every day, and I see you everywhere I turn. I miss you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

If you are also on drugs, this won't seem random to you.

Sometimes weird things teach you weird things about yourself. And your priorities.

For example, I found out on Monday that I was having surgery on Tuesday (the minutia of why this was a surprise is totally unimportant). I was very, very nervous, but not for the reasons you’d think.

Not because of the idea of anesthesia, or the thought of someone cutting into my back and playing around with my spine, or even because of my pathological (and well founded) fear of my butt showing during surgery.

No, I was nervous because I had so much to DO.

Early Tuesday morning, I sprang into action.

The first thing I did was get a pedicure.

The second thing I did was plan out meals for the week and go to the grocery store.

The third thing I did was make meals for the week.

The next things I did happened in this order: I changed all the sheets, I did all the laundry, I paid all the bills, I watered all the plants.

I swept the floor.

I hobble walked the dog around the block.

I arranged for someone to take the puppy on an extended playdate. I arranged for someone to take the kids on extended playdates.

I changed two light bulbs that had been bothering me.

I took a long shower and dried my hair and looked as cute as I could without an ounce of makeup.

Then, and only then, did I tell my husband I was ready to go to the hospital.

So I learned I am neurotic and anal to an almost diagnosable degree.

Then, as my husband met my doctor and heard us joke around

(me: You’ve already done two surgeries today. How did they go? Dr. F: They didn’t make it. I’m hoping the third time is the charm. Let me get a shovel and then I’ll be ready for you.),

he looked at me, incredulously, and said, “You just like this guy because he makes you laugh, right?”

So I learned I rank humor as the most important trait in friends, children, store checkout clerks and surgeons.

As I have sat in bed for three days letting my husband wait on me, I have learned being lazy is completely overrated and it actually sucks.

I have learned that if you give me enough Vicodin, and a laptop, and a hefty dose of boredom, I will post a blog entry that doesn’t make much sense just so I feel like I’m talking to someone.

Now I’m going to go make some progress on season 4 of Breaking Bad.

Who says I can’t rock a Friday night?