The mess, the whole mess, and nothing but the mess

I am many things, but naturally neat and tidy I am not. My habitat quickly matches the chaos of my constantly addled mind. Papers, pens, shoes, discarded children’s socks, toys, and my sunglasses seem to creep like ivy and move around of their own volition until my house looks like a windstorm swept through it. Keeping the main thoroughfares free of tripping hazards, and the actual cooking surfaces free of fire hazards, is generally enough of a steep uphill battle for me. With selective tunnel vision, the disorder of my house almost doesn’t bother me. Almost.

Like the burst of motivation from a New Year’s resolution fad dieter, I occasionally become tyrannically devoted to cleaning. I whip the house into shape, and if your beloved objects end up in the bin or donated, well it’s your fault for not taking better care of them in the first place. Then, like the fad dieter, I return to my bad habits and my mess grows ever fatter. Sometimes, like the poor resolutioner might do at the gym, I overdo it in my zeal for cleanliness and order. Instead of sore muscles keeping me from exercising again, I develop a relentless apathy towards the growing mess.

About six weeks ago Luke had a birthday party at home. Ahead of the party I cleaned the house so well that my husband accused me of hiring a cleaning service on the sly. It was a terrible mistake though, because I have not lifted a finger since.* If you’re wondering what a house looks like after six weeks without intervention, the answer is NOT GOOD.

Our walking paths are not clear of tripping hazards. In fact, this gigantic bear has been lying in the center of the living room for weeks, directly in the pathways between my desk and the kitchen, and the couch and the kitchen.

In the way

My husband is a good and patient man. If one of us cared more, our house would be tidier, but alas, neither of us care more than we don’t feel like fixing it. He has tactfully refrained from mentioning the state of our home.

At the same time our house waves the white flag to entropy, we have experienced a minor miracle. The Dollar Store helium balloons we bought six weeks ago are still aloft. They had enough helium for maybe six days, but to last six weeks? I’m tempted to bust out the menorah. Now stringless, they litter our ceilings and we are forced to wait for the helium to slowly leak from the surprisingly impermeable balloons.

Miracle

The balloons have been there so long I no longer really see them. They’re just part of the house like the lights and fans. Yesterday, however, Tim brilliantly summed up the current state of our house: “I’m so happy that we figured out a way to also have trash on our ceilings.”

So, there you have it, folks. I’m the mom who makes you feel better about your messy house. The things I do for you.

*Confession: I have cleaned toilets and sinks.

Embarrassment

When I was a kid my parents embarrassed me, constantly and on purpose. I grew up believing that it was the parents’ right, nay job, to embarrass their offspring. So now that I’m a parent, it’s my job too, right? Well, it turns out I’m still learning that life isn’t fair, because I’m still the one being embarrassed. This time by my offspring – my evil genius Luke.

He’s embarrassed me in so many ways. Opening public bathroom doors when I’m, well, not ready. Talking about indelicate topics in front of other people (“My nipples are small, and so are daddy’s, but mommy’s are big!”) Or, my favorite, throwing an epic tantrum at age 3 because I would not buy him a training bra. That’s right. A training bra.

Here’s the scene: Target, tween girl section. A huge display of training bras in a myriad of attractive pastels. Think: a wall of Easter eggs. But soft and silky, lightly padded (wtf?) and smooth. Luke heaven. He wanted one. Bad.

He walked up to the display wall as if in a trance. Arms outstretched. He touched every bra he could reach. “They’re so soft and pretty. Can I have one, Mommy? Pleeeeaaaaaase??” I hear some snickering from somewhere behind me. “No, Luke, I’m sorry, you can’t have one of those. Those are training bras and they’re for big girls, not 3-year-old boys.”

Fast forward about 8 seconds. Luke is now on the floor screaming and kicking everything in sight. This was not your average tantrum; this one was turned up to eleven. Between the shrieks and sobs he shouted the following things:

“I want a training bra!”

“I am a big girl!”

“I don’t like you, Mommy!”

“Training bra!”

“Training braaaaaaaaa!”

I now have the attention of all Target shoppers. Most think it’s pretty hilarious, and really, I do too. I certainly would have enjoyed myself if this were someone else’s kid. But he was mine and I was expected to take him back home with me.

It’s OK though. I have a plan. I will win this one in the end. With just a little patience, I will have the last laugh. See, I’m storing this memory for future use. It’s a weapon. My embarrassment at the time will be nothing compared to his when I feel the time is right to retell this story. To a group of his friends? To his girlfriend? His future in-laws? All the guests at his wedding? Time will tell when it will come back out. It all depends on how well Luke treats me from here on out.

At last! I will have the last laugh! Revenge will be mine! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!

training bra

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Jackass

As you may know, my family moved a few months ago. We’ve now been here long enough for the brand newness to wear off, leaving me at the lonely intersection of Interesting-New-Person and I-Am-Not-Really-Friends-With-You. This is an awkward place to be. The trick to being new in town is making real friends before the newness wears off, leading straight to the happy intersection of Interesting-New-Person and Fun-New-Friend. Hindsight, right?

I missed my chance to make friends while still interesting just by virtue of being new because I’m not good at making new friends. At all. My sense of humor is completely uncalibrated so I never know if it’s going to overshoot or under, but it seems to always miss the mark. Generally, I compensate for this by not making any jokes at all until I think I have a gauge on my audience. The problem with keeping my humor in check is that without it I’ve got nothing. What do people talk about if they’re not joking around? It’s all weather and this year’s tomato crop. If I can’t be funny, I don’t have a single interesting thing to say. When I don’t have anything interesting to say there’s no telling what might come out of my mouth.

Here are a couple of recent examples which illustrate why I don’t have new local friends:

Braced for some killer talk about weather, tomatoes, and how precious our children are, I headed to my daughter’s preschool open house. Within minutes Tim and I found ourselves talking to Sally’s soon-to-be teacher. What happens next is like a slow motion nightmare- that dream where you’re driving a car, but you’re in the backseat so you can’t reach the wheel or the pedals, and you know a cliff is coming but it’s all out of your control. Well, the car was me and I was careening headlong off the cliff of WTF. I could not control the words coming from my mouth. Tim backed away, not wanting to go down in flames beside me. That traitor. I watched him walk out of my nightmare as I continued to talk:

Oh, you have a pre-teen daughter? Does she hate you yet? I’m terrified of the day Sally becomes a teenager and decides she hates me. And I think our cycles will sync up. That happens, right? All that PMS at once? Scary. Hopefully I’ll go through ‘the change’ before Sally gets her period….

On and on I went about my four-year-old’s future menstrual cycle and my own eventual menopause. Why? While my horrible words tumbled out my mind raced: How to back pedal out of this quagmire? I’m talking to a preschool teacher. WTF? Stop it! Stop it! Someone save me! Unable to come up with a graceful exit, eventually I pretended that someone needed me and I ran away.

Since then I’ve tried very hard not to talk about female reproductive changes with people I’ve just met. Surely I can make my way out in public if I just avoid that one thing, right?

In another effort to make friends I signed up for a class called Extreme Fit at my gym. I’m one of nine women tortured on a weekly basis by a sadistic 20-something with no parts that jiggle. Certainly this is a climate in which I can make a friend or two. During one particularly grueling workout I found myself collapsed on the floor next to another woman. I said something about my family going hungry since I would be unable to use my arms to prepare dinner. She said, “I have to work tonight so I need my arms. I have to lift babies!” She explained that she’s a nurse in a maternity ward. My inappropriate response? “Yikes! I hope all the babies are underweight!” She looked at me like I had just walked through the hospital’s nursery using my baby seal club on all the newborns over six pounds.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. We can’t joke about underweight babies with strangers? No one told me! Is there a manual for this shit?

The sad truth is that I’m a huge jackass. People who know me well fall into three categories: 1) they know and accept I’m a jackass and therefore are not friends with me at all; 2) they know and accept that I’m a jackass but like me despite that; or 3) they’re related to me. How do I get new people into one of these three camps? If I keep my obnoxious humor under wraps, I have nothing interesting to say so I find myself talking about puberty. Ack! If I risk allowing my sense of humor to range freely, I offend neonatal nurses everywhere. I’d give anything to skip this part and go straight to the intersection of You-Know-Me-Well-Enough-To-Know-I’m-Joking and No-More-Small-Talk. But I can’t. I have to plow straight through this and hope that there are a couple of adults still standing on the other side. Then I’ll know that I’ve found my people.

Jackass