Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day Angst

I was lucky. I had a really great mom. The downfall of that was that I had a sucktastic, mostly absent, dad. Because my mom was overly busy busting her hump to get those proverbial ends to get to know each other (ends meeting wasn't really an option), I missed out on a ton of time with my really great mom. It didn't mean she was less great, just that I was robbed of time by my sucktastic dad. Happy ending is, I was doubly lucky in that I had my grandmother, who became as influential in my life as my mom was. I lucked out even more, because in my life were other women who helped my mom pick up the slack of life. Some were her friends, some were my friends' moms, but they all shaped me into the mom I am today.

On Facebook, this article has been going about, heralding about how recognition of moms on Mother's Day can make those who had crap moms, or those who wish they were moms, or even gals who never wanted to be moms feel lesser than the rest of their peers. I call it hogwash. Mothering is, without a doubt in my mind, the hardest, dirtiest, most vexing thing I have ever done or will ever hope to do. The rewards are enormous, but it keeps me up at night, even when kids aren't knocking at my door with an illness, a bad dream, or a trip to the bathroom gone wrong. It's back breaking, mind numbing, frustrating, and it's all done in a society that thinks it can weigh in whenever it wants to tell us we're doing it wrong. Damn right I want recognition! I want my holiday! Shower me with adoration! I need it at least ONE day a year!

One of the other things the author of the piece, Anne Lamott, doesn't really see, even though she mentions having many others who acted as mothers in her life, is that asking mothers to stand in a church setting isn't just about recognizing moms. It's about letting everyone else know who they can go to in their time of need. Because the great moms? They're like a never-ending hug. They're the people who always have room for one more kid at the table, usually not their own. They're the ones you can count on to hold your hand, pull you close when you cry and stroke your hair, whispering it will all be okay. Real moms don't have to even give birth. Some mother their communities, some are just those people who see a need and step in without a second thought to their needs. We need those people to appear in our lives, and miraculously they do, because that's what moms do. For those of us whose mothers are gone? We miss them, but Mother's Day doesn't signal an endless well of grief. It marks a day when we have lovely memories of celebrating Mother's Days in the past.

The thing is, we need a network of mothers. No one is a perfect mom. If you breastfed or didn't breastfeed your kids, if you can or can't go to every event, if you're single or married, if you're a step-parent, an adoptive parent, or a biological parent, no one person can cover all the experiences of mom. Me? I'd rather gouge out an eye than do another craft project, but I can cook up a storm of favorite meals, and I do a mean living room dance party. If I'd only had my mom, I would never have learned to cook, to camp, to fish. My mom taught me a lot, but she didn't teach me any of those things.

If you're lucky enough to have a mom to give a card to--even if she's not "your" mom--try listing all the things you know how to do because of her, then thank her. Then go out and mother someone else. Everybody needs a mom sometimes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I get to play Marco Polo EVERY day

To recap, I have a blind mini chocolate poodle. He's done okay with it, mainly when he wants to. He knows when the kids are home that all he has to do is stand at the edge of the couch or bed and bark for one of them to come running to assist him up or down. He sticks close to walls and--I think on purpose--every now and again bonks his head into an open door or closet. This makes the children pick him up and coo over him. Both kids have told me, however, if Coco hears me coming in the door, he will trot, without mishap, through three rooms. I'm sensing a drama queen.

Coco has his own service dog in Cally, my uncle's white German Shepard. She likes to heard him in or out. For the last week, though, I've sensed she's unhappy with her role, as I've found her actively blocking Coco from going places. 

We also have a doggy door so the pooches can come and go at will into the fenced back yard. Neither dog is a digger, so it works. For the last few days, for some reason, Coco has decided to venture out much further in the yard than he has since becoming blind. Previously, he only went about three feet from the door and the short deck, easily coming back in. Many days in the past week, I'll realize I hear Coco barking, look in the yard, and he's at least 10-12 feet out. The problem is, I think he gets turned around and can't remember which way is back in. That means I get to yell through the door, "Coco! Come on, boy! Over here!" Until he trots to the deck, jumps up and comes in. Fun.

Today was even worse, because Cally heard all the nonsense and went out there. I don't know if she was trying to protect Coco from running into the deck or what, but she kept herding him AWAY from the deck, not toward. So I had to go to another door (doggy door is semi-permanently wedged into an unmoveable location) to go out and rescue Coco.

I'm not even fond of negotiating my kids' disagreements. Now I have to negotiate the DOGS'? I'm not happy.

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Poor Boy is Oblivious

I've mentioned in multiple places that Brett is growing weed-like, topping my height of 5'5" a few months ago and will, I'm sure, close in on his dad's 6'2" with alarming speed. His shoulders have broadened in the last year too, and even though his 14th birthday just happened, he's definitely got more of a "guy" look these days.

Megan and I had other plans yesterday for her birthday, Scott was at work, so Brett and Uncle Bob were off to do "manly things." Apparently, "manly things" include eating at Taco Bell. I was told when they walked in, Uncle Bob excused himself to wash his hands, leaving Brett to lean against a counter and wait. Apparently, the girl behind the counter looked him up and down and asked "you work at Gamestop, don't you?"

When telling this tale, Brett thought she asked this question because he was wearing a Call of Duty t-shirt. Right. He responded with "no, I'm only 14." Uncle Bob came out just in time to hear the girl make a "pffft" sound and turn away.

I tried to tell him I know what that was. That's what we call "an opening." Brett wanted to know and opening for what.

Dear God, please keep him clueless for four, five more years, tops.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It's Hollywood, right?

Let me preface this post with the fact that I don't watch the Oscars. To me, the music and jokes are fun and all, but in recent years, they don't outweigh the fact that I don't even know most of the movies exist--unless they have fun, colorful, animated characters or are about superheroes--and I couldn't care less about what goes on. The ONLY Oscars I ever saw from start to finish, I happened to be at a friend's house, she served dinner, another friend was there, I was vastly pregnant with my son, and the chair was comfy.

I've seen the comments through my Facebook feed scrolling on through, and more and more, I'm confused. Granted, this is a commentary/summary kind of thing, but still. I thought Sean Penn was all Mr. Activist? But he's making GREEN CARD jokes? Huh? Gotta say, Sean, that's pulling a total Spiccoli there. Patricia Arquette. She's still ALIVE? Good for her! I always put her firmly in the "whackadoodle" category for some reason. I'm unconvinced birthing of babies, though, while nifty and all, makes for a better actor. Whatevs. Rock on.

I'm also seeing in my feed many posts supporting AND denigrating people of color for attending the Oscars. I know the issue is the lack of nominees for people of color. I get it. Be an activist, state your truth as loud as you can. In the words of one of my longtime favorite musicians "If you can't stand for something, you're gonna fall for anything." I think that's true. But I find this judging others because they are or aren't doing what one group or another thinks is right tiring. They have their own path to follow, and those on the outside can't see into others and know what is going on. You want to abstain and make it known why? That's a great idea. Others do things differently, and that's on them, not on you.

So, now, that the confusing Oscar nonsense is done, what else will blow up my Facebook feed? Hmm?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Dog, the Thespian

I think my newly-blind dog is milking his disability. That's right, you heard me. My 9 pound miniature chocolate Poodle is totally using his blindness to his advantage, most specifically against his nemesis, my uncle's 84 pound German Shepard.

First, it's a tenuous friendship the two have. Even after months together, they aren't curl up in a ball and snuggle kind of friends. When Cally barks at joggers and bikers through the window, Coco barks in sympathy, but generally, he knows this is Cally's domain, and he doesn't interfere with it. Cally, for her part, is quite jealous that Coco is allowed on furniture, even SLEEPING with the humans. She sniffs him down from head to toe, much to his dismay, looking for some anomaly that allows him onto the furniture.

Admittedly, there is more babying of Coco going on now that he's blind. I had to admonish the kids to stop carrying him around, as he needs to learn the lay of the land. They still snuggle him and give him kisses more now that he's blind.

Both dogs have their own dishes in separate parts of the house, and mostly all is good. Since the blindness, however, even though Coco has the. exact. same. food. in. his. dish. he likes to take his life into his furry little paws and eat from Cally's dish. He only drinks from his own dish, so he knows exactly what he's doing. Oddly enough, Cally can't be bothered at certain times of day to care. She knows, she sees, but she has bigger fish to fry. But if we are eating at the table or moving around, she will suddenly get all possessive of her food, and she'll nip at Coco. When she does, Coco keens pitifully, and will roll over and pant, as if in pain. If no one is watching (he thinks), he'll get up and add a limp until he finds someone, then flops onto the floor. Of course, choruses of "bad dog" and "no, Cally, he's your friend" ensue, and Cally is sent to her cage, Coco is picked up and cuddled.

I'm just hoping Coco doesn't turn on us one day.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Clearly, I Jumped the Gun

Background information for this post is that my uncle, like me, is a lover of gadgets. He, Brett, and I could spend HOURS oogling, trying, chuckling over, and generally geeking out at objects meant to do what humans used to. It is, apparently, a genetic sickness deep in our DNA. Scott and Megan neither understand or are amused by our ways.

In the mudroom area, where entry to the house and laundry both take place, it can get a bit stinky. Instead of using a plain old can of air freshener, Uncle Bob got one of those automatic sprayer thingys. I'm not sure if it senses motion or smell, but every now and again, it emits a shot of scent. Where the gadget love goes awry is that the initial gadget cost is usually minimal, but the REFILLS! Oh, they get you on the refill cost! Luckily, bargain shopper that I am, I found some close out refills, but we were stuck with "vanilla cupcake" as the scent for the area.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I've already forgotten about the scent thingy. I'm calmly putting laundry into the washing machine. I'm almost done when I hear a hissing sound. HISSING! Is it a snake (we ARE in Louisiana now)?! Where IS the snake?! How did a snake get IN THE HOUSE?! Could it be behind the dryer? Because snakes love nice warm spots to curl up in during the day. Wait, I smell cupcakes??? Why do I smell cupcakes? What the. . . oh. cupcakes. Never mind.

Apparently, I'm a bit amped up over the new bug and reptile communities I've been encountering since in Louisiana.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I'm a Local

In my short time living in the south, I've learned a very important lesson. It doesn't matter what your driver's license says, nor does it matter where you get your mail delivered. It is ONLY when you start running into people you know at the Winn-Dixie that you really and truly are a local. I've learned it's not church or bars or even people's homes where great conversations are had, it's at the Winn-Dixie.

Going to the Winn-Dixie on a Sunday afternoon is at times, ludicrous, hilarious, disconcerting, and quite fun. The Sunday afternoon crowd has been to church, eaten their lunch--in this town either at the Forest, a nice restaurant, or City Buffet, a Chinese food buffet that's quite good--and they are ready to pick up their staples and engage in conversation with anyone they didn't run into at the aforementioned restaurants. Forget a "quick stop" on Sundays, even with all five lines (you read that right FIVE LINES) working hard, "quick" cannot be done. Walking by, I've heard conversations focusing on the sermon at church, who's died, who's still holding on, who's been arrested, who's pregnant, who's married, who should NEVER have gotten married, who's still holding on in a different way, whose children don't care about their mothers, whose children are or aren't doing well in school, and all other topics under the sun. I really should take notes for that book I'm writing some day.

I've also learned that even though only about 1/3 of my total students, which only comes to 12, truly live in Franklin since we're a charter school 15 miles away, now that I'm a teacher, I had better look my best if I even THINK of darkening the door of the Winn-Dixie. It is inevitable I will run into a student. Sometimes, I don't even see them, but I hear the hushed whisper of "that's my TEACHER!" Usually, depending upon the behavior (not the grades) of said student, I may or may not have a parent come over and introduce themselves. More likely, from many feet away, I get frantic waves accompanied by "Hi, Miss Donna!"

The Winn-Dixie, truly a microcosm of humanity.