Sunday, February 20, 2011

Church People Piss Me Off

In keeping up with my New Years Resolution to attend Mass on a weekly basis I packed up the Mini & Middle Monkeys this morning and headed off to Saint Sister of So and So. 

For the second week in a row, I arrived at the church late.  For the second week in a row I hustled my Monkeys in the side door and ducked in during the first reading.  And...for the second week in a row I walked up to a compainionless congregant seated at the end of an otherwise empty pew and tried to quietly make my entrance. 

Instead of simply stepping out of the pew for and letting me & the Monkeys get by or simply allowing us to crawl over and reach the vast open space in the middle, the solitary soul instead chose to look at me with great disdain and slide six inches further into the pew. 

The first week as I attempted to situate the Monkeys and my self into the single square foot that was allotted for us I tried not to let anger into my heart.  As I sat, practically shoulder to shoulder with this stranger who did not seem to understand the social norms of personal space I tried not to think ill of him.  Instead, I did what any good, God-fearing mother would do, I sat a Monkey right next to him, practically on his lap, figuring that he would eventually take the hint and venture into the thirty feet of OPEN PEW to his right but alas, this guy did not budge.  In fact, were it not for his absolute refusal to look at us, make eye contact or even offer the "sign of peace" to us, you may have mistaken us for a family.

And so I prayed for forgiveness for the better part of the Mass.  I asked for forgiveness for HATING this snobby prick who seemed to be socially retarded.  At the end I watched him pull out of the church parking lot in his snotty navy Benz and cut me off, one final "eff you."   He was a super nice Church guy.

Today, I had high hopes.  I tried arrive on schedule but lets just be honest, without the prompting of the Monkey Maker, who was at work, that was never going to happen. 

I entered the church via the same side door and scanned the pews for any open spaces.  Even though the building was far from full, there were no openings anywhere.  And so it was that I approached my second single worshipper, a woman, seated on the end of yet another empty pew.  I paused in the aisle and smiled at her.  She looked at me as if I had asked her to hand me her bra.  She blinked a few times and then edged over 7 millimeters.  You couldn't fit a slice of square cheese in the space she left so I just plowed over her. 

Tough beans.  I clambered over her and her stupid, sensible churchy shoes and settled the Monkeys into the open space in the middle.  We removed our coats and spread ourselves out.   My heart was pounding and I was shaking with anger at the second smug churchgoer encounter in as many weeks.

I tried to offer it up and release my anger.  After all, that wasn't what church was about, right?  It was about thankfulness and forgiveness and...Did that guy just say "Perfection?!?!?!"

"All God asks of us is to be...perfect." The twenty-something super wholesome, multi-grain Deacon was saying.  WHAT?!?!? 

I tried to take it in, the message, the meaning, the moral - but it just didn't land.  Not here, not on this crazy lady who is just barely making it with "good enough." 

Perfection???? Please...

I took a deep breath and tried to remember why I came here.
On the way Mini-Monkey had asked me why we were going to church.  It was a valid question, one that I have asked myself many times over the years.  My official "Mommy" answer was that we wanted to say thank you to God for all the blessings of our life. The real and true reason is that the rites and rituals of the Roman Catholic faith represent stability and routine.  I wanted my children to experience the love and acceptance that comes from being part of a church community, but right now, I am not really feeling it.

Back in the pew I was just finally starting to relax.  My fists were unclenching and I was ready to engage in the Mass when Mini-Monkey said to me, "Mommy, I have to go potty." 

Of course you do. 

There was no easy way out.  I was going to have to climb over Churchy McSaveherspace to get my Monkey to the bathroom, and then come back again???  I think not.

We bailed on church today and I don't even feel bad.

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."  ~Anna Quindlen

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Defining a Constant

As a computer programmer there are certain times when one will establish a constant when writing code.  A constant is a value of any type that can never change, and specifies the parameters that remain constant in a function. 

My life is the function and my mom is my constant. 

In my hectic, harried life no longer is there time for 2 hour and $200 hair appointments where I sit in a salon and sip flavored coffee leisurely thumbing through tabloid mags.  Now I sit at my kitchen table while my mother lovingly yanks my hair through a frosting cap as my Mini-Monkey sits on my lap reading books.  One hour and $8 later I look fantastic and never have to leave my sweatpants.

I love to watch my mom's hands.  I can see them in my minds eye.  Ringing out the dishrag, having just finished wiping down plates, her hands reddish from the  incredibly hot water she always chooses to use.  Her slender fingers are long and adorned only by her simple, classic wedding jewelry. 

I see her bathing each of my babies, in her stainless steel kitchen sink.  Gently, lovingly pouring water over their tiny bellies.  Cooing to them and singing a song.  "I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck..."

I see her adding water to the teapot, preparing a fresh cup for each of us.  Motioning me to sit at the table and unload my burden.  Listening openly and ready to offer guidance, my mother is big on solutions.  The kitchen table in her house is not a place to wallow in your sorrows but rather a drawing board to formulate plans to change the circumstances of the situation. 

I can feel the nubby softness of her melon colored fleece shirt, the one that she wore to my house when the Monster Monkey was only 5 days old.  I was terrified of motherhood and so she came, in her melon colored shirt.  She came early in the morning and made me coffee, Snickerdoodle flavor.  The smell of the coffee mixed with the smell of her and when I hugged her I never wanted to let go.  She came almost everyday.  She stayed with me until I wasn't quite so scared. 

She was my life line, still is.

I called her this morning and said, "I need help."

At 5:30 PM, my mom will come to my house and help me.  She will help me organize my closet, she will listen to me rant and rave about my lack of waistline and excessively saggy bustline.  She will make her suggestions even though I will ignore most.  She will come armed with trash bags and fresh coffee.  She will help me sift through the good and forget the rest, this is her specialty.

My mom is my contsant, she is constantly amazing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Serenity Now

There has been a lot going on in my life as of late, not the least of which is a very positive pregnancy test.  And while I didn't worry when I saw the "Pregnant" appear on the Clear Blue Easy test stick, I worry now. 

I am a worrier by nature.  I have an anxious personality that causes me to stress about things, big and small that are wholly out of my control.  For this I take medicine and it helps, GREATLY.  But there are some thoughts that still creep into my worried mind.  They gnaw at the edges of my consciousness, demanding attention, refusing to stop until given their due.
I fear that something may happen to the pregnancy because we are still so very early in.  I worry that something may be wrong with the baby's health or development.  I worry about the finances of raising four children.  I worry that our time, already stretched rather thin, will leave someone lacking. I worry about the logistics of transporting and managing a family of...holy shit...there will be SIX of us?!?!?!?!?!?

"Hey," My love says to me taking me by the shoulders and looking into my eyes,  "Will worrying stop something bad from happening?" 

"No." I say tentatively.

"Then lets just be happy now because... we are happy.  Lets celebrate this new life because it is here and if something happens, we'll worry about that then.  Let's be joyful because this is a wonderful thing."

The man has a point. 

And so, I take a deep cleansing breath.  I enjoy a few minutes of calm before this morning's storm and I say a quiet prayer.  

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.  

I'm not what one would consider a "religious" person but I'm pretty sure that only a power greater than me can help me now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wasted Resources

I watch intently as two of the Monkeys craft, and carefully create handmade Valentine's Day cards for loved ones.  They snip with scissors,  add gobs of glue, and smoosh layer upon layer of colored construction paper.

And then there are the stickers. Beautiful pages of "heart-shaped stickers," booklets of glossy "Marvel Comic Superhero’s" and "Disney Princesses."  One page each of puffy Dora the Explorer and Super Mario Brother stickers, eight sparkly stickers to a page.  I draw in a deep breath and exhale slowly. 

The Monkeys stick away with reckless abandon.  All eight puffy stickers are used in 2 seconds flat, no regard given to placement or position on the card.  They burn through the Glossy Booklets in no time at all and the "heart-shaped" stickers were no match for these two. 

I watch as my Monkeys, my own flesh and blood, waste the precious resources at their disposal. 

Even as a young child, I savored resources like "stickers" and "special paper."  I was
(and still am) hesitant to share my treasures with anyone, even my own children. 

Here in my dining room, I watch the Mini Monkey affix 27 Happy Valentine’s Day stickers to a blank piece of white paper, each overlapping the other in an arch.  I feel a swell of excitement as she describes with great pride the "rainbow" of stickers she has created. 

"She gets it," I think to myself with delight, "She has my eye for design, for style, for order and balance in an artistic composition." 

I am floating on the edge of this reverie just as she happily takes a pair of safety scissors and hacks haphazardly into her clever creation.  She snips straight through the "sticker rainbow" without rhyme or reason.  She grabs absentmindedly at a scrap of brown construction paper and glues it sloppily on top of the sticker rainbow.

WTF???  I am screaming inside my head.  You just wasted 27 Valentine’s Day Stickers?!?!?! Why would you do that????

This is what I WANT to say to my 2 year old...instead... I praise her creativity and hang the creation on the refrigerator. 

I think about my job and how this lesson may apply.

My time is my resource, and just as the stickers are limited, so is my time.  Twenty-four hours in a day at last check and I spend eight of these hours trying to inspire teenagers to become better versions of themselves.  Trying to show them the world that is available to them if they only try, if they stop settling for good enough. 

I spend hours of time and countless kilocalories of energy investing in students who are not nearly as interested in their future as I am. 

My love does not understand the way I utilize my time. He silently screams, "Why????"

In my heart I know that my resources are not wasted, and even a little victory like keeping a kid from dropping out is worthy of the effort that made it possible.   So just as my Mini-Monkey's masterpiece deserves recognition and credit, so do the fruits of my educator’s labor.  They may not fit with the traditional idea of student success but I think they are pretty damn fridge worthy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Good Morning

My weekday mornings are frantic and frenzied, they often include phrases like, "I am leaving and I don't care if you aren't wearing underwear." 

The "Mommy, where is my other mitten?" and the "Mommy, my pee went UP instead of DOWN!!" and my personal favorite, "Mommy, my head it too big for this shirt!" utilize both my time and energy, two resources that are in short supply on weekdays. 

This is why I woke on Saturday morning filled with such good intentions. 

We had a rare Saturday morning at home, no wrestling until 1 PM.  The hours stretched before me with promise. 10 AM I sat in my dining room surrounded by thousands of tiny scraps of scissor snips, covered in glue and bits of crushed up noodles that we used as "sprinkles."  I wore three sports bra's and my running shoes, evidence of my feeble attempt to exercise, an attempt thwarted by the ultimate demise of my 8 year old treadmill, sputtering, jerking and finally lurching to a stop.  I was defeated. 

My sad bowl of "oat-me-milk" (a.k.a. oatmeal) sat on the kitchen counter, cold and forgotten, a silent reminder of the morning that I meant to have.  The two cups of coffee that brought me to functionality at 6 A.M. had turned on me, giving me the shakes.

When my love walked through the door at 11 AM I was surrounded by three Valentine making Monkey machines.  No rooms had been cleaned, no laundry folded, no bathtubs scrubbed.  My dresser was still buried under mounds of "undesirable" clothing items.  I shook my head sadly and said, "This is as far as I got." 
He walked over and gently kissed me on the forehead and said, "That is just far enough."

I love him.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Baby Weight (repost)

**This is a repost that first appeared as a Guest Post for the fabulous Amber Page Writes.  I love this post so much and wanted to see it again. So here it is:)**

After giving birth to my first son, the thing that shocked me the most about motherhood, other than the fact that "golf ball" sized blood clots are considered "normal" was the realization that for the rest of my life I was responsible for another human being. 
I could leave the room, the state or the planet but I would still be someones Mommy.  The weight of it was incredible. 

The sleepless nights were nothing compared to the constant feeling of anxiety.  The feeling that something could happen to this precious little lump and there was not a damn thing I could do about it. 

I know now that it was one part hormones and two parts post-partum depression but even now six years later, as my Monster Monkey heads out the door to school, or to play, or even as he sleeps that thought tugs at my mind. 

I remember sitting in my living room a few months after giving birth.  I had just taken my son upstairs and put him to bed in his crib.  I returned with the video monitor and adjusted it in my lap.  I watched my son lay in his crib, silently sleeping.  He was motionless except for a twitch here and there.   I looked up at my mother-in-law who was sitting in the living room with me and asked, "When do you stop worrying if they are breathing?" 

She looked over at the sofa, where my love, her first born sat sleeping with his head against a pillow, exhausted from his long day.  She smiled at me and in a soft voice replied, "Should be any day now."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I am the star.

Sunday night sounds fill the air.  Splashes, giggles, and shrieks as my two younger kids slosh around in the warm, soapy bath water.  The clothes dryer thumps it rhythmic cadence.  In a bathroom down the hall my oldest son is singing in the shower, having decided that six is "too old to take a bath."    My love is selecting outfits for the week for each of the kids and placing them into the weekly organizer bins that have truly revolutionalized my mornings. 

I am standing in the hallway listening to the sounds of my life.

As my Monkeys tumble out of the tub, wrapped tightly in terrycloth "envelopes" they scurry to thier respective rooms to put on Jammies.  There is a race to see who will get back to the bathroom first to be the "star." 

We have three towel hooks in the bathroom, the middle of which is a Starfish.  My children have decided that the star represents the hook of honor and each wants desperately to claim this as thier own.

As the battle ensues it occurs to me that perhaps I should intervene, but before I have a chance, my Middle Monkey shares a sage secret with his sister. 

"It doesn' t matter who gets to hang their towel on the star, Mommy thinks we are all stars."
The Mini Monkey nodded earnestly in understanding, satisfied with the statement and tossed her towel onto the Octopus hook. 

This statement, so simple, yet so profound, sums it up. 

Out of the mouths of Monkeys...

I guess we are doing something right. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday with Monkey(s) - Entry #4 Snow Day Special

As the snowflakes and freezing rain fall outside the windows of our warm, toasty home my Monkey's and I gathered together at the dining room table and created some artwork fit for a blog.

Happy Tuesday:)