Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Me that I Meant to Be

I ran into the me that I meant to be the other day at the grocery store.  I rounded the corner and there she was.  It was 7PM and not a hair on her lovely blond head was out of place, make-up as fresh as if she'd just stepped out the door for the day.  She was still dressed in her chic work attire, suggesting a woman who didn't have to wrestle herself into to foundation garments that barely fit her when there was a Republican in the White House.  As a person who is living the daily nightmarish ritual of wearing Spanx that are two sizes too small I know that a only a person who wasn't, could resist ripping off said articles in the car on the way home...but I digress.

So there she was, with coupon sorter in hand.  Looking fresh as the morning dew. 

And there I was, black yoga pants with piling wear patterns between my upper thigh, covered in 3lbs of white dog hair.  I was wearing my new sneakers, indicating a moment of promise that had occurred earlier when I intended to work out but then the baby had other ideas.

She smiled warmly, sunlight beaming from her lovely face.  Her cart full of fresh produce and items that she had the foresight to a.)  know that her family needed and b.)  know would be on sale. 

Contents of my cart:
  • one tube of cookie dough (which I planned to eat as a candy bar on the way home)
  • two box cakes and icing (which I wouldn't be able to make b/c I had no eggs)
  • three containers of FULL FAT- FULL SUGAR - FULL FLAVOR coffee creamer (which I might later forget I purchased and leave in the car to go bad)
  • four doughnuts (which I had bribed the Monkeys with)
  • and a Miracle Monkey who was wearing a diaper that needed to be changed two aisles ago
We chatted for a bit because she is a sweet as she is together.  As we parted ways I made a silent promise to myself to try harder to be the me that I meant to be. 

I see this me all the time. Everyday at work when I pop my head into my dear friends office to say good morning.  There she is....the me that I meant to be.

Seated at her desk, neat stacks of prioritized paperwork surround her.  Occasionally eating organic oatmeal or yogurt made by Greek Gods...some shit like that.  Her Outlook calendar indicates appointments that she has made with herself to keep her on track and prevent productivity breakdown.  Photos of her beautiful tow-headed children adorn her desk, in matching frames. 

Our hectic schedules allow us approximately 15 minutes of daily friendship during which we do the Readers Digest version of "How is your life?" and occasionally dream of someday living side by side in a beach adjacent retirement village where we would finally get to really enjoy our friendship.

Each afternoon I stand in her doorway, a haggard version of the mess I was earlier that morning. This daily ritual most often finds me carrying at least three travel mugs, forgotten from previous days and two over sized "work bags" stuffed with grading and lesson planning materials that will take the nightly field trip in the car but never actually get worked on at home. 

She straightens a few papers and dons one of her three stylish seasonal coats, cinching the waist. (PS - she has a waist)  I never wear a coat because I am so overheated and sweaty by the time I drag my ass to the car in the morning that Arctic winter air is a welcome guest. 

Each afternoon we walk to our respective cars, hers clean and carefully detailed, and we talk and laugh.  As I slide into my vehicle and brush pistachio shells off the seat I silently promise myself with renewed fervor that tomorrow I will try again to be the me that I meant to be.  But in the meantime, I'm just very thankful that she is the "she" that she was meant to be. 

**For my dear friend - you inspire me to try to be a better me.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Now Head, Then Shoulders

"Where are you?"  My mom says into the phone. 

"I'm in HEAVEN."  I replied. 

It's is a mild Saturday morning in February and having registered Monster Monkey for the Spring 2012 Discover Engineering for Kids seminar I find myself seated at a tiny bistro table at Harrisburg Area Community College's Mid-town location.  With Mini-Monkey safely across town enjoying a playdate with her friend and Monster Monkey's mind being molded by the best and the brightest that the Engineering department has too offer, I have three glorious open hours ahead of me.  Unscheduled, unplanned, unadulterated time.

I have come here equipped with my laptop, iPod, Crackberry and books, so many books.  There is wi-fi, a TV, tables and quiet.  The sunny, open space with its giant warehouse windows and exposed pipes reminds me of my college days hanging out in the Cumberland Union Building, or CUB as it was known to us.  I had no way of knowing back then how to fully appreciate the nooks of space where a person could spread out on a colorful banquette to read, research, or write. 

I remember seeing people then, the older students, "non-traditional," we called them.  While I sitting waiting for friends to arrive I would watch these people who seemed so engrossed in the book they were reading or the journal they were writing in.  I remember feeling badly for these poeple.   "Isn't it sad that they don't have anyone to eat with, to be with?"

Oh, how little I knew... 

If I could put my now head on my then shoulders I would teach myslef a few lessons. 

1.  "You aren't tired!"  You don't even know from tired.   

2.  "You aren't busy. At all."   Five classes and a part time job...does NOT a busy person make!!!!

3.  "You are NOT fat."  Give your skinny ass a hug.  You'll miss it when it's really gone. 

4.  "Quit smoking."  Your kids will thank WILL want to be around for those last few years that each cigarette threatens to cut short.

5.  "You are gonna kiss some toads. When you see the handsome construction worker from New Jersey turn the corner at the graduation party, do not walk ---RUN---into his arms and NEVER LOOK BACK. "   It will be the best decision you will ever make. 

Now, If you'll excuse me, this exhausted, harried, non-smoking fatty has some reading to do...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lunch & Love

It's 4:12 AM, do you know where your children's lunches are? 

I thought I did. 

American Cheese stacked neatly in perfect squares, tucked into it's plastic wrapping, seated alongside the lunchmeat in the drawer.

Soft white bread resting peacefully in the cabinet, each slice leaning against the other in empty carbohydrate camaraderie. 

Fruit snacks lounging in the "snack bin," Dora's and Princesses co-mingling with Spongebob and the gang. 

Cheesesticks lazing on a layer of fresh whole fruit, snuggled in, just waiting to be selected and packed.

But I was wrong.

On the twice nightly trip down the steps to fetch a bottle for the baby,  I had occasion to peer in to the refrigerator. And there I found them.   

Two lunches.

Lovingly prepared by the Monkey Maker who had left for work two hours earlier.

Damn I am one lucky lady.

This man who leaves at 2AM so that he can be available to get Middle Monkey off the bus, took the time, as he does nearly every morning, to prepare lunches that "shoulda, woulda, coulda been prepared and packed the night before by your's truly...He does this.  Takes care of things.  Little things, big things, everything.  Clean the bathrooms, pay the bills, build a fence, cure know, the normal stuff.

And when he comes home?  Sleep?  Nah,  not this guy.  He does homework time and spelling tests, reads books and changes diapers.  He holds a screaming baby who refuses to be comforted from a seated position and looks forward to the return of his wife. 

When she gets home?  Sleep?  Nope, not yet.  It's time to fix dinner for the kids, maybe pop a bite or two into his own mouth before heading off to wrestling practice. 

Will he stand along the wall and supervise.  Not a chance. 

He'll don size 13 wrestling shoes and roll around with his kids, and the kids of 50 other parents.

He will coach, mentor, teach, inspire.  He'll set an example of how to be a "good guy."  How to win and lose with grace and dignity. Oh yeah, and how to throw a half-nelson that nobody can escape.

And he's not alone.  The room is full of guys like these.  Not everyone gets up at 2AM and makes the lunches but they ALL put thier children first.  Everyday. 

They are not perfect, FAR from it. 

But they deserve to be commended just the same.

In the world of Mommy Blogging we offer a LOT of support to our fellow mothers but I thought that today, for no particular reason at all, I would take a moment to say thanks to all the hard-working, heavy-lifting, lunch-making Monkey Makers. 

You really, really rock.