I can’t really top last year’s Christmas Eve post, or at least can’t unbury from wrapping paper and ribbons to try, so here is a re-post of the Off-Balance Day Before Christmas.Twas the day before Christmas when all through the house, Not a clean spot could be found, not even an ounce. The stockings were hung by the chimney with haste, In hopes that I’d buy stuff before it’s too late. With me in my flannels and Chris in his boxers, We were sure not an ad for Gap or Brooks Brothers. When what to my wandering mind should appear? The realization that Christmas is near! There were presents to wrap and groceries to buy. Would I be done in time? Not sure. No lie. Eight people for dinner, do we have enough wine? I ran out of butter and must stand in line. The children were plotting all smug under their beds. In hopes of ensuring I would snap, lose my head. They bickered and fought, Santa threats had gone stale. Should I send their gifts back through priority mail? I must clean, wrap and cook all day and all night. With enough caffeine and yelling, it’ll be alright. When I pull off Martha Stewart Christmas you’ll know. Despite all the chaos, I put on a hell of a show! So as you scurry and prep, know you’re not the only one. Merry Christmas to you and I hope you have fun!
Tonight is my daughter’s first ballet recital. She is excited, as am I. But I have a little unpleasant business to attend to while I am there.
One of the other mothers from the class is on thin ice with me (seasonally appropriate don’t you think?). Last night at rehearsals, I found her to be so offensive and clueless that she has penetrated my normally namaste demeanor (I am on my way to yoga shortly).
The first time I met
Judgy Judy (too much like Judge Judy) “Judgy Janet” (not her real name, in fact, I can’t seem to remember her name), was at the park. I was with my daughter and Janet said hi to her by name. I walked over and introduced myself and she explained that the girls are in ballet together. I said, “Oh then you must know our nanny, Jessica” (who takes my daughter to ballet). She interrupted and said, oh yes, I have known Jessica for years, and I always wonder “Where IS this girl’s mother!”
Eh hem, excuse me, while I capture my composure and take one step back to help diminish the cartoon in my head of me shoving tan bark in your mouth to silence you.
The conversation didn’t improve, she talked about how she used to work, but quit because she wouldn’t dream of letting other people raise her children (although, it might be better off for her daughter if someone else taught the girl tact). Throughout this first conversation, I remained calm and polite. I was internally trying to determine if the woman was a condescending bitch or just socially awkward. I decided she might be just lonely and awkward, so I didn’t say anything in rebuttal. But the conversation bugged me for a few days.
Fast forward to last night. It was the only second time I had spoken with her since I do not attend my daughter’s ballet class very often. I attended the rehearsal with another working mom friend whose daughter is also in the class. We were sitting with our girls, waiting for their turn, when Janet sat down behind us. Her opening comment: “You must be their mothers. You never come to class.” The conversation didn’t improve. My strategy was to keep my back to her, in order to avoid giving her a piece of my mind in front of the girls.
Which leads to tonight. Me, the duck, who normally lets things roll off my back is quite sure that one more comment from this miserable mom will force me to politely share with her my thoughts. Much to your surprise, I do mean politely, because I am a believer in having more weight in my message when coming from a place of kindness, balance and class. So let me share with all of you what I plan to say (and secretly hope I have the opportunity to do so).
“Excuse me, I am not sure if you are aware that you are being rude. In the two times I have spoken with you, you have mentioned my absence at ballet over ten times. I am trying to decide if you realize you are being rude or have merely made an unfortunate choice in conversation topics. Either way, I feel you are in desperate need of some education. It is narrow of you to make any assumptions regarding someone’s life or how one raises children based upon their attendance at one activity.
I share this with you not out of concern for my own feelings, but to help you avoid offending other’s who are not as calm and forgiving as me. You see, you don’t know what keeps a mother from a ballet class – what if she’s a single mom and working to put food on the table, what if she’s an ER doctor that may someday have to help one of your children, what if she’s at home with a newborn. The point is, an absence does not speak to the character of a woman.
Furthermore, since my absence is because I have a career, let me share the “consequences” of me being a working mom:
- My children are independent, but loving
- They are confident, yet kind
- They are comfortable in any social situations
- They are being taught that they can be anything they want when they grow up. My daughter can be a pilot, a doctor or a stay at home mom – each holding equal weight in my mind. My son can be a CEO, an artist or a stay at home dad, as long as he is passionate about what he does.
- My children travel frequently and see other cultures and have unique memories, while always returning to a happy home.
- And most importantly, we are rasing our children not to judge other people based on their profession, home, socio-economic status or any other life situation. We choose our friends based on character and kindness and see the benefit of diversity in our circle of friends.
So, do you think she’ll stay quiet long enough for me to say all of that?
I’ll keep you posted.
- Armored Car
- Sling Shot
- Ear Muffs
DefensiveOffensive Driving Handbook
- “I Brake for Crossing Guards” bumper sticker
When preparing for battle, one must have the necessary tools and a solid strategy. Elementary school drop-off is no less than war. The meek do not survive (or their kids are late). Here’s what you need to know:
- Know Your Allies - Some inexperienced soldiers think that the crossing guard is the enemy, since she can bring a group of over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, stressed out parents to a grinding halt with her long-range stop sign. Wrong people! She keeps our kids safe at frequent risk to herself! Make friends with her, smile and wave every morning, give her extra space and give her an eye contact check before proceeding. The next thing you know, she will let you slide by, before she allows the 5 minute parade of scooters, bikes and strollers.
- Know Your Enemies – They are any parent who thinks their kid is more important than yours or that where they are headed next trumps your next destination. They park to close to the right hand turn into school, blocking traffic and requiring you to make crazy swerving maneuvers to get around them. Another enemy is anyone who disregards the crossing guard – shoot them dirty looks. If possible, use a bull horn to shame them publicly. In dire circumstances (or with the repeat offenders) do not be afraid to sling shot your cold Starbucks at their car***. Hey, your coffee wouldn’t be cold, if they followed the program.
- Practice Offensive Driving – I use my large SUV (or armored car as I call it from 7:40 – 7:55 am) as a child safety device. I purposely drive 25 mph (the speed limit in a school zone!!) to slow down the other speed demons who are a danger to the kids. If they tail gate me, I slow down to 23 mph. It’s “offensive” driving because I find their disregard for children’s safety offensive.
- Set The Example – My elementary school actually has quite a well-thought out drop-off plan that works when people respect it. Set the example, work with the program, not against us. Drop your kid and keep moving, don’t stop to chat while taking space for another little pumpkin trying to get out of the car safely. Take notice that the darling children who open your car door to let your kids out say ‘have a nice day’ every. single. time. Thank them! And tell those sweets kids to have a nice day too!
- Have a Back-Up Plan – There are days… oh there are days… when the enemy pushes you too far. What you normally refer to as ‘silly drivers’ in front of your children starts to sound more like an Ice-T album. Just use the ear muffs! Don’t let your child hear you lose it! If you forget the ear muffs, crank your radio and try to swear under your breath.
- Believe in Karma – I believe in karma and know that karma hangs out with the sheriff and CHP. One of those three musketeers will catch up with the insane drivers.
In a delightful twist of demon driving fate, I just opened the following email from our principal:
“Please remember to be courteous to students, parents, and staff when picking up your children. It is inevitable that you will have to sit in traffic during drop off or pick up. We ask for your kindness and patience during these times.”
I love our principal, she is a charming lady who carries herself with class and tact. Her message is perfect and reminds me why I am not the principal, because I would have sent the following:
“It is freaking alarming that some parents show such a blatant disregard for the safety of others. To those parents that think their time is more valuable than others, think again. If you have a legitimate time constraint, arrive at school earlier! Remember, the person you cut off today may turn out to be the one hosting your child for a playdate tomorrow or teaching your child to read in class while you’re causing mayhem on the road!
***Because the world is a ridiculously litigious place, I must inform you that this post is for entertainment purposes only. I do not encourage or condone any acts of violence or vandalism towards another motorist, even the stupid and selfish ones. Follow the law! Especially the one that tells you to drive 25 mph in a school zone and obey all traffic rules!
I love massages. I love the fluffy robes, arriving early for the sauna and steam room and drinking the spiked water (spiked with citrus fruit or pineapple – what’s in your massage water?)
I consider myself a connoisseur of massages. But scheduling a great massage requires some planning. I don’t have time in my day for any more planning. Therefore I usually end up waiting until I feel like a human pretzel and look like the hunchback of Notre Dame before trying to get on the schedule at one of my favorite place. It goes something like this:
“Hi, I’d like to schedule a massage”
“Great, when would you like to come in?”
“Um, we’re pretty booked up, can you do 2:00?”
“No, that’s the one time I can’t do. Could you squeeze me at 11:00 am”?
“I’m sorry ma’am*, we completely booked, perhaps another day?”
I think to myself: Another day?! I am in pain and need to be unpretzeled immediately, otherwise, chop me up and serve me with mustard!
*Ma’am?! I have never smoked, I don’t have a gravely voice, nor do I have a soft or meek voice, I sound “average aged” in my opinion. Could you please call me miss or chick or senorita?! Uh-oh, is my “average aged getting older”? I digress…
When my dreams of massage are massacred and I am faced with not needing to dress up for Halloween, I usually just resort to Advil and wine. (Don’t judge, it’s later in the day in Europe!)
But now I have a new option…
The economy massage businesses that ar popping everywhere. You know- massages, manicures, pedicures, waxing and without the fluffy robes, sauna and fruity water. They look like a nail salon, sound like a nail salon and well, smell like a nail salon. Which means… yep a nail salon with a back room.
I am leery of such places, but many of my friends has been raving about the new place (including a conservative friend in law enforcement), so I decide to go for it…
I approach the notion of the econo-massage place with the mantra, it’s cheap, you get what pay for so I set my expectations low.
I called to make an appointment. They were wide open, could see me whenever I would like.
Should this be a red flag? Nah, it’s cheap!
I get there and it really does smell like nail polish remover..
But it’s cheap!
She takes me to a private room. This is actually a surprise to me, some places use a common area.
Cheap, but private, cool!
She tells me to take my clothes off (she does not say disrobe).
I think of the seedy “happy ending massage parlor” stories and decide I will be leaving my underwear on thank you very much. (I would ditch them at the comfy robe
She leaves the room and when she comes back she is someone else. This seems odd to me.
But, hey it’s cheap.
She put on music.
Wow, nice touch for a cheap place.
She starts the massage and two minutes later she leaves.
Huh? Massage code clearly dictates that once you start, you don’t stop. If you have a runny nose, wipe it on your sleeve. If you have to pee, hold it. If you’re coughing, suck on a hot stone, but keep on rubbin’.
She comes back four minutes later.
This may be cheap, but I better get my 4 minutes!
It starts off fine, but never feels like it gets past the light touch warm-up.
This may be cheap, but dig into my sore muscles!
She asks how I am doing so I ask for more pressure.
“Later” she says.
It’s cheap, it’s cheap, it’s cheap.
The door opens and I hear my masseuse and another woman arguing in another language. After TWO minutes, I lift my head up to glare at the women destroying my escape time and it’s the woman who walked me in! I can only speculate there was some client stealing going on. As I stare, they continue to argue. When I say, “really?!”, it ends.
Cheap massage, cheap massage.
Then “later” hits… As I lay on my stomach, SHE CLIMBS ON ME.
Her knees are digging into the back of my knees, she is putting all of her weight on my back with her hands. I have gone from human pretzel to human jungle gym (something I am quite used to… with my kids, not strangers!)
It’s cheap, it’s cheap, it’s cheap.
Then I hear a metal on metal sound as she begins walking on my back. I have heard this is a common technique, but how did I not notice the bars on the ceiling? At least then I wouldn’t have been caught off guard?!
It’s cheap, it’s cheap, it’s cheap!
As I lay there, I think, how did my conservative friend (and others) fail to mention the acrobatics?! Fluffy robe and sauna, hell, I would settle for somebody on the ground!
When the massage ends, I flip my head up to make sure I got my extra minutes and I had. She leaves the room and I decide this will be my last econo-massage.
So what do I do when it’s time to pay for the interrupted, arguing, climbing all over me massage? I tip her generously, because I am sucker and leave.
Bottom line, busy moms who like fluffy robes, fruity water and massages done with hands should make an appointment in advance and treat it like a hair appointment – let nothing including sick kids get in their way!
I have decided to introduce a new series within my blog – “A Busy Mom’s Guide to…” As a busy mom, I make daily trade-offs to get things done, keep my sanity and have a little fun amidst the chaos. Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom (or a busy dad or just a busy person) you know perfection is not realistic, so I plan to celebrate my less than perfect moments through this series.
When you see a busy mom’s guide title pop up you can expect that I will share an “alternative view” on how every day tasks are accomplished, I will even provide a handy “necessary tools list” at the beginning of each post (consider it a warning of the insanity to follow). Let me know what you think…
My inaugural busy mom guide will be to pumping gas:
List of Tools for Pumping Gas
- A bra
- A willing stranger
Yesterday, for the first time ever, I took my son to school in my jammies, thinking who would see me… I don’t have to get out of the car and I can head straight home to get ready.
This plan was working fine, I dropped my son off, waved to friends and nobody was the wiser thanks to a big pair of sunglasses and being strapped into a car.
Then I got a text from my nanny, letting me know that she was running late. I realized that she might not have time to get gas in my car before taking my daughter to
gymnastics “jumping class” so I thought that I would go to Safeway and get gas. Again, who would see me…
As I am pushing buttons to get the pump going, a friend drives by on her way to Starbucks and texts me, “nice boxers”.
I set the pump up and jump back in the car to stay warm, but I am smart, I frequently open the window to make sure I hear the gas pumping.
I finally jump out to check my progress and have pumped six bucks worth of gas in a large SUV and realize that I was listening to the person’s pump across from me…
I panic, wondering why the pump didn’t keep going… did I accidentally use diesel? No, we’re good. Again, I am smart…
So I start to fill it manually and it still acts like I am topping off the tank. Being a responsible parent, with my daughter in the car, I put the pump back, end the transaction, start the car and check the gage – ¼ tank – WTF?
I start the whole process over again.
It still keeps shutting on and off. Damn! I am cold, I reek of gasoline and have been out in my pajamas entirely too long.
I see a guy at a nearby pump and ask him for help – he has seen me struggle and smiles.
He thinks my trouble is because Safeway doesn’t clean their valves very often, so he pumps my gas (that’s the guide advice – did you catch it – have strangers help you). He also comments on the pjs – “nice shorts”, I blush and explain that I was dropping my son off at school. He tries to make me feel better by explaining that he did the same thing – yet he is in jeans and a t-shirt!
As I am chatting with him, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in my window. I still have the ponytail I fell asleep in the night before – aka a rat’s nest that resembles hair. Would carrying a brush in my car be so hard? The thought of the hairbrush makes me think about toothbrushes and I realize, I didn’t even brush my teeth! Not that I am trying to impress my gas pumping savior, but a little hygiene is simple common courtesy. How do I get a mint out of the car without leaving him to do my dirty work?
As we’re standing there, I get a chill, which reminds me I have no bra on! I am in a flimsy tank top and an old sweat shirt. Where is that killer bra my friend Lori has when I need it?! Knowing her she has an extra one in her pocket! I think to myself, “Great, I have a rat nest hairdo, bad breath and “headlights”, this poor guy will never buy gas here again!
At this point, I have developed such a complex that I am practically fidgeting. I feel bad that he was helping me and being subjected to my aforementioned issues, so I called it quits at ¾ of a tank.
It’s times like these that I miss full serve!
I recently had the
pleasure privilage misfortune occassion of being called for jury duty. In all of my previous juror summons I was released the night before, including the time I forgot to call and was lucky that I was released and did not face a bench warrant. (Although secretly, I would like to play up my bad girl image just a tad – do bad girls say tad?)
I am truly very interested in serving as a juror. I am fascinated by the process and the cases. My dilemma, as with all things in my life, is the luxury of time. If I miss work, my work does not magically disappear, it waits for my return. (Thoughtful and gracious my job is, huh?) I imagine a time in the future when I don’t work as much, the kids are less dependent and then I can bask in the Perry Masonesque experience. (This may coincide with the time that I will be able to use a handicapped parking placard due to my advanced age).
As I sat in the parking lot watching people walk in and progress through the metal detectors, I felt a familiar tightness in my chest. It felt like… the pressures and stress of parenting. I immediately whipped my head around to ensure that I had not inadvertently brought a kid with me that should be somewhere else. Thankfully the car seats and boosters were empty, but my neck did hurt from whiplash. (I have accidentally had unsuspecting stow-aways in the past, but that story is for another time).
After spending the morning in one of the little courtrooms in my small town, I began to understand why it felt like parenting…
- You’re asked to pass judgment on something you did not witness. You’re given two sides to the story, but each side has different perspective and has the ability to lie. And thus we have the daily life of a parent.
- Weapons are prohibited because the temptation to use them can be high. Has anyone ever thought of putting a metal detector in my house around 5:00 pm on any weekday night? Don’t bother- I know how to make a shank out of a Crayola.
- Almost anyone can serve on a jury or be a parent, but not everybody should. I live in a unique county that is a blend of affluent people, average folks and backwoods country characters. Despite the written reminder, the simple dress code of ‘no shorts, no tank tops and must wear shoes’ was broken by several prospective jurors. There was even a fascinating gal who took the strategy of sharing with everyone that she had a mental disorder that would get her off of serving on a jury. But if that did not work out, she planned to stop registering with the Department of Motor Vehicles or renewing her license, but she did state that she would, of course, still drive. You can see where I would question the appropriateness of this woman upholding our laws.
- There’s other people telling you how to do it, when you really just want to go with your gut. Think of the millions of parenting books out there. Do you know which ones I follow- Betty Crocker and The Idiots Guide to Bartending. If chocolate and booze won’t make me a good parent, I find it hard to believe anything else will. As for being a juror, I consider myself a balanced, objective person – give me two seconds to look at the defendant and I’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt if they’re innocent – or at least well dressed.
- Your time is not your own. My kids run my schedule, unless I am at jury duty. At jury duty I can be forced to sit quietly (the quietly part is especially tough) for hours before I am told that my vacation interferes with the length of the trial and that I will be summoned again within 60 days. You know what this means…
Numbers 6 -10 on why jury duty is like parenting are not far off!
Aside from the fact that this post may dash any political ambitions I might have, what do you think about jury duty? Would you rather parent your kids after a birthday party double-header the day after Halloween or sit on a jury for a civil claims litigation?
I volunteer in my son’s second grade classroom every other Monday morning. I think it is important to be present in my son’s education. I appreciate the opportunity to witness what he is learning, and how is learning, in order to be consistent at home. Our teachers have the critical task of educating our future leaders and I want to support them in their efforts.
All of the above is true…
But let’s get real…
I want to observe my son’s classmates to determine who are appropriate play dates! As I help the teachers, I envision each of the kids coming over…
If I see this in class…
I envision this…
If I experience this,
I imagine, I will have a playdate that goes like this…
Parenting is tough, I want to keep my son from having friends like…
At least not until he’s old enough for me to enjoy the trouble with him!
What ways do you weed out the Eddie Haskells and Dennis the Menaces?