Posts Tagged ‘rambling’

Complaints That Need Diagrams Do Not Make Good Posts

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


Complaint #1: Caroline’s ballet class meets in what used to be an elementary school but is now a sort of run-down building they use for a zillion different things. Two classrooms down from ballet is a perpetual tag sale and on Saturdays they fill the hall with furniture and bikes and other junk. It’s not a very big hallway, so during class it’s pretty crowded with parents waiting for their tiny ballerinas. This weekend one of the classrooms farther down was being used for baseball sign-ups so there was a constant stream of traffic and people almost tripping over my feet.


HALLWAY 1 The X’s are people sitting in chairs, Dance Mom is someone whose daughter is in Caroline’s class, and Friend is not MY friend, but the friend of someone joining our story in a minute. I had to bring Evan with me since E was working, but he had the iPad so 45 minutes in a hallway meant nothing to him.

Near the end of class time, the parents for the NEXT class start to show up. That class is full of tiny, adorable children in tap shoes. Most kids change shoes when they get there so everyone is sort of stumbling around trying to juggle shoes and coats and multiple children in a small hallway. On a normal day it’s kind of a mess, on a day when there’s extra traffic for Little League sign ups it’s a cluster.

5 minutes before the end of ballet, a woman with a giant sit-n-stand stroller makes her way down the hallway. There are two small children in the stroller and the tap class participant child following behind. The whole parade stops DIRECTLY in front of me and just…stays there. In the middle of the hallway.


The red is the family blocking the hallway and the blue X’s are ALL the people trying to get past. The poor blue X’s kept saying “Excuse me, excuse me” and trying to squeeze around the stroller, which the clueless woman didn’t even TRY to move to one side or the other (not that there was enough room to unblock the hallways by doing that, but she could have tried). She just STOOD THERE saying “Where do they want me to go? There’s no room?” and her friend (“Friend” on the diagram) encouraged her by saying “I don’t know, this hallway is so crowded” and “As if saying ‘excuse me’ is going to make it wider??”

Just beyond the chairs in my diagram, I have added a red arrow. That arrow is pointing at the GIANT EMPTY SPACE where there is plenty of room for a stroller. Literally less than 10 feet down the hallway.

Let me make it more clear:

HALLWAY 3 After the longest 5 minutes ever of just staring in awe at this whole disaster, I decided it wasn’t going to resolve itself so I very, very politely said “Perhaps you could try moving the stroller over there along the wall? Our kids *gestures to chairs full of parents* are about to come out of class and it’s only going to get more crowded.” She and her friend looked at me like I had two heads, but she FINALLY moved down the hallway just in time for the door to open and everyone’s preschoolers to come streaming out in a giant mass.

I made eye-rolly eye contact with a few of the other parents who seemed as totally puzzled as I was with the whole thing. I mean, I sort of get it. There have been plenty of times when I was facing a problem with 2 small children in tow and I’ve been TOTALLY OVERWHELMED by things like “walking” and “polite behavior” and “awareness” all colliding at once. Maybe her awkwardness meter runs on coffee and she hadn’t had any yet that morning. But I can safely say that after the second “excuse me” I would have walked to the opposite side of the building if it meant not being in the way.

I realize writing a complaint about someone in my real life is risky, but I feel SO JUSTIFIED in my UNDENIABLE RIGHTNESS that I don’t even care. It is not often I am SO RIGHT, which brings me to complain #2

Complaint #2: Caroline’s school sent home a little note that said there had been some “close calls” in the parking lot and we (the school parents) needed to be more careful because other people (church attendees) use the building during the day.

I KNOW the note was about me. Me personally. ME AND MY MINIVAN AND A SPECIFIC INSTANCE. Which is embarrassing, you know? Everyone who got that note is now thinking “Ugh, what kind of jerk parent doesn’t obey the stop sign in the parking lot?” I have gotten ragey plenty of times about the stupid parental behavior in the pick-up/drop-off line but in this case, since it was about me, I would like to CLEAR THINGS UP.

Here is the driveway situation:



Both preschool drives are one way, so ALL the parents coming to pick up their kids turn before they get to the exit driveway and during the 30 minute pick-up/drop-off window 99.999% of cars will turn there.

Last week after I picked up Caroline I was STOPPED at the stop sign – completely stopped – when a car turned into the church drive. It had JUST turned and so I pulled out, assuming it would pull into the pick-up line. Unfortunately, they were headed up to the church so technically I had turned “in front of them”. That was literally the first time I have ever seen anyone go straight there, so it was an honest mistake.



(You didn’t really need a diagram for that, but I MADE ONE, so look at it. LOOK.)

It still would NOT HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM if they had been driving at an appropriate preschool-driveway speed. I had PLENTY of time to be out of their way before they got anywhere near me, except they were going at least 40 mph. I STILL made it out of the way before they were in any danger of hitting me  so all that happened was the guy gave me an angry look and a rude gesture (NICE JOB, CHURCH GOER. Just what Jesus would have done). Until I got the note in Caroline’s backpack.

This is one of those cases where I WASN’T entirely right. If we had been in a crash it would have been my fault, unless someone wanted to cite him for speeding on a road that is private property so it doesn’t actually have a speed limit. I learned my lesson and will be sure to wait until there are no cars on the driveway at all before turning, just in case one other person in the next two years decides to go straight. (Honestly, as much as I love the actual school, I will NOT be sad to be done with the pick-up/drop-off line forever when Caroline goes to real school next year.) This is a case where I can’t flaunt my RIGHTNESS at all, but I can flaunt my indignation that not only did that guy have the nerve to flip me off in a church parking lot, he was SO OFFENDED he had to slow down a little bit that he reported my terrible driving to the headmistress.

I think the fact that I took the time to document both incidents with diagrams instead of just letting it go like a normal, functional human being has something to do with my heightening pregnancy rage, in which case I apologize in advance to everyone I have to interact with for the next 21 weeks.


Organize My Heart

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

This post was going to be full of sidebars and parentheticals, so I’ll try to sum them up with a general disclaimer: like I’ve said to many people and had quoted back to me by astute readers – one person’s hard does not invalidate someone else’s hard. I am not saying “Woe is me! Pity me! This is the WORST EVER!” I am saying “These are my feelings and maybe you have some feelings and we can talk about our feelings and maybe braid each others hair if you want or you can call me a spoiled douchecanoe if you want and either way I will understand.” Because, feelings.

dining room

I have been on a cleaning tear (Tear might be too strong a word. More like a cleaning small rip in the corner of a page) for a couple of weeks. My housekeeping skills are not great and in general everyone is fine with that situation. The children certainly don’t care. But things reached a point where I didn’t even want to open the door for the pizza guy. Every time I would look at the pile of mail by the door or the pile of school papers on the piano or the pile of birthday decorations on the table I would freeze. Where to START? What’s the POINT? Why should I even BOTHER?

When one thing in your life feels hopeless and out of control, it’s easy for that to reflect into other things, and in this case the mirror was clearly my house. The thing being reflected is bigger than a few stacks of paper though. I’ve been off birth control and hoping for a baby for 9 months now without success, even though it feels like everyone around me is getting pregnant and having babies. Tons of babies. Babies everywhere. You get a baby and you get a baby and YOU get THREE BABIES! (True story, a friend from high school is having spontaneous triplets.)

There’s a whole online world of trying-to-conceive message boards and secondary (tertiary?) infertility boards where people talk about this stuff, but because I never had any trouble the first two times I’m mostly unfamiliar with them. To be totally honest, until I started talking privately with some of my friends about how I’m struggling, I had no idea how much planning COULD even go into getting pregnant. Ovulation sticks and fertility apps and trying disgusting information involving mucus became things I Googled on a regular basis. The biggest surprise was how many people casually mentioned “Oh yeah, I used those OPK sticks to have my daughter”. I think a lot of people err on the side of privacy when it comes to their baby-making-attempts (because, yeah, no one wants to know ALL THAT and no one owes the internet their medical history) but it gives the impression if it takes more than 5 minutes you’re sort of a weirdo. A “Surprise! Pregnant!”-baby (which I am totally guilty of) is more blogable than endless “Not pregnant! Again!” posts, so someonr announcing it when it happens means you don’t really know what people have gone through. I’m a tiny bit concerned that the IUD I had after Caroline was born caused some sort of terrifying, permanent problem (Dr. Google totally agrees) but before we’ve been trying a year no real medical professionals (Dr. Google obviously got his degree online) want to talk to us.

I realize 9 months isn’t that long to be trying, but when your friends who said “Yes! We’re trying too!” back in November are actually giving birth to their babies it feels like forever. I also realize I have two beautiful children so complaining about not having a baby is going to sound selfish and disgusting to some people. But two was never our plan and close together is so much fun, I liked the idea of adding more sooner rather than later. I guess that “Man plans, God laughs” adage is pretty apt, although I if anyone embroiders that on a pillow for me I’ll punch them in the face.

So instead of thinking about my sad, empty uterus constantly I’ve been cleaning. CLEAN ALL THE THINGS. It’s part super-premature nesting, part feng shui and part at-least-this-is-a-problem-I-CAN-solve, but it’s helping. Sort of.

dining room-2

Yes, it’s definitely helping. Just looking at that room and knowing all the birthday decorations (from APRIL, good God woman, you’re so lazy) are put away makes me feel better.

I’ve got the guest room and the kids’ rooms to tackle next, including a couple of terrifying closets I haven’t fully opened in years. I even wrote a garage sale on our calendar and I’ll be running in and out of the house throwing stuff in the yard all day. Maybe space – a space, lots of space, many spaces – will leave room for more good things to come in. It’s better to think about it as space than as emptiness. I’m tired of empty.

Place Holder

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I owe Caroline a 22 monthday post from Friday. I want to blog about the fun weekend we had on Long Island with my friend Kim and her adorable boys and the super-cute Sesame Street themed birthday. I’m working my way through a bunch of internet-inspired craft projects and can’t wait to show you my newly discovered semi-awesome sewing skills.

But yesterday I woke up to a laptop screen that is nothing but white with faint red-blue lines all over it and one big black bar of AWFULNESS. I used the power of Google to determined I was pretty much screwed, and then decided to go with the tried-and-true “shake it a little” method of repair.

It didn’t work.

I got really desperate and went all-out, using every computer skill I had and drawing on things I had one heard someone else talk about like “core processors” and “motherboards” and “card slots”. I managed to pry off all the covers to the laptop guts (that’s the technical term) and blew on them. Then I screwed all the covers back on and prayed really really hard to the laptop gods to just PLEASE let this WORK and I promise I will NEVER use my computer while my hands are covered in Smartpop dust ever again I SWEAR.

It worked. For exactly the amount of time I had the laptop on. Once I shut it down and brought it home my screen went backto death so I’m typing this on my husband’s computer but don’t tell him because our laptops are Things We Do Not Share. Not because we keep private stuff or secret lives or hidden Facebook pages or anything, but because we like things A Certain Way when it comes to our browsers and keyboards and when someone else uses your computer they MESS IT ALL UP.

It might sound weird to you, but it’s something we agree on – except in laptop emergencies while he’s on duty so his computer is literally sitting completely untouched and I don’t even know what I would DO with myself at 9 pm on a Sunday night without a laptop. Listen to the phonograph? Play the harpsichord? Darn socks? I don’t want to live in that world. But THIS computer is not MY computer and besides the fact that I keep typing nonsense like “aerdomr” instead of “awesome” because this keyboard is just sliiiiightly wider than mine it also doesn’t have access to my photos or editing software. So I’m throwing up my hands and going back to

What I’m saying is, good stuff coming up! Tune in tomorrow or whatever day I can sell a kidney in exchange for a screen that works and has access to all of my stuff!

End Of Summer Rambles

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

My last posts about E’s hideous work schedule and struggling to parent my preschooler came across wrong and I’ve been feeling dishonest. I miss E, my husband, the guy I married, a ton. I miss talking to someone about what we did that day. I miss sharing dinner with someone who doesn’t throw food at me and demand a toy and fries instead of his mac and cheese (I curse the day I bought that first Happy Meal). I miss someone else taking out the trash and mowing the lawn. The LIFE part is sort of overwhelming to do alone after not doing it alone for most of the last 8 years. And although I struggle with consistent, positive parenting I’m also enjoying the crap out of my kids. It helps that I’m writing this after we’ve had a lovely morning and that we have fun stuff planned every day until school (school!!) starts on Tuesday, but I don’t feel like I’m struggling to keep my head above the stream of challenges.

I have gotten used to this all-the-time mom thing. My little family – my daily we – is just one person smaller most of the time. We leave the house. We take vacations. We go to the beach. We buy groceries. We read lots and lots and lots of books. I don’t even cringe when I realize I’m doing bedtime alone every day. I’ve actually pushed the kids’ bedtimes back so I can spend more time with them – evenings are lonely when no one is coming home to talk to. So You Think You Can Dance is only good company for a couple episodes before you realize it’s kind of sad to comment out loud to the cat on Cat’s crazy outfit.

We have fun, the kids and I. We’re good together. Even when I’m failing at the technical details of parenting they’re always ready to forgive me, give hugs and kisses and go on another adventure.

Even though saying it seems like sacrilege to the gods of warm weather, popsicles and iced coffee, I think we’re ready for our fall adventures to start. Caroline has outgrown this outfit – our favorite all summer – and it’s a smack-you-in-the-face kind of metaphor for how this season of our life is ending.

I might cry the day she outgrows those shoes though. I know she will.

Our carefree days with no schedule and no responsibilities and spur-of-the-moment fun at the zoo are officially over. Evan has school Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Both kids have gymnastics on Wednesdays. It’s making me doubt this whole preschool situation a little. As good as I know it will be for both of us to get a little time apart, it feels like I’m sending a piece of my heart off into the world to fend for itself.

I promise I’m trying not to write a post filled entirely with the most cliched mother cliches ever. I’m so blessed. My kids help me see the world in a new way. I love them so much my heart might explode. Being a mom is the best job in the world.

But those are all mommy cliches for a REASON.

Caroline is such a big girl and so smart and understands almost everything that I’m thinking about sending her to school after her birthday. Two year old preschool has always been something I thought was silly – it’s just DAYCARE, don’t try to make it sound fancy – but even if all she does all day is hang out with other 2 year olds and scribble with crayons and eat Goldfish at least it would be with actual trained teachers who could focus on building her skills instead of a mom who just takes Instagram photos of her.

I like to think knowing my own strengths and weaknesses makes me a better mom.

But then I will be childless for 5 hours a week and that kind of free time might be too much for me. I could run! I could shop! I could sit on a park bench alone and read a book! I might also sob for days and/or catch a case of baby fever that ends with spontaneous triplets. The possibilities are endless.

Here comes Fall, y’all. We’re so ready for the adventure. Are you ready for us?

What’s In A Choice?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Obviously, by now everyone has heard of Occupy Wall Street. The other day, a friend posted a link to this chart, which is a great summary of what OWS is about and why they feel that way.

I’m not going to talk about the movement itself, but I am interested in something my friend said in reference to the data in that chart: “…to say that more women {with children under the age of 18} work today because they have no choice and not because they like having a career in a society where it is acceptable and because discrimination has been drastically reduced is silly.”

And my immediate response was: Well yes. But also no. And definitely. But really not at all. Why do women work? Or more specifically, why do MOTHERS work?  Can there possibly be a more complicated question?

The stickiest part of my friend’s statement is “no choice”, isn’t it? On the one hand, yah for feminism and the opportunity to have careers outside the home that aren’t just placeholders until we can snag a husband! On the other hand, pretending your cashier at Target would rather be making $8 an hour ringing up your face cream and Funions instead of at home with her own kid is bullshit.

I know plenty of moms who love their jobs, love their work, love having adult conversations around the water cooler about The Real Housewives of Wherever but who would quit and stay home with their kids in a HEARTBEAT if they suddenly won the lottery and could never work another day in their life. I also know that if childcare was free and I could have any job I wanted in the whole world I would absolutely leave my kids to be raised by strangers (said in your best judgy voice) a few days a week while I trained dolphins at Sea World (hey, sometimes your dream at 6 years old is STILL YOUR DREAM).

But real life doesn’t give everyone those options. If you’re a single mom? You have no choice. In a lot of cities there is no way to support a family on one income. Sometimes your partner gets laid off. Or maybe their job doesn’t offer health insurance. Or maybe they’re in school pursuing their dream and you’re supporting them – so you have no choice but to work to put food on the table but it is BY choice that you have chosen that choice.

There are days where my choice to stay home doesn’t even feel like a choice. SOMEONE has to watch these kids and we can’t afford a nanny. I mean really, if I had my CHOICE I’d spend one day a week at the spa getting massages and drinking cocktails so I could be the super calm, zen-like mother I aspire to be.

I don’t think “why women work” is something that can be measured or put in a pie chart or even summed up in a sentence. There is no box on a questionnaire that says “all and also none of the above” so using it as part of a your political movement can be tricky. I think the only thing you could get everyone to agree to would be that in an ideal world all women could make the choice they WANTED to make and not the choice they had to make.

So, why do you/do you not work?

Here’s my answer – I always planned to be a stay-at-home-mom eventually. We are able to afford it right now. I became a military spouse right after college and never established a career I would have wanted to go back to post-kids and I haven’t found anything I can do from home (besides blogging, obviously, which doesn’t exactly lead to BUCKETS OF MONEY.) So I think it is about 80% by choice and 20% not by choice although that’s the least scientific percentage ever.