Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday Night Live ended and The Greatest Hits of the Seventies on Four CDs or Cassettes danced on the screen. The over-lip glossed hostess tried in vain to sell the compilation to the young couple. His sisters had gone to bed and they were left alone.
There they sat, absorbed in the feeling of together. They were in a new world. An hour before they were friends, now they were something more. She didn't want to move--didn't want to end this perfect feeling, but it was getting late and he still had to drive her home. She looked up at him and saw that he had already been looking down at her. And then, there it was; the first kiss.
She had a history of first kisses that were decidedly not this kiss. When she was 16, she played the lead role in a musical production. Despite pleas and panicking, her first kiss of all was on opening night, on the stage, in front of everyone. Having no romantic feelings for her co-star, all she could think was that it was slimy and awkward. As the cast cheered back-stage (everyone having known her misgivings about this being her first kiss), she wondered what attraction there was in kissing.
Her real first kiss was on her parents front porch with her brothers' eyes peering out the window. She was giggly; he was shaky. When he finally worked up the nerve to kiss her, the connecting of their lips was more like a slam or a collision than a soft-lens, symphony playing, gracefully executed show of passion.
But this kiss. Well. Now she understood why The Kiss was always right before the Happily, Ever After.
On Tuesday morning, she was dancing around the house as she helped her mother clean. Nothing could get her down; she was always singing. Her mother stopped everything and looked at her, You love him.
What? She cried, nonplussed. Nooo. I've only known him for a little over two weeks. He . . . he . . . I . . . I . . . you, don't . . .
Her mom raised her eyebrows and grinned. I've told you before: Mom's know everything.
This comment from her mother got her to thinking. Did she love him? Like, yes. Lust, obviously. But Love? All day she analysed love. Could she love someone she had barely met? Didn't people have to go through all kinds of experiences together before they could claim Love? Her parents loved each other. They had been married for 25 years. She thought about their relationship. No way. She couldn't love him. But, then, again, were there different levels of love? Her parents loved each other when they were married 25 years earlier. Could that constant longing for his companionship be love?
That night he came to her house and they wandered around her parent's park-like backyard. They held hands and visited quietly in the cooling September air. She found herself thinking, I could do this for the rest of my life.
They sat in a hammock and ceased talking. He had his arm around her, her head rested in her place. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the comfortable, warm feeling that filled her. Quietly, he said, Is it too early to say I love you?
Do you? she whispered back
Friday, November 28, 2008
I'll be getting those Christmas cards out soon and I'll still be serving cranberry sauce. . .with the imprint of the can forever in it's sides.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
When telling a friend of a current child-rearing difficulty, he said, This, too, shall pass.
But, I don't want it to just pass. I want to be here--in the now.
If I do not share every bite, then that means I do not have the reward of joy.
So, Pestering Wants, back off. I'm busy. You can wait because right now I am enjoying this:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
During that first unofficial date (that turned into one long conversation), she found herself wanting to find a way to see him again. She couldn't leave a glove or handkerchief like another generation. She must have her wallet. Hmmm. When he mentioned that he needed a haircut, she saw her chance.
Oh, I'll cut your hair, she said. She wasn't amazing at this skill, but she could give a decent haircut. The bonus was, you have to stand really close when you are giving a short cut.
He came to her home the next morning, Saturday. They spent the day together. They saw each other Sunday and Monday. Tuesday, there was no excuse to call. He found one.
How does a girl react to someone who calls if he wants to talk to her? There were no games, no false moves, just honest, If I want to talk to you, I'm going to call. How unusual. She did not resist. She wanted to be with him, wanted to probe his mind, wanted to look into those captivating eyes. Whew! Those eyes. They almost leapt out at her, from under the heavy brow. Whenever he looked at her, she felt her chest tighten and her stomach flip.
And there was this other thing: he never touched her. He was a gentleman, opening doors and such, but he didn't put his hand on the small of her back, he didn't put his arm around her shoulders or on her knee during a movie. There was no hand-holding, no kissing. She reminded herself over and over, He is your Friend. Why would he hold his Friends hand? Why would he kiss his Friend? Plus, he is only 5'10", remember?
She wouldn't call herself a prude; she was careful. She had witnessed what happens if you get too physical too soon. She wanted to be held, touched, kissed, but she wanted to take it slow.
But not this slow. Geesh! Fourteen days had passed since the first date. They had been together every single day, despite work and other obligations. It was Saturday and they decided to watch Saturday Night Live together. They sat in his parent's basement with two of his sisters, glowing from the television lights. They sat close, but not too close. She could never later recall a single sketch from that night's program because, all at once, she couldn't hear anything. He was brushing his hand along her arm. On purpose. Her ears were flooded with the throb of her heart. Her checks flushed, her scalp tingled. With the sisters in the room, both continued staring at the screen, unseeing. Gradually, his hand slid up the length of her arm and gently twisted her hair. This boy was good. He made her wait and wait for any touch then gave it to her so gently, so gradually that its slightest movement disrupted her very breath.
Finally, he put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her tight to him. There is a place, just below the neck and to the side of the chest, where he and she fit together. She willingly rested her head there. She could feel his whiskers on her forehead, the firm pressure of his hand on her side, keeping her close. Somehow she knew, as she breathed in his scent and put her hand on his chest, that this place was now her place.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Let's review how that might be different from what a usual trip to Wal-mart looks like:
Five children out of the car seats. Put shoes back on at least one of them because it's too hard to keep shoes on the entire five mile drive. Unlatch the baby carrier (she can't sit up, yet) and hook it into one of the carts left in the middle of the parking lot by some dope (but, thank you, dope, because now, it's easy for me to grab). Put two of the other children in the basket and wait while a third climbs onto the bottom. Wait some more because the bottom-child's coat is dragging and the grocery cart wheel is stuck. Okay, we have everyone. Into the store. Right away, bombarded by quarter rides and displays of (disgusting, but slathered in current holiday sprinkles) cookies. The begging begins. No, you can't. No, I won't. No, I never buy that. Begin filling grocery cart and pulling kids out when it gets crowded. Wait, first put all of the paper jello bags back into the jello boxes that your child, so helpfully, disemboweled. All of the children are now out of the cart (excepting the baby, who is content with eating your list) and are NOT staying with Mom. There is a constant stream of No, not today. That is gross. Put that back. Run and get your sister. Where is Pod #4? Oh, crap--that's right. Run back five miles and get that, will you? Scoot over. Don't stop right in front of the cart. Now, the baby has had it and your forgot the stupid pacifier she has decided she can't live without. Pull over to the side of the toilet paper aisle and nurse the baby. Keep the kids from climbing onto the toilet paper pallet with one foot. Push an overloaded cart with one hand while you try to keep the baby happy and the rest of the Pods in tow. Holy Hell. (Wait, is that possible? Hmm.) Okay, we got everything on our list. To the check out. WHY do they put candy in the check out aisle? Give us a little help here, will ya'? Quick, pay, have kindly banter with the cashier. Above all, don't seem crazy or everyone will whisper, That is why people should not have so many children? To the car, unload groceries, buckle the car seats. Get the treat you promised them for being good in the store. Close the door to the van and take deep breaths.
So, as I was saying. I went to Wal-Mart tonight, all alone.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Okay, I respond. This gives me the chance to parent, Make sure you do not cross any streets, or, in this case, you have to wear shoes.
She chose my shoes. She didn't get far.
I understand this game. When I was young, even though I hail from a loving family, my favorite game was Orphan. Mom wouldn't let us eat most of the vegetables out of the garden, but we could have onions or rhubarb. This just added to my game.
Oh, I am so hungry. **Hold belly and groan**
I have no family and I am all alone. What shall I do? **Sigh piteously and wander like a drunken man around the back yard.**
Rhubarb! Alas, I will not die! **Chews the sour stick with the gratitude of a starving child.**
At this point, I would make up a song--a really sad song. I would wail out my woes, not in a blues sort of way, but in an Annie sort of way:
I'm still very dramatic. It is obvious that my children are, in fact, mine.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Happy Birthday, darling child.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
She is taking the Tooth Fairy to the cleaners.
I won't even start with this pod's teeth. I won't tell him his mouth has cost the equivalent of three trips to space camp. That would be more than he could bear.
Now Pod #3 is wriggling her teeth. The Tooth Fairy may have to get a night job.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This post is about me and my needs.
A few days ago, I introduced you (or maybe reminded you) of the Katrina Cottages available through Lowe's. There are several quirks in my nature, and one of them is obsession. Since I was introduced to the concept of a super-tiny house, that is where my thoughts have lingered. What if I designed a 700 square foot house? What if I put this tiny house on a basement foundation that doubles it's size? What if I made it so that, as money is saved, we add on (instead of buying an already big house on borrowed money)? Here are my questions for you:
- How do you feel about spiral staircases?
- What are essential parts of a highly efficient kitchen?
- If cooking for seven was your regular three-times-a-day job, what would you have in your kitchen?
- Fireplace or wood stove?
- What is the one thing you wish you had in your house or have that you could not do without? (I'm not talking about basic necessities like dishwashers or toilets or, ya' know, floors.)
Please leave your feedback. I only have six more days of my free trial of some very expensive design software!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
How are we going to decide who gets to watch their movie first, I asked.
Voting is out because four to one are not fair odds. Inka Binka Bottle of Ink or Bubblegum Bubblegum in a Dish are reliable options. Even with that, though, the boy is overwhelmed by his sisters' sheer numbers.
Then I thought of something, Hey, I know. Whomever has the best behavior until movie time gets to choose the movie.
That was pure mothering genius. The drive home was filled with Let me help you with that (s) and You're the best mom in the world (s). Once we arrived, the children were quick to do the coming-home chores (putting away shoes and coats, bringing in groceries). As we sat at the table for a snack I heard amazing words coming from the lips of my very own offspring;
- Mom, thank you for paying for my braces so I can ask girls on dates when I am 16 (he is 9).
- Thank you for tying my shoes this morning.
- Thank you for letting me have my own room.
- Thank you for teaching me math.
- Thank you for laughing with us.
- Here, let me rub your feet.
- I'll brush your hair.
- Oh, I'll clean up that spill.
- No, it's okay, you can have the last one.
- Thank you for teaching me how to work.
- Thank you for helping me clean my room.
And on and on it went; each pod scrambling to say the nicest, the kindest, the most creatively good thing. I didn't want it to end, but, alas, they wanted to watch their movies so I had to choose.We did Inka Binka Bottle of Ink. I mean, who can choose the best part of a miracle.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sometimes I feel so heavy with stuff, ya' know?
Saturday, November 8, 2008
- If you are doing nothing, please say, What can I do to help you, Mother Dear? (The Mother Dear part makes a difference, but the what can I do to help is the essential ingredient.)
- Develop the habit of closing the kitchen cabinet doors every time you open them.
- Unsolicited compliments get you bonus points. If I am wearing lipstick or a clean shirt, tell me how beautiful I look even if you don't think so. Obviously, I tried and this is the best you're gonna get.
- Turn off a light sometimes.
- Say Thank You, ever.
- Surprise me (and not the jumping-out-from-behind-the-door-in-a-dark-room kind or the in-the-diaper kind, thank you).
- Never say about my cooking, Wow. This is great. What happened? That is not a compliment.
- Watch how easily the toilet flushes with only three or four squares of toilet paper.
- If you pour a glass of milk, drink the whole thing. Those cows are working hard--believe me; I know!
- These phrases are bad for your health: She made me. I can't help it. Get Out! (And I'm not talking about the Elaine kind of sarcastic Get Out!) or I never get to do Anything!
- Know that you're mother loves you above all else.
- It is my job to grow you into respectable, responsible, intelligent adults, so listen up.
With all my love,
Friday, November 7, 2008
It was kind of cute that Mr. Blue Eyes asked her on a date through his sister. It translated in her mind to mean that he was shy, afraid of being turned down. A man showing vulnerability spoke to the womanly instinct in her to soothe and reassure and comfort. She almost couldn't wait for the date so she could, with her smile, lift his chin and his hopes.
Several times the day after the wuss date invitation, she thought back on it and felt flattered.
Friday evening, there was a phone call for her. She had been away at college, but had come home to earn money. She didn't know when she would head back to school. She had thought about serving as a missionary. In the mean time, she was living with her parents, working, and trying to figure out her future.
Her parent's phone was in the kitchen--the main thoroughfare and gathering place of the house. The only chance for limited privacy while on the phone was to cross the kitchen and go as far down the basement stairs as the oft-stretched telephone cord would allow. She took the phone and followed the familiar path to the second-to-bottom stair. Once there, she held the receiver to her ear and said, Hello?
Did my sister tell you the date was going to be tonight? It was Mr. Blue Eyes. He didn't sound shy or reluctant.
Umm, no. She didn't really tell me when it would be.
Okay. I just wanted to make sure you weren't sitting on the couch waiting for me to show up.
So, she wasn't going to be some kind of savior to this boy's ego, but . . . wait . . . she didn't have time to think or analyze. He was talking again. She replied. He laughed. He was witty and she was open to good conversation. Before either of them knew it, an hour and a half had passed. He asked if she was planning to go to a dance that night. She was. He said he would pick her up.
He was a nice guy, short, but nice. It is always good to make a new friend. She thought he might have been interested in her, but when they got to the dance, he refused to dance with her. He stood against the wall, by the refreshments, sat in a chair. After much prodding, he finally got up and danced one dance.
She was irritated, kind of hurt. She had built up the vulnerable man bit in her mind and Mr. Blue Eyes was not that vulnerable man.
A mutual friend asked if they wanted to come to her house and play some games with a group of people. After a pretty lame night, it sounded fun.
They got in the car and drove to the friends house. They began talking . . . and they talked . . . and talked . . . and talked. He was so interesting! Nearly every date she had ever been on consisted of her talking and her date saying, Yes or No or I don't know. He was a conversationalist. They talked about everything from books to politics, from movies to philosophy. Mr. Blue Eyes had ideas, he wondered, he questioned, he THOUGHT.
After three hours, she got out of the car. So what if he didn't dance. He talked to her. He listened to her. He would be a good friend.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I don't get out a whole lot; what with the finding (not exaggerating) twelve shoes, making sure all hair is brushed and faces washed, changing the last minute dirty diaper and the exhausting performance of getting everyone buckled into their car seats and so forth. But I do like society. I enjoy the neighborhood potlucks, the church activities, the community parades. Since I am around children all day, it is nice to talk to grown-ups.
My sister gave me a wonderful compliment. There was an event that my mother and sister were attending; my sister asked if I were going. Upon the affirmative reply, she said, "Oh good then we will have fun." While I do not think I am the Life of the Party, I do have the ability to strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone. This skill, if you will, is also my curse. At least once per party, I make a fabulous gaffe.
I did it again tonight.
There is a scene from The Office when Michael and Dwight are at CFO David Wallace's home for a party. Dwight asks, "How many square feet is your home?" Michael calls him to task saying it is a completely inappropriate question. Then Michael says, "But, really, how much did you pay for it?" Augh! All of America is groaning with "No, no, no. You can't say things like that."
Enter the Mothership.
The woman sitting next to me was saying that they just finished building a new house. Her husband is in Pharmacy school (which I know from personal experience is rather expensive). I asked where she worked. She is a case worker. "Oh, really," I said, . . .then . . . wait for it . . . "That isn't a very high income field, is it?"
No, I am not kidding. I actually said that to this poor woman whom I had just met. It turns out that you can't shovel words back in your mouth no matter how fast you talk. I can't even blame it on the booze 'cause I don't drink.
Must I ruin a great party every time with my stupid mouth? Maybe I should start drinking so I at least have an excuse.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
First, I put on a lot of weight. A lot of weight. Did I say that already? I gain at least 50 pounds and only put about 6 1/2 of those pounds onto a living human being. Naturally, I do not come home from the hospital in my pre-pregnancy clothes.
The good news is that, second, I loose it all. It just takes time.
And, so, hooray, my baby is 4 months old and I am back. in. my. jeans!
What is it about women? If we feel ugly, we are grumpy. Yesterday, I was virtually the same size that I am today, but I felt soft, frumpy, blah. Today, I'm wearing the jeans and feeling, well, not hot, but at least cute. I have been down-right jolly today.
There are eighteen loads of laundry in my basement? Alright. Let's get a move on!
You want me to pull out the winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots so you can walk two blocks to the post office and mail a letter? You betcha!
Every cushion, blanket and pillow must be used to build a gargantuan cold-day fort in my living room? No Problem.
My attitude towards everything is optimistic, cheerful, go-get-'em. It's almost as if, when I pulled on and buttoned my pants, the old Mothership returned.
If I put on lipstick, I may even be able to say "No, Thank you" to the door-to-door salesman. That would truly be groundbreaking.
Monday, November 3, 2008
They got into my pantry and bit through bags of flour, sugar, and other bagged foods. They also tore apart dish towels and left their droppings everywhere. My mother was always afraid of mice and we mildly teased her for it. Having a baby in the house completely changed my perspective of the rodents. Now they were not only destructive and gross, but they were diseased and clever and fast. Their living in my home--my families refuge--was abhorrent to my protective mother sensibilities. Mice and I haven't gotten along since. I won't even look at the horrid little things at the pet store. We are enemies.
Here is the problem. A lot of people hate mice and rats as much as I do, but none of them are children's book authors. Some of the most beloved children's stories feature darling, thoughtful, gentle little mice. Mice and rats are NOT darling or thoughtful or gentle. They are ferocious beasts that use their small size to torment mothers everywhere. LIES! Why are books like The Giver and Huckleberry Finn and the Bible banned when there are the evil stories of Stuart Little, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Cricket in Times Square, and the Ralph S. Mouse trilogy. At least Templeton in Charlotte's Web is portrayed as the sneaky, self-centered, rotten-egg-loving creature true to his real life siblings: rats.
You see, as you read these books, the author tricks you into forgetting that you are not reading about really small children, but about filthy rodents. Do not fall for it, my dear people. It is time to rise up, proclaim what you know to be true! Mice are mice and rats are rats! They are not Stuart or Ralph (I won't even start with Mickey or Remy).
I will be at the head of the protest, but first I have to finish this lovely book about a really small child named Despereaux.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
As the class progressed, she was more and more impressed with the substitute teacher. His knowledge of the gospel and familiarity with the scriptures was remarkable. He was comfortable in front of the class, even though his assignment was last-minute. Combine all of these things with the way he looked in his starched black suit and she found him awfully attractive. Though both were single, she didn't consider dating him. He was too short.
Yes. That was the only reason. She came from a family of very tall people. At 5'8", she was the shortest among her immediate family. She had a sister who was 6' tall and brothers 6 inches taller than that. Her extended family showed even more genetic mutations; one uncle was, as he used to say, 5 feet 23 3/4 inches. So to her, a man who was only 5' 10" tall, was simply not in her selection pool.
After church that day, she told several of her shorter friends,
You should check out that guy. He seems really neat.
That evening, there was a dessert social at the church. She went because, not only was she religious, she was also social. She'd always liked people. The Substitute came up to her and started visiting. Nice guy, she thought, He is cute, too. And he was. Despite his not being tall, he had a few things going for him.
He had a good nose. It was masculine and staight; not so large that you'd notice it, but not small enough to feminize his whole face. His stong brow was a thing Jane Austen would have written about, had she known him, and he was generous with his striking smile. If you have ever seen Michelangelo's sculpture of David, you know what his physique resembled. He had strong, broad shoulders that tapered down to his waist in the pattern of a triangle. Above all, however, was the brilliant blue of his eyes. They were deep-set and shaded a bit by his eyebrows so that when he looked at you, the color came on suddenly. Eyes were never the first thing she noticed in a man, but with the Substitute Teacher, she couldn't not notice. I've got to set him up with somebody! she thought.
He kept hanging around her for most of the evening, which she didn't mind because he was fun to talk with. At one point, he asked how old she was.
Really? I thought you were like twenty-eight!
Wait. What, exactly, did that mean? Did that mean she was mature and seemed stable or did she just look old for her age? Hmm. She chose to take it as a compliment, because it's easier to go on with life if you're not offended by every strange comment that comes your way. They said goodnight. It was September 7, 1997.
Thursday of that week, she got phone call. It was from an old camp friend. After catching up for a few minutes, she asked if she would be willing to go on a wuss date.
What is a wuss date?
It's where I ask you out for my brother who is scared to ask you himself and then my brother will ask someone for me whom I am too scared to ask.
Well, she had been on a lot of bad dates. For some reason, she attracted the odd ducks and she never had the heart to say "no."
A wuss date? Fine. Who is your brother?
. . . to be continued. . .