I hereby greet the new year.
There are lots of superstitions about bringing in a new year.
I stayed in one spot for a full extra thirty seconds after Lucy hurled on my shoulder and hair just so I could get my midnight kiss on Saturday night.
You’re welcome, surrounding partygoers. You’re welcome.
My point is that there are lots of things that tradition dictates one must do or not do to usher in a new year.
Eat certain foods.
Be loud at midnight to scare away evil spirits.
Refrain from paying bills.
Postpone laundry (something I only found out AFTER I put the puke clothes in to wash).
Along with lots of others…some that make sense and some that simply sound stupid.
But it can’t hurt, right? Like avoiding black cats or throwing salt or not stepping on cracks…why tempt fate?
Except I think sometimes I get so focused on the why-not-it-can’t-hurt-just-do-it mindset of a new calendar that I overlook some things that might actually be useful.
Like starting new. Forgetting things past and having a clean slate, letting go of baggage which serves no purpose besides gall.
So instead of remembering why QR Nobody annoyed the shit out of me in 1999, or what Sal Asshole did to give him his Asshole name, I’m clearing accounts.
Second (third, fourth) chances all around.
I feel it will help my soul.
Happy new year. Look ahead, not behind.
Last week I took my last final of the semester.
This means that I have officially taken twelve years to complete a two year degree.
Who the hell cares, because holy shit I never even thought I would even do that much. It’s very exciting. And now we wait, because in just a month I will either be attending Ole Miss (already accepted/admitted, just not registered) or the University of Alabama (just applied last week). This is very important since (barring Josh’s somewhat unhealthy obsession with their football program), Alabama seems to have the whole “distance learning” thing firmly in hand. They’ve been helpful and friendly and I hope I know something soon.
So it’s a big deal that Northeast is over.
I mean, big deal, right? It’s a junior college and I pretty much gave up all my lofty Ivy League dreams the minute I signed the papers in 1998.
But it is a big deal to me. That school, corny as it may be, gave me some of the best and most interesting experiences of my life.
Like the time we set up a scavenger hunt and asked a bunch of guys to the Sadie Hawkins’ dance.
Like sitting in daisy fields and watching meteor showers.
Like carving jack o’lanterns at Liza’s.
Like watching movies at Matt McCoy’s.
Like climbing up the porch roof at Scooby and Wingo’s crack house.
Like sitting in the stairwell in Indianapolis and talking about sin and heaven.
Like standing in the blistering heat to do not much besides carry around a clarinet.
Like empty stages and time to reflect.
I learned a lot about myself during the time I spent there. And I suppose since I left I am supposed to have grown up, whatever that means.
But I don’t really think so.
And it’s not like I’ll particularly miss it – the missable part is long over, but there’s some odd finality in at long last closing that book.
Let’s just hope the grades come back nicely.
(Just so you know, the pictures don’t have anything to do with my content today. Our town held its yearly Grand Illumination this weekend, so I took some pictures. It was fun times.)
I don’t know about you, but when I was little, cussing was this huge taboo thing. I remember, even watching sitcoms with mom, every time someone said dammit I’d whip my head around to see how offended she was. I did it so much that eventually she told me that people were going to talk like that so I just needed to quit looking at her.
Well, my kids don’t have those issues.
From the time Max was three and got a note sent home from preschool for talking about his nuts, I have done my best to be honest with my kids about the language that exists. No one in my house has a pristine vocabulary, so it’s kind of inevitable that the kids repeat what they hear.
We told them years ago that words were just that – words. That they only hold the power we give them. That some words were best kept at home, where we all understand each other….or, well, where we all know cusswords.
I grew up with a big fear of swear words. Probably from the Baptists. Somewhere around seventh grade, though, I found the delicious thrill of four-letter-words. My language was pretty bad when I let it be, but only away from home.
As I grew older and became a parent, I realized that I wanted my kids to feel exactly the opposite. I wanted their family to be a safe haven, somewhere they can express themselves freely. If they’re angry, I want them to feel they can say so. Colorfully, if they need to. Also, I secretly think that if they’re free to talk the way they want at home, they won’t be tripping over themselves to overuse every swear word in existence when they’re away from me.
Language is an art, you know. That includes the cusses.
Yesterday, something happened that I never expected.
I mean, it’s not something anyone would have expected because it’s just so random.
I got an email from Ava’s teacher, and lo, Ava drew a naked lady at recess.
As her sentence, she has to miss activity period today.
So, I asked her about it when she got home. Apparently some boy had said he could draw a better naked lady than she could, and my girl would not be outdone. So the lady was drawn.
The thing is, I’m not so bothered by the naked lady. The kid has probably seen me naked (child abuse) a thousand times, not to mention Barbies and dolls and pictures of paintings (culture, people). I’m more bothered by the fact that she let herself be put into the situation to do something because someone else wanted her to.
Although now that I think about it, why is it such a big deal? Isn’t this what breeds such forbidden fascination with ding dongs and hoohas and wahoos? Besides, I mean, is naked such a forbidden thing? I’m pretty sure everyone is totally naked at least every other day. If not, well, those are your issues.
These are my thoughts, anyway. I suppose I’d feel differently if she’d drawn some “Dear Penthouse” nudie show, but this doesn’t seem like such a big deal to me. Am I wrong?
I’ve never slept with accessories.
Teddy bears, blankies, dolls. Nope.
I always used to wonder, growing up, what it would be like to sleep naked. I never did, because I was chicken. I heard stories about people who turned up at the dorms in college and had roommates who pranced around au natural and slept totally in the buff.
Yeah, I didn’t have that. I did have one roommate, Amanda, who left some ravioli in a dish by the sink until it grew like three inches of mold. I like to think it was an experiment. My friend Katie came over to visit my room one night and was so horrified by the ravioli project that she set about sanitizing the bathroom area.
Katie ended up being my next roommate, and she decorated for every holiday. Every. Not just a knickknack here and there or a cling on the window, no…she had legit decor for every holiday. Valentines. Easter. St. Patrick’s Day. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas, for months and months. It was festive and nice and totally a good memory, although Katie pretty much thinks I’m the devil or something. My point is that my roommates definitely kept their clothes on. And I don’t think either of them slept with any accessories, either. Amanda liked the radio and Katie always made her bed. End of odd.
MY POINT IS NOT EVEN ABOUT COLLEGE ROOMMATES.
So while I’ve never slept with accessories other than my iPhone since it came into existence and, you know, my husband, I do now.
Her name is Lucy and she pokes me in the eyes, pees on me routinely, and sometimes smacks me in her sleep.
I never slept with my kids. Max slept really well in his own bed by the time he was a week or two old, and Ava only slept in my bed in the mornings when she’d sometimes snuggle for a while.
When Lucy came along (because you might not know since I’ve never really mentioned it more than ten or twenty times but I live in a house with every person I’ve ever known), she pretty much refused to sleep anywhere except right next to me. And I know, I know, we should have let her cry for a while and made her get used to sleeping on her own, but her crying stresses Josh out a lot since he wants her world to be perfect and without misery. And she wakes up the whole house. And there’s really not room for a crib in our room anyway.
And maybe I like it that she’s snuggly. If you tickle me, do I not laugh?
Except she’s sixteen months old and she still doesn’t sleep through the night, and she’s kind of an obnoxious bed hog.
Things won’t change as far as our sleeping arrangements for a while, at least until we move, which will be…you know, time.
So I’m not asking for diatribes about how I am doing her a disservice by keeping her in my bed.
I just wanted to bitch for a minute.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m overdue for some hair pulling and milk breath.
In 1998, I graduated from high school. I went on to the local community college, because that’s just what most of my friends did.
In 2000, when I should have been finished with community college, I had changed my major six point five jillion times and I was considerably behind. Then I got married.
That ended that.
In 2002, I went back to that same school and tried to pick up where I’d left off. I had an infant at home and we had next to no money, so when the semester was over and I got a job opportunity, I took it. Thus ended my education.
A couple of months ago, after talking about it for years, Josh and I decided to try school again. It has been a mess of red tape and confusion, but we got everything in order. Scheduled. Ready and waiting.
Well, today is the day.
All our classes come live online today, and me, who has never taken a single online class, I have 16 hours of classes. While I realize that I’m not expected to suddenly have everything finished and done and I’m going to have to learn to schedule myself, it doesn’t change the fact that having a list of things to do and turn in and know is going to overwhelm me more than a little bit.
I really didn’t think I was going to be so scared. But I am.
I’ve had those dreams where I forgot about a class and never did any of the work.
Where I showed up for an exam and it was a class I was never supposed to have taken.
The good news is that if I make it through this semester I’ll (finally) have my Associate’s Degree, and it will only have taken me thirteen years.
I feel a little (or a lot) silly that this is so important to me. After all, what is an Associate’s anyway? Not much.
Except it’s more than I have.
And it’s that much closer to the PhD I ultimately want.
Yeah, I said it. That’s what I’m going for. Farfetched, right? I’ll be like eighty by the time I’m finished.
But that’s okay with me. I’ll be eighty when I’m eighty whether I have a PhD or not.
So if I die today, it’s because the online classes done kilt me.
I don’t think I know much about my kids.
Wait, that’s not accurate. I know everything about Lucy.
But that won’t last long. The clock is ticking on that one.
My other two are complete mysteries, and I kind of hate it.
My hate has nothing to do with them – I suppose it’s actually all me.
Growing up, I never told my mom all that much about my life. I was always really afraid she’d flip out and tell me I was going to hell or make me go to some special church class or something. I actually did get punished that way once – my mom found out that I’d skipped school, and I had to spend every afternoon for like a month sitting in my room writing bible verses. I was a senior in high school.
So yeah, Mom and I never had girl talks. We talk more openly now, I’m older and she’s older and we can both admit I’ve had sex since I have three kids.
But I’ve always wanted to be a friend to my kids. To answer their questions and be honest with them, and be able to have a relationship with them that ensures that, in the future, they’ll come to me for advice. A ride when everyone is drunk. Clarity when their hearts are broken.
And I do try.
But I fail. For lots of reasons.
Max is just so…awkward. I love him dearly, to bits and pieces. Truly. But talking to him is like talking to a miniature Michael Scott. It’s painfully uncomfortable at times, even though I realize his mind is very different than mine. I need to work on understanding him more. I’m sure it’s fascinating to go through life as Max.
Ava is, I think, a lot like I was when I was little.
And that. Terrifies. Me.
I was sneaky. I was dishonest. I had terrible judgement. I had such a hard time.
I want to make it easier for her, but I don’t have any clue how. So I think I subconsciously pull away. Which is the very opposite, I know, of what I should be doing.
Wow. Writing all this stuff and seeing it in the light of reality makes it sound….awful. Which I guess it is.
I ache to be good at being a mom, especially since I legit suspect that I love my kids way more than is normal. I’m just terrible at showing it. I mean really, awful.
Maybe I should take some sort of class. My child psychology class came with a virtual child (yes, it did. So not only to I get to suck at raising three kids with a pulse, I get to have another one to go all A.I. Haley Joel Osment). Think that’ll help?
Do you guys use Pinterest?
If not, you should.
It’s like a virtual bulletin/idea/brainstorm board where you can keep track of things you like.
Interiors. Crafts. Foods (oh my GOD people spend SO much time on food! Bento, fruit flowers..). Clothes. Outfit ideas. Creative party themes and useful things like that. It’s also a total timesuck, because I look at this cool outfit and that amazing reading nook and ooh this sunroom and then WHAM two hours are gone and my kid is outside smoking.I love this idea. Looking at other people’s creativity. Seeing things people like. Feeling a sense of community in wanting to create things and make things pretty.
The bad thing is, though, that I often come away at a bit of a loss. I believe Moses would refer to it as coveting my neighbor’s ass or something similar (although my neighbors are PaPaw Buck and the invisible lady with the painted mailbox, so really, no worries there).
What I’m saying is I look at these beautiful creations, be they centerpieces, cute jeans with a surprising scarf and bright shoes, or a clever saying painted on a wall, and suddenly my hair feels greasy and my teeth feel dirty and I might as well go put on a bathrobe and a turban and start dipping tobacco because clearly I am a lost cause.
I love the house we live in. I love that these walls house people I care the very most about in the world. I love that my kids can run down the hall and have Dad (x2) and Mom and everyone can all be together. I love that we get two sets of Netflix movies. I love that my kids are growing up knowing that things don’t have to be normal to be perfect.
What I don’t love is the fact that we’re all kind of slobby. We all keep things we should probably toss. I’ve tried every trick in the book – cleaning for 30 minutes a day, throwing something out every time something new is brought in, cleaning obsessively all day.
I suck at it.
And the thing is, my mom was/is the ultimate cleaning banshee. She somehow manages to keep everything looking like Martha Stewart just came for cocoa and even when my 3 kids and my niece and nephew and the dog are all rampant in full force I would have no qualms eating off her floor.
So I kind of feel like a failure before I even begin.
I mean, this is my job, right? To make the home. To have things pretty and fresh and nice.
I’m like everyone else, I go through spurts of
mania enthusiasm and things will get clean and organized and I’ll be really proud. Then Dan will make a tuna sandwich and make the whole joint smell like barf or Josh will cook a chef-caliber meal and the kitchen is suddenly filled with pots and pans. Or my kids will, you know, wake up.
So I look at the crisp and pristine loveliness on Pinterest or the living rooms in Facebook albums and I pine.
Well, I alternate between pining and scolding myself for pining.
The answer to this is obvious – just don’t look at it.
But then I get these bursts and I want to make things over – but I am crap at organizing. It totally escapes me. I used to (still do) wish I would wake up one day with a Monica Gellar yen for cleaning and organization, but thus far it hasn’t happened.
I wake up still me.
Still cursing the load of clothes I’ve left in the dryer for three days because I don’t want to put up clothes (PSA: it is not really possible for two adults and a toddler, along with all their clothes and shoes, to neatly share one bedroom and bathroom without some clever apartment type finagling. And I don’t have that. I’m not a finagler.).
Still wondering what to do with all the dog hair.
Still needing to find a system.
Still debating throwing down a paint cloth and just covering up the duck wallpaper.
A girl can dream, right?
I had something else scheduled to talk about today.
But I need to tell you about yesterday.
First you should know about my two oldest kids, though. They are beautiful lovely lights of my life, but they are loud as hell. They also have this uncanny knack for choosing the MOST inopportune times to interject themselves.
The entire family went to see UP (minus Lucy, of course. Also, if you haven’t seen that movie, do it immediately. Don’t even finish reading). We sat, left to right, thus: Josh, me, Max, Dan, and Ava.
Dan and the kids had already seen this particular movie once, but they’d come again for the 3D.
The movie commences, and we reach the part of the touching intro where a weeping Ellie is slumped over on an exam table while the doctor looks sad and Carl looks lost and helpless.
The entire theater was quiet, soft.
The lady in front of me was sniffling.
I lost a few tears. My throat was thick.
And in the wake of that beautifully sad, artfully conveyed, wordless moment that tore every adult’s heart right out of its’ casing, my daughter leaned over her dad’s lap, 3D glasses all akimbo, and stage whispered,
“Mom? MOM? SHE’S CRYING BECAUSE THE DOCTOR SAID SHE CAN’T HAVE A BABY AND SO SHE’S SUPER SAD.”
Yeah. We pretty much have a repeat of that on an hourly basis.
That’s why yesterday morning, when I heard a timid knock on my bedroom door, I did little but roll my eyes emphatically. Lucy had had an awful night (molars are a bitch) and she was finally sleeping, and I was not about to call out to answer whoever was at the door.
So I was quiet.
Ten minutes later, knockknockknockKNOCKKNOCK.
Again, I was quiet. Surely they would get the message.
So I did a stage whisper of my own: “what???”
The door opened, and in walked a child. I didn’t have my glasses on at that point, so I only halfway thought it might be Max. While I fumbled around for my glasses, I told him how it was.
“My lord, Max, that was three times, can you not TAKE a HINT that maybe some people are still resting and don’t need you being all loud and…”
Glasses on. And then I saw him. Standing awkwardly in the doorway, not sure if he should leave or stay, balancing a perilously flimsy paper plate full of something.
“I…I realized that we haven’t really given you a day off since it’s the summer and so I brought you breakfast.”
Hello, world? It’s nice to meet you. In case you don’t know, my name is TOTAL DOUCHEBAG.
He quickly forgave me when I gushed apologies and told him how wonderful he is, but the guilt will live on healthily in my heart for a long, long time.
According to a calendar I saw, today is national ice cream day.
Iqqqass (Lucy’s typing again. Damn kid.)
I know everyone loves ice cream and that’s no big deal, and I don’t claim to love it more than anyone else. and please spare me the laments that you don’t like ice cream and sweets aren’t your thing. Forgive me, but it is the right thing to do, enjoying sweets. Why else did Jesus serve Welch’s to the disciples?
I do realize, though, that when it comes to being an adult and controlling consumption of things like ice cream and cake, candy, bacon, and things like sugar sandwiches (that’s a joke. Kind of.), I am woefully inadequate.
I would eat ice cream for every meal and dessert.
Josh and I have gotten into this habit of buying two half gallons when we buy groceries. Kroger is obviously plotting my demise, what with their damn 2-for-$5 deals on their delicious ice cream.
I mean, a responsible adult eats ice cream for dessert, maybe once a week.
I ate it for breakfast twice last week.
It’s not that I set out to be an idiot about the things I eat, but it’s the perfect food. Creamy. Cold. Exactly the flavor I want. It’s even useful as a cold compress.
Hippies and smart people say that your body is your temple and you have to take care with what you input. Especially if you’re worried about your gut, and I know they’re right. That’s pretty much why I’ve stopped complaining about my gut.
Even if I’m on a diet.
I just can’t help it.
It’s a sickness.