Halftime

This picture tells you all you need to know about our current state of affairs. I’m eating a pasta dinner out of a Tupperware off a plastic fork behind the wheel of my car. See, I’m in a rush to get to the next activity pickup, but I’m also perilously close to starvation.

This is where we are, folks. It’s halftime.

We’ve had these (not so) little girls about half the time we will have them in our grasp, give or take. We’re in that weird time warp between threenagers and teenagers where we don’t have to pack Goldfish for church anymore, but we do have to remind them to put on deodorant in the morning and there is SO MUCH SHIT TO DO.

Remember when they were toddlers and you would ask yourself, “hmmmm…what can we do to fill the time between nap and dinner today?”

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Excuse me while I choke on this cherry tomato.

This is the middle season of parenting; the season of mad chaos. It’s the age of afternoon over-scheduling and blurring days. I’m not going to bore you with the details of my weekly M-ubering schedule (what I will tell you is that I’m on a first name basis with the service guy at the car dealership), but ‘tis the season of rushing and sports and lessons and homework and orthodontist appointments and driving and dinner on the go. And doing it all over again, almost every day.

Come to think of it, this halftime closely resembles a Super Bowl halftime show. It’s chaotic, yet carefully synchronized. It takes a lot of strategic planning. The stars of the show don’t do much besides show up for the applause and sometimes complain about the temperature of their Fiji water. The real magic happens behind the scenes and is left to the show’s executive producer who, coincidentally, also serves as stage hand, stylist, craft services manager, chauffeur, logistics coordinator, time keeper, schedule maker and travel booker. Spoiler: it’s me. Another spoiler: I’m raggedy as Ann and it’s only October.

Some of this halftime (shit) show is a Katy Perry shark dancing train wreck, and there are too many wardrobe malfunctions to count (sometimes in a pinch, you Febreze that dirty jersey or make her wear the rubber-bottom trampoline park socks from the back of the car to practice). But, as they say, the show must go on. We pack the next uniform and snack and move to the next thing.

Halftime is short, I know. There is a lot to cram into a limited amount of time. We only get a small window to put on the show of a lifetime. We’re supposed to cherish it, but sometimes it’s just too tiring.

When the halftime show is over—in the blink of an eye I’m told—the lights will go down and my production skills will be obsolete, no longer necessary. When the third quarter begins, I suspect I will be well-rested and calm(ish). But also a little sad and bored.

So, I will try to weather the madness of our halftime with appreciation, knowing that the time will surely come when I wistfully long to go back to the chaotic, exhausting days when my girls were young, and I ate pasta dinners out of a Tupperware off a plastic fork behind the wheel of my car.

This is where we are, folks. It’s halftime.

All Out May-Hem

(Edited version for 2019 written by an even more tired and hardened room mom).

Hey y’all…it’s me…End-of-Year Room Mom. The real one this time. I’m no longer the side kick. Funny how that seems to happen. (Someone somewhere is yelling ha-ha suckaaaaa!)

If you’re familiar with the original version of this post, you’ll notice I have relinquished my (assistant) Team Mom title (ha-ha suckaaaaa!) Nancy Reagan would be so proud of me for just saying no.

I’m sure we all remember the lady who wrote about the End-of-Year Mom compared to the Beginning-of-Year Mom. Being End-of-Year mom is enough of a shit show. Well add End-of-Year Room Mom to that and you’ve got a full blown Barnum and Bailey situation.

So here I (barely) stand on May 14th with the number of shits I give rapidly approaching zero. At this juncture, I’m really hoarding my shits-to-give for important matters like keeping my children fed and alive. But now I’ve got all these school and extra curricular responsibilities and I am feeling super verklempt. If I have your phone number, you probably already know this as evidenced by my late night text tirades.

I mean we made it through the third quarter, got our precious angels through standardized testing, survived the science fair (don’t EVEN get me started on the science fair, but in case you’re curious, the kitchen sink is dirtier than the toilet), had a very late spring break, got a taste of summer and now I’m officially over this school year. O-VER. It’s official: we are all done-zo.

And y’all…just a side note: the original version of this was written in 2015 when my big girl was finishing third grade. Well, FYI, seventh grade is laughing it’s ASS off at third grade right now.

So here we are again: instead of going out like a lamb, we’re going out like a rabid lion on some bad crack because someone decided it’s a good idea to pack the biggest punch for the last few weeks of school WHEN EVERYONE’S SHIT BUCKETS ARE DANGEROUSLY DEPLETED.

When we get to the month of May, I simply don’t have the extra shits-to-give for field day, team banquet (including fundraising, silent auction and table themes), end of year parties, field trips, class retreats, school concerts, overnight volleyball tournaments, teacher appreciation week, dance recitals, middle school dances and more.

You know, the school year is kind of like a pregnancy. The first quarter of school is kinda like the first trimester of pregnancy when you’re all aglow and over the moon and dying to show off your bump. But then eight months and two weeks in you are ready to carve the baby out of your own abdomen with a pair of tweezers to end the misery because you are SO TOTALLY OVER IT. Well, that, my friends, is May.

So I would like to file a motion with the powers-that-be. I move that we do a better job of spreading out some of our festivities. I would have so much more enthusiasm for these events in the earlier stages of the year. Imagine our freshness and willingness to hit that Sign-Up genius like Conor McGregor if we weren’t bombarded with so many things at once. Shoot, we might not even be in a life or death battle for beating everyone to swipe the paper goods first but might actually be willing to wash and cut up strawberries. (I may or may not have a reputation for being the Sign Up Genius swiper. Early bird gets the worm, not sorry).

For example…

I mean, Lord knows I LOVE the teachers. Like love, love. But couldn’t we choose to show them our love when we’re still in the honeymoon phase? Say, early to mid November? Better yet, just get it out of the way the first week of school before we hate homework and they’re sick of our kids? (Don’t kid yourselves…they are definitely sick of our kids).

Perhaps we START the volleyball season with a kick off party instead of a ending it on a school night in May when just getting homework done and basic hygiene taken care of is tantamount to water boarding?

Maybe let’s have field day and outdoor field trips in February when people aren’t sick of being asked for favors like bringing wheelie coolers to school and setting up sun canopies. Added bonus: it’s not Hades hot outside and all the chaperones wouldn’t have uncontrollable under-boob and butt crack sweat. Come on, it’s FLORIDA.

Now, let me stop you before you get out your miniature violins. I have to say that I really do love being a mom and I feel privileged to be able to be a part of all the school/sports things. I am grateful for that. Truly.

But at this point in the school year, similar to my kids’ school shoes, I am frazzled and haggard beyond recognition. We are all just trying to hold on until the last day of school at which point we can fall apart. Shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, homework folders and Mom–we’re all tattered and worn just trying to hang on by a thread for those last couple weeks in May.

So June 5, I’m coming for you. Fifteen school days and then, in the words of the incomparable Flo Rida, it’s GDFR.

**Stay tuned for my summer post in which I cry tears of madness because my children are going at it Hunger Games style with all the extra time on our hands.

Muffins

I see all you moms today with your lack of crows feet and your naturally colored roots posing in your cute photo frames with your paper mache flowers hashtagging the crap out of #muffinswithmom.

Guess what. When your baby is 9 years old, no muffins for you (Soup Nazi voice).

You know what that’s called? Age discrimination. Sorry, I believe the politically correct term is “ageism”.

Why don’t we get muffins? Who decided we are too old for the muffins?

I would argue that we, the moms of middle aged kids, need the damn muffins more. Sure, our metabolisms are a little slower and we’re a little softer in the middle. And we have no figs left to give about swim lessons, potty training, microwave mac and cheese and dino nuggets.

But we are in constant mourning over our babies turning into big kids. Facebook memories are stabbing us in the hearts every morning over our coffee and Fiber One. All the more reason to feed us the damn muffins.

We may not be mama or mommy anymore, but we are still moms. And we still like the photo frames and paper mache flowers. And we would give our left arms for just one more of those precious yet somewhat humiliating “All About My Mom” surveys.

There’s so much we don’t have anymore. We don’t have small, chubby hands to hold in parking lots. We don’t have fresh Mustela baby heads to sniff. We don’t have thumbsuckers or lovies. We don’t have anyone to read stories to in the rocking chair. We don’t have toothless faces smiling at us. Gone. It’s all gone in the blink of an eye.

SO DON’T TAKE THE DAMN MUFFINS FROM OUR DRY, WRINKLED HANDS TOO.

Throw us a bone up here in the middle ages. Or a muffin. Whatever.

Actually. Screw that. We want the donuts. Why did the dads get donuts? We were the ones with the stitches (uptown or downtown). We earned the donuts. We DESERVE the donuts.

Sorry, not sorry dads.

Frozen Memories

My sister Dani and I are the first and second children out of five. Since we’re essentially just one year apart, we always came as a package deal. We were basically one kid more commonly known as DaniandSuzy.

“DaniandSuzy, come inside!”

“DaniandSuzy, clean your room!”

“Where are DaniandSuzy?”

“DaniandSuzy, take your bath!”

We pretty much did everything together. I’m sure at this point everyone in my family would want the audience to know that I bossed her around and she always happily acquiesced to my myriad demands. Me the bossy britches, Dani the pleaser. I guess some things never change. Whatevs.

As children, we spent almost our holidays at our Nanny Sally’s small, brick house on Henderson Road. It was homey, loud and crowded with a colorful cast of characters who weren’t all blood related.

We loved Nanny’s house. It was lively and so comfortable. I loved the way it smelled of stale cigarette smoke and food cooking. There were collector’s bottles of Wild Turkey whiskey lining the family room shelves, and ribbon candy in a glass dish on top of the console television. We were allowed to drink Diet Pepsis out of the outdoor fridge. We had so much fun there. So many happy memories were made in that house and yard.

We had a lot of cousins to play with on holidays at Nanny’s. Some were older, some younger, but we had hours of fun with them. We also had two older step-cousins named Jimmy and Larry whom we didn’t really know that well and only occasionally made an appearance. Their feathered hairstyles were so rad. In stark contrast to our Catholic school girl naïveté, they were totally edgy and a lot more worldly. Let’s face it, though. It wasn’t that hard to be more worldly than the Clark girls. We couldn’t have been more sheltered if we lived permanently in a farm cellar in a one-horse town in Oklahoma. Bless our hearts.

On one particular holiday at Nanny’s in 1988, things got a little weird for us, the easily shockable cellar children, DaniandSuzy.

When Larry, one of the step-cousins, appeared after a multi-holiday hiatus looking a little like Alice Cooper (that may or may not be a slight exaggeration), we were equal parts fascinated and terrified.

Larry proceeded to tell us he had joined a “death metal” band. This was quite the revelation to us, as “death metal” wasn’t exactly in our wheelhouse crowded with Debbie Gibson, Wilson Phillips and the like. We had no idea what “death metal” actually meant, but the sound of it kind of gave us the urge to clutch a rosary and give ourselves a little holy water spritzer.

I wondered silently how “death metal” might differ from “heavy metal”; how, exactly, the musical metals were differentiated. For the record, I’m still unclear on that in 2019.

Larry treated us to a sampling of his band’s signature song which I immediately classified as “devil music” due to all the anti-Satanic videos Catholic schools were peddling in the 80’s. The song was quite memorable, and, I dare say, a little disturbing.

I would pay big bucks for a still picture of our faces during that performance.

After that all-day holiday affair in 1988 no doubt consisting of eating dry turkey and delicious scalloped potatoes, trying on Nanny’s jewelry, using her adding machine, doing “routines” and watching the dads and uncles play poker with nickels and dimes, we went home with those experiences—and the death metal revelation—filed away in our cache of childhood memories.

We reminisce often about all the good times we had at Nanny’s house. It’s interesting how our perspectives and memories differ. Dani probably doesn’t remember that I wouldn’t eat Nanny’s cheeseburgers because they always seemed to taste like tin foil, or what it sounded like when Nanny’s heels stuck with each step to her wedge “slippers” as she walked. And I’m sure there are things tucked in Dani’s memory that have escaped mine.

But even more interesting is how some of those memories are frozen in our minds in exactly the same way, to be thawed out on a random Tuesday night while I fold laundry.

Which brings me back to Larry, whom I don’t think we’ve seen or heard from since that holiday in 1988, so I’m unsure about how things went for the band (but if I was a betting gal, I would say not great).

Last night, Dani suspected she found Larry on Facebook under a different name. When she texted to ask if I thought she was right, the death metal band memory immediately floated to the surface. I mean, obvi.

I asked Dani to jog my memory for the name of Larry’s band. I immediately received this text back:

FROZEN AMPUTEES.

Bingo. It all came flooding back at once.

I guffawed, furiously typing a reply that surged through my fingers as Dani’s gray text bubbles blinked simultaneously:

I looked in the freezer,

And what did I see?

A frozen amputee staring at me!

LITERALLY, as I hit send, I received this message back:

I looked in the freezer,

And what did I see?

A frozen amputee staring at me!

You guessed it: those were none other than the lyrics to Frozen Amputees’ 1988 (not so) smash hit, coincidentally titled Frozen Amputee.

Y’all probably heard us laughing all the way up and down the Atlantic coast. We cried with laughter. CRIED TEARS.

We both had some explaining to do when we startled our husbands with the sudden howling. How does one even begin to unravel, completely out of context, the story of a step-cousin in a death metal band called Frozen Amputees who sung in the 80’s about hacked up bodies when she can’t even catch her breath to get any words out over all the hysterical laughing? I tried my best. Maybe you just had to be there.

Clearly, cousin Larry, his death metal band and his jolting song lyrics were indelibly imprinted on both of our very impressionable young psyches. We both held that memory tightly in the back of our 40-something year old minds until a random weeknight on which I needed a good laugh. It really hit the spot.

You see, even though now we are grown-up moms with families of our own, living very different lives and separated by several hundred miles, these treasured memories that marked us, and the belly laughter they evoke, are really the fibers that will always hold DaniandSuzy together.

DaniandSuzy circa 1977. She was smiling even though I was probably pinching her thigh.
DaniandSuzy many years prior to being exposed to the death metal genre.
No caption necessary.

13

My girl is 13 today. I am the mother of a teenager. Someone please hold my purse while I take a long pull from a stiff drink.
Before I gave birth to her, I had big plans to leave the hospital dressed in the cute outfit I had pre-selected with blown out hair and a little makeup to make myself look presentable. But 24 hours after the utter shock and awe of labor and delivery and all that comes with having a human being pulled from your body—including zero winks of sleep for 48 hours—that mission was aborted.
Instead, I plopped myself in that departing wheel-chariot dressed in a pair of huge gray Nike sweatpants that said OREGON across the booty (and partially exposed my mesh undies because in 2006 we were still wearing the stupid low riders), a light pink nursing pajama top stretched over my huge boobs, a pair of untied tennis shoes on my sausage feet and a head of ratty, greasy hair on which you could have fried a dozen chicken wings.
I was blindsided by new motherhood. I was panic stricken over my new job title. I didn’t think I could do it. I looked and felt like I had been hit head-on by a truck which then immediately backed over me. It wasn’t pretty. The inside or the out.
Well I’m here to tell you: thirteen is the return of the Mack.
Just when you think the hardest stuff is in your review mirror because you can sleep in on the weekends and read books poolside without worrying about anyone drowning, think again. BAM. Thirteen hits you right in the mouth.
Today might officially be her first day of being thirteen, but trust me when I tell you, “thirteen” doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a state of being that develops in middle school and we’ve been parked here for a minute.
Sometimes I still feel like I can’t do it. On some days, thirteen has me right back in that wheelchair feeling like that drained, exhausted, clueless, brand new mom all over again (minus the low rise pants because of my current muffin top situation).
Thirteen is a a shit show of wild emotions, a clash of wills, mind boggling irrationality and what seems like some sort of hormonal psychosis. She is the star and we are the supporting cast. God help us.
But you know what? Thirteen is also looking through the peephole at her future. It’s getting a glimpse of what she will become.
She’s as stubborn as a mule, but she knows exactly what she wants and she goes after it.
She’s a real bossy britches, but she’s not going to let anyone push her around.
She’s as loud as a freight train and suffers from severe voice immodulation, but there’s no mistaking what she has to say.
She usually looks like a hobo and I suspect rats have taken up residence in her hair, but she couldn’t care less about what other people think of her appearance.
She NEVER. STOPS. TALKING, but she’s confiding in me.
She’s as argumentative as the day is long, but she’ll stand up for what she believes is right.
Her backpack looks like the bottom of a rotten city dumpster, but there’s a method to her madness and she’s a self-motivated, straight A student.
She’s super opinionated, but she possesses strong faith and convictions.
She’s fiercely independent and shuts me out at times, but she rightfully owns all of her accomplishments.
She’s a bull in a China shop with her almost 6 foot wingspan and size 12 flippers so put away your breakables when you see her coming, but she’s free spirited, carefree and has a positive body image.
Really, she’s becoming everything I ever hoped for right before my eyes: a smart, confident, driven, principled, kind, happy, secure, independent, God fearing young lady. I’m very proud of who she is so I’ll grit my teeth and embrace it all: the good, the bad and the holy-shit-who-is-this-kid?
But she may just drive me to drink while I’m hanging on for dear life.
So, cheers to thirteen.

The Sanctimommy’s Guide to Being an A$$hole Blog Troll

1. Lose your sense of humor IMMEDIATELY. Humor has absolutely no place in the satirical blogosphere. Or in parenting for that matter.

2. Right out of the gate, tell the writer why she’s doing such a bad job at being a mom. Use shouty caps and emojis to grab her attention like retching sounds in the backseat of her minivan. Then immediately back it up with concrete examples of her utter failure as a mother. She is clearly unaware of her own ineptitude. Anonymously pointing out other people’s faults is a privilege of the internet. Take full advantage.

3. Declare that you and your kids are “far from perfect” so you seem credible and relatable, but then immediately qualify that by illustrating to the writer how you and your kids are actually superior because you don’t really mean it. You and your kids ARE perfect. Full stop.

4. Give specific, real world examples of how you are doing a better job as a mom. You never carried a screaming kid out of a store football style? Congratulations. Ed McMahon will arrive with your check and balloons in short order. But in the meantime, please advise. Otherwise, how will the writer know how to correct her inferior mothering style?

5. Use words like I, me, my, and mine. A LOT. Let the writer know what works for YOU ‘cause she definitely wants the scoop on your parenting secrets. Why else would she write about her infinite shortcomings? Her writing is really just a cry for help.

6. Be sure to point out the existence of a deep root cause of the writer’s “anger,” “sadness,” or “trauma,” and urge her to mindfully reflect on it because obvi she has zero self awareness. Suggest yoga or guided mediation. If you sell essential oils, tout them unabashedly (maybe she’ll even join your team).

7. Shame is the name of the game, ladies. Shame the writer like nobody’s business. Really hit a homer by using the phrase “her poor children”.

8. Judge the ever-loving SHIT out of the writer. But be sure to base that judgement SOLEY on those isolated 1000 words you read while you pooped this morning. Especially if it’s the one and only blog post of hers that you have ever read. With your extensive background information of never having met her or her children, assume whatever you please about them. You’re almost definitely probably right. Because, I mean let’s face it, you always are. (Shrug).

9. Generously offer the writer your condolences. Hide your harsh judgement in the form of patronizing pity. In your most condescending tone, apologize for her being so uninformed, damaged, or unhappy. Even though her kid has croup, she’ll sleep more soundly knowing that your self-righteous sympathy is with her.

10. Use cringe-worthy grammar and punctuation. This should be easy when you’re typing with such furious rage and superiority (but don’t forget to disguise it as sympathy).

11. Even if the piece isn’t about vaccines, relate your comment to your belief on vaccinating children. This will really stir up a shit storm.

12. GIF. IT. UP. with eye rolls, face palms, and head shakes. Remember the writer can’t actually see you so visual aids are most helpful.

13. Childless folks: ALWAYS be the first to comment and express your disgust at the writer’s inadequacy as a mother. Be sure to list all the things you would NEVER DO, lest your kids turn out like her devils. Remember, she can’t hold a candle to your hypothetical excellence, but just for shits and giggles, spell out your magic formula for how you WOULD create angelic/genius/athletically gifted/obedient/kind/healthy children right there in the comments. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

14. Never retreat from giving advice on a parenting stage you haven’t been through yet. You’ve got a solid plan for that stage and it is a surefire winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Don’t be stingy with it.

15. Make sure to include related credentials if applicable, “As a (psychologist, child behaviorist, guidance counselor, school nurse, teacher, lactation consultant, scientist, doctor, nutritionist), I can tell you…” Your down talk will be much more credible if your area of expertise is mentioned.

16. Whatever you do, do NOT allow yourself to think of the writer as a real person with real feelings, and friends and family who love her. Do not, under any circumstances, mistake her for a good mom—just like you—doing her best to laugh so she doesn’t cry because motherhood is sometimes just a son-of-a-bitch.

Dumb, da-dumb, dumb….

Earlier I posted an article that points out how smartphones are destroying a generation of kids. Look. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad if their kid has a smartphone. To each his own. Mean it. I know a lot of freaking amazing parents whose kids have cell phones. I’m not judging. Pinky swear. (I will, however, cop to judging if you are breaking the car line protocol).

But even if your kid already has a phone, I think it’s important to pay attention anyway. The more you know…you know?

I feel like people think there’s no going back, though. As if you already gave your kid a phone, oh well, that ship has sailed—coulda, shoulda, woulda…

Well, here’s the good news: WE DA BOSSES.

Remember when you were a kid and your mom enraged you by saying, “when you’re a grown up, you can do whatever you want”? Well ta-da!!! Now’s your time to shine.

You wanna pull back on cell phone permission? Go for it. You can revert to the universal mom retort, “when you’re a grown up, you can do whatever you want”. That’s what it’s there for. Duh.

Seriously though. I felt like I should share the fact that I took the plunge. I got Anna Kate a phone. But she’s gonna rock that phone like it’s 2002 because it flips open and it’s dumb as shit.

That’s right. She is the reluctant owner of a DUMB PHONE. (They call them “basic” phones, FYI. I guess that makes iPhones “extra”). So if you wanna throw her under the bus and say, “don’t try me, kid…you’re not the ONLY one without an iPhone. I know for a fact Anna Kate has a dumb phone” well, be my guest. You’re welcome.

Power in numbers, friends.

Now, she still has her old “phone” that she is allowed to use only at home under strict supervision. That’s how we are very gradually learning to navigate the whole smart phone realm. We’ll get there someday I’m sure, but it won’t be any time real soon.

In the mean time, she’s OG Dumb Phone Posse.

Ya’ down wit’ DPP? (Yeah you know me).