Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Anti-Climax of Christmas

Even thought it’s a bit stressful, it’s fun to get ready for Christmas.  I enjoy putting up the tree and going through all those ornaments my kids have made over the years.  I love decorating the mantle with garland and my Christmas Snowbabies.  It’s fun to wrap presents as long as it isn’t on Christmas Eve.  Isn’t it great that they still run that same Hershey’s kisses commercial from 1989???

But then, it’s over.  Once we’ve visited every relative and stopped by every holiday party, once we’ve unwrapped all the gifts and pitched the crumpled paper into the trash can, all the holiday spirit is gone.  The tree is now just in the way, and the gifts are just something else I have to find a place for.  The miniature village looks more like a ghost town.  Christmas carols regress back to the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.  All of those Christmas cookies that seemed pretty innocent on the 23rd are now chock full of guilty calories.  People talk about getting depressed during the holidays, but most of it for me comes after the holidays.

Ah, well, time to move on to the next holiday.  A new year, and time to improve myself (at least for a month).  Time to make resolutions that I’m really going to keep this time (I really will get in shape this year.  Really.  Oh, look, cookies!)  And time to start worrying about what to give everyone for Christmas next year (I just can’t help myself!)

Mmmm....red velvet cookies!

Mmmm….red velvet cookies!

 

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Filed under Holidays, Uncategorized

If You’ve Ever Wondered Why I’m a Nervous Wreck…

Please note:  This was meant to be posted before Christmas.  I got pretty far behind with the kids bringing home stomach bugs, the passing of my dear Cutie Cupcake, and then of course preparing for Christmas.  It seems a bit less relevant now, but it would be a shame to waste it! 🙂

Wednesday, 6 a.m.  The dread sets in as soon as the alarm on my cell phone goes off.  It’s one of those ringtones that sounds pretty pleasant when you listen to it while you’re wide awake, but is horribly annoying when it actually wakes you up.  I usually wake myself up by thinking of all the things I need to do for the day.  It’s really not a good idea.  I know that I will need to walk two dogs (who can’t be walked simultaneously) and wake up three kids all pretty much at the same time.

As I pass by my son’s room, I see that there’s no light under his bedroom door.  No surprise.  His alarm is set to go off before mine does since he’s such a slow poke in the mornings, but as usual he has turned it off and gone back to sleep until I blaze into his room and roust him.  One of these days I’m going to get really mean and douse him with a bucket of water, but for the moment I’m still too nice.  One dog goes out, while the other whines that he wants his turn.  My eldest daughter is up and dressed, all on her own, but she’s whining (again) about how tired she is.  We are all tired, I tell her, but it never sinks in.  I start trying to wake up the youngest, who’s 5.  I can’t seem to get her trained to an alarm clock.  The hulking hunk of Hello Kitty colored plastic on the corner of her dresser can be blasting beeps that can be heard all over the house, but she will still be snoring peacefully.  I can come up to the side of her bed, however, and ask her quietly what she dreamed about, and she will be wide awake and chattering in a moment.

Her kindergarten class is making gingerbread houses this morning, and they asked for volunteers. When she presented the flyer to me last week and said, “Will you be there, Mommy?” well… How could I say no? It doesn’t matter that an elementary school is the worst nightmare of an antisocial germophobe; if big blue five-year-old eyes ask you to go, you go. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, even though one little boy insisted on eating ask if his decorations before they could make it onto his house, and one little girl insisted on licking each decoration.

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I realize when I get home that I had promised her a pretty dress to wear to her holiday recital tomorrow night, but I never went and bought one. I tear through the girls’ closet, feeling like the worst mother ever. I come up with a glitzy black number that her older sister wore three years ago, and hang it with shaking hands at the foot of her bed, simultaneously hoping it’s good enough and reminding myself that it must be good enough.

Oh, crap. We’re supposed to make treats for the Girl Scout holiday party.

I pause here for The Middle. This is the one pleasure I allow myself that I actually DON’T feel guilty for. Two reruns are aired back-to-back at lunchtime, and I bask in the glory of their dysfunction daily.

When the kids get home from school, the evening chaos begins.  Trying to orchestrate three children in their homework and their chores while also finding time to make dinner is simply not a calm process.  We try to squeeze in some down time on the couch somewhere among baths, packing backpacks for the next day, deciding who’s eating school lunch and who finds school spaghetti deplorable. Oh, yes, and baking cakes for Girl Scouts.

At some point I collapse into bed and fall asleep while visions of undone chores dance in my head.

Thursday, 6 a.m.

For the first part of the day, suffice it to say we can just repeat the first couple of paragraphs for Wednesday.

After a few cups of coffee, I’ve cranked out the rest of my paper.  I click save just in time for my husband to remind me we need to go to town and run some errands.  This pretty much means the rest of my day is shot, because by the time we get back home it will be almost time for the kids to get home.  Did you know that around 3:30 every vehicle that comes down our road sounds like a school bus?  True story.

Fortunately, there’s no homework today so we can get straight to icing the cakes we baked for Girl Scouts.  The girls each want to do it themselves, independent little things that they are, and I eventually let go of my OCD and just let them have at it.  Sure, you can put sprinkles on it.  Dump the whole darn container on there for all I care, as long as they’re done and I can shove them back in the fridge.

It’s time to get ready for Claire’s holiday concert.  I always make a much bigger deal out of these things than need be.  Always.  I get on my best sweater, actually bother with putting on makeup between shouting at the kids to stop fighting already, and try to explain to Violet why camouflage snow boots might not be the nicest attire for her little sister’s concert.  I get Claire into her sparkly black dress (which she was thrilled with…phew!) and the black tights I’d grabbed at Walmart when we ran errands.  Then I have to remind her incessantly that no, you simply cannot carry around our giant furball of a cat while you’re wearing black.  Several lint roller sessions later, we’re finally ready to go.

You know how on Black Friday you see lines of people waiting to get into stores?  That’s what our elementary school looks like at 6 p.m. the night of a concert.  The smart ones get their early to grab their seats so they don’t have to be standing at the back of the gym like they did last year.  We get a decent spot on the bleachers near the stage, but once the kindergarteners file onto the stage, I can just barely see my daughter over the top of a poorly placed microphone stand.  Next year we’re leaving 45 minutes early instead of 30.

Back at home, the kids undressed and coerced into bed, I fall asleep on the couch watching my favorite show and wake up with an undeniable craving for chocolate chip cookie dough.  After arguing with myself about it for awhile, I haul my pajama-clad self into the kitchen and start baking.  Fast forward half an hour and I’ve eaten enough cookie dough to satisfy my craving and make me feel incredibly guilty.  I leave the mixing bowl in the sink to soak overnight.  I’m ready to curl up in bed and read until I fall asleep with a book on my face.  It’s been a long day, just like all the other ones.  As I settle back into my  pillow, I realize my son doesn’t have any clean pants for school tomorrow.  Sigh.

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Filed under Family, Holidays, Parenting, Uncategorized

“You’ll Never Make Any Money at That”

When I was in kindergarten, and even a little before that, I wanted to be a writer.  Sometime over the next couple of years I decided I wanted to be a scientist.  (What kind?  I don’t know.  But I think my kids are kind of a science experiment.)  By the time I was at the end of my high school career, I had also considered becoming a psychologist, a professional computer geek, and an operating room tech.  I thought psychology would be too disturbing, I’m terrified of blood, and I didn’t want to spend my whole life working at a computer, so those were all rejected pretty quickly.  It was down to my first two loves:  biology and English.  Any time I made the mere mention of an English degree, whoever was bothering to listen instantly said, “Oh, but you’ll never make any money at that.”  This was usually accompanied by a wave of the hand, as if this silly notion never really mattered and couldn’t have truly been an option anyway.

Fast forward a few (plus another few) years.  I had earned my associate’s in biology right after high school, but I couldn’t afford to keep going.  I never got a job in the field I had pursued.  Other than building cabinets for my dad’s business, I did a short stint in retail and then fell face first into finance.  As I lay in the miserable money muck, I realized something.  I didn’t follow my dream, and I wasn’t making any money anyway.  I worked long hours doing boring work in order to be able to just barely pay my bills.  Despite what the corporate training videos told me, I knew there was no room to move up.  I thought about going back to school, and this time really doing something with it.  The reactions of my friends were familiar ones:  “You’ll never make any money at that,” and “There aren’t any careers in that field, unless you want to teach, which you don’t want to do.”  (Did they even ask me if I wanted to teach?)

Now in some ways I can’t blame them.  When I was eighteen, I can see how anyone would jump at the chance to impart their wisdom on someone who is young and impressionable, or who at least appears to be so.  Money makes the world go round, so everyone must need as much of it as they can get, right?  And in some ways I can even understand those who doubted me this time around.  I have kids to take care of, so it isn’t as though I can just run off to the Alaskan wilderness to write about the snow-capped mountains and crystal blue lakes.

But I did it anyway.  (Not the Alaska part, though.)  I’m back in school, working toward my Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. (gasp!)  I’ve started a freelancing business.  I’m home when my kids get on the bus in the morning, and I’m home when they get off the bus in the afternoon.  I’m distracted constantly, I work strange hours sometimes just to get things done, and I don’t make much money.  I joke about my ‘starving artist lifestyle.’  It took a long time, but I’ve finally earned my degree in happiness.

books

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Filed under On Writing, Uncategorized