In case I haven’t shared, my new mantra in life is “Eff-it, I’m 40.” A woman once shared that this single phrase can justify any and all things, and any and all people (especially those who have a tendency to make you feel like crap about yourself). I turned 40 this year, and have applied this mantra to many situations, decisions and people. As a mother, I believe having this attitude is a good thing because their mom finally has some semblance of self-confidence with an ounce or two of self-deprecation mixed in. Many of you were born with a level of self-confidence that could make Gwyneth Paltrow appear insecure. Unfortunately, I’m not among your kind. I’m a confident mom and wife today, but a confident child and teen I was not. I am going to back up a minute about my lack of self-confidence. (This means I’ll be demonstrating what I like to refer to as a Jackie Tangent. Take a seat and hold on because you, my friend, are along for a choppy ride.) I don’t know if it was because I grew up in Texas where women are born looking like Barbie’s life-size twin sister or because I looked like a gawky boy with hair that had no possible way of growing into a Marsha Brady-like ‘do no matter how hard I tried. I also had a big brother who was good-looking, athletic and popular. I was so-and-so’s little sister for years. Now, I love my parents, and they always loved me and supported me in everything. (Think Ben Stiller in Meet the Fockers. I think I may have some 13th place ribbons lying around somewhere.) In Texas in the 1980’s, designer jeans were a big thing. And the fact that we only shopped the sale rack at the discount stores didn’t help me. I wore no-name-brand jeans for longer than I care to admit. And when I finally scored a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt’s, I think they were two seasons behind from the sale rack at Marshall’s. (By the way, one of my friends from college has a 20-something sister who has never stepped foot in a Marshall’s. When she told me this, it rendered me speechless. Yes, me, speechless. Have you met me? She has no idea what she’s missing. I went shopping at a huge Marshall’s in Austin, Texas with a group of girlfriends this summer. It was like shopping in New York during the holidays minus the crowds.) I went to that store so often as a child, I didn’t know you could buy clothes anywhere else. As I got a little older and got a semblance of a grip about what other teens were wearing, my mother would let me shop at The Limited, Contempo or Express if and only if there was a blow-out sale. It wasn’t until I was around 27 that I bought clothes even if, dare I say it, they were not on sale. When I finally started buying brand name stuff, I would wear a new garment so many times in a row, you would want to hit me over the head with your designer hand bag (that you probably didn’t buy at Marshall’s). Eff it, I’m 40! I can buy what I want where I want (and bask in the glory if I found it on sale).
When and how did the 1980’s movies I watched as a kid suddenly turn into re-makes? Am I really this old? And why weren’t our parents aware that the PG movies we watched had the F-bomb or SH-word in every other scene? When I was 11, we rode our bikes to the movie theater or took the Metro Van (the suburban answer to public transportation) to the mall. It was all about sliding on jelly shoes, scarfing down buttered popcorn and watching the “foxes” from Tiger Beat magazine in action. If you haven’t already caught on, I was that dork that was not fully aware that she was a dork until her older brother hinted this at an impressionable age. I went to see the movie Footloose four times in a row with my best friend. We were 13. I had pictures of Kevin Bacon (oh yes, mini-poster size photos torn from Teen Beat magazine) taped to my bedroom wall. (Along with that poster of Rob Lowe that I think every girl had.) Please tell me I’m not this old. The inappropriate stuff in movies went over my head back then. If you’ve ever seen pictures of me as a pre-teen(and to my childhood friends from Seabrook, Texas, don’t get any big ideas), you’d understand. Let’s just say many of my friends developed early on, and I was not one of them. My bi-level hair style and size 0 Forenza jeans didn’t help much. We tried watching Back to the Future with our 10-year-old recently and had to turn it off after three minutes because of the bad language. There are so many reasons I want my son to love this movie and other movies from the 80’s, but I just can’t do it. One – I’m slowly turning into my mother. I adore her, but I can’t force him to understand. Number two – I don’t need my son to have a potty mouth at this young age just because his mom had a major crush on Michael J. Fox. I won’t have it. Michael J. Fox or no Michael J. Fox, he won’t be able to watch this movie until he’s 15. Holy Schnikes. How did I get this old? When I look in the mirror, I may see another woman’s chins, but inside, I’m still 14. And I still see Kevin Bacon playing Ren in Footloose, period.
Clip from Footloose, circa 1984.
I have two kids. Through the years, my friends with one child often ask, “How do you do it?” To be honest, I don’t know. I guess I just do what needs to be done. So, I often ask friends who have three or more kids the same question.
I was at my friend’s house the other night (I’ll call her Cara) for our book club. All of the women in our book club have two kids, except Cara. She was hosting and her third child, a 7-year-old boy (I will call him Sean) often puts her over the edge. But we all secretly enjoy seeing how Cara reacts to his oh-so-7-year-old-boyishness.
Jackie Tangent: Sean is the cutest thing, like a mini Enrique Iglesias. He has dance moves like Mick Jagger and the sweetest boy voice. By the way, the only reason I know this pop singer is because my kids beg me to listen to him on the radio. Now I can’t get the song, “I Like It” out of my head. Here’s a taste.
So anyway, smack in the middle of our book club, Sean runs into the living room, asking Cara in a continuous stream of 7-year-old consciousness, “Hi, guys!!” “Mommy, whatcha doin? Hi mom.” “What’s that?” Grabbing crackers and cheese from the coffee table, “Mmmmmmm those are good, can I have more?” The look on Cara’s face was priceless following every comment. “OK, Sean,” she says. “Ok, Sean, thank you.” We couldn’t get enough of him, but she had had enough. She rushed through his questions, knowing it was not long before bedtime and he was trying to get out of being where he was supposed to be, which was not in the living room enjoying wine and cheese. “You need to go to back downstairs with your brother and sister. I love you. Good night. OK, Sean. Goodbye now.”
Cara says Sean follows her everywhere and wakes her up at 6 a.m. every day. We were all giggling about her after-Sean-was-born tales, especially the one where she had to hide in the bathroom, pretending to take a shower so she could get a moment of peace. We have all been through the ringer with our own, but most of us sitting there did not have a third. Cara, like all mothers, deserves sacred mommy “alone” time. By the way, I’m happy with two. We are done. But if, by some miracle, we have a third, I will welcome the idea with open arms. After I pass out and eat an entire bag of chocolate truffles, I will welcome it with open arms.
Do you ever get a moment of mommy time?
So I brought my 10-year-old son to a high school football game the other night. Jackie Tangent/sidebar: My son is becoming a tween, or in between elementary and teen years. (This is the Urban Dictionary definition of Tween: An age set overlapping preteens, ‘tween 8 and 14. A tween desperately wants to be a teen, but isn’t about to stop being a kid.) My husband was at home with our daughter, so it was just the two of us. The stadium was swarming with high school kids, parents and a few hundred tweens. I felt at first like it was the first day of school. I hadn’t seen that many Uugs paired with sweatshirts and jeans in one place. I realized I had forgotten to wear lip gloss and suddenly felt a blemish forming on my nose. I sat down next to some parents I knew from my son’s football team and although I tried desperately to focus on the game, it was all I could do to not have a panic attack at the sheer essence of teenager-mania that surrounded me. I know it’s coming. It may be five years away, but it’s coming. And I can’t help but enjoy this blissful state of denial a little longer. My mother-in-law tells me the teenage years are the worst. She had to deal with the hippy days and to this day blames the Beatles for the troubles kids got in back then. I don’t know what’s worse – yesterday’s hippies or today’s technology. I felt a sense of relief when my son walked up to me, without a cell phone, asking me if he could please have a hot chocolate. He called me mom in front of his friend. In public. And he wanted a hot chocolate. With whipped cream. I still have him for a little while longer.
OK, so I checked Facebook twice since writing this sentence. (Let me explain something to my fellow Facebook hater friends: I originally opened a Facebook account because I knew it would give me a chance to stay in touch with old girlfriends. I moved a few times in my life, so I have friends across the country. Now I find the social media tool as a fun way to distract me from things I’m procrastinating about.) Because I work from home, I get to be my own boss. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. I’m actually a pretty self-motivated person, but I can also over-eat myself into a coma, put off work until 3 a.m., procrastinate about projects rather than tackle them right away and aggravate my husband with my annoying habits because he also works from home. I’m either off Facebook for two months straight or I find myself checking it three times a day. Lately, I think I need to go on a Facebook diet. If you have any advice, please share.
You think the days of uninterrupted sleep are over until your seven-year-old crawls into bed with you and wakes you from a deep sleep, asking for a drink of water. She and the dog end up on your side of the bed, snoring like drunken sailors. I think I averaged about 3 hours of interrupted sleep that night. This is why we bought a refrigerator for the upstairs. We fill it with bottled water, seltzer water, non-alcoholic drinks (anything you want to keep cold, Tommy boy) so our kids can help themselves at any ungodly hour. Unfortunately, many a night this means mommy still needs to get up and fetch the water from this fridge because the kids are too tired or forgot about the fridge and daddy is such a deep sleeper he can’t even hear anything going on around him. My husband, as you will learn, is an incredible sleeper. And although I love him, and admire all he does in life (including his own laundry), I have issues when it comes to him getting more sleep than I do. I, quite frankly, act like a witch when he tells me he only got 6 hours of sleep and needs to go to bed extra early the next night to make up for it. Six hours of uninterrupted sleep to me is a gift. A gift I tell you.
Have you ever had a migraine? The kind of headache that’s so gnarly, it feels like something Sigourney Weaver tried to catch in the movie Alien hatched on one side of your head and escaped through your forehead? I never used to get bad headaches, even when I was pregnant, but since I turned 40, I feel one emerging at least twice a month. And ironically, it’s not so long after I have an amazingly healthy meal. Go figure. Although I’m not hanging over the toilet, I do feel like cow dung. I woke up with my head throbbing the other day. I tried hiding it from my kids and husband, pretending everything was hunky dory while I fixed breakfast and got everyone out the door. I tried working, but ended up moaning over my keyboard, holding my head in my hands. Then I remembered something a friend told me. “The best way to get rid of a migraine is to drink caffeine or eat something sugary.” Hello, have you met me? I’m all over that advice. I shoved my face with chocolate covered raisins. Then a piece of fruit. Then chocolate chips with the chocolate covered raisins. Then a cup of green tea. Within an hour, I was working, writing, carpooling, running errands, walking with my dog and kids and making dinner. Like I need another reason to stress eat, right?
Just for fun, here’s the trailer to the movie Alien
I have to share this link on being a not-quite-perfect parent from the perspective a funny and self-deprecating father 1) because I adore this stand-up comedian (you may have heard of Louise CK?) 2) because this is such an unconventionally (tame) appropriate piece of advice from Louis that can’t really be translated without me watering down his humor or butchering the punch line (which I have a tendency to do according to my loving husband, the devoted father of my children).
Link to Louis CK on fatherhood.