It’s Not You. It’s Them (Sherri version)

It’s a little awkward, being funny at the end of class when you are supposed to be in savasana, but yesterday I read this to my yoga classes from Glennon’s Momastery rant.

Here’s my version.

Children #3 and #4 were shocked at the bus stop on Tuesday. A little neighbor girl told them, confirmed by the girl’s mother, that when I said they could “skip school” on Monday, it was a joke. Everyone was off for Labor Day. Child #3 gave me big eyes and said she was disappointed in me. Child #4 ran down the driveway and sat down in the backyard, demanding a new day off from school.

I tried to reason with her. Reminding her that on Monday Daddy hadn’t been at work, we’d seen school friends at the pool, and she’d even invited the neighbor girl over to play. I thought she’d figured it out. Child #3 wasn’t budging on the fact that she’d been robbed of a day off school. I thought about suggesting this Monday, when schools are closed again, but wisely refrained. The bus came up the street. Bodily threats were involved. Got her on the bus.

Child #3 stared at me from the bus window and shook her head with disapproval.

The older kids aren’t easier, though.

My daughter, Child #1, got her very first check in the mail for doing a job at our church. She was so excited. Until I took it away. She’d moved chairs — setting up for service and then restacking — and maybe broken a sweat. However, this summer she also lost 2 library books. We searched everywhere. Haven’t seen them in weeks. I had to pay for them yesterday. And the price?  Well, she got back $1 from her first paycheck. She’s angry at me.

Not to be left out, Child #2 felt betrayed when I wouldn’t help him steal a book from Child #1’s room. Here’s the thing. Not only do we go to the library every 3 weeks, not only do each of the children check out books from their school library, but our house has books in every room. We love books. But, Child #1 decided to read the Artemis Fowl series. Each of the books was on her bookshelf. Suddenly, Child #2 wanted to read the series, but he’s read several times before, so he read more quickly. Despite promising that he wouldn’t hound her the day before, by Tuesday he was ready for the second book and she was in the middle. He worked out a complicated scheme of my calling Child #1 out of her room, him sneaking in, taking the book, sticking it inside another book, and retreating to a different part of the house to read it. Then, sneaking it back into her room before he left for football practice.

“No,” I said. But I did check out books 2 and 3 from the library (where I went to pay for the lost books) and brought them home the next day. They were unacceptable because they had different cover art and he wanted me to switch library book 2 for our copy book 2. If I could just call Child #1 out of her room then he would….

IT’S NOT ME, IT’S THEM. They are strange, whirling planets of selfish desire and unreasonable requests. Constant requests. You get through one and there’s another waiting behind it.

Glennon says to wait it out. I’ve got nothing better to advise.

Love,

Sherri

 

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Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is only a couple days away.  We’re all going to stop eating holiday treats, right?  We’re going to be healthy – physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Start jogging again.  Do the Sudoku puzzles that were a holiday gift from ten years ago.  Maybe clean out the garage.  Get rid of baby clothes.  (Sure way to get pregnant.  Just sayin’)

As time gets closer to the ball in New York Times actually dropping, our resolutions get more grandiose.

An article in the Wall Street Journal said that fasting is the key to a long life.  I’m going to fast once a week starting in January.

This is the year I’m going to be a serious writer.  I’m going to write 2,000 words every day.  It will be like NaNoWriMo for the ENTIRE YEAR.

I’m going to watch SUPERNANNY or whatever childcare is currently on and NEVER RAISE MY VOICE TO MY CHILDREN AGAIN.  EVER.  In fact, I’m going to whisper.

I’m going to wake up an hour early every day and attack that pile of laundry that has taken over my basement.  I will be able to see the floor by February.  (True Story:  my dad had a duffel bag of clothing that needed to be sewn.  Finally he sat down with the sewing machine and mended everything in there.  Not one piece of clothing still fit my two older sisters or myself because he’d waited so long.  Moral: if you are going to sew, wash, fix something, make sure it still fits and/or is necessary.)

I’m going to read the Bible.  Every verse of all 66 books.  Then I’ll start on the Koran.

I’ll teach my kids to make their own beds.  No more soda in the house.  I’ll learn a foreign language.  I’ll be a better person and not tell lies and also give more generously and be more organized and take off my shoes at the front door and maybe take a typing course and I’ll ask out the cute girl in geometry and do a better job in school or college or at work and maybe in bingo at the retirement home.  I’ll do it all!!!!

And then the ball drops.  And the first three days of this new program are exhausting.  Change is hard.  You start sneaking sodas at work.  You’re too sore to work out.  Who even likes these brainiac number puzzles?

I’m no different.  I can think of a hundred ways — easy — that I need to improve.  But, what if I try something different this year and my resolution is to stop judging myself.  Stop seeing all the ways I need to be better, that I’ve messed up, that I was graceless and just wrong, and be a little kinder.

What if I don’t judge others either?  What if I try to see all of us as human beings trying to figure our way through this very confusing life?

Worst case: only 365 days till I can change my resolution.

Wishing you the best in 2014.

Love,

Sherri

 

 

 

 

“Unfollow”

Today I ‘unfollowed’ the lit agent who has had my full MS for over two months.  It’s not because she told me she doesn’t want to rep the book.  Well, a little bit it is, but mostly because I feel like we broke up and I don’t want to see her light-hearted teasing with the authors she has decided to be with.  The inside jokes and the cute little pet names.  Better I shouldn’t have ‘followed’ her until our relationship was stronger, or at least mutual.

I’m disappointed, of course, that she didn’t like my novel.  I’m disappointed because in the two and half months I MAY have imagined the various scenarios of the conversation for when YOU GET THE PHONE CALL.  You know, the next step, in which you and said agent talk on the phone and make sure neither of you is crazy.  In preparation, I read all the articles that said to have your questions ready and show you’ve done research.  In hindsight, I’d say not so much research is either necessary or particularly healthy.  Might even be stalkerish.

It stung that there was no request for revision.  No offer to read another of my projects.  No sweet little, “We can still be friends.”  Her statement was personal, though, and I appreciate that.  She does not believe that my main character can bear the weight of the action-packed novel that I wrote.  Fair enough.  At least I know she read it.

But, therein lies the final disappointment.  I mourn my own rejection, but I also mourn my character’s rejection.  So many young women have strong characters in YA (Annabeth in Percy Jackson, Katniss in The Hunger Games, Bea in Divergent).  Well, I want to read about women over twenty years of age who are strong characters.  Moms can be adventurous, too.  Sure, Bea’s mom is Divergent.  Then she DIES.  Katniss’s mom USED to be a good healer and it comes back to her…as she waits in the wings.  It’s literary tradition — the mother figure has to die so that the husband/father/daughter figure is free to leave home and go on the hero’s journey…and still be a sympathetic character.  A mother who leaves…I think they call that a villainess.

My main character was a soccer mom.  She was a room parent.  Then her son was diagnosed with cancer and she became a cancer mom.  She has a unique voice when the end of the world arrives.  She believes that protecting her son and fighting for her home is worthwhile.   Isn’t there a publisher or literary agent who believes that?

Composting the Laundry

Today is laundry day.

In a house with six people, laundry day occurs frequently, but always Wednesday plus all the ’emergency’ loads of clothing, towels, sheets, whatever.  There’s an ’emergency’ load on Mondays.  One on Friday because that is when the twins bring home their nap towels and my older daughter has her horseback lesson, and my husband brings home his week’s worth of gym clothes and towels.  Sometimes an emergency load after a full day of soccer games on Saturday.  However, it is too depressing to think of them as scheduled.  I won’t do it.  As long as we call it ’emergency’ that means that it might be an isolated event.  We have one laundry day.  Wednesday.  That is all I can handle.

Here is a picture of today’s START.  About six feet of foldable clothing.  That is, the FIRST load I ran PLUS what was in the dryer when I opened it to put the washed clothes in.  Huh.  Wonder how long that has been there.  There is another load running right now.  And, the whites are patiently waiting their turn.  Well, the socks may be partying.  You know socks, always trying to pair up.  (I’m sorry.  Really sorry.  I can’t help myself sometimes.)  At least said socks are contained (mostly) in their bin while they wait to ride the whirligig cleaning machine.

laundry

I took a break from laundry to cancel my husband’s massage appointment.  That might sound vindictive, but I scheduled it to be nice and then promptly received the soccer tournament schedule and, of course, the championship game was scheduled for the exact time.  No pressure, my son, but if you don’t make it to the tournament game, someone’s not going to be happy.

I took another break to get my flu shot.  Ran home and switched washer to dryer and then headed off to a budget meeting for the fitness class I teach.  This day is really a barrel of fun, right?  Sorry, back to laundry.

Apparently the person doing laundry (me) had been taking the clothing from on top instead of in order of oldest because I couldn’t help but notice that I am washing bathing suits today.  It’s 59 degrees today.  I reminded myself that it was really hot here in Baltimore a couple days..weeks… ago.  I kept going down towards the bottom of the laundry and the clothing was getting warmer.  HOLY MACKEREL, I thought, THE LAUNDRY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BIN HAS BEEN SITTING SO LONG THAT IT HAS STARTED TO COMPOST.  I expected to see shirts missing sleeves and turning…whatever color compost turns.  And, it would certainly explain the smell at the bottom of the bin!

But, um, the bin sits on top of the dryer and I’d been running the dryer.

Feel free to mock me now.

The point I think we should take away from this incident is COMPOSTABLE LAUNDRY.  You design what you want on your computer, print it out with one of those 3-D printer things.  Wear it.  Shred it.  Put shreds back into textile bin.  Print your new outfit for the next day.  Mother never has to deal with 6 feet piles of clothing ever again.  You can print different color sheets to match your pjs.  It’s going to happen.  JUST CALL ME BRILLIANT.  Even if the thought came because I thought my laundry was, without any actual leaves, banana peels or dirt, decomposing in my bin.

I know, you thought this couldn’t possibly be an actual post about laundry.  But, it is.  What can I say?  I’ve got to go fold another load.

Love,

Sherri

 

Almond-Oatmeal

I was flipping through Write that Book Already!  this morning.  I had to be quick.  It was one of the library books due today.  And I had to go-go-go because I had to get to yoga class by 9:30 because I signed up for the “UNLIMITED YOGA FOR 30 DAYS” promotion at Peace Yoga, which is a really great deal, but you have to go and this was my last day.  And it took me longer to clean up breakfast from my elementary school kids because I used Almond milk to make the oatmeal because 1) we were out of regular milk because I didn’t go to the grocery store yesterday and 2) because almond milk has more protein than regular milk (per their carton and 3) because I had a coupon to buy almond milk when I DID go to the grocery store last week.  Anyway, this is all to say that, despite the extra brown sugar, the kids were suspicious of the taste and there was more leftover oatmeal than normal.  And, it wouldn’t fit into one tupperware.  No matter how much I shoved down, the gloop just went up the other side and plopped on the counter.  And then I gave up, got the second Tupperware, and wiped down the counter from the spilled almond-oatmeal.  I also fell asleep during yoga class, but that is a different story.

Here’s a paraphrase from the book:

Stuff happens.  People will make demands on your time, your equipment will fail, your family and friends need you.  The world is not going to roll over and make it easy for you to get your writing done.  But, you will never be a writer if you don’t write.

Write that Book Already!  Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark

Traditions

It turns out that I’m a traditional person.  I like traditions.  I believe repetition of key actions or stories holds a family, church, school class, and social group together.  Maybe I only feel this way because I’m kind of bad at communicating and traditions already have attached meaning.  Whatever.

When I was growing up we lived near an Army base because that’s where my mom worked.  My grandmother lived all the way in California.  When we each (I’m the third of 5 girls) turned five years old, my grandmother would buy us a plane ticket from Maryland to Illinois and she would meet us there.  We would spend a week meeting all of the Illinois relatives and then she’d put us back on the plane to Maryland.  It was a tradition before we started kindergarten.

We’ve kept this tradition in my own family — well, not the Illinois part — the part where the pre-K child gets to take a trip to somewhere new, somewhere exciting.  A chance to spend one-on-one time with my little buddy who has been with me from the grocery store to the library to the post office.  The little being who has requested to use public bathrooms wherever we’ve gone and sung the Team Umizoomi refrain in dizzying numbers.  Together my child and I have learned the alphabet, how to flush and wash, how to snap the pants and coordinate socks to shirt.  Swim lessons and skating lessons, dance recitals and Christmas musicals.  We’ve done it together, but now my little one is getting on the bus without me.  Full day kindergarten means that the teacher is going to see my child more often that me.  And get the breakfasted, clothed angel.  In return, I get the tired crankmonster off the big yellow bus.  So, it’s a celebration of getting to this point and it’s realizing that I’m not going to be the most important teacher in my child’s life anymore.

Don’t let me come off as parent of the year or anything, though.  It’s a selfish motivation too.  A chance to travel and see new things with my child.  Watch her become energized at the world around, and I get to be a co-traveler.  Just look at the pictures.  This tradition was no hardship.

When Diana turned five, I took her to Istanbul, Turkey to visit my friend Serra.  It was amazing.  We went to the Sultan’s palace, to the Grand Bazaar, to the Blue Mosque.  Truly a unique life experience.

When Chance turned five, Mike took him to New York City.  They saw the Blue Man Group, went to the Statue of Liberty, and ate dim sun with our friend Con Way.  They had a great boys’ trip.

It’s Evelyn and Sylvia’s turn.  Mike and I took them to Washington D.C.  DSCN0318

We went through the sculpture garden, to the American Indian Museum, on to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.

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We went to the White House, but President Obama was busy so we hopped in a cab to the Helix Hotel.

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We were hungry and this was the girls’ trip, so we let them pick restaurants.  Dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant (Evelyn picked it).  Eat with your hands!  Dessert at Caribou Coffee (Syliva picked that.)

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The next day we walked around the National Zoo and then took the metro home.

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We got back and the twins couldn’t tell Izzy about their trip fast enough, the words kept spilling out.  It was a good weekend.

 

What traditions does your family/social group observe?  What do you see as the role of tradition in changing American culture?

Love,

Sherri

Graduation

Yesterday was the drop-off for my twins to go to daycamp.  The last time they were at the Goddard School, Sylvia and Evelyn were preschoolers.  Now they are campers.  There is no dreaded naptime after lunch.  Instead, there are water days, special arts and crafts, weekly entertainers.  But, some things never change.  Like pizza day.  And, me.  As in, me not having the right shoes for water day.  I DID bring what I considered water shoes…and I remembered the towels and swim suits and exact change for pizza day.  So, drop off Chance at HIS camp and then drive home to get tennis shoes and then back to Goddard School for shoe drop-off.  And, as I stood outside the classroom, I realized: THIS IS IT.  In six weeks, my babies are going to kindergarten.

Our last preschool graduation – numbers three and four – have passed.   Gone by.  That part of my life is over.  That part of their life is over.  And, I’m excited.  The teachers take care that sentimental parents (me) have all we need.  We have pictures and a CD of songs and their funny interviews.

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sylvia: a scientist (no, she doesn’t.  She wants to be a nurse or teacher.)

Evelyn: a mermaid (probably)

Mrs. Debbie and Mrs. Cathy had some serious work with these two.  My twins hadn’t attended preschool before because of Evelyn’s leukemia so they started out not even knowing about circle time and weather bear.  And then, Evelyn had problems with her chemo and her hair was falling out and then she had blood sugar issues and I’d have to rush over with glycogen drinks.  We stopped chemo before Christmas break…and soon after Sylvia broke her arm.  Phone calls so I could come over and give her Tylenol or bring her sling.

Yup, we were a problem.  But, both girls grew so much under their care.  The graduation itself was so sweet with each class singing their songs and receiving their ‘diplomas.’  Izzy, Little Nana, Mike, and I sat in the audience constantly trying to make sure we could see both twins.  Then, at the ceremony, Mrs. Amber stood up and read “The Little Caterpillar” and she challenged the adults in the audience to really listen.  To embrace the changes that come, to look forward to the future without ignoring the present.  And, I’m ready for the twins to go to elementary school.  They are going to love it.  I know the routine there.  I know how it works.

What I’m scared about is middle school.  Because Diana graduated too.  And I’m okay with the locker and the changing classes.  What I’m scared about is making the bus.  Because, we (Diana and I) struggled to get her on the 8:15 elem. bus and the middle school bus comes at 6:30.  IN THE MORNING.

 

And, if she misses it, I’ve got to wait to get the other three on the elem bus AND THEN DRIVE HER TO SCHOOL.  This has so terrified me that I even offered to homeschool her for 6th  grade.  She said no.  So I adjusted to the idea of her going.  And me waking up at 5:45.  Now, she’s not so certain about going….so we keep flip-flopping.

 

This is probably the last time I can write about Diana because she’ll want her privacy and everything, but I’m proud of her for so many reasons; her love for animals, her fierce independence, her wildness, her curiosity, her love for board games, her zany sense of humor. She also drives me crazy for many of the same reasons.  J  Every year I take a picture of her in my wedding dress, the one I wore when I eloped with Mike to Italy.   Look how grown-up she is.

WD Age 11 2013 (4)

 

Graduation is a mark that we’ve made it.  WE MADE IT.  But, it’s also a knife cutting through a ribbon.  We can’t go back and change anything.  It’s done.  There are some things I would have liked to have done better.

Like: You know how when you’re home with toddlers and preschoolers and you’re done, cooked, wrung out and then YOU HEAR THE GARAGE DOOR GO UP?  You think, my reinforcement is here.  My husband is going to walk through the door and sweep up the kids in a loving hug and I can get out of here.  Just take a quick walk outside by myself.  And, you look at the microwave and the minutes tick by and HE IS STILL IN THE GARAGE.  And your happiness starts going sour like the lunchtime milk in the sippy cup and when he actually walks in (tired from his own day of office work) your jaw is set and you are MAD.  FURIOUS.

Yeah.  We never found a creative, heart-warming solution to that.

Or, letting yourself get so tired and frustrated that you yell and scream and then burst into tears and feel terrible.  Maybe you make everyone a big bowl of ice cream to atone.  Maybe you just send everyone, even yourself, to bed and promise that this won’t happen again.

Maybe you sit everyone down in front of the television and one show turns into two and you whisper to yourself that PBS and the Disney Channel and all those are fine.  They are EDUCATIONAL, you might say.

Or, putting your kid in unsupervised quiet time for half an hour (all the advice columns say “its important for a mom to have a break while the child plays quietly in his or her room.  It helps them learn self-directed play”) and he takes off his full diaper and uses the poop to ‘glue’ his blocks to the wall.  Yeah.  None of the ‘experts’ warned me about that one…

 

The point is, we just timed out on some of those.  The kids got older and the situation went away.  Like in mini-golf.  Take the 6 strokes, pick up your ball from the fake river, and go on to the windmill.

There are a gazillion other examples of ways I’ve messed up, but I don’t have to look back.  Amber’s challenge was to look forward and be ready and excited for change.  And I’m going to do it.  Especially if it means that I get to eat:  one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.

 

Love,

Sherri