Monthly Archives: November 2013

Friendvy

friendvy

 

 

One of my very best friends just received a tremendous promotion, catapulting her into a very high, very-six-figure salary range. I learned of this after she tossed me a perfect size-six pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps that she’d just received as a Christmas present from her boss.

“Here, take these, she bought the wrong size and I’m too embarrassed to tell her.”

While I inwardly chuckled at the thought of vacuuming in them – because really, where was I going in them? – I couldn’t help but notice the card of the Neiman Marcus personal shopper still in the box. Obviously had she returned them her boss would never have known. Hmmm…was I to suspect a little pity-present was happening here?

While I love her and couldn’t be more thrilled for her, it’s no surprise that such great news has caused me to reflect on my own personal state of affairs. Professionally, we worked together for a number of years (okay, truthfully, I hired her). Socially, we did happy hours. A lot. When I left our profession to begin raising a family she was beneath my middle management level, but in the past few years her ascent up the ladder has been both exciting and troublesome for me. My feelings fluctuate between “You go girl!” and “Hey, wait a minute, couldn’t that – shouldn’t that – be me?”

Making the decision to become a stay-at-home mother is one of toughest choices any woman will ever have to make, and granted, it isn’t for everyone. But standing by and watching a former colleague crash through the glass ceiling is pretty profound by any standards.

Foregoing a corporate career is not something I regret, but there are some amenities that I miss occasionally. Recognition is the biggie. I take my job very seriously and may do it exceptionally (er, most days), but not much gets noticed on a daily basis. On my best days, beds get made, kids get fed and I’m wearing make-up. On my worst, bills get paid (really) late, yesterday’s make-up will do, and there’s cereal for dinner. With reactions like “Captain Crunch? Cool!” my family clearly does not differentiate between my stellar or stinking days. There’s no promotion waiting down the pike for me, and no one’s going to take me out to lunch for acing the vomit virus that befell my toddler throughout the night.

It is a bitter, bitter pill that is swallowed each and every day. And there are constant daily reminders that the playing field is uneven. Routine phone calls from my husband throughout the day can set me off: out of nowhere I will suddenly become incensed that I must pick up his dry cleaning or bring in the garbage cans from the street. Do it yourself, dammit! I want to scream. Or during the course of midday check-in if I’m asked what I’ve been doing all morning I will stifle the urge to erupt into sarcasm (Scrubbing the effin’ toilets— what else would I be doing with a master’s degree?)

I am certainly not the first woman to question a life choice and I’ll be far from the last to complain about it. But as each year passes I just can’t help but feel the pangs of jealousy and insecurity bubble within me when the passing calendar months seem to mock me: Hello, February! As of today, you have now been home exactly the amount of years you commuted to work. Or worse, Greetings April, at the start of next week you have officially been OUT of work twice as long as you were actually IN work. Still worse, Happy Birthday August, now that your oldest child is a teenager, the suits in the back of your closet will forever be Halloween costumes.

Envy comes and goes for me. Some days I want to be thinner, blonder, tanner, healthier, even more organized than a friend appears. But some days I don’t care about any of that stuff at all. For the most part I am confident and self-assured. Why is it, then, that I always seem to care about my worth? And why must my worth be measured in terms of a fat paycheck or a great designer suit? That alone angers me more than being asked to make a meatloaf.

Not surprisingly, all my driving from schools to doctors to playing fields to play dates certainly allows time for introspection, and I believe a little jealousy is healthy for friends. It offers opportunities for genuine wake-up calls. While my friend’s lawn is looking rather lush right now, reflection has a way of putting things into perspective. When she tells me how much her heart hurts because she hasn’t seen her baby boy in two days because of work, I believe her completely because I know. And when I nonchalantly remark that I’m really not that busy with four kids and would love to take on some freelance work to help her out if she’s swamped, she pretends not to hear the desperation in my voice because she knows, too. Friends have that way of knowing.

 

Trading in my blue jeans for nicer clothes would be great, and finally having some disposable income would be even greater. But would I trade in my so-old- I-can’t-remember-where-it-came-from coffee mug for a fancy cardboard cup? Could I give up the sheer decadence of driving a child to school in my pajamas? Would I be able forego a Happy Meal for an expense-account lunch? Oh yeah. One day, for sure. Just not yet. For now, on the days when I am immersed in macaroni and cheese and picking Legos out of every hidden crevice in my couch, I am going to remain insanely jealous of my friend.

And then I’m going to make myself feel better by wearing my Manolos to the supermarket and wondering what my friend and I will get for Christmas next year.

 

 

The Thinking Girl’s Thong

Look, Mom.”  My 13-year-old daughter’s eyes shone with a sort of mischief as she called me in from the hallway.  I stood in her doorway and watched as she opened her top drawer and proceeded to hold up the teeniest, tiniest thong I’d ever seen. Momentarily halted (“DON’T TASE ME, BRO!”), I just blinked. I’m assuming my face froze unnaturally (or maybe I just dropped the laundry basket, I can’t remember) because she added quickly, “Don’t worry, I got it on sale.” Good God. How was my head supposed to explode off my neck when she was following my cardinal rule? I drew a breath, nodded and did what any other mom would do: turned on my heel and left. I needed a mom moment. For sure.

It’s not that I feel seventh grade is entirely too early for thongs (I do), and it’s not that I don’t particularly see the need for invisible panty lines in middle school (I don’t). The bigger issue, as I see it, is the undeniable and intrinsic empowerment of a thong. Any female that’s ever donned one knows there’s a hell of a lot more going on than invisible panty lines. It’s as if there’s a secret sexual revolution going on in your pants. I guess I wasn’t expecting a thong—and everything that comes with it —  in middle school and worse–– from her.

She’s hip. She gets it (only mothers of teenagers who don’t get it fully understand this phrase. Trust me, my eldest teenager, a boy, does not get it. That’s an entirely different article…). But my savvy, sassy daughter? She’s confident. And reflective. And beautiful. Not beautiful in the kum-ba-ya sense that “all kids are beautiful,” but beautiful enough that our friends nod knowingly and offer “yeah, good luck with that” condolences or “got the shotgun ready?” inquiries whenever she whisks through the room. The truth is she doesn’t need a thong. I only wish she knew that.

My daughter might disagree (quite loudly, I imagine) but I happen to think I’m a fairly cool mom. My hair’s not stuck in a time warp, I tend to favor high heels with just about anything and I’m incredibly adept at the muffin-top-camouflage. Still, even the coolest parent will grimace when their baby girl wants to be sexy. I’m not a soapbox-standing mom who’s going to blame the demise of teenage morals on MTV or say the world’s going to hell in a handbasket because some emaciated Barbie traded her bikini top for peanut butter on Survivor. I know sex is everywhere we turn, but I also know I’ve instilled some pretty good values into my little girl’s head. So why the sudden need for the inner strength of sexuality?

Having been a teenager myself, I remember the gradual ascent of provocative dress. In junior high, my Nautical Blue eyeliner was smuggled into the roller rink undetected in my Jordache pocket and was wiped clean off my face before pick up hours later. In high school, weekend club-hopping called for white anklets and cotton-candy-colored pumps paired with denim mini skirts (Hello… Long Island in the ’80s? I was far from alone). I understand the glorious burst of self-esteem that comes from feeling sensual. But the image of a sexy pink string just visible over the tiny waistband of my daughter’s jeans just might send me over the edge. This is so not Nautical Blue eyeliner.

My inability to come up with an intelligent (or any, for that matter) response was eating at me. Clearly this was some type of mother-daughter milestone that shouldn’t be dismissed with some dropped laundry. I fretted for hours while my daughter easily resumed her life, humming effortlessly without noticing the elephant in the room (the irony being that our particular elephant was the size of a Band-Aid). If she felt the need to be secretly sexy, I didn’t want to deny her the nourishment that her self-image might need at this particular moment in adolescence. At the same time, I didn’t want to send her father to the emergency room should he catch a glimpse of it for the first time one night at Chili’s.

Right before I turned in for bed, I noticed her light was still on (of course it was; parents of teenagers already know their children turn into vampires after their 12th birthday. I haven’t stayed up past my two older kids since the season finale of Lost). She looked up at me, questioningly. Here was our big moment. I cleared my throat.

“The thong?” I asked plainly. It was as if she had to remember.

“Yeah?” She seemed unaffected, like I was inquiring about chorus practice or where she’d left my curling iron.

“If I ever see it, I will take a scissor to it.”

She didn’t skip a beat and went back to her textbook. “Got it.”

And that was that.

I imagine June Cleaver might have spent a bit more than 11 seconds on the entire interaction, but I know my point got across. Some things work best when hidden. And some feelings of empowerment are meant to be savored—privately.

 

 

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Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

 

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

On Being a (Pretty Good) Mom (Sometimes)

In the hopes my children will never read this (or at the very least, lose interest midway through and click off like they usually do), I’ll make the mother of all confessions (no pun intended): at times I am not a great mom.

 

Now … It’s not a tragic scenario by any means.  I’ve never lost a kid at the mall (which, I might add, instantly places me in a winner’s circle without my sister), but I have been known to lose track of my ten-year-old’s last shower.  And I suspect that if Children’s Services ever caught wind of the actual number of times my kids’ sheets are changed, well, there might be some action taken.

 

But so far, to date (she said, knocking wood) none of my kids have a probation officer.  To quote Michael Buble, I’m feeling good.

 

Still, I’ve got some dirty diaper secrets my kids would have a field day with — especially the next time I’m ragging about a low B in Spanish.

 

I have signed homework sheets that I never really checked.

 

I’ve feigned sleep when I heard a screaming/puking/sneaking-in-past-curfew kid in the middle of the night just to allow my husband the opportunity to fly out of bed like a rocket and deal with it.

 

I’ve had the television entertain my little ones for hours at a time, just to talk on the phone a little longer or get my house clean.  And the violent video games that are rumored to melt brain cells? Let’s just say we take our chances.

 

I will say without shame that – until they’ve been old enough to realize it – I have skipped pages of bedtime stories.

 

I have sometimes not enforced regular teeth brushing with my toddlers because, I reason, they’re just going to fall out anyway….

 

And yes, I have driven past the library only to hear a tiny voice in the backseat say in wonder, “Hey, I remember that place – I think I was there once.”

 

My err, missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.

 

I scoop wet towels off various floors and toss them in the dryer with a fabric sheet for days at a time before washing them (and I would scrunch up my eyebrows in profound judgment if I found out you didn’t).

 

I cut off my kids’ cell service the minute I cannot withstand one more minute of backtalk … and then forget to pick them up because I haven’t heard from them.

 

I’ve texted my kid’s coach –….um .. not … entirely … sober – and squawked about my kid’s playing time (a side note: if you’re going to try this, which I wholeheartedly do NOT recommend, make sure the coach is one helluva good guy).  Nevertheless, not an entirely proud moment.  Um, AT ALL.

 

 

And I’d have to admit, some of my best Mom Moments are a little unorthodox.  For instance, I keep my cell phone charger in my underwear drawer and make sure my kids know it.  Why?  Because should it go missing – like all chargers do – I want my kids – especially my boys – to know they’d be fishing around through my panties in order to get to it.

 

I still haven’t ordered my daughter’s prom dress because she still hasn’t cleaned her room.  And that was our deal – that it had to be Mom Clean.

 

And I’ve changed the locks on one particular occasion to make a rebellious teen know for damn sure that I was completely, unquestionably, irrevocably done with his nonsense.

 

But I have to admit, it’s not hopeless..

 

I’m pretty sure that for every really (really) lousy thing I do (or, in the case of the sheets, don’t do), I make up for it in other ways.  For instance, I kiss my kids.  A lot.  And I tell them I love them — all the time.  The words are spoken so often that I now possess three sons in various stages of development who actually say it back to me:  in front of their friends, over their shoulders as they’re scooting out the door, and (yes, sir) when they’re mad at me.

 

(One time, when it dawned on me that my ornery ‘tween was attempting to become an ornery ‘tween Bedroom Mole, I demanded impromptu hug practices and made him stand locked in an embrace with me until he smiled.)  Whatever it takes.

 

My home is extremely dusty at times (here comes a pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah;  you know, spoken as if she’s one of us) and my inability to remember details makes it impossible for me to recall the name of the last antibiotic any of my kids were prescribed.

 

But I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless.  I watch my kids all the time.  Not in the “Get back here, a stranger’s going to steal you!” kind of way, but in a fascinated, still-can’t-believe-they’re-mine way.   A profound failure in keeping baby books, I do, however, try to write down both wonderful and ordinary things about our daily lives.  When I noticed my little guy’s SpongeBob underwear clear through his little white baseball pants during his very first tee-ball game, I jotted it down.  It was without question the cutest thing I’d ever seen.

 

And when my toddler loudly pointed out during an extremely crowded Easter mass that “Mommy, look, they all drink wine like you do at home!” much as I wanted to die, I wrote that down, too.

 

Nowadays I don’t have to write much down since I can immediately promote their perfections and pitfalls on (ta da!) blogs and Facebook.

 

Life’s too short to dwell on dirty sheets.  Tru dat, Oprah.

 

Kids make you crazy.  But when they’re in the back seat of a Suburban giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they make you giggle, too.  And every now and then when you’re ready to lock yourself in the bathroom for just five more minutes before your head explodes off your neck, they’ll do something unexpected and delightful to make you unlock that door.

 

When they were little, when they’d hear Barry White come out of the speakers they’d seek me out (“Mom, it’s your soooooooong!”) and spontaneously dance with me in our kitchen. How’s that for an upper?

 

Now that they’re older and (gulp) out in public without me, I’ll get the mother of all compliments (again, no pun intended) when I least expect it, sometimes from complete strangers:

 

You’ve got great kids.

 

I’m thinking a terrible mom would never be able to pull that off.

 

So I’ll be keeping my phone charge in my underwear drawer, thankyouverymuch.

 

 

 

 

 

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