Monthly Archives: July 2014

You Should Never Argue with a Crazy Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma, You Ought to Know By Now…

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I had four kids in seven years and right about now’s the time when that little stroke of brilliant timing (or lack thereof) is kicking me in the ass.   My youngest is 13 (I just watched him eat twice since dinner ended.  No.  Wait.  He here comes again…) and my oldest will be 21 in a few weeks (he believes that anything in the ballpark of that number gives him the green light to crack open beers in his room. Then throw the empties under his bed.  Yeah.  I may be down to three kids soon.  I  digress…).  Throw in a 15-year-old (who spends more time grooming himself than his five family members combined) and a free-your-mind, what’s-the-big-deal, 19-year-old college sophomore (who has yet to meet a house rule that “makes sense” to her) and you can see why I’ve gotten a bit testy this summer.

 

In a nutshell, I’ve got a crew of kids coming and going at all hours, eating incessantly and displaying less-than-favorable teenage behavior, all while leaving a trail of clothes-dishes-wrappers-towels-slop in their wake.  It’s making me see a shade of red which far surpasses the sunburn on my side boob (because really, isn’t there always that one spot you miss?).

 

Eventually though, somewhere in the dog days of summer (like now), when I have tripped over my final straw of strewn sneakers, my testiness turns into rage.

 

When my good nature is taken advantage of – I won’t sugarcoat – I get pissed.  I start to reflect on the good life I provide for them.  Then I think about all the cooking and cleaning I do, as if I’m running on some sort of masochistic hamster wheel.  Then I begin to fixate on all the things they don’t do (if only that damn dog didn’t don his invisibility fur all summer maybe, just maybe they would know he’s here!).  Then, finally, when I realize my simple house rules are broken to the point of parental ridicule, well then I become incensed.

 

Psycho Mom used to make an appearance during times like these.  She’d rant and rave and carry on like a crazy woman and take away electronics and ground any kid in her peripheral and maybe in time she’d regain control for a little while longer. These tactics still work for the teens; I’ve duly hidden my boys’ X-box until their summer reading is finished and one kid’s already lost his phone for the entire summer for being a dum-dum.  But as kids become older sometimes the game rules have to change.  If you’re raising your young adults like I am (see my 5 tips from an earlier post), your kids are already making financial contributions to your household.   It’s hard to ground a kid who’s driving around in his own car that’s insured by his own dollars.  Tricky indeed.

 

So now Ball-Buster Mom pops by instead to take over the disciplinary reins.  Example:

 

My husband and I recently took our two youngest away for the weekend, leaving the two young adults at home to proceed with their employment obligations, take care of the invisible dog and well, act like responsible young adults.  Left behind with them was a litany of clear (VERY clear) instructions and expectations.

About that…

 

I won’t bore with the details (hell, I’ve already been to this rodeo and have written about it here) but let’s just say that within six seconds of entering my home upon our return, the young adults were busted.

 

Friends staying over without our knowledge, approval or consent?  Check.  Partying like it was 1999?  (Despite your insistence to the contrary, that one little bottle cap under the toaster oven screams otherwise, so…again) Check.

 

 

So the guilty were charged accordingly.  Since they both used my home like a hotel room, they were each made to ante up the cost of one: $125 a piece.

 

As a receipt for their weekend play, they were given full disclosure and sage advice:  Should it ever happen again they’d likely be charged quadruple that amount and would find themselves on the needy side of some pretty hefty finances.  Last I checked, those student loans had co-signers on them.  Just sayin’.

 

 

So Ball-Buster Mom made $250.

 

She’s probably going to put it aside and use it to get to Long Island in September when her high school reunion takes place.  Then she’ll tell everyone this story and yuk it up with all her old friends who did the exact same thing back in the day.

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the 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” first on her list of achievements.  She takes on cyberspace @Eyerollingmom  and Eyerollingmom.

One Year

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My mom died a year ago today.

 

I’ve written – briefly — about some of that journey but have mostly focused on all the beautiful friends   that buoyed me afloat during that time.  But to write about the experience as it affected my core?  No.  To quote a colleague who went through a similar ordeal just a few years before me, “Nope, can’t even go there yet.  Cannot go there.”  I understood it completely and still do.  There are no words yet.

 

A lot can happen in a year’s time.  Hell, a lot can happen in half a year’s time, as witnessed by the soul splintering timeline of my mom’s final six months.

 

To honor this subdued – yet utterly important and significant – anniversary I can reveal what I’ve learned about calendar years.

 

In one whole year you can witness your 17-year-old son become 18 by making a conscious and physical decision to leave behind the poor choices that saddened his mother so.  You can watch him become a responsible man right before your very eyes and question why you ever doubted him.

 

In a year’s time you can watch your 16-year-old daughter become 17 by navigating relationships (relationships that seem to desperately define adolescence) with the grace and maturity of a woman far beyond her years.  You can think that she couldn’t possibly become any more beautiful with each passing month.  But you would be wrong.

 

In 365 days you would believe it is a devilish trick of the eye that has caused your 12-year-old’s shoe size to surpass that of his father as he reaches 13 years old.  To share this fact with him, you could look up to tell him, for he now leans down to kiss you.  This will make you amused.  And melancholy.

 

In a calendar year you can observe your baby – for he will always be your baby – blossom from 10-years-old into an even more likable, adored, and sought-after pain in the butt 11-year-old (have I mentioned he’s the youngest?).  You will realize that his personality is emblazoned from seeing – and hearing – more than his siblings did at this age.  For this, you will continue to shield him from their merciless taunts, so that forever they will think you are favoring him.

 

Throughout the 52 weeks you can ascertain that life most definitely is NOT fair, nor is it supposed to be.  My sister and I now shoulder the responsibility of caring for our 90-year-old step-father.  That he has survived four strokes, emphysema, open heart surgery, a pig valve AND was 20 years senior to my mom will only bolster this concept.

 

In twelve months you can gain immeasurable wisdom about what is important in life.  You can evaluate friendships with a keen eye:  assess which ones are fulfilling, which are frivolous, and which are insufficient.

 

You can – and will – enjoy simpler things, and quiet moments,

 

You can – and will – laugh (please see above mentioned reference to 90-year-old man).

 

I used to pray.  Now I just speak directly to my mom and I know she hears me.  I am convinced that last month, before my little leaguer hit his very first home run of his life, it was my incessant and silent pleas to her that helped this ball over the fence.  “Come-on-mom, come-on-mom, help-him-out-mom, come-on-mom, help-him-do-this mom …”

 

She did.  And I think she’s done a lot for us this year.  Jobs, health, happiness, you name it.  I’ve named it:  mom.

 

I miss her.

I miss just talking to her.

And she missed some pretty great things this year.

 

Of course she really didn’t miss them.  We just missed her joyful reaction to them.

 

 

So as we’ve gotten through our calendar year of firsts — her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, her anniversary, and – the worst — her 10 grandchildren’s birthdays, when their customary $25 arrived with only one signature on the card – we’ve always toasted her.

 

And we will today, too.

 

Because no one is laughing more than her right now at the three-ring circus she’s left behind (please see above reference to 90-year-old man).  Without a doubt in my mind, she is laughing her ass off right now.

 

Love you, Mom.