Monthly Archives: August 2014

Kid-Free Vacations: Parenting Guilt or Brilliance?

home alone

I just returned from a short vacation, not only without the kids, but – for the very first time – having left them home alone without adult supervision.  Before the speed dialers hit the DSS hotline, I guess I should point out that 50% of my dependents are, in fact, (cough) adults.  Well, as per their official documentation, they are.  Legally, I was good.

 

Quasi-adults or not, I’m not going to say it was without stress.  Quite the contrary, in the days leading up to departure I think my hair started falling out more than normal and a queasiness in my belly was brewing.  Graphic headlines taunted my dreams:  Selfish Parents Perish in Plane Crash …  Kids Left Alone Arrested for Stealing Snacks, Claim Partying Parents Left No Food …  Party House Sees $20k in Damages for Negligent Owners.

 

Good God.  What was I thinking?

 

For the record, I challenge my husband frequently on daily matters both big and trivial – you name it, I will argue it:  parenting issues, furniture-placement, even which appetizers to order in restaurants.   But when he was doing his best to convince me of a solo jaunt more than six months ago, well, it didn’t feel like much of a fighting matter because there seemed to be more pros than cons.  We’d gotten a super cheap deal on both lodging and flights, our eldest would be turning 21 by summer’s end, and the remaining 3 were primarily self-sufficient (bathroom hygiene notwithstanding but I imagine with teenagers that issue won’t be disappearing anytime soon, eh?). Besides, our neighborhood watch is stellar and my kids knew it:  my phone would rival the Batphone should any shenanigans arise.

 

But six months came quickly and by the time I should’ve started packing, I still wasn’t so sure I was comfortable with the decision.

 

“My parents left me alone for a week when I was a junior in high school,” my husband countered.  I just gave him the face (cue in knowing nod from all the wives out there).

 

I cooked for days, typed and retyped a multitude of lists, texted every neighbor within earshot of my address and threatened every one of my spawn with their own personal Achilles Heel of punishment.  If Project X was going to happen in my absence, livelihoods were going down, one body at a time, dammit.  It would be a race to the rat-out of epic proportion.

 

So we grabbed a couple of friends who like us, never came across a Happy Hour they couldn’t enjoy, and hopped over to Myrtle Beach for three days.

 

Now, Myrtle Beach is a fine and lovely place.  It is also – in the middle of August – Africa hot.  (Hence the need for Happy Hours in South Carolina?  Coincidence?  I think not.)

 

And three days isn’t a particularly long time – especially when you’re on the clock of Only Got Three Days – but hitting the ground running upon arrival helps.

 

We sat our sleep deprived selves in one lounge chair after another (by day) and one bar stool after another (by night) and amassed some amazing laughs in a mere 72 hours.

 

The kids called every so often and only one questioning text came in from the neighborhood watch.  When I realized the house wasn’t going up in flames and no one seemed to be killing each other, I had to (popular song reference ahead) let it go.

 

We had a rental car but we jumped into nightly cabs regardless to do our part to be responsible.  Turns out, my kids were doing theirs.

 

When we arrived back my daughter (19) audibly sighed with relief when she got in from work.  “I am sooo glad you’re home,” she said, slumping down on the couch with me.   Hmmm.  This responsibility thing is exhausting, isn’t it?

 

My middle son (15) couldn’t wait to show me something cool.

 

“Mom, come here, check this out.”  He was giddy.

 

He tapped the centerpiece fruit bowl, which contained a frightfully blackened  banana and what appeared to be a couple of apples from the Clinton administration.  Three thousand fruit flies shot up and swarmed crazily above it.

 

Nice.

 

Note to self:  Despite the obvious, “Throw out rotting fruit” needs to get typed onto that list next time.

 

But alas, will there be a next time?  Maybe down the road but definitely not for a long time.

 

I need to wait until my hair starts growing back in before even thinking about it.

 

 

 

 

 

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” 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.

 

 

Cancun Can(‘t) Do

cancun

 

Just visited Cancun for the first time this summer.  Couple of friends, no kids and unlimited food and booze.  As a bonus, a mildly-middle-aged (or, in-denial-about-it) gal like myself can feel pretty good about herself lounging around a pool with a bunch of confident  Europeans, known globally for letting it all hang out.  It was a rather delightful self-esteem boost.

 

A not so delightful self esteem boost:  going out to a club one night.  Clearly this decision should have been filed under “what were we thinking” the minute we found out the van was departing our resort for the club at 11:30.  That’s pm.  Still, we threw our shoulders back and crammed into that un-air-conditioned death mobile with reckless abandon. (”We’ll sleep when we’re dead!” became our vacation mantra.)

 

We were determined.  Determined to actually ACT they way we FEEL.  Determined to keep up with the hip twenty-somethings that were (inexplicably) hanging with us all week.  Determined to return home to our kids with wild-n-crazy Mexican adventures.

 

After our eyes adjusted to the strobes, we made our way single-file (connected, chain-gang-like) past hordes of gyrating, thrusting, heaving, puking, sobbing, screeching teenagers (ahh…right…the drinking age is eighteen in Mexico).  We huddled together in our resort-appointed table and stared.  It was like an MTV marathon without commercials.  I made the decision right there that my children would never, ever visit Cancun (or any other Caribbean island) until their honeymoons  (Natallee Holloway anyone?  Yeah, STILL freaks me out…).

 

We left before the wet-tee-shirt contest concluded, making our way to the exit past the authentic boxing ring that had been brought in for it.  We’d heard that this club’s big finale culminated with the roof opening and “rain” pouring onto the dance floor.  Excellent.  Wet-tee-shirts for everyone.

 

No thanks, we were done.  We were going to get our mildly-middle-aged-or-in-denial-about-it asses back to bed because we had a big day starting in a few hours.

Tequila volleyball began at noon.

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” 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.

How Long is 3 Years? Any Mom Can Tell You

time

I lost my mom three years ago today and began marking the anniversary of her passing with some reflections about passing – time passing, that is.  Most people don’t notice time passing in any given day but Moms certainly do.

 

Moms get it.  We get it when we look down at our 8th graders and see hairy man legs.  Even though we’ve seen that gangly leg a zillion times it still halts our heartbeat for a second when we, you know, really see it.

 

We notice time passing when our 10th graders start sporting sideburns and facial hair and we realize we never even saw it coming.  One day it’s just, well, there.  When did that start? we wonder.  Geeze, we’d focused so intently on the deepening voice …

 

When the summer days start getting shorter moms become aware of time when our college coeds start gathering their things again.  Already?  Really?    We watched them whizzing around for a few weeks, burning the candle at both ends (a mirror image of ourselves so many years ago) and then poof, they’re gone again.

 

We moms also give a knowing nod to the slow passage of time when our oldest children – kinda sorta adults in the making — start paving their own paths through life with or without our gentle suggestions. Having to watch mistakes being made — then figured out — oddly enough causes time to stall a bit (insert nervous laughter from parents living with young adults).

 

It’s pretty easy to see how moms become acutely aware of time.

 

This past weekend a big group of friends and I took a ferry over to Provincetown and spent a spectacular summer day carousing in the sunshine (and, okay, perhaps a few bars, too).  It was a stunning day yet I had tiny moments of sadness throughout it because it dawned on me: the last time we all did this together was exactly three years ago.  I know this so well because it was the one lone day of fun I experienced that summer before spiraling down the heinous rabbit hole that was my mom’s cancer.

 

I used to phone her on the weekends to catch up, telling her all about the kids’ games or what I bought on sale that afternoon or any frolicking I’d done with my zany friends.  Sometimes I’d just pour a glass of wine and shoot the shit with her. She’d always turn down the volume on the Law and Order episode in the background and listen happily as I went on and on, blissfully content in the animated updates of my life with her beloved grandkids

 

That last ferry outing is seared into my memory because when I phoned her that evening to tell her all about it, for the very first time she was unable to keep up her end of our conversation.  She was frail and whispering and I remember hanging up and sobbing.  I knew:  she was fading away from me. Our special phone thing was never going to happen again. Within days I was back with her in New York, where I didn’t leave until her horrific ordeal was over, just weeks later.

 

I remember every moment of our final phone conversation.

 

156 weeks have flashed by and still my maternal awareness of time flares at the most unexpected times.

 

Today, the dynamic of my family is dramatically different than it used to be three years ago.  Now a household of teenagers and young adults, it is, if I’m being honest, a much lonelier place for me.  Mind you, it’s not a sad place – quite the contrary – it’s busier than ever and full of laughs (ahem, hilarious at times) and as chaotic as any other family of six usually is.  But as Dorothy Gale once said, “People come and go so quickly around here.”   That tends to happen in a household of primarily self-sufficient bodies.  Work schedules, college distance, school events, social commitments, you name it.  Family dinners are a rare occurrence now and more often than not there are nowhere near six people under the roof at any given time.

 

Everyone’s so busy they’re hardly ever here anymore.

 

So sometimes it just gets a little lonely when I remember about that pesky – and fleeting – time thing.

 

It makes me appreciate car rides.  And conversations.  And calendar pages with few markings on them.

 

And it makes me feel wickedly sneaky frying bacon for the sole purpose of waking teenage boys out of weekend slumbers.

 

And it makes me acutely aware that small moments are very, very good.

 

And  — without question — it makes me vow that forever … if I happen to get a phone call from one of my loves that is afar … I will turn down the volume of Law & Order and listen up.

 

And be very, very happy.

 

Just the way my mom was.

 

 

 

 

 

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” 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.

College Bound: Gone Like a Freight Train

college bound

 

“She

(we gave her most of our lives)

Is leaving

(sacrificed most of our lives)

home.”

The Beatles

 

 

“She’s gone, I’d better learn how to face it.

She’s gone, I’d pay the devil to replace her.”

Hall and Oates

 

 

“Gone like a freight train.”

Montgomery Gentry

 

 

 

 

The girl has left the building.

 

Off to her tenth floor dorm room in the most congested section of her rolling and rural D1 campus.  There might be more occupants on her floor than were in her graduating class.

 

She is stoked, on her way to change the world and no one – no one – who knows her is surprised.

 

She spent her last summer here like a ghost.  Working around the clock with her three jobs, I’d sometimes go a couple of days with only the smell of her shampoo whizzing past me.

 

She was a blur.

 

Looking back I realize it was probably the world’s cosmic balance that did this, forcing me to get used to her not being around.

 

She’s been restless on her journey out of adolescence and that restlessness had been swelling at a NASCAR pace.  By the time the last of the graduation party fire pits had smoldered she was done with her insignificant, small town.

 

I get that (she is her mother’s daughter after all).

 

I waited a couple days after we dropped her off before venturing into her room.  To be completely honest, I could’ve gone in with a steam cleaner or a backhoe (cue in knowing nod from every mother of a teenage daughter).   It was baaaaaad.   I had bitten my tongue the last few weeks of summer because I just wanted a nice, argument-free send off.  It was stressful enough just getting to departure day so I let the room go into zombie apocalypse/Area 51 locale.

 

Still, as the hours ticked away on her final night at home, I could tell her anxiety was revving — as witnessed by the psychotic and shrill “WHERE’S MY INSURANCE CARD????   (and then, ten minutes later, barely audible), Oh, here it is…”

 

That happened a few times.

 

 

She left in a breathless whir of excitement and anticipation for a new chapter and it was everything the books say it should be:  melancholy, bittersweet, and (far be it for me to lie) a little bit of can’t-wait on both of our behalves.

 

I sent my oldest son off to the Air Force Reserves a couple of years ago so this certainly isn’t my first rodeo of shipping a kid off.  With him it was different, though.  Where she is restless, he was reckless.  Seriously, I never slept so well as the day he was safely nestled in boot camp (cue in knowing nod of every mom of a reckless teenage boy).  So I know a thing or two about missing my kids.

 

I find myself being so genuinely excited for her I don’t miss her as painfully as I thought I would.  She checks in often enough (way more than she did while she was here full time) she’s providing more detail about her experiences than even asked for, and basking in the pretend-grown-up-lifestyle that she’s been so desperately craving.  (To be clear, I am fully aware this will come back to kick me in the arse when she returns for winter and summer breaks.  I know the Rules?  What is this notion of rules you speak of?  litigation is percolating.  For sure, good times are a-comin’…

 

So while she’s gone I will wait patiently for her next call or text, and savor each tiny daily victory that finds me NOT rushing around like a madwoman each morning looking for my comb … or cream … or mascara … or beige sandals with the cork heels (why look for them when they are without question in her dorm room?).

 

 

For the time being there are no wet towels on her floor.

 

… yet I don’t have anyone to watch “Rock of Ages” with each and every time I find it on cable.

 

… and my heart feels a little pinging sensation when I realize – with surprising sadness – that I don’t have to special order a vegetarian dish when we order take-out.

 

… and I am decidedly NOT smelling expensive shampoo so much (Old Spice and Axe, yes.  Herbal Essence?  Nope.)

 

 

 

But I know she is only gone for a while.

 

And I miss her.  A lot.

 

 

As I was wrapping up this piece another text from her came through which read simply,

 

“I miss you guys.”

 

 

 

See that?

 

Maybe all that Lunatic-Fringe-Psycho-Mom-Get-Me-Outta-Here stuff isn’t brimming on the surface anymore.

 

Maybe she heard an 80s song from “Rock of Ages” and thought of me.

 

Maybe after getting my picture text, she’s a little excited to sleep in her clean room at Thanksgiving.

 

 

No matter the reason.  You know I’m saving the text.

 

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/