Tag Archives: Christmas

Dear Santa …

sb10069274b-007

I’ve made it clear that I’ve long given up on sending out holiday cards and letters (here’s why) but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a Christmas list.

Santa, most people know by now I am a fabulous yet flawed mom.  If I’m being honest, I am super flawed.  This parenting thing is hard and sometimes it seems there’s more opportunity to fail than succeed (despite what Facebook photos want us to believe).  I guess like most moms, I could really use a few things to help me up my game and become better in the new year.

So if you and the elves can swing it …

First off, I’d like to request a stronger heart.  Surely you already know I am overcome with pride that my oldest is adulting. He is living in his own apartment and working and schooling and contributing to society and well, successfully doing all the things that keep him from residing in my basement. This is no small feat so believe me, I am truly and greatly thankful.  But just because all is well and good on the surface here doesn’t mean it’s perfect.  You see, this independence-thing may be a bright light but it also breaks my heart a bit little each day.  Maybe you could put a little something shiny under my tree that makes him want to call home … or check in … or show that he remembers he has a family at all?  Even occasionally, that’d be great.

I’m also going to ask that you bring me some extra backbone to stop shielding my daughter — who’s also flown my coop – from life’s financial realities.  Santa, please know I couldn’t be more thrilled that she is living a life most only dream of (that is, if you dream about seeing extraordinary places, being one with nature, saving the environment, helping children and making those around you pale in comparison to your genuine goodness). But if you’d only given me a little push to hand over ALL her bills to pay on her own, she might start to realize that the awesomely fun jobs with the most perks … don’t usually end up being the most lucrative.  (Santa, please don’t use that ugly hashtag enabling.  I get it. It’s just hard.)

Maybe while you’re unloading you can sneak a little perspective into my stocking? I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that my handsome freshman crushing college (President’s List!) should really be front and center in my thoughts but my overwhelming urge to throttle him for his laziness at home always seems to throw shade at that.  That he makes me scream the loudest in my own home is my personal irony.  If you promise to bring me a little help to recalibrate my thinking then maybe this kid just might make it to his sophomore year to continue doing great things.  (And for the record, that Facebook post was legit, people.)

I don’t particularly need any but if you could spare a bit of common sense, I swear I’d share it with my youngest.  Check your naughty list:  he’s my adorable charmer whose foolish behavior defies the fact his parents have been to this rodeo three times already.  He truly believes he has mastered the art of pulling the wool over my eyes (*Morgan Freeman [narrating]:  Alas, the boy has not.) so if you can swing it, I’d definitely re-gift that gem and pass it on to him.

I might ask for a few tips to help me be a better wife (pffft, who are we kidding? no need there) but since I’m on a roll, do you think maybe you could throw in some willpower for the new year?  Not to be a better mom, but definitely to look a lot less bloated.  Honestly, my friends are entirely out of control.  They eat, they drink, they dance (they battle for a karaoke mic) and if I’m not careful I know one day a mortician is going to struggle adhering my lipstick correctly because of the permanent smile they’ve engraved in my wrinkles.

Santa, I know I am enormously blessed and you know I’m just teasing with all this.  But you should also know that every mom simply wants the exact same thing every single year but we never. ever get it:  a slowdown of life.  You know, that proverbial pause button. This gettin’-old sh*t is not for the weak.  With each flip of a calendar page my life flashes before my eyes and a glaring proclamation of time passage hits me like a smack to the head.  I speak for the masses here:  we’d all like that to stop, please.  Come on. The only time moms want a fast-forward button is during the teething, ‘tweening, and telling-us-we’re-lame stages.  I’m at the last stage here:  my youngest is now driving (you know, on occasion, when he’s not grounded) and he knows if he tells me I’m lame, he’s back to hoofing it so really, enough already.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, as the years go by I’m learning that the only gift worth a damn is time, specifically time with our kids.  It’s the only collateral they’ll ever have worth anything to us.  We all want it and can’t get enough of it.  We want time to sit with them and talk … and watch TV … and play a game … and laugh … and drive to the store … even time to do nothing at all.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you just let our kids know that?

Thanks and – once again — sorry about the cookies (shrug. boys).  Maybe we’ll try some kale next year. That’ll keep them away.

 

Merry Christmas y’all!

xoxo

Eyerollingmom

 

Read any good books lately?  Start one here:  A Collection Of Eyerolls:  A Momoir

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/

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. 

 

Advertisements

Eyerollingmom’s Christmas Letter: Nothing But Ho Ho Honesty

grinch

 

I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore and if I’m being completely honest, I kinda sorta question why some people still do.

I’m not a Grinch.  Hell no.  I still partake in holiday cheer (ahhh, too much, some may say) but I guess I just feel that a lot of old traditions are rather redundant in today’s all-knowing-all-the-time existence.

I never planned to stop.  It just sort of happened the year my mom passed away.  Three months after she was gone I struggled to put up a Christmas tree, let alone send out a photo of my kids who weren’t looking much different than all the pictures I’d been throwing up on Facebook throughout the year.  And of course anything good or eventful that went down in my life had already made it into a post, or text or blog.  Really now, is anyone in need of a recap?

But I’ve always thought that if I did send out a Christmas letter it really wouldn’t be like everyone else’s.  Here’s what I mean:

If I sent out a Christmas letter I’d say for sure, my year was just likes yours:  full of happiness and thanks and blessings and joys and laughter and (hello, four perfect kids?) plenty of proud and boastful accomplishments.  But then I’d feel compelled to add it was also a year filled with a whole bunch o’ family crap,  a shitload of sadness, some bitter disappointments and (hello, four slightly imperfect kids?) too much embarrassment to mention.

I’d start by bragging about my oldest, my newly minted 21-year-old.  He is my unchallenged sweetheart — mainly because he is hands down the most respectful of the tribe.  To this day, he’d do anything I ask without so much as a sigh.  I’d say how my heart swells with pride that he is a USAF Reservist and I am duly delighted that he’s going to school to become an EMT and paramedic.  But then I’d have to admit that his lack of motivation to work at anything — ANY thing — full time makes my blood pressure surge.  And worse, that when I see him playing video games for hours at a time I want to scream like a crazy person on a NYC street corner.  Don’t even get me started on the beer cans in his room.

I’d then go on to gush about my daughter, who’s rocking her sophomore year at college and blossoming into a beautiful and engaging young woman right before my eyes.  She’s really something else.  I’m genuinely in awe of her compassion for the environment and her conviction to make it a better place.  Though I’ll miss her like mad, I know one day soon her dreams and plans will take her away to some exotic place far, far away from me.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit her staunch insistence that humanity is failing … troubles me greatly.  Quite honestly, her woe is the world philosophy is a complete and total buzz kill at the dinner table and (sigh) an argument typically ensues when she really gets going.  Truth be told, if I must nitpick, the toxic fumes festering in her room from the mess seem to be a blatant contradiction of the green earth she’s desperately seeking to save. (Apple cores:  best placed in a compost heap rather than under that bra on the rug, no?)

I’d continue and blather on and on about my middle son, a high school sophomore, who is incredibly handsome and intelligent and easy going and popular and athletic and …  and … so incredibly lazy I feel I should start researching boarding schools.  Or wigs — since I’m dropping fistfuls of my own hair as I chase him around screaming about missing homeworks and vanishing assignments.  I am convinced the sound of my voice is like a dog whistle to his immune ears and I fear he may fall out of bed one night and suffocate in the pile of wet towels next to his bed.

I’d then be forced to boast about his sidekick — my youngest — the king of the eighth grade and future president of the United States of America.  Here is a fellow so incredibly beloved and kind and charming and funny … that his teachers and friends’ parents would be aghast at the shrill volume of his disrespectful back-talk to me.   If he was heard by the masses on a particularly bad day he’d find himself one lonely little boy indeed — because parents wouldn’t let this Talented Mr. Ripley within earshot of their own children.  If they only knew…

I’d tell about our loss this year of our infamous Grandpa Eggo, my stepdad, and only remaining grandparent on my side of the family tree.   Just shy of his 92 birthday, he was one hell of a hot ticket – and  — a bonus — had Carl Fredericksen from the movie UP as his celebrity doppelganger.  Looked JUST like him and THAT was hilarious.  We got a lot of laughs out of his couple of years without my mom as a buffer but man, I’d have to admit that the old guy drove us batshit crazy much of the time.  What’s worse:  his death leaves a distinct hole in the lives of my siblings, for we are now forced to reconcile our simmering differences without a neutral zone of connection.  Being a grown-up becomes acutely harder when you’re left to deal with the messy family stuff without parental referees.

I’d close my Christmas letter with the unthinkable confession that some of my happiest moments are the rare occasions when I pull into my driveway after work and the house is completely – silently – empty.  For a short time until the chaos begins again, I am blissful.

But then, then … as my final admission,  I’d confess there are unexpected moments that catch me off guard … when the house is quiet and — to the contrary — I am consumed by a wordless panic.  My thoughts drift to a time soon to come when I’ll finally be without the video games and the wet towels and the beer cans and the fighting and the back-talk.

And my dread is paralyzing.

Funny how life knows when to give you a swift kick in the ass when you need it.

In those minutes of solitude and fear I somehow understand my personal charade.  Perhaps I bitch and squawk so much … only to mask how crazy I may become without them?

And that’s the truth.

So anywho, even though I don’t send out Christmas letters … or Christmas photos (please.  No-shave November is killing any chance of that; who wants multiple Wolverines in their family photo?) I do always reflect on my passing year, only in a warts-and-all kind of way.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if more people did the same?

 

Merry Christmas, dear friends and readers!

 

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. –

 

 

Why Xmas Cards Need Punchlines

My "New Year's" card from a few years ago. Too crazed to pull off a Xmas shoot, I bribed & threatened to get this shot. My crew STILL holds a grudge ... can't imagine why ....

My “New Year’s” card from a few years ago. Too crazed to pull off a Xmas shoot, I bribed & threatened to get this shot. My crew STILL holds a grudge … can’t imagine why .

 

I have chosen to NOT send out Christmas cards this year.  Again.  Last year I just couldn’t muster up the desire and the year before I thought it would simply be a nice respite.

Whaddaya know.  I think I may have stumbled onto a new favorite tradition.

I’ve spent many a snarky blog mocking Christmas letters (and – why don’t we simply put me on the express track to Hell – Christmas photos as well. Come on, you know you do, too.  I just say it out loud.  Shrug.)

But I really do love my idea of the Why-Can’t-We-All-Just-Be-A-Wee-Bit-Honest? anti-Christmas letter.  I wish they all sounded like mine:

I’d say with blatant bragging that my kids didn’t turn into trolls throughout the year and were still, in fact, good looking.  (Naturally if No-Shave November didn’t find my son looking like Wolverine I could’ve secured proof of this over Thanksgiving weekend when we were all together but no such luck.)

I’d reveal that I am secretly thrilled when my oldest son is at college … because his proclivity to starting his day at 3:30 to do errands when he’s home makes my hair fall out.

I’d express delight that my college-bound, environmentally impassioned daughter is poised to save the world one dolphin or blade of grass at a time … yet would rather hug a tree than any of her brothers … and that kinda sorta makes me mental.

I’d report that my middle-school sons are doing well in their school and sporting endeavors … but that their inability to decode and decipher common phrases like “Take you shoes off before coming in” and “Hang up that towel” worries me immeasurably.

I’d boast about my husband’s year of health and weight loss (again, not really a loss when it’s found by someone else, eh?) but to even the score I would definitely get in a few digs about my perpetually broken kitchen pendant light.  I’d then probably put it in print that I am holding firm on getting my downstairs painted this spring (and that this task will far take precedence over – pick one – a new snow blower, lawnmower and/or Patriots season tickets.  So there.)

I’d ramble on about our family vacation to Disney with a great group of friends and then embarrassingly admit I lost my youngest son within 5 minutes of entering the happiest place on Earth.  Yes.  Party of 14 people.  Lost child.  5 flippin minutes.

I’d divulge funny details about my job (that I love)  in an alternative middle/high school (Really?  I’m complaining about wet towels at home?  Really???) but then I’d share the far from humorous reality of having to keep the doors locked there now.

 

Scary times.

It’s best to just remember that our lives – and our livelihoods —  are merely temporary.

 

Why not laugh a little and focus on the daily, smaller smiles because really — one day real soon I may be missing those wet towels on the floor, right?

 

My family is healthy and my life is full of love and friends and laughter.  (And recycling.  Lots and lots of recycling because – haven’t you heard —  my daughter has turned into the Conservation Nazi.)

 

So, as I sit here watching “The Sound of Music”  (singing every word to “Climb Every Mountain” because, my gaaaaawd,  Mrs. Cazzaza made us sing it in elementary school,  I wish everyone the same:

 

Health, love, and (of course) recycling.

And laughter.

Lots and lots of laughter.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

Follow & LIKE Eyerollingmom on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/eyerollingmom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somebody, PLEASE Shelf That Elf Idea

No-elf

My sister is a kind and generous soul and I love her.  I really do.

I just want to kill her.

 

Well maybe not kill but definitely hurt her really, really bad.  Maybe pull her hair by the roots until she cries out in a screechy voice.  Or perhaps a lengthy pinch of the little fleshy stuff right under her armpit. You know, just a little something for emphasis.

 

She thought it would be supercool to give me a first class ticket on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon.  Apparently she thought the whole gimmick sounded delightfully joyous and heartwarming for my boys this holiday season.  (Quick version:  a book and elf arrive in festive packaging.  This magic elf then watches the kids’ behavior each day until Christmas.  He hides throughout the house and each day the kids wake up, search for him and whisper their holiday desires into his little ear.)

 

Very cute indeed.  However, now they simply wake up in Spartacus mode –  a competition of the fittest  to find it first – before they resume wrestling and beating the spit out of each other (like most mornings). Really, it’s just glorious.

 

Anyway, here’s my problem with our newest holiday tradition (she says forlornly, hoping they’ll misplace the box next year):  it’s making me a total wreck.  I can’t even say how many dark, cold mornings my eyes have flown open with the realization that I didn’’t move the creepy little elf doll to a new spot before turning in for bed.  It’s worse than forgetting the Tooth Fairy was supposed to come (there’s no throwing it in the crumpled sheets with feigned, “Oh THERE it is!” nonsense).  This is serious.  And has to happen EVERY night.  I have lost so much sleep because of it  I look awful (which hello, is not going to help me in the unspoken Who-Looks-Better? contest when my sister and I assemble for the holidays).

 

So yes, I am here to warn others:  this becomes a full-bodied commitment the moment that silly book is read aloud to your little Santa-seekers.

FortheloveofGod, pay no attention to the window displays at Borders and just keep walkin’.

 

Go back to stringing popcorn and find other holiday traditions that won’t put bags under your eyes.

 

I’m no Scrooge but sorry, I just can’t help it.

 

I’m tired (from lack of sleep).

 

And cranky (from waning hiding spaces).

 

And I haven’t thought of anything yet for paybacks for my sister…

but I will.

 

Oh, ho, ho, ho … I will.

 

 

 

Surviving the Santa Sucker Punch (year 10)

santa_peeking

My yearly disclaimer:  because of the universal chord it strikes, I have declared this my very own “Yes, Virginia” tradition and continue to publish it each year, complete with updates.   Ho, ho, ho,  my friends!

Show me a parent who’s a little wigged out by the inevitable birds-and-bees talk with their child and I’ll show you a parent who hasn’t even thought about – let alone attempted – the Santa Claus talk.  Heads up:  nothing – nothing – prepares you for that ambush while innocently watching a sitcom.  Give me reproduction or Heather Has Two Daddies any day of the week, thank you very much.

“You guys buy the stuff, right?”  It came from my oldest, an 11-year-old who is blissfully naïve, heartwarmingly immature, and constantly questioning why he can’t use words like crap.  He IS in sixth grade, you know.  He held his newly formed Christmas list.

“Why do you ask?” my husband’s panicked eyes pleaded for me to jump right in at any time.  I was too busy weighing the odds.  I was sensing that the question held an honest desire for truth, yet I couldn’t be certain a bluff wasn’t involved.

Last year I was confident the belief was still there.  My friends and family couldn’t accept that my wide eyed middle schooler dutifully wrote his letter to Santa without question.  Sure, there was talk on the school bus and there were kids with older siblings and yes, there was a slight wane in his interest in gathering around to watch those goofy Christmas shows from the 70s (Burger Meister Meister Burger, anyone?).  Still, I knew the dreamlike image of a man in a red suit rousing him from sleep (at what – five years old?) was embedded in his memory.  I could tell there was something in his eyes that wasn’t quite sure he wanted to know.

My husband’s cough seemed forced.  “Well what have you heard?” (Wasn’t that always a good parental deflect?)

It was as we’d expected.  Damn those kids on the bus with older brothers.  Ugh, what to do next?   First, we had to consider the sibling factor.  We’ve got three more coming down the pike and quite frankly, I love a household full of innocence and wonder.  It’s magical primarily because it’s, well, fleeting.  Could it be over already?  Second, I wasn’t entirely sure he could pull off a covert mission of betrayal to the brothers he still chased around with swords and the sister he lived to torment.  This couldn’t be a good thing.

Sensing our concern, he pointed out that he stopped believing in the Easter Bunny a long time ago (because come on now, a bunny?) and he still keeps that from the little ones.  And that he’d gotten the “other” talk almost two years ago and never spills on that, either.  Good point.  So why was this so much harder?

It’s simply a door that closes on childhood that just blatantly makes us sad.  It’s a milestone that isn’t measured in pencil marks on a doorframe, can’t be captured on film, and doesn’t exactly make our lives easier like some other benchmarks.  Honestly, sometimes we can’t wait for them to get just a little bit older.  We anxiously await the first hot dog that is eaten with a bun.  We secretly rejoice when swing pumping is officially mastered, allowing us a few more luxurious minutes on a playground bench instead of in a sandpit wearing sandals. Some might even want to dance naked when their youngest FINALLY starts to toilet train (okay maybe that’s just me). These are milestones indeed and we look forward to them.  But some rites of passage sure do stink.

While we openly dread learner’s permits and after-prom parties, we tend to forget about the smaller life moments that affect our kids – and us — before acne:  Their first order off the adult menu that is actually eaten in its entirety; The way their new big teeth completely change the look of their faces, quietly erasing the baby-ness from their features; The first time you notice – really notice – that their legs are so much longer since the last time you seemed to look.  It’s these times that grip our hearts and keep us frozen just for a moment.  Just slight, inconspicuous reminders that calendar pages keep turning and candles on cakes keep taking up more space on the frosting.

“Yes, it’s us” my husband blurts out.  Subtlety obviously isn’t his strong suit.  I probably would’ve gone a softer route but I admired his zeal.  The last thing you want in life is your kid being made fun of by a bunch of kids on a school bus.

“And it was me in the Santa suit” he spat.  (Whoa, easy there, Tonto, give the kid a minute to digest….)

It was a nod and a matter-of-fact shrug that acknowledged the news.  He handed me his Christmas list and looked spy-like over both shoulders, “Mom, I really don’t need #8 on my list.  You can cross it off.”  Another check of the perimeter and then a wink and a whisper, “It’s kind of expensive.”

Well break my heart in half and bring on the acne.  I’ll be dammed if that kid doesn’t get #8 this year.  Maybe he’ll even get two.

*  *  *  *  *  *

2009 Update:  that blissfully naive 11-year-old is now an awesomely out-of-touch 16-year-old hoping Santa brings him (pick one) a car, I-Phone or mountain of cash.  He’s obviously still blissfully naive but he’s kept our secret like he promised he would.

2010 Update:  that blissfully naïve 11-year-old is now filling out college applications (sigh…. we just don’t speak of this topic without also employing the phrase “God willing”).   His sharp-as-a-tack 11-year-old brother (irony?) keenly keeps his Christmas desires to a financial possibility.  And watching from the wings is an equally suspicious 9-year-old, who really wants to believe…..but……since the Tooth Fairy bailed on three straight nights…..is having some…..doubts……

2011 Update:  that blissfully naive 11-year-old is presently enlisted in the United States Air Force Reserves as an Airman.  The only thing he’s asking for from Santa this year is his mom’s meatballs (she, in turn, is begging for an endless supply of L’Oreal grey coverage).  My teen diva — surprisingly — has nary a thing on her list.  She’s got a job, a boyfriend and a 1994 Nissan with roll-up windows so life is pretty close to perfect right now.  My sharp ‘lil tween, fresh into his first foray of romance, is desperately seeking some Old Spice Swagger under the tree to keep him smelling gooooood.   And my baby…..my ten-year-old baby…… is ready to shout from the highest rooftop that HE, too, knows THE TRUTH about all this nonsense and HAS known for a VERY LONG TIME.   And thinks he should get an I-Phone.  Because — he insists — 10 is the new 15.

2012 Update:  that blissfully naïve 11-year-old is now a college freshman, who really just wants to sleep in his own bed awhile before next semester begins.  I know.  How and when in the world did that happen?  The weird thing:  our countdown is finally up.  My youngest baby – who was in diapers when this story began – is now a point guard on his basketball team and wears a bigger shoe than his mom.  Never again will I have a blissfully naïve  — or any other for that matter– 11-year-old in my family.  Some days, when I least expect it — I won’t lie — it just makes me really, really sad.

REALLY sad.

2013 Update:    Nowadays the “children” in my home consist of 2 young adults and 2 ever-growing, ever-eating teens.    When we recently sat down to Thanksgiving dinner — when college classes and freshmen football and work schedules and every other life commitment of six people all miraculously meshed together for one day —  I had a moment when I believed Santa came early.  A happy and laughter-infused occasion, I wanted to freeze the moment in  time.  It was a little magical.

Now more than ever before I am acutely aware of time passing quickly.  Unbearably and unfairly quickly.

Because of this, I look for a little magic all the time.

Everyone should.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

LIKE & Follow Eyerollingmom on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/Eyerollingmom  and Twitter:  www.twitter.com/eyerollingmom

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.