Tag Archives: daughters

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. –

 

 

“… ‘cuz when you’re fifteen …”

mean girls

My little girl turns 15 today and I am (weirdly? surprisingly? vaklempt-ly?) emotional about it.  I didn’t get this way with my firstborn (a son) and I imagine I won’t get this way with the younger boys either (because naturally I have confidence they will both reach every year of adolescence with a Nerf sword in hand).  And my feelings have little to do with my daughter’s incessant request for a belly button ring.  (An aside:  I really don’t have an issue with this – call it admirable jealousy:  I clearly didn’t have her cute figure when I was a freshman.  Nope, she’s battling her dear ol’ dad on this one.)  Yet I’m strangely flooded with pensive memories of the significance of this milestone.

Fifteen was a good year for me.  My two closest girlfriends at that age are still in my life today and hugely important to me.  I make my daughter aware of this often.  Fifteen was also the year my tender heart was broken for the very first time (oy vey, Adam Boyar), cementing my lifelong attraction to funny, Jewish guys (which clearly explains my utter enjoyment in Ben Stiller and Jon Stewart but curiously casts a light on my eventual choice in soul mate – a Greek/Puerto Rican/Catholic charmer…). Hmmm….

Still, everybody knows: fifteen today is waaaaay different than fifteen of then.

I feel for her.

I fear for her.

And I forever wish that her good sense remains unclouded when the rains fall and heartache beckons.

For her birthday, along with the designer sneakers and other items (that WILL be returned, I am sure of it) I got her something special.   I commissioned a handmade pen and ink calligraphy of her favorite song, “Fifteen” by Taylor Swift.   It is a song I am unable to listen to in its entirety without tearing up (“…..and Abigail gave everything she had to a boy…who changed his mind…”).   It was meticulously crafted onto pale pink parchment paper and was framed to match her bedroom.  It is beautiful.

And taped to the back of it is a card from the artist – my best friend at fifteen – who devilishly inserted a photo of the two of us, arms entwined, from 1981.

Proof that true friendships last.

Proof that strong beautiful teenaged girls survive fifteen.

Proof that even though tempers flare and hatred is hurled, our moms are always, always, always going to love us.  And cry at songs that remind us of being a girl.

Happy Birthday, my sassy, sharp, and stunning Carson.  You are the light in my life (and one day you’re going to laugh when you find out your dad has nicknamed you “The Fury” during this oh-so-fun time in your life).

2014 Update:  Fours years later, my lady, my love, is a college sophomore today.  She survived fifteen with grace and wisdom that carried her through sixteen, then seventeen, and eighteen and finally nineteen years old.  She surprised me with an impromptu visit from college tonight — her first time home since August.   I am happy beyond words and — apparently — feeling a little nostalgic. xoxo

cklove

Desperately Seeking the Humor in Perfect (ly Flawed) Children

perfection-sign

I used to blog a lot more often than I do now and coming up with a legitimate excuse for the slowdown has been well, trying.  It’s certainly been easy enough to wallow in a series of unfortunate events, specifically, that my original blog site of 5+ years just up and shut its doors with a month’s notice.  It forced this self-proclaimed techno-tard to start anew, without a built in (and – cough – ego-soothing) fan base of hundreds of readers that I’d come to kinda sorta delight in.    I’m still clumsily navigating my way through what millions of other bloggers do with ease and truth is, sifting through (and sure, reposting) five years worth of material is sometimes easier than coming up with new and exciting stuff.  It shouldn’t be this hard but when a personal pity party combines with life whizzing by at a Nascar pace, it’s daunting in more ways than one.

 

I still own four kids and (God Almighty, YES) they’re all still doing incredibly stupid and blog-worthy things but here’s the thing:  as we’ve all aged in the six years since I first began telling tales about them, it now seems to be taking longer – wayyyy longer — to find the humor in all their trials and tribulations.

 

Almost  unbelievably it seemed one day I was spilling stories about a kid hawking his Dollar Tree fig newtons for lunchtime profit and the next I was gasping for air in a teenage tsunami of sneaking out, drinking, lying, denting fenders, …

 

What the …?

 

Kind of a bummer, right?

 

I find myself suddenly pondering when and how this particular nonsense might become hilarious and where, oh where, are those damned little Legos that used to claim my unsuspecting arches and find me howling in fury?  If I had a dollar for every time I ranted about wet towels on the floor I’d have a down payment for a liquor store I now need to get me through this adolescent and early adulthood stage of development.  It’s seriously making me pine for the sleepless nights of infancy.

 

Little kids, little problems.  For sure.

 

So yeah, I’ve been a bit stuck for a while.

 

Lucky for me I’ve discovered that life can surprise you, can inspire you and can smack you in the ass every so often and make you feel creative again.   Thanks to some pretty amazing people I have decided to try to get back on my horse and get this blog thing up and running more frequently.

 

For the inaugural Boston performance of “Listen to Your Mother” I spent my Saturday on stage with some ridiculously inspirational women.  I sat among a Teacher of the Year, a Boston Globe columnist, a bunch of published authors, an adoptive mother of nine (not a typo) and a slew of other professional and remarkable women I at times couldn’t even comprehend why I was with.  I’ve really got to admit, I couldn’t help but feel electric amid them.

I soaked in undeniable energy from my co-performers but also had a different, more personal source of motivation for wanting to be a better blogger.  The faces of my kids were in that audience and they were beaming.  That was kinda cool.  Even my daughter, the topic of my adored piece, was smiling.  Fun fact:  she had the chutzpah to take a bus in from college to see the show – even after I’d texted her the photo of all the empty liquor bottles I’d just found under her bed …).  That girl’s got moxie.  Like her mutha.  I like it.

Maybe seeing their mom up there “killing it”  (their words) was more cool than it was embarrassing.  Maybe all the dumb-dumb things they’re doing right now really aren’t that funny but probably are very universal for parents of high school and college kids.  Maybe continuing to blog about them might make other moms realize (sing it, Billy Joel) that we will allllllllll, go down, TOGETHER.

 

So I’ll go back to jotting down all my little thoughts like I used to do (because now that Middle Age is my friend, these ideas and anecdotes fly in …. then out … of my head without a shadow of proof they ever existed to begin with (ugh…  gotta write it down sistas, ya got to……) because every now and then a bunch of funny thoughts makes a funny little blog.

 

I’ll leave you with my unexpected morning: Fourth born (seventh grader) tells me that after a week’s vacation, he was up at 4am “almost” throwing up.  It’s not that I don’t love my Little Baby Fug to the moon and back, but (sigh) he is my pathological liar.  Since I had to spend my morning screaming and grounding and taking away electronics and unhooking  Xbox AND locking the cable box … I was steamed.  Who pads their morning routine for crap like this?  Not me.   When I came home today he was working on a poster/project that mysteriously went untouched all week.  He probably won’t get sprung until Memorial Day.  Dummy.

See?  I’ve got tons of these.

Stay tuned.

*   *    *

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The Good, The Bad & the “Girls”

Girls_HBO_Poster

 

In my perpetual quest to remain hip I try to keep my eyes and ears open.  I sniff out emerging trends (Red jeans?  Of course!  Tucked into black boots? Hell no – Santa Alert) and admittedly, jump on a lot of late bandwagons (thank you, HBO OnDemand, for the perfection that is True Detective).

That said, after hearing my 17-year-old daughter gush over the HBO series “Girls,” a show about modern-day 20-something female friends trying to make their way in the world after college, I decided to give it a whirl.

I really didn’t care for it but she nudged me on.

I tried a few more episodes yet still got a weird, uneasy feeling in my stomach.  I told her I just wasn’t that into it.

“Maybe you’re just too old” she shrugged.

What?  Pffffft.  I think not.

Bolstered by a slew of Golden Globe nominations, I gave it yet another shot.  Still nothing.  Nary a chuckle.

I got through all 10 episodes of the entire first season and numbly thought of all the miles I could’ve clocked on my treadmill had I just gotten off the couch once in those five hours…

But I believe I’ve figured out why an undeniably hip show is eluding my undeniably hip sense of humor.

The female characters are crude.  Not in the Sex-and-the-City-Samantha-Jones cheeky kind of way but in a crass, Good-God-I-hope-my-daughter-doesn’t-do-that kind of way.

I get it.  It’s a comedy.  And I love comedy.  But the whole desensitization of really (really) private things seriously gives me the heebie jeebies.

Also, I’m not entirely convinced college educated young women are so  … I don’t know … self-loathing.  Their flippant banter about oral sex and office harassment left me wondering if young women really do talk like this. (I’m kinda hoping to hear from a few after this …   and I’m really hoping to be told I’m out to lunch.  If you’re young and hip and reading this – please check in!)

I remember feeling the exact same way when my oldest son (now a semi-grown man at 19) used to watch those man-cave scratching movies like “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express.”  Those movies made masturbation and getting stoned look like the epitome of hilarity.  And (worse) normalcy.  Poor, poor Seth Rogen’s mother …..

It finally dawned on me why these types of movies grate on my nerves and polarize me:  seeing these “characters” puts a face on my very vision of parental failing.  These larger than life portrayals of such flawed and unfazed youth are the stuff of my nightmares:  kids with no direction, no money, no motivation, and the worst:  no apartment of their own – Jesus Christ, they’re the scarlet letter symbolizing my utter failure as a mom.

No, no, NO!

I don’t want my kid spending his meager paycheck on weed.

And I’d rather die a thousand deaths than know my daughter was tolerating her boss’ hand on her skirt.

I honestly don’t know what I’d do – in real life – if these situations in these comedies were playing out in real time in my kids’ lives.   What I do know is that I would find it decidedly Unfunny.  (Quick aside:  for an EXTREMELY funny look at flawed — yet SUCCESSFUL — Generation X, Y, whatevers ….  check out “The Mindy Project” on FOX.  She just rocks, is all.)

So yeah, maybe I’m not as hip as I used to be.

Maybe I’m simply more scared.

Damn this parenting thing.

Signed,

Stifler’s Mother

 

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Through the Looking Glass (gulp)

babytyping

 

My daughter recently asked me to read her college essay.

 

I was honored.  She’s a stroke of brilliance, that gal is, so I was secretly delighted. I’m not a notorious helicopter parent in the least so – as it was with my oldest son – I didn’t know a thing about it.  I wasn’t even entirely certain where she was sending it either.

 

As a rule, I keep out of the whole college thing.  Really, I do.  Sure, we talk about it and have dinner discussions and car conversations and all that jazz but I hardly embed myself in the minutia that most parents do. Why?  Because I honestly believe that if a teenager cannot successfully get him/herself into college without a parent’s help, well, then perhaps they’re not quite ready for such a massive, maturity-driven endeavor. That’s just me.

 

By his senior year, my oldest son was a classic ding dong in high school.  I love him like mad but good grief, that kid held a 22-average in Math, barely got out of bed, and made me believe I spawned Satan that year.

 

It’s easy to understand why I embrace this hands-off approach:  I was so pissed at him the whole stinking year I was ready to stand with my arms crossed across my chest and gloat like a madwoman with a slew of “I told you so”s by the time graduation arrived.

 

Cue in visual of bubble popping.  It never happened.

 

Because …

 

HE, my adored ding dong …

 

got himself into college — every one he applied to — without one iota of help from me.

 

(caution, parental brag ahead:  He then went on to throw the Irony discus at me and got himself into the Air Force Reserves as well.  He graduated with honors from there and is in his freshman year at college as I type.)

 

Go figure.  Life.  Funny, right?

 

 

So here I am doing the college thing again.  Only this time I’m a wee more interested because my daughter is soooo not a ding dong,

 

I was excited to read her essay because as an AP/Honors/All-Around Super Student, hallelujah, I was due, man…. I knew it would be terrific.

 

I poured a glass of wine and started.

 

It began with the words, “My mother writes a blog.”

 

Um …..

 

 

What?

 

I took a hearty swig before continuing.

 

 

 

 

I won’t go into detail about the content except to say that when I finished, the swelling of pride in my heart equaled the shotgun-like-blast to my temple.

 

Hooooooo boy.

 

 

Think about it:  pick one person who knows you the most, can see your soul the clearest and well, let’s not sugar-coat it, alternates between loving and loathing you the fiercest.  Now ask that person to describe you.  Now ask that person to provide greater detail about those descriptions.

 

Talk about enlightening.  Have I mentioned the whole love/loathe thing?

 

If she sends this out beyond admissions offices, she will become famous.  I, in turn, will become screwed (although, perhaps immediately appealing to Chelsea Handler as well…  not too shabby).

 

I write about my life  and the people in it all the time  I tell what I believe to be humorous accounts of my family, I detail the days and the friends that make me frustrated or sad or joyous and, okay, sure, I rant about the idiot sports parents that make me furious.  I don’t really think twice about the content too much because – and here’s the Aha Moment – I assume that since what I’m writing is true … then it certainly can’t be … wrong.  Right?

 

The shoe being on the other foot was interesting indeed.

 

Truth is, I like it way better being behind the thoughts and words than in front of them.

 

(Loud?  Am I loud?  Really? Are you sure?)

 

Yikes.

 

 

Of course the piece was brilliant.

 

I never had a doubt.

 

 

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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!

 

 

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