Tag Archives: Family

A Momoir, Chapter 13: Covid Edition (or rather, Still Not Skinny)

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I started this pandemic the same way everyone else did. Well, obvs not everybody. I mean, I never ranted about wearing a face mask or crazily demanded my right to get a haircut but hey, ‘merica. Like many, I settled in for the long haul and tried to let go of the things that were entirely out of my control. I bid adieu to my colleagues, embraced the return of my college kids and (the worst) said sayonara to my shoes. I stayed-in-place like a good little girl scout and stopped caring about a lot (A. LOT.) of stuff.

Instead, I decided to use this quarantine time to reset. From the get-go I committed to focus on two things: gratitude and improvement. I wanted to see a difference in myself when this was all over and (well, have we met?) sure, make a splash and pop out of a cake at the end of it a better, greater version of Me. Skinnier, blonder, vegan? Who knows, but, dammit, I was going to be ready for my before-and-after close-up when this was behind me.

Well this long haul has turned into a Saturday night Easter vigil mass with four children in tow (ever been to one? Here, little nine-year-old, hold this lit candle for … awhile… GAH, only once friends, only once) – in other words, no end in sight — so here we are.

Since this pandemic is so very far from being over I decided to document a quick update.

I am currently in my fifth month of working from home and (plot twist) am neither blonde nor thin and if you know me (#bacon) will never, ever be vegan.

But I think I am better.

For starters, I haven’t faltered from feeling grateful. I’ve been grateful since Day One, if solely for bypassing that Nightmare that was Homeschool. Holymotherofgod did I dodge a bullet there. Not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about the remarkable teachers and parents forced to reinvent the education system as we know it and whispered thanks daily for escaping that terrifying ordeal. God bless you all who did the homeschooling thing.

I was grateful for my job, my family’s health, my abundance of leggings (thanks, Steph) and my secret love of being a homebody. Sheesh, I could’ve written that viral piece of Gen X/1980s kids thriving in the seclusion of a pandemic. Stay at home? Keep yourself entertained? All the time? Joke’s on you, life: been there, crushed that. I was all in. Our nightly family dinners returned. My kids were, well, around more. Life became simpler.

Gratitude was a breeze.

So I got busy improving.

I stopped bothering with make-up and started reading — more books than I’d read in the past five years.

I stopped cutting my bangs (sorry, Marie Osmond, you’re left to carry the torch for our 50+ cohort) and started wearing Birkenstocks (I know, right? Ladies, lock up your husbands).

I stopped mindlessly checking my phone and started doing more crossword puzzles (but yes, fkkk those Friday ones. I threw the damn book away when those were all that was left and switched to another).

I stopped driving (once a week only, for groceries) and started walking 10,000 steps a day. When that became normal I shot for 15. Then 20 (again, still not any thinner so wtf but *sighs* we don’t have time to unpack that).

As the world’s pandemic fears morphed into a global awakening to racist injustice I committed to becoming more educated and turned to the people I admire most in the world for guidance: my kids.

I began listening to what they were listening to. Started reading what they were reading. Started watching what they watched (not entirely true. I will never watch that Avatar cartoon no matter how good it may be).

The podcasts getting me through my monotonous daily paces turned political, and I switched from true crime to Trevor Noah. And Pod Save America. And the NYT’s The Daily.

On television the void following my obsessive Outlander binge (oy! 5 seasons start to finish! Droughtlander here I am!), suddenly filled with Netflix documentaries. Stunned to my core by the appalling injustice of 13th, I was equally stirred by the peace depicted in Woodstock. The parallel themes of countercultures triggering dramatic change are an eerie nod to our present day cultural discord.

I wandered from the once-fluffy, now-fanatical Facebook and found my way back to Twitter and Instagram, where I started following educated and interesting people that have opened my eyes enormously. (No offense Facebook but you have become the Vortex of Aging Negativity and while you were fun for a while and I do still enjoy seeing the lives of my real (not faux) friends … let’s say there’s a reason the young people never really climbed aboard.

When the shocking behaviors of the country’s racist, caught-on-camera Karens started turning my stomach, I became obsessed with the Internet Detectives, the online superheroes who deftly and immediately expose each atrocious offender by publicly posting their names, addresses, license plates…. (I fanatically love this and cannot lie).

So sure, I’ve been ballin’ but my personal eat-pray-love renaissance hasn’t been all meditative serenity and yoga poses. Please. Far from it. With a son working as an EMT, there’s been a steady stream of mom-worry. I miss him. Also, we were hardly immune to the economic pitfalls brought on by Covid and still find ourselves running in place trying to grapple with financial stress and uncertainty.

Our home, put up for sale shortly before the lockdowns commenced, still sits on the market. While we once dreamed of downsizing, our new normal has flipped the switch on that idea; the oversized house we felt lost in not so long ago is now filled with people on computers all day long. We’ve found ourselves in a perpetual state of pause.

Employment was lost. Worse, it was lost a few months after the quarantines took effect, which means not only were we thrust into an already overloaded, log-jammed system that is excruciatingly flawed but (wait! there’s more!) the “bonus” pandemic money is now used up so ….cool, right? My business-owner friend couldn’t get her teenage employees to return to work because they were making a killing on unemployment. I’m super glad all the kids are making more money than they’ve ever seen in their short lives because fun fact: we haven’t seen a dime yet. If I did have bangs they’d probably be silver sooo….

Truth, it really (REALLY) sucks but even still, I remain grateful.

We flew our daughter back for a couple of weeks to work from our home (hey, come join us so you, too can complain about the internet!) and we hunkered down some more as an even bigger family.

We’ve been drinking wine, playing games, listening to Hamilton, watching John Mulaney stand-up and just being.

Just being a family.

And it’s been real nice.

What will you remember most about when the world changed?

We remember where we watched the OJ chase.

We recall exactly where we were when the towers fell.

And we’ll all know precisely who we focused on when Covid came to town. The President? Governor? Fauchi? Kimmel?

I was watching my kids.

During this ultimate gift of time I’d be a fool not to.

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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/

Chapter 7: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

Chapter 9: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/08/12/a-momoir-chapter-9-parenting-horrific-behavior-would-you-know-could-you/

Chapter 10: Click here: A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations

Chapter 11: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/02/22/a-momoir-chapter-11-how-many-back-in-my-days-until-you-officially-morph-into-your-mom/

Chapter 12: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/03/17/a-momoir-chapter-12-when-a-teen-up-leaves/

Evolution of a Daughter

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And then, in the blink of an eye, cancer.

Exhale.

You can only stand on the outskirts for so long before it grabs you in.  For first-timers, the words that are hurled from the onset are shattering.

“…tumors resting on three major veins…”

“…lesions on the brain…”

“…thirty percent…”

You find yourself gripped, nodding, stoically taking it all in (smartly, with a tape recorder going) and try to keep your composure because the last thing your mother – your rock – needs to witness is your own fear.

So you keep it together and let the world swish past you and do what you’re told.  See this oncologist.  Okay.  Go to this radiology appointment.  Got it.  Get to this surgeon.  Will do.

And before you know it you’ve spent a week – precious time in Cancerland – just preparing for battle.  You spend your afternoons watching endless episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Dr. Phil and Judge Judy (because that, my friends, is the routine of retired people).  But it’s okay.  You welcome the mindless and the mundane.  Much more happens in a week’s time.

You’ll start to hyperventilate in the middle of Kohl’s.  When you do, your friends’ words will get you through it.

Your husband will realize what an insanely difficult job you have as a mom and will appreciate you like never before.

Your teens – with cell phones attached to their bodies like extra appendages – won’t even text to see how things are because they are so afraid to know.

Your little boys – usually so wry and animated – will sound small – like little boys — on the phone.

You’ll wonder if you sent out your bills before you left but then you won’t even care.

 

In fact, you will brilliantly assess with unapologetic clarity that so, so many questions and worries in life  — actually, most of them — can be answered with a simple

“So what?”

 

Life throws curveballs.  We get that.

Miscarriage.  Infidelity.  Death.  Check, check, check.  Been there.  Done that.  Me, too.

 

We’re women.  We put on our big-girl panties and push up our sleeves and expertly deal with it.  We sniff out friends who will drop everything and listen.  We surround ourselves with other survivors and find strength.  And we get through.  There’s a shitload of wine.  And there’s an abundance lot of tears.  But we push through.  Because we’re women and that’s what we do.

 

Women are so incredibly strong about everything that Life – laughably – almost seems to come easy.  So Life keeps at it.  We are so unfathomably unbreakable that Life keeps hurling us zinger after zinger after zinger until finally —  eventually — it finds our Achilles Heel.  Life gives us children.

 

And then Life zings us agin because these children – the very beings that make us crazy for a very good portion of our lives – become the very pillars that we depend on down the road.

 

So at this exact moment I am a pillar of strength for the most important woman in the world to me.

 

 

(* reposted from 2011.  My mom passed a few months after this originally appeared.  Of course I still lean lean on my exceptional tribe of women and my adored brood of children for Life’s continuation of zingers because well, that’s the easy part.   xoxo)

 

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/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

Chapter 9: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/08/12/a-momoir-chapter-9-parenting-horrific-behavior-would-you-know-could-you/

Chapter 10:  Click here:  A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations

Chapter 11:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/02/22/a-momoir-chapter-11-how-many-back-in-my-days-until-you-officially-morph-into-your-mom/

Chapter 12: Click here:  A Momoir, Chapter 12: When a Teen Up & Leaves

 

A Momoir, Chapter 12: When a Teen Up & Leaves

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Last night I shared a glass of wine with the other woman.  We sat across from each other, not quite knowing how to proceed, not quite certain who should go first, not quite adept at morphing a previously computer-screen-correspondence into a face-to-face conversation.

 

I could see why the love of my life was drawn to her.  We were eerily similar.  I’d gathered that from our emails.  We sounded alike…on cyber chat.  We reasoned alike.  We held the same values and morals.  Yes, morals.

 

This was no adulteress.  Oh no, not at all.  This was the woman – the mother – whose home my teenaged son had run away to.

 

He called it moving out.  But conventional wisdom would argue that throwing some clothes in a duffel bag and heading out the door without an inkling of what’s happening the next day is no such thing.  He had run away.

 

He had had it with our outrageous rules, our absurd expectations and our irrational belief that teens should be responsible and respectful on their journey to adulthood.  So — without angry fanfare or slamming doors —  my oldest child left our home six days before his high school graduation.

 

And now, on the eve of his one-month anniversary date (breathe) of life on an air mattress, his preferred mother and I sat in my home and shared some shrugs.  And Pinot.

 

The situation, as an understatement, was hard.  Devastating, in fact.  It was the ultimate in rejection for a mother:  a child that doesn’t want her.

 

And I didn’t pretend to understand it.

 

I didn’t understand it because it didn’t follow the script of a Lifetime original movie.  There weren’t any “I hate you’’s or abuse or betrayal or Meredith Baxter Birneys.  We’d been navigating the typical insanity that comes with adolescence and (insert back pat here), actually thought we were doing damn good so far.  There were boundaries and consequences and forgiveness and laughter and acne.  Nothing too strict, nothing too lenient.  Having survived our own teenage years in the ‘80s of New York, gawd, if anyone knew about pushing the limits of youth, it was us.  Fully aware of setting standards and precedents for the three kids that followed behind, my husband and I rolled with the teen madness.

 

Never had we imagined our rolling would come to a screeching halt.

 

At first we waited.  He’ll be back, we reasoned.  We hadn’t allowed him to take his car – surely he’d have to get back and forth to work.  But no.  He relied on his friends and – we’ll be dammed – they came through.  So far, for an entire month.  Well alrighty then.  Interesting bunch, those teenagers.

 

The other mother contacted me immediately.

 

She lived a few blocks away.  I explained to her my son did not get kicked out of our home, that this was all his own doing.  She has two teenaged sons herself.  She understood.  She said she’d keep me posted on events as they occurred and thus our cordial relationship began, allowing me to become privy to more details of my son’s life than I’d even known when he was in my own home.

 

As far as shiteous situations go, I had stumbled into a remarkably awesome one.  This other mother was sharp.  Gave him an early curfew and chores and expectations. Boundaries.  Consequences.  Hmmm.  Weirdly familiar, right?

 

She admitted she couldn’t come up with a logical excuse for – after four weeks – throwing him out.  He was the consummate house guest:  polite, obedient and respectful.  In truth, she really, really liked him.

 

Yeah.  We get that.  We do, too.

 

She talked to him daily about the value of reconnecting with his family and told him she just couldn’t understand why he wanted to go through this without them.

 

Yeah.  Same here.

 

Still, we put a positive spin on things for the sake of our other kids and silently pray that he comes to his senses and (cue in slap from Cher), snaps out of it.

 

I haven’t sat idly by, though, hand-wringing and despondent.  With the situation seemingly out of my control I did what any other mother in my position would do:  hauled my ass into therapy.

 

After a full debriefing her assessment was unsurprising:  I was a reasonable person trying to reason with an unreasonable adolescent.  She said that since my son was not relying on me for anything the situation was most definitely out of my control and I should let it go.

 

Let it go.

 

Let it go?

 

Let go of a child?  (He is a high school graduate, she reminded. On paper, an adult.)

 

But…..but….but…..

 

But nothing.

 

I plunked down a few co-payments for a few weeks but eventually started to space out my visits.  She was wonderful but hearing a therapist tell you something you already know is not exactly cost effective.  My girlfriends do it for free.

 

So there is no happy ending to this cautionary tale, unless one looks at the (okay, almost amazing) relationship I’ve made with the other mother.  We talked for hours – and not just about my son.   It was obvious:  having met under different circumstances, we’d likely be good friends.

 

She is giving him a safe environment to straighten out his head and I am giving him the freedom to figure it out.

 

I am without explanation as to why my son is attempting to assert his maturity in the most immature way imaginable.  And it is unfathomable to me why he needs to go through this – or anything for that matter – without his family around him.  And it is crushing.  I won’t lie:  it is the most crushing and hurtful and indescribable pain I have ever felt as a mother.

 

But he is a good kid and we are good parents.

 

I guess I know deep down he’ll be back one day.

 

I just wish it had been yesterday.

 

*   *   * Update *   *   *

 

Somewhere in between the time this author had the courage to write this …

and print this …

her seventeen-year-old returned home.

It was a long 47 days.

Ironically – it was also just as long (if not shorter) as this author’s own silent treatment to her own mother…

when SHE was seventeen years old.

 

Exhale.

 

 

*  *  * (Updated) Update *  *  *

(especially for those moms who may be experiencing this now)

 

This author’s son is now a young adult.  He is educated, employed, happy and independent.  He and his mom often share a laugh about the time he was a knucklehead.

 

Just. Hang.  In.  There.

xoxo

 

 

 

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/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

Chapter 9: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/08/12/a-momoir-chapter-9-parenting-horrific-behavior-would-you-know-could-you/

Chapter 10:  Click here:  A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations

Chapter 11:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2020/02/22/a-momoir-chapter-11-how-many-back-in-my-days-until-you-officially-morph-into-your-mom/

The Holy Grail of Happiness (or The Best Thing About (Maybe) Moving)

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My husband & I decided to put our house on the market.

We don’t have to sell it but there was a time not too long ago that we almost did.  Our beloved perfect home came with a hefty price tag all those years ago and frankly, the mortgage is a big nut each month.  Always has been.  When my husband lost his job for a bit of time a couple of years ago, we watched in trepidation as that nut grew into an entire tree, leaning and inching closer to our heads and blocking out the sun with every week of a missing paycheck.  Going through financial duress while your kids are all going through college is not for the weak, trust me.

 

Things eventually turned around but that murky fear of what if they don’t really never has been forgotten.   It’s always simmering, bubbling beneath even the happiest of times.  So, while we’re in a stable place right now we decided to test the real estate waters and see if anyone else thinks this place is the bomb, too.  Besides, who doesn’t dream about downsizing?

 

We’ll soon see how that goes but that really isn’t my point in divulging this news.  Hell no.  Instead I am here to publicly proclaim that, because of this experience, I have discovered the Holy Grail of Happiness.  Are you ready?  Have you gathered ‘round closer?  Got your readers on?

 

I implore you to heed my next four words:

 

Throw. Out. Your. Shit.

 

I’m not even kidding; the results will astound you.

 

When we decided to unload our adored albatross we set up a five-month plan for ourselves:

 

Month 1: Purge.

We scheduled Goodwill pickups every month and got to work decluttering.  Heavenly gods of garbage, we had no idea how bad it was (truth:  one never does). We emptied out cabinets that were filled with glassware from our 1990 engagement party, plastic cups from every concert venue on the eastern seaboard and beer cozies from every pub giveaway ever grabbed (my gawd, there’s been a lot of beer in our lives and apparently it’s very important to keep it chilled at all times).   We gathered all the rarely used kitchen gadgets and duplicate cookware (sorry, five friends who once left behind a long-forgotten Pyrex pie plate, all have found another home) and threw them in the pile, too.   Banished were the bridal shower bedsheets and boxed up were the dusty dorm duvets.   It was a start.

 

Month 2: (Purge and) Patch.

We kept purging (sayonara, stacks of children’s books and outdated leather trench coats) but we also started repairing all the yuck.  You know yuck.  Yuck is all the nasty-ass things around your home that have become part of the scenery you’ve been ignoring for years.   We fixed the crack in in the ceiling we’ve stared at for more than a decade.  We patched up walls where little elbows had crashed through the years and smoothed plaster where ninja noggins had bounced.   We cleaned up the scuffs where tiny karate kicks had landed and continued to shell out piles of money to fix things no one would ever notice.  No lie, this sucked.  Like fixing your muffler.

 

Month 3: (Purge and Patch and) Paint.

Yes, of course we kept purging.  It became a Marie Kondo challenge of epic proportions, getting rid of cheerleading trophies and participation ribbons for any spelling bee, geography bee and instructional swim class my kids ever experienced.  Seriously, it was absolutely ridiculous. (You too, right?  WHYYYYYY???)   But now it was time to spruce things up.  We repainted the tired walls of handprints going up each staircase and touched up the bannisters to their original regal state.  We spiffed up the porch, the doors, the treads and the trim.  My husband then tossed together every forgotten partial gallon of paint that had been neglected in the basement and created a new color.   He rolled it onto the basement floor and gave it a crisp, clean facade.  My friend/realtor was impressed (a clean and organized basement tells potential buyers you take care of your things—who knew?) but my husband was merely on a mission to get those paint cans gone.

 

Month 4: (Purge and Patch and Paint and) Pack.

HELL YESSSSS we kept purging.  Why did I save every single report card from every single semester for every single kid?  Because we all do, that’s why.   While not as bad as some of my friends (I did not, like one, save baby teeth #gag), I duly saved everything else like most moms.  I carefully sorted through a filing cabinet of homemade Mother’s Day cards, second grade artwork, pediatrician growth forms, prom mementos and a plethora of keepsakes my now-adult children wouldn’t care to look at twice.  No joke:  it was incredibly hard tossing away all those sentiments of time flown but most of it was silly, even by mom standards.  We packed our most-cherished memories (no teeth) into meticulously labeled rubber totes and stacked them neatly in the basement (you know, on the nice painted floor).

 

Month 5: (Purge and Patch and Paint and Pack and) Prepare.

When all that was done (ahead of schedule – it really is amazing how addicted you become to Throwing.  Shit.  Out.)  we started staging the house.  In simpler terms this means eradicating all evidence that you ever actually lived there.  Spoiler alert: this was the toughest part.   Amazing and happy framed photos of my whole family adorn walls in every room of our home.  Even the bathroom.  To remove each one and carefully encase it in bubble wrap, not knowing when — or where —  it would come back out, was torture.  And it screamed of finality.  Wait.  Are we really doing this?  Are we sure?  Really?

 

Man, I hated that.

 

So now we wait.   We have no idea where we’ll go or what we’ll do if it does sell but I will say, the whole endeavor has given my better half & me a lot of opportunity to chat … and muse … and dream … and ponder what our next life adventure will be.   We’re in the second act of our sitcom life and it’s not such a bad thing having another common interest after 30-plus years together. We spend weekends creeping at Open Houses and put homes on our Please Wait for Us List … only to dutifully cross them out when they  get snatched up and move to our Ones That Got Away List.

 

It’s all good.

 

Even better, should others somehow not find our organized basement so appealing, we’ve already committed to a Plan B: unpacking some bubble wrap and staying put for a little while longer in our spit-shined, shit-free home. With this view.  Definitely not so bad.

 

dusk.jpg

 

 

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/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

Chapter 9: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/08/12/a-momoir-chapter-9-parenting-horrific-behavior-would-you-know-could-you/

Chapter 10:  Click here:  A Momoir, Chapter 10: Coming Clean: The Art of Mastering Uncomfortable Conversations

Just One Page

boyz

I had a conversation with my son the other day.  He was questioning his decisions made on his future path.  He was feeling some self-doubt.  Expressing a little fear and concern.  Kinda having a little pity party on a blue day.

 

Now, I don’t recall ever talking to my own mom about such things.  It’s not that there weren’t some benefits to those independent ‘80s (*she mulls, thinking about the Loverboy concert she’s attending that evening*) it was just different back then.  Here was a Mom Moment for sure and I didn’t want to mess it up.  After first basking in our moment of intimacy I gave him the best counsel I knew, albeit with simple words:  small steps.  One semester at a time.  But, I appealed, with a serious commitment to being successful in those steps until you can course correct.

 

I reminded him that every action in life comes with a redo option.  Not necessarily an eraser or backspace button but rather a recreate click.   The key, I opined, is to try to succeed at whatever you’ve committed to and keep striving for excellence — even if you hate what you’re doing — until a next step becomes an opportunity.  I advised him to stop looking at every choice made as the end-all and try looking at life in smaller chunks of time.

 

It seemed to soothe his uncertainties and our chat ended with a hug.  Mom Moment Expert Level: Achieved.

 

I felt pretty good about appearing so wise and assured … until my inner cheerleader escaped from inside me and sat on my shoulder with her megaphone pointed at my ear tskking  You are SO full of shit.  Try practicing what you preach.  Then she rolled her eyes because hello, she’s me after all.

 

Small steps?  Little chunks?  She was right.  I am more than slightly full of shit.

 

I love to write and always want to keep creating but it’s not always easy.  There’s the time factor and the TV-binge factor and the housework factor and the multitude–excuse factor and for the love of God, the stop-mocking-your-husband-and-kids factor and then  boom, there’s the huge, obvious elephant in the room:  I don’t write half as much as I used to.  And that just sucks, for a number of reasons. The most important being, it’s my passion.  Everyone knows when we don’t partake in our passions, we seem to wither on the vine.

 

I know I do.  If I go for long periods of time without writing I sink deeper into a funk until the act, even the idea of putting thoughts into words becomes insurmountable.

 

This week just as my inner cheerleader was calling me out for being phony I received a short note from a columnist I’ve adored for decades.  Out of the blue, she wrote to tell me she unearthed a piece I’d written forever ago and simply wanted to tell me how much she enjoyed it.

 

Naturally I yee-hawed all over social media about it (because GAWD, how freaking cool?) but it also sent me down the rabbit hole of clicking onto her website, rereading the treasure trove of articles I’ve loved throughout the years that made me want to  be just like her.

 

I came across one where she talked about the struggle of writing and how sometimes you just have to start with one page at a time and call it a small victory.

 

Committing to succeed small steps at a time.

 

Imagine that?

 

Well, whaddaya know.  We are soul sisters after all.  And I just made it to the end of one whole page.

 

Y’all check back again soon, ya hear?

 

I may not have many words of wisdom but I’ll certainly have words.

 

Do yourself a favor and check out the inimitable Beverly Beckham.  I really, truly adore her and want to be just like her when I grow up.  https://www.beverlybeckham.com/

Today I start by doing what she suggested.

 

#   #   #   #

 

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/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

Chapter 8: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/06/14/a-momoir-chapter-7-high-school-graduation-my-big-fat-so-what/

Chapter 9: Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2019/08/12/a-momoir-chapter-9-parenting-horrific-behavior-would-you-know-could-you/

A Momoir, Chapter 8: High School Graduation – My Big Fat So What

grad

I’ve reached the parenting milestone where every one of my kids is an adult but I’m quickly finding out my reaction to this coup may not exactly be the norm.

 

(Really Tina, you don’t say.)

 

As my youngest’s high school graduation loomed recently I became increasingly curious as the emotional Facebook posts amplified with fervor on my feed … while I continued to post apeshit OMGs over every Game of Thrones episode.  At my attendance at each of the requisite senior assemblies I watched as other moms passed around tissues … while I checked my watch, gauging my arrival to work.

 

I scrolled daily.

 

Where did the time go???? (multiple punctuation marks)

 

I just can’t believe it! (multiple sad emojis)

 

So proud! (picture, picture, picture, pic…)

 

And there I was, still tilting my head (posting IN MY MIND of course because I ain’t that troll spitting on others’ sunshine) and musing  Um, we’re all still talking about high school, right? Um, isn’t this supposed to happen?

 

Maybe there was something wrong with me.  Had I become world-weary?  Jaded?  Cynical?  I mean, for a school career, my kid had a pretty great run.  He did well academically, he had impressive moments on the field and he garnered a few local headlines that at times placed him above his peers.  Kudos.  Back pat.  Way to go.

 

Now, move on.

 

I’m sorry (not sorry) it’s just never been something I’ve ever thought was a big deal.  In fact it’s been unconditionally expected for all of my kids.  Truth:  They all came from a stable foundation, had a roof over their heads, food on their tables and parents who kept external stressors to a minimum during their educational run.  Getting through high school was their only job and while I enjoyed every moment on a bleacher and duly scrapbooked every news clipping, plainly put, I’m over it.

 

And (more truth): now more incredibly excited to see what they’ll all do when left to their own machinations.

 

There are certain moments I’ll always remember and keep in the forefront of my memory (God willing, despite being incapable of remembering where I was last week or where I filed those donation receipts) but there is without question one Mom Moment that I will hold onto for a very, very long time (you know, until the moment gets taken over by this kid running NASA or curing cancer or I don’t know, taking out the trash without being asked).

 

My paramount takeaway from my final kid’s high school experience was actually my own experience during his last hurrah, at his last assembly.  As the graduating class walked in, swishing in their robes, past the parents, and onto the stage, I (looked up from my watch, naturally and) caught a glimpse of some other parents as he walked by.  We live in a small Norm-from-Cheers town, where everybody knows your name and most, if not all, parents know each other by a history of six degrees of K-12 separation (or siblings).   Many of these parents – better than me, who’d arrived early and had scored the enviable, photography-worthy aisle seats (unlike myself, sitting in the back, closer to my car) watched as my kid walked by.  As he did, and since I had the panoramic of the auditorium from my vantage point in the back (totally planned) I caught sight of some parents and saw their smiles broaden.  I scanned some more faces and saw it repeated, and witnessed the creases in their crow’s feet deepen, too.  Some others applauded more heartily and fist bumped as he passed.   My insides swelled.  There was such tremendous and genuine affection and fondness in their expressions I found myself only watching the crowd as he passed.  Those that know him were beaming and it was a vision I will never, ever forget (memory be damned – it’s in a blog now   — #internetforever).

 

I don’t think anything could ever make me any prouder as a parent.

 

(In fact as soon as those wet towels are picked up I am soooo posting about it.)

 

Without question, I highly recommend reading the room whenever your kid walks in.  It just may give you all the validation you’ll ever need in life.

 

#   #   #   #

 

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/

Chapter 7:  Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/12/01/a-momoir-chapter-7-hello-happiness-are-you-out-there-hello-hello/

 

(SHORT READ!) Ugh. My Husband was Right. (I hate that)

pigs

(pigs in blankets — my idea, not his)

 

I don’t always listen to my husband.  I mean, come on, the guy sprouts jazz hands and waves them in the air (like he just don’t care) on dance floors.  But he’s pretty smart (never returns from NY without bagels and knishes for us) and every now and then he comes up with a pretty good idea.

 

He read a recent blog of mine and after offering his obligatory praise (see? smart) remarked that while he really liked it (dramatic pause while I failed in arching an eyebrow – seriously I am a biological bore – can’t roll my tongue either)… he said he thought it was a little long and remember when I used to write shorter, funnier pieces?

 

After I killed him in his sleep in my mind, I realized:  Hmmm.  He’s right.

 

A boatload of years ago I started blogging for the online version of a magazine-that-shall-not-be-named and used to post a slew of stories and funny experiences of my life.  Kids being a**holes?  Wrote about it.  Husband being insensitive?  Fer’surrre: written in all caps.

 

After that rag unceremoniously shut down their site (bitter much, T?) and I forged out on my own, I kinda got away from that.  Well, also in fairness, my kids hit their adolescence stage of development when, you know, every incident was a CASTASTROPHE and their mom was SO INCREDIBLY LAME so I did my best to protect their identities and embarrassment.

 

Well, now that they’re all cusping on adulthood and clearly could care less about their mom’s online presence (Breaking News, Kids:  Mom’s written a blog for a decade) I’m going to try to get back to that every now and then.

 

Sometimes I just want to rant (really?  Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper is released?  That is 100% bullsh*t).

 

Sometimes I just want to showcase my coolness (did you see Emila Clarke’s new tattoo of 3 baby dragons?)  *flips hair *  Sure, I follow her on Insta.

 

Sometimes I just want to throw a little shade on people I’ll never meet (MARIAH:  PLEASE STOP WEARING LINGERIE IN PUBLIC).

 

Sometimes I just want to spotlight stupidity (must we still be reminding women not to throw their nasty sanitary products in the toilet with embossed signage?)

 

And sometimes I just want my friend Mike to read some of my stuff because he’s always saying, “You’re funny, T, but that sh*t’s too long for me to get through.”  I get you, Mike, I get you.

 

So for these quick insights I’ll be keeping my eyes on the word count and when there’s a super short outburst coming your way I’ll use SHORT READ! or something like that in the title.  Maybe I’ll just post Mike’s picture.  Haven’t decided yet.

 

I’ve only got a few words left before signing off on this preliminary post of Seinfeld-nothingness so I’m just going to let everyone know I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole which is the “My Favorite Murder” podcast. Oh.  My.  Gawwwwd.  I just love it.  It is the hilarious reason why I’ve stopped interacting with my family while I’m cooking dinner and (admittedly) my coolness factor would have increased a year ago had I listened to my daughter and started it when she first told me about it.  Their tagline is “Stay Sexy.  Don’t Get Murdered.”  They are the best.

 

(Found a fork in the bathroom again, though, sooooooo kids are still being occasional a**holes.  Will have to get to that next time.)

Okay, that’s it.  I’m out.

MFM

(check them out)

 

(and this is Mike after reading one of my blogs….)

 

mike

 

 

 

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/

 

A Momoir, Chapter 6: I’m Not Always Like You, Mom. But That’s Okay.

terms

My kids always roll their eyes but they know better than to squint them and call bullshttt when I tell my stories.  They know the truth: that I am a living, breathing product of the (legendary) Unsupervised Generation.  I drank in junior high school.  I hitchhiked.  I rode public transportation before friends taught me how to drive.  I smoked.  I cut class.  I snuck in.  I snuck out.  I pretty much did unscrupulous things every chance I got.

 

My mother knew none of this.

 

I also did my homework without being told, got myself to school (and work and EVERYwhere else) without help and filled out college applications without so much as a sniff of curiosity from my mother.  I likewise ate what was prepared, picked up after myself and made sure to disagree with her in my head or into my pillow rather than unleash a fate far worse than my imagination could ever muster.

 

Despite the lack of assistance (or Uber) it was not a hard life.  If I’m being completely honest, it was fondly enjoyable even (you don’t say) without the internet.  It seems my generation was adulting before there was even a trendy term for it and I don’t remember anyone ever complaining about it.  There were fun times (drinking age = 18 = #seriously) and scary moments (drinking age = 18 = #seriously) and there was no shortage of regrets or mistakes or lessons learned.

 

Oddly enough, I grew into a mom who knows where her children are most of the time.  Kind of a weird paradox, I know.

 

Every year around this time at the anniversary of her passing, my thoughts drift to my mom.  She’s been gone seven years now and while there are moments when it feels like cliched yesterday, there are other times when it feels like I’ve been flailing through motherhood lost and adrift without her for longer than I can remember.  I often think about how similar we are (apologies to my better half for the insufferable German stubbornness) but more telling is how different we became as moms.

 

I imagine most people try to improve upon their own histories.  I know I do.

 

My earliest memory of telling my mother I loved her was from a pay phone in the hallway of my freshmen dormitory.  As I grew older it bothered me more and more that it might have been the first time I ever said those words aloud.  It affected me so profoundly the term became my personal pillar of parenting.  I’ve raised four kids who have been hearing it – and saying it — their entire lives:  into their phones, over their shoulders and across my kitchen counter.

 

My mom was a woman of few words when I was a teenager.  A divorced mother raising three kids alone wasn’t exactly the norm back in the early 80s.   She had a lot going on and kept her business to herself (lord, she would loathe Facebook today).  She didn’t banter with my friends (cannot lie, she was a wee bit feared), she didn’t know any of my friends’ parents and she was barely civil to my boyfriends (alright, looking back, perhaps she may have been on to something).

 

When I went through a high school breakup the only way she knew about it was when she heard Phil Collins’ “Throwing it All Away” on a six-day loop through my bedroom wall.  I’ll never forget her coming into my doorway and warily whispering, “Please.  Play another song.”   That was it.  No sentimental mother-daughter moment or long car ride for ice cream.   Onward I went.

 

Conversely, I chat up my kids’ squads all the time (interesting aside: my mom never used hip terms like squad because she could’ve cared less about appearing hip.  Again, why be hip when you can terrify?).  My own home often bustles with kids and I can get a hold of every parent with a single tap.   Contrary as well, when any of my own litter experiences heartache I am at the ready.  My eagle eye and alert ear can detect the slightest change in demeanor, attitude or (sigh) hygiene and my maternal senses hurl into overdrive.  I am at once a bevy of constant communication and presence to my troubled teens.    It appears I have become the nurturing contradiction of my own adolescence.  This is entirely surprising to me because – again — I never felt slighted or deficient in my own adolescence.  I can’t even recall any friend ever confiding in her mom back then either.  That’s what girlfriends had each other for.

 

My siblings and I would kid my mom mercilessly about her earlier Teflon exterior.  She was a tough one for sure but man, oh man, did she mellow out as time went on.  It might’ve been her second husband, who arrived just in time to steady her, lessened her load of financial worry and loved her endlessly.  More likely it was the welcome stream of good fortune that befell her family the second half of her lifetime.  After a difficult decade or so, my mom’s life blossomed and happiness settled in to reveal her softer, fiercely funny side that was clearly dormant in my own youth.  She was able to witness her three kids all marry and create enjoyable lives for themselves.   She was showered with ten – TEN! – grandchildren, the joy of which infused her every thought and attention (alas, cue in the dejected and forlorn look of abandonment from said second husband, forever delegated to the 11th spot in her life).

I wish she was here to see them all now.

 

I especially long for her to see mine.

 

My oldest was a high school senior and putting us through the ringer at the time of her illness.  Whisper as we tried to shield her from our own distress, she knew.  She always knew.  I would give anything for her to see how he turned things around to shine so brightly.  She would be over the moon with pride at the impressive young man he’s become.

 

Long before she died my mother had already taught my daughter how to sew but her protégé had only just begun to display her innate talent.  In the time she’s been gone my creative gal has gone on to teach herself how to knit, then crochet, then paint, then create jewelry, then, just recently, open an online store.  Without question these two special ladies were kindred spirits of an enviable kind.  I know the magnitude of her granddaughter’s natural gift would fill my mom to her absolute core and I wish she could revel in it.

 

She would still get the biggest kick out of my second son, whose devilish grin as the tween she adored now radiates the stubbled face of a young man.  He captures every nuance of my mom’s own unassuming and affable personality and she would be tickled at their spitfire similarity.  Gawd, if she ever caught sight of him in his college dress blues she might never stop showing his picture around Long Island.

She’d probably favor my youngest the most, a mere little boy when she left us. There was never any harm helping out the baby, she believed, because from any vantage point all the others always seemed unfairly ahead of the pack (*writer shakes head, remembering childhood).  My littlest’s unrivaled charm would find her putty in the palm of his hand.  If she could see him now she’d gush at his every accolade, triumph in his every touchdown and sneakily slip him a twenty whenever they were alone.

 

I get jealous of my fortunate friends who still have time with their moms.  I really do.  I hate that my kids won’t see their Nanny’s eyes glistening at their weddings.  I hate that they don’t get to hear any more of her stories.  They wouldn’t dare roll an eye at hers.  I hate that she’s not here to teach them more.

 

But if I find myself on a lonely road, I know too well my friends will eventually find themselves on a difficult one.  Aging parents leave battle scars endured only by the strongest of daughters.  I hope my familiarity and understanding of this stage of adulting is a comfort to them, for I’ll be at the ready for all of them when they need me.

 

I miss my mom at some moment in every day.

 

As the years tick on without her I shall remain incredibly bemused at our similarities (sarcasm, anyone?) and increasingly content with our differences (ummmm, mea culpa, mom, for the bandwagon Facebook brags).  Something tells me she would be nothing but overjoyed at the perfect metamorphosis of the Mom she raised.

 

(Finally, for what it’s worth, here’s my maternal postscript to my kids:   Yeah.  Just because I did it doesn’t mean you can.  Remember, spidey senses.  I catch EVERYthing.  Wink.)

 

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/

Getting’ the Band Back Together:  My Reverse Empty-Nest Experiment

groceries

I should probably start with a disclaimer: the blog you are about to read ends in a cliffhanger.

Alas folks, there will be no binge-reading to the end: you and I both will find out the outcome together in due time.

My two older children have returned home this summer, after living on their own for the past couple of years. Also, since starting college my third-born will be home full-time this summer as well. So now, after getting a (somewhat) sneak peek of what an empty nest might look like I’m back to a full house. Alrighty then. Anyone else excited to see how this (interim) honeymoon lasts?

I say somewhat because my nest hasn’t truly been empty. My youngest, still in high school, has always been here but you remember those days: between school and sports and work and a tendency for Taco Bell, his presence is usually only detected by his residual scent of deodorant or fresh globs of toothpaste on the counter (and mirror and floor and…). Plus my middle guy has been coming and going all year from his local college so sure, there’s been plenty of noise and laundry churning throughout the calendar.

I say interim because both adult children that have ventured out into the world have plans to resume their independent adult trajectories in the fall so this is basically a pit stop for them. A breather. An extended visit. I am a little more than well aware once our Summer of Love is over this might definitely be it for our party of six.

I’ve had some time to come to terms with our last hurrah but not so much the onslaught of well, stuff that comes with this reunion. And by stuff I really do mean stuff. The carloads of boxes that kept coming through the front door and up the stairs were anxiety inducing. With every Rubbermaid tote that passed I couldn’t help but feel the rooms shrinking in my once-spacious home.

Still, a few deep breaths exhaled and I turned on my heels and carried on.

I’m thinking my kids might be a little surprised to find their mom is a lot less uptight than when they were last here.

I’ve always run a pretty tight ship. You know, the usual: rules, respect (really, feel free to check out any earlier posts about my oldest son surviving high school with less electricity than the Amish. He’s pretty good at math but I’m fairly certain it’s because he may have been grounded and gotten his calculator taken away, too, so he had to adapt). I was always a stickler for mundane, common courtesy because seriously people, just pick up after yourselves and Psycho Mom stays dormant. I’ve always kept a relatively tidy (please don’t look closely at the baseboards) house. But the sheer volume of items currently dumped throughout the length of my second floor– approximately 2 apartments worth – has morphed my steely resolve into unashamed submission. No joke, there are presently areas of my house that are in violation of EPA regulations. But you know what? Rather than fret about what people might think about us filthy Americans (why bless your heart, is that two 55-inch televisions side by side???) I’m following the lead of a Disney princess and letting things go. All those cups and shoes and cereal bowls and food wrappers and sink hairs are rolling right off my furrowed brow for a few short weeks.

It’s a downright Fortnite free-for-all up in that family room right now but yes, while I chant to myself I can do this, I can do this, sometimes I catch myself grinning.

Oddly enough, I really, truly don’t mind the temporary chaos and disaster zone. Could it be that I’m older? Maybe a little bit more tired? Heck, I’ve written enough this year about life’s unexpected curveballs so I’m certain that silent thunder of time swooshing by is factoring into my Brand New Me. Whatever it may be I’ve decided to embrace my dog days of summer with my big, fat (filthy) family and ignore the mess.

It was simple serendipity that brought us all back under the same roof, not a grand master plan and (sniff) no one missing their mommy. It just kinda worked out, what with leases and jobs ending and future plans starting to gel into different zip codes.

So now my beds are full (although aarrrgh! this has significantly affected my options of refuge when there’s a rumbling bear dad sleeping next to me) and sometimes even the couches are full, too. I’ve come down many a morning to a sleeping figure in a room with lights on and electronics still buzzing. In the olden days that stuff used to chap my ass and I’d screech until the guilty retreated back to his own room. But now when I spy it, I turn off the juice, tiptoe out the door and go off to work.

It’s a mind shift. Rather than focus on all the frustrations that used to sour my mood almost daily, I am choosing instead to spend my summer in wonder.

I wonder if any of my kids even notice how much I’ve mellowed.

I wonder if the older ones are hissing a collective “What the %@&#*!!*” when I go to sleep before the younger ones even come home at night.

I wonder if my mom is rolling in her grave, seeing I’ve eschewed my own upbringing and have decided not to require rent/room & board from any of my adult children passing through this summer. I know, I know, I debated for a long time about this because I’ve held to it in the past. It’s never about the money (although, lord. that grocery bill). Plainly, I want my kids to think of their home as a place they can always come to, no matter what, without conditions, with no questions asked. Since this is likely the last time we’ll be living together I really want this time to be a happy memory for everyone. So, I’m sorry, mom, forgive me. Everyone’s getting a financial hall pass this summer.

I wonder if the plans my kids are making — the determined, fearless and optimistic blueprints they’ve designed to move across the country and move in with their sweethearts in search of adventure — will all work out.

I wonder if my younger ones will follow their siblings’ lead and leave their folks rattling around a big old house in due time.

I wonder if we folks will find ourselves kicking up our heels when they do… or living a plot twist by leaving it all behind to follow them.

I wonder about all these things as I’m food shopping and cooking and cleaning and stepping over things and sharing cars.

So yes, the rent and the laundry and the grocery bills and the mess … it’s all getting my Who Cares shrug for a little while because I’m enjoying my summer.

I find myself reveling in the late-night banter of siblings. It fills me completely.

I catch myself straining to listen to snippets of podcasts through bedroom doors and over shower water. I am fascinated with their interests.

I become elated to find everyone happens to be home for dinner on any occasional evening. Even if it’s a small 30-minutes for burgers on the grill before everyone scatters again, it’s a huge 30 minutes.

Huge.

But about that cliffhanger: we’ll just have to wait and see if Pollyanna is still skipping around her house in August picking up wet towels and humming sweetly about pole vaulting to get to her washing machine. Who knows, she might be long gone by the end of July (truth: it only took a few weeks before I declared no one was getting their favorite foods on my shopping list if their rooms weren’t picked up) so that should be interesting.

For now, we’re just taking it one day at a time.

Because every parent knows …

things go like this …..

kids3

to this ……

kids4

In a heartbreak heartbeat. xoxo

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/

 

 

Chapter 2: Sometimes Kids Suck. A lot.

ch 2

The idea for this book was derived a super long time ago, during one Christmas break when my then-teenaged daughter stopped talking to me (for a mountain of reasons that will be peppered throughout this momoir but really, it happened so often, does it matter?).  She was grounded for the entire vacation and I was committed to making sure she didn’t bolt or sneak out so I stayed home, too, (you will soon see why I’ve crowned myself the Mother of all Martyrs).  Misery may love company but cutting off a teenager from her friends is really quite satisfying.   I had a lot of free time so I just started taking notes.  Lots and lots of notes.  (A side note:  I take notes all the time because again, I am of a certain age and can only remember song lyrics of my youth.  Remember when I wrote on cocktail napkins to remember details of my hilarious cruise?)  Digressing again.  Anyway …

Ironically, she’d been pestering me to write a book for a long time.  Of course at that time her literary requirements consisted of summer love and vampires so I’m hoping she’s not too alarmed at what emerged from her urging.  Had she known my first attempt would be (somewhat – a quarter?) at her expense she might’ve toned down her behavior a notch, but hey, a book’s a book.

The last of my four children is now a teenager so I’d like to think I’ve gotten a decent handle on this adolescent thing.  You know, that out-of-the-blue explosion of angst and rage and emotion that’s been known to destroy a family dinner with a single grunt.  One thing I’ve found is it’s significantly easier dealing with irrational adolescent behavior when someone you know has already experienced it.  For example, one time upon hearing my daughter threaten to turn me into the authorities I (naturally) called her bluff, scoffing, “Go ahead – make the call.”

In retelling that story (who wouldn’t?) I discovered that my friend Jerry had a way better response when it happened to him.  He shouted back to his insolent teen, “Go ahead – make the call – and tell them to bring a body bag because they’ll be making a pick up!”

See?  Older and wiser plus additional experience equals a far funnier story.  I love Jerry.

It pays to surround yourself with people who have weathered earlier storms because someone else’s story will always top yours and you might realize we all come out alive.

Like I said, I’m no expert but I am somewhat experienced.  I know I’ve got more melodrama headed my way but for the record I’ve already survived:

A kid sneaking out of the house after I’d gone to bed.  Repeatedly.

A kid coming home high.

A kid lying, stealing, drinking, plagiarizing, and being an all-around dickhead.

A kid packing up a duffle bag and moving out six days before his high school graduation.

And about a gazillion other dizzying incidents that – God willing — may seem uproarious many, many years down the road.

That’s really my only goal here:  to one day find each excruciating and hellish kid antic humorous in some small way.  I think parenting is easier when you believe it might.

Haha, remember that year you got so angry you threw all your Christmas presents in the garbage?

                Remember when you fried your laptop by spilling nail polish remover?

                Hey, wasn’t that hilarious when you left all those wet towels on the floor and they permanently warped your floorboards?

                 Ohmygod how funny was that when you lost two cell phones in two months?

 

For sure, those are some things that were absolutely UNfunny when they were happening in real time.  But man, oh man, I think we all need to believe they will be one day.  I’m a big believer in camaraderie and an even bigger advocate in the healing power of laughter.  I think the world’s a prettier place with daily laughs and nightcaps, and Tylenol PM and a sound machine (oh wait, nevermind, that’s my bedtime list)  so I try to look on the brighter side of say, wanting to punch your kid in the face, and try to look for that clichéd light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s always best if that light isn’t an oncoming freight-train of a kid’s fury but deep breathing helps.  Sometimes.

Let’s be real:  kids suck a lot of the time.   They really do.  They test your inner core and oftentimes leave you questioning where you went wrong.  They make you wonder how their once-adoring eyes could ever hold such genuine resentment of you.   They continuously criticize you, and complain about you, and keep so much of their real selves hidden that you’re convinced they were swapped in the hospital. But we stick to the plan because at some moment in a lifetime a hundred years ago we, too, loathed our lame parents the exact same way.  I think deep down we all know that one day this moment in time will be amusing and our Good Kid is going to return and we might actually like each other again.  It’ll happen.  Right?

I’m here to attest that yes, it will.

Hopefully your good days outnumber your sucky ones because – especially if your children are still small — there will definitely be some doozies to come.  Just remember that despite their declarations to the contrary, we are all good moms doing our best.  If you’re like me, you’re making some major-ass mistakes (letting my 11-year-old be the Beer Pong ringer at his cousin’s grad party?  Perhaps not my finest mom moment) but at least we’re learning as we go.

My missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.

I scoop wet towels off various floors and toss them in the dryer every day without washing them.  Every.  Single.  Day.

I also cut off my kids’ cell service when I couldn’t withstand one more minute of backtalk … and then forgot to pick them up because I hadn’t heard from them.

There was also a time (only once, I swear) when I texted my kid’s coach (perhaps … not … entirely … sober) to squawk about his playing time (a side note: if you’re going to try this, which I wholeheartedly do NOT recommend, first make sure the coach is one helluva good guy).  Nevertheless, not an entirely proud moment.  AT ALL.

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 find it.

I wouldn’t order my daughter’s prom dress because she didn’t clean her room.  And that was our deal – that it had to be Mom Clean first. But it never was.   So guess what?   She borrowed a dress and – gasp! – lived.  If you can imagine, that scene was absolutely apocalyptic at the time (upcoming chapter entitled Got Girls?  Get Wine) and (irony) I’m sure she doesn’t even remember that story now.

I’ve even changed the locks to make a rebellious teen know for damn sure that I was completely, stick-a-fork-in-me done with his nonsense.

I’m amassing a pretty extensive list but I don’t let it get me down.  It pays to remember:  The worst thing you will ever experience has always been weathered by someone else.  I try to focus on the fleeting blips of positive.  I’m pretty sure that for every really (really) lousy thing I do (or, in the case of changing sheets, don’t do), I make up for it in other ways.  For instance, even though they tower over me now, I still kiss my kids a lot.  And I tell them I love them all the time.  I always have.  The words are spoken so often that I now possess three sons who actually say it back to me even without a money transaction:  in front of their friends, over their shoulders as they’re scooting out the door, and (yes, sir) sometimes even when they’re mad at me.  And teens are mad a lot.  One time, when it dawned on me that my moody and excessively 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.  We’re moms.  We’ll do whatever it takes.

My home is pretty nasty at times (here comes my pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah;  you know, spoken as if she’s one of us and might have some dust in her life) but I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless.  There are still moments when I watch my kids from afar.  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.

Nowadays I don’t have to write much down since I can immediately promote their perfections and pitfalls in my blogs and the super honest billboard of Facebook (insert many laughing emojis) but one thing’s for sure:  these babies grow up when we’re not even looking and life is too damn short to dwell on dirty sheets and sour demeanors.

Yes, oh yes, kids do suck.  But when they’re in the back seat of a (cough, extremely cool) minivan giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they suck a little less and 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.     I loved those moments.  It’s all about the moments.

 

My kids may roll their eyes at my I-pod but hell to the yeah, they know all my songs.

Now that they’re older and (* makes the sign of the cross) out in public without me, every now and then I’ll get the mother of all compliments (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, because who knows, maybe I just may be onto something here.

#     #     #     #

 

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/

 

 

 

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.