Tag Archives: Home

Kid-Free Vacations: Parenting Guilt or Brilliance?

home alone

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

 

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

 

Good God.  What was I thinking?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Nice.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.

 

 

Cancun Can(‘t) Do

cancun

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Tequila volleyball began at noon.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook.

College Bound: Gone Like a Freight Train

college bound

 

“She

(we gave her most of our lives)

Is leaving

(sacrificed most of our lives)

home.”

The Beatles

 

 

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

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

Hall and Oates

 

 

“Gone like a freight train.”

Montgomery Gentry

 

 

 

 

The girl has left the building.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

She was a blur.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

That happened a few times.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

But I know she is only gone for a while.

 

And I miss her.  A lot.

 

 

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

 

“I miss you guys.”

 

 

 

See that?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

 

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

About that…

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

So Ball-Buster Mom made $250.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular, 1984” first on her list of achievements.  She takes on cyberspace @Eyerollingmom  and Eyerollingmom.

Keeping the Peace: 5 Things Your High School Graduate Needs to Hear

Teenagers hands playing tug-of-war with used rope

 

 

Nothing screams middle age like having high school graduates for kids.  And nothing screams may-not-make-it-to-old-age like the arguments that ensue with these kids once they’ve tossed a tasseled mortarboard into the air.  If you have the pleasure of living with young adults under your roof, pour a glass and make sure there’s ink in your printer.  Remember seeing your mom’s yellowed Dear Abby column taped to the fridge?  You may want to start up that tradition.

 

If living harmoniously is your goal, then without question, these 5 things need to be said to your young adult:

 

 

You will contribute financially to this household.

You can call it rent, or room and board or even living fees.  But the truth is, something’s got to get coughed up each week and it has little to do with the obvious fact that everything increases with every warm body that is planted in a home.  Food, water, electric, cable, everything.  That’s a no-brainer.  The more important reason for pitching into the household is because you should, that’s why.   If you’re not working hard enough to fork over money each week, then you’re not working hard enough.  Period.  Throw in a few home cooked meals and access to laundry and you’d be up a creek if you had to REALLY pay for all this stuff outside of this home.  Be happy to hand over a minimal yet reasonable amount.  You don’t see it now but this absurd and unfair demand is building character and an appreciation for what things cost, of which you truly have no idea.

 

This is my house, therefore it is MY bedroom.  You get to sleep in it.

You are welcome to enjoy continued privacy in this space that is covered under my mortgage payment, so long as you respect this space.  Foul smells coming out of it render your privacy null and void.  The detection of wet towels, food items or ANY suspicion of conduct unbecoming also nullifies the terms of your privacy.

 

We are your family, not your room mates.

Picking up after yourself is a sign of respect for those who live among you.  Not doing so is a blatant sign of immaturity which indicates you simply do not understand this.  No one wants to see hairs in a sink, step on toenail clippings or find food, utensils, blood, body parts or schmegma in the bathroom.  If people can figure out what you’ve eaten for breakfast based on the remains left on the kitchen counter, you are being rude. The maid is far too busy pruning the money tree out back.  Put stuff away and get rid of your own mess. Common courtesy, that’s all.

 

Rules are in place for respect, not ridicule.

We get it.  We were there once, too.  You’re not the first kid to return from college only to shriek about all the humiliating injustices of your parents.  But if you’ve been given a curfew, it’s likely because you’ve given us reason to give one.  If you’ve been given limits on the car you’re driving, the same holds true.  The easiest fix for this is to start doing what’s requested of you, understand the importance of proving your maturity through actions over words and earn OUR respect.  Want to come and go at your own leisure? Simply buy your own car and pay your own insurance.

 

 

Being over 18 doesn’t make you a grown up. 

Please.  Stop stomping your feet, diploma in hand, and screaming that you’re an adult now.  It only makes us giggle.  The only thing you’ve accomplished to date is getting through high school.  Big whoop.  It’s the 21st century, filled with technology that practically reads the books for you.  You’re supposed to finish high school.   Whatever path you’re on right now doesn’t detract from the reality that you are presently living with your mommy and daddy and you will not – cannot – be considered a grown up under these amusing circumstances.  Until you are financially independent you are decidedly NOT a grown up.   Don’t be mad.  Don’t sulk.  And don’t ever be foolish enough to think the grass is greener elsewhere.  I defy you to find a living situation better than here (yet if you do, I will most certainly help you pack your things).     My motivation is solely love.  I am doing my part in preparing you to be a good wife, mother, or husband, a stellar employee, an upstanding citizen or an under-the-radar inmate.

You.  Are.  Welcome.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

.

 

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. –

Look Away Kids, Grandma’s Naked on the Internet. On Purpose.

hipster

 

I own four children between the ages of 13 and 20.  Two college age and two teenagers (good times at that supermarket checkout, eh?) so I consider myself a bit well, seasoned.  While little sends me into a complete tailspin, I have to admit, keeping up the façade of a hipster mom is tough work.  There are some things I just do not get.

 

Crazy, controversial pop stars?  I totally get them.  Hard as she tries, little Miley and her rebel tongue can’t hold a candle to my generation’s Sinead O’Connor and her moment of blasphemy … or our Michael Jackson and his evolution of weird … even the evil Madonna and her hairy armpits (and hey! those unruly pits are back – and she’s like,  60!  You go gurl!). So I get the nutty need for spotlight and notoriety.  Twerk away, you silly, silly children.

 

But what I don’t get is Chris Brown.  Specifically that he takes a stage and is greeted by tens of thousands of adoring fans and is publicly embraced by his famous colleagues. For real?  I don’t get that. At all.  Never will.

 

I get the craze of do-it-yourself projects (says the – cough – reality TV has-been) … but I don’t get Pinterest.  I see it as a junk drawer of activities and recipes that will never see the light of day, kinda like a failure cupcake frosted with optimism.

 

I get helicopter parents (because I personally know a boatload of teenagers that couldn’t place a coffee order correctly let alone apply to college without help) … but I don’t get “affluenza” as a legitimate means of defense for murder.  Popular theory says entitlement is a pretty big problem with generation x, y and zzzz-ers but – good God –if parents are raising children without any modicum of remorse or accountability, perhaps then the parents should do some time.

 

I get that the internet has become this gigantic billboard for personal achievement and in-your-face braggadocio and (shrug) I think that’s fine.  I’ve been known to post some good fortune — or better, the elusive I-don’t-look-fatin-this photo once or twice (cue in collective eyeroll from spouse).  Over the top bragging isn’t a crime  (and some days it’s downright hilarious, thanks to all the folks who haven’t yet realized their kids aren’t as cute as they imagine) so I’m a fan.

 

But.

 

And this is a might big but.

 

I do not – and can not – and will not – ever understand the act of average people using the internet to post unbelievably awful and (wait for it …) NAKED pictures of themselves.

 

Funny story about how I might know this:

 

Being of a certain age, I’ll be the first to admit social media is a herculean task.  The tweets, the shares, the posts, the blog, the tumbles, the hashtags, the pictures, the OhMyFreakingGod, staying visible and relevant on the damn inter-web is a full-time freaking job.  For a generation that wasn’t born sucking on an I-Pad, mastering all this crap is really the pits.

 

Still, I trudge on, every month or so tackling another little tidbit of cyber success.  I get myself on Twitter or set up a Tumblr account, whatever I can learn on my own (because hello, there’s only so much once can ask her kids before losing massive amounts of street cred).  So yay me.

 

But the problem is, I’ll do all this techno trailblazing and then sorta forget about it all for awhile.  So I basically have no idea what’s going on with any of this stuff.  My hipster-O-meter drops into the danger zone during these times.

 

But every now and then I’ll become inspired and will check on all my accounts.  At first I’d simply chuckle at my X-rated Twitter followers.  Why HotCumDelight would want to follow Eyerollingmom is a mystery to me, but hey, a follower’s a follower.  Why should I care?  Woo Hoo, my 49 fans just jumped to 50!  Yay me AGAIN!

 

One day (out of boredom?  curiosity?  a bathroom break?  can’t remember) I actually clicked on a follower from one of my accounts and was shocked to the point of revulsion.  Porn site, you ask?   Nope.   Worse.

 

It was a place where average women posted naked selfies of themselves.  I’m talking naked and knowing – as in smiling at the camera – in all states of lewd poses.  Women of all ages (shudder, Golden Girls included) happily allowing another person to take their nasty naked picture.  Then posting it onto the world wide web.

 

It was sickening.  I kept expecting to look over my shoulder and spy Rod Serling.

 

It scarred me so deeply I had to stay off my laptop for almost 30 minutes.

 

If seeing granny’s gems or Aunt Sylvia’s stretch marks is going to keep me hip, sorry folks, it’s back to Nerdville I go.

Ick, ick, ick.

 

 

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. –

When the Sandwich Generation Loses Bread: Now What?

sandwich

Now that my step-father has passed away, I am parent-less. It very well may be that the idea of this is more unsettling than the actuality of it.

 

As many adult children will concur, when a parent is sick it is all consuming.  Your own life becomes a secondary area of maintenance.  You rely on spouses and friends and neighbors to ensure everyone is fed and transported while you tend to your beloved mom or dad or, in this case, step-dad (which puts a slightly different spin on things, which I’ll get to in a bit).

 

Illness, even while happening at a snail’s pace, oddly blurs through your life at a breakneck speed.   But when illness has taken its ultimate toll and you’re done plowing through arrangements and funerals and logistics and planning … it’s still some time before you notice the finality of events.

 

Suddenly one day you’re no longer worrying about a sick parent.  Or any parent.  And it’s kind of a weird thing.  As a parent, with parents, I had many roles.  Now, not so much.

 

When you do focus on your family again you might notice – really notice – that your kids are taller, or your dog’s fatter or your home’s exterior paint looks pretty crappy.  You can move forward and tend to things you hadn’t given much thought to in a long, long time.

 

It’s a new page in a new chapter.

 

And it startles me that the act of putting together photo boards for a wake makes me realize how few pictures I’ve actually taken the time to print out of late.  Damn Facebook.

 

The short story, still chock full of irony, is that my mom passed away almost three years ago, leaving behind her husband, my step-father – a man 20 years older, in failing health, and completely in the throes of elderly entitlement and negative outlook.  He was pushing 90 at the time of her death and had lived the life of a quintessential old school husband – completely assuming that any female in the room might be happy to fix him a plate of food or gladly accept the wad of cash (his salary) that he’d hand over in exchange for taking care of him completely.

 

Saddled with the reality that he could no sooner walk to the mailbox than live alone, there was more than one occasion when my sister and I looked at each other with a “wtf?” glare of disbelief.  My mother had a wicked sense of humor.  (Well played, Mom, well played.)  We took care of him from the minute she was gone and (with great patience) journeyed with him for two years, nine months and nine days until he was able to get to where he really wanted to be;  back by her side.

 

He came into our lives while we were ensconced in adolescence, a knight in shining armor to a single mother of three children, and we treated him with the indifference any teenager might have.  So long as he didn’t interfere with our Friday nights in the Burger King parking lot, what did we care who he was or what he did?

 

But what he did was nothing short of amazing.

 

He put my mother on a pedestal for more than 30 years.  He taught us to drive.  He absorbed every icy shout of “YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER!” we could hurl.  And with every infuriating and bigoted nuance of his personality (“…please stop calling them colored people, it’s been frowned upon for a long time now…”) we came to love him deeply.

 

He walked my sister and I down the aisle.

 

He was present for the births of 10 grandchildren.

 

He never gave up on the Mets.

 

He ate 4 Eggo waffles with his coffee every morning before 6am, securing  the adored “Grandpa Eggo” into our vernacular for always.

 

And yes, with his nifty black glasses on, he resembled Carl Frederickson from the movie “UP.”

 

We will forever smile at that.

 

He was a kind and decent man and lived a full life with the woman of his dreams and a family that embraced him.  I am not saddened that he’s gone because while putting on a brave face, he has been lost and aimless and miserable living in a world without my mom. But I can’t help but be a bit melancholy, though, because in times like these, our own mortality blazes in our minds.

 

Cheers to a man who brought smiles to so many.

 

And apologies to my children, who now have a mom that can fully devote every ounce of her attention on them … and their schoolwork … and the state of their bedrooms … and their behavior … and their curfews … and …

 

UP

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” She takes on the cyberspace @Eyerollingmom  and Eyerollingmom.

 

 

When it Comes to this Mothering Thing, Who’s Better at it: You or Your Mom?

okay mom

I never talked back to my parents.  Yet my own kids talk back to me. A lot.

 

My children also raise their voices to me when they’re angry. Think back: would you ever?

 

Worse still, I often have to tell my spawn to do something multiple times — multiple times —because my continuous requests are repeatedly ignored.  Can you even imagine?

 

As another Mother’s Day approaches I can’t help but reflect on how remarkably different I parent than my mother did.  When I dig deep I have to admit:  there are times I feel completely overrun by the people in my home that are less than half my age.  I don’t think my own mother ever felt that way one day of her life.  In fact, she wouldn’t put up with one minute of what I tolerate from my children.

 

Does that make me a worse mom than her?

 

In all fairness I should throw it out there that my kids are not rotten.  Not in the least.  And never have been.  They were never the tantrum-throwing toddlers in the restaurant, or the give-a-pinch-when-a-grown-up’s-not-looking schoolyard brat or the current topic of conversation in the teachers’ lunchroom (didn’t know about that? oops, spillin’ secrets here).  They happen to be the epitome of respectful individuals when out in the real world and are quite well liked.  Actually, if I’m being completely honest I’d have to say they are, in fact, fairly boast-worthy children.

 

So why do they shit on me?

 

Usually after a particularly bad display of disrespect from one (or two, or three, or all four) of our kids, my husband and I will have conversations about this, scratching our heads (okay, maybe while downing beers).  We question how in the world we got to be parents of children who easily display behavior that would’ve resulted in a swift backhand from any – and all – of our own parents.

 

We think back and remember the fear in our homes and the physical repercussions of any type of conduct unbecoming.  It certainly wasn’t unusual back then.  Actually, it was very, very typical.  We all did what we were told – the first time – because it far surpassed the alternative of NOT doing so.

 

But there is no fear in my own home today.  There is no apprehension for questioning or stating opinion or disagreeing.  It gets loud, sure, and at times inappropriate, but no one’s ever hesitant about speaking up.

 

There are other blatant differences in my home now that speak volumes to how very different my parenting style is from my mom’s.

 

For instance, my kids talk to me way more than I ever talked to my mother at their ages – about cringe-worthy topics that would zap the frost straight out of my mom’s bouffant.  Eighth grade girls doing decidedly un-eighth grade things in the way back of a bus on a school trip?  Sixth grade classmates experimenting with drugs?  You name it.  Details are anted up without pause, over nightly bowls of pasta or during car rides to practice.  Like, nothing.  No big deal.

 

Also, my kids tell me they love me – all the time and for no particular reason.  My first distinct memory of saying “I love you”— out loud — to my mom was from a payphone in the middle of a dormitory hallway during my freshman year in college.  As I am forced to go through my third Mother’s Day without her, my heart still gets heavy when I think of this and my regret pains me.  It was way, way too late in life to have started that.

 

No doubt about it, my kids are being raised in a different world entirely.  My mother didn’t socialize with my friends’ parents. I would venture she didn’t know most of their names at all.  She didn’t come to many school events and never checked to see if I was doing homework.

 

If I had to make a list, I’m pretty sure I’m involved in a gazillion more things with my four than my mom ever was for me.

 

Yet the loves of my loins – all of them – have moments of intolerable selfishness, insufferable self-absorption, whininess, rudeness and petulance.  And – why hold back now — they occasionally swear.

 

So I do wonder:  Who’s done a better job at this mothering thing, me or mine?

 

What do you think?

 

With all her failings, my mother’s love for me was ferocious and I knew that every day of my life.  She raised kind, smart and capable children.

 

With my own failings, my love for my children is ferocious and they, too, know it every day of their lives..  I am raising kind, smart and capable children.

 

I’d say we both win this one.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of us – the successful ones, the failing ones and the holding-on-for-dear-life ones.   We got this.

 

 

 

 

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just featured in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” She takes on the cyberspace @Eyerollingmom  and Eyerollingmom.

Eyerollingmom’s Top Ten Truths of Motherhood

mothersday

 

Eyerollingmom’s Top Ten Truths of Motherhood

10)        Every child – not just yours – picks his nose and smears the contents on the wall near their bed.  A brilliant Mom will allow them to harden, then hand over a scraper, then say, “Get to work.”

 

9)         No matter how stinking cute your toddler looks in his feetie pajamas … you will want to be rid of him approximately twelve years later. Keep photos of this stage handy.  You will need reminders when he travels to the un-cute side of adolescence.

 

8)         The first few times you sit in the passenger seat of a newly-permitted teen driver, you will believe you might eat a roadside mailbox.

 

7)         When a child wets the bed … flipping him over to the opposite side of the mattress is intelligence, not laziness.

 

6)         Adolescent girls like no one.  Not their mothers.  Not their friends.  Not themselves.  Zip yourself snug into that thick skin and hold on tight.  For this tsunami of time I say, “Got girls?  Get wine.”

 

5)         No one – at any time – ever – cares to hear your labor and delivery stories.  Why?  Because everyone else’s are way funnier, far more dramatic and significantly gorier.  Really.  Just ask them.

 

4)         If your child ever has the utter misfortune of eating poop … and his siblings have the serendipitous good fortune of witnessing it … there will never again be a more riot-inducing laugh fest at your dinner table.  Forever.

 

3)         Don’t act all smart and self-righteous for banning your ‘tween son from Facebook … or limiting his computer time … or taking away his Xbox … when you’ve already (naively) provided him with a smartphone.  For middle schoolers, these are merely handheld portals to porn.  Shazam.

 

2)         If you’ve skipped pages of bedtime stories … or driven past the library only to hear a small voice in the backseat say in wonder, “Hey, I think I remember that place …” … or signed homework pages you’ve not actually looked at … then rest assured, you are far from alone.

1)         Every once in a while your kid is going to do something incredibly stupid.  Or sorrowfully bad.  Or dishearteningly immoral.  Or fretfully embarrassing.  Or uncharacteristically out of character.  Without question, it will be the darkest days you’ve ever encountered as a Mom.  You will be overcome with sadness and will wistfully recall the good times, the fun moments, and the sweetness of happier days.  Keep the faith.  SOmetimes kids are just dumb for a little while.  One day when you least expect it, when you stop paying attention, and stop longing and praying, the clouds will suddenly lift.  And your awesome and funny and beautiful and charming and loving child will be back.

 

And you will feel the Mom joy once again.

 

Happens every time.

Happy Mother’s Day to All of us!

 

 

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/

 

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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