Tag Archives: Humor

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/

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A Momoir, Chapter 5: The Magnitude of the Middle-Aged Mom

wine

 

I’m at that age where my chin hair is growing in quicker than my leg hair.  It’s okay, so far there’s not a lot of it.  Just the occasional (cough, frequent) white, barbed wire-ish strand that I’ll absent-mindedly touch, then maniacally pick at, then frantically keep feeling for, then obsess over for the remainder of the day until I can yank it.  (I now keep tweezers in my desk at work.  I also keep fiber powder in there, too, so I bet you can tell where this is heading.)  It’s not pretty but it turns out there are far worse things to fret about once you reach The Milestone birthday.

 

I try to remain positive but I’ll admit I’m finding middle age to be quite galling.  Things are happening to my body utterly out of the blue, completely without reason and entirely against my will.  Yes, there are things women who’ve celebrated The Milestone know are coming.  We’ve been duly cautioned that hitting a certain age may find our hair turning to straw, our necks morphing into topical maps and our midsection gaining independence as its own sovereignty. We’re also aware that despite how much we slather, our crypt keeper hands will forever tattle our true age.  But hang on now.  There is some serious unpleasantness happening on the downslope of that hill that people keep leaving off the memo.  Some of that stuff probably deserves a heads up.

 

For instance, how come no one ever tells us we will never sleep again?  FortheloveofGod, most of us haven’t even caught up yet from the sleep deprivation of having babies.  It is cruelly ironic that this bombshell comes on the heels of hearing every fitness expert alive shouting the same warning:  that women cannot ever (EVER) lose weight unless we are getting a good night’s sleep.  Whaaaaat?

 

Where’s the asterisk on this throat-punch revelation that also reveals – SURPRISE! – 90-minute-intervals of (let’s call them) naps are your new nighttime from this day forward.  Hissss.

 

Every single night I find myself sweltering …  until I am convinced I am frost-bitten … or I am passed-out-exhausted …. until I am wide awake an hour and a half later – for the rest of the night.  My better half and I (wisely) upgraded to a king-sized bed a few years ago and between our alternating aches and pains and our temperature battles and our long-nights-journeying-into-days… I’ll be dammed if that bed sometimes just isn’t big enough.  It really blows.

 

Also, speaking of missing chapters in the guidebook, what about the poo?  (That opening paragraph wasn’t a red herring; you knew this was coming.) Good grief, just when we’ve got diapers AND adolescence (those inimitable non-flushing years) in our rearview mirror, all of a sudden poo is a thing again?  What.  The.  Fkkkkk?   I used to go away for entire weekends and – legit – not go to the bathroom until I was safely back home three days later (yeah, that freaked out my man in the worst of ways).  I used to marvel at friends who could effortlessly go multiple times a day, whenever and wherever they wanted to (complete freaks, if you ask me) because nope, that was not me at all.   Welp.  No sooner did I blow out a few dozen candles on a birthday cake did a tsunami of change sweep in.  I’ve had more times when I’ve entered a ladies room to pee and — what the – let’s just say did a helluva lot more than pee in there.  No joke:  when it first started happening my initial shock was palpable:  I wouldn’t have been more surprised if another baby had dropped out of my body and into that toilet.   Worse, no sooner did the new me start seeing lavatories in a different light did my doctor start heralding fiber as the cure-all to everything.  You have got to be kidding me (now you understand the aforementioned office staple, next to my tweezers).

At this point though, a couple of years into my brave new world of Milestone Menopause, my reaction is a more mellowed meh and a shrug.  Sigh.  Tis just poo.

 

Fo’ sho’:  this getting old thing is not for the weak.

Without question, there are some pretty awful things about middle age: the overwhelming feeling of incompetency that comes with re-entering the work force (or – kill us — the dating game), having to navigate the holy hell that is social media (screw you, Snapchat, you’re stupid), even the phantom pains that spring up for no apparent reason (like rising from the couch.  UGH).  Throw in ridiculous weight gains and all the daily directives to give up sugar and dairy and alcohol and animal protein and carbs and be sure to walk six miles a day and do yoga stretches and meditate and take your Me Time and enjoy life (without dairy or alcohol or animal protein or carbs) and OHMYGAAAAWD.  Who saw this coming?  Remember when we used to complain about baby throw-up on our shoulders?

Deep breath.

Here’s the glass half full:  It’s not all doom and despair.  There are some super cool things about middle age, too.  It is without question a great, great time to be a mom.  Our kids are getting older, becoming real people, doing awesome things and becoming more companions than charges.  Somewhere down the road they become fun:  we can now play off-color board games with them and watch R-rated movies without hiding under pillows with embarrassment.  Another truth: I am a completely different mom than I was so many years ago, a lot calmer and less uptight.  Hell, I’ve even stopped screaming.  Now I go low:  the more my kids yell in protest (because hello, I’m not dead – there are still RULES, PEOPLE) the lower my voice gets when reacting to their nonsense.  It’s like a villainous whisper out of a Saw movie and I highly recommend it; kids can’t grasp what hit them when we start acting like Anti-Mom, the total stranger who’s shown up to guide them from this day forward. Trust me, good times.

Middle age also gives us a boatload of hall passes for dumb things.  We can completely ignore pop culture now because it has very little to do with us and that’s a blessing.  Remember when it did?  Remember when a sexy, ripped sweatshirt, some leg warmers and a dream made us believe we could escape a steel town?  Remember when we wore business suits with (cringe) sneakers and socks and didn’t think for a minute it’d hurt our chances at a promotion?  Remember how we worried if our lives measured up without city friends or coffee shops or Manolo Blahniks?

Turns out, a surge of self-confidence comes in with The Milestone and makes us realize we could care less what people think about our minivans and mom jeans.  I don’t understand any song on the radio and I don’t want to because it seems everyone’s supposed to be grinding or smoking weed or living the thug life.  Please.  I’m happy to stay out of the loop on a lot of things now.  Pass the Dutchie and allow me my presets of classic rock stations, thankyouverymuch.  Keep your Kardashians and if I need a role model I’ll just Google Christie Brinkley because holy mackerel, have you seen her lately? — that chick is ridiculous

 

We’ve been liberated:  anyone out there really give a rat’s ass about Iggy Azalea?  Didn’t think so.

We’re in a pretty good place now for sure but I’d be remiss if I didn’t reveal the absolute worst thing nobody ever tells you about hitting The Milestone.  This one’s a doozie and I completely understand why no one talks about it.  It’s the freight train that body slams you and knocks out your breath and is far more sinister than sleepless nights and bowel issues and belly fat and reading glasses in very room of the house.

 

What could be so bad, you ask?

 

How about the insane ticking of time – more like a Telltale Heart thumping – that is constant within your head?

 

Once you’re over The Milestone mountain there’s rarely a day that ends without at least one thought about the passage of time.  It usually catches me by surprise when I least expect it, on the most innocent of occasions, and some days it’s just devastating.  I once scrolled past a Facebook meme and became paralyzed at the words:

“One day you will pick up your child for the very last time and not even know it…”

The raw truth of that statement shattered me.  My mind raced to try to remember.  When did I last hoist any of them up onto my hip?  How old were they… five?  Seven?  Eight?  How could I not know?

 

How could I not know?

 

That simple sentence stayed with me – and saddened me – for days.

 

Another time my son tried to drum up some laughs by popping in an old video of his mom — super-duper un-sober — at a neighborhood party a dozen years earlier.  Alright, alright, alright, while not my finest mom moment, I’ll admit it was pretty funny.  But as the tape played I soon became fixated at the sight of him — my tow-headed little prankster — running around the scene in the background, no more than 5 years old.  It was like falling down a rabbit hole.  I became transfixed, watching him jump into my lap and snuggle into my neck, my neck which now, a dozen years later, may be morphing into a topical map.

It was debilitating.  I pretended to laugh along with him in present day but inside … my heart was aching at the past, watching both his little hands hold my face and kiss me sweetly.

My eyes flickered between the screen and his college-age, muscular, hirsute frame.

 

How in the world did I get here so fast?

Tick tick tick.

Thumpthumpthumpthumpthump.

 

I don’t care about my crows feet.  I don’t mind the girth of my muffin top.  And being ready for bed by 9pm most nights really doesn’t bother me, either.

But the ferocious speed of traveling down the other side of the hill?

That is without question the absolute worst part about hitting The Milestone.

Really.  I’d take the poo any day over that.

*     *     *      *      *      *

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/

 

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. 

I Was On Trading Spaces (and my friends still talk to me)

Trading

My friends saw this coming. Hell yeah, they did.

They all knew without a doubt there was no way I was ever getting to the premiere of the Trading Spaces reboot without shouting “I DID THAT!” from as many soapboxes that’d hold me.

The truth is, with the exception of tearing up Nashville on my milestone birthday, getting on that ubiquitous show (gulp) fifteen years ago was THE most significant fun I’ve ever had.  That it threw me into the pop culture spotlight was more than this publicity-whore could ever fathom.

We had the great fortune of coming in at Season 4, at the height of the show’s popularity.  Ratings were soaring so they’d decided to blow out all the stops to keep the momentum steamrolling: with cameras rolling to catch our genuine reactions, we four unsuspecting friends were told our decorating budgets had been increased from $1000 …. to $50,000  (Insert string of disbelieving emojis, which weren’t even a thing back in 2003).    We had been selected for their “Trading Spaces:  100 Grand!” 2-hour special and like Ed McMahon showing up with a cardboard check the size of a canoe, we hit the jackpot.

We spent the weekend listening to Ty Pennington strumming his guitar at night.  We saw just how scripted unscripted television really is.  And we formed favorites in the cast (who was our least favorite?  I’d tell you in person only – winking emoji).

It was quite spectacular.

The episode had been pre-planned with nary a nod in our direction.  To them, we were more props than people but we happily went along for the ride.  Sponsors had been lined up for months and we sat back and watched as trucks of furnishings, appliances, electronics and plasma TVs (again, the year is 2003 so this was a very Jetsons-like moment) just appeared.

I cried into my lapel mic that unless someone in my graduating class had scaled Mt. Everest that summer I was definitely going to be the hottest shttt at my upcoming high school reunion.  I was.

For a full two weeks following the reveal, after we’d moved back in, given away our old furniture to stunned friends and neighbors and tried to resume a normal life (no easy feat since we were expected to keep things under wraps until the our episode aired at the height of Sweeps eight weeks later) I would still come downstairs in the mornings and become overwhelmed with emotion.  I’d look around in disbelief, feeling the adrenaline and exhaustion of the experience come flooding back and sob.  Every morning.  I’d dry my tears before the kids came bounding down and did my best to keep them – ages 2 through 10 —  off of $800 white chairs and a $4500 silk rug and far, far away from a $1600 table lamp. (Side note:  15 years later those chairs, though no longer white (fabric spray paint!)  are still holding up and the lamp has survived multiple close calls (because, boys.  derr.).  Not so lucky for the $5000 plasma.  Hey.  There’s only so much 4 kids can control (and rumor has it they’re blaming me for that one) but all good.

The publicity for the show’s premiere was behemoth.  We were a segment on the Today show, appeared in USA Today and dominated our own local newspapers for weeks.  After the show aired I was stopped in parking lots.  Yes, that was me; yes, I’m still using coupons (laughing emoji).  Whatever they did was lightning in a bottle:  our 2-hours on basic cable garnered the highest ratings a non-network show had ever seen.  And they did it without Twitter.  Imagine that.

To promote the upcoming reboot they’ve been showing lots of old episodes to drum up hype but I know mine won’t be aired.  My episode aired at the height of the show’s popularity and it was the first of many gimmicks they employed to breathe new life into a show that inevitably saw a revolving door of cast changes.  I get it.  It happens to the best of shows (we got over it Mr. Clooney but we certainly missed our Dr. Ross when you bailed).  I know they’ve gone back to basics to give the people what they enjoyed the first go-round (you know, like the simple, original format Roseanne’s currently mining) but that’s okay, I concur with the smart move (and really, I have a VHS.  Again, all good).

We’ve since moved out of our “Trading Spaces” house and have downgraded to rugs from Home Goods but we keep some framed pictures around the place to remember our good fortune.  Plus, I’ve got a killer scrap book from that time.

I’ll likely talk about it forever but I guess a once in a lifetime experience like that gets a permanent hall pass.  My friends know I still find ways to sneak it into random (cough, deliberate) conversations and they tolerate me all the same.  True story:  I was recently sitting at a restaurant bar chatting with a feisty senior next to me, a fellow Friday-happy-hour-early-bird-special-enthusiast.  She was describing where she lived and — not even kidding — OUT OF THE BLUE said her house was “right near where that TV show came to town…”.    I think I may have slapped her shoulder.   My eyes lit up and I stage whispered “That was us…”   My husband actually kicked me but it was for naught; she didn’t even hear me (because, hearing aid) so I let that one go.

I wrote about it all those years ago (check it out here) and due to the statute of limitations that my kids have imposed I probably have to move along from writing about it ever again and simply be content with my memories.  I think I can do that.

But I would tell you anything you want to know.   Go ahead.  Just ask.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

   *     *     *      *      *      *

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

 

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

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

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

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/

 

 

 

Why I Now Go to a Doctor When Something’s Up. Every Shingle Time.

man cold

I recently found out I had shingles.  Not in the oh-man-I’ve-got-this-excruciating-and-painful-affliction but rather that I had – past tense – shingles.  Now, if there’s anyone actually out there as medically inept as me who doesn’t know the difference between aspirin and acetaminophen (God help you, too), I must explain that this particular ailment is beyond awful:  bouts of chronic internal pain followed days later by blistering, festering sores on the skin above the pain area.  I know right, I cringed, too when I heard.

The realization of my condition came about rather absurdly.  A friend and I found ourselves poking fun at our husbands (naturally) for being, well, men.  You know, running off to doctors for every sniffle.  Constantly popping every kind of pill, vitamin or placebo all in the name of keeping out of the obituaries.  Annoyingly proclaiming WebMD diagnoses to anyone who’ll listen.  Face it, we’ve all got one (mine swears by slathering Vicks around his neck and tying a handkerchief on top at the first sign of a cold.  ALL my friends know this.)   As part of our cheeky conversation, I innocently (maybe proudly) remarked that I’d been dealing with “this hip thing” for three weeks now and had barely mentioned it to my husband.  She half-jokingly asked to see it.  I lifted up my shirt to expose my back and her brow wrinkled uncomfortably.  She asked a couple of questions (she manages a medical office so this is sort of her thing) and got quiet.  “You need to get to a doctor” she said a bit too sternly for my liking. “You’ve got shingles.”  Of course she then explained what that was (have I mentioned I’m a medical moron?).

A few hours later at the hospital a rather confused physician confirmed my friend’s earlier diagnosis.  “You’ve had this for how long?” he asked.   Shrug, followed by my barely audible response “Mmmmmmcoupla months…?”

“How did you manage the pain?” he wanted to know.  I blinked.  Was he kidding?  Did he realize he was speaking to a woman?  I’ve given birth four times.  To date I’ve chosen to risk paralysis three of those four times by having a needle inserted into my spine to make THAT pain go away.  Perhaps I should have explained my mother’s German lineage by admitting her maiden name was Schellhammer.  Clearly I’ve been raised to manage pain by denouncing its existence.  “I don’t know, I took some Advil,” I said lamely.  He looked baffled.

“How did you treat the sores?” he inquired, remarking they were almost completely dried up, virtually healed.  I felt like a child defending the Pythagorean Theorem to a teacher who suspected I’d cheated on the test.  “Um…” I hesitated.  “I thought it was poison ivy.”  I skipped the admission of covering them up with band-aids bigger than my fists while on the beaches of Mexico recently.  In my defense, at the time I was really holding onto the salt water will surely cure this confidence my German mother instilled in me.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  The worst part (evidently) being over, my case was too far gone for drugs or remedies.  I handed over my co-payment and took his recommendation with a smile:  sure, I’d follow up with my regular doctor in a week or so.  I found it interesting that he held an assumption I actually had a doctor who might recognize me from the waist up.  But sure, I’ll go do that.

It has become eye-opening (in an irritating kind of way) to find that it would take a nasty cluster of pain and blisters to force me to get myself a real doctor but honestly, it’s been on my list for a long time.  Along with the daily oatmeal, herbal foot cream on the nightstand, yoga classes and all those other things that I resolve to get to right away but never, ever seem to find the time to do.

Of course it’s amusing when everything works out in the end but this unspoken rule of priority that I adhere to is infuriating at the same time.  If my husband can take such impeccable care of himself why do I continually put myself fifth in line?  Why has he had more cholesterol tests in our marriage than I’ve had haircuts?  And why do I – or women in general – or mothers – allow this nonsense?

When I went online and researched shingles I was (justifiably) stunned.  It is, to be blunt, horrific.  And though it is familiarly known as adult chicken pox, the suffering it brings bears little resemblance to the mildly uncomfortable children’s version of the virus.  It is usually caused by stress or at times worse, a weak or deficient immune system but either way it was a blatant slap in the face that I’ve not been taking care of myself.  I am — thankfully — angry enough to finally take some sort of demented stand for myself.

At the end of the day this is my own fault.  And I know I am so far from alone on this.  That my kids have never missed a dentist appointment should be a shining accomplishment, not an excuse.  And that my house is clean and refrigerator coils are vacuumed is nothing but ridiculous when I’m only catching up to my annual mammograms every nineteen months, if I’m lucky.

My shingles were my wake up call to eradicate the skewed priority system of my life.  I am done existing as a living, breathing Mom cliché and I hope other women join me.  We may continue to wait five months for our next available Pap smear but dammit to hell, at the very least we’ll be sporting some truly fabulous haircuts when we get there.

A bonus:  did you know you can actually refuse/bypass/politely say No thank you to stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office?  Geeze, had I known I probably would’ve started going years ago.

 

    *     *     *      *      *      *

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

 

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

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

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

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/

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Alone Again (un)Naturally

relax

My husband just doesn’t understand me, not even for a minute.  My kids might be mildly amused by me (if they even noticed).  But the reality is, I am filled with unabashed glee when left entirely alone for a few glorious days.

 

My better half would rather rake sunflower seeds than spend any significant amount of time by himself.  This might stem from having a job which alternately finds him either in the isolation of a home office or the insufferable free-for-all of an airport.  Not sure.  But I love it and look forward to.  When his annual Guys Ski Weekend rolls around – conveniently after the exhaustive holidays have passed – I become giddy.  Leaving soon?  I ask innocently over my coffee cup on the morning of departure, willing my words to sound curious (instead of eager).

 

It’s only a couple of days.  72 hours really.  Actually, only 48 (of time awake) if I’m nit-picking.  But most women know:  it’s awesome.

 

In the weeks leading up to it you know I got busy.  I made an impressive list of all the incredible things I was going to do to make my life an organized Garden of Eden.   I also planned new exercise regimens, compiled lists of time-saving chore hacks and amassed healthy recipes to try.  I researched new shows to binge and books to download and selected restaurants that I’ve been dying to try.

 

Welp.  Almost immediately my noble intentions swerved sideways so I accomplished little to none of the aforementioned plans.    Because again, it was only a handful of hours of leisure, amiright?

 

Still, I made the best of it.  Here’s what went down:

 

Day One:

 

As soon as the last of the male-stench had exited my building I started off by cleaning it — which (I cannot be alone here) always makes me immeasurably happy.  I blasted Donna Summer Radio.  And Def Leppard.  And Miranda (Ironic Moment of the weekend:  just how much Black Shelton is played on this station).  Anyway, within a few hours my home got just the way I like it.  The best part:  it actually stayed this way for a few days.  This turned out to be serendipity: when unexpected downpours thwarted my high-heel-wearing Girls-Night-Out, my gleaming home became the venue of choice for an evening that’d been in the works with a great friend.  No problem – there was nary a drop of pee on my toilets and I had a pot of meatballs simmering.   We drank wine in yoga pants, shared a meal and caught up for hours.  It was divine.  And not once did any intruder barge in to open the refrigerator and peer inside for eight straight minutes.

ski 3

 

Day Two:

 

Alright, maybe I was moving a little slower today (*shakes head ruefully, mouths Pinot) but I couldn’t stay down for long.  The crazy New England winter weather had flipped its fickle switch and brought an unexpected spring-like day.   Off I went outside, work gloves and wheelbarrow in tow, to clean up all the downed trees from the wicked storms that had turned our property into a war zone.  Now to be clear, this is not usually my gig.  I’m actually a big fan of gender-separated workloads and live quite happily mopping floors while the men in my life mow the lawn and fix stuff.  But I was looking for some bragging rights.  I’m pretty sure nothing screams my wife is hot more than the image of her hauling away branches bigger than her own body.  So I became one with my yard and had some fun with it, even stopping midway to post a pic when I came across a beer pong ball, hidden since a June party.  Go ahead fellas, keep sending me those shots of your raised beers at Après happy hour.  Mamma’s at home, gettin’ it done. #Iamwomanhearmeroar

ski lol

 

After that, I cleaned myself up and went out to do a little food shopping, my brain swirling with the memorized Instagram images of all the roasted Brussel sprouts, toasted quinoa and sweet potato chips I was going to make because I just knew it was all going to melt my pesky muffin top in the New Year.  Turns out, by the time everything was unloaded and put away the sun was going down and death-defying drops in temperature mocked the earlier beach day.  My morning workout of manual labor started to catch up with me and I was dragging.  I declined an invitation to go out, threw on some sweatpants, grabbed a comfy blanket and my book and clicked on a cheezy movie.  Okay, maybe not a woman roaring anymore but …. #STILLawesome

 

Day Three:

I awoke to find it was still frigid outside so naturally I figured The New (Exercising) Me would have to wait a little longer.  I read the Sunday paper to the backdrop of Frank Sinatra Radio and a funny thing happened.  Nobody rolled their eyes at my nostalgic tunes or came sniffing around asking about bacon. I putzed around doing laundry and cleaning out my closet before devoting the afternoon to peeling, cutting, roasting and portioning my newly acquired root vegetables for the week.  (side note:  The New (Healthy) Me had no idea how time consuming this was when I started.  I think I’ve figured out why all those Facebook recipes are on fast-forward).  I continued tidying up things around the house – you know, nothing major, just all those things we walk past every single day and ignore – stopping every now and then to get lost in a random photo album I’d come across.   Not gonna lie, melancholy showed its morose face for bit.  The grey day began to drag.   I checked in with my oldest and made plans to see him during the week.  Then I texted the skiers and told them since I hadn’t heard from them all weekend I was keeping busy posting awesome old pictures on social media.  I wasn’t ……

 

lol ski

 

…. but their lol-responses delighted me.

 

When my husband called that night and coyly asked if they were missed, I responded truthfully:  yes, they could come home in the morning.   I was done.  And getting kinda lonely.

 

It’s pretty wild how quickly a couple of days go by.

 

You hear that?

 

It’s the sound of silence.

 

It’s pretty awesome.  You know, for a couple of days

 

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

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

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

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

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/

 

 

 

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. 

 

A Momoir, Chapter 4: A Mom’s Plea to Seth Rogen: Enough with the Masturbation Already

rogen

I first realized my teenaged son was looking at porn when I innocently picked up his Ipod.  It wasn’t a cell phone.  It was – I thought – just a music player.  Remember those blissful days when you just didn’t know things?  I had no idea his shiny new birthday gadget connected to the internet.  At all.  I only became aware of its mystical powers when I moved it off the bathroom counter (that’s right:  in the bathroom.  Sigh.) and it suddenly turned on.  Well I’ll be, I thought, this isn’t Nickleback.  Just kidding. Of course I did the Mom Screech when I stumbled onto it but looking back all these years later, I guess it was more than a little amusing.

He was my firstborn son and thankfully, was pretty discreet about all things adolescence.  Trust me, I’d heard plenty of horror stories from friends about crunchy socks strewn on the floor and apocalyptic sheets stuffed into bottoms of hampers.  Really now, save for that wee bit o’ porn, I’d managed to get through the grossest stage of his young male development relatively unscathed.

But fast forward a few years.  Now my youngest two sons are teenagers and I’m about to lose it.  Don’t get me wrong.  They’re not heathens or sexual sociopaths or Jared Fogle wannabes.  They’re fine.  They’re just… well, I’ll say very comfortable in their almost-men skin.  And by this I mean sometimes-naked-almost-men skin … usually viewed as a blur …  running down a hallway … after a shower … because (naturally) … all the towels are still in their rooms.

At first I wanted to blame rap music.  You know, all those songs about so many hos, so little respect (you feel me, dog?).  Thanks to crude lyrics and really (really) bad swear words in every other line that they insist on belting out in my car, it’s clear my sons have become desensitized to offending their mom.  I resist the urge to constantly complain about their taste in music because (a) I know sounding like John Lithgow’s Reverend in Footloose would color me crazy and (b) looking back at some of the stuff I sang back in the 80s (um… Cocaine… Touch Me… White Lines… I Might Like You Better if We Slept Together… just to name a few off the top of my head) doesn’t really give me a steady leg to stand on.  But man, oh man, they are far from embarrassed in front of me.

Worse than the music they prefer are the movies they find hilarious.  It might be just a coincidence of scenes I’ve happened to walk in on, but I’ll be damned if Seth Rogen and his friends aren’t – you know (cough) releasing energy —  on any given weekend in my home.  And smoking (don’t say pot, Mom, it’s) weed.   Oftentimes in the same scene.

Gaaaack.  How are they not embarrassed to watch this in front of me?

What’s a mom to do?  Apparently (*shrugs) gather together for Sunday night family viewing of Game of Thrones.  When in Rome (or rather … Westeros…)

I appreciate the openness of our relationship, I really do.  It’s just colossally different than the relationship I shared with my own mom.  Good lord, like it was yesterday I can flash back to when she took us to see Jaws.  It was a double feature – and immediately after we were duly scarred for life of ever entering ocean waters again, the Deluxe Theater in Queens was showing the (at the time) risqué flick Lifeguard (ahem, for the young’uns:  a sexy, Baywatch-esque summer sleeper).  My sister and I sat like church mice, hoping my mom didn’t realize we were still there when the movie began.  Fat chance.  The steamy opening shot of suntanned boobies wasn’t on the screen a minute before she was yanking us out of our seats.

Dayum.  Different times for sure.

Ah well.  I suppose as parents we have to take the good with the mortifying, right?  While I’ve seen my share of blurry, hairy asses to last me a lifetime, my kids are also un-embarrassed to talk to me.  And I do love the ease in which conversations flow between my he-men and me.  I didn’t talk to my mom about anything R-rated, let alone which 8th grade girls were doing less-than-ladylike things in the back of a school bus.  Gawd, would you ever?  So I do try to keep an open mind (and my face from scrunching too tightly) when we do talk.  Our open dialogue isn’t always a laugh a minute and we’re far from yukking it up over condoms and opioid use.  Some of our chats see blips of discomfort (the school bus detail — good lord) but there’s never been a rock-paper-scissors shootout between my husband and me to see who’s Going There This Time.  I imagine if your kids are comfortable talking, any conversation’s a pretty damn good one, even a squirmy one.  It’s all good.

I’m still not a fan of those masturbation flicks (hell, maybe my inner fear of millennials living in my basement is at the root of that psychosis) but I guess it could be worse.  So, I’m sorry for the judgement, Seth Rogen, and really, no hard feelings.  I hope you’ll accept my olive branch (but seriously, can we talk about all those bongs…?)

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 3: Sorry, We’re Tied: ALL Kids Are Filthy

chap 3

Kids are filthy.

From a sweet baby’s very first up-to-his-earlobes explosive poop to a darling daughter’s bloody bathroom waste basket to a teen son’s crunchy socks next to his bed (let’s do this together, shall we: ewwww), our kids are an abundance of nasty from the get-go.  The intensity of it simply grows as their size does.

Most parents usually evolve through these stages of mess and mayhem. I can’t speak for everyone but I know I am not alone in my transformation, having begun as the Organizer of Playsets After Bedtime (because, hello, Luke Skywalker, you do NOT belong with the Riddler) to where I am presently,  throwing up my hands in defeat and closing doors to the war zones I don’t want to see.

Oftentimes offspring go through transformations, too.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happens but there’s an undetected moment in their lives when kids go from not bathing at all to taking forty minute showers. It may seem unexpected but at least for boys, it actually follows the natural progression of your hand lotion disappearing (again, in unison: ewwww).

I remember meeting someone for the first time and our cordial chatter revealed the ages of our children.  I think at the time my oldest might’ve been thirteen but his were a bit older.  At one point this dad rolled his eyes dramatically and quipped about paint peeling off the bathroom walls.  I smiled politely and moved on because I had no idea what he was he was talking about.  Before long, I did.

Ohhhh, the steam, now I get it ….  I’ve since had to repaint my bathroom.

I think we can all agree that every parent believes she has the world’s worst kid-and-hygiene story (“I’ll take Toenail Clippings in the Kitchen for $500, Alex”).  Arguably the most reviled aspect of parenting, yep, it’s a total bummer.  Every parent can relate to the appalling conditions of kids’ bathrooms because there’s really nothing like it.  For years I commuted using NYC subways and yes, those smelled better.  If I’m being honest the sheer concept of a kids bathroom is not something I was privy to until a few years ago.  I may be living like a filthy American these days (looking at you, separate potty room) but I actually grew up sharing a bathroom with four other people and raised my own family of six sharing one, too, for quite some time.  Personal sinks are sweet luxuries indeed — until it dawns on you you’re the only one cleaning them.  I may be fortunate enough now to have my own (ahem, master) bathroom but sadly it didn’t come with a moat — so keeping out the unwanted is an everyday struggle.  Now that I’ve seen how the other half lives, I don’t want to share.  I’ve never been a fan of the family bed and I am now less enamored of a family bathroom.  So yeah.  Get the fkkk out, spawn, and take your hash-marked boxer briefs and clumps of drain-clogging hair with you (and … while I’m at it … feel free to grab your dad on the way out).  There aren’t enough adjectives for gross.  At what age does a sanitary bathroom become important and why are there so many unanswered questions about it? How does toothpaste even get on mirrors?   If not on the mirror, why must it remain in a goop in the sink until it becomes cement? Are the fifteen empty shampoo bottle for a science project?  Do you really not see the pee hitting the floors/walls/heater ???   Gaack.

We love the stuffing outta them but our kids are disgusting.

Curdled baby vomit on our clothes (and no, the smell never comes out)

Poop, poop and more poop (and, in the case of boys, continuing FOREVER).

Bloodied knees, broken bones, cracked teeth.

September backpacks containing June lunches.

Service for six place settings under beds.

Yogurt spoons under couch cushions.

Insert your favorite find here:  _______________________________________________

I’ve no doubt a friend could top you.

Childhood is dirty and grimy but we all signed up for that.  Thanks to What to Expect When You’re Expecting (how in the world did our mothers ever do without it?)  we all knew what we were getting into.  What we didn’t see coming (because we expertly drowned out our own mothers) was the speed and monotony in which filth flies at us beyond diaper duty.

The good news is, there’s relief if you want it.  You just have to want it bad enough and change your behavior – not theirs.   We have to essentially, well, give up.  Raise that white flag and sing that annoying song from Frozen.  When I finally realized Barbies and Bratz were living harmoniously despite which bin I strategically placed them in each evening, I gave that up.  When I saw that every other ‘tween on the planet was wearing a similar stained hoodie at the bus stop every day in lieu of a winter coat, I gave that up, too.  Eventually I also stopped stripping beds and taught my kids how to change their own linens.  My kids spend ridiculous amounts of time cleaning their bodies – only to put on dirty clothes and sleep in smelly sheets and I am the only one bothered by this?   Really.  Who’s the crazy one here?

I totally get why it’s a struggle for some moms to give up.  The older our babies get, the less they need us.  Throw in a cell phone and kids can communicate within 160 characters and go a few days at a time without a complete sentence grunted in our direction.   Letting go of the actions that keep us maternally connected is extremely hard.  It’s in our DNA:  we need to be needed and it’s sad to watch that slip away.  What we don’t need is the constant thanklessness that comes with say, doing laundry:  When that epiphany hits it’s like a Costco-sized tub of Tide falling on your foot.  Good grief, how many times was I going to throw half a basket of clothes into a washing machine before realizing they were still neatly folded from the last time I’d cleaned them?  Cue the veins bulging.  Think about it: doing daily laundry for four able-bodied beings capable of keeping my grocery tab at triple digits each week.  I began to realize I was perpetually irritable most of the time. I’m not sure what it took to hammer that last nail into my Whirlpool coffin but one day I just stopped.  I was younger than junior high when I’d started doing my own laundry (you were, too) and here I was enabling my adolescents far beyond that.  I was suddenly embarrassed by it.  So I walked away from doing their laundry with nary a threat or a door slam and never looked back.  What’s that sound, you ask?  Freedom bells ringing.

That was definitely one of my Great Mom Moments to date but I haven’t reached Grand Master Level just yet.  To be clear, there’s still a tsunami of mess in my home at any given time if I don’t keep up with the nagging but I’ve grown wiser as well as weary.  I now dangle car keys until rooms are picked up and I’ve been known to make bacon and refuse to slide it over until trash cans are brought in, dogs are walked and the mystery smell is unearthed in the mudroom.  When things are gettin’ done I guess the strategy doesn’t matter.

And their bathroom?  Please.  I still rarely go in there.  Some days I just can’t do it.  But they’re learning:  now I won’t let their boy/girlfriends come over until they clean it.   Ahhh, the enchanting effect of the adolescent significant other.  I do believe I’ve come up with another chapter.  Stay tuned!

 

*   *   *   *

 

Missed 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/

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

 

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.