Tag Archives: Kids

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

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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. 

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Dear Santa …

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

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

So if you and the elves can swing it …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Merry Christmas y’all!

xoxo

Eyerollingmom

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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.

Chapter 2: Sometimes Kids Suck. A lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A kid coming home high.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

I’m here to attest that yes, it will.

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

My missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.

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

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

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

Some of my best Mom Moments are a little unorthodox.  For instance, I keep my cell phone charger in my underwear drawer and make sure my kids know it.  Why?  Because should it go missing – like all chargers do – I want my kids – especially my boys – to know they’d be fishing around through my panties in order to find it.

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

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

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

My home is pretty nasty at times (here comes my pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah;  you know, spoken as if she’s one of us and might have some dust in her life) but I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless.  There are still moments when I watch my kids from afar.  Not in the “Get back here, a stranger’s going to steal you!” kind of way, but in a fascinated, still-can’t-believe-they’re-mine way.

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

Yes, oh yes, kids do suck.  But when they’re in the back seat of a (cough, extremely cool) minivan giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they suck a little less and make you giggle, too.  And every now and then when you’re ready to lock yourself in the bathroom for just five more minutes before your head explodes off your neck, they’ll do something unexpected and delightful to make you unlock that door.

When they were little, when they’d hear Barry White come out of the speakers they’d seek me out (“Mom, it’s your soooooooong!”) and spontaneously dance with me in our kitchen.     I loved those moments.  It’s all about the moments.

 

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

Now that they’re older and (* makes the sign of the cross) out in public without me, every now and then I’ll get the mother of all compliments (no pun intended) when I least expect it, sometimes from complete strangers:

You’ve got great kids.

I’m thinking a terrible mom would never be able to pull that off.

So I’ll be keeping my phone charge in my underwear drawer, thankyouverymuch, because who knows, maybe I just may be onto something here.

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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/

 

 

 

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 Collection of Eyerolls Chapter 1: Yes, Billy Joel, We Will All Go Down Together

book

 

Introduction

Life comes with a certain expectation of bad things.  As a mom, I fully expected exhaustion and weight gain and crumbs – ridiculous amounts of crumbs, everywhere (I underestimated here).  As a middle aged woman I begrudgingly expected divorce (of friends), defiance (of teens) and death (of parents).  There’s not a whole lotta surprise there when it comes to the circle of life.

What I didn’t expect were the explosions of unfairness that are both unanticipated and paralyzing.  The numbing cancer diagnosis of friends (worse, younger friends).  The out-of-nowhere brain bleed that grips a group of friends to its core.   The unimaginable loss of child.

If I can be blunt, this past year saw a whole lotta f**kkked up sh*ttt happen around me.  In addition to providing solid proof that love and friendship keeps us all afloat —  it also provided a resounding wake-up a call with a simple, shrill message:  Now.

Love now.  Enjoy now.  Embrace now. Do now.

So I am.

I am doing.

Now.

I’ve talked about writing a book since forever and I’m not waiting anymore to try to publish it.  I’m publishing it right here, right now, one chapter at a time (just like Kendrick Lamar and Carrie Underwood drop tracks.  I think I can be cool like that).  Maybe if enough people enjoy it, it’ll catch on like the Faberge commercial.  Maybe it’ll end up somewhere, someday.  Maybe my gal Tina Fey will send me a tweet.

And maybe nothing will happen.  At the very least, I will show my kids that I did it before it was too late.

Because life is too short to wait.

I haven’t chosen a title yet so feel free to pick your favorite:

 

A Momoir:  Parenting Essays to Put a Tear in Your Eye (or a Drink in your Hand)

I Love Parenting (and Other Lies…)

Kid: I Hate My Mom (Me: OMG, I Did, Too!)

 

 

And away we go!

 

*     *     *     *     *

Chapter 1

Yes, Billy Joel, We Will All Go Down Together

 

My obvious disclaimer:  I am not a parenting expert.  None whatsoever, of any kind.  I never will be.  I gave birth.  Four times.  That – along with a blog that perpetually pokes fun at those birthing miracles – taps my credentials.  It may not be much but it’s far and wide a way better reason to heed my warnings over say, Oprah’s.  I’m actually fairly particular about my own experts.  For instance, I don’t want my fitness instructor or nutritionist to have a muffin top or bat-wings (I don’t actually have these professionals in my life but I feel very strongly that if I did and was handing money over to someone for vanity purposes they should without question look a LOT better than me).  I also don’t want my hairstylist to have Farrah feathers either, no matter how awesome she looks.  And while I may not go often (maybe a few times in summer to look slimmer instead of exercising) I don’t want the owner of the tanning salon to be Oompa Loompa orange.  So yes, I completely understand having advice standards.  I’m also personally critical of accepting guidance from anyone that can’t one-up me, so I tend to tune out other moms unless they’ve got older kids or – trump! – more kids than me.   Kate Gosselin, no offense taken, you can stop reading this now, I get it (your ex, though, maybe he should?).

But here’s why you might want to keep reading this:

I am shamelessly flawed, and not afraid to show how.

I do more things wrong as a mom than I do right, yet my kids (appear) well-adjusted.

I mercilessly mock stupid parents and – because there’s no shortage of them – it makes for some funny stories.

All of that and  — the bonus – to date, my kids don’t have assigned probation officers gives me some pretty ample street cred.  Quite possibly, this is the support group you never knew you needed, but always wished you had.  I feel when parenting’s concerned, there’s always strength in numbers and when that fails, there’s always, always wine. This book will give you both.  (In the case of the wine, just pour a glass and read; I’ll bet you’ll be able to visualize me joining you.  Really, I’m as good as there.)

Other qualities you might admire:  I’ve never lost a kid at a mall (Disney, yes, but I won’t shoulder that blame alone: there were 14 of us…) but I have been known to lose track of my 10-year-old’s last shower.

and … I suspect that if Children’s Services ever caught wind of the actual number of times my kids’ sheets are changed, well there may be some action taken.

and … I confess I have signed homework sheets that I never really checked.  I’ve also feigned sleep when I heard a screaming child in the middle of the night just to allow my husband the experience of flying out of bed like a rocket to deal with it.

and … I’ve allowed electronics to entertain my brood for hours at a time, just to talk on the phone a little longer or clean my house or finish my Netflix binge.

and … I’ve been known to throw my kids out of the house on a beautiful day and lock the door behind them.  True story:  none died of dehydration or were snatched by a dingo.

and … when my kids peed their beds I’d simply change their jammies and flip them to the other end. (I used to know a mom who’d go mental whenever this happened.  She’d rip her toddler out of bed – no matter the time – and throw her in a bath, frantically changing the sheets and carrying on like a lunatic.   What a psycho.  Obviously we weren’t friends for long.)

and … I will admit without shame that – until they were old enough to realize – I skipped pages of bedtime stories.

and …  I have not always enforced regular teeth brushing with my toddlers because, I’d reason, they’re just going to fall out anyway.

and … I have driven past the library only to hear a tiny voice in the back say in wonder, “Hey, I remember this place, I think I was there once…”

And that’s just the little kid stuff.  Wait until you get a load of all the teenage nonsense I’ve already dealt with (because really, have we even truly parented until we’ve taken a bedroom door off its hinges?)   You’ll quickly see I am far from perfect.  My house is always dusty and my inability to remember details makes it impossible for me to recall the name of the last antibiotic any of my kids were prescribed.  A profound failure at keeping baby books, I do try to write down the wonderful, embarrassing and quite ordinary things that happen in our daily lives.  When I noticed my little guy’s Spongebob underwear clear through his tiny white tee-ball pants, I jotted it down.  It was without question the cutest thing I’d ever seen.  And when my toddler loudly pointed out during an extremely crowded Easter mass that, “Mommy, look, they drink wine like you do at home!” much as I wanted to die, I wrote that down, too.   Apparently I also wrote down that my daughter could get her ears double pierced but I don’t remember that  (because I am quite certain that little minx hit me up while I was cocktailing with friends when THAT request came in).    Still, it’s all good stuff.

I’m actually glad I wrote down a lot because my memory is junk.  There’s something profoundly unsettling that I can recall every word to We Didn’t Start the Fire but I couldn’t tell you where my kid is going after work because he only told me three times an hour ago…  Ugh.  Don’t get me started.  I digress…

I love all my kids.  Fiercely.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t daydreamed about shipping them off to a faraway island.  While kids can make us crazy, teenagers can make us alcoholics.  Hell, they can make us question every certainty we know in life and can cause nervous tics just by entering a room.

So for all the moms who have ever had a child declare in a silent waiting room that they’ve discovered your mustache …

And for all the moms who ever realized – too late — with mortified certainty that the word FART was written in Sharpie on their Thanksgiving tablecloth…

And for all the moms who have ever gotten that 2am phone call from a kid needing to be picked up “… or the police will bring me home …”

 

This book is for you.

Hope you’ll keep coming back.

Cheers.

 

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

Kids, I Love You. Now Cut the Crap.

brady bunch

A friend shot me a note the other day which read simply, “Can you please write a blog about boys pissing on the toilet seat?” …   To which I immediately replied …

 

“No, but I can write one about boys pissing into cups and Gatorade bottle and leaving them in their bedrooms … and then hurling them out the window when their mom loses her shit over finding them…”

 

(My friends know:  this is 100% truth and the reason my husband will not drink out of plastic cups anymore.)

 

Honestly.  So many stories still untold.  It’s like the Naked City – only there’s usually actual nakedness (because kids can’t find towels because they’re still wet and scattered on various floors).

 

There’s a reason why all these gems float around my head and never make it to the page.  I’ve found myself in that interesting yet ironic state of Perpetually Pissed and Profoundly Proud Parenting:  when my entire emotional state fluctuates between one extreme and the other.

 

Kids cause that.

 

I don’t know what to write about half the time because by the time I’m done revealing reasons of happiness or reflection I usually want to throat punch someone.

 

If you think about it, it’s a pretty remarkable paradox.  And no matter the ages of my kids, and despite how many times I remind myself that much of what now happens in life is out of my hands, these kids still have complete control over which way that pendulum swings.

 

My 3rd kid just graduated high school and of course, it was the momentous, magnificent whirlwind of ceremony it should have been.  (Disclaimer:  this coming from a mom who has repeatedly deemed graduating high school No Big Deal because really, aren’t you supposed to?)  But the Kid did alright.  Acceptance into a damn good school, a couple of nice scholarships and a bona fide bang-up senior year chock full of awesome memories.  My heart’s been full for seemingly months at a go and I will not lie, it’s been a fine, fine time for us.

 

Welp.  My boast balloon burst as soon as I got the text message at work asking if I’d left him a template for the Thank You cards he was writing following his grad party. A template.  Followed by his query, “How do I address an envelope?”  Good God.   Off to college he goes?

 

To quote a very agitated tween, I just can’t even.

 

Bringing up the adolescence rear in our household, my youngest, too, turned his sophomore year into an impressive array of academic and athletic accolades.  Really, he’s the Mayor.  So adored.  So praised.  But yet astounding that he hasn’t yet choked on the ridiculously short leash we have him on due to all the stupid choices he keeps making.  He seems to keep forgetting he is our fourth child and we have seen this movie.  And we know how it ends.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

To quote another very agitated tween, I’m shaking my head.

 

But wait — the Jeckyll and Hyde of emotions isn’t limited to the confines of my home anymore either, for even those that have flown my coop (some states may refer to them as “adults”) are adept at keeping my angst ablaze.

 

Like … my oldest, off in his first apartment (yay!), carrying a full-time job AND full-time school course load (hooray!), excitedly bragging about booking flights for his first “grown-up vacation” (wow!) …   which he planned … on the very weekend of his sister’s college graduation.  Are you kidding me?

 

Or … my daughter (she of the above reference)  … announcing upon said graduation (pride!) that to begin her first job (congrats!) she would be driving cross country (what?) … to  Utah (ummmmmmm)  … alone (whaaaaaat???) … and …  not to worry .. because everything will be fine

 

(End note:  in the end, she did not.  Due to sheer logistics, not parental pleas. Naturally.)

 

Sigh.  Remember when we thought baby colic and constipation was a thing?  (*slaps forehead)

 

A very wise friend once declared “Little kids, little problems.”

 

These aren’t problems, I know.

 

They’re just slices of life that keep that damn pendulum swinging.

 

And parents already know:   life’s pretty amazing dodging that thing.

 

 

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

 

 

Young Love: View From the Back Seat

blog

When I was in high school I remember doing whatever I could to get my boyfriend’s mother to like me.  I tried everything.  But despite my always cheerful and ever valiant attempts she always remained, I’ll say, cool towards me.  When I finally reached the brink of my adolescent insecurities I unloaded on my beau with a frustrated, what the hell?

He just shrugged.  “She likes you,” he offered lamely, “but she knows it’s not like we’re gonna get married or anything.”

Um, say what? You can imagine: at seventeen, that stung.  She knew.  Heck, deep down we both probably knew, too.  But she put it out there and there it stayed.  And I’ve never forgotten.

I can’t be certain, but maybe because of my early experience, I’ve grown into a mom lacking enthusiasm for adolescent romance.   For me, it’s always been a great source of curiosity when anyone else did.

Like my sister, for instance.  I’ve forever marveled at her unaffected exuberance of really, truly basking in teenage love.  She’d fawn over her kids’ boyfriends and girlfriends, buy them super nice presents at Christmas, happily accept their friend requests on Facebook and exude genuine excitement over anything about them.  Every high school relationship was treated as The One and it was utterly fascinating to me. Consequently (and alas, one by one), every high school break-up consumed her with incredible sadness — for a really long time.  It all seemed crazy to me.

I guess I never bought into the hype because well, adolescence is (pick one) silly, volatile, melodramatic and (most of all) fickle.  Let’s be real.  Is there a more ridiculous time in any life cycle?  When my daughter was in middle school (before it was the norm for third graders to carry cell phones) a young boy called our house and left a very detailed message on our home answering machine asking her to go on a date to the movies.  I listened to it, rolled my eyes towards the heavens, promptly deleted it and told my daughter about it – many, many years later at the Thanksgiving dinner table.  Why?  Because it made for a great family laugh and — like Carrie Bradshaw being broken up via Post-it note — there are some dating behaviors that are beyond reproach.  Rest assured:  no daughter of mine was ever going to the movies with any kid without a clue.

That was all well and good (and, okay, somewhat controllable) in middle school, but it seems before I could throw in another load of laundry – and despite my inclination to ignore them — I’ve acquired a slew of significant others in my life.   And it’s become harder to remain, I’ll say, cool towards them.

My eldest son, a young adult so not-sharing of information I couldn’t tell you his favorite color, suddenly started showing up with a stunning girlfriend.  Turns out they’ve been together for months.  She is well-spoken and personable and bright and — dayum! —  pre-med.  She possesses such exceptional attributes it  is impossible not to enjoy her.  She’s a darling.  Dang.

My high school senior has been with his girlfriend for quite some time, too.  As much as I tried to remain aloof and indifferent towards them, her ability to get him to do homework and come in before his curfew has broken down my tough demeanor.  She is an absolute delight to be around and I completely adore them together so of course it worries me. Again, 17.  Double dang.

My youngest, teetering on 16, might trouble me the most.  He’s been spending his time with such a sweet and charming young lady I find myself lamenting, this – they — would be perfect …. in about ten years….

Good grief, what is happening here?  Of late I’ve been wondering which is worse:  that these kids’ impeccable choices are turning me soft, or that maybe my sister was onto something.

It’s a tough seat to sit in for sure.  And because moms were once teenagers too, we know with assured wisdom that as much as young love blossoms with ferocity, it will also (more often than not) fade with some sadness.  Being invested in our kids’ relationships carries weighty fallout when a happily ever after doesn’t happen.

My little girl, now an extraordinary and beautiful young woman, is experiencing her first real break-up and – I have to be honest – my whole family is feeling the strain of her sorrow.  (Truth:  her grace and reflection while deep within heartache far surpasses her mother’s 1980s coping method of Diet Coke and cigarettes.  Geeze.  I thank God those DNA strands didn’t swim too strongly.)

We liked him.  We Sally-Field-really-REALLY liked him.  They shared a lengthy time together and we were all a part of it in some small way.  But it just wasn’t meant to be.  So now we’re all sad.

And my heart is hurting having to watch her go through this tough time.

 

I knew I shouldn’t have gotten him that bathrobe for Christmas.

I should’ve known better than to think my sister was smarter than me.

 

 

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.