Tag Archives: Parenting

Happiness Is Doing What Your Mama Says (even after she’s gone)

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My mom died five years ago today.

 

I’ve spent the past four anniversaries of her passing confounded by the shock and awe that goes into the passage of time.  I wrote about it last year, and the year before that, and so on.  I’ve always focused on my kids because – truly — nothing is a greater catalyst for maternal awareness than grief and loss.  It halts us:  little boys sprouting facial hair and muscled man-limbs in the blink of an eye, teenage girls blossoming into fascinating young women (with – eek! – boyfriends) and the dizzying commitments on calendar pages that keep us busier and busier (and busier…) with each passing year.  If only we had a dollar for every friend to lament, “Where did the time go?” on a post or picture.  It happens every day.

 

I think this year, though, I’m feeling different. I’m certainly still amazed by the quickness of time (and yes, I am still in disbelief that I can now legally grab a beer with 50% of my children). But I’m finding as time moves on, I am less paralyzed by the passage of it and more accepting of the presence – and present — of it.  I like it.  I really, really like knowing – and even not knowing – something’s coming ahead.  This slight shift in my personal paradigm keeps me excited and hopeful for the future, even on the down days.

 

Graduations.  Colleges.  Engagements.  Professions.  A stubborn boy’s long hair FINALLY getting chopped … There is so much greatness going on at every turn of our lives, and so much promise, it’s almost unfair not to be happy.  I have to be honest:  if my mom ever caught wind that there was anything other than joy where her grandkids are concerned, she would be one pissed chick.

 

So while I miss her like crazy, I can’t often stay sad for more than a moment or two.  That’s just not how she rolled.

 

I’ve no doubt part of my mind shift came with turning 50 this year.

50.

Holymutherfkkingsh*t, right? How the effing hell did that happen?  I’m pretty sure I can still dig up my tee-shirt that boasts “We work less and party more, cuz we’re the class of ’84.”  Seriously, this is something.  A lot of reflection comes with that magic number.  I remember planning my mom’s 50th surprise party.  We crammed all her friends into my tiny newlywed apartment and basically threw her a keg party.  She didn’t drink beer but we did, and as far as entertaining, okay, we knew little else. It worked.  She was elated – and equally annoyed:  she had just become a grandmother and was none too happy that her little baby Jesus didn’t make it to her kegger.  Still, she was surrounded by love.  And was until the end.

 

On these anniversaries I think of the friends my mom left behind and I am so, so sad for them to be going on without her.  I know profoundly the void they feel.

 

She taught me well.  Like her, I’ve become adept at insulating myself with friends who care deeply for me, friends I would do anything for in return.  Most are a phone call away.  Others, a car ride.  One, a plane ride taken on a moment’s notice.

 

Growing up, I used to read Erma Bombeck all the time.  I loved the stuffing out of her.  During winter break of my senior year of college I came across her column in the New York Daily News entitled “No Greater Friend Than a Best Friend.”  I clipped it and held onto it for a couple of months and then mailed it in a birthday card to Kristi, my best friend since 5th grade.  There was rarely a time we were ever living in the same state together for very long.   Kristi held onto it for almost a decade, then sent it back to me in a card for my 30th birthday.   I framed the yellow newsprint and sent it back her way when she turned 40.

 

Naturally it made its way back to me a few months ago.

It’ll hang on my wall for another ten years until, well, you get it.

 

 

How unfathomably fortunate that I have a 40-year friendship going strong?

How impossibly amazing for my mom to be the subject of such beautiful memories for so many?

How ridiculously wrong that my own children didn’t plan my 50th festivities???  (I kid, I kid.  I masterfully controlled every detail.)

 

I think about her every day but I honor her today.

 

You’re on so, so many minds today, Mom.

Cheers and love.

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. 

When the Internet Deems You Crazy: Employment DENIED

Interview Checklist  Job Candidate Requirements

 

A few years back  I was (apparently) overlooked for a barista job at a major-coffee-retailer-that-shall-not-be-named because (apparently) I didn’t pass their psychological test.  You know, those quick, 40-minute online questionnaires that ask if you are definitely, likely or somewhat capable of public lewdness, ingesting illegal substances or ratting out Dwight Schrute for napping in the break-room.  Initially I chalked it up to the glass of Pinot that was perched next to my laptop while I took the test (which — fine —  may have impacted my honesty.   Hell yeah, of course I can take criticism AND work alone AND be a team player AND …) but I really couldn’t help but think, seriously?

 

I am educated.  And at times well versed. And an ass-kicking multi-tasker.  Yet when that ambiguous and awkward application was sent into cyberspace, nary a response was got.

 

My friend — who not only worked there but had urged me to apply — couldn’t believe it. She’d revealed the place was so short-staffed and desperate for help they couldn’t even cover all the shifts.  When she inquired about my application she got the news:  in their street-light benchmark of attractive applicants I was classified as “yellow,” which of course is better than the flagged (you must be psychotic) “red” but not as desirable as the (you must be Stepford) “green” distinction.

 

Really.

 

She must have given her bosses a pretty convincing you-have-GOT-to-be-kidding-me spiel because as soon as she intervened they pulled my file out of their Won’t-Go-Postal-But-Just-Might-Steal-A-Scone folder and called me in for an interview.

 

It was too late, though.  I won’t  lie:  the chip on my shoulder had already formed.

 

Still, I was curious so I went in.

 

The store manager appeared pleased that I seemed to have all my devices.  She went through the typical interviewing process and smiled and laughed at many of my aloof, sharp, and not-meant-to-be-cute responses (sample:  “So Tina, why do you think you’re a good candidate for this job?”  “Well, I’m not going to stand behind the counter and text my friends.”  If I remember correctly that answer came without even a hint of a smile on my face.

 

I was offered the job on the spot.

 

Really.

 

I didn’t accept the position but it was for the best.  I’m not much into designer coffee anyway and probably couldn’t tell the difference between a latte and a lager (oh wait, yes I could.)   I moved onto greener pastures where (lucky for me) all colors of crazy are embraced.

 

Still, it makes me wonder about all the good applicants that slip through the cyber cracks every day for countless reasons we’ll likely never know.

 

 

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

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 6:  Click here:  https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

 

 

Wait, Who You Calling Old?

mom jeans

Not gonna lie:  I’ve been known to be a little judgmental.  (It’s really just one of the many book titles I’m laying claim to in the innards of my brain:  “I’m Just Saying What You’re Really Thinking”)  So it’s  actually with great irony that I must report how very publicly I was personally  judged this weekend.

 

It came from a twenty-something waitress as she collected menus following my party’s drink and app order.  We asked about the live music scheduled for later in the evening.

 

She surveyed our table and suggested that we might want to leave before the band arrived.

 

Excuse me, what?

 

“Well….they’re a little……” her voice trailed off.

 

What, we pressed.  Loud?  Violent?  (I’m a big music fan but I draw the line at some of the stab-your-grandmother music that’s out there) What?

 

“Ummm,” she shrugged, “I just don’t think you’re gonna like them.”  She walked off.

 

Where’s Steve Martin when you need him:  Again,  excuuuuuse me?

 

Detecting a challenge, we scrapped our plans to move on to a different venue later on and instead got comfortable.  We claimed a pool table and kept the rounds coming.

 

When the band eventually began they opened up with a pretty awesome  Tom Petty song.  (Cue the confused looks at our table. Huh?)

 

For the next three or so hours they played great covers of everything from AC/DC to Van Morrison .  I lost track of how many times I lifted my beer to proudly declare “Ha, THIS is on my I-pod, too!” (it’s a Nano but, you know, whatever).

 

I kept thinking, that snotty waitress can kiss my Adele-sized ass.

 

Now, I’ll admit there might have been a few vibes that (maybe.  perhaps.  if you stretched) hinted we may not have been the hippest bunch.

 

Getting to the bar at 7:30 might’ve been the first red flag,  I get that.  Young people —  like vampires —  repel sunlight and bars before ten.  I know, I know, been there done that.  But I will boast that we were indeed asked to “kindly depart” after the bright fluorescent lights had been on for awhile at last call.  Not a proud mother-of-four moment (and certainly not the first fluorescents we’ve ever seen)  but hey, no one can deny our chutzpah.  It happens (so does taking the next day in its entirety to recover).

 

Also, there was one of us whose six-foot frame took out a speaker (and maybe a couple of bystanders) with a very animated fall on the dance floor (NOT ME).  Lacking the grace of Brian Boitano (funny, how these always seem to happen in slow-motion), okay, maybe that could’ve shined an aging spotlight on us.  (No one got hurt.  I think.  Maybe just their roadie?  I dunno…)

 

And (alright, alright) perhaps a mob of middle-agers hysterically fist-pumping on the dance floor was a bit telling..  Ah well.  Three fingers up to make a W:  What-ev-ah.

 

Maybe a final dead giveaway was how we interacted.  One thing that definitely set us apart from the youngsters around us as how we sat as a group and talked and laughed.  You know, TO EACH OTHER.  At one point, a group of four girls nearby all tapped away on cell phones at the same time.  Having fun, ladies?

We sure did.

Take THAT, kids.

Here’s an interesting end note.  Our waitress was arguably the worst restaurant worker in the history of food service.  Her lack of charm paled in comparison to her professional skills.  We had to hunt her down throughout the night, usually finding her sitting with friends chatting (I know, right?)  Yet we still tipped her well because we are a different generation that does the right thing.  (Not to mention that collectively we could put a sitcom into syndication with all the eyerolling actions of our own young-adult-spawn).  It makes us somewhat forgiving.

 

Yes.  That would be us:  forgiving, freakishly good dancing and not-quite-ready-for-early bird-food-specials fun mongers.      #We’llSleepWhenWe’reDead

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Hope

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I have loved every place I have ever lived, which is a little weird because I probably really (really) shouldn’t have.

 

In college, weeks before the start of my junior year, I got word that my two-bedroom apartment – my first foray out of the juvenile dormitories and into supersonic (yet perceived)  adulthood — had burned to the ground.  Room mates scrambled to find housing and I ended up sharing a dismal studio apartment where — for an entire semester — I shared equal time on a couch or the floor.  Dormitories be damned:  it was awesome.  For real.  My friend Betsy and I bonded like sisters, mastered extremely covert one-night stands and politely replenished the communal TV Guide and pack of Parliaments that adorned the coffee table.  It was bliss.

 

After I’d gotten married I was equally excited about my newlywed apartment and why not?  I had a queen-sized mattress for the first time in my life and my beauty needs always trumped those of my newest room mate.  That tiny bathroom was mine.  The apartment was so small I don’t believe I even noticed that my shiny new toaster oven took up the only patch of counter space I had in the walk-in kitchen (not to be confused with the dimensions of a spacious walk-in closet.  A walk-in kitchen is precisely that:  once you walk in, you can’t walk out if a person has come in after you).

 

My first house was right out of the book (the book of course being entitled You Might Want to Keep Looking).  Gaudy, garish and situated between a junk yard and a train station that —  professionally enough —  had been bypassed by our savvy realtor every time we visited.  Didn’t matter; it was our little slice o’ heaven.  We embraced the avocado green appliances and did what every other first homeowner did:  filled it with cheap furniture (bought on credit, twelve months no interest), pretended to really (really) like the 80s-inspired mauve-and-sage green color scheme and painted a nursery in pastel colors.  There were slugs in the basement (to this day I cannot comprehend how they were getting in), there was paneling on the walls and we were happy.

 

When we said farewell to our families and fled to the beauty of New England, we fell under the enchantment of the (cue in heralding angels singing) New Construction.  There was no garage (not unusual in these parts), there was only one full bathroom and it was blindingly vanilla.  Cheap (white) Formica, cheap (white) linoleum, cheap (kinda white) walls and we barely even noticed the poor quality of construction.  It was our own little Cape Cod castle and we were thrilled.  We dumped a pool into the ground, threw up some outdoor speakers, invited friends up the entire summer long and partied like rock stars.  It was our fun house.  The house that found TV stardom on a makeover show.  “Don’t touch our tile floor,” we pleaded.  But they did.  And we didn’t care.  Our home was brimming with laughter and babies and milestones and debt and I thought we’d stay in it forever.

 

Alas, life beckoned.  We needed to keep paying the bills so off we went again, only this time into a whole new world.  We got a true taste of luxury when life directed us to a beautiful college town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Fate found us riding the real estate wave full-throttle into a lush golf course community and ginormous brick home.  We went from having no garage to three.  There were hardwood floors and media rooms and bathrooms for every person old enough to wield a Lysol disinfecting wipe.  There were pools and socials and Bunco and chardonnay on the deck through November and it was nice.  Really nice.  But somehow it didn’t feel like home.  Something was missing.  We jumped at the first opportunity to transfer back and were heading home within ten months; amidst all the grandeur and greenery we didn’t even last a year.

 

So back to New England we came.  And once again I love my house.  There’s no rockin’ pool and there’s no drinking wine outside after say, August, and man, oh man, we are forever with plumbing issues (because there is never going to be a septic system big enough for the things that unfathomably exit boys-to-men bodies) but I just love it.  It’s a pretty house.  And it’s big enough for our family of six and all of our out-of-state visitors and it’s felt like home ever since our first night on air mattresses.  That we’ve been here ten years still catches my breath some days.

 

I’m not the first person to realize that a house with crowds of friends beats out a house with crown moldings every time.  And I know I’m not the only daughter who decided that an airplane ride back to her own mother was entirely too much distance.  And I certainly won’t be the last homeowner to express indigestion over an albatross of a mortgage.

 

But I do know that, without question, at this particular moment in my life, I am in my favorite home.  Ever.

 

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.

Why I’m Saying Fkkk That Sh*t To My Milestone Birthday

BadGrannyS

I don’t believe it’s my looming milestone birthday but for whatever reason, I’ve been in a bit of a rut.

 

It’s not that I’m concerned about being chronologically on par with Cindy Crawford or the remaining members of the Brat Pack (that’s right, Emilio, suck it: still younger than you).   I’ve just been stymied on how to keep this blog going.

 

You see, for years I’ve made a grand ol’ spectacle of using my kids as fodder.  But now that they’re older, it’s getting harder to navigate the fine line between respectful-young-person-privacy and must-tell-all-about-their-colossal-stupidity.   I spend so much time wondering, Wait, can I say that? the dueling voices in my head are in a constant smack down.  It’s certainly not cool to bring up the angst and eyerolls of budding romances, right?  And it’s downright inappropriate to reveal what’s been going on in their bathroom, no?  And, sure, as universally head-shaking as they may be, I imagine it’s not helping their future college/employment/parole endeavors to bring to light any questionable behaviors.  Gaaaaah.     Damn kids, always sucking the fun out of things, amiright?

 

So it’s gotten me a little stuck.

 

I love to write and I want to keep writing so in an effort to get the creative juices flowing again I’ve decided to bite the proverbial bullet (annnnnnnnd fine, perhaps reveal my true narcissism) and shine the spotlight on myself for a change of pace (cue in sighs of relief from spouse and spawn).

 

As I mentioned, yes, it’s a pretty big year coming up.   While I don’t feel any different than I did ten (sometimes even twenty) years ago (hellllllllllo happy hours!), I have changed some of my thinking for how this next phase of my life will go.  I’m finding I’m shrugging and saying Fkkk that sh*t to a few things I used to care about but no longer do.

 

In my mind, I was going to reach my milestone looking better than ever.  Not unrealistically — as in, allow me to reveal the height of bridal fashion circa 1991 as I spin around in my wedding gown — but rather maybe showing up for any birthday fete in a cute little dress.  I even gave up drinking alcohol for a month to kick start my transformation but if I’m being honest, that lifestyle change wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  I sipped seltzer for thirty days and didn’t lose a single pound.  Enough said.  I may still wear a cute birthday dress when it’s time but if it’s not as tiny as say, JLo’s, so be it.  I refuse to stress about it.  To my healthier new me I say:  Fkkk that sh*t.

 

I’d also wanted to hit my Big One with long luscious hair that rivaled my glory days so I simply stopped cutting it for almost a year.  I thought, if Sandra Bullock can hold onto her tresses on the 50+ train, why not me?  Turns out, without a personal stylist and hundreds of dollars in products, it’s nearly impossible.  Still, I martyred on for months – curling and straightening my split ends into a damn near fire hazard.   When I couldn’t stand the sight of myself another minute, the hair was chopped into a medium, yet manageable mane that is – naturally — oh so age appropriate.  To my long locks of long ago I also say, Fkkk that sh*t.

 

Then there’s my car.  Good grief, I’ve spent the better portion of my adult life eschewing minivans and everything they stand for and I’ve kicked and screamed against ever driving one.   Now with learners’ permits gaining and passengers dwindling faster than I care to admit, it’s dawned on me how much I love filling up my car with lots of bodies and enjoying the conversations that go along with that.  On the eve of my milestone, I realize I don’t give a rat’s ass about the car I drive.  So I got a minivan – and a really, really basic one to boot.  Actually, it’s pretty ugly.  But it fits all the large, smelly bodies that I’ve got precious fleeting time with.  And the way lower car payment makes me happier than trendy.  So, to the unsexiest set of wheels I’ve ever known, I say, too:  Fkkk that sh*t.

What better way to hit a milestone than to do so screaming irony, eh?

 

I’m sure as I inch closer to The Date I’ll come up with more things deserving of my Fkkk that sh*t mantra.

 

But I’ll have to save them up so I’ve got some things to write about.

 

Unless of course one of my kids becomes needy for attention and I’m given permission to tell you all about his time in the principal’s office … or the girlfriend’s house … or a squad car.

 

Just kidding.

 

For now.

 

What say we get this Milestone Blog Year going?  Tune in, comment, share, repost and join me in saying Fkkk that sh*t to all the silly things that really don’t matter at all.

 

Hashtag, Bring on 50.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Girls’ll Getcha

medusa


So I had the indescribable pleasure of viewing a few minutes of an MTV show which finds a young man looking for love while living in his parents’ basement.  I am so not kidding.  How great is that? Think The Bachelor with a really (really) small production budget.  And a set of parents judging the girls from their living room sofa.   Hilarity.

My point:  for a suspended moment in time I shared a laugh with my teenage daughter and well, it’s been awhile.  Thank God there are programs like these to keep us connected.

It’s been a long and difficult (understatement) month with her and I’m happy to report (exhale) that I see a light at the end of my tunnel.  Either that or I’m confusing the gleam with another locomotive heading straight towards me (likely being driven by a teenager).

Got girls?  Get wine.

I’ve survived the first of probably many teenage tsunamis with her and I’m still treading lightly as it fades to distant memory behind us.  If I was unsure about our outcome before, I can now say with certainty at least one of us has moved on:  she asked me tonight if she could join her friends in getting belly-button piercings for their fifteenth birthdays this year.

The old me (from 30 days ago) would’ve raised an eyebrow and twisted my grin into a spit of sarcasm (“Suuuuuure…let’s get matching ones”) but the new me is realizing the teenage brain filters simple conversations into odd, hormonal minefields.  I raised an eyebrow, took a breath and paused.

“I’m not ready to talk about this right now,” was all I said.

“Okay, but will you at least think about it?”  Cue in cautious nod.  She walked away, humming.

See?  I detected that bad boy before detonation.  Apocalypse averted.

I’ll think about my reasoning before I get back to her (do I really care?  wouldn’t it look great on her cute figure? didn’t my own mom let me get those ugly new Nikes with the yellow swish when I begged?  again, do I seriously even care about this?).  I’ve got some time to ponder.

We learn and we move forward.  I’m learning — well, trying — to not jump to conclusions, or rush to judgment or bite down too hard on my inner cheek (because that takes awhile to heal and screws up my fondness for hot wings).  And maybe she’s learning that her mother isn’t as ridiculous or unfair as she imagines.  FIngers crossed.

Boys are clueless bottomless pits of gas.  They just want to be fed on their trek to the next game level.  Simple stuff.  Girls are hard-wired for irrational and emotional fits of lunacy.  They simmer, spout and burst when you least expect it.  I’ve coined this stage My Elephant Years:  Of Thick Skin and Grey Hairs……

So these days I’m comforted by daily doses of idiocy that I come across.  Quick fix:  If you ever want to feel really, really good about your parenting skills simply click onto MTV at any given time or google Lindsay Lohan.  See?  Much better.

Finally, from my sister:  How do you make a car full of 12-year-old girls giggle uncontrollably in a car?  Tell them that in high school you dated a boy named Kenny Balz.

There’s always ways to connect to the crazed teenage girl.  Clearly you’ve just gotta be creative.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was just 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. –

Good one, Kel.

Eyerollingmom’s Christmas Letter: Nothing But Ho Ho Honesty

grinch

 

I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore and if I’m being completely honest, I kinda sorta question why some people still do.

I’m not a Grinch.  Hell no.  I still partake in holiday cheer (ahhh, too much, some may say) but I guess I just feel that a lot of old traditions are rather redundant in today’s all-knowing-all-the-time existence.

I never planned to stop.  It just sort of happened the year my mom passed away.  Three months after she was gone I struggled to put up a Christmas tree, let alone send out a photo of my kids who weren’t looking much different than all the pictures I’d been throwing up on Facebook throughout the year.  And of course anything good or eventful that went down in my life had already made it into a post, or text or blog.  Really now, is anyone in need of a recap?

But I’ve always thought that if I did send out a Christmas letter it really wouldn’t be like everyone else’s.  Here’s what I mean:

If I sent out a Christmas letter I’d say for sure, my year was just likes yours:  full of happiness and thanks and blessings and joys and laughter and (hello, four perfect kids?) plenty of proud and boastful accomplishments.  But then I’d feel compelled to add it was also a year filled with a whole bunch o’ family crap,  a shitload of sadness, some bitter disappointments and (hello, four slightly imperfect kids?) too much embarrassment to mention.

I’d start by bragging about my oldest, my newly minted 21-year-old.  He is my unchallenged sweetheart — mainly because he is hands down the most respectful of the tribe.  To this day, he’d do anything I ask without so much as a sigh.  I’d say how my heart swells with pride that he is a USAF Reservist and I am duly delighted that he’s going to school to become an EMT and paramedic.  But then I’d have to admit that his lack of motivation to work at anything — ANY thing — full time makes my blood pressure surge.  And worse, that when I see him playing video games for hours at a time I want to scream like a crazy person on a NYC street corner.  Don’t even get me started on the beer cans in his room.

I’d then go on to gush about my daughter, who’s rocking her sophomore year at college and blossoming into a beautiful and engaging young woman right before my eyes.  She’s really something else.  I’m genuinely in awe of her compassion for the environment and her conviction to make it a better place.  Though I’ll miss her like mad, I know one day soon her dreams and plans will take her away to some exotic place far, far away from me.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit her staunch insistence that humanity is failing … troubles me greatly.  Quite honestly, her woe is the world philosophy is a complete and total buzz kill at the dinner table and (sigh) an argument typically ensues when she really gets going.  Truth be told, if I must nitpick, the toxic fumes festering in her room from the mess seem to be a blatant contradiction of the green earth she’s desperately seeking to save. (Apple cores:  best placed in a compost heap rather than under that bra on the rug, no?)

I’d continue and blather on and on about my middle son, a high school sophomore, who is incredibly handsome and intelligent and easy going and popular and athletic and …  and … so incredibly lazy I feel I should start researching boarding schools.  Or wigs — since I’m dropping fistfuls of my own hair as I chase him around screaming about missing homeworks and vanishing assignments.  I am convinced the sound of my voice is like a dog whistle to his immune ears and I fear he may fall out of bed one night and suffocate in the pile of wet towels next to his bed.

I’d then be forced to boast about his sidekick — my youngest — the king of the eighth grade and future president of the United States of America.  Here is a fellow so incredibly beloved and kind and charming and funny … that his teachers and friends’ parents would be aghast at the shrill volume of his disrespectful back-talk to me.   If he was heard by the masses on a particularly bad day he’d find himself one lonely little boy indeed — because parents wouldn’t let this Talented Mr. Ripley within earshot of their own children.  If they only knew…

I’d tell about our loss this year of our infamous Grandpa Eggo, my stepdad, and only remaining grandparent on my side of the family tree.   Just shy of his 92 birthday, he was one hell of a hot ticket – and  — a bonus — had Carl Fredericksen from the movie UP as his celebrity doppelganger.  Looked JUST like him and THAT was hilarious.  We got a lot of laughs out of his couple of years without my mom as a buffer but man, I’d have to admit that the old guy drove us batshit crazy much of the time.  What’s worse:  his death leaves a distinct hole in the lives of my siblings, for we are now forced to reconcile our simmering differences without a neutral zone of connection.  Being a grown-up becomes acutely harder when you’re left to deal with the messy family stuff without parental referees.

I’d close my Christmas letter with the unthinkable confession that some of my happiest moments are the rare occasions when I pull into my driveway after work and the house is completely – silently – empty.  For a short time until the chaos begins again, I am blissful.

But then, then … as my final admission,  I’d confess there are unexpected moments that catch me off guard … when the house is quiet and — to the contrary — I am consumed by a wordless panic.  My thoughts drift to a time soon to come when I’ll finally be without the video games and the wet towels and the beer cans and the fighting and the back-talk.

And my dread is paralyzing.

Funny how life knows when to give you a swift kick in the ass when you need it.

In those minutes of solitude and fear I somehow understand my personal charade.  Perhaps I bitch and squawk so much … only to mask how crazy I may become without them?

And that’s the truth.

So anywho, even though I don’t send out Christmas letters … or Christmas photos (please.  No-shave November is killing any chance of that; who wants multiple Wolverines in their family photo?) I do always reflect on my passing year, only in a warts-and-all kind of way.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if more people did the same?

 

Merry Christmas, dear friends and readers!

 

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

 

 

Forever & Always: an 80s Kinda Gal

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I have to admit (though if my kids were to miraculously start reading my blog I’d feign dementia) that as hip as I am (that’s right) I am, at times, well, a little lame. In fact, I’m actually all sorts of lame for a variety of reasons.

 

For starters, I totally fake my way through the French words in “Lady Marmalade.”  I know….seriously.   (Hypocrite lame?)

 

I am vain to a fault, having worn lipstick through four childbirths (a subtle mauve) and also popped every blood vessel in my eyes because I made sure my contacts were in, too. (Insecure lame?)

 

I have never seen “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”   (Uncool lame?)

 

I think tattoos are a really bad idea on most body parts (unless you’re planning on being perpetually nineteen and skinny … then I stand corrected).   (Judgemental — or jealous — lame?)

 

I can’t text without using proper punctuation (naturally it takes me five times longer because finding the apostrophes is always troublesome).  (Grammar Nazi lame?)

 

I loathe baking.  The only reason I even own a rolling pin is because one holiday season a neighbor creatively attached one to an invitation to a cookie swap and stuck it in my mailbox (of course prompting my immediate response What the hell is a cookie swap?)  (Lazy lame?)

 

But perhaps my lamest admission is that I really (really) heart the 80s. (Aqua Net lame?)  I spent my adolescence, my college years and my Melanie-Griffith-Working-Girl stage in that decade so who can blame me?  John Hughes movies, white zinfandel pinkish-pretend wine,  grocery shopping in track suits … (oh wait, maybe that last thing was just Long Island …).  It was just a funny time – so big and brash and booming.   The best.

 

Lately my friend Theresa and I have been debating the Worst. Song. Ever.  Whenever we think of one we text it to each other (properly punctuated on my end).  So, while I’m sitting at the Macaroni Grill and my phone beeps, I’ll look down and all I’ll see is “Raspberry Beret.”

 

I crack up.

 

And when she’s waiting at a practice field, her phone lights up and displays “99 Luftballoons.”

 

It’s been going on for a couple of months now and I’ve just realized that all of the songs we’ve been using are 80s tunes.

 

“Eye of the Tiger”

 

“China Girl”

 

“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” (my God, I think I just threw up a little in mouth just typing that one)

 

“(I’m Only) Human” (man, I hate that one)

 

“Shy, Shy” (funny:  just texting the name Kajagoogoo alone is worth sending…)

 

Still good stuff.

 

Just some really (really) lame music.

 

And it was all played a couple of weeks ago at my high school reunion (I can’t even begin to go there yet because I’m still processing the visuals from it).

 

Maybe soon though.

 

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

 

Kid-Free Vacations: Parenting Guilt or Brilliance?

home alone

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

 

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

 

Good God.  What was I thinking?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Nice.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Cancun Can(‘t) Do

cancun

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Tequila volleyball began at noon.

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