Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fountain of Delight Just $15.99. No Shipping or Handling!

I don't usually go for more than a week without blogging, but given the mood I was in recently, I did you a favor. I wasn't in my usual state of whining, but instead found myself afflicted with a rare case of "I want to start a fight." I felt like Pink in "So What, I'm Still a Rock Star." At least I didn't hit anyone. 

I'm not exactly sure what started my rebellion. There was some element of feeling unappreciated at work and a sense I was being critiqued by family members for my parenting skills. Then there was the inevitable post-invitation regret that results whenever I decide to have a party or host a holiday meal. I experienced a major mood swing when I thought I had sold our timeshare, only to have serious doubts that "Shengli from Canada" was/is going to come through with the check. And then there's the "home work" that cries out to you when spring rolls around and you venture into your yard. Not the least of these assignments is filling in the "gap" left by five "widow maker" trees that were removed between our yard and our neighbors. Even though we love them (our neighbors, not the widow makers), we don't want to have to "watch Pedro in his wife-beater working in the garage," as his wife so eloquently put it. So we'll just throw another couple thousand on top of the $6K (we split) to cut down the trees. And did I mention we need a new kitchen floor and counter tops and a dishwasher? Home ownership is awesome. First world problems, I know.

But I don't want to get into what caused my angry mood because ain't nobody got time for that. And Dad, that's not bad grammar on my part, it's from a video that most people are familiar with. Here's a link. (He called into question my job qualifications based on my use of that expression on Facebook.) 

The good news is that I have found a simple cure for what ails me, and likely what ails you as well. For only $15.99 and no shipping or handling fees, you too can rediscover a long lost sense of contentment, simple joy and satisfaction. And unlike wine, it won't affect your driving or decision making skills! If you order now, I'll throw in a sunny glow for your cheeks and a skip in your step! You may think that's the Easter chocolate talking, but in fact, my fountain of delight was in no way candy, wine or shopping related. Here's the key:

A day off from work for which you have nothing planned. No must-run errands. No appointment to get the car fixed. No power washing the house or planting grass seed. No doctor visits. Just a day off on which you ignore your to-do list. Oh, and this is important-- for maximum enjoyment, the kids should be in school.

One of the few benefits of working for a Christian organization is a holiday known as Easter Monday. Aside from the egg rolling race at the White House, this Monday after Easter (hence the name) doesn't translate into much in the United States, except in the state of North Dakota (?). But, according to timeanddate.com, "Many Christians around the world celebrate Easter Monday as a day of rest. It is a day for many to enjoy the time outdoors in countries such as Australia and Canada. It is known as Dyngus (great name), or Splash Monday, among many Polish communities where children often play water games." There's a Polish joke in there somewhere. 

When I read about this "day of rest," I thought, "What the hell. Let's go for it." So yesterday I slept in and then went out for breakfast with Rob. We happened upon a local spot where we were the only diners under the age of 70. There, we were amused by smart ass senior citizens, providing a glimpse at who we'll be in a very short number of years. The 90-year-old birthday boy, flirting with one of the 70-plus year old girls, told her that she was welcome in the restaurant "even though you're a Republican" (indeed a rarity in Swarthmore), to which she replied, "You can't discriminate against minorities." Birthday boy told us to come back some time when the dancing girls were performing. 

Breakfast was followed by a solid workout at the gym, which I effectively rendered useless with Chik Fil A nuggets and french fries for lunch (and coffee cake and Easter candy snacks later in the day). The best part of lunch was a last minute picnic in the park with Freakin Angels Kim and Cathie and their littlest ones Weston and Gemma. I gave thanks to God not only for the food and friendship, but for the fact that I don't have kids under the age of five anymore. Way too stressful having to actually watch them on the seesaw and the spinning thing and near the creek, etc. Dating, driving, academic pressures, social influences, etc. are a breeze compared to the monkey bars.

Glad I don't have to deal with this stuff anymore
While Easter Monday was indeed delightful, I have to admit that my transformation appropriately began on Good Friday. The church choir sang at the evening service which was a lovely blend of scripture and music and none of the theatrical nonsense we've been seeing lately that brought me to tears. Saturday was a fast-paced mix of three soccer games for Abby, a choir rehearsal for me, the finale of Scandal on the DVR (Olivia's dad is EVIL), and Easter brunch preparations, all followed by some time spent around the fire pit on a perfectly beautiful evening. On Easter Sunday, the choir sang at both the 8:15 and 11 a.m. services and had brunch in between, during which time I got to chat with our director, the wonderfully open, honest and real Lisa - just another in a long line of amazing MPC women who keep me coming to church during this difficult time of pastoral transition (which I have, with great difficulty, refrained from blogging about).

Easter brunch (#2) with my parents and Rob's family, was also very nice, and most importantly, I didn't run out of food. I enjoyed having my new friend Aimee (also from MPC) and her kids (ages 9 and 10) join us for the afternoon, and was so proud of my teenagers for playing tag and soccer and keeping them entertained. In fact, Ian and Abby just may be a major source of my emotional transformation over the past week. Simply put, they've been awesome. Willing to help (even Ian, to some degree), funny, kind, affectionate. I wonder what they want. 

I've gone on long enough, but if you remember anything from this rambling post, remember this: A day off from work, preferably one with sunshine and a to-do list that you ignore for a mere 8 hours, can do wonders for your mental health. And at only $15.99 (for breakfast and lunch), it's a deal that's just too good to pass up.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

But I Want (You to Want) It Now!

It only took me about five years of marriage to realize that I had absolutely no chance of ever controlling my husband. Nagging, complaining and demanding gets me nothing except a pissed off man. In fact, he told me early on in our relationship that he doesn't like to be "should upon." Got it. Of course he would tell you that I occasionally slip up and try to make a helpful suggestion.

Given that I exert no influence over my husband, it was only natural that I should want children so that I could control someone something in my life. "And that turned out really well," she said sarcastically. I've learned to accept that my children and I don't like the same music, clothes or degree of cleanliness in our bedrooms, and I'm even becoming accustomed to the way they completely ignore my demands requests. The one thing that still gets my panties in a twist, however, is the frustrating difference between "mom time" and "teen time" when it comes to getting somewhere or getting things done.

One of my children is a lot like me, exhibiting those desirable Type A traits and taking care of business on a daily basis. My other child is not quite as neurotic, high strung, obsessive driven. This didn't matter as much when that child was younger and it was okay for me to manage his/her life, but now, as a teenager, it's time for me to step away and let him/her take care of those things which are most definitely in his/her control. Examples include finding a summer job, pursuing areas of interest, choosing colleges to visit over spring break, and applying for special programs /opportunities that are awaiting smart kids like him/her.

Let's just say we do not express the same manic tendency level of enthusiasm for completing tasks. I'm not even sure if this child has a to do list. Dear God, how does one function in this world without a to do list? My child's slower pace is maddening for a formerly geeky girl like me who finished every term paper ahead of schedule and does a happy dance every time she accomplishes something.

Just last night while together with friends, I went on and on about casually mentioned my frustration with what I perceive to be a lack of initiative on the part of this child. Case in point. Said child is very interested (he/she doesn't fake it when he/she is not interested) in attending a summer program at one of my alma maters, yet, with a deadline looming (May 1!) said child still had not started the application. The past rainy, dreary weekend had been the perfect time to accomplish such an assignment. I believe I may have casually mentioned this to my child, but alas he/she did not see the same obvious opportunity that I did. Clearly he/she was never going to take care of this and the deadline was going to pass, and I was just going to have to be okay with that because it's time for him/her to take responsibility.

My friends listened sympathetically. We drank margaritas.

Upon returning home - in a much better mood than when I left - my child asked me to digitally sign his/her application for the summer program. Which he/she had completed while I was out bitching seeking guidance from fellow moms.

Ah yes, another classic parenting moment and an important reminder that just because my children don't do things my way or as quickly as I would like, doesn't mean they're doing them wrong. Of course doing it my way is always preferable and is more likely to result in success in life (and extremely high stress levels), but it's okay to let my kids be who they are. Remind me about this next year when it's time for said child to start preparing for SATs...