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  • Somewhere In The Middle…

    June 30, 2006

    of the country is where I am this week.

    Sean and I are visiting my parents this week in central Illinois. For me, it has meant less computer time and more gazebo and book reading time. For Sean, it has meant time spent with seldom seen cousins and aunts and uncles and unlimited popsicles and rides in the wheelbarrow. There is nothing my parents will not do to amuse the prince. Nothing. Next week, it means undoing all Wivian and Papa Ed’s (Grandma and Grandpa) doing.

    My mom is graciously allowing me to use her computer and dial-up internet connection which is so lovely of her to do so, but my goodness! S-L-O-W-! Anyway I’ve been checking in on your blogs this week but her computer and Juno won’t let me comment — I see you but you don’t see me!

    I see from my email that someone nominated my Ode To MTM for a Perfect Post! Thank you thank you whomever you are! Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to track you down and thank you properly until I’m home on my own computer.

    I’ve got to go take the matches away from Sean and untie Papa Ed right now. Look for me right here on Monday. In the meantime, why not check out Best of Antique Mommy? The link is in the sidebar.

    Cuter

    June 29, 2006

    “He’s cuter than he used to be.”

    This was a comment that I overheard recently at a family gathering. When I realized the speaker was referring to my son, I laughed involuntarily. Not a belly laugh, but a sniff of disbelief as though I were trying to expel a gnat from my nose. Cuter than he used to be! Absurd.

    Her words seeped into the spongy part of my brain that processes and analyzes. I was surprised when I started to feel a little indignant. What exactly did she mean by that? That Sean wasn’t cute to start with but was just now approaching entry level cute? She was obviously unaware that the nurse in the delivery room had pronounced him “too cute” at birth. Too cute — too, as in unbearably cute, a level of cuteness that could not be tolerated, criminally cute. A professional nurse would not lie about something as serious as that.

    It was the first time that it had ever occurred to me that there might be someone on the earth who didn’t see Sean as I do – that someone might actually think that he is not cute, but just average, just so-so. I was astonished.

    As conversations about cousins, weather and jobs rose and fell and floated around the room, I held the expression of someone who was listening intently. I nodded and said things like “Is that right? You don’t say” all while diagramming those six words in my head. Cuter than he used to be.

    What if she were right? What if I was mistaken and Sean wasn’t catalog cover cute? I kneaded this idea like a cat atop a velvet pillow. Silently, purposefully, obsessively pushing, pushing. Would it be so bad if my kid wasn’t cute or would it just be bad that I was so blind?

    As I pondered these things, I recalled that it was just the other day that Antique Daddy and I were looking through some early photos of Sean and we both agreed, and even laughed about how deluded we were. We didn’t remember him looking so goofy. We didn’t remember that his head looked like a big bald happy toothless bowling ball attached to drunken rag doll body. We thought he was too cute. And to us he was too cute – so stunningly and unbearably cute that we could little else but sit around and look at him and sigh.

    It turns out that he is cuter than he used to be. And I am even more blindly in love with him than I used to be.

    Kansas City Here I Come

    June 26, 2006

    Last Saturday, I took my first solo trip away from Sean. I took a day trip to Kansas City to have lunch with some blogging buddies.

    I had been looking forward to it for more than a month. I looked forward to getting away on my own for the first time in a more than a decade and I looked forward to meeting people I only knew through the computer. I wondered if it would be like Christmas. Would all the anticipation and excitement and curiosity of what was hidden be disappointing when all was revealed? It seemed like Saturday would never come and then suddenly it was here. When it was time to kiss my baby goodbye at the curb, my intestines were busy learning macramé.

    Off and on over the course of the preceding week, I previewed and prepared Sean for Saturday morning, as the experts who write books tell you to do. I told him that on Saturday I would be taking an airplane ride but that I would be back by the end of the day. I reminded him that he would have daddy all day to himself and that they would do fun things like go to PetCo.

    As Saturday approached, he said to me out of the blue: “Mommy, I don’t want you go on an airplane. That scare me.” I couldn’t think of a single thing that would have prompted this remark, so I asked him what it was that scared him. “I don’t want the airplane to tip over,” he said solemnly. I reassured him the plane was not going to tip over and that he need not worry about it. I told him that Uncle Dick has been flying airplanes for thirty years and never once tipped one over. That seemed to set his mind at ease or maybe he just kept it to himself. I worry that that it was the latter.

    I got out of the car and opened the door to the backseat to give him a kiss goodbye. I looked at him sitting in the backseat of the car, still in his baseball pajamas, still sleepy, still so little. Tears stung my eyes. Bye Sweet Potato!” I said to him tipping his chin up with my thumb. I sounded falsely happy. I looked deep into his eyes. “I’ll see you later today, ” I promised. “You be a good boy for daddy.” I kissed his nose.

    “Bye Mommy” he said, rubbing his eyes. Then he gave me a smile and waved at me by scrunching his fingers in and out as though he were working dough. “Dear God,” I whispered to myself, “Don’t let the plane tip over.”

    It turned out that Saturday was the best Christmas ever. I got more than I ever imagined and it was better than I could have imagined. I will write about the wonderful ladies I met in the coming week when I have time and can do it justice. (In the meantime, Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer has a well written summary and pictures too!)

    When Sean and Antique Daddy picked me up at the airport that evening, my heart was full. It had been a very good day. Any day you make sixteen new friends is a good day. And now I was home. I opened the car door and kissed my boy. He was exactly where I had left him. “Mommy!” he said, “I look for you but I not see you today.” He had missed me.

    Thank you God, I whispered to myself. Thank you for this boy, my husband, my sixteen new friends and not letting the plane tip over.

    Mug Shots

    June 21, 2006

    100_5135a Veronica Mitchell of Toddled Dredge tagged me with this Mug Shot meme which was started by Julie of Bookworm — both excellent writers.  If you haven’t already discovered their blogs, by all means go treat yourself.

    This mug became my favorite when Sean was about a year old.  As I was drinking from it one morning – one very bad Mary-Tyler-Moore-in-pajamas kind of morning – he studied it intently. Then he pointed to the dog behind the dryer and began laughing hysterically.  Once it became clear that he appreciated The Far Side, I knew we were going to keep him.  Far Side appreciation is kind of a prerequisite if you want to hang around here.

    So what about you Shalee and Shannon?  Show us your mug shot!

    Ode To Mary Tyler Moore

    June 20, 2006

    A Perfect Post

    I left the house feeling quite pleased with myself. I was having a Mary Tyler Moore day. I had on a pair of jeans that didn’t require me to hold my breath and a brand new blouse — sunny summer yellow with snap buttons up the front. My pedicured toes were showcased in my favorite pair of black Cole Haan sandals, my one summer splurge item. And? I was having a good hair day. It was 82 degrees and the sun was spilling in through the sunroof of the car. I put on my sunglasses and checked my look in the rearview mirror. Dang! I looked pretty good, not a day over 45. If I’d had a beret, I would have thrown it in the air.

    After I dropped Sean off at school, I continued my mission to take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. First stop, Starbucks. As I was celebrating my splendid-ness with a refreshing Frappuccino, I noticed a man over in the corner checking me out over the screen of his laptop. I acted like I didn’t notice because I am just that cool. In what was supposed to be a sexy Sharon Stone-style move, I tipped the cup upwards to drain what was left of the sweet brown liquid. But. The ice broke loose from the bottom of the cup like a calving iceberg, smashing me in the face and gushing down my pretty yellow shirt and into my cleavage. I screamed. The man in the corner hid behind his laptop and chortled. He chortled! That is one small step above snorting. You have not been humiliated until you have been the object of a public chortling.

    I stood and gathered up my dignity. I did a little side-to-side head move and flipped my good hair over my shoulders and then I put on my sunglasses and walked out of there like a model on a runway. Except that I was dabbing at my boobs with a wad of environmentally friendly Starbucks napkins which you should know, will disintegrate at the sight of liquid and leave behind what looks like spit up or oatmeal or spit up oatmeal on your shirt. When I thought I could plumb the depths of humiliation no further, I caught sight of my reflection in the door on my way out. I not only had an icy drink in my bra, I had a whipped cream mustache.

    I was not going to let a little Frappuccino down my shirt ruin my Mary Tyler Moore day. I still had on a fabulous pair of sandals. I still had on a sexy pair of jeans. I could still make it afterall! I arrived at my next stop, my doctor’s office, for some routine blood work. As I sat in the blood drawing chair, I noticed the lab technician eyeing my sunny yellow oatmeal shirt. She didn’t ask and I didn’t offer.

    On the way out of the doctor’s office, I decided to use the restroom before I continued turning the world on with my smile at TJMaxx. As I raised my pretty little pink painted tootsie to flush, the slick sole of my chic sandal slipped and I baptized my foot in the flushing toilet. I screamed for the second time that morning. I pulled my wet foot out and stood there like a flamingo helplessly watching Cole Haan go around and around. At the last moment, I reached in and made the rescue.

    My Mary Tyler Moore day was literally going down the toilet. I stood dejected at the sink, on one foot, washing my sandal. The bathroom door opened and I looked in the mirror to see the lab technician. She stopped when she recognized it was me, oatmeal girl. She didn’t make eye contact with me, but rather raised her eyebrows with an expression of amusement and pity, as though she had finally seen it all. She didn’t ask and I didn’t offer. I slogged out of the doctors office, past the nurse and the non-Mary Tyler Moore patients wearing my one leg wet jeans, one shoe, a shirt covered in what looks like oatmeal and carrying a shoe wrapped in a paper towel.

    When I picked Sean up from school he was demanding to go to Old McDonald’s and since I already smelled like Frappuccino and urine, I gave in. It wasn’t long before I spied him in the corner of the play yard in the poop pose, the one that looks like he is about to lift off wearing a silver space age jet pack on his back — knees slightly bent, clenched fists out front. He was also wearing the red-faced, eyes glazed over poop expression. Great. Not exactly the finale I had in mind for my Mary Tyler Moore day, but at the same time, it seemed fitting. I called him over and gave him the news that we needed to go home. Given the day’s track record, the last thing I was up for was changing a poopy diaper in a public restroom. He was not very happy about this decision, so I had to carry him to the car, kicking and screaming and flailing.

    With a “fully loaded” boy under one arm and my purse, keys, his shoes and our drinks under my other three arms, I exited the restaurant. As I was leaving I noticed that everyone was looking at me. My spirits were buoyed. I started thinking, wow, even after the day I’ve had, I still look pretty good.

    That’s when I looked down to see that in the course of all the thrashing about, Sean had unsnapped my shirt down to my navel. And I had not one free arm to do anything about it.

    So much for my Mary Tyler Moore day. If I’d had a beret, I would have just pulled it completely over my head.

    The Band-Aid

    June 19, 2006

    Betwixt and between. This is the confounding, ill-fitting space that Sean and I occupy this summer. We are two mismatched, uncomfortable dance partners.

    He is tired, but doesn’t want to nap. He is hungry but doesn’t want to eat. He cries for Mommy to kiss a boo boo, then pushes me away. He wants a band-aid instead. I fetch a band-aid. I try to apply the band-aid to the invisible boo boo. For a split second I imagine he is admiring my skill, that he is pleased with my effort. I half expect him to look up at me and smile with gratitude. Then he breaks down sobbing. I have done it wrong. The world is near end. He wanted to “oh-oh-oh-puh-puh-en the band-aid him (sob) selphs (sob).”

    I want to please him, to see him smile – when I am not wanting to scream at him, “Hey Buddy! Knock it off!” I don’t scream out loud. As I’m rummaging around the medicine chest, I scream inside my head. I return with another fresh, unopened Curious George band-aid. He mauls and mangles the paper covering until it is ashen gray. He holds it out to me crying in frustration because he can’t open it. I try to help him and only anger him in the process. He pulls it back like a game of cat and mouse, grumbling “I do it MYselfphs!”

    We do a dance of helping and not helping, offering and rescinding, asking then denying until the band-aid is free from the package and plastered on his knee. Curious George is upside down, crumpled and battle worn. His smile is now eerily crooked and torn — which is exactly how I feel.

    Papa Ed

    June 17, 2006

    I like my dad. Oh sure, I love him too. That’s a given. But I really like him. I always have.

    My dad and I like to hang out together. My parents have a gazebo in their back yard that is enrobed in purple clematis and hanging baskets of pink petunias in the summer. The gazebo rests in the shade of towering trees that were not much more than seedlings when I lived there. Dad and I like to sit out there in the breeze that swirls through and drink iced tea and talk. Or not. Sometimes we just sit.

    Sometimes we venture into the garage and make something. That’s how we got the gazebo. One time we ended up with a grape arbor. And then grapes. Another time we painted a mural of a seascape on the side of the garage. I tell him I want to make something. He tells me why it can’t be done. We go back and forth until he is convinced it is his idea. And then we set to work, the two of us, a team. The only team I’ve ever been on that never kicked me off.

    My dad has a lot of qualities I admire, but the one I’d like to have that I didn’t get (especially now that I’m a parent) is patience. The man is unflappable. I remember one time when I was about nine, my brothers and I were in the living room throwing pillows and agitating one another and just generally being the rowdy obnoxious kids that we were.

    Dad was in the kitchen quietly working on an oil painting. Somehow, one of the sofa pillows went sailing into the kitchen and landed squarely on dad’s painting. He just stopped what he was doing and took the pillow and the painting and deposited them both into the trash. He didn’t even grimace or make a face or even heave a sigh. There was no yelling or well-deserved discipline or even a lecture. If he had only beaten the pudding out of us, it would have been less painful than the silent expression of disappointment. There are many other times when I deserved a measure of his wrath, but it was never forthcoming.

    When my dad comes to my house to visit, we get up early and meet in the kitchen for a cup of coffee and the New York Times crossword puzzle. After I fix him two eggs over easy, two pieces of bacon and a piece of toast, we sit down and work the puzzle together. He doesn’t know who Bon Jovi is. I don’t know what an ogee is. We make a good team, each one making up for the deficiencies of the other.

    I’m a lucky girl. I have a daddy that I love. But I really like him too.

    Happy Father’s Day Papa Ed.

    If Only It Came In A Jar

    June 15, 2006

    Sean sat on the edge of the bathtub this morning watching me trying to perform a face lift on myself with a jar of Loreal ultra, energizing, firming, age-defying something or another.  It wasn’t going well.

    “Want me to sing you a song?” he volunteered, maybe hoping to cheer me up.

    “Absolutely!” I agreed.

    “Je-jush loves me, dis I know,” he belted out in little boy falsetto, “and Bingo was his name-oh!”

    Amusing and oh so wry.  The former Catholic school girl in me appreciated the Jesus-Bingo reference. And then I laughed out loud because, actually that was pretty good. And then the boy laughed because he had made his mother laugh.

    Forget Loreal.  It’s amazing what a good laugh first thing in the morning can do for your countenance.

    Mud Muffins

    June 14, 2006

    My mom’s parenting philosophy has always been this: Never miss an opportunity to have fun. If it didn’t hurt anything (permanently) and it was fun (and free) she would make it happen.

    Nothing was ever too messy or too much trouble for my mom if it meant her kids having fun. The list of crazy things she would let us do (or think up for us to do) is endless, but one of the things I especially remember is that when it was too cold to go outside, she would bring snow inside in her big mixing bowls so that we could make little snowmen in the house.

    I think the thing mom enjoyed most about her kids was the license to be a kid herself. I want to be that kind of mom.

    So last week I took a page out of her parenting book and set up a mud muffin making factory for Sean in the backyard. He worked in the gentle morning sunshine mixing and stirring mud in his big metal washtub, perfecting his muffin recipie “in case a moose came by.” It wasn’t long before the clothes came off and he was clad only in mud, but there is precious little time in life when one can a) fit in a washtub and b) enjoy being unabashedly naked.

    I sat in a lawn chair near the muffin factory employed as the chief taste-tester and company photographer while enjoying the intoxicating combination of sunshine, mud and a carefree little boy.

    Maybe when he’s a grown man, he’ll remember the day that his crazy mom set him up in business making mud muffins in the backyard. Or maybe he’ll just remember that no matter the trouble or the mess, his mama never missed an opportunity to have fun.

    Rear View Mirror

    June 13, 2006

    Everyone needs someone in their life that they can count on to level with them, to tell them when they have spinach in their teeth. The only reliable source of truth in my life right now is not my mother, not my best friend and because he has learned better over the course of nearly ten years, certainly not my husband — it is the rearview mirror in my car.

    Even on those days when I leave the house thinking I look not that bad for a 46-year-old woman with a toddler and too little sleep, my rearview mirror is only too happy to set me straight.

    AM: Hi RVM! I’m looking hot today, doncha’ think? I got me a new tube of Tropical Pink lipstick at the grocery store for my new summer look. It looked great on Cindy Crawford on the display. I’m going to look like Cindy Crawford!

    RVM: Um, Cindy is an exotic 6-foot tall brunette. You’re a non-descript pasty white 5’4 blonde with gray highlights.

    AM: Tropical Pink too bright?

    RVM: Just a tad. You could be trying too hard. Didn’t you used to have lips?

    AM: Oh. Well, okay. But I’ve got a great attitude. It’s great to be alive! (big smile)

    RVM: Speaking of…. Have you heard of this new tooth whitening toothpaste stuff? I’m just saying…

    RVM: And while we’re on the topic, do you even own a pair of tweezers?

    AM: That was a topic? Tweezers?

    RVM: Check the chin sister. It happens.

    AM: Okay. Sure. I see what you’re saying.

    RVM: And Buff Puff. Buff Puff is your friend. Exfoliate and say goodbye to dull lifeless skin!

    AM: Okay tweezers and Buff Puff and whitening toothpaste and lipstick. Anything else?

    RVM: And is that tissue paper under your eyes or did a gift bag just explode in your face?

    The bright lights of that much truth makes me want to pull the car back into the garage, close the door and leave the engine running. But then I look in that same mirror and catch the gaze of a little boy in the backseat. He is watching me indulge myself in this bizarre ritual of self-inspection. He is giving me a big toothy grin and waving his hand at me like he is washing a window. He’s calling “Hi Mommy! I see you!” to the mirror. He does see me. He sees me. He could not care less if his mommy is 26 or 46 or needs to exfoliate. I resolve to spend more time looking beyond the mirror and less time looking into it.

    Then I put the car in drive and head to grocery store for tweezers, toothpaste, Buff Puff, lipstick and a toy for my good boy, because he has taught me the difference between reality and truth. And he makes me feel like I’m 26 again.