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  • Parking Gods vs Shopping Gods

    July 31, 2006

    Let it be known to all, the parking gods love me.

    If you’re going to the mall, you want me to go with you. I don’t even have to be driving to get a primo parking space. I can go to the Dallas Galleria on the day after Thanksgiving and get a front row parking spot in front of Macy’s. I can go to the State Fair of Texas and get a front row parking spot in the shade. I can even get a front row parking spot by the cart return any day of the week at Wal-Mart. I know. I don’t deserve it. I’ve not lived a life without blemish. It rains on the just and unjust alike, but it rains parking spaces on me!

    Unfortunately, the shopping gods are not that crazy about me. Once we get to the store, you’ll want to get as far away from me as possible.

    This past week I had on my shopping list the following items: thermometer covers, Welch’s Grape Juice, hydrogen peroxide and Wheaties. Wal-Mart was completely out of each of the four items. What are the odds? Does that not seem like some sort of divine conspiracy? Not wanting to waste a perfectly good child-free trip to the store I bought nail polish, cilantro, a Snickers bar and a new spatula instead. With my four essential impulse purchases in hand, I headed for the checkout lines.

    I sometimes think that as an act of benevolence to the unsuspecting shopping public, that I should wear a sign on my back that warns people not to get in line behind me if they have ice cream or other perishables or haven’t had a recent bathroom break.

    As I approached the checkout lines, I felt the ire of the shopping gods bear down upon me. Two lanes were open and I had to choose one. Which one would get me out of the store before either I or my cilantro died a pungent soggy green death? I already knew it didn’t matter. Whichever line I chose, it would be the wrong one.

    My two options were as follows: a) The line with the legally-blind, elderly couple in walkers trying to pay for their prescriptions and Metamucil with their phone card or b) The line with the non-English speaking Asian lady trying to use coupons clipped from a Chinese newspaper and disputing the price of every item in her cart by means of pantomime. It was a toss up with 100% losing odds.

    I chose the elderly couple’s line for no reason whatsoever. After I read People, In Style, Glamour, The Enquirer, Newsweek, Teen People and War and Peace, I set my soggy cilantro down and left the store with nothing.

    If you see me in Wal-Mart, for your own good, go the other way. I’ll understand.

    Spelling Is Impotant

    July 30, 2006

    Anybody Googling for anything antique, usually end up here at Antique Mommy sooner or later — undoubtedly disappointed to find the only antique around here is me.

    Today, however, Mr. Google dispatched someone searching for antique coffee urine. There’s plenty of that around here of a morning. I just didn’t know there was a market for it.

    In Good Hands

    July 29, 2006

    Saturday morning, we made the trip to the yonder reaches of the metroplex to see the tree house exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum.  Contrary to what you might think, the Dallas Arboretum is really spectacular, even at this miserable time of the year. If you’ve never been, you will probably be surprised.

    The tree house exhibit was interesting. Sean is obsessed with tree houses right now and we were expecting to see more Swiss Family Robinson style tree houses but what they featured were 13 abstract tree houses. Not what we expected, but we had a great time nonetheless.

    As we traipsed across 66 acres of beautifully manicured horti-scapes (I just made that word up!) with pergolas dressed in glorious sweeping vines and tidy stone paths lined with ivy and tiny budding flowers of every color and water dancing and leaping from fountains, we apparently became intoxicated with the grandeur of it all, because we would occassionally turn to each other and say, “Wouldn’t it be nice to do that in our yard? We could do that in our yard, couldn’t we?” After indulging ourselves in an eensy bit of delusion we finally snapped out of it and remembered that a) we don’t know squat about gardening, b) we stink at gardening c) we have a mole.

    In spite of the heat and that it was well beyond lunchtime, Sean was in remarkably good spirits, so we decided to stop for lunch. Dining with a toddler is always an iffy proposition, but remarkably, we made it through lunch with no incident, so I decided a reward was in order. I suggested to Sean that we go outside and play in a little nearby playground area while Daddy finished eating and waited for the check.


    As Sean and I climbed out of our side of the booth and headed out, he stopped and put his hand on Antique Daddy’s knee, looked him squarely in the eye and solemnly said, “Don’t worry about Mom, Daddy. I’ll take care of her.”

    I was caught off guard. Laughter and tears caught together in the back of my throat in one sweet tangle. And at that very moment it did not seem unreasonable to reach into my chest, pull out my glowing, beating heart and offer it to him.

    Last Weekend In July

    July 28, 2006

    Mosaic_2It is from the shards of broken dreams that the mosaic of life is created.

    The last weekend in July was to be one of celebration. A young bride was to meet her groom at the altar, and before God, pledge to him her love, her body, her eternity.

    The plans had long been in the making. Caterers had been hired. Rings had been purchased. Gowns had been fitted. Pictures had been taken. Parties had been given. Gifts had been wrapped. Promises had been made. Dreams had been launched.

    A phone call can forever alter the course of a life. The groom has had a change of heart. With little explanation there will be no wedding. No one tells you how to keep your knees from buckling in a moment like this. No one tells you what to do with broken dreams and five pounds of wedding mints.

    I have no words of wisdom to offer my young friend.  Nothing to assuage the sting of humiliation or to numb the pain or to assure her that someday she will be happy again.  What I have to offer her, she does not want or need right now. What I have to offer her is my confidence that some day she will lie in the arms of a man who never doubted for a second that she should belong to him, never doubted that she should spend her life with him, never doubted that they should weather life’s storms and grow old together — a man who never doubted that for him there could be no other.

    I know that someday she will sometimes think back to this last weekend in July, if for only a second, and whisper this prayer: Thank you God.

    It’s A Pretty Day! Now Get Off My Planet.

    July 27, 2006

    If I were crazy enough to go into Sean’s room at 3am and switch on the lights, in the stupor of sleep he would pull himself up by the crib rails like a drunk. Then squinting like Clint Eastwood and teetering in a desperate search for balance, he would rub his eyes and automatically say, “It a prit-ee day Mommy!”

    “It’s a pretty day Sean! It’s great to be alive!” Those are the first words spoken around here of a morning. From the time that we brought him home from the hospital, I would get him out of bed with that simple phrase. And it has stuck. It could be raining rusty nails and he would exclaim, “It a prit-ee day Mommy!” Not a bad attitude if you ask me.

    Up until recently, it has been Sean’s nature to be a happy, friendly, outgoing little guy. He has always been quick to shout “Hu-woe!” to everyone he sees. That was the old Sean. The new Sean doesn’t really like people and is repulsed by the general public.

    Whereas before he would give a big smile to the greeter at Wal-Mart now he sulks and scowls and hides his head under his arm. Whereas before he could not care less who played with his toys, now he acts as though his arm has been severed if someone dare to touch anything of his. Things that come under the heading “His” include but are not limited to the following: everything.

    I remember as recently as this past spring being at the mall playground and watching a mother with a child in this stage of development and thinking smugly to myself, “That poor dear woman. Pity she doesn’t have a delightful child like mine. I wonder what she’s doing wrong.”

    Having a child will make one grow fat eating, gorging, scarfing, slurping, guzzling and chowing down on one’s own words. One’s own words have a surprisingly bitter after taste.

    While at that same mall playground yesterday, I sat watching my formerly delightful precious miracle of life shoot laser beams out of his eyes at the other children. When he wasn’t busy issuing the look of death, he was busy howling and crying and running to me any time someone dared look in his general direction or brush past him. Excuse me (burp) — a little arrogance indigestion.

    As we drove home from the mall, we came to a stoplight. Sean looked across at the car that had pulled up next to us and started wailing and pointing, “Mommy I don’t want those people at my pretty day! Make them go away from my pretty day!” Never before have I appreciated car windows as much. The idealistic-teacher mother that lives in me, but is usually napping, wanted to calmly explain in a soothing sotto voce that what makes a day pretty are people and that without people, it wouldn’t be a pretty day, but a lonely day.

    But then the tired-cynical mother who also lives in me and who is given to biting sarcasm said, “Well, Sean, I’ll see what I can do about getting them off the planet.”

    Sean doesn’t want anyone at his Wal-Mart, his playground, his public thoroughfares or his pretty day which leaves him with two promising career options: monk or recluse.

    Hello My Name Is Blank

    July 26, 2006

    I am the kind of person who gets half way through a novel and then goes to the last few pages to find out how it ends. I enjoy the story better knowing what to expect. Surprise endings stress me out.

    So, it should be no surprise to you that when I was pregnant with Sean, I wanted to know if I was carrying a boy or girl. At 16 weeks, the amnio results reported good news and bad news. The good news was that the baby appeared to be healthy. The bad news was that I was carrying a boy. I had no idea what I would do with a (cringe) boy. After I got over my disappointment (I already had a girl name chosen and the nursery mentally decorated) I set to work finding a suitable (ugh!) boy name.

    Even given the fact that Sean came six weeks early, one would think that knowing the sex of the baby that far in advance, would have given Antique Daddy and I sufficient time to settle and agree upon a name. But no, it did not. Five days after his birth, Sean was still Antique Baby.

    The night before he was born, I pulled out the short list of names and the name Sean was on the back at the bottom listed under the heading Second Tall Man. We took a vote among the visitors, we polled the hospital staff, we Googled, we went through the phone book, we hemmed, we hawed. But after all this time, nothing seemed right. And it did not seem like a good time to start over.

    After he was born, the hospital immediately wanted to know what his name would be. Antique Daddy and I acted as though it had never occurred to us that we would have to name him. What? A name? Why didn’t someone tell us!?

    Every day and sometimes twice a day, for the next five days, the hospital baby name person would stop by the room asking, “Got a name for that baby yet? We need a name you know. Gotta get this paper work in,” she’d say in her burly voice tapping a handful of papers. Post-partum women do not like burly voices, so whenever I saw her coming, I would burst into tears, as I was prone to do, and she would find some other insane pregnant lady to hassle come back later.

    On the fifth day, as I was preparing to go home without my baby, Antique Daddy said that we’d figure out a name for him after we brought him home. The idea of leaving my baby in the hospital was bad enough, but without a name seemed unbearable. I blew a post partum gasket of epic proportions. I was not leaving the hospital without naming that baby.

    After the smoke cleared and gasket blowing debris was swept away, the name Sean settled on my heart. Not in a light, happy and reassuring way. Not even in an “aha!” way. But more in a soggy hunk of clay trying to pass through my aorta like a bean burrito kind of way. This Sean name was digging in and wasn’t going to budge.

    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
    Isiah 43:1

    Antique Daddy and I discussed it and we both agreed that the name Sean seemed providential. It was the third thing we had agreed upon since our wedding day five years before. A good sign. We looked up the meaning: “God has been gracious.”

    And so He has.

    How did you choose a name for your baby?

    When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Gorilla And Drink Tea

    July 25, 2006

    When I was about six-years-old, my mom was the den mother of my two older brother’s Cub Scout troop. Looking back, I have to really hand it to my mom. For a woman with very few resources at her disposal, she did a lot with and for her kids.

    Since there was no place else to put me during troop meetings, I was kind of an unofficial cub and I just did whatever it was my older brothers were doing. And my over 197278454_8786f42317_m_3 protective brothers loved having me around and patiently and proudly looked after me.  No they didn’t. They hated it. I’m sorry, I’m confusing my life with an episode of The Walton’s.

    These Cub Scout meetings usually involved some kind of craft or activity. I remember one troop meeting in particular, my mom supervising eight little boys sitting around her kitchen table gluing burnt wooden matchsticks onto cardboard forms in the shape of a cross.  Another one of those “made sense at the time” moments.

    Thirty some years later, when this scene comes to mind, several questions spring to mind: First:  Why on earth…? And then the following questions in no particular order: 2) Little white boys making burning crosses? 3) Was there a KKK badge? 4) Eight little boys lighting matches? 5) In the house? 6) Crosses? 7)Why on earth…

    Since we were all Catholic kids, making a cross for a craft didn’t raise any eyebrows. Today? The ACLU would be knocking on the front door, right behind the fire department and CPS. Aaah, the 60s! No helmets! No car seats! And Jarts! Good times.

    What does this have to do with a tea party you wonder? Very little. It was just a fun little memory I thought I’d share.

    Anyway, one time my mom single-handedly chauffeured her den of eight little boys and one little girl to tour the Abraham Lincoln Museum in her station wagon. I’m sure that we were all well-behaved children and that it was an educational and relaxing time for all. As we were leaving the museum, my mom ducked into the gift shop and bought me a little porcelain tea set that had Bambi pictured on each piece. The reason this is such a memorable event in my life is because had I asked for a magic carpet, I would have been as likely to get it as a tea set. Knowing better, I hadn’t asked for anything, let alone a tea set. She just bought it for me for no particular reason. It was a total surprise. I loved that tea set then and I still love it today, although all of the cups and saucers are missing.

    Aside: Now that I have a child of my own, I understand how a mother’s heart wells up with love for her baby out of nowhere and for no particular reason and how the impulse to purchase something frivolous solely for the joy of pleasing that little person can be nearly impossible to deny. Had my mother been a rich woman we would have been spoiled beyond measure. Luckily we were poor and were spoiled with love and attention instead. Who needs a Barbie Dream House when you can light matches in the kitchen with your brothers while your mother looks on?

    Flash forward thirty years: Not one to contain exciting news very well, my mom called last Friday and told Sean that she had purchased a little tea set for him and that she was sending it in the mail. Obviously the desire to please her babies with impulse purchases has not waned with time. He was quite excited about the prospect of having a tea party. Since he does not yet grasp the concept of time, he ran to the window to wait for UPS to arrive with the tea set and like an obsessive dog I used to have, he pretty much stayed there all weekend.

    So that he might remove himself from my dining room windows and get on with life until the UPS guy comes this week, I decided that I would let him play with my tea set until his came. After digging it out of storage, I called him out of the window to see it. As I unfolded the bubble wrap to expose the three tiny pieces, he gasped in awe at such finery.

    I explained to him that the tea set was mine, and that my mommy — “Bivian” (what he calls my mother) – had bought it for me a very long time ago when I was a little girl. “Wong, wong ago, like weelly wong ago?” he asked.  “Whatever dude,” I snapped. “When Noah put them maminals on the awk and it wained and wained?” he pressed. I felt it best to end the discussion of my antiqueness, so I hurried on to tell him that it was very special, but that he could play with it if he were very careful.

    We spent the afternoon sitting at his little table sipping tea and pouring tea and spilling tea and eating maminal crackers. At some point I will have to teach him that in some circles it’s bad form to drink directly from the creamer. But it was special to see him playing with and enjoying something that I loved so much as a child. That is, until he held up his cup in the air as if to toast my fabulousness and announced, “When I grow up I’m going to be a girl!”

    He could have said gorilla.  I’m hoping he said gorilla. His daddy would be happier if his boy grew up to be a gorilla rather than a girl.  When I relayed this scene to Antique Daddy later that evening, he said “Do you think you could get your mom to send him a gun?”

    And there you have it.  An excellent example of how to take a very long way to tell a very short story.

    Before… And Ever After

    July 24, 2006

    100_5336cBefore you were conceived I wanted you.

    Before you were born I loved you.

    Before you were here an hour I would die for you.

    This is the miracle of life.

    ~ Maureen Hawkins

    It Made Sense At The Time

    July 20, 2006

    Whenever I’ve talked about how that at St. Cabrini, where I attended Catholic grade school, our 4th grade class saved up to buy a pagan baby, I’ve gotten one of two responses. People who did not attend Catholic school in the 1960s will look at me in stunned silence as though I were from Mars. People who did attend Catholic school will nod their head knowingly and sigh at the utter absurdity of the notion.

    Istock_000000417863small_2How does a fourth grader go about buying a pagan baby you might wonder? Well, we brought our scavenged pennies and nickels into school and put them in a jar until we finally had enough to send off for a pagan baby, I guess from the pagan baby store which was probably somewhere in California. That’s where everything cool was, or at least that’s what mid-western Catholic school kids thought. If you could get your parents to move to California, then you could automatically be cool. Anyway, $4 and some box tops later, or something like that, and we were the proud owners of a heathen. I have no idea how much a pagan baby cost, no one ever told us, and being good Catholic children, we didn’t ask.

    Eventually we would get a certificate of some kind in the mail. The class would vote on a name and afterwards we would have a naming ceremony. For a baby girl, Sister always pushed us to choose Mary something – Mary Beth, Mary Alice, Mary Margaret, Mary Catherine, Mary Jane, whatever. The Mary list is endless. For a boy we were expected to choose a name like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. But in 1969 the names we fourth graders favored were names like Ringo and Twiggy.

    Since it was a class vote with Sister having two votes to our every one, we compromised on Mary Twiggy. We thought it so very funny to exasperate Sister with our zanyness. As a class, we were supposed to pray for the salvation of little Mary Twiggy throughout the school year. So you see, there was a seed of goodness buried deep deep within such a warped idea. And somehow? It made sense at the time.

    I wonder what ever became of Mary Twiggy

    Brought To You By The Letter “N”

    July 19, 2006

    (Scene: Morning. House of Antique. Sean and the crazy lady.)

    Sean: (pulling a hand from behind his back) Mommy! My fingers are stee-eee.

    AM: (freaking out) Your fingers are stinky?! What did you touch?! Did you touch poo poo? Because poo poo is bad! Very! Bad! You never, and I mean NEVER EVER touch poo poo. Do you hear me? Come here right now, we need to Clorox scrub your hands.

    Sean looks at Antique Mommy and in an act of toddler defiance, grins wickedly and moves his spread out fingers towards his mouth.

    AM: Sean! STOP! Do not put your fingers in your… DO NOT… Oh me, Sean, why would you put your fingers in your mouth? Why oh why oh why would you do that?

    Sean: I got je-wee on my fingers. They stee-ee.

    AM: Oh. Sticky. Well, that’s different. Carry on.