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  • When A Box Is Not A Box

    January 31, 2008

    When you are four, a box is not a box, but a boat, and you are a pirate braving the high seas.

    When you are 14, a box is where you stash your childish treasures, hiding them away from the world under your bed.

    When you are 24, a box is how you haul your dreams out of your parent’s house and into your own.

    When you are 34 a box is a small and mostly uncomfortable space that the world has molded you into. It is so small your dreams have to be crushed into dust and sprinkled on top.

    When you are 44, if you are lucky, your dreams have come true in spite of the  world and a box is a boat again, for you and a little pirate boy, braving the high seas.

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    Food Rut

    January 29, 2008

    I am in a food rut. Do you ever get in a food rut?

    Normally I love to cook, I enjoy it, it’s another creative outlet. I love to feed people. 

    But right now, nothing sounds good. I can’t think of anything to cook. I don’t want to cook anything. No one wants to eat anything I cook even if I could think of something to cook. Honestly, I would be perfectly happy to not cook anything and not eat anything, but these people called my family, they want to eat. They are so needy.

    And we are out of everything except for the stuff we don’t like, like the cans of little miniature corns (yuck) that have been in my pantry for three years.  And the stuff that we do have needs one ingredient that we don’t have to make. Consequently I have been avoiding going to the grocery store. Wal-Mart stock has probably plummeted. Sorry Wal-Mart stockholders.

    Today I could not put it off any longer. I had to go to the store and it was going to be painful. I just had no idea how painful.

    Sean and I loaded up and braved the 120mph winds and went to Wal-Mart. And we filleth our cart until it overfloweth. And just as we were heading to the checkout lanes, I heard this ‘VROOOWMPH” sound, kind of like the Dolby Surround “The Audience Is Listening” sound at the beginning of a movie, and just like at the movies, the lights dimmed and went out.

    Clerks starting telling the shoppers to go to the checkout lanes, that they were going to have to close the store.

    But then I heard the VROOOMWMPH again and the lights went back on. Yay for the on VROOOWMPH! So I lingered over the red and green peppers before making my way to checkout lines, because this was Wal-Mart! Wal-Mart has a backup plan, right? Like a backup generator to keep the economy moving, right? Wal-Mart is like the government, we can depend on them, right?

    I found an open lane and had half of my stuff checked out when once again VROOOWMPH! and no lights. So in my head, I said crapcrapcrap. I have given up cussing out loud, but inside my head, I still need more work.

    The store manager said, sorry folks, the power won’t be back on for an hour or more. You can wait if you like.

    So again, in my head, I said crapcrapcrap, because now I was going to have to get in my car, go to another store, all with a four-year-old who was almost maxed out on grocery shopping for the day, and start all over. And that thought made me want to cry or cuss, and so I opted for cussing, in my head.  Perhaps I should have stopped here and prayed for humor, but I’m a work in progress, y’all already know that.

    I started thinking that maybe God doesn’t want me to have groceries. Maybe he wants me to eat the little corn.  I just didn’t see that he needed to bring down the local economy over a can of miniature corn.

    So anyway, Sean and I left that Wal-Mart, drove a mile and a half down the road to the next Wal-Mart where we once again filleth our cart till it overfloweth. But this time, we did not linger over the peppers.

    I’m still in a food rut. I have no idea what I will fix for dinner except that it will have peppers.

    Reaching For The Angels

    January 28, 2008

    Many many years ago, the church I attended held an annual silent auction that benefitted missions. The overseas missionaries sent home items from the country they were working in and put them up for auction to raise money. It was a splendid international bazaar of sorts with all kinds of unique and fabulous things offered. A good amount of intrigue and whispering and strategizing took place among the brethren at this auction in the name of furthering the kingdom of God.

    I bid on and won a mobile of straw angels from Africa. I ended up paying something like $60 for it, even though I probably could have gotten one at World Market for $10, which would be about $8 more than it was worth. Not to mention that no one else bid on it.

    I didn’t really know what to do with the mobile as my décor is not African or straw, but I liked it, so I took it home and put it in a box for the next six or seven years.

    When I was expecting Sean, I decided to do his room in Serengeti safari prints. As I was putting on the finishing touches, I remembered that I had this mobile and so before he was born, I dug it out and hung it from the light in his bedroom. When he was a little guy, I would put him up on my shoulders and let him reach up and fling the angels. It pleased him to send the angels spinning and flying and I’m sure it thrilled the angels as well.

    I haven’t thought much about the straw angels for a long time because these days Sean is too big to hoist up to my shoulders. But the angels, they are still there, where they have been for the past four and a half years, floating quietly above my head and out of sight, as angels do.

    The other night before bedtime, after we closed the last book, Sean and I sat in the rocking chair together and let what was left of the day drain away.  He tucked his head under my chin and curled up into me as best he could and we rocked back and forth, back and forth, without speaking a word.

    “Mom,” he said quietly, looking up at the mobile, “You know, if I stand on your shoulders I can reach the angels.”

    “Oh Sean,” I whispered. “You have no idea.”

    He has no idea that it is he who lifts me to the angels.

    She Doesn’t Know

    January 25, 2008

    There is a woman in my neighborhood who has cancer. She doesn’t know that I know.

    From my dining room windows I see her walk past my house nearly every afternoon. Sometimes she is alone. Sometimes she is with her husband or her boy. She never looks up. She doesn’t know that I watch her walk past.

    As I watch her walk past, I wonder if she is thinking about her mortality, about her next life, about her uncertain future. She doesn’t know that when I see her, my heart aches for her. She doesn’t know that beyond the windows I am grieving for her suffering. She doesn’t know.

    When I see her, I pray for her, that she might beat this cancer, that she might see her boy married, that she might walk a thousand miles on this earth, that God might have mercy on her. She doesn’t know that I pray for her.

    When I see her, I am her. 

    I pray that God will have mercy on me too.  I pray that I might see my boy married, that I might walk a thousand miles.  And that maybe someone, somewhere is praying for me too.

    The Doctor’s Appointment

    January 24, 2008

    I’m off to see my doc today, so for those of you who are new around here, I thought I’d re-run this post from this time last year.

    * * * * *

    It is the unfortunate state of my being that a doctor’s appointment is a reason to get all gussied up – to shave, to shampoo, to lather, rinse and repeat. To wear nice underwear. I remember when getting gussied up meant cocktails and a good time that didn’t involve a speculum.

    Nonetheless. I gussied for the good doctor and enjoyed a 45-minute Wiggles-free drive across the yonder reaches of the metroplex.

    As I pulled up to the parking garage gate, I rolled down my window to get a ticket. To my left I saw a young man pulling a cart that was precariously laden with canned soft drinks. I held my breath and waited as he slowly lugged and coaxed the top-heavy cart in front of my car. It teetered, it groaned, it rocked. I breathed a sigh of relief when he finally cleared the gate. I impatiently pushed the big green button, the machine made one of those “Aaaaaant! You lose!” sounds and then spit a ticket at me. The gate went up and I grabbed my ticket anxious to get to my appointment on time.

    Just then, soda boy decided that the laws of physics didn’t apply to him. With both hands on the handle, he bent his knees, put his butt into it and jerked the cart in an attempt to hoist the caravan of cokes up and over the curb. The load wavered back and forth in slow motion as though in an earthquake. I knew what was about to happen. I prayed for a different outcome. Then an avalanche of soft drinks tumbled off the cart, onto my car, under my car, into the parking garage and everywhere else. Of course.

    What to do? I looked in my rearview mirror. Backing up was not an option. I already had my ticket and there were several cars behind me. The gate was up, but unless I wanted to run over soda boy, his cart and the mother lode of cola, I wasn’t going anywhere soon. Yet I considered it.

    Had I a lick of sense, I would have just sat in the car and waited. But no. I did not have a lick of sense. Or a slurp or even a taste. I got my gussied up self out of the car and started hunting cans of soda like they were Easter eggs. And then in some spiteful combination of bad karma and physics, some of the cans started exploding.

    Later that same day.

    As I was sitting on the table in the doctor’s office wearing a paper gown and scraping dried Dr. Pepper off my ankles with my fingernail, I tried to explain to the nurse why my legs were sticky. She closed her eyes and held up one hand in the universal gesture that means “Shut. Up. Now.” She really didn’t want to know. “No need to explain,” she said. “We’ve seen it all.”

    I wanted to explain. I needed to tell her that I don’t normally go out with sticky legs.

    “But – but – but I gussied,” I stammered, “I showered! I shaved! I wore nice underwear!”

    “I’m sure you did. The doctor will be with you shortly.” And with that she left the room.

    Unless he’s serving cocktails next year, I’m not going to bother to gussy. I’ll just spritz a little Dr. Pepper on my legs and be done with it.

    The Ladies Man

    January 22, 2008

    It has come to my attention that my son is something of a ladies man, that the girls at school all vie for his attention and jockey for position to get to sit next to him.

    I witnessed this myself last week at soccer. Apparently one little girl wanted to stand behind Sean in line and didn’t like that another little girl was already standing there. So she moved her.

    I thought that for the most part, Sean was oblivious to his effect on the ladies, but apparently he’s been workin’ it.

    The other day before school, he dug through the toy box and triumphantly pulled out a bead-it-yourself necklace that we had made last summer.

    “What are you going to do with that?” I asked him.

    “I’m taking it to school.  I’m going to give it to Reagan.”

    “Oh,” I said, “That’s nice of you.”

    When I picked him up from school later that day, I asked him how Reagan liked the necklace.

    “Well Madison saw it and she wanted it, so I gave it to her.”

    “When we get home, I’m going to make another one for Reagan.”

    “That sounds like a good idea,” I said.

    “Yeah,” he said, “Necklaces make girls happy.”

    At four, he already fundamentally understands something about women that many men never learn:  Jewelry. We like it. Give it to us. It makes us happy.

    * * * * *

    Disclaimer: I know. (sigh) Some women don’t like jewelry and it does not make them happy.  Material things cannot bring happiness.  (sigh)  Antique Mommy may cause drowsiness, dizziness, diarreah or excessive snorffing.   If you experience any of these symptoms, stop reading Antique Mommy and consult your doctor.  Antique Mommy has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Antique Mommy is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Individual results vary.   Antique Mommy is void where prohibited.  Antique Mommy is good while supplies last. (sigh)

    How Pre-School Is Like Las Vegas

    January 21, 2008

    Apparently, just as in Las Vegas, what happens at school stays at school.

     

    When I pick Sean up from school, he does not like me to ask him what he learned that day or if anything noteworthy happened.  This line of inquiry literally seems to pain him. Literally.  The expression on his face, it’s as if his gall bladder has suddenly gone bad.

     

    He’ll usually heave an exaggerated sigh and look out the window and change the subject.  It’s like he’s in the witness protection program from 9am to 1pm and if he tells me what he’s doing during that time, he’ll have to kill me.  Ironically, I think he knows that not telling me anything kills me. And oh how he lords that over me in his 4-year-old power play way.

     

    Yet I can’t stop myself from asking.  I must get him to tell me something.  Anything.  Did you play on the playground? Did you ride on the see-saw?  Did you eat your lunch? Who did you sit next to?  Were there other children there?  Did the teacher talk about anything?  Anything? Anything at all?

     

    The other day, on the way home from school, I tried reframing the question about ten different ways to trick him into giving up some information.  With skills like that I could probably get me a job as an FBI interrogator. For those many times when the FBI needs to get a 4-year-old to spill his guts.

     

    Finally he gave an exaggerated sigh and said, “Look mom, we talked more about the letter L okay?”

     

    To which I responded.

     

    “Oh.”

     

    It was a riveting conversation.

    The Self-Judgment Starts Around 8am

    January 18, 2008

    When I was growing up, my mother fixed my brothers and me a hot breakfast every day before school — usually an egg and toast, sometimes a bowl of oatmeal. Never cold cereal.   Breakfast bars hadn’t been invented yet.

     

    My mother isn’t one to look down upon or feel superior to others, but she definitely frowned upon women who sent their kids to school on an empty stomach.  Still does.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Then happy hour.

     

    Consequently, I am in the 50% of the population who likes to eat something of a morning.  Consequently, I try to get my child to eat something of a morning. Unfortunately, he seems to be in the 50% of the population, along with Antique Daddy, who don’t want to eat anything before noon.  Weirdos.

     

    Yet, every morning I get up, I make eggs and toast, or pancakes, or sometimes I even offer him a cereal bar, trying to get him to eat breakfast, trying to squish him into the me-shaped box.  Then after breakfast, I scrape the untouched eggs and toast into the trash and pour his cold coffee down the drain.

     

    And then I frown upon myself for sending my kid to school without breakfast.

     

    Dr. Snorffler

    January 16, 2008

    I had a doctor’s appointment recently, a doctor that I don’t see but about once a year, and since he probably doesn’t read my blog, he knows nothing of how fascinating I am other than what he reads on my chart.  I am just the next body on the medical production line.

    I understand that. He is a busy man. He’s a doctor. He’s got a lot to keep track of. Still. I just think that if someone is going to get to see you semi-naked they ought to at least make eye contact with you, they ought to at least pretend that you’re special.

    So I’m in the exam room, I’m in my paper party dress, I’m teetering precariously on the table with my arms crossed and my legs twisted up like a pretzel in an effort to keep the party dress on when the doctor breezes in.

    He, apparently, is already involved in a conversation, about me, but not with me. I’m not really sure if I’m in the conversation or if I’m in the audience. Kind of like Ron Paul at the Republican debate.

    “I see here that you’ve had a hysterectomy since the last time I saw you,” he reports without looking up from the chart.

    “Yes, well, I like to keep busy,” I say.

    He stopped with the chart and the flipping of the chart and the writing on the chart. And he looked up at me.  At my face.  In my eye.

    And after a momentary awkard silence when I thought he might lecture me or send me to the principal’s office, he sort of sniff snorted.  He snorffed.  And then he snorffed again.

    And then he went back to talking to my chart.

    Laughter is the best medicine, but a snorff might cure what ails you too.

    The Brown Shoes

    January 15, 2008

    Today I had to go to Wal-Mart. And just now I’m cringing at the thought of how many posts I have started with that sentence.

    Since it was a bit on the chilly side today, I pulled out a pair of casual coffee-colored suede-ish (not to be confused with Swedish) lace-up shoes that I really love and have had for a number of years. They are the kind of shoes that you love so much that you go back and buy them in another color. And I feel perfectly okay using “you” in that sentence because I’m pretty sure many of “you” do the same thing.

    The problem with getting to be my age (and I say that as if there is only one problem) is that sometimes certain events, like say the purchase of a pair of shoes, seems like one or two years ago when in fact it was more like eight or nine years ago.  And sometimes, like today, that is a problem because certain materials have a shelf life. There is a finite period of time before decomposition and disintegration of certain materials occur.  And this disintegration, that might occur, needs to be timed juuuuust right.

    Unfortunately, today was one of those days when apparently my timing was off.

    Because I left the house wearing two shoes that looked like this.

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    And I came home wearing one of those shoes, looking like this.

     

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    I was merrily strolling  down the produce aisle in my favorite suede-ish type shoes when I had some sort of shoe blow out.

     

    All of a sudden, and for no discernable reason, I was half an inch shorter. I looked down and I was standing in a pile of crumbly black disintigrating rubber. I looked behind me and saw a trail of crumbly black disintigrating rubber. It was like I was leaking Oreo crumbs out of the leg of my jeans. I felt like I should sweep up or something. Then I realized that sweeping up in Wal-Mart would be an all-time low, even for me — possibly even lower than the day I flushed my sunglasses at Lego Land.

     

    Quite honestly I didn’t really know what I should do.  I considered heading over to the shoe department and putting on another pair of shoes, but the thought of walking around the store in plastic shoes shackled with elastic seemed somewhat less cool than leaving a trail of Oreo-looking detritus in my wake.

     

    So I just schlumped along with my head held high trying to rise above my crumbling, disintegrating pride.

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