Monthly Archives: May 2011

What Mom Really Wants

Mother’s Day is coming. One day and counting. I’ve marked the Almighty Calendar that hangs on our fridge with a big, fat sticker, proclaiming to one and all, “This day is IMPORTANT! Don’t you daaaaaare forget it!” And I’m sure no one will. My family loves me dearly and they’ll undoubtedly stumble over one another to shower me with adoration and gifts galore. Gifts to die for—like decadent chocolates, gorgeous, sweet-smelling bouquets of roses or something lily-ish, syrupy cards that remind me just how much I am loved and appreciated. To top it all off, they’ll probably treat me to a scrumptious meal at a fancy-schmancy restaurant—where all five of us will dine together.

Sadly, however, I’m afraid a degree of disappointment lurks just around the bend.

But don’t think for a moment that I would ever condemn my family’s attempts to make me feel extra special on Mother’s Day, because they do—and I do as a result. Each year they wow me in some remarkable way and I am eternally grateful for their well-meaning efforts. However, they often miss the mark when it comes to having a fine-tuned awareness of my innermost desires as a mom. Time and again, my motley crew fails to recognize my signals, let alone interpret them correctly. It’s sort of like watching archaeologists decipher hieroglyphics on a cave wall in order to learn what the skywriter above has written.

So I am left with but few options this Mother’s Day. I could attempt to convey my true wishes through telepathy, employing my standard-issue female mind powers to transmit messages to my brood. I could drop subtle hints by pasting colorful little notes everywhere from the dust-covered television screen to the empty milk jug, still sitting in the fridge. Or perhaps I could present my self-indulgent list of wants and needs here in a public venue, hopeful that it will be well-received and acted upon accordingly.

With any luck, the following suggestions will also be of value to other families who are eager to please Mom this Mother’s Day.

1)      For starters, let Mom take a real live NAP once in a while. Not one of those namby-pamby dozing sessions on the couch that lasts for 15 minutes, rife with interruptions of the non-urgent variety. Set some hard and fast ground rules, too. No one is to disturb Mom unless the sky is falling or someone’s hair is on fire.

2)      Pick up after each other. That’s what Mom does 24/7. Give her a break for Pete’s sake! That means no sneakers, underwear or sweat socks lying around for all to “enjoy,” no barbed toys lying in wait for her on the stairs and no decomposing apple cores on the coffee table or empty Cheetos bags stuffed under the sofa pillows. Muster the strength, somehow, to make it to the hamper, toy box and trash can. She manages to do it, even when she’s dead tired.

3)      Relinquish the remote control for a day. Just one day. Honestly, how tough can it be? Let her choose the programming for once and don’t have a cow if she sticks with one station for more than ten minutes. The world won’t stop revolving if one less viewer tunes in to primetime rubbish geared to teens and young adults. Even Donald Trump doesn’t wield that much power and influence.

4)      Remember to close things: The refrigerator door, the toilet seat and lid, the Wonder bread wrapper, the Jiff jar (‘cause your mom is a choosy mom), your dresser drawers, the back door and your mouth—to curb the spillage of all that less-than-endearing commentary that tends to flow like a river from time to time.

5)      Make a concerted effort to get along with your siblings. Mom is sick and tired of blowing the whistle on all of your shenanigans. Not to mention, her wardrobe has suffered greatly since the addition of referee stripes. At all costs, refrain from causing anyone to bleed—especially on the good carpeting.

When that special day finally arrives, strive to think of Mom above all else—putting her wants and needs above your own. Really tune in to what she holds dear and what would prove to be the most meaningful to her when all is said and done.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Holiday Hokum, Rantings & Ravings

“M” is for Motherhood

While it’s true the term “motherhood” is a simple collection of ten letters, specifically arranged for ease of pronunciation, it is suggestive of so much more. In sum, I regard it as a wholly intangible, behemoth-like affair that effectively upended all that I thought I knew about life as a decidedly callow twenty-something. Needless to say, the experience continues to shape and mold me, schooling me day and night in the curious ways and means of children, wowing me with the inherent remarkableness of the aforementioned creatures and rendering me forever changed as an individual. As it should be, I suppose. That said, here’s how I spell motherhood.

M  Motherhood is a messy beast-of-a-thing—with its suffocating mass of sippy cups and sidewalk chalk, Legos and lunch boxes, bicycles and Band-Aids. Never mind the ubiquitous nature of stuffed animals and the profusion of refrigerator-worthy masterpieces that inhabit our homes, marking time as our progenies progress along the winding path of childhood. And let us not forget all the lovely shades of gray with which we must contend: the tangled complexities of teens, the relentless questioning of toddlers and the soft underbelly of the headstrong child—the one we try desperately to govern without stifling. Indeed, motherhood is a messy business.

O  Motherhood is overwhelming to be sure—a seemingly insufferable, plate’s-too-full collection of moments that, when taken together or viewed within the prism of the unattainable ideal, beat us into submission, the thrum of parental failure ringing in our ears. That said, there’s nothing quite like comparing oneself to the façade of perfection—holding our harried selves up against those who appear to be getting it right, the moms who keep all the plates spinning as if flawless extensions of themselves.

T  Motherhood is timeless—an eternal post to which we are assigned, willing or not. From the moment our writhing infants, ruddy-faced and wrinkled, are placed upon our chests, motherhood begins in earnest. And although our parent/child relationships shift and season over time, they remain inextricably woven within the fabric of our lives. Not even death can end the appointed role, as a mother’s counsel is sought long after she has been eulogized.

H  Motherhood is a humbling experience. Ask anyone who has ever faced the stinging truth as it relates to intolerance and hypocrisy—delivered by a six-year-old, no less, soundly putting those who ought to know better in their respective places. So often kids eclipse our academic abilities, too, reminding us how important it is to embrace change. Never mind that every fiber of our being screams in protest. Moreover, becoming a parent means a humbling loss of identity to some extent, punctuating the uncertain nature of our so-called significance in certain circles. We are simply So-and-So’s mom now—maker of sandwiches, applier of sunscreen, gracious recipient of dandelions. But somehow the title feels right, as does finding a pretty vase for the dandelions.

E  Motherhood is edifying in that literally every day we learn something new—most of which is harvested from conversations at the dinner table or at bedtime, from diaries that beckon unremittingly or from tiny notes we discover wadded up in someone’s pants pocket. We spend a lot of time watching, too, realizing that our mothers were right all along. Children will, indeed, cut their own hair, shove peas up their noses and breach late night curfews to test both boundaries and our resolve. Arguably, the lessons of motherhood never truly end.

R  Motherhood is real. Good, bad or indifferent, it is palpable, inimitable and exceedingly enlivening. It is the stuff from which memories are made and so much purpose is derived.

H  Motherhood delivers nothing less than a heady rush—an intoxicating dose of awe wrapped in the sheer rapture of having had a hand in creating life, not to mention having been called upon to shape one or more future citizens of this world. Mothers are, without question, difference-makers.

O  Motherhood makes us swell with omnipotence now and again—a grand and glorious surge of I’M THE MOM, THAT’S WHY sort of sway that leaves us feeling all-powerful, if only fleetingly. But nothing makes us puff up more than hearing censure as priceless as, “Dad, did you get Mom’s permission to do that? She’s the Rule Captain, you know.”

O  With motherhood comes obsession. And spiraling panic. And unfounded fear. And, of course, debilitating worry over that which will never occur anyway. In sum, we fret about bumps and bruises, unexplained rashes and fevers that strike in the dead of night…about report cards and recklessness, friends we cannot hope to choose and fast cars that will whisper to our charges, inevitably luring them within, despite our best efforts to forbid such foolishness.

D  Motherhood is delicious—a profoundly gratifying slice of life we would do well to savor. Never mind its patented swirl of disorder and wealth of doubts, fears and impossible demands. Indeed, motherhood threatens to swallow us whole, while at the same time allowing us to drink in its goodness, gulp by gulp.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (reflecting on the many facets of motherhood).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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It’s Likely I’m an Ass

For whatever reason, I sometimes forget that I am an ass. Not to worry, subtle (and not-so-subtle) reminders abound. This morning was no exception.

Firstly, we missed the school bus…a not-so-ordinary occurence with my wily brood, although we seriously flirt with the possibility nearly every morning. Of course, we missed the bus because I am a sorry example of a mother (i.e. I failed to see to it that my children finish their homework the NIGHT BEFORE, so they were forced to complete it as they shoveled Lucky Charms into their faces and slurped orange juice ad nauseam). Ergo, my two dandies became “car riders” on this less-than-stellar morning which, apparently, was a good thing since “all the cool kids are car riders, Mom.”

Who knew.

Secondly, my ineptitude as a dropper-offer-of-kids-at-the-elementary-school is unrivaled in the Northern Hemisphere. Translation: I suck as a chauffeur of smallish creatures that are known to wield backpacks and lunch boxes. Further, my brain simply cannot fathom the driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road thing whilst traffic whizzes past me ON THE RIGHT, winding in and around an exceedingly large parking lot and buzzing up to the double doors for the celebrated and markedly expeditious deposit of children-ish entities. Everyone but me, it seems, grasps the inherent logic behind said circus-like pattern.

“It’s like the (fucking) Autobahn! With ONCOMING TRAFFIC!” I shriek to my charges, as if they could offer a modicum of support as third graders.

“A) This is COMPLETELY INSANE! B) You’re LATE for school! And C) This is COMPLETELY INSANE!”

A pregnant pause ensues, followed shortly thereafter by Thing One’s expressly pointed commentary from the back seat, “You’re not doing it right, Mom…but I still like being a car rider.”

Joy. Glad someone can see the bright side of my disaster-in-the-making.

“Mom, just follow the arrows and go where that man in the orange vest is pointing………then we won’t crash into Kevin’s mom,” Thing Two instructs, ever the practical child.

Lovely. Crashing into Kevin’s mom sounds like something I’d like to avoid at all costs. I shall heed the orange-vested gentleman’s signals.

Crash or no crash, it’s still entirely likely I’m an ass.

Thirdly, somehow I’ve fallen down on the job of imparting crucial tidbits of information to the impressionable youth in my charge. More specifically, I neglected to inform my kids of the protocol for disembarking during the drop-off period. That said, Thing One tried (and thankfully failed!) to leap from my vehicle as I slowed down to take my place in the endless procession ahead (aka the Escalade Parade).

“No, no, no! You can’t get out HERE, doofus! Wait till I get all the way around to the sidewalk. Then you can hop out, Hon.”

She then fumbled around with her stuff and inadvertently shut the door on her backpack, beside herself with glee over the delicious reality of being a bona fide CAR RIDER instead of a lowly bus goer. “Terrific,” I thought. “She’ll miss the bus INTENTIONALLY tomorrow morning.” As I wended my way through the line (trying like crazy not to rear-end anyone in the process), I quizzed each kid as if they were preparing to parachute into a war zone.

“Homework?”

“Check.”

“Lunch?”

“Check.”

“Agenda?”

“Check.”

“Library books?”

“I don’t have library today, Mom.”

“Oh. Hey, it’s time to get out! GO! GO! GO! There’s a gazillion people behind me! Have a great day!” I shouted after them as they piled out of my Jeep and raced to the school, jackets flapping in the breeze.

“Whoa! Wait a minute!” I rolled down the window and hollered to Thing One, holding up the precious line in the process. “YOU FORGOT TO SHUT THE DOOOOOOOR!” Naturally, she forgot to shut the door because I forgot to quiz her on this all-important sequence of the drop-off event. To make matters worse, I couldn’t shut the stupid door myself (though I tried like mad), nor could I GET OUT and shut it. I feared such action would be viewed as unforgivable by the vast majority of those waiting in line. Further, I assumed the Drop-off Police would then cart me away to be flogged or something equally horrible.

There would be no exiting the vehicle.

So, like a fool, I continued to yell. And in a moment of sheer panic entwined with supreme idiocy, I laid on my horn. Again. And again, not once thinking about the ramifications of my infinitely obtuse actions. I’m certain the people ahead of me in line pegged me for an ass. And rightly so.

“Who honks their horn in the drop-off line?!” they likely bellowed. “My kids are moving as fast as they can, you idiot!”

Needless to say, I wouldn’t blame them for chiding me. I deserved it.

Finally, Thing One realized the mad honker woman was, in fact, me. She then returned to close my door. “Whoops,” she said with a smile. “See you at the bus stop, Mom!”

Indeed, it’s where I belong, ass that I am.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Ode to Embarrassment