Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Color of Bizarre

www.melindawentzel.comOf all places, it began in an obscure corner of a local pharmacy, with child in tow. My incapacitating infatuation with a certain hue of green paint, that is. Who does that? What sort of deranged mother follows a late night visit to an urgent care facility (due to excruciating ear pain of the youth variety) with a spontaneous and completely self-serving foray into the realm of household décor? This sort of deranged mother, apparently. One who was less concerned with the prospect of obtaining a curative pharmaceutical for her dear daughter than with the intoxicating possibility of acquiring said paint for a certain someone’s writing lair.

For the record, I didn’t intend to become smitten with the aforementioned hue whose algae-inspired essence was splashed over the entirety of the prescription drug enclave, beckoning to me unremittingly (like only pond scum pigmentation can). It just sort of happened and I could do nothing to resist. Indeed, the paint spoke to me.

Oddly enough, it spoke to my 11-year-old, too, whose blinding pain somehow evaporated as she stood before the wall of green, mesmerized by what appeared to be the world’s largest harvest of guacamole. Or seaweed. Possibly both.

“Mom, isn’t that the most awesome color you’ve ever seen?! It looks like frog spit and it would be PERFECT for your office! Plus it would cover up that girly lilac you’re so sick of, wouldn’t it?”

And at that, I was silenced. For this was the child who had refused to embrace the notion of change for as long as I can remember. The child who, on occasion, had launched visceral tirades in response to the mere suggestion of rearranging our living room furniture, never mind reordering her sock drawer or straightening the cushions upon our cussed couch.

God forbid we PAINT.

This could possibly explain my addled state and why I then became a disturbing source of fascination a terrible annoyance to the pharmacist, likely creeping her out with my shameless curiosity involving, of all things, latex paint.

“Can you tell me, ma’am, what shade of green that is?” I asked, pointing at the celebrated wall. “I know this sounds crazy, but I have to know. I’ve been wrestling with everything from gecko green to almost avocado, and now that I’ve gotten the go-ahead from our self-appointed Rule Captain,” I said, gesturing to my daughter who was clearly convinced that we should drop everything and paint already, “I’d be stupid not to.” Translation: If I don’t jump on this project in the next ten minutes, my child, who is frighteningly obsessed with sameness, will forget she ever expressed an interest in said endeavor, dooming me to the horrors of a purple workspace for all eternity.

For a time, the woman stared blankly at the wall and then at me, probably wondering how I had eluded security at the mental hospital from whence I undoubtedly had come. She then shook her head (possibly making me appear less deranged and more pathetic), picked up the phone and dialed someone who might be inclined to house peculiar data involving the whereabouts of little known paint swatches. Naturally, I was taken aback, yet mildly intrigued by her willingness to help.

Then things got weirder. She began firing a barrage of questions in rapid-fire succession. What sort of room did I intend to paint…how many windows were contained therein…what sort of ambient light existed…had I ever considered using a complimentary color? Of course, this rendered me patently delirious. Here was a woman who recognized the desperation in my voice—a woman who could sense the dysfunction in my home—a woman who, at least on some level, understood what it was like to live with a tiny tyrant who stifled my every whim. Whims related to redecorating, that is.

So when the woman in question actually tore a small chunk of paint off the wall, I was aghast—but in a good way. If that’s even possible.

“Here, take this with you to the paint store. Maybe they can match it,” she offered, defining for me in so many glorious ways, the color of bizarre.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (poised to paint). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Normal is Relative, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

“M” is for Motherhood

www.melindawentzel.comWhile 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 probably 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). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Love and Other Drugs, Smother May I?