Category Archives: Me Myself and I

Crutches

I never completely committed to memory the instructions for making hard-boiled eggs, which doesn’t say much about my prowess in the kitchen—or the lack thereof. Generally speaking, I know what’s involved, but I struggle mightily with the specifics (i.e. how much water is required, whether it should be hot or cold to start and when, exactly, the boiling should cease and the simmering should begin). I’m challenged in the culinary arena to say the very least.

Oddly enough, though, I know that on page 267 of my faithful Better Homes & Gardens cookbook those elusive egg-related answers await me. Go figure. I can’t remember a stupid recipe (that’s all of three steps long), but the page number I’ll need to get the job done is etched in my head permanently. It simply defies all logic and understanding—especially given the rarity of my kitchen-related ventures.

Interestingly, two-hundred sixty-seven isn’t my favorite number. Nor do the individual digits hold special meaning for me in any other context. And yet there it is, appearing instantaneously in the clearing of my mind, having made its way through the tangled forest of facts and figures housed there. A prized nugget of information that, intentionally or not, I tucked away at some point in my illustrious hard-boiled egg-making career. A crutch I turn to in times of need.

Likewise, I have difficulty remembering the exact wordage for Confession and Forgiveness, so each Sunday I mumble and stumble my way through the first few lines, hoping like crazy that my brain will eventually kick in and send the correct message to my lips. The Nicene Creed sometimes stumps me, too (hence, the moronic mumbling). But invariably—almost without thinking—I can churn out the page numbers on which each of the desired passages can be found—which is strangely wonderful, I guess. An uncannily remarkable and hugely perplexing talent all rolled into one (like reading upside-down and sideways to kids so they can see the pictures). But it’s not as if I deliberately tried to emblazon those numbers there. I can’t even rattle off my stinking cell number without first tapping my husband (the human Rolodex) or scanning the skies for some sort of cosmic clue. Nor can I readily recall which of my brood is allergic to the cillin family—which, needless to say, helped me capture the World’s Most Pathetic Mommy Award last year.

So what should I make of all this—that I’m lazy, exceedingly dependent or perhaps, just plain stupid? Then again, maybe my adeptness is a sign of brilliance and/or extraordinary resourcefulness in the face of adversity. Who knows?

Regardless of why it happens, the fact remains that it happens. There is absolutely no denying that when all else fails, I rely on my crutches to save the day. I’ve found that people can be crutches, too. I can’t put a price on the deluge of desperate phone calls I made to my mom as I clumsily managed motherhood for the first time—stressing obsessively over every little and not-so-little thing, like a blackened umbilical cord dangling by a sinewy thread.

“What have I done wrong?! Is that SUPPOSED to happen?! And why, oh why, won’t she stop crying…sleep through the night…smile on cue…and somehow TELL ME WHAT SHE WANTS?! And what’s with the mustard-y poops and the geysers of spit up and the white bump-ish things on her nose and the crusty stuff on her head and the tiny red spots she’s peppered with?! (Furthermore…) I can’t figure out the car seat straps…I can’t get rid of the bags under my eyes…my shirt gets soaked whenever she (or any other bundle of neediness) cries…my diaper bag is big and bulky and already I’m sick of hauling it around…I feel fat and frumpy and about as interesting as dirt…I can’t find time for a shower…a sandwich…a cussed nap…or even three minutes to flip through a stupid parenting magazine—which, by the way, does nothing more than make me feel like a COMPLETE failure—I can’t even relate to the perfect little world they live in…oh, and the baby choked on a cracker this morning…fell out of her crib…rolled off the bed…licked the cat’s tail (and so on)…. I’m sure I’ve ruined this child FOR-EVER!!!”

Mom, sage and savior that she is, must have sensed the panic in my voice and so with each little (and not-so-little) catastrophe I presented, she spoke clearly and calmly, guiding me through the storm, filling me with the sense that I could do this and that the world really wasn’t crashing down all around me. “Things will get easier,” she promised, and I would be a good mom—despite myself.

Well, I have yet to see hard evidence supporting the entirety of that statement, but I remain hopeful that some day—with or without crutches—I’ll get there. In the mean time, Mom’s on speed dial.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (STILL doubting my ability to mother). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.com.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

Advertisements

Comments Off on Crutches

Filed under Me Myself and I, Smother May I?

Morning Schmorning

I’m not a morning person. Not even close. Just ask my husband, or my children. Even the mailman knows I’d never be mistaken for an early riser. I think he’s seen me a grand total of two times since we moved here—groggily shuffling to the mailbox with mismatched shoes and a bad case of bed-head. I must have been expecting something important on the days I managed to drag myself outside early enough to see him zip by in his nifty little car.

I’d bet the house he’s a morning person. Good thing. I’d be about as well-suited for that job as I would for that of a taxi driver (I’m directionally impaired and my time management abilities are patently laughable). Once again, ask my family. They know the score.

In all honesty, I’m relieved to know there are people out there—scads of them, apparently—who thrive on getting things done before sunrise. I’m just not one of them. It must be nothing short of remarkable to experience that satisfaction, that fulfillment, that true sense of accomplishment each and every day—around noontime, I would guess. Clearly, I appreciate the merits of such individuals and recognize that in large part, they are responsible for making the world tick. They’re society’s early birds—and they always get the worm.

I never really cared much for worms.

To summarize, my philosophy on the matter at hand: I hate rushing—especially in the morning. Lingering is more my style–in the true spirit of slothfulness, I might add. Furthermore, I firmly believe that the most cherished block of time for repose exists between the hours of five and seven a.m. If it happens to be raining or snowing, double the pleasure. From my perspective, little else compares to such sheer and unadulterated bliss. Exact change at the checkout counter, coupled with a competent and cordial clerk, perhaps comes close.

Coherent thought patterns, at such an ungodly hour, simply do not exist for me—as I assume they do for most morning people. At that time of day, my brain functions about as efficiently as a head of cabbage. Anything that would involve major decision-making (beyond suggesting what color socks my husband should wear that day) is out of the question. Telephone conversations are virtually impossible too—just ask the countless fools who have tried to dial me up then. They might as well have been talking to a disinterested turnip.

Thankfully, I’m a realist and have fully accepted the fact that it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever join the ranks of early risers. Historically speaking, I never showed much promise in that realm anyway. At times, however, I’ve been known to adopt some of their practices—at least temporarily—for the sake of holding down a job, attending a mandatory meeting or because I feared my family would LEAVE FOR THE BEACH WITHOUT ME (Gasp!). The likelihood of embracing such a concept altogether, however, is next to nil, and any discussion that would imply otherwise is just crazy talk.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (probably sleeping in). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom to share your in-the-trenches parenting moments. You know you want to.

Copyright 2005 Melinda L. Wentzel

1 Comment

Filed under Me Myself and I

Be Mine, Valentine

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I simply cannot wait. The world has been doused with a palette of pink and red hues since mid-January and my appetite for chocolate and sweet nothings has officially been whetted. Ironically, however, I think I felt a greater sense of eagerness and excitement over the coming holiday as a third grader than I do now (no offense to the love of my life who makes it his business to woo the socks off me every hour of every day).

But from my perspective, February 14th somehow held even more promise than Christmas Day or birthdays back then. There was something marvelously alluring, indeed almost magical, about the air of mystery surrounding the customary trading-of-valentines thing. Maybe it was the not-knowing aspect with which I was most enamored. I loved that wild-with-anticipation feeling as I thumbed through my cache of tiny envelopes and heart-shaped lollipops, cleverly skewered through cards I would soon ogle. And the thrill of having to wait and see who would deliver what sort of message to whom was beyond compare. (Even an eight-year-old has a vested interest in the politics of social networking and acknowledges fully the veneer—I mean the sacredness of camaraderie). But it was the sheer open-endedness, veil of anonymity and overwhelming pandemonium of the event that made me drunk with joy.

I get giddy just thinking about it.

And yet there was more. I was mesmerized by the passion with which classmates seemingly approached the making-of-the-valentine-collection-devices (i.e. the crafty boxes and brown paper bags we poured ourselves into, plastering them ridiculously with construction paper hearts, glue galore and pathetic looking cupids). Maybe that explains why I’ve felt compelled to festoon every in-box I’ve had since then, hopeful they would somehow appear more inviting to those who had good news to deliver—during February, or any other month.

But maybe, just maybe, I so greatly revered Valentine’s Day as a grade-schooler because of the grand and glorious party that customarily consumed much of the school day afternoon—that coveted window of time after lunch and before dismissal when no one wanted to work anyway. It was something we all looked forward to with untold enthusiasm. Books and pencils were jammed hurriedly into desks while cutesy napkins and cups took their places. Foil-covered chocolates, Red Hots and Sweetheart candies stamped with coy little messages were doled out by the fistful as were stickers and gum, pencils and erasers. And without fail, someone’s mom made each of us feel extra special by placing a big, heart-shaped, slathered-oh-so-generously-with-icing cookie, before us. No one left empty-handed or found themselves wanting for anything—except for maybe a bigger bag to help us haul it all home.

Oddly enough, that may, in fact, be what struck me most about that magnificent day of yore—the dumping of the bounty in the middle of our kitchen. With a deafening crash it cascaded to the floor and lapped at my ankles—serving as consummate validation that I was worthy of befriending. It was then the process of sorting began—the good stuff and the really good stuff were categorized and piled accordingly. Everything had value and deserved careful inspection—even the foolish tripe I’d never use or eat in the decade to follow. Like a pirate I pored over my loot, swimming in a sea of wares, reveling in my good fortune and newly forged friendships. I sang the praises of this or that custom-made valentine to whomever would listen and gleefully accepted each invitation to “Be mine!” It was sheer bliss, I tell you—in a cupcakes-with-pink-frosting sort of way.

Oh, to be a third grader once again….

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

 

Comments Off on Be Mine, Valentine

Filed under "N" is for Nostalgia, Holiday Hokum, Me Myself and I

Sound Horn and I’ll Pull Over

“Sound Horn and I’ll Pull Over.” Yep. That’s what the sign stated. Said bizarreness was curiously broadcast on the back of a Bud Light truck I happened to be following the other day. Like everyone else on the planet, I was in the throes of last minute Christmas shopping, ready to rip the clappers out of as many Salvation Army bells as would be physically possible. So it was terrific timing, actually, because at that particular point in time I desperately needed some sort of distraction to keep me from going off the deep end—Grinch style.

Naturally, I shook my head and wondered aloud, “What in the sam hill does that blurb mean?! If I honk my horn will elves suddenly burst out of the cab and fetch me a cold one, scuttling across the snow in their curled-up elf feet, jingling all the way to my Cheerio-laden minivan? Or perhaps a response such as this would require laying on the horn for a while—boldly sending a message that I simply cannot deal with the holiday traffic anymore and MUST quaff a beer immediately or sooner.”

Who knows? If I honked, maybe Mr. Bud Light guy would pull over and offer to wrap all my Christmas presents, and then he’d finish addressing the vat of cards I have yet to mail and after that he’d perform a magnificent scene from the Nutcracker leaping and twirling in sexy white tights to my utter delight. A Real American Heeeeeero! That’s what he’d be. A chorus of cheers from all around would then erupt from those still gridlocked in traffic (but decidedly, no longer dwelling on such frivolities).

I’d be waiting in his toasty cab, of course, frosty mug in hand, hoping to be ravished till I begged for more. Or mercy or something.

Sadly, however, the story remains untold. I will never know what might have been that day because I never blew my silly horn.

What a dolt.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in a deranged mental state much of the time).

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

2 Comments

Filed under "S" is for Shame, Holiday Hokum, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, Normal is Relative, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

I Am Still Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving Day and while it’s true I burned the pumpkin pie, the dog whizzed on the floor and the kids refused to wear their fancy-schmancy clothes (despite a number of shameless bribes and idle threats), I am still thankful. Never mind that Thing One wouldn’t eat the turkey over which I had slaved for an eternity, or that Thing Two had an epic meltdown over kitty litter (don’t ask), or that our oldest neglected to text after driving TWO STATES AWAY to visit her dear boyfriend.

I am still thankful.

However, the gods of inclement weather made it snow, then sleet, then rain—which, in turn, wreaked havoc with our highways and byways, making it impossible for my parents to join us for the mother of all feasts—the one I volunteered to prepare in spite of my vastly deficient culinary skills. Our gathering would have to wait.

But I am still thankful.

Furthermore, the 16-hour day in question prompted an abundance of bickering matches among our 9-year-old warring factions, left my husband and me desperate for the suggestion of a nap and initiated a marathon clutter fest involving a disturbing array of candy wrappers and headless Barbie dolls. What’s more, our brood made roughly 63 excursions into the great outdoors (i.e. the snow/sleet/rain whateverness) which then inspired the aforementioned waifs to smuggle snowballs into our home as well as festoon the place with massive quantities of sodden clothing. Again. And again. Ugh.

I suppose it’s days like these—the square ones that fail to fit into the round holes of my so-called master plan—that remind me I have far less control over my life than I’d like to think. Of course, this makes me slightly neurotic given my control freak proclivity. But such is life.

And I am still thankful.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (still giving thanks).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

1 Comment

Filed under Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, The Woman-Child

Juggling Act

I’m not especially sure that I was meant for mothering—with all its rigors and responsibilities, and those insufferable shades of gray. Simply put, I’m just not wired for it. I much preferred being able to place chunks of my life into neat little boxes, where I could tend to them separately and manage my world at will. Becoming a mother changed all that. I learned that children don’t do the tidy little square thing. In fact, they don’t do the tidy little anything, nor are they built for confinement of any sort. I also learned that there is no logical formula in existence for raising teenagers. I only knew that I’d need to tie on my sneakers.

And as I look around at other women who were thrust into the role for one reason or another, I think, “Wow. They’ve really got it all together—ferrying their kids here and there without missing a beat, sprinkling their beloved charges with balanced meals and an abundance of feel-good blurbages, oozing patience and composure at every juncture in life, no matter how harried the schedule or demanding the pace.” Nothing, it seems, rattles them—even when they discover one of many cruel truths of parenthood: that they don’t get to choose their children’s friends. That realization, in particular, threw me into a tizzy—a control freak’s living nightmare.

They stay on top of things, too, these supermoms; like homework and school functions, birthday parties and soccer leagues—and of course, all the really important stuff like remembering ballet slippers, shin guards and library books for the right child on the right day of the week. They also recognize the importance of filling minds with wonder and lunchboxes with love. My paltry lunch pail offerings (i.e. “I love you” notes scrawled on scraps of paper and tossed in with the Cheerios and Cheez-Its) are at best hastily prepared, pitifully cliché and often faded and crumpled from recycling. “Have a great day, Hon!” is pretty much all my frazzled brain is capable of churning out on the fringes of my day. The lunches themselves are dreadfully dull, too, which is perhaps a sad reminder of how horribly inadequate I sometimes feel as a mom—notes or no notes.

Occasionally I fail to summon the humor and flexibility needed to approach such an impossible task, as well as the wisdom to accept that some battles as a parent just aren’t worth fighting—especially those that involve six-year-olds and mashed potatoes or teenagers and five-year plans. “Let it go,” I need to remind myself again and again. Certainly, there are more important issues with which to concern myself—like the beefy toad I found on the coffee table recently, warts and all. And the mouse tail stew that had apparently been concocted in the garage-turned-laboratory and subsequently smuggled into the kitchen. God only knows how long it had been brewing there and what other bits of foulness had been added to the stagnant pool of repulsiveness. Color me oblivious, yet again.

Kidding aside, I’d like to know how other moms do it. How do they keep all the balls in the air? All those plates spinning—as if flawless extensions of themselves? Maybe it has something to do with my multitasking skills—or lack thereof. Simply put, I stink in that realm—which contributes greatly, I think, to the whole woefully-inept-mommy thing. Over the years, I’ve been forced to develop just enough juggling proficiency to get by—enough to get me through a day’s worth of kid-related chaos to include the morning frenzy to catch the bus and the after-school circus, when backpacks are emptied, bellies are filled and the air is inundated with multiple conversations, all of which I am expected to attend to meaningfully. The homework gig is yet another monstrous challenge for my sorry set of skills, mostly because I try to do everything SIMULTANEOUSLY. Because that’s what moms do best—at least the good ones, equipped with that oh-so-dear multitasking gene.

I’m sure much of the ugliness would go away if I were capable of turning off or at least filtering the noise in my head so that I could focus on each task individually—instead of trying to absorb and act upon every silly thing that floats across my radar screen. I’m doing one thing perhaps—like driving the kids to ballet, but I’m thinking about the last 6 things I’ve done (critiquing myself to death in the process) while catapulting forward to the next 17 things I will do before bed, all the while fielding inane questions like “How can people buy invisible dog fences if nobody can see them, Mommy?”

It’s no wonder that I sometimes wind up at the soccer field curious as to why my kids are wearing tutus and not cleats.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

2 Comments

Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Daily Chaos, I blog therefore I am, Me Myself and I, Rantings & Ravings, School Schmool

Church Mice. Not So Much.

I am a bad egg. My sorry soul is supposed to be parked in a pew currently, helping my dear husband manage our unruly brood during the Sunday service. So, of course, I am consumed with guilt. Not really, but I threw that in…on the off chance that I might be absolved of my sins.

That said, I am fairly certain that Thing One and Thing Two will be far more intrigued with the prospect of quietly tormenting each other (i.e. holding disturbingly intense stare offs and using those cussed little wooden pencils readily available to each and every parishioner as cattle prods or something equally heinous) than with attending to anything remotely related to the sermon. I’ve seen their act before.

And if, instead, they should refrain from pedestrian antics like stepping on one another’s fancy church shoes and colliding, ever-so-slightly, as they fall in line for communion, they’ll likely engage in behavior equally mortifying to a parent. This parent, anyway.

More specifically, their inordinately resourceful father will hand them each a 3-by-5 index card and an ink pen for doodling and whatnot, which, on the surface, seems perfectly wonderful to one and all. However, those clever wisps of mine routinely choose a less-than-virtuous topic about which to write (say…the fact that they are dreadfully un-enthused with the notion of attending church at all) and run with it.

Case in point: I glanced over at Thing One not long ago, to bask in what I had hoped would be parental glory, only to discover that she had literally FILLED every nook and cranny of white space on the card with the word B-O-R-E-D. Some words were decidedly plain, while others, indescribably ornate. Some had been artistically shaded and sketched, some were imbued with beloved fonts and a select few even contained (you guessed it) bubble letters. As one might expect, a couple of B-O-R-E-Ds were comparatively massive, while most were shockingly small.

Needless to say, the child’s efforts were indeed impressive and I had to quietly marvel at the diligence and determination required for such an undertaking.

That is not to say the act went unnoticed. Curious onlookers stole looks and raised eyebrows at the smallish being in question, hunched over her work, rebellion oozing from her pores. Naturally we passed the Masterpiece of Shame on to our friends sitting nearby, who had great difficulty containing their amusement. Translation: THE FRICKING PEW SHOOK. They would later ask for a copy of said opus to remember the occasion by and we, of course, would deliver.

Framed, no less.

Appallingly, and perhaps STUPIDLY, we also shared the specimen with none other than the man who delivered the sermon that day. Our pastor. Thankfully he found the kernel of humor in the whole ordeal…and within our flaws. Parental and otherwise.

That said, I ought to be grateful that my heathens aren’t among those routinely plugged into Game Boy and dropping Bakugan whateverness on the floor. There is a God.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (where the natives are often restless and the 3-by-5 cards are never in short supply).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

4 Comments

Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Me Myself and I, The Natives are Decidedly Restless