Category Archives: Rantings & Ravings

Small Potatoes

My husband and I argue over some of the most inane things on the planet—like the cubic circumference of vegetable chunks I add to meatloaf. Like whether or not ketchup ruins said meatloaf. Like whether to twirl or cut (Gasp!) linguini. How to open an envelope. Seriously. To tuck (or not to tuck) sheets. How bills ought to be arranged in one’s wallet. Whether one should carry a wallet at all. How the lawn ought to be mowed. The laundry, folded. The driveway, shoveled. Whether it’s eggshell or ecruLet or leave.

It’s small potatoes really. All of it. So is the idiocy at the very core of our latest and greatest debate—the matter of dealing with poo. More specifically, dog poo. Round and round we go each day—wrangling over the wisdom of carrying a trusty Ziploc bag, a wad of Kleenexes and a teensy-weensy bottle of Purell on our jaunts with Jack, “just in case” he makes a deposit where he ought not to make a deposit (i.e. in someone’s lawn, driveway or smack in the middle of our heavily-trodden street).

I, for one, think it’s ludicrous to lug said poopie paraphernalia around. It’s entirely unnecessary, completely assumptive and downright spineless to plan for the disaster that may, in fact, never occur. The Boy Scout I married, however, begs to differ. Mister Preparedforanythingandeverything insists that traveling with hand sanitizer and a sandwich baggie (turned inside-out for added convenience) is one of the most sensible and socially responsible things a dog owner can do. So much for living on the edge, throwing caution to the wind and prudence under the bus. And never mind the off chance that Mister Fuzzypants could indeed do his business right where we want him to—making the whole blasted issue a nonissue.

Unlike the man who could likely produce anything in an instant (from biodegradable camouflage toilet paper to a fingernail file), I’d like to think I identify more closely with the rebels of the world—like the cool jocks in tenth grade who never wore coats, brown-bagged it or carried an extra pencil to class. They traveled light to and from their celebrated lockers. So do I—at least when I walk the damn dog. No namby-pamby foolishness encumbers me. Nope. What’s more, I refuse to be hampered by a pooper-scooper device (i.e. a glorified burger flipper in which the “gift” can be both housed and transported efficiently). Besides, I’m resourceful—some would even argue eco-friendly—when it comes to dealing with poo, and I don’t need some fancy-schmancy gizmo to master the mess my dog makes. Not when perfectly good oak and maple leaves are at my disposal.

At least that’s what I used to think—before disaster rained down on me like a scourge during one of those merry excursions around the block late last fall. As luck would have it, Jack felt compelled to unload in someone’s immaculately manicured lawn; and despite my insistence that that was not an especially good idea, the little miscreant did it anyway. I was then faced with a supreme challenge: to somehow scoop it up (with leaves that were nowhere to be found), move it across the street (careful not to drop it or the leash which was tethered to the dog, now wild with delirium over his recent doo-doo success) and fling it deep into the brush—where no one, ostensibly, would trod upon it. It was a tall order, indeed. And although I doubt there was an audience, the scene had to have been indescribably amusing as it unfolded frame by humiliating frame.

Frantically I searched the vicinity for the leaves that were EVERYWHERE just days before, settling for what I could find—some pathetic-looking scraps of leafy matter with which I planned to wrap those nuggets of repulsiveness, still warm and disgustingly steamy. Of course, nothing went smoothly. The foul matter in question refused to cooperate, hideously fusing itself to the grass and failing to remain intact as I gathered and scraped in vain. Naturally, this necessitated that I shuffle across the road not once, but SEVERAL times, hunched over my stench-ridden prize as if it were the last lit candle on earth.

All the while, my silly dog danced and pranced alongside me, hopelessly entwining my legs with the leash, thoroughly convinced that I was playing some sort of twisted version of Keep-Away. Needless to say, pieces of poo kept dropping onto the pavement behind me—a Hansel and Gretel trail of repugnance that mocked my efforts, sorely lacking though they were. I had no choice but to painstakingly pick them up and hurl them into oblivion along with the rest of the gunk—all the while preventing the dog from snatching them out of my hand or chasing them into the brush. Eventually, the deed was done. There was but a tiny reminder of the episode lingering on my fingertips and aside from the humiliation I suffered, I had escaped relatively unscathed.

Indeed, small potatoes.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds, Rantings & Ravings

Pottery Barn Lust

Stop it, Pottery Barn. Stop making my kids drool over that which I cannot afford and would never buy anyway. Have you no shame?! My children now hate me. Yes, HATE me—not for demanding that they close your four-color rag at eleven-fricking-fifteen in the evening and get ready for bed already, or for failing to “ooh” and “aah” appropriately as they flip through its pages delirious with wanton desire, but for not dropping everything to order this and that foolish bit of tripe splashed across the landscape of your wondrously opulent magazine. Grok!

Just so you know, I’m on to you. I am. I really am. I’m not even remotely beguiled by your clever little ruse: that of seducing domestically challenged moms everywhere with your pristine layouts, color-coordinated ensembles, outrageously organized living spaces and exquisitely charming patterns that make me weak with desire. Sheez, the uncluttered environment alone makes me shudder with unadulterated pleasure.

Further, you’ve seized upon every mom’s woeful lament: Oh how I long for everything to be in its place, which is utterly disgraceful, you despicable opportunists. And I find your agenda (hidden or otherwise) to be rather disturbing—one that smacks of trickery and the dastardly element of mind control. Your abundant use of muted hues, tasteful explosions of color and the artsy flair you brazenly display is likewise, contemptible, luring us deeper and deeper into your lair of deception. Indeed, your deliberate (yet smartly subtle) arrangement of children (i.e. the self-indulgent little twerps you commission to frolic hither and yon, dripping with good cheer, an obscene degree of decorum and perfectly coifed hair) is absolutely sinful. Sinful, I say!

Yea, page after page of gloriously bedecked bedrooms and bathrooms and play rooms, awash with extravagance to die for, makes me ill. Yes, physically ill—because I can’t quell the beast within that shouts, “You’re a horrible mother! If you really loved your kids, you’d buy that monstrosity of a bunk bed with its adorable little study carrel tucked beneath it, and those delicious-looking Adirondack chairs for the lawn and deck! OMG! Don’t deprive your dear children a minute more, you miserly hag! Order this instant, lest the world should stop revolving!”

That said, the ruinous voices inside my head are slowly but surely making me crazy—one insanely heinous syllable at a time. “Where, oh where will the madness end?” I beg of you. “Begone now, exorbitantly priced beach towels, backpacks and bedding! And take your foolish monograms with you! Don’t forget those pricey jungle-inspired, flower-power-ish, skateboard-esque, pretty-in-pink, ocean-and-surfboard-riddled bedroom themes either. I’ve seen enough already! My kids HATE me, remember?! They loathe the Wal-Mart-ish budget to which I am a slave and will soon be talking trash about me to their nose-mining cronies. Oh, the horror!”

“But before you go, dear Pottery Barn folk, please answer me this: what’s with the legions of baskets, buckets and boxes with which you festoon seemingly every page? Do you actually KNOW children who would willingly place their beloved schlock in a receptacle so intended simply because it is labeled as such?! Are you completely delusional—or do you just revel in your ability to make parents feel pitifully inadequate, as if they couldn’t train a dog to bark let alone instruct a child to put something away?!”

“Never mind,” said the pitifully inadequate mother. “I already know.”

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (amidst an abundance of clutter, chaos and cheapass décor). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home for Wayward Toys, Rantings & Ravings

As Honeymoons Go, This One’s Over

The fall marking period at my children’s school ended late last week, and with it my collective enthusiasm for their cussed projects. Make no mistake; I applaud those who give birth to assignments doused in fun and originality—ones that are purposefully designed to encourage thinking outside the box and to harness the creative energies of students. What’s more, I love hauling out the arts and crafts box that lives beneath my bed—the behemoth-sized shoebox crammed impossibly with remnants of this chaotic life. Likewise, part of me truly enjoys rummaging around the garage and yard with my brood, in search of that which would otherwise be devoid of value.

Of course, Thing One and Thing Two become decidedly consumed with the process, wild with delirium as they harvest earthy whateverness from the lawn and paw through the aforementioned hodgepodge of fabric and twine, pipe cleaners and yarn, ribbon and lace. Never mind the vat of paints and modeling clay we’ve amassed in the cellar, the profusion of shoeboxes and poster board that lurks in our attic and the legions of egg cartons, oatmeal canisters and cardboard tubes we’ve stuffed in various closets and cupboards over the years—

precluding their certain death. Hoarders with a higher purpose.

I so completely get the bell and whistles, the inherent wonderfulness of said projects, the cleverness with which a great many are conceived and the good intentions of those who assign such work to the masses; however the sheer volume is fairly suffocating. At least it is beneath this circus tent, where eight of the hands-on wonders were due last Friday. A total of four per child, spread across three major subject areas, some of which took an obscene chunk of time to finish, all of which led to heated debate at the dinner table regarding the progress (or lack thereof) a certain couple of somebodies had made toward that end. Granted, students were given an embarrassment of time to complete the vast majority of tasks and a wide variety of choices were readily available to satisfy every possible artistic whim.

Thirty-four, actually. We counted.

Sadly, my progenies failed to choose anything remotely related to that which was manageable or that possessed even the merest suggestion of prudence given the window of time we have and the initiative duly required. Instead, they selected that which inspired a pervasive state of panic and ensuing dread as it related directly to our collective inability to tackle such a Herculean task. That’s code for: my husband and I wanted to light ourselves on fire—because, of course, that would have been so much more tolerable.

Indeed, after an entire weekend devoted solely to the construction of ridiculously detailed dioramas and co-directing a series of disjointed skits (which our children demanded that we film!) involving a gaggle of giddified fifth graders, I now know WAY more about the Native Americans of the Woodlands Region than I ever aspired to. And for a fleeting moment (shortly after we resorted to using duct tape and just before the pizza arrived), I felt a compelling desire to shrink myself manyfold—so that I could crawl inside the tiny wigwam we had built and hide from the oppressiveness of it all. Never mind the endless evenings crafting math whateverness and the weeks upon weeks that were spent overseeing the creation of TWO freakishly large and painstakingly elaborate board games—not to be confused with last year’s planetary beast-of-a-project (i.e. my brood’s beloved Styrofoam models of Venus, Saturn and more moons than I care to recall) that we somehow endured without the benefit of a marriage counselor.

Needless to say (and crazy as it sounds), we’ve lost sleep over such foolishness, and a fair amount of patience and sanity besides—which is wrong on so many levels I can’t begin to adequately express it. Truth be told, I fear that society has lost sight of the overall goal of education and that the fundamentals have somehow become an afterthought in this age of the almighty project.

That said, Pennsylvania’s education gurus would do well to note that bells and whistles are only as good as the clarity of their sound and the integrity of their message.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (like my friend, Ruth, wondering how many damned dioramas the Duggars have built). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Homework Hell, Rantings & Ravings, School Schmool, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

Nightmare on Mom Street

Sunday afternoons are my respite in this harried place. The sanity cocktail from which I draw sweet sustenance. That said, I lounge around the house doing as little as humanly possible, embracing my inner sloth. Old movies, blanket forts and naps rule the day. That is not to say that I haven’t, on occasion, become inspired enough to throw something meaty in the crock-pot, to haul my sweeper from the bowels of its dusky lair or to plant my sorry self in the laundry room for a time despite my aversion to the insufferable place. Even on a Sunday afternoon. But for the most part, ambition is nowhere to be found in my house during that glorious wedge of downtime—sandwiched deliciously between the madness that was and the madness sure to come. Last Sunday, however, was decidedly different. Havoc rained down on my world, obliterating my precious corner of calm.

Oddly enough, what led to the aforementioned began weeks ago while traipsing through a store, my cart piled high with a bunch of schlock I didn’t need. At every turn, it seemed, I stumbled into EVEN MORE SCHLOCK and felt compelled to ogle it, to finger its veneer of worthiness and to toy with the notion of adding it to my ever-growing mound of that-which-I-would-one-day-regret-purchasing. And on the days during which I allow the guilt of motherhood to consume me, the mound is markedly higher. Needless to say, it was one of those days.

Indeed, the voices that drive much of my irrational behavior relevant to Thing One and Thing Two were especially persuasive that day, whispering words of admonishment in my ear and regaling in my grand ineptitude as a parent: “You’re a HORRIBLE MOTHER…you don’t SPEND ENOUGH TIME with your children…you MUST ACQUIRE this ten-dollar nugget of wonderfulness which promises to erase weeks of botched parenting.” All the while I considered said nugget of wonderfulness (i.e. a two-pound Chocolate Cookie Halloween House Kit, complete with 47 bats, dozens of little green candies I would later damn to hell, enough gumdrops to coat eleventy-seven teeth and an expander, a defective ghost—or rather, segments of insanely sweet candy, suggestive of something that was once intact and specter-like—and a cauldron full of powdery mixes that were sure to deliver hours of goo-inspired, edible fun and to yield the most perfect hues of orange and purple icing on the planet).

In the end, I was shamed into buying the box of foolishness. Because that’s what moms do. Just like all the other project-y stuff I haul home out of sheer guilt; never mind the games and books and techno-gadgetry thought to engender this or that brand of awe in my children. It’s all about the Is-it-as-remarkable-as-a-pony factor and Will-it-expunge-from-the-record-my-screw-ups-to-date?

So I shoved the stupid thing in our pantry (good intentions and all) and forgot about it till the Halloween craze struck with a vengeance. And since the celebrated costume drama in this household was officially over, a sinful quantity of sugary treats had been stockpiled already and virtually every corner of our home had been festooned with all-that-is-Halloweenish, there was but one thing left to do—build the stupid house. So that’s what we did—the three of us, while Dad cheered exuberantly from the sidelines.

Several hours, two meltdowns (both mine) and a hellacious mess later, we had our two-pound Chocolate Cookie Halloween House. Of course, the orange and purple mixes wound up adorning everything kitchen-ish but the inside of the refrigerator, those reprehensible, little candies rolled near and far much to my chagrin, fistfuls of trimmings were consumed with wild abandon and the icing was less than compliant as I shoveled and smeared gobs of it into pastry bags and then squeezed the reluctant mass onto the house as instructed. Translation: The cussed gloppage in question delighted in its schmutziness and its droopiness, defiantly sliding down walls, windows and slanted rooftops, leaving hideous-looking blobs everywhere. Even the spider webs I made sagged to the point of looking not-so-spider-webby. But because the gods of kitchen fiascos were smiling upon me, my brood took it all in stride, “…the droopiness makes it even SPOOKIER, Mom! You’re so AWESOME!”

Well, it certainly wasn’t as grand as a pony might have been; but the awe factor of this nightmarish project was evident to at least two somebodies on the planet. And perhaps that’s all that matters in the end.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (admiring our droopified Halloween house).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

An Affair to Remember: A Passion for All-Things-Digital

Checkout lines depress me lately. Not only because a goodly share of today’s merchandise seems exorbitantly priced and fairly superficial, but because I’m hard pressed to remember the last time someone actually counted back my measly change—placing the bills and proper coinage into my ungrateful little hands in a piecemeal fashion. Which is sort of pathetic. It seems that clerks can punch keys and bag wares with great fervor and efficiency (some with the suggestion of a smile even), but when it comes to making change in the aforementioned manner (which would imply both humanness and intellect), many are sorely lacking. Instead, they routinely shove a wad of cash in my direction, eager to inspire my swift departure, completely insensitive to my need for order and convention.

Perhaps I would do well to step outside myself, though—to view the matter from a cashier’s perspective. I mean, why bother learning the menial task when a machine can spit out the correct sum instantaneously? To make throwbacks like me happy. That’s why. I happen to like the notion of reliance on someone’s mind as opposed to someone’s software.

Call me crazy.

That said, I fear we’re creating a generation of individuals who can neither think nor do for themselves. Despite the best of intentions, technology appears to be making us both deplorably unimaginative and woefully dependent. Indeed, it seems odd that the best and brightest of our time—the independent thinkers who can be credited with some of the most awe-inspiring inventions designed to improve life—have enabled society to slide, perhaps unwittingly, into the abyss of perpetual neediness. How ironic.

Heaven forbid we attempt to function without our beloved gadgetry—the stuff we’ve allowed to seep into our pores like a drug, rendering us wholly incapable of resisting its allure. Our Smart Phones and Google TV. Our eReaders and Internet Tablets. Our iPods and iPads. Digital this and digital that. And let us not forget our dear TomToms and Garmins, the insanely addictive devices designed to guide us to the familiar and to the frighteningly obscure, because, of course, no one can read a fricking map anymore. Gone are the days of marking desired routes with a big, yellow highlighter and tallying mileage to derive ETA’s—which, oddly enough, always left me with a gratifying sense of accomplishment. That’s code for: I was able to adequately address the infamous “Are we there yet?” queries by handing my brood said marked-up map and suggesting they put their heads together and figure it out.

By the same token, it would appear that kids are no longer able to entertain themselves (given the techno-laden wish lists to which I’ve been privy, and the vast amount of time my heathens spend on PhotoBooth). In any event, the message being delivered to our impressionable youth via the media is slightly disturbing: BE VERY AFRAID OF BOREDOM. ELECTRONIC DEVICES PROMISE A NEVERENDING STREAM OF AMUSEMENT AND COMPANIONSHIP. Thank you very little, Nintendo, XBox and Wii. My children now think it’s uncool to play with Barbies, to climb trees and to devour books. What’s more, they’re fairly enraged because I won’t let them have cell phones. Gasp! So they crafted their own. Complete with penciled-on keypads and cameras. Oy.

Moreover, I’m troubled by this new age of texts and tweets—the one in which pithiness is not only embraced, but celebrated. I worry about future generations and their collective ability to compose thoughts—never mind complete sentences and properly spelled words. Quite frankly, the whole “short message system” makes a mockery of self-expression. It urges us to cut corners, to mutilate words, to discount grammar, to stop short of saying what needs to be said, TO THINK IN 160 CHARACTER BURSTS—which is wrong on so many levels I can’t begin to express my displeasure. Granted, I’m hopelessly addicted to both texts and tweets, however I have standards and an abiding allegiance to the written word. Translation: My tweets are long and rambling and my texts are veritable tomes that make the geeks at Verizon cringe.

Call me a rebel.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Rantings & Ravings, Techno Tripe

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

Ten Mom Duties I’d Prefer to Outsource

For the record, this is National Scoop the Poop Week, which, I can only assume, commemorates the thankless post of those who gingerly sift and subsequently remove masses of repulsiveness from rectangular boxes in cellars everywhere. Moreover, I’m guessing the week is also reserved for the purpose of honoring the countless individuals who manage (i.e. harvest or fling) varying amounts and consistencies of dog dung from grassy temptations in parks and neighborhoods near and far. And while such recognition is indeed richly deserved, it makes me slightly resentful as a mom—especially as one who routinely engages in less-than-pleasant tasks without so much as a hint of formal acknowledgment. Hrumph.

Granted, we have Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June and, of course, National Parents’ Day in July; but even considered collectively, they pale in comparison to THE SOLID WEEK OF VALIDATION the pooper scooper people receive. Such a tiny portion of the calendar hardly seems adequate given the myriad of responsibilities that encompass the bailiwick of most parents in this day and age. Nevertheless, I’d likely forego any and all public acknowledgment—including the conferral of a week-long, national holiday in celebration of parental duties—so that I might outsource said horribleness instead. Here is a list of ten I’d farm out immediately or sooner.

1)    Lord of the Loo. I cannot begin to express my displeasure as it relates to the aforementioned role, which includes but is not limited to the act of flushing and plunging toilets as necessary. Quite frankly, I’ve grown increasingly intolerant of my brood’s so-called inability to remember to push a stupid little lever and to refrain from using obscene quantities of toilet paper.

2)    Gatekeeper of Information/Entertainment Sources. Given the prevalence and accessibility of data and entertainment (which ranges from good to completely dreadful both online and off), I am fairly exasperated by the impossible nature of the task at hand. That said, I cannot police every keystroke or channel surfing venture my heathens engage in, nor can I place digital controls on the devices in question because, admittedly, I am a poor tool.

3)    Homework Nazi. Of all the hats I wear as a parent, that of academic taskmaster is my least favorite. Firstly, it gives my children yet another reason to loathe my existence. Secondly, I don’t possess the intellect required to grasp the “new math” and nothing would gladden my heart more than to watch it die a slow, horrible death. Thirdly, I fail to see the rationale behind inundating kids with reports and whatnot that are beyond the scope of their abilities. Translation: I am tired of making them jump through hoops when they ought to be climbing trees.

4)    Bedtime Enforcer. Need I say more?

5)    Explainer of That-Which-Is-Inexplicable. Think: Moammar Gadhafi, Charlie Sheen and pretty much any statement made by Donald Trump.

6)    Thank You Note Tyrant/Cheerleader. Of course, I am indescribably grateful to those who shower my progenies with gifts throughout the year, but I absolutely abhor the commission of motivating them to churn out notes of thanks that are abundantly specific, palpably thoughtful and convincingly genuine. Never mind legible. Clearly, this sort of undertaking lives on the fringe of impossibility, seeking to destroy my dream of mediocrity as a parent.

7)    Zenmaster of Closet Space. Confession: Each and every closet in my home is hideously disordered. And no one, it seems, is particularly interested in reversing the ill effects of our hoarding mentality—except me. To date, our dear closets house an embarrassment of clothing that no longer fits anyone, mismatched flip-flops, irreparably damaged umbrellas, lone mittens, sneakers in various stages of decomposition and hats from the early Paleozoic Era. Oy.

8)    Resident Grossinator. Otherwise known as the CEO of Household Biohazards—to include pinkeye encrustations (joy), toenail clippings (grok!), unflushed whateverness, phlegm (gak!), fecal matter and/or fermented food contained within the hamster cage that no one else will clean and let us not forget vomit—the bodily fluid that once (before children) repulsed us. Now (disturbingly, I might add) we attempt to catch it, so that we might spare our lovely couches and carpets from the horrors of an unmistakable and decidedly permanent odor.

9)    Laundry Lady. It’s not the washing that gets to me, especially. It’s the remembering what gets dried and what must hang-to-dry. And the folding. And the re-folding if the husband happened to have volunteered his services. And the stacking. And the picking up of the stacks that inevitably fall to the floor. And the taking care of the wretched piles I so despise—because it seems everyone else is physically incapable of doing so. Ugh.

10)  Conflict Captain and Finder of Lost Toys. I sometimes think if it weren’t for the time spent mediating disputes and searching the earth for someone’s beloved toy, I wouldn’t know how to quantify my worth as a parent. Obviously, I wear other hats, too (see #s 1-9), but somehow they don’t seem as noteworthy. Not in the eyes of my children, anyway. After peace has been restored to the land and/or someone’s irreplaceable stuffed animal has been found, I am reminded, once again, that my post might not be thankless after all.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (longing to subcontract certain aspects of parenthood).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Rantings & Ravings, The Natives are Decidedly Restless