Life Lesson #382 from a Desperate Working Momma

September 29, 2006

(DISCLAIMER: If you are already exhausted, you may want to hold off reading this. It may put you over the top, right into must sleep for a week territory. For reals. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Sometimes we discover some of life’s most guarded secrets when all we are really trying to do is just survive, to ride out whatever wave of adversity we are facing before it comes crashing down around us, bowling us over, rolling us head over heels before throwing us to shore, all choking and sputtering and blinking salt water out of our eyes then screaming, “Damn you, adversity! Damn you to hell!” while shaking our fist at the open sea and pulling out our wedgie.

Wait. Guys? I think I just lost myself with that metaphor. Hmm.

Right, then. I’ll just move on.

When I volunteered to stay over at my girlfriend’s house Thursday night to tend her five kids (18 months to 13 years old) while she and her husband went out of town, all the while knowing that I would also be flying solo with my own three kiddos while TGIM was out of town, I had no idea that I was soon to be facing this ocean of adversity. But seriously, what on earth was I thinking? “Oh, sure, no problem, ” I said. “It’ll be fun!” I said. “Friday’s my day off!” I said. “We’ll have a big ol’ sleepover!” I said. Good lord. Why didn’t anyone STOP ME?! Huh?! Thanks for looking out for me, TGIM. Way to go.

I mean, honestly. Thursday evening was an anxiety attack just waiting to happen, that’s what it was. Oodles of neediness just gunning for me, what with Mack needing to go to soccer practice before heading off to an activity night with Katie, TD needing to go to a scout meeting, Johnny needing a diaper change, Sam needing to go a church activity, and me needing to go to Back to School Night at TD and Mack’s school (with thankfully no covert PTA meetings planned) because they had STUFF on their desks that they put there just for ME and they worked on it ALL DAY and they were SO looking forward to me GOING (see? with the guilt?! stupid Back to School Night!). Oh, and did I mention all eight of them needing something to eat before they actually starved to death?

So there I was, the keys to my friend’s trusty (::shudder::) minivan in hand, standing at the front door wondering how I could possibly get everyone where they needed to be, as eight NEEDY children hit me with a cacophony of deafening cries, such as “Feed me! Feed me! I’m huuuuuuuuuungry!” and “I need a ride!” and “Are we going to Back to School Night, are we, huh, huh?!”

And as I gazed at their upturned faces, a wide (probably crazed) smile plastered across my face (musn’t scare the children), I screamed to myself, Self?! What did you do?! WHAT! DID! YOU! DO?! You must have eaten a heaping bowl of Crazy when you agreed to this, you freak! Seriously. What about OUR needs?! When will you blog? Did you think of that?! And The Office and Grey’s Anatomy are on tonight! And Ugly Betty! Oh man! And we are totally MISSING IT! GAH! And what is really frightening is that this is how I talk to myself in my head. I know, right? Rude. I really should be nicer to me. But whatever. Fact is, I suddenly remembered my trusty TiFaux and I felt much better.

It also helped that, as luck (for my sanity) would have it, a torrential downpour– complete with uncomfortably close cracks of lightening and window-rattling booms of thunder– coupled with the serendipitous arrival of a Blockbuster DVD in the mail, gave me the perfect excuse to close the door and cry out over the clamor, “Eh, it’s nasty weather outside! Bye Bye Birdie it is, then! Now who wants pizza?!”

Of course, during the movie I was called upon to define words like “fink” and “swell,” and I had to explain what it meant to be pinned by a boy (hee… dirty), and Mack wanted to know why the girls were all wearing white gloves when they were too old for dress-up, and Alli wanted to know why the Mr. McAffee totally sounded like Templeton the Rat from Charlotte’s Web, and Tanner asked between giggles if the movie was supposed to be so funny (were we laughing with them, or at them?), and could we watch the Ed Sullivan! song again, because hilarious? and who is Ed Sullivan, anyway?, and Katie wondered how Conrad Birdie could make women faint just by wiggling his hips, which naturally led to an entirely new conversation about the whole Elvis phenomenon, complete with tales of sobbing, fainting teenage girls and a sketchy description of Graceland, culminating with the recipe for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which, allow me to say… dude. Gross, Elvis. Just… GROSS.

But no worries here; it was all good. Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke worked their crazy voodoo magic and lulled the kiddos. Lulled ’em GOOD. It was a thing of beauty.

Bedtime was later than usual, but the late hour coupled with the fact that they were all coming down off their soda and cinnamon breadsticks high? Totally in my favor. I only heard a few half-hearted bars of “We love you Conrad, oh yes we do-oooo…” before total silence claimed the house. They crashed hard.

Now getting six kids ready for school (and two others ready to spend the day with me) is surprisingly easy when you sneak out of the house at 5:30 AM to stock up on Munchkins from the Dunkin Donuts down the street. Just so you know. See, then you can walk from room to room, all cheerful and whatnot, sing-songing, “Time to get u-u-u-up!” and when they groan and mutter, “Nooooo… ten… more… minutes…” you just say, “Okay, but those donuts downstairs ain’t gonna eat themselves, you know what I’m saying?” and then stand back as they burst from their beds, on a mission to secure a handful of glazed chocolate donut holes before they’re all gone. Because Munchkins equal good times for all! Er, except for the kiddos’ school teachers after the kids have eaten several handfuls of those bad boys along with breakfast. Perhaps.

*sigh*

Point? Oh! Sure! I totally have a point! I do! I–

Yeah, I totally forgot where I was going with this story. I hate when that happens.

Okay, kidding. I kid.

Here it is, what I learned last night (and this morning) as I not only overcame, but freaking SURFED the wave of adversity threatening to overwhelm me (see how I did that? segued? brought it all full circle? eh? eh? yep, I’m gooooood)… one of life’s most guarded, treasured secrets:

Never, under any circumstances, underestimate the power of pepperoni pizza, Munchkins, and a musical.

Let that be a lesson to us all.

Veronica Mars! My show is BACK! BOOYAH.

September 26, 2006

You can watch the entire episode of the (kickass) season 3 premiere of Veronica Mars HERE, a whole frakking week early! I know, right?! It’s like CHRISTMAS! But BETTER! Okay, not really… because Christmas? Pretty damn awesome. But STILL!

Yeah, so I’m a little jazzed. Whatever. If ain’t right to be jazzed about a sneak preview of the (kickass) season 3 premiere of Veronica Mars, then baby… I don’t want to be right! Well, okay, most of the time I DO actually want to be right, but not this time. That’s all I’m saying. In this one particular case I don’t mind if I’m wrong. But just so we’re clear, I’m usually ALWAYS right. No, really. Ask TGIM. He’ll tell you. Right, right, right! That’s me! Just right all over the place! Yeppers.

Anyhoos, just thought I’d share. You know, about the (kickass) season 3 premiere of Veronica Mars? Now shoo, y’all. What in the heck are you waiting for? GOSH!

The One Where Cat Doesn’t Get Enough Sleep

September 25, 2006

There is a part of me that wishes I felt as passionate about my day job as I do my dream of one day sitting opposite Jay Leno on The Tonight Show saying, “Oh, you… stop it!” and tapping his shoulder playfully, after delivering a sidesplittingly hilarious monologue about the trials and tribs of working mommyhood. Because clearly my natural acting chops and impeccable comedic timing are totally wasted on my co-workers who stare at me blankly when I interject into conversations about the environment comments like, “That’s whack. Pollution is whack. S’up with the whack pollution, s’up?” Um… because global warming isn’t funny yet? Believe me, I’ve tried. (Hoo! Thank you, Michael Scott!)

What? Me? Coherent thoughts? Today? After only four hours of sleep?

Yeah, I got nothing.

Public Service Announcements from Cat and Kiddos

September 20, 2006

Important information about fitting in, using correct wording, flatulance etiquette, and the importance of clean underwear.

Well, how do you like that? I’m smiling again.

September 20, 2006

This morning, after sending the children off to school, I decided to venture outside, to take a walk, to shake off the sadness, to breathe. It was one of those moments where in spite of the lingering melancholy I had been feeling for days, I felt hopeful that my mood was shifting, that my thoughts were crawling out of the vague wooliness of my mind and into focus. I hurried to the door.

The air was fresh and cool when I burst outside, slightly chilly, perhaps, but not cold.  There was a clear, sharp look about the sky and the sun was beginning to cast warm bursts of light over the tops of the trees lining my street. As I crossed the road I could hear the vrooming of the steady stream of cars crawling past my house, as they did every morning. People on their way to work, fighting for a place in the turning lane, hoping to make it to the corner before the green arrow disappeared and they had to sit impatiently for another five minutes. Seeing this line of traffic reminded me that today was my day to enjoy the luxury of being homebound, of not needing to drive anywhere– anywhere at all– not if I didn’t want to, and I smiled.

As I made my way into the neighborhoods behind my street, I began to experience the most peculiar feelings. Colors, sounds, smells, all of these seemed more intense, more dazzling, than usual. When the occasional car passed me, I discovered that the car seemed noisier and the headlights more brilliant. Everything seemed so clear, so very gentle and golden.

I had a sudden urge to be a child walking to a friend’s house to climb trees or make mud-pies or build a fort ‘o fun in her backyard, with a day of playing and laughing and running in front of me– though, to be honest, at the same time I realized I wouldn’t have changed places with anyone at that moment for the world.

Because the air was crisp. The kind of crisp that you breathe in deeply, that you can feel filling your lungs almost to the point of bursting, full, like your heart at that exact moment when you first hear “I love you,” or that moment when you catch a glimpse of a hazy water meadow at the end of a grueling hike through the forest, or that exact moment when your doctor places a tiny, wrinkly, squirmy baby in your arms for the first time. The kind of crisp that calls to mind the thrill of homecoming night and cheerleading to the crowds in the frigid night air of fall, even though you haven’t been in high school since 1989. The kind of crisp that means pumpkins and trick-or-treat and children in hard-to-make, I am never sewing again and I mean NEVER costumes. The kind of crisp that means fall is coming, and with it the mysterious, dank, earthy smell of thunder-rain soaking the leaf-strewn earth on a chilly autumn evening.

Suddenly something brownish grey burst up from the ground in front of me and there was a cry and a beating of wings–  not paying attention to where I was walking I had nearly collided with a flock of birds that had been pecking around a half-eaten bag of chips someone had abandoned on the sidewalk. I stopped short as my surprised heart drummed out a staccato rhythm I seemed to be able to feel in every inch of my body. But the birds just got out of my way and flapped into the sky, leaving me with my racing heart and my thoughts. I watched them fly until they were just a speck in the golden morning sky.

And I suddenly wondered if I could write about this, if I could get the truth and the beauty of the cool, crisp morning to flow out of me as exquisitely as I had experienced it. But I knew that words are very inadequate, or my words often are, and that even if I put all my imagination into my words, it is still nothing like living it. But I decided to try, because really… what could it hurt?

As I hurried home to fire up my computer, the sadness dimmed, hazy in my mind’s eye, overcome by the full brightness of morning. And I smiled again.

And I’m smiling now.

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