Go with grace…p

As I lay here in the dark on what will be almost your last night under this roof for the foreseeable future, there are so many things I want to say.

My arm still holds the sting from the tattoo commemorating this momentous journey, and my heart simultaneously stings from the knowledge that things will never quite be the same again.

I watched you pack tonight.

I watched you try and gather as much of “home” as you could cram into those two large suitcases and while you compressed clothing and necessities, my heart was compressing 19 years and 8 months of memories.

I want to remember it all.

I want to collect every moment we have shared and bottle it up like fine wine so we can open it up with a loud burst when you return and spend the evening saying, “Remember when…”

And yet even as I watched you, I knew there were things I had already forgotten. So very many things my mind could not access anymore.

I want to chase after you as you walk away from me at the airport reminding you to look both ways before you cross the street and to not talk to strangers and to PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS.

I want to remind you to use sunscreen and leave big tips and let people off the hook of high expectations.

I want to cover you in full body armor and bubble wrap your heart and whisper to you that everyone in this world is not nice, but that everyone needs love.

I want to remind you of all the truth I’ve ever told you and all the Bible verses you ever learned and I want to hug your heart tightly and remind you that grace is unmerited, but so needed by the world.

I want you to be able to feel my mom heart 2,409 miles away. I want you to hear my voice inside you when the world lets you down and things don’t go as planned.

Mostly, i want you to know how very brave I think you are…How amazing I find it that you would take such a giant leap of faith and chase after a higher plan. His ways are not our ways, and yet, you are willing to trust and follow.

Go with my blessing, sweet girl. Chase after all that is adventurous and beautiful and look wide-eyed at it all…soak it all in…breathe in every second of this amazing journey. We will be here when you come home, and we will share those memories and stories along with what I know will be many new ones.

You are loved.

You are smart.

You. Are. Enough.

Now, it’s time to go show the world what we have all around here already known.

May you feel the love across all the miles from all of us who have been chapters in your story thus far…and may the new chapters you now write continue to tell a most beautiful story.

I love you endlessly…

Mahja

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Bruises

I am bruising.

I knew it would happen.

Every time I finish a race, within days I’m bruising.

Running a long course filled with mud & purposely placed obstacles is tricky. I spend a lot of my time staring at the ground, negotiating each & every step ahead of time. When I get to an obstacle, even if I’ve done that one in particular many times, I still stop & evaluate what the best plan of attack is.

So much matters.

The weather conditions the day of the race matter.

The weather conditions the week{s} before the race matter.

The location & terrain of the race matters.

The physical condition of my body and the physical condition of the trail matters.

There are so many variables.

No matter how hard I train, how much attention I pay to the course & how prepared I am {or am not}, so many things affect the outcome of the race.

So we slip.

We fall.

We execute poorly.

We misjudge.

We forget what we planned or we realize we forgot to plan.

Inevitably, we get injured & we bruise.

Sometimes it’s a subtle change.

Sometimes it’s alarmingly fast.

The changing colors of a bruise seem to tell their own story.

But…

I have learned to view my bruises differently; I am not ashamed of them.

My bruises mean I faced something hard, but my body fought back.

My bruises mean I encountered an obstacle, but I made it past.

Maybe I went through it.

Maybe I went over it.

Maybe I had to go under it or around.

What matters is, when I notice the bruise, that means I made it.

Running the race of life that’s sometimes muddy & filled with {often purposely placed} obstacles is tricky.

We often feel like we spend a lot of our time staring at the ground, negotiating each & every step.

Sometimes we get to the obstacles & they are familiar & we conquer them with ease.

Sometimes, we encounter a new one…something we didn’t plan for…something we didn’t train for.

So, we do our best & we find that so many conditions matter.

The condition of our family matters. The condition of our surroundings matters.

The condition of our heart matters.

Here’s what I know:

We will slip.

We will fall.

We will execute poorly.

We will misjudge.

We will forget what we planned or realize we forgot to plan.

So, we will bruise.

But, when those bruises appear, be thankful for the lessons learned.

And when they discolor & change, remember, that means we are healing.

And so there is that

To every man whose wife shops consignment sales

I see it every season: Your wife, bombarding the doors searching for the best deals.

She lines up super early.

She races through the door at breakneck speed.

She scavenges through racks & racks of clothing.

She sorts through piles & bins & tubs of toys searching for just the right thing.

She crams her bags & stroller & wagon full of loot. She drags a laundry basket around with a belt tied to it to use as a handle for maximum speed & agility.

She searches title after title of books & movies & games.

It’s a rush, for sure.

I know you are home with the kids.

I know you’re possibly hoping they go to bed early or don’t cry or don’t fight. I know you wish your wife had taken them with her. I know you worked all day & now, when it’s time to relax, real-life is breathing down your neck. All so your wife can shop, right??

Sounds unfair, for sure.

I know she shops for 3 or 4 or 5 hours…maybe even more.

I know you had to navigate through school pick-up & dinner duty & bedtime routine. I know she is gone for hours. I know.

I also know this:

She bombarded the doors because she has spent her “free time” making a list. Not a list of frivolity. A list of needs.

Who needs pajamas? Who needs a new coat? Who needs winter boots & summer sandals & ski bibs & a bathing suit? Who outgrew all their pants since the last sale? Who lost their lunchbox or their winter gloves or their favorite blanket?

I’ll tell you who knows.

Your wife.

She scavenges through racks & racks of clothing because she loves her kids, YOUR kids, & she wants them to feel special. She loves to see them smile when they look nice. She wants them to fit in & feel accepted.

She sorts through piles & bins & tubs of toys because her children, YOUR children, will have birthdays & Christmas & Easter baskets that she will want them to remember & love & enjoy.

She crams her bags & stroller & wagon full of loot & she drags a laundry basket around with a belt tied to it to use as a handle for maximum speed & agility & you know what? She gets a backache from it & her feet hurt & her shoulders ache. But she loves her kids, YOUR kids, and she wants to make the best use of her time away.

She searches title after title of books & movies & games because she knows what her children’s, YOUR children’s, favorites are.

She knows what they mentioned while walking through Walmart. She knows what they pointed at in Target. She knows what they saw a friend wear or a commercial advertise or, even more, what they just love deep down inside intrinsically.

Do you know what else she knows?

She knows you are home with the kids. She knows you’re possibly hoping they go to bed early or don’t cry or don’t fight. She knows you wish she had taken them with her. She knows you worked all day & now, when it’s time to relax, real-life is breathing down your neck. All so she can shop, right?

She knows it seems unfair.

But, here’s what else I know:

I know she walks around using her phone as a calculator, adding up each & every item.

I know spends hours of her shopping time sorting & re-sorting & prioritizing.

I know passes by things she would love to stop & look at.

I know she only gives a quick glance at things that interest her: Books by her favorite authors…beautiful purses…shoes in her size & styles she loves.

She skips the home decor section all together.

Maybe you aren’t even aware that we have those things because she never brings them home.

I know that this, this shopping, is an act of love. It is a priority because her family is a priority. Her children are a priority. And her love for you is a priority: for the hours you work & the money you earn & the time you invest in her kids, YOUR kids.

I know she comes with a budget.

I know she spends lots of her time answering your phone calls about what is for dinner & when she will be home.

I also know she shows up at my checkout table stressed & concerned that has grossly miscalculated. She watches me ring each item & her eyes go immediately to the total when I hand her the receipt.

Do you know what else I know?

Sometimes, she literally looks afraid to even go home because she knows you will be mad because she has been gone so long or she spent too much.

It’s an uncomfortable moment for us both because what I also know is that she’s doing her best to be a good mother & a good wife, all while being a wise steward of the funds her family has.

Consider this: Maybe next time she heads out to hit up her favorite consignment sale, maybe you could thank her & tell her that you appreciate her taking the time to do something so important for your family; maybe you could load the bags & stroller & the wagon for her; maybe you could offer her some extra cash so she could pick up a purse she loves or a new outfit or something she might see to make your home look more decorative.

And maybe you could unload it all when she gets back, without any complaint about the behavior of the kids, YOUR kids, or the amount she spent.

Maybe she might just buy a new book & maybe it won’t mean much to you.

I can guarantee, though, it will mean everything to her.

And so there is that…

Leave me alone. I have been cleaning all day.

 

First off, let’s clear the air on one thing: This photo is not of any space in my home. It’s not of any place I have ever been. This is a free image straight off the good ole internet. It may have appeared in many of my dreams, but never in my reality.

But, none of that is the point there.

I am sure many of you are like me. You find yourself at the end of a hard day answering the age old question, “So, what did you do today?”

If you are a stay at home parent, your answer is usually something like, “I cleaned. All day. That’s all I did was clean up after people. For eternity I have been, and will forever  be, cleaning.”

If you work a job outside the home, your answer is probably more like, “I went to work and then I came home and cleaned. I am still, and will forever be, cleaning.”

Often, after I have uttered these words aloud, I find myself in a sort of conundrum of conscience.

Did I REALLY clean ALL DAY?

Have I ACTUALLY been cleaning since I got home from my paid job?

Am I stretching the truth? Justifying? Straight up lying?

To avoid any further confusion, I have created the following list of guidelines so each and every one of us can feel confident in our answer. Please feel free to use and/or share any and all of these with your friends. We are all here to help a mother out.

  • If you have spent all day doing laundry, that’s cleaning. So what if you managed to watch an entire season of your favorite show on Netflix. You still get full credit for cleaning. You should not be punished for multi-tasking. (If you emptied the dryer lint, bonus points.)
  • If you have gone to open the refrigerator to make a plan for dinner, and subsequently shut it back because you had to wipe peanut butter off the door handle, that’s cleaning.
  • If you have taken all the random crap that’s lying around and put it in a laundry basket and hid it in a closet to “deal with later”: cleaning.
  • If you have piled all the pairs of shoes from around the house on the stairs for the kids to put away, cleaning for sure.
  • If you used a broom to sweep the carpet in your bedroom because you left the vacuum upstairs like a month ago, that’s cleaning. This also falls under the category of exercise, so bonus points. Take yourself out for ice cream later.
  • If you sat down to create a list/spreadsheet outlining the cleaning chores for the day/week: cleaning.
  • If you ran your finger across the top of the television because you weren’t sure the last time you dusted it, that, my friends, is cleaning.
  • If you ran a sink full of hot, soapy water to “soak” the dishes, that’s totally cleaning. If you remember to dump the cold water out and fill it with hot water again before dinner, bonus points again.
  • If you dramatically threw clothes to the floor of the closet because they didn’t fit, that’s cleaning. If you actually placed them in a bag to get rid of “later”, cleaning still. If you flailed around in anger at how you’ve “let yourself go”, bonus points again for exercise.
  • If you reached over into the tub to pull out the large ball of hair covering the drain, and then grabbed the closest towel nearby to wipe the edges of the tub clean so you could take a “relaxing bath”, that’s all cleaning. Not even up for debate.
  • If you lit a candle to cover up the lingering odors of kids & pets, that’s cleaning.
  • If you read an article about how to streamline your cleaning, you don’t get to count it as cleaning unless it was from like Southern Living or Better Homes & Gardens. If that’s the case, give yourself credit. That’s research & it still counts.
  • If you took a trip to Dollar Tree or Ikea for some various sized containers to organize things in & then came home and put the bag on the floor and promptly forgot about it, it still counts as cleaning.
  • If you looked under the kitchen sink to verify that you are, in fact, out of glass cleaner & then took time to notice that you were also out of bleach, dishwasher detergent & Lysol, that’s all cleaning related, therefore, it’s cleaning.
  • If you moved everything around in the pantry praying to locate one, single pack of Kool-Aid so the kids will stop complaining about there being “nothing to drink”, that’s cleaning. It’s also organizing, so good work!!
  • If you re-started the dryer so the clothes could “fluff up”, count that as cleaning. No one in the family deserves wrinkled clothes.
  • If you rifled through the Tupperware drawer/cabinet/basket trying to locate a lid for the leftovers from the night before and managed to match a few other lids with their partner containers,  count it. That job is basically one step away from the entrance to hell itself and deserves to be recognized as such.
  • If you scraped dried Fruity Pebbles off your comforter so you could sit down and rest a second (because, duh, you’ve been cleaning all day), that’s cleaning.
  • If you shoved all the random crap from inside your car quickly into the trunk because you forgot it was your day to take the entire volleyball team home after practice: still cleaning.
  • If you wiped an unknown gummy substance off the screen of your computer/tablet/phone so you could log into Facebook, that’s cleaning.
  • If you opened the “junk drawer” and, while looking for one AA battery, managed to take out and throw away all the old, dead batteries that your family for some reason decided to save, that’s highly detailed cleaning and it counts majorly. Reward yourself with a break.
  • If you sprayed cleaner into the toilet so it could “soak a bit”, that counts. Even if you forgot to go back later and actually scrub the toilet, give yourself cleaning credit. Your intentions were good.

 

I am sure there are many more we could all add to the list. Feel free to add them.

Take it easy on yourselves, mommas. This world would be a dirty place without you.

And so there is that…

Sweet momma-to-be

i saw you today at the pool, mother-to-be.

i saw your gloriously large, bulging-with-life belly.

i saw your adorable messy bun, or top-knot, or whatever it’s called these days.

i saw your neatly packed pool bag, complete with snacks & a good book & all the things sunscreen.

i saw your sun-kissed cheeks & your tanned arms.

i saw your fluffy, like-new beach towel…i am sure it smelled of fresh detergent.

i saw your classy, scratch-proof, polarized sunglasses. (for more on my love of sunglasses, read An open letter to the young mother I met at the beach  )

22 years ago, i was you.

i was just on the verge of motherhood.

i was eager with anticipation.

i was ready to meet my little one & show him/her the world.

i had hopes & dreams & nervous excitement & fear.

i was sure my child would be Valedictorian & also sure that he/she would never learn to breastfeed correctly.

i was convinced i would raise a child who would become a doctor or a lawyer & I was also just as sure that he/she might end up a homeless beggar.

i was certain i would have a child that loved God & maybe would become a preacher just like his/her father & I was also maybe just as sure he/she might become a serial killer.

i thought it all.

i compared my belly to other pregnant mothers.

i compared my skin tone to that of others.

if i knew my neighbor read to the baby in HER belly every night, EVEN ON THE WEEKENDS, i wondered should i be reading to the baby in my belly more??

did i need a gate or a fence or even a wall to protect my little person from getting out into the world? did i need the same to keep the world from getting in?

i wondered if my house was equipped enough to raise a child & was my heart big enough to love one.

would i be able to stay home?

would i be able to work?

could i honestly say i was ready to commit my life to following another human being around for at least a minimum of the next 7-10 years EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY, minus, possibly, some time while he/she slept????

would i ever read another book or go out on another date or take time for myself at the gym or to sleep??? would i ever even sleep again???

would i forget my child in the tub or the church or the store or, God forbid, the car????

was i even capable of mothering?

here’s what i can tell you twenty-two years later sweet, ready-to-bloom momma:

you will do it all wrong & you will simultaneously do it all right.

you will have moments of sheer genius & they will be preceded or followed just as quickly by moments of sheer madness.

sweet momma, your hopes & dreams & excitement & fear are all valid & they are all okay.

if your child is Valedictorian, that will be amazing.

if he/she never learns to breastfeed properly, guess what?? that is okay as well.

if you raise a child who becomes a doctor or a lawyer, fantastic…but, homeless beggars have mommas, too. 

they have people who love them & miss them & pray for them & want to hold them and THAT IS ALL OKAY.

you might raise a child who loves God. cling to that. verbalize that. embrace & proclaim that.

he/she might become a preacher. that would be incredible.

but, serial killers have mommas as well. and IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT. they still love them & miss them & pray for them & want to hold them.

keep your focus, momma.

don’t look to the neighbor on the right or the neighbor on the left for your validation.

don’t watch another woman walk the aisles of the grocery store & wonder how you measure up.

you were only meant to be you & your sweet child was meant for the parents he/she is born into or adopted out to and EVERY BIT OF THAT IS IN THE MASTER PLAN.

you will laugh & you will cry & you will curse & you will pray.

you will watch your dreams rise & fall & you will watch their dreams do the same.

and one day, one day that will be here much sooner than you could ever believe possible, you will be me.

you will see the fresh mommas just starting this journey & you will remember it all.

it’s all worth it.

let your journey be your own & allow your momma friends to have their own journeys as well. 

everyone will have much more to talk about sitting on the park bench in a few years, if so.

and so there is that…

Broken Things

I heard it from the other room.

There was no mistaking the sound of a glass breaking on the unforgiving tile of the kitchen floor.

I wandered in to make sure no one was hurt & immediately grabbed the broom. There were pieces everywhere. I immediately went into mom mode, sweeping & warning little feet to stay away. It was a school morning, so time was precious. I had to choose between losing my cool and cleaning up the mess. There wasn’t time or energy for both. I swept under & around things. I was in a hurry so I’m sure it wasn’t my best work. I didn’t bother trying to figure out in my head which glass it was. I knew knowing that wouldn’t make it “unbroken”. (This is also the reason so many of my glasses are Goodwill thrifts or hand-me-overs from friends & family). It was pointless to try and make sense of the mess to calculate the loss. Seeing the glass there, in shards of every size made me think of the nature of broken things. Some broken things are easily repaired. We pick up the pieces & put them back together. Easily said & easily done. But, this broken glass…not so much. It was in too many pieces to count & it was an impossible situation to try and find them all and make it look like it once had. And even if it looked right, it could never function the way it originally had. The pieces that were missing might have been unseen, but they would certainly be missed & in the mess of the swept up broken glass, so many others things had gathered. There was dirt from the past & dust from neglect & other random things that didn’t make for a neat, tidy pile. Things in life break. It’s that simple. The question is, when things break, how do we handle the mess? Do we look at the rubble & try and figure out what broke? Do we calculate our loss & try and make sense of the mess?Sometimes, that’s how we need to handle a mess. Sometimes. But sometimes…Sometimes things aren’t easily repaired. Sometimes we can’t simply pick up the pieces and put them back together. Sometimes it’s not easily said & easily done. Sometimes there are just too many broken pieces to count & it will be an impossible situation to try and find them all and make things look like they once had. We don’t all see the same pieces as being important. And making things look like they originally had never guarantees they will function like they originally did. There will be dirt from the past & dust from neglect & other random things that don’t make for a neat, tidy pile. Maybe, just maybe, if we focused on the mess as a whole rather than the individual pieces, our clean-up would fair better. Maybe, just maybe, we could all just pick up the broom and get to work. Sometimes we will have to choose between losing our cool & cleaning up the mess…there will not be time & energy for both. Choose wisely. and so there is that..,

To the Mom who feels she is doing it all wrong …

I see you.

I see your weary eyes & tear-stained cheeks.

I see your well-dressed littles & know deep inside you have neglected yourself for their sake.

I hear your trembling voice.

I watch your insecure mannerisms.

I feel your comparison.

Your gauge.

Your determination to “measure up”.

I get it.

I see you.

I hear you.

I feel you.

I AM you.

We are raising these humans and we are trying to keep our sanity.

We have walked away from careers & hobbies & spontaneity, all for the sake of 20+ years from now.

We aim for meaningful conversation, but we end up with small talk & awkward silence.

We plan purposeful events & memory-building moments, and we end up with blurry pictures & blurry eyes.

We try to capture it all & in the process we miss so much.

We are seeking to be all things to all our people & we keep losing track of ourselves.

We won’t give ourselves a break or let ourselves off the hook.

This thing…this motherhood thing…

It’s so hard.

It’s painful to our bodies & our hearts & our core.

And so we isolate ourselves in a cocoon of safety & routine.

We stick to the plan & we clean up the messes & we look around at the end of the day & wonder how we will do it all again tomorrow.

And some days, if we are just being brutally honest, we don’t want to.

We want to sail away into the sunset…drive away and not look back…pack a bag, grab a map & go searching for the person we lost along the way.

Our people, they need us.

They need us for dental appointments & haircuts & toilet paper & school pictures.

They need us for concert attendance & lunch money & white poster board at 10 pm.

They need us for forgotten papers & winter coats & food…all the time, food.

But, here’s the thing.

They need us for so much more than that.

They need us for validation & for inspiration & for recommendation.

They need hard truth.

And fierce hugs.

And honesty.

They need us to be okay with ourselves. With our bodies & our minds & our choices.

They need to know that we can love them because we love ourselves & we love each other.

We can’t go around clipping each other off at the knees because we have a better recipe or a better house or a better life.

We need to be a tribe.

We need to have each other’s backs when we fail. We need to reach out and help each other up and be for each other what we need most for ourselves.

We are a team, mommas.

If we raise our kids to think we have all the answers & we need no one, we raise them to believe a lie.

If we raise them comparing and complaining, we will reap entitled, selfish adults.

If we don’t let them see we are vulnerable & that we fail & that we need each other, we raise them to believe they can exist alone…and they will become bitter, lonely adults.

Look around, mommas.

Phone a friend.

Make eye contact.

Look across the parking lot or grocery store aisle or waiting room office.

We are there.

Each and every one of us.

We need each other.

Every. Single. Day.

Don’t give up.

Hang on. Be the help while you wait for the help. Meet the need while you are needy. Reach out a hand when you feel most like reaching into yourself.

Together, we can make this thing happen.

And even if we never have a Pioneer Woman meal or a Joanna Gaines home or a Jillian Michaels body, we will have each other.

There is strength in numbers.

Look for me because I will be looking for you, sweet momma friends.

We’ve got this.

and so there is that…

Field trips, forms & fanatical behavior…

 

 

 

field TripThere is a running dialogue that is held at our house a minimum of twice a month. It usually goes something like this:

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Mom, did you remember I need a bag lunch for my field trip.”

Me: “When is the field trip?”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Ummm…I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow.”

Me: “What do you mean you don’t know? How am I supposed to remember when YOU have a field trip if YOU don’t even remember YOU have a field trip??”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Mom. Why are you yelling?”

Me: “I am not yelling. I CAN yell, though, if you’d like to know what yelling sounds like.”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Gosh, Mom. I just need to know if you remember I need a bag lunch. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Me: “How is it not a big deal? Do you want to be the only kid on the field trip, WHENEVER IT EVEN IS, without a lunch? Do you want to be THAT kid?? Do you want all your friends and your teachers to think we cannot afford food? or that you aren’t loved?”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “I think you are acting crazy now. Maybe you even ARE crazy. I just need a lunch…for whenever the field trip is.”

Me: “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PACK A BAG LUNCH WHEN I HAVE NO IDEA WHEN THE FIELD TRIP EVEN IS???”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Now you most definitely ARE yelling.”

Me: “OH YEAH KID! YOU HAD BETTER BELIEVE I AM YELLING NOW! I NEED TO PACK A LUNCH FOR A FIELD TRIP THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHEN YOU ARE LEAVING FOR AND SOMEHOW I AM SUPPOSED TO REMEMBER SO THAT I CAN MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A LUNCH LIKE ALL YOUR FRIENDS WHO HAVE MOMS THAT ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION AND KNOW WHEN THEIR CHILDREN WILL BE LEAVING THE SCHOOL CAMPUS!!!!”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Mom, seriously. It’s like you are losing your mind. You signed a form. It had all the information on it about the field trip. And I’m pretty sure it’s tomorrow.”

Me (basically on the verge of a full-on aneurysm at this point): “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I SIGNED THE FORM?? WHAT FORM? DO YOU MEAN ONE OF THE 64,000 FORMS YOU BROUGHT HOME THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL THAT HAD TO BE FILLED IN WITH BLUE OR BLACK INK ONLY, NOTARIZED BY A NON-FAMILY MEMBER, AND THEN COPIED IN TRIPLICATE AND RETURNED IN THE MANILLA ENVELOPE THAT I AM SURE I MAILED COUPONS FOR METAMUCIL TO YOUR GRANDMOTHER IN???? IS THAT WHAT YOU MEAN? THOSE FORMS? THE FORMS THAT ALWAYS HAVE ALL THE PERTINENT INFORMATION, LIKE WHEN THE BLESS-ED FIELD TRIP EVEN IS, ON ONE SIDE AND THE PART WHERE I SIGN MY NAME ON THE OTHER, THEREFORE GUARANTEEING THAT WHEN YOU TURN IT IN I IMMEDIATELY LOSE ALL OF THE INFORMATION I WOULD NEED TO AVOID THIS CONVERSATION???? IS THAT THE FORM YOU MEAN????”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Ummmm…I have no idea what the right answer is. I think those are the forms I’m talking about.”

Me (trying to get it together so the neighbors don’t call the police): “Listen, I just need to know when the field trip is so that I can make sure you have a lunch. Is that too much to ask? Surely at least ONE teacher today would have mentioned if the field trip to which you are referring is tomorrow, right? Surely they don’t just expect that it was mentioned ONE, SINGULAR time and that you all would remember?? I feel pretty sure that if I were to march into the school RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE the date of the field trip would be written in dry erase marker in EVERY, SINGLE classroom you visit EVERY, SINGLE day of the school year. Is that what you want me to do?? March up into the school right now??”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Mom, it’s like 9 o’clock at night. The school is closed. And locked.”

Me (trying out some yoga/meditation breathing I accessed via a youtube video one time): “So, just to make sure I am understanding you. You need a lunch. A bag lunch. For a field trip. You are not sure when the field trip is, but I signed a form giving you permission to go, so somehow I must know when you need the bag lunch. Is that about right?”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “I feel pretty sure this is a trick question. Is Dad around? Maybe I could ask him.”

Me: “Please. Feel free to ask your father. I am sure he will know. And please feel free to let him know all about this trip you are going on. Where are you even going?

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “I have no idea where we are going. If I knew that, I might remember when we are going.”

Me: “There is no logic in your statement. I do not think I even gave birth to you. Anyone I gave birth to would be sure to remember when they would be boarding a bus to leave the actual school campus to go to wherever you are all going. Anyone with my genes would know when the trip is and where the bus is going.”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “Oooohhh yuck, Mom. I don’t need your jeans. Just a bag lunch. Maybe it’s on the website.”

Me: “Oh yes, PAAAHHLEASE let me access the website. That’s always fun. Let me search around hither and yon for the username and password that I can never remember. Let me see if I can navigate through all the notifications about the girls only meeting and the book fair, and the sports schedules for the week, and somewhere BURIED IN THERE LIKE A TREASURE JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND, will be the information which I seek. I’m sure that will be exactly how that goes.”

Unnamed Middle Schooler: “I think I’ll just pack a lunch tomorrow just in case. And would you happen to have some spending money? I think we may need some, for wherever we are going.”

*************************************************************************************

Y’all think I’m kidding, I am sure. But, I assure you this happens.

Every. Single. Time.

Teachers, can you help a mother out here? Can you please just make sure those dang forms with all the pertinent information are printed so that I can keep all that info at home? I know that when I need to cut that bottom portion off I will grumble and complain that I can’t find the scissors, but that’s a problem for another day.

Please & thank you.

And so there is that…

Headed for the top…

15-etiquette-rules-for-dining-at-fancy-restaurants

Y’all…

Last week, I ate dinner at a fancy restaurant.

Now listen, here is the part where I leave out the name of the actual fancy-to-me restaurant, lest there be some nay-sayer out in cyberland who feels the need to say something as non-helpful to the universe as, “Actually, I wouldn’t consider (insert name of non-mentioned restaurant here) to be a fancy restaurant.”

For the love of baby Moses floating in the Sweetgrass basket, there were no paper napkins, no plastic ware, no one carried a tray except the wait staff, & I saw not one solitary child the entire time I was there.

That, all summed up, equals fancy to me.

After searching the actual parking lot fruitlessly for a spot, I found a gravel side lot about two continents away, left my car there covered in anointing oil & prayer that it would be there when I got back, & marched my way across the gravel/asphalt/concrete parking area in my wedges (because what is a possibly-fancy dinner without wedges???).

I stopped partially through my journey to take a picture of the building (because, after all, if I eat a meal at a yet-to-be-determined-fancy restaurant & don’t post a picture, did the meal actually even happen???? Ummmm, no Mark Zuckerburg, it did not) and I made my way to the front doors.

Upon entering the doors, I found myself face-to-face (literally because it was stainless steel) with an elevator.

Score: Fancy 1, Not Fancy 0

There was a sign next to the elevator that said something about the rooftop being closed due to a private party. Clearly, I was not headed up there.

Y’all, as Jesus of Nazareth is my witness, I stood there a full four minutes staring at the doors of that elevator. I didn’t push the button. I didn’t look left or right. I literally just stood there, paralyzed, staring at the doors to the elevator as if I was considering jumping off a high-rise building or something. One would think I had never ridden an elevator before in my entire 40-something years of life.

At some point in my nearly catatonic state, the doors of the elevator opened for me to be confronted with some restaurant patrons & a young girl dressed all in black holding menus. I used my deductive reasoning & concluded she was an employee, so I asked her which way I needed to go to the main dining floor (nevermind the fact that none of them exited the elevator, which left me wondering where in the world they just came from).

After a cute little snicker, she assured me the main dining floor was up, and we began our ascent, at which time she said, “We are headed to the fourth floor.”

Now y’all, it made total sense to me that by “we” she meant she & her patron friends, so I just figured we were riding to the top first before finding the floor I was supposed to exit on (and by this time, I am pretty sure my friends are well past appetizers, so what’s a little joyride at this point anyway????) so I just stood there as the doors to the elevator opened on the fourth floor as promised.

And no one moved.

Not the patrons.

Not the cute young employee in black holding menus.

& not me either.

I just stood there waiting for the doors to close so I could go back down to the floor I was supposed to get off on.

Finally, after a long, awkward pause, I said, “Oh, is this the main dining room floor?” and the cute, young waitress said, “Well, yes,” as if I was supposed to be a clairvoyant or something.

Sheesh.

A little direction goes a long way, Flo.

The rest of the evening was amazing & uneventful, in a good way.

The food was all unpronounceable to me & fancier than our finest meals at a family gathering. The Sangria was fruity & fresh, the conversation was light & the food was rich & hearty.

I decided I like fancy restaurants. I guess I’m gonna need the hubby to get another part-time job.

Or, maybe I could just get a job riding up and down that elevator directing people to the correct floor. I feel certain I could be a little more helpful.

And so there is that…