Off her meds

Me: Hi-

My Mom:  Did you get a hold of your father?!  Why didn’t you call right after I called?!  If he doesn’t buy it now, he won’t buy it at all!  I want that iPod!

Um, hi Mom.  How are you?  How was your nail appointment?  Guess what your grandsons are doing.

Breathe.

Me: I didn’t call right away because I was in the middle of making breakfast and scouring the kitchen.  Since you asked me to talk to Dad about your Christmas present, let me do it my way.  If he doesn’t get it today, there are other days.  If he doesn’t get it at all, you can buy it after Christmas.

My Mom: I need it for line dancing classes!

I think she growled.

Breathe.

Me: Ok, Mom.  I’ll take care of it.  How are-

My Mom:  I have to go.  I’m going to help your Grandma make pizzelles.  I’ll talk to you later.

Me: Ok.  I lo-

Click.

What the f-k was that?  I didn’t give a sh*t about her Christmas present.  She should have made a list weeks ago.  And if she wanted my help, then she should let me do it my way.

I dialed my cell phone.

My Dad: Hel-lo

Me: Hey.  I’m calling about Mom’s gift.  I was going to be sly and subtle and awesome, but she’s nagging and yelling.  She’s set on bitch-

It clicked.

The pieces all fit together.

The nagging.

The picking of fights.

Her need to dictate a solution for whatever problem I was facing.  Forcefully.

Expressing her every opinion about every subject.  Forcefully.

The last time I noticed this I told my dad, “She’s set on bitch.”  She overheard.  She was unhappy.  But it turns out she had gone off her antidepressants.

Crap.

Me: She’s off her meds.  Again.  Isn’t she?

My Dad: (sighs) Yes.

Me: Why?

My Dad: She hates taking so many pills.

Me: I get that.  But she can’t be happy this way.  She makes us miserable.  She’s miserable.  Doesn’t she see she has a problem?

My Dad: She does.  She just doesn’t want to take pills for the rest of her life.

Too late for that.

Me: Then she needs to see a therapist.

Silence.

That was the problem.  She wouldn’t.  And she would keep hurting, following dark paths that I had already traveled.  With any luck, she would never go as deep and dark as I did.  But I hurt for her.  She’s my mother.  She didn’t deserve to be in a dark place.  But she wouldn’t seek help.  She didn’t think “talking to someone” (said with a sneer) would help.

Me: So want to know what she wants for Christmas?

What I miss

There are a few things I miss now that I’m a parent.  A day off.  A strike on chores.  A flat stomach.  Lesierly shopping.  But I mainly miss reading for hours on end. 

I loved taking an afternoon, curled up on a bed or sofa, reading a great book, devouring every page.  , Moving only when I needed a bathroom breakI would have drinks and snacks in easy reach.  Hell, sometimes I would even ignore the phone.

God, I envy people who can do that.

As my mom and I sat through story time, we learned that we too could enroll in a summer reading program like the boys.

Me: (whispering) We should do that.

Mom: (whispering) Maybe we could get a pencil and stickers too.

See, where I get my sarcasm?

Me: (whispering)  We would probably get discount coupons.

Mom: (whispering) Sure, why not?

I nodded.

Mom: (whispering) You know people get all impressed when someone says she read fifty books.  But I read.  What?  About a hundred.

Me: (whispering) At least.

Mom: (whispering) I go through a book in three days.

It’s a sad world when a girl envies her mother and glares at her mom’s back during preschool story time.

Pink Cocoa Cuplets

Brought you by Mmm, Mmm, Memory by Country-Fried Mama.  Check her out!

I’m not big on fall.  In fact as a child, I kind of dreaded it.  School got harder in the fall.  I anticipated winter mornings in plaid skirt and knee-highs, standing in assembly in frozen grass, wondering why God was punishing me.  But worst of all was the yearly trip to cut firewood.

Starting as an infant, I was dragged out of my bed, dressed, and pushed into a truck long before sunrise, which is fairly inhuman when you’re not a morning person.  We would drive out an hour outside of town to meet my grandparents at the exit, just a little after dawn.  Then we would drive and drive until we were into the foothills of the Santa Ritas.  We would find a place to park, and then my dad and grandpa would start cutting marked scrawny oak trees.  If luck was with us, they would find good trees uphill.  Usually luck wasn’t with us.

As a baby, they had me in a playpen.  They joked every year that I cried whenever the sound of the chainsaws stopped.  She was meant to do this, they said.  I called it slave labor.  They forced me to go all the way until I was in college.  Then my grandpa would joke about flying me home just to help.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Some years it was hot, but you couldn’t remove your jeans or flannel shirt to get cool.  Some years it was freezing, and you kept moving to get warm.  Thankfully, I have repressed the memory of the year it snowed.  There was the year of the baby mice, curled up tight in a nest.  The year of the horny toads, spitting blood when you pressed on them.  The year of the chiggers.  God, that was a bad year. 

There was only one good thing about cutting wood.  It was lunch.  The adults believed in getting done before lunch.  If it was a bad season of only scrawny oak trees marked, then lunch was an hour rest or so.

My grandma made the most perfect submarine sandwiches.  Each one specific to the person it was intended for.  She made deviled eggs that were heavenly.  She brought enough snacks and lemonade for an army.  But the best part was Pink-Cocoa Cuplets for desert.

These are an excellent travel desert because there is no frosting and they are not messy.  They get there name for the pink center from the Cocoa.  Trust me, men and boys love them too, even if they’re pink.  It’s been a couple of years since I had one.  So I might have to make these soon.

Pink- Cocoa Cuplets

2 c flour
1 T cocoa
1 t salt
1 ¼ c sugar
¾ c shortening
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 c cold water

Topping
1cup semi-chocolate chips
½ c chopped nuts

Preheat oven 375.
Sift together the flower, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Add other dry ingredients slowly. Blend res of ingredients well. Line muffin tin with baking cups. Fill muffin cups. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

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Long ago, in a galaxy far away

They were young, and they decided to have one more date night before the baby was born.  Since poor goes with young, they got some pizza and went to the movies to see The Empire Strikes Back.  The husband was amused with Yoda, learning his mannerisms and speech to entertain his nephews at a later time.

The next morning the wife woke up feeling queasy and a bit in pain.  She assumed it was indigestion from the pizza and went on her way.  Until a few hours later, she was sure she was in labor, three days early.  The husband luckily had the day off from work.  They went to the hospital where they took the wife’s vitals and measured her.  It wasn’t time.  She wasn’t dilated enough.  They sent her home.

The wife fretted as her parents would arrive home from vacation the next day, believing they wouldn’t miss the event.  The husband called his father in an immediate panic. 

Husband: Hi, is Dad there?  Wife is in labor.

Stepmom: He’s unavailable right now.

Husband: Oh.

Stepmom: Wait!  You haven’t picked out a boy’s name yet!!

Husband: Wife thinks it’ll be a girl.

Stepmom: There has never been an oldest girl in your family.  Your family has boys.  It’ll be a boy.  And HE needs a name.

Husband: Fine.  Ebenezer.

He hung up.

Hours passed slowly.  The pain increased.  In the evening, the couple went back to the hospital.  But not before the husband decided they were NOT going to have a baby. 

Husband: Suck it up.  We don’t need a baby.  We can have one done the road. 

Wife: Husband, I think it’s a little late for that kind of talk.  Perhaps nine months too late.

The husband admitted defeat and drove the wife to the hospital.  They admitted the wife but believed the baby would deliver in the wee hours of the morning, on the husband’s brother’s birthday.

As the evening darkened into night, the doctor agreed to give the wife an epidural.  At the same time, he felt they should break the water to move things along faster.  The fluid was green.  A fetal monitor was brought out.  The baby’s heart rate was dropping.  The baby was in distress. 

There would be no pushing, no panting, no vaginal birth.  Everything became chaotic.  They rushed the woman into surgery, giving the husband another chance to call his father.

Stepmom: He’s not available.

Husband: What?!  Where is he?!

Stepmom: He went to the family cabin to think about this new turn in his life.

The husband slammed down the phone and ran to get suited up to see his child born.

The doctor increased the epidural up the spine, since the wife was already numbed.  She was not put under as was usual back then.  They lifted a sheet, so that she could not witness them removing the organs to get to the child.  The husband held her hand.  He glanced at his watch.  9:00pm.

He glanced at his watch again when he heard the angry cry of the child who was now cold.  9:20pm.

The doctor: It’s a girl!

Wife: I told them so.

They whisked the baby away to test her, but the tests were positive.  She showed no signs of distressed.  They handed the baby to the wife, now mother.  She smiled at the wrinkly, skinny thing.

Husband: She looks like Yoda with her big head and big ears.

Wife: So she does.

Later the husband, now father, decided to impress his young wife by changing the first diaper.  He was the eldest of six, so this should be child’s play.  Instead he got every diaper, every wipe, every blanket covered in the tar-like first bowel movement.  Dirty and cold, the baby screamed.  The wife laughed, helpless from the stitches and the laughter.  She could barely tell the nurse on the intercom why they needed her.  The nurse came in, took in the mess, picked up the baby.  As she left, she turned and tsked in disgust at the young father.

The next morning the paternal grandpa called from a pay phone to hear the good news, deciding that maybe being a grandfather wasn’t so bad.  Upon hearing, it was indeed a girl, the first eldest girl born on his side in living memory, he smiled.  Before he left to see his new granddaughter, he planted a cherry tree at the cabin, so that she could have pink blossoms and sweet cherries.

When the maternal grandparents arrived home, they called around for news as soon as they walked in the door.  On hearing that they missed the event, they drove straight to the hospital without unpacking the car.  The grandma was beside herself over the thought of having a little girl to dress.  She hugged the new mother and took the baby.

The quiet, tall grandpa walked in the room.  A man of his generation, he said nothing.  He confiscated the baby from his wife, sat down in a chair, staring into the little face.  Beneath the silent, strong exterior beat the soft heart of a man who loved his family dearly.

He whispered to the baby, “No matter what.  You’ll always be my Netty.”

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A Childhood Memory

The first wedding I ever attended I was three.  I was also the flower girl.  My dad’s younger sister was getting married to a really sweet and fun man.  I was excited because I was the flower girl.

My mom made my dress.  It was long to my feet, but it didn’t twirl.  It was white with tiny pink rose buds.  Around my waist were two thin pink ribbons.  I was adorable with blue eyes and curled blonde hair.

But I was barely three.  After I had done my duty, I was to walk back to my mom who was suppose to be sitting on the side waiting for me.  She wasn’t there.  Some usher had moved her.  But I knew what I was suppose to do, and I saw my mom raise her hand so I could find her.  As I started down the stairs, a firm hand pressed on my shoulder.  I looked up at the face of my youngest aunt who sternly shook her head.  I pointed to my mom, and my aunt shook her head.

So I stood there.  Bored.  Oh so bored.  Grown-ups talk to much.  I never stood for so long.  I sat.  Then I laid down.  Then I decided I wanted to see my new shiny black shoes.  Hey, my feet look like they’re walking on the ceiling.  I wonder what it would be like walking on the ceiling. 

Everyone at church watched as two Mary Jane-d feet kicked in the air, just high enough for everyone to notice.

That is the part none of my little cousins forget to tell.  They tell it with glee, especially to The Husband, especially when I brought him home for the first time.

Hey, I was three.  I was adorable.  And I can still wrestle you all to the ground.

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Meet the other boy I watch

Sean: Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!

Me: Yes?

Sean: Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!

Me: Sean-Sean.

Sean: A feeesh!

Me: I see the fish.  It’s a red fish.

Sean: Mama!  Mama!  Mama!  Mama!

Me: Sean-Sean.

Sean: A feeesh!

Me: Yes, I red fish.

Papi: He really doesn’t stop unless you ans-

Sean: Mama! Mama!

Papi: wer.

Me: Sean-Sean.  No.  He doesn’t.

Sean: A pi-rate boat!

Me: Yes, a pirate boat.

Sean: Mama! Ma-

Papi: Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean! Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Sean!  Se-

Sean: (first smiling.  Now he put his hand out like a stop sign.)  STOOOOOOOOOOOOP!

Papi: Sean! Se-

Sean: STOOOOOOOOOOOP!

Me: Do you really think that’s helping?  Either of you?

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Dancing the night away

My parents gave up classic rock and roll when I went away to college.  My mom finally convinced my dad to take dance lessons, country western swing dance lessons.  After a couple of weeks, they realized their timing was off because my dad was listening to The Beach Boys in his head.  He gave it up for my mom.  Ten years later, they go dancing four nights a week dancing with the car radio blasting country, with my dad crooning songs as he listens to his MP3 player.

Good country music is all right, but I’m an alternative girl.  I spent my youth going to straight edge clubs, dancing to garage bands, moshing, skanking, free style dancing.  I love the rawness of it, the newness, the trying something different, looking for the new sound.  I love just dancing too it, though my dancing has been cut drastically since the boys, not to mention monitoring those adult content songs.

My mom is starting a line dancing class this Wednesday.  She has been scouring for more dances, calling all her friends and associates, making flyers, getting babysitting for the boys.  “You’ll come, won’t you? Your dad can watch the boys and bring them to the bar when the class is over.”  Um.  Line dancing?

It takes me several days of practice to get a dance down.  I hardly know my left from my right.  To remember all those steps, timed with music, it makes my mind swirl, and I end up looking as graceful as a cow.  I won’t tell you how many weeks it took me to learn to swing back in high school, which is all forgotten now.  I won’t bore you with details of the private dance lessons (because the husband doesn’t dance without a blood-alcohol level of .16) two months before the wedding.  Not to mention, line dancing?  What part of my music taste equals group coordination?  It’s all about not being a Tool, Raging Against the Machine, having a Green Day.

But it’s my mom.  She needs social approval, so if no one comes she’ll be crushed.  She needs moral support, so if I don’t come, she’ll be hurt.  Granted if her friends come, then I’ll be completely ignored, but I don’t need social approval.  To her it’s a gone conclusion that I’ll be there.  I don’t want to, but I feel I have to because look at all the softball, volleyball, basketball, Girl Scout, swimming, drama, school events she had to attend for me. 

Though this cow doesn’t want to, I’ll be there tomorrow night (unless I can come up with a good excuse) with combat boots on instead of bells (or cowboy boots).  Well, at least, I look good in a cowboy hat.  Just promise me I can still get the new Green Day album.

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Dad

When I decided to go away for college, I had a panic attack after I sent in my acceptance letter.  I closed the door to my room and cried, thinking about my teenage brothers and my dad.  When I left for college, who would hug and kiss my dad?  Who would kiss him goodbye before he left for work or before bedtime?  Who would randomly give him hugs?  Like every other existential crisis I had, my dad just gave me a few words and pushed me on my way.

I got a lot of things from my dad: my cheeks, my smile, the female version of his family’s nose, my sense of humor, my flair for drama, my lone wolf style, my storytelling.  His tact and way with people skipped me and went to my brothers.  Bummer.  While he teased me about having to put more years into the force since someone had to go to college, I knew he couldn’t have been prouder.

One Sunday when my mom was too sick to go to church, my dad took us across the street to the elementary school.  He carried two five gallon buckets brimming with softballs as I carried my mitt and bat and my brothers carried their mitts.  He pitched ball after ball to me, teaching me to hit.  He never lost patience or got tired of pitching.  No matter how bad of a hitter I was.

Then there was the crisis of faith I had a week before my confirmation, wondering if I was doing the right thing, choosing the right faith.  My dad sat and listened to a thirteen-year-old kid asking how did one hear the voice of God and would God be angry if I chose the wrong faith.  He nodded and then told me that if I couldn’t think of a different faith to go to then I should go right ahead with my confirmation.  He assured me that God would lead me to the faith I was meant for, and my dad wasn’t even a Catholic.

My dad can be an intimidating guy, with his cop walk and all.  One Monday during my freshman year in high school, my dad came early to pick me up from swim practice because Monday nights were Boy Scout nights.  My dad came dressed in his Boy Scout leader uniform.  As we walked to the car, we walked by three damn-we’re-tough-and-cool teenage boys smoking their cigarettes trying to look like rebels.  The minute my dad made eye contact with them, those boys snapped to attention, hiding their cigarettes behind their back.  The leader of the pack said, “Good evening, sir.  How are you?”  For years I tried to emulate that walk.

But the night that sticks in my mind was the night I got to hang out with my dad.  I arrived home around midnight after a babysitting job to find my dad waiting for me, not even pretending to go to bed as he usually did.  I popped into the family room to give him a kiss goodnight to find that he was watching Bill Cosby Himself.  “Sit down, Fae.  The first time I saw this I nearly peed my pants laughing.”  So I sat down and nearly peed my pants laughing.  From the night on, when I came home late, my dad was there, and we would talk.  I’d listen to all his amazing stories or get his opinion on politics or matters in my life. 

The one thing I miss now that we moved here is that there are no more late night discussions.  There is always some one around.  Sure, we find time to talk.  But it’s different when it’s night and everyone’s sleeping.  And it’s just the two of you.  When it comes to measuring myself up against a pole, it’s my dad that I measure myself up against.  It’s my dad that I want to make proud, that I don’t want to disappoint.  I’m sure he would hate knowing that because all he ever wanted was for us kids to live the life we wanted, not the life my mom envisioned.  I never thought I was a daddy’s girl.  Until I wrote this.  As I end this I remember all the other memories that I have with my dad, and I could go on and on, telling tales just like my dad.

My dad and me

My Dad and me

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A Delightful Family Planning Discussion with my Mom. Wohoo.

Me: . . . to prepare for my first trimester and –

 

Mom: What?!

 

Me: I said I was planning on buying a few extra gingerbread mixes to prepare when I’m in my first trimester.  You know-

 

Mom: Do you have something to tell me?

 

Like I would ever “forget” to tell my mom that I was pregnant.  She’s the planned third person to know.  I say planned because in both of my previous pregnancies she was out with her girlfriends when I found out and I ended up telling my dad instead.  Besides if I wanted to string her along, I would have done a better job as I am my father’s daughter.

 

Me: No, Mom.  I said “prepare.”  We’ve decided to wait six months.  It-

 

Mom: Six months?!  To start trying?

 

Me: Yes.

 

Mom: But that’s so far away!  Why?

 

Maybe it’s just me, but I do remember her trying to convince me to wait a little longer before the third pregnancy, and now six months is too far away.  Mom, you give me whip lash.  Besides I could have sworn we had this conversation before; she must have been on the computer when I told her, pretending to listen as she tried to figure out 10 down.

 

Me: Because we want to make sure the office is healthy.  Because I want to make sure we’re financially healthy.  I like the idea of spending more one on one time with Sean when Evan goes to preschool.  I like getting into a swing of things before the baby comes.  I like to drop another five pounds.  I want to go to my brother’s Arizona wedding reception.  Because I want to.

 

Really, it’s the smartest thing to do.  This way my husband isn’t completely stressed as they pull out of the worst time of year (ask any business owner who does business to business work; they all hate the holidays and the end of the year because it’s the end of the budget and important people are off on ski trips.  My husband can be a real Scrooge.).  We’ll know how long it takes to get to the preschool and the schedule, so I can work it in with breastfeeding.  Maybe I’ll even make a friend or two who can carpool with me.  I wouldn’t want to miss my brother’s second reception.  So now instead of wobbling my way through the Northeast coast, I’ll be vomiting.

 

Mom: You don’t have to wait so long.  You could get pregnant sooner and have a January or February baby.

 

Me: I don’t like winter babies.

 

Mom: Why not?

 

My husband: (Walking into the room) Why not?

 

Me: Because I like summer birthdays.  I don’t want to have birthdays close to Christmas.  And all my really cute maternity clothes are for the summer.

 

Do I have to have multiple reasons for every decision?

 

Mom: I guess it makes sense not to have a birthday close to Christmas.  Your brother’s is in November.  (Duh)  All your birthdays were three months apart; if we had another, it would have been born in February.  How about March?

 

Me: Late March would be fine.

 

Mom: See, that’s not so far away.  Besides you never know how long it’ll take you to conceive. 

 

Oh, you mean it may take us three times in a month versus the magic once?  Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it.  Did I just hear laughing?

 

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