Archives for April 2011

Long Pond

This piece was written in response to the photo prompt at The Red Dress Club: RemembRED.

Your assignment this week was to write a memoir piece inspired by this picture of a garden hose. In 700 or fewer words, show us where your memory takes you

 
I watched the spray from the hose rise in a twinkling arc over the tomato plants. Fat drops of water rolled from the end of the sprayer and splashed onto my bare feet. The water was shockingly cold in the heat of the morning sun. I looked down and watched the cold, almost painful drops land on my foot. A puddle formed around my toes and made the soil of his garden muddy. My feet were dirty, but he didn’t care. I dug my toes into the earth and absorbed its muddy warmth.

I reached over and plucked a ripe, red cherry tomato from the vine and popped it into my mouth then followed with another. When I’d arranged a tomato in each cheek, I called to him and flashed a beaming smile. He turned from tying a tomato plant to its stake and laughed at the sight of my bulging cheeks. His laugh was magical, spreading warmth and washing me with happiness.

“When are we going to go fishing?” My voice sounded muffled and hollow as my words pushed their way around the tomatoes filling my checks. I stood holding the hose in one hand, watering his tomato plants, and poked at my puffy cheeks with the index finger of my other hand. The skin on my cheeks began feeling like it was stretching, so I bit down on the tomatoes, breaking through the skin and washing my tongue with their sun-warmed sweet and sour interiors.

He never yelled at me and his hands never hurt. He shared his time and paid attention.

“You want to go fishing, huh?”

“Yup, and I’m gonna catch the biggest fish ever!”

He laughed, and then left the garden to enter the cellar. The dirt interior was like entering a cave. The ceiling was lined with fishing poles. He knew just where mine was located and pulled it down, along with his own. The tackle box and oars followed and were pushed into the bed of the truck. We always drove the short distance across the street and down the hill to the boat.

At the shoreline, I stood with the gear and watched him turn the boat over and unlock its chains. His moccasins squished into the damp weedy shoreline as he slid the boat into the water. “Come on,” he’d say, “Watch the mud.”

I gingerly stepped to the boat, walking along the clumps of grass and trying to avoid the blackened mud that sucked at my sneakers. The boat shimmied as I stepped onto the rear seat and made my way to the bow with my arms out in an attempt to balance. He’d pass the oars into the boat, then push off and climb in just before his feet met the water.

The water slapped against the side of the boat and the lily pads dragged at the bottom, trying to slow the momentum of his push. We’d pause there while he arranged the oars and I’d pull at the flowers growing from the lily pads, finally pulling one of the long slimy stems from the water and allowing my fingers to drag through the wake as he rowed me around Long Pond.

Those short summer weeks – always too short, were strung together by days full of nothing that were everything.

Our last day spent fishing together happened in 1998. I was no longer a little girl.

I watched his hands flip the boat and unlock its chains. His moccasins squished through the damp weedy grass of the shoreline. His progress had slowed over the years and, that day, his feet didn’t escape the water when he pushed the boat from the shoreline.

My throat tightened and my eyes burned with the threat of tears so I turned and plucked a flower from among the lily pads. I dragged my fingers through Long Pond and realized that I was beginning to say goodbye.

Privates

Modesty isn’t a huge issue here at my house. However, I’m thinking that we have reached the point where modesty should really be given higher priority on our list of issues. Joe is hurtling toward his 7th year and Gwen isn’t far from beginning her 5th. They’ve been enjoying baths together since Gwen was able to safely sit up in the bathtub. For them, shared baths are normal. As a mother, I have wondered several times over the past two years, when do those shared baths become abnormal?

Sure, they grasp the concept of ‘privates’ and they realize that there are differences between boys and girls. My first glimpse into the inner workings of my boy’s brain and his observations regarding body parts happened about a year and a half ago. One night Gwennie stood up in the bathtub and I caught Joe quizzically performing a visual inspection. I sat back to observe him observing her. I could almost see the wheels spinning in his little head, then he turned to me and said, “Hey Mom…did you know that Gwen has two hineys?”

I tried not to giggle, “Really?”

“Yup, she has a big hiney on her back and a little tiny hiney on her front…see?”

I attempted to quietly put the kibosh on the shared baths after that evening, but it hasn’t worked out as I intended. The girls outnumber the boys in this house. We have a toddler who is currently going through her ‘self-discovery’ stage and she has no shame in exposing her parts. Let me tell you something…there is nothing quite as shocking as walking into the family room to find your suddenly nude toddler performing an in-depth inspection of her girl parts. And when I say inspecting, I mean really inspecting.

Of course, we try to dissuade her public inspections but we also don’t want to make it seem ‘dirty’. She has reached that stage of development where children naturally begin exploring their parts. The diaper has given way to training pants and a whole new world has opened up. The problem is we’ve had a seemingly endless stream of children exploring his or her parts for about four years now. First it was Joe, followed by Gwen and now Kate. Nudity seems to be the norm for these kids. If nothing else, they’re comfortable in their own skin.

Last night, Gwen hopped into the tub with Joe who promptly stuck his naked hiney in her face and screamed, “Wash my butt!” I don’t know about you, but the last memory I’d want to have is one of my brother’s naked butt sticking in my face. Thankfully, Gwen scowled and said, “Eeeww, Joe! Get your butthole out of my face!”

Having successfully talked him into putting his bottom back underwater, bath time proceeded nicely. I was washing Gwen’s hair when she looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, Mom…I won’t touch Joe’s balls.”

Shared bath-time ends now.

Cribs May Contribute to Weird, Anti-Social Behavior

A few weeks ago we fell victim to a rookie mistake in parental judgment. I chalk it up to fatigue but maybe deep down inside, I was subconsciously pulling off the proverbial band aid and letting go of my last baby’s babyness. (No, that is not a word but deal with it, huh?)

Kate had begun climbing out of her crib so, exhibiting our seemingly endless supply of parental wisdom, we decided that it was time to set up her big girl bed. Our thought process on this one was simple…at least if she falls out of her bed the drop isn’t as far as a fall from the top of the crib. I know, we’re a couple of geniuses.

Mostly, I felt the urge to purge the crib from our house once and for all. Though its not technically purged, it has been vanquished to the attic for the remainder of its life.

It served us well, that inherited crib. One of my dearest friends passed that Jenny Lind onto us when Gwen was just a bun in the oven. Before either of our girls was even a glint in my eye, her two beautiful girls slept in it. Let’s pause for a moment and reflect upon the sheer number of babies who began their sleeping careers that crib.

Alas, there comes a time when no prison cell  crib can hold one of our babies. Gwen was a pro at scaling the sides of the crib by 16 months and decided that she would sleep in nothing but a “big girl bed” by the time she was 18 months old.

Kate, being the youngest, enjoyed the longest run in her baby prison. She made it to the ripe old age of 24 and 1/2 months. I’ve got her beat. I’m willing to bet that I slept in a crib longer than anyone that reads this post. Care to wager? I slept in a crib until I was about 7 years old. Weird, huh?

I had a bed. A nice twin sized bed that matched my sister’s. We even shared a bedroom… until my parents sold our house, moved us all to upstate New York and into our tiny summer house. That is where I was forced to re-enter the crib. I was in Kindergarten. The summer house was a pit stop while my parents renovated our farm house, so the crib was my “crib” for a couple of years. But I digress….

Since Kate had begun scaling the prison crib walls, I felt that she was emitting a cry for help. After my own unfortunate and lengthy crib-dwelling years, I wanted to get her into a bed before she ended up all weird and anti-social, like me.

We pulled the bed out of the attic and set it up right next to Gwen’s. If we were first time parents that night would have been tragic but this is our third go at helping a little kid transition into a big kid bed.

Sometime around 11:00 p.m., a time now defined as our new “wee hours” (as in 11:00 p.m. is the new 3:00 a.m.), we heard a dull thud followed by some muffled crying. Don’t worry the floor is covered in cushy, plush carpeting, and we didn’t start laughing until after we determined that she was alright. Sure, she was technically wedged between the bed and the dresser a little but she suffered no injuries. At most she probably experienced the sensation of falling followed by that weird, where the hell am I? state of confusion. Kind of like that time in college when you went on a bender and woke up in someone’s apartment with the Pillsbury Dough Boy costume hanging from the ceiling…what? Oh, that didn’t happen to you?

The next day I picked up some bed rails. She hasn’t fallen out again, but did initially have some trouble understanding that she is supposed to sleep on the bed, not next to it.

Have you seen it?
Katie over at Chicken Noodle Gravy just dished about No. 7! In all seriousness, I am incredibly flattered by the feature that Katie wrote. Head over and check it out and while you’re there take some time to explore Katie’s blog – she’s a wonderful writer. Chicken Noodle Gravy is one of my absolute FAVORITES!! Thank you so much, Katie! I’m floating somewhere up around cloud 9 right now…

If You Only Knew

Hey everyone, I need to interrupt my post to bring you this news.

Katie over at Chicken Noodle Gravy just dished about No. 7! In all seriousness, I am incredibly flattered by the feature that Katie wrote. Head over and check it out and while you’re there take some time to explore Katie’s blog – she’s a wonderful writer. Chicken Noodle Gravy is one of my absolute FAVORITES!! Thank you so much, Katie! I’m floating somewhere up around cloud 9 right now…

We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

How many times a week do you figure you want to run away? I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I claimed that I want to abandon ship at least once during a 24 hour period. I’ll go ahead and say it, out the seven days in a week there are likely at least five (or many more) minutes per day in which I’d like completely disappear.

 *POOF!*

Truthfully, in those dark moments I’ve wondered if my family would even notice or regret my untimely departure. I don’t think that they would and I’m not sure that I’d blame them.
Last month, I survived a week of school vacation without a husband for the better portion of said Hell…er, I meant to say school vacation. By the time I was attempting to muddle through the eighth day of solo parenting, I was cracking. Mount Vesuvius had sprouted on my left cheekbone, along with some freshly carved lines courtesy of a week-long frown bender. My voice had taken on that raspy, Marge Simpson quality as the result of yelling.
Sometimes I think my vocal cords might be permanently damaged. I’ve run to hide in the bathroom and wonder if my children’s memories will be composed of a red-faced, screaming freak they called ‘Mommy’.



image courtesy Google image search

Any remnant of what was once pretty and toned is quickly fading away. Gwen is absorbing all that once was. She flips and twirls her long hair while I come to terms with my new pixie cut. We perused some photo albums this week, the ones that contain mostly pre-children photographs. “Oh Mommy!” she said with a breathy sigh, “You used to be so beautiful!” Gee, thanks…I think.

I stepped out of the shower one morning to find an audience. There they were lined up like judges minus the score cards. “Mommy, why is it grey under your eyes?” “What happened to your toenail polish, Mom?” “Hey, how come your butt crack sticks out of your jeans when you bend down?” “Don’t you wish your hair was long and beautiful like mine?”
I slowly turned and faced them with my blackened eye-bags and chippy toenail polish and, without words, gave them a look that made them run away. Then I went to find some pants that didn’t expose ass cleavage and I cried in my closet. 
I sobbed because I felt trapped and resentful. I sobbed because I don’t earn my own paycheck anymore. I sobbed because I’m tired. I sobbed because I feel like a hamster on a wheel, doing the same thing every single day. I sobbed because I felt guilty for sobbing about all of these things.

If you really knew me, you would know that sometimes I fight the urge to run.

Mama’s Losin’ It Note: I’m not losing my grasp on sanity. I wrote this in response to Mama Kat’s weekly writing prompt. I chose “If you really knew me, you would know that sometimes…”

Who Knew?

One of the phenomena that seems to occur in the life of a married woman with children is the “party.” You know what I’m talking about…the Tupperware party. Only these days the parties have grown to include clothing, beauty products, food, jewelry and sex toys.

I was once invited to a sex toy party and, in a moment of weakness, I accepted the invitation. I had a toddler and and infant at home, David was working out of state all week long and the party was right up the street at a friend’s house. I figured that a few drinks and some laughs was just what the doctor ordered. Well, I was wrong.

In my defense, the invitation referred to it as a “Romance Party.” My acceptance of the invitation was made under the naive belief that it would be about things like edible underwear and massage oil.

Who knew?

What I know for sure is that I don’t want to know what kind of kinky shit the mother of my son’s classmate is into.

I sat in my friend’s living room looking through the catalog, trying to look calm, cool and collected. If anyone had looked closely, they’d have seen the thin sheen of sweat coating my brow. I hadn’t expected the sex toy party products to be so…so..publicly raunchy!



Alberto Vargas

 I became preoccupied with trying to appear nonchalant. As is usually the case with me when I’m out of my comfort zone, I start cracking jokes and over-sharing, working the crowd and making everyone laugh. Really, all I could think was, what’s the safest, least weird thing I can buy to get the of here with my dignity?

The Passion Consultant started the evening with ‘safe’ things like the love coupons and a dirty dice game but cocktails were consumed and, before I knew what was happening she was talking about the Playful Anal Plug and Triple Tickle Dolphins. She instructed that all orders could be made privately, in a seperate room.

image courtesy Google image search

Listen, I’m all for keeping things spicy. I am, truly I am, but can we please keep the ingredients for our spiciness a bit closer to the vest? I don’t want to know what Sue Jones* from the carpool bought at the sex toy party. Really, I don’t. Unfortunately, after that party I did. This group shared way too much information.

I suddenly knew way too much about Sue Jones. In fact, more than I ever wanted to. I really didn’t know Sue Jones at all except for the fact that she drove a black Toyota Sienna and was now the proud owner of a hot pink vibrator and some massage oil.

Suddenly, small talk at the park became awkward.

For the next few weeks, I was plagued by flashbacks. Instead of seeing Brigit, mother of Matt, she became Anal Beads. Cheri, mother of Aidan became Tongue Tickler. Jill mother of Sara became Trickling Trio Penis Sleeves.

Thankfully, we moved away a few months later. I haven’t stayed in touch.

*All names have been changed to protect actual the actual identities the persons involved, but I don’t know that they’d really care since I am now privy to their kink.

Monday

I spent the last seven days of my life immersed in writing samples, trying to select the perfect pieces for my residency’s manuscript submission. Thank God for David who took the bull by the horns and dealt with the financial aid stuff, made dinner for the family all weekend and entertained the kids while I sat at my computer telling them all to shut the hell up. I hate noise when I’m under pressure.

One of the side effects of ADHD is that when I’m focused on something with a deadline, something that needs to be just right, I’m not capable of acting like a normal human being. I forget everything else. I’m sure that to the rest of the world I appear to be a complete moron. David understands this. He might not necessarily appreciate it, but he gets it and works with me. He flips the pancakes that I started then walked away from to go clean the bathroom. Thanks to David, the house doesn’t burn down.

I picked my essays and started fine-tuning them yesterday afternoon. I felt good. Yup, I had it all together. No sign of any ADHD induced memory lapses at all. David and I even stayed up later than 9:00 last night.

This morning I was exhausted, yet for some reason when I rolled out of bed, I decided to flat iron my hair and slap on some makeup before driving Gwen to preschool. If only I had taken off the t-shirt that I slept in and put on a bra.

We were walking up to the front gate of the preschool when Gwen asked, “I’m the leader today, right Mommy?”

You know those dreams where you show up for school/work/your wedding and you’re naked? Yeah, well that’s how I felt as I stood on the sidewalk in front of Gwen’s preschool when I realized that it was my day to be parent helper. Technically, I was late, I didn’t have the fruit for snack, I didn’t bring a roll of paper towels and most alarming, I wasn’t wearing a bra.

I wracked my brain, trying to recall the contents of the mini-van, praying that I’d left a sweater in there at some point. For a brief moment, I was relieved when I remembered that I took my bra off at a red light a few weeks ago. Then I remembered that I hated that bra, took it off because it was uncomfortable and threw it in the trash at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru.

image courtesy Google image search

We walked inside and I apologized profusely to the preschool teacher who, by the way, I swear is a direct descendant of Mary Poppins. She was totally cool with our late arrival and full of ‘don’t worries’ and ‘no problems’.

Sighing, I took off my coat and tried to pretend it wasn’t cold. I was thankful for the thin camisole I was wearing under the t-shirt. I took a deep breath and held my head high, as if going braless was a conscious decision and then Gwen said, “ummmm, Mommy…are you wearing your booby traps or no?”

I spent the morning playing memory match, circle time and serving snacks in what was, technically, my pajamas. Kate, who had dressed herself this morning, was clad in a pair of pants, a sweater dress and a pajama top. Her hair was sticky from breakfast. I tried to brush it with my fingers and ended up tucking it behind her ear.

That was my day.

image courtesy Google image search