I am incredibly grateful for my sweet husband. Please let me make it know that he has, single-handedly, put gorgeous flooring, BY HIMSELF, in every room of our house. Massive hero and total game-changer. At many points, his hands were so swollen and beaten-up; he looked like they belonged to the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man. I am SO not worthy.
Ten years ago when we bought a house. I said,” All I care about , babe…If we buy one of these models….all I want is a porch and I don’t want any linoleum floors. “
Please note: Home chalk-full of linoleum floors and no porch. He SO tried.
I have self-diagnosed myself with ODD: Obsessive Disorganized Disorder.
I cant’ handle the freaking mess.
I super-suck. I have found myself complacent. I now lie in my recliner with a cocktail and I have nary a care to move anything out of my way. I accept that this is my actual view. It no longer matters to me that if you need a towel, you need to put on some flip flops (so you don’t get a splinter), make your way downstairs and pick one that’s nudged on the top of a confiscated island stool. Mommy is not organizing. She is so lazy and stressed out, that there is an actual vacuum in her Netflix view. She used to cry about it, but now she cares little.
Things that make it better: Darling husband is down on his hands and knees, blowing my mind, making the linoleum disappear, cutting a fine edge, working up a sweat, still looking cute and making a lot of dust that I am ignoring. By the weekend, all will be perfect and the only proof that it all sucked will be this whiny blog. Thank you, honey. You are the definition of loving and perfect. We are all so grateful for you. XO
Loved to see my husband donating his time to bring music to such a fantastic and meaningful event in our lovely town of Wauconda, Illinois. Proud that my number one, who is working hard to get his five year Master’s in Criminal Justice loved the event and loved talking to a bunch working officers. Love that I have awesome friends who are also superheroes.
I loved that we all saw our police department and other community servants as real life proud, hard-working residents walking around our Main Street with their families, showing everyone that they are human, kind and just like every one of us. (But also, super brave.) Loved that mom my could be there to see how lucky we are to live in a blissful place.
Love that my family loves our community. That our oldest son is helping to build a house on Bang’s Lake while he is home from college, my second son works his tail off at Bulldog’s, the best best burger joint around, and my daughter loves to shop local, dreams of someday working at Lindy’s and is only mildly embarrassed about her performing parents…
Loved to see another day that our community rallies together to make 60084 a special place to live. We love this town.
In January, I got a new day job, so I went a little crazy and bought a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It’s a 2010 and kind of beat up, but it’s been my dream car ever since I can remember and I just went for it. It’s a lot of Jeep for a “little” girl, but I was sure I could handle it. We named him Hank the Tank. I know that you are supposed to refer to your car as a girl but I think that’s sexist. Mine is a guy and he is a beast. My husband and the kids even got me the Cubbie tire cover. Bucket list item,√.
Unfortunately, I obtained him in January, the night before my husband was diagnosed with Covid and we were in quarantine, so I didn’t drive it for the first three weeks. Hank and I had a rocky start, also because the windows didn’t work and I have yet to fix a broken blinker, but still we seemed to get along ok. I couldn’t wait for summer and to take the hard top off…whip around Lake County feeling the breeze in my hair….
Did you know there is a “Jeep wave”? I didn’t know. I had some wave at me when I first started driving and I just chalked it up a bunch of really friendly people in my town. Then my good friend, who is a Jeep owner, asked me, “So you know about the Jeep wave…”
OK. Aha….got it.
It’s a thing.
I was pretty excited about it. I felt like I was in a cool, new club. The next 3-4 times I drove, I did not see one Jeep. But I was on the lookout and I was going to be ready.
At last it was time. I saw one coming my way…My hands got a little sweaty and my stomach dropped.
And then it happened…They did it! They have me the wave!
They were like:
The I was like:
I’ve chillaxed now and I think I’ve got it down. I also got “ducked”. There is something cute with squeaky ducks and I bought a whole bag of them from Target but I need to Google to figure out what to do with them. Again, nerd alert.
Truth be told, my dirty little vehicle secret….I’m so lucky and I am so grateful…I’ve been wanting a Jeep for so long, but now that I have it…well, meh.
it’s hard to get in and out of it. I almost have to take a running leap and dive in. It’s not very Rheumatoid Arthritis-friendly. I totally need one of those shelf things. Also, another problem with being so short; I have to do circus-like trapeze artist calisthenics to climb up the Jeep to put the soft top down myself. Forget about putting it back on when I’m alone. I actually have to get number one and/or my husband to help me. We are always battling with Car Tetris in the driveway, so it’s not even possible to just leave it off and park in the garage. It’s a work in progress. Someday soon I hope to make some real actual progress.
I can definitely see me pawning it off to one of the kids in a year or two. If I just had a car with a little button I could push and the top would go up and down. Up…and down….If only…
I need to put one of my new iTags on my actual purpose, cause I’m having trouble finding it.
I’m not even a week in with my 365 blogapalooza commitment and I’m already dreading writing about my One Big Thing today. It’s depressing.
I’m flailing. I’m in a funk. I’m blue. I’m lying here trying to find my damn solace. I’m feeling it’s somewhere along the lines of pulling up my big girl pants, getting over my bad self, making a list of things I need to get done and just freaking doing them.
But from the minute I woke up this morning, I’m finding it really easy to be sad. Sad about being sick, sad about my dad, sad about number one going back to college, sad about the sinking ship that is my music career, sad about the Rizzo, sad about not having a job.
Maybe I should just give myself a day to BE. I’ve been doing such a bang-up job for the last seven months wearing myself thin, not taking care of myself and treating myself badly, that it’s become a hard habit to break.
Welp, there you go. This is why I love writing. I just spoon fed myself my answer and found my literal purpose for the day. I’m going to give myself a hug, lay on my hammock, go out to lunch with my parents, enjoy my family. I can continue to wallow tomorrow. Today’s mission: Sunday funday.
Things effected by Covid that are ok, but still not quite right: movie theaters, music concerts, some shopping experiences and the freaking DMV. It’s never been a walk in the park, it’s always usually a total PITA, but now it’s kind of a mess.
We had two reasons to go to one of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles.
1.) New Driver’s License
Number 2 sadly, because, genetics…lost his wallet last week with his license, debit card, and some special un-needed but sentimental keepsakes. Some of those things include his Great America pass since he was nine, an old school ID, his social security card….YOWZA. Ok, that one was needed. Insert super big face palm. I feel like we need to report that or something.
And he also lost $100 in cash; hard-earned tips from the restaurant where he works. The day he lost it, he spent three stressed and upsetting hours retracing his steps, talking to all the management he could at the three places he went, searched his car multiple times, left his phone number everywhere. It’s gone. A bummer of a life lesson.
Sidenote: I just can’t relate with a human who would find a wallet in a parking lot and not try to do the right thing. It makes me so sad. I hope they get a flat tire, they ruin their favorite shirt in the laundry and a bird poops on their head.
2.) Driver’s Permit
Number three needed her drivers permit. She finished the class part weeks ago and was scared she was going to forget everything. Which I get. But dammmnnnn it’s hard to get an appointment. You have to wait weeks. It’s such a clogged drain that they have given people who have an expired license a six month extension. The best option for us with a busy schedule was just to suck it up and go.
The first time we tried to get her permit was a disaster. It was about three weeks ago. I had to take a half day off of work, which was hard in itself, and I was not having a good tummy day. I was trying my best to smile and be excited for her, but inside, it felt like there was a tiny, little angry person living in my intestines, repeatedly stabbing them with big fork.
A lot of my stomach issues are stress-related, so this wasn’t helping. I raced home from work and grabbed all the essential documents needed: social security card, a bill with her name on it, her driver’s school paperwork, a copy of her birth certificate. Let me repeat that, a COPY of her birth certificate. That’s what the school told me. A CO-PY. Or maybe they didn’t say that. Maybe it’s just…me. We all know it’s most probably just me.
The facility wasn’t close. We make the trek out to Schaumburg and got there at about 1:30pm. We pull in:
That scenario, for me in particular, was like an irritable bowel horror movie.
We waited in line and soon we were not the last people; we were giddy. She was so excited to get this…I was a little teary that I was already at this milestone with my baby. I had also already quietly made a plan that if I needed leave the line to run inside to the bathroom, I would do it very stealthily and with conviction. But so far, so good.
There was an older gentleman busker playing mediocre violin, but I was feeling jovial and supportive, so I gave #3 twenty bucks to go toss it in his guitar case. I told her to do it dramatically so everyone could see. I thought we would start a tip trend when everyone saw us do that. Crickets. Come on, humanity!
Finally, an hour and a half in; we were about 30 feet from the front door. An employee was checking people’s documents to prep everyone who was about to enter. I handed him everything, while I made what I thought were witty, funny and adorable side comments about our line wait. Number 3 nudged me a little, rolled her eyes almost out of her head and pretended that she didn’t know me. Then the man said, “I‘m sorry but this is a copy of her birth certificate. We need the real thing.”
“What?” I said?
“This is acopy of her birth certificate. Do you have an original with the stamp on it?” When he said that, I started to get a little dizzy, I couldn’t seem to find any air and his voice was warped like Charlie Brown’s teacher. Number 3 was shocked and looked at me like a just ran over a baby bunny.
I was horrified, She was horrified. But…I…you see…I ….was digging in a dark closet, trying to grab things out of our file cabinet…it’s looked like a birth certificate, it felt like a birth certificate, it smelled like a birth certificate…I was going to throw up. My sweet daughter. I’m not sure what embarrassed her more, the fact that we had to leave in front of everyone or the very obvious crying of her very distraught mother. What a SHIT. SHOW.
Pivot, heal, relax, re-group, re-charge.
Three weeks later, we tried again. I grabbed number 2 to kill two birds….This time we got up at 6am, headed out to Waukegan, whipped through Dunkin’ and pulled in…
OK, ok, ok, OK. It wasn’t that bad. The weather wasn’t horrible and we actually kind of had fun. In true Moran fashion, we made lots of new besties around us, with people we will absolutely never see again. Number 3 was so nervous for her test, so we pulled up an online practice test and she was asking me for all the correct answers. Dear Lord…the wrong parent took her. Number 2 wasn’t much help either…who can remember these little things?
We made it to the hot spot; the entrance door (past the scene of that last crime), so I felt victorious. You can’t see it because of the glare, but right in the doorway behind the glass, the security guy had this huge Uzi megaphone thingie and it was right near me when I was waiting there and it took every little strength in my body not to pick it up and yell “BREAKER BREAKER ONE_NINE!”
Number 3 said, “MOM, NO.” She knows me.
Inside, the employees were wonderful. Kind, helpful and sweet, we went through both processes painlessly. It’s not their fault that China created Covid and now we have long DMV lines. #2 and I had to go outside and wait for #3 to take her test and when she came out smiling, we knew she passed. Easy peasy.-ish. We were home by 10:00am!
The Chicago cubs organization just ripped the heart out of the Cubbies.
I grew up sitting in the 11th row behind the visitor’s dugout. Seats 5, 6, 7 and 8. It used to be the 10th row, but they added another row and we moved with it. My dad first got the tickets in 1971. Near the end, I could hardly get to a game because of kids and life. The last few years, my dad’s health prevented him from being able to maneuver through the crowds to get to the seats.
I remember entering the park as a girl, running behind him, looking up at the back of his head, reaching out to grab his shirt, while he masterfully serpentined between the crowds of people. He would turn back and smile his golden smile to me to make sure I was keeping up. We’d stop just for a quick second to get a scorecard and he’d get a beer (Later on, one for me too). We loved our seats. We had all the chances to move aisles closer to the field, but we loved being able to just jump over and fall into ours. Easy in, easy out. Perfect for raising a hand to buy a Home Run Hot Dogs and Budweisers.
In my early 20’s, while I was attending my fourth and last college, I rented an apartment on Broadway one block south of Addison. It was kind of a dump and it was next to The Jewel and that SUCKED during Christmas season because those damn Salvation Army bells would ring all the freaking time. But I was so close to Wrigley. My dad was a commodities trader at the Board of Trade and he was off work at 1:30pm. On game days, he would sneak out a bit early and hop in a cab. I would ride my bike, walk or rollerblade over to the park and meet him at The Cubby Bear. We bought the peanuts outside because they tasted better. He’d hand me my ticket and we’d start the mad dash. Even going to the games as an adult, I still felt the rush…I still always wanted to reach out and grab his shirt. Sitting there watching the game was our catch-up time, it was relaxing and it just felt like home.
Sometimes I would take the train in with my mom and we would go Cubbie nuts. My mom is still a die-heart fan, too. She was raised a Sox fan, but we don’t hold that against her. (So was my husband and his family is not happy.) We really had the best of times through the years. Our favorite thing to do after the game was to go to the Wild Hare and get our reggae on…so many laughs. Those were the party party days. We were always meeting new people and chatting up our “seat neighbors.” Some we knew for over 30 years. They saw us grow up. They saw us bring all of our babies there for the first time. They saw the last days of dad being there.
My kids were raised in the red, white and blue. They didn’t know anything else. They all went to the the park as babies and they all had their personal Cubbie adventures. Being a Cubs fan has been a big part of who they are today.
Every opening day, my brother and I would trade off going with Dad. Some days were filled with freezing rain, some were sunny and beautiful, but they were always perfect. The timeline of the day, the routine, the songs, the stretch, it was all so comforting like a bug warm hug. I will cherish those days forever.
Of course, I fell in love all the time. My first boyfriend was Billy Buckner. He was a dashing hero to me. My dad is the kinda guy who knew everyone and somehow he finagled us having an official “Donaldson Day” at Wrigley. We were able to go on the field, lay against the Ivy, see the locker rooms. I sat in the dugout on Ivan Dejesus’ lap. Hell yes, I did. Oh, and this happened.
My dad did this Randy Huntley fantasy baseball camp and it was pretty darn cool. He was able to play alongside Ryno, Durham, Jody Davis, Fergie, Lee Smith…It was a total dream come true for him and it was cool to watch. Years later, my brother did the same….
Years later, my brother did a cool thing for my dad. Let’s the face it. THE.COOLEST. THING. Jim Donaldson day.
As we got older and started our families, it was harder to see my brother and his family. He and his wife lived a block away from the park on Sheffield and could hear the crack of the bats through his open windows. Wow. He was able to still go to the games all the time and I know that was another dream for him fulfilled. It was always fun to go to the games with him and catch up….always a beautiful bonding experience with him at the park.
I did marry a sox fan, as I mentioned before, but I would like to formally thank the Cubs for helping me woo him. Wrigley with my family was a great way to get him to marry me. We have flirted there many times at the park over the years.
And oh my word, THE FOOD. If you go old school, there is nothing like a Home Run hot dog from a park vendor…mustard only. Second place for me is a dog from inside with grilled onions. Great link HERE for the park food. We loved going to the Club before the games, during a rain storm or when it was just too damn HOT.
The Friendly Confines have changed. First it was cool things like the statues…Captain Morgan expansion was interesting…they fancied up the bleachers…Gallagher Park was a cool addition. Then they started to replace the premiere seating. Finally, they were ready to upgrade our box. And they changed the ticket prices to obviously separate the wheat from the chaff. They tripled them. Insert middle finger here.
So now, where I grew up, there are a bunch of corporate people who are in town to drink $20 IPAs and don’t give a shit about the Cubbies. Stay classy, Rickett’s.
And…because they Yankees could afford it and the Rickett’s clearly need more money, we just lost our Golden Child. I’m grateful for the years we had him. He was a bright shiny light with a giving soul. He was not only a phenomenal player, but a funny, charming, philanthropic Chicago lover. Rizzo is cancer survivor, a hero to so many of us, a complete inspiration. He helped make IT happen. I am so grateful we had him for so long. I wish him and Emily the best.
I just heard Javy traded to the Mets and Kimbrel to the freaking Sox.
I try to think when my loseeverything-itis started to get really bad. I think it was after I began having babies. Maybe not, but I usually blame everything else on that. Even as a kid, I was always flighty. I was perpetually ditzy, often confused, very emotional, constantly disorganized. However, I was kind of adorable and that helped me get away with a lot. This very annoying problem I have has definitely gotten worse over the years. Also, I am also not so adorable anymore, so it’s harder to get away with it.
My incredible friends get the brunt of it. I am constantly leaving my shit everywhere. Boat days are the worst. Shelly has my flip flops, Hank has my towel, Evelyn has my sunglasses and we are all still looking for my phone. I think for awhile it was funny, but now it’s just annoying, sprinkled with a hint of sadness. This one time, I left my iPad on the top of my car. You heard me right. I was in between two back-to-back gigs and it was a very stressful day. I had to run home to get something (probably something I forgot) and I totally also forgot about the iPad. It fell off my hood and someone ran it over with their car.
My iPad is my life blood when it comes to my singing jobs. I was devastated, disappointed, ashamed. A week later, for Christmas, those same incredible friends all chipped in and bought me a new one, so I could keep on playing music. Yep. Incredible. My heart still overflows, because they love me so much, despite…me.
So it was cute my husband bought me the key ring. The truth is that I just recently lost my keys and it had all of our new car FOB’s on it. I think I threw them away by accident. I guess you can say this gift is more for him, than me. He can finally take a break from digging in the garbage.
It’s not the first time someone I love has bought me a lost and found tool. A dear friend of mine gave me a purse a couple of years ago and three Apple tiles. We hid the first one inside the very cute purse. We put one my wallet. Super helpful. Then we put one my keys. That was blissful and happy time in my life. I knew where my shit was. Eventually they lost their charge and chaos ensued. And here we are again.
I can kind of guess what you’re thinking. “Pull yourself together, Heather. Put everything away in your purse and put it in a safe and remember-able place everyday.” Now YOU’RE adorable, but nay, nay. Too easy.
Picture, if you will, a big tornado of chaos. That’s me. I am always in a hurry, always late for something, always in a perpetual frenzy of mayhem, bewilderment and perplexity. In short: it is very, very difficult to be me.
Recently, I bought a key hook to put right in the doorway when you walk in the house. Brilliant, the family said! Well thought out, the family said! You actually have to put your keys on it, the family said! They use it. It comes in really handy when you have four drivers and we play car Tetris every day. The only problem is just that I keep forgetting to put my keys on it. DAMMIT.
I feel like there is money to be made on my imperfections. I smell invention. I’ll see your tiles, Apple, and I will one up you with little chip stickers. Cheaper, more compact and you can stick them on anything. For instance, I really also lose my lip gloss about for times a day. It’s incredibly frustrating because I love a good moist lip. What I need is an affordable little itty bitty sticker on there, with a microchip, that I can program in my phone and when I can’t find it…push the button…beep beep beep….lip gloss found under my car seat. Lip crisis averted.
I could put one on the portable fan in my room because my freaking kids keep taking it. It’s really not that HARD to find it when it’s missing, because I just have to burst in yelling to one of their rooms. But If I had an annoying little alarm, I could really drive it home with them to stop taking my stuff. I could just incessantly beep it in their rooms until they can’t stand it anymore and they bring it back. I absolutely need one for my hair straightener. Number three is a double dog down thief. She’s definitely at her absolute worst when she steals my very posh shampoo and conditioner, brings it in her shower, leaves it there and I don’t discover it until I am naked, wet and super pissed off. Definitely need a little sticker for that. *Add waterproof to business plan.
Those are instances of criminal thievery by my children. But I also need help with things that I lose like…documents. Medication. Numerous articles of clothing. Clothing tags….I can sew them in like camp. Yes! *Add name tags to business plan.
While I am at it, “it” being creating new things to help me get through my day, I should also look into memory care. Things that help preserve the brain I still have left and try to stop it from rotting, or whatever it’s doing up there. Maybe I will start doing Sudoku with a clicky pencil. I can suddenly take up gardening and consume fish oil. In the end, I think I just need to slow my roll. Continue my quest to heal my sick body, gets some damn sleep and stop sweating the small stuff.
“People give the worst advice about lost things. Retrace your steps. Pray to Saint Anthony. Think about where you last saw it. But that doesn’t apply to the things that matter. Those are right in front of you, except they can’t be found by looking for them. Only by looking at everything else.” ― Kristen Lepionka, The Last Place You Look
Inspired by a really cool friend, I have decided to commit to a 365 day blogapalooza. Read it, don’t read it…do your thing. Share with me if you want, no worries if you don’t. I’m up for the challenge. Writing is my therapy and I am always very interested in knowing if or not I am not alone in my chaos. As I sit and think about what the hell I want to write about for a year, I start with something that I have had so much guilt about as a parent. It’s THE thing. The one I wish I could take back. Deep breath…we were nomad parents. And there was damage done.
Our kids are all old souls. I’m still trying to figure that out, because growing up, I was super immature. Total idiot. Insanely social, I spend most of my time flirting with boys, dodging getting grounded and plotting underage drinking with my girls. All three of my children suffer from various degrees of “peer shy.” It’s like it was concentrated with the first one and trickled down. Number two is finally coming out of his shell. Number three is definitely the most social. It took me years to figure it out, but I think it’s because we moved 11 times in ten years. That’s…not an exaggeration. And that…comes with a ton of guilt.
Our Moving history in a nutshell:
Hubby to Lincoln Square: Summer, 1999
Heather to Lincoln Square: Fall, 1999
Hubby, Heather and #1 to Lincoln Square North apartment: Summer 2000
Hubby, Heather and #1 to New Buffalo, Michigan family home: Fall, 2000
Hubby, Heather and #1 to the Mundelein teeny home. Winter 2001
Hubby Heather, #1 and #2 to Chicago Lakeview, apartment one: Summer 2003
Hubby, Heather, #1 and #2 to Chicago Lakeview, apartment two: Fall, 2003
Hubby, Heather, #1 and #2 to Naperville: Don’t remember, 2004
Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and SURPRISE! #3 to Crystal Lake, home of the orange water: Summer, 2006
Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and #3 to dream house in Wauconda: Winter, 2007
Hubby, Heather, #1, #2 and #3 to not-dream/current home in Wauconda: Fall, 2009
We were, the entire family, exhausted in every way. We needed to stop and plant.
The relocation motives were mostly job-related. Although one time we moved because the water was disgustingly orange and the kids were getting dyed in the bathtub. Grody to the max. After that, we rented my dream house, but had to move because we couldn’t afford to actually buy it. Probably a blessing in disguise, because there may have been a little problem with the fact that I was deathly allergic to the backyard horse farm. (Note to self: blog about how I almost died from an asthma attack at Medieval Times).
Then there were the city days. We were kicked out of an apartment because the man under us couldn’t stand toddlers running. We tried duct taping them to the couch, but eventually we were forced to make the move to the apartment across the hallway. Our savage running beasts were finally free to do horrible things like…just be children. There were quirky memories that we took away from every place, all adding to the Moran Clan tapestry of chaos.
Looking at the big picture, it was rough, but we loved them so much every step of the way, and I think they will be okay. I really really hope they will be ok.
My oldest son had the hardest time, not only because he was the one who moved around with us the most, but also because he already started out shy. Then every time he started to get close to a kid, we’ed freaking pack up and leave. By the time we really settled here…all the friends were kind of taken. Can I say that? Is that a thing? It seemed like it. We really tried to help him. Groups were established and it is sometimes really HARD to make new friends. Senior year of college, last year to play lacrosse, graduation in May. Next year he finishes up his 5-year Master’s in Criminal Justice. And he’s an RA. He may not be the cool life of the party, but we think he’s a very decent human. He’s kind, happy, has a service heart and he’s also quite charming. Some girl out there someday will be very lucky. We can’t wait to meet her.
My second son, our Irish fighter, is a whole other beautiful, layered story of survival. He is constantly beating adversity, questing to find inner peace and he possesses one of the sweetest hearts made by God. He’s a lovely novel; a book you don’t want to finish reading. I can’t wait to wax poetic about this gorgeous soul.
Our baby, our daughter, our empath: my darling, Dad and I promise you we won’t move. For the next three years… live your life. Make memories with your friends, learn how to drive a car, play your sports, nail your education, jam your guitar, sing like a bird and for Christ’s sake: be a kid. We are not going anywhere. Until you graduate. Then, we will see 🙂
As parents, we try to do our best and we count our blessings. We fail, we apologize, we learn, we hug them, we dust ourselves off and we keep on going. And sometimes, we pack boxes.
Yesterday I did what I’m sure looked like an obligatory Facebook brag post. Especially to people who probably don’t have school-age children, or …any children. But the ones who had to hands-on watch their children navigate their education through a pandemic every day for the last year, I bet they got it.
I didn’t post that for myself. I already know how neat my kids are; I get to live with them every day. When I posted that, I posted that for her. Whether it helps her read it today or it helps her when she reads in 20 years, she needs a reminder that her mom loved her and what she overcame. She will see what I wrote, remember the lovely comments shared from people who are dear to us and see a picture of what she looked like at that moment.
Just because she did well and got straight A’s, doesn’t mean that she didn’t work. her. ass. off.
It’s not a scenario where things come easy to her, look at how perfect she is, blah, blah, blech. The real truth is that I watched her study and worry and plan and make goals and work really hard to finish them. That’s all on her.
And she did all of this basically sitting on a mattress, on her bedroom floor, surrounded by Cheetos’s, our loyal dog and a teenager amount of dirty laundry.
Please make no mistake, as a mother trying to help my children learn through a pandemic, I’m an idiot and can’t teach them anything, but I can online shop. I transformed the loft and I set up quite the beautiful school area. It had wonderful lighting and it was comfortable, with productive desks and chairs. I tried to give both her and her brother, who was enrolled in some CLC college courses, an environment where they could concentrate when they needed it, and then walk away when they were done.
I’m pretty sure they used it for about a week and a half. And I didn’t push them because this wasn’t about me doing all that work and me getting upset because they didn’t use it. (Truth: It gave me something else to do during the pandemic besides putting booze in my coffee and overeating. ) Nay, nay: It was about them being comfortable when everything around them made no sense.
Her freshman year in high school should’ve been filled with nervous giggles, experimenting with outfits every morning, walking to classes with new friends, sneaking out to get ice cream on her lunch break, walking in the halls and blushing when she passed somebody she had a crush on, laughing with her friends in the locker room about how much swimming class sucks with their period, going to a pep rally…going to a football game….going to Homecoming, going anywhere…with anyone…
Our walls are thin in our cookie cutter home. Her bedroom is next to mine. I know the sound of fear, frustration, angst, anxiety and sadness. Her teachers voices came out of her laptop sounding legit Charlie Brown. I heard late-night heated and passionate conversations, but couldn’t make out the words. Those emotion-filled moments made my tears run all the way down to my pillow.
But, there where lovely noises. She taught herself some pretty bitchin’ guitar playing. Her lovely voice, soft and lilting, wafted into the hallway. The strumming was comforting, the sounds of her trying to figure out the Bohemian Rhapsody solo, endless Fleetwood Mac. She had the lonely time to do that. l will cherish those sanguine sounds that seeped through my bedroom wall.
Another sound that didn’t make me feel sad to accidentally overhear: the laughter with her friends. They found a way to make the “pandemic sleepover” work; messy but still with laughter and love.
What one wouldn’t also post on social media is that she battled two significant and private medical issues that most don’t know about, and one very significant dental issue that meant literally 30 doctor and specialized dentist appointments in a year. In one year. In a pandemic.
Could she cry to her friends at the table in the lunch room, where she could get hugs and whispers of support? No. But she could talk to their faces on her small phone screen and at least feel some love, however she could get it. Funny…it’s the one time as a mother I have been grateful for my children’s social media.
Life has gotten slowly back to “normal”. She eventually went back to school, picked out cute outfits, walked the halls, snuck off to The Jewel with friends on her lunch break, met her teachers face-to-face for the first time, played an actual high school lacrosse game, even laughed on a bus with her teammates…normal things started happening again. I think the kid is finally able to realize that she is going to be okay.
My life purpose is to love and protect my family; keep them alive for a life that is worth living. I have two other great kids who are creating their own life journey tapestries, but I celebrate this moment for the little one who won an epic battle this year in her bedroom. Shine on, little diamond.
Last year, I was helping out in my youngest daughter’s classroom. We had a surprise lockdown drill.
First, this is embarrassing, but…yeah, I’ll share. Because I know that I’m not the only one who has felt like this and it needs to be talked about because it’s actually ok for us to say out loud, “this is scary.” I am scared for my children, for my friends’ children, for my teacher friends. I’m scared for everyone. Even everyone I don’t know. The whole package. And also, I wish I was braver and not so scared.
Let’s all agree that if you know me well, I’m a little…let’s say…hyper-empathic, to a fault….badly coupled with an overactive imagination that is way too big for it’s britches.
But here I am….excited to help out in class…the last year that I can before my youngest moves to middle school. Cry! Weep! Take a selfie with her…post! I adore the teacher and the kids and we are doing cool things with planets and rockets and cereal boxes and cotton and….
Surprise lockdown drill?
That…was not on my volunteer agenda. But here I am. I’ve got this.
The alarm goes off and the teacher locks the door, turns off the lights and starts to huddle the kids under the desks. I look at her quizzically and she smiles and tells everyone it’s a drill. Or did they announce it?? I don’t recall. I do remember feeling my blood boiling and my face getting hot and I put my hands on my cheeks and my stomach starts to hurt. I follow her lead and pretend like I’m even an 1/8 of the superhuman she; as all teachers are in situations like this. I am trying to calm the kids, who’s levels of fright are somewhere probably ranging anywhere from a 1-3 out of ten….I was lingering at somewhere around 149 out of five. While I’m smiling, winking and making funny cool-mom faces, inside I’m dying. Kind of literally. All replayed out in different scenarios in my over-active absurd mind. I’m legitimately scared and there is no valid reason for it. It’s a practice drill. But I’m not 100% sure. They don’t tell you that before it starts because….it’s a DRILL
Some of my thoughts…that I can vividly remember…that were pounding in my head, flying and whipping around like lights at a Floyd laser show:
(1)WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER. She’s literally right next to you. Where are my other kids? Safe at school. Safe? Safe. These kids are safe. I’m mom to all of them right now. Count the kids. one, two, three…I don’t even know how many kids there are but still count..four, five, six….smile.
(2) What is that look in the teacher’s face? She looks scared. This isn’t real. Could this be real? This isn’t real. I’m listening so hard with my ears for every.little.thing.
(3) Can the kids see me crying a little bit? Stop. Stop. Breathe. Smile.
(4) Wall of windows. How do those windows open? How fast can I get there and open one to get the kids out before something happens and I can’t make it? Omg STOP.
(5) Can the kids even fit out the window? How far do they open? Stop.
(6) Where is my cellphone? Where is my purse? It’s across the room. I don’t need it. Why the FUCK is my cell phone not in my pocket? Smile.
(7) Re-lax. This is a drill.
(8) Almost done.
(9) Is the teacher scared? Wait? Is that a scared look? No, she’s fine. No wait, she’s acting like she’s fine, but she’s losing her shit. No, she’s annoyed that her parent helper keeps staring at her and is losing her shit. I’m so sorry.
(10) This could NOT be a drill.
(Smile at Lulu, wink, squeeze her hand…make funny face)
(Turn away so she doesn’t see me crying again)
I hear footsteps. Then the door jiggles. They are checking the locked doors. The principal and the police officers. I know this.
It’s just a cop.
It’s just a cop.
It’s just a cop.
Omg. Is this real? Staring at windows. Starting at teacher. Staring at windows.
The next 5 minutes felt like 5 hours.
*Announcement: Drill over.
As I non-challantly blow a kiss to my daughter, make a lackadaisical eye-roll laugh and wave at the teacher, after I sign out at the front desk, tossing out some witty repartee about how “I always pick the best days to volunteer” and as I saunter out of the building… I am choking…CHOKING back the tears and the sobs that I finally let out all the way home. I should have just taken her home with me. I want to take the entire school home with me.
There wasn’t enough bottles of Chardonnay for me when I got home that day. Why yes, I did day drink that day. Sue me.
That experience wasn’t the real thing. The vile thing. Nothing I felt or thought that day could ever even TOUCH what all these children and teachers have had to experience and are continuing to experience. The HORROR. The REALITY.
NO ONE. No child, no teacher, no parent, no law enforcement, no rescue teams should EVER have to go through any of it. Those children were helpless in a war they didn’t ask to fight in, in an unmarked war zone they called school and without any way to defend themselves. This is the worst kind of war ever.