Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Popcorn, Cookies & Fundraising...Oh My!

“If you sell enough popcorn you can earn an iPad.” I said, only to regret the words the minute they escaped my mouth.  I knew that it was a mistake.  For a split-second, I had forgotten who I was dealing with and my “tech-addicted’’ 7 year-old quickly spun around.
“Really!” he cried.  “Let me see!  Let me see!”  As he grabbed the order form from my hand, my husband glared at me from the other room and gave the cut throat sign.  I stared back at the bigger “tech-addicted 7-year old,” who was watching football on the 60 inch HD flat screen:  new digital remote in one hand and his omnipresent iPad and iPhone close to the other one. At least they are both predictable, I thought, as the apple doesn’t fall far from the Apple store.
While the fall brings many wonderful things:  a new school year, changing leaves, football, crisp weather, Halloween and pumpkins.  It also signals the start of the academic fundraising season:  Girl Scout Cookies, Cub Scout Popcorn, High School Band pies, elementary school Walkathon, miscellaneous magazine/wrapping paper drives and my favorites, the to the point “just write the darned check” campaigns.
I understand the importance of fundraising and realize that it is all in the name of many wonderful, civic causes.  However, by the time I am encircled by the eighteenth Girl Scout troop on my way into the local diner or market, it is hard muster a polite “No thank you,” or my usual, “I’m so sorry girls, I’m a troop leader, good luck.”  Well, I was a troop leader, for over 4 years...but that ended 3 years ago.  Am I wrong to say that?  Maybe, but it’s the best excuse in my arsenal that doesn’t leave me looking like Cookie McScrooge amid crestfallen Daisy Scouts.
As this school year rolled around, my second grade son, a cub scout, was foaming at the mouth to sell something.  Last year, as first graders, his den was excused from fundraising.  For months afterward, I kept fielding questions from him regarding his selling status:  “Why can’t I sell the popcorn?  I’m a cub scout, too.  Our den could do something good with the money.  This isn’t fair.  Can’t I just sell some cookies?”  This line of questioning followed every scouting event that he participated in and tempted me to wonder about the legality of setting up a rogue sales stand somewhere in the vicinity of the gazebo in the town center.
He had patiently and not-so-patiently at times, sat through years of Girl Scout meetings and events as a default “junior brownie.”  Now that he had moved up in the “official” scouting ranks, he was not going to let his “sales” moment slip by.  
“Ugh, but the popcorn is awful, mom.” my twelve-year old daughter said as she shook her head in disgust.  “Why do they have to sell that?  And, why do we have to buy it?  Why can’t they just sell cookies?  At least, the cookies are good.  Shouldn’t they sell something related to the outside or nature or camping?”  
“Hmm,” I thought, “Lawn darts would be a good purchase right about now.”  But the former girl scout was off on one of her “I know it all” eye rolling, quick paced, adolescent diatribes.  “Are you going to dress up like a big popcorn?” she teased.
He pinched up his face, turned red and yelled, “MOM!”
“Because.  Because.  They don’t.  Yes, the cookies are good, but what do you think they should sell, tractor equipment?” I answered her questions in one long breath and the arguing temporarily stopped.  “The popcorn, by the way, is really very good.  You’ve never even tried it.  And no, he will not dress up like a piece of popcorn.”
“Whatev....Kernel Boy,” she said as she stuck her tongue out and retreated to her room and her iTouch.  
Now that she was gone, my industrious scout could focus his attention back to the order form and the potential iPad.  “How many popcorns do I have to sell to make the $3000.  Selling that much will get me the iPad.”  He was already hard at work, paper and pencil in hand, trying to find the median value for the various popcorn product price points, then attempting to divide that number into 3,000.  I vaguely heard my husband grumble that $3,000 would buy 6 iPads and it would be cheaper to just buy one for the kid, instead of using twice the amount of money to stockpile popcorn so he could reach his goal.
Watching all of this unfold made my head hurt.  “I only need to sell like 250 boxes of the regular popcorn.  But, if I sell more of the chocolate covered pretzels or that other stuff...”  I tuned him out as I reached into a cabinet for aspirin.
“Okay, can we go sell now, on our street.”  He was now calculating potential earnings by the number of houses in the neighborhood and children per household. It was 9 pm on a school night, scout uniform still on, he had just gotten back from a pack meeting. 
“No, not now. “ I said
“Tomorrow.” he countered.
“Probably not tomorrow.”
“This weekend.?” he asked.
Maybe.” I said herding him up the stairs to bed.  
“Well, when?  Maybe means no.  Don’t you want me to win anything?  I thought you liked popcorn?”
“Look, bud, let me talk to daddy, first, ok?”  That seemed a sufficient answer, but more importantly it bought me more time. Tucking him in that night, I’m sure he had pleasant dreams of popcorn, iPads and magic marketing algorithms that would get him to his “promised land.”  I, on the other hand, could only conjure up visions of scouting past and a twelve-month supply of Thin Mint boxes in the freezer.
The following morning, my son was eager to bring his order form to school.  While he and his sister were finishing their breakfast and packing their backpacks, I put on the morning news to check the weather forecast.  The upcoming story, however, was on the Girl Scouts.
“Turn the volume up, mom,” said my daughter, “Maybe they’re gonna talk about how awesome the cookies are.” she smirked at her brother.
“A woman who managed money for the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York was arrested yesterday, accused of stealing over $300,000 from the organization. Sources say she used the money to purchase herself groceries, train tickets, gym memberships and expensive cosmetic procedures.” the newscaster said.
“That’s not fair,” my daughter said.  “Somebody had to sell a lot of cookies for that lady to get all that Botox.”
“Yeah,” my son said, slowly nodding, “I don’t think that’s gonna work with popcorn."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Powerless

I gave too much away.
Someone knows it all and I can't hide. The codes, the keys that keep me are not for me or mine alone. They are in....I am out...never sure of where I stand.

Is it fair or smart or real? Do I regret this loss of "voice"...and rue the days adrift, floating through the house in bliss?

I gave too much away.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Au Revoir Ma Grande Ta-Tas!

As I was watching the controversial “Born This Way” episode of Glee on-demand, I kept thinking about the one or two things about my own physical appearance that I would want to change....my less than bodacious ta-tas.  Yes, I admit it, I have a big boob obsession....mainly because, well, mine are so not.   It’s been 6 months since I had the baby, and well, things have definitely flattened out and gone south. At breakfast this morning, as I sat, braless in my pjs, sipping coffee, my 7 year-old son was looking at me funny and pointed to my chest, “Ah, mommy are you going to do something about those……ah floppies?”

And I thought, “Oh no he didn’t! Oh no he didn’t just diss the twins! Wow, maybe he ISN’t gay.” But floppy is as floppy does and before anything would flap about in a breeze, I went up stairs to put on proper foundation garments. As I came back into the kitchen, decidedly not blowin' in the wind, my thoughts wandered back to a conversation I had had on the subject with my husband, just before the baby was born.  And come to think of it, it really wasn’t much of a conversation, but just me announcing my intentions amid the glow of big pregnancy boobs and, he, more or less ignoring it.

We had been sitting on the couch durning football preseason.  He was deeply engrossed in the HBO football series, "Hard Knocks," yet all I could think about were "hard knockers." Mine, in particular. The one true perk of pregnancy, is, let's face it ladies, bigger boobs. It's the one sexy thing we got...as if in some cosmic equation, they were a perverse consolation prize for the hemroids, heartburn, nausea, fatigue, extra weight and kankles...whoever complains about bigger breasts. (Except if you have DD hooters already, and if ya’ do….you’re not getting my sympathy anyway.)
The only downside I was experiencing was that my d├ęcolletage was becoming a collection bin for cookie crumbs, goldfish, loose earrings, dust, bugs, and the occasional spilt beverage. Thus, I have been taking great care to buff and moisturize my burgeoning cleavage. Late at night, while all in the house were asleep, I would slip out of bed to fluff and powder them until they gleamed with a high powered shine.

"I think when all is said and done with this baby, I want to get a boob job."

"Hmm, yeah...." he was well into the Jets' Revis negotiations.

"I said BOOB JOB."

"What? For who?" He was perturbed that his attention was diverted from the business side of football and driven straight to my breasts.

"For me....I dunno, after the baby....maybe." I couldn't gauge his reaction. It wasn't no, it wasn't yes...he seemed to think about it, but his furrowed brow returned to the TV, much like the time I had declared that I wanted to learn to play the harp, the time I felt I really needed to learn how to cook authentic Indian curry, or the times I wanted to learn to SCUBA dive, swim on a National Master's team, and hone my conversational French with a native-born tutor. None of which have come to fruition.

The real reason for my fascination with my “lady lumps” was that I knew that the effect was fleeting.. I knew the minute the baby came, they'd pop, and “poof’” I'd be back in the land of shriveled plums and padded push-up bras. I thought my request was reasonable, I wasn't going for anything over 3rd letter of the alphabet....Heidi Montag took all the appeal out of the letter "G" when she tweeted about having to massage her implants to keep them soft. I don't need bowling balls, just a little bit of bounce. Not looking for the added flotation enhancement or anything that I'd need to sling over my shoulder and tie back with a pashmina the next time I'd go for a run. Just a slight augmentation. A whisper, just enough to show the whole world my girls can still sit up and beg like the best of ‘em.

For the most part, my feeling of enhanced self confidence was fueling these silly boob job fantasies. I felt, in my on head at least, that I looked better and garnered more looks from men, more than ever before. This skewed logic completely ignored the fact that people really could have been looking, in confused disgust and/or pity, at the 3 unruly children hanging off me or my gargantuan belly as it would jump out from underneath my shrinking maternity shirts every time I hoisted myself in and out of the car.
Yet, my “a-ha” moment came at a soccer tournament on Long Island. It was the end of the day and we were packing up for the trek home. In the distance, I caught something slowly making its way up the side of the field. There was lots of movement as the game had ended. I was bending over, not to gracefully at the waist, folding up tailgate chairs, blankets and picking up random bits of trash. As I was doing this, I notice the object had stopped and a long shadow was cast over my collection of chairs and coolers...Still bent I looked up to squarely meet the gaze of a mid-forties man in a motorized wheel chair.....who had been very obviously trying to look down my shirt. I immediatlely shot back upright, preggo belly in full salute and trying to make sure I was covered in all the right places. The man feigned some type of mechanical failure and inadvertently sent his chair into reverse.

I rolled my eyes and sighed. It's never a hottie, celeb look-alike that you catch trying to seek a peek.....its always some pervy creepy “Danny DaVito” with no teeth, a jersey shore tan and a serious physical imparement. Or some odd ball in the grocery store, who makes a mind-numbing comment like, “Wow! You look like you’re going to have a good time with those!” as you are trying to fly through the express line with infant diapers, a bag of apples and garlic bread. It’s those moments when I realize, you really do, like Heidi Montag, need to be careful what you wish for. Bigger is not always better, and I guess I'll just have to learn to be more creative with what I do with ‘em and invest in a wardrobe of killer push-up bras. Yet before I play taps and carelessly fling the huge pregnancy brassieres into the fire....the one's that now look like Jared the Subway guy's huge pants... when I hold them up and for wistfully moment of silence and wonder how hell did those underwired cups ever get filled out..

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to "The Worstest Bestest Mom Ever!"

"You're the meanest, worstest mom, EVER!” my 7 year old son announced. “You don’t ever listen to me. You don’t ever care about me.” He screamed and stomped up the steps to his room. Over the slam of the door, I vaguely heard him shouting something about how I was ruining his life. I stared up the darkened staircase, sheepishly sighed and thought, “And the award for most dramatic response to the question, ‘Did you do your homework?’ goes to….”

By now, the baby was crying, as the noise and commotion had woken him from a very brief nap. On to the needs of the next one…because just a squeaky wheel gets the grease, the child who screams “MOMMMEEE,” the loudest and shrillest, inevitably gets the pleasure of my undivided attention and/or disciplinary wrath.

Motherhood is definitely not for the fragile of ego. With four children in my house, ages 12 years to 6 months, the pendulum of emotions swings in an instant from “I love you! I love you! I love you!” to “You don’t understand me! I hate you!” or in the case of my tween, in an eye roll.

I fully realize that just as the storm clouds gather and erupt, they quickly dissipate. And as I feed the baby, my 7 year old will quietly come back down, apologetic, with hugs and kisses. Once an evil ogre, I am again the White Queen of his small world. (Though, when straightening up his room a day or two later, I will undoubtedly find an angry crumpled note, in which he vents “Mom is mean. This is a story of my Meanie, Meanie Mom!)

As Mother’s Day approaches, I haven’t, to date, ruined the lives of my 12, 10 or 7 year olds. I know this because Sunday will bring a small stack of handmade cards, each stating that I am “The World’s Greatest Mom,” or “I love you Mommy, because” or “U R Awesome Mom,” and possibly a random shaped pasta necklace or coupon to ‘help fold 1 load of laundry.” Small consolations for 364 days of misbehavior and mayhem, but I’ll take it. Along with the burnt bagel, my daughter will say she toasted, but did not, and the afternoon of quiet that ensues after my husband loudly wrangles all four kids into the car under the auspice of “OR ELSE!” I will sit back, reread the “Meanie Mom” story and laugh…..then call my own mother and apologize.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Immaturity Trumps Midlife Crisis

When I went to bed last night, I knew the morning wasn't going to be pretty.  Before I had finally fallen asleep, my husband had said, "Okay, so if I'm working from home tomorrow, you need to figure out when you are going to go workout."  Aggh, I groaned.  The alarm went off at 6 a.m., but what woke me was the poke from my husband.  "Just drop the kids at school and go right to the gym," he said as he pushed the covers onto the floor.

Fast forward two hours. It's 8 a.m.and I'm sitting in the parking lot of the local Y. I'm angry, really angry...royally pissed off. Pissed at my husband for pushing me out the door to workout. Pissed that I didn't go to bed earlier and as a result am so damn tired. Pissed that I am completely unorganized and had an argument with my pre-teen daughter regarding socks vs. no socks with Uggs because she couldn't find any clean socks to wear.  Pissed that my workout clothes are too tight and pissed that I can't afford new ones. That I couldn't set a schedule and stick to it. Pissed that I had let my self go, that I let my weight run unchecked, launching my pantsize into the double-digit stratosphere. Pissed that 99% of women depicted in the media are glossy and flawless and perfect.

I can't be perfect. And I'm pretty damn pissed about that, too.

Yet, everyday I buy into the "perfection trap."  I get up and fool myself into thinking that the aphorism "Today is a new day, I will try my best," will somehow work.  I turn a blind eye to the thought that "trying my best," is really code for "Bitch..Be perfect."  There is no alternative.  Cee Lo Green could be the soundtrack of my life:


As I sit in a far corner of the parking lot, covered in flakes of butter croissant and nursing a luke warm latte, it is hard to keep my eyes open.  My eyelids are heavy and I long to go to sleep.  My mind wanders back to my anger and I vow that I will just go through the motions.  Sit here and pass the time, while I let him think he got his way...got me out of the house and into the gym.   But the more I thought about it, the stupider my plan seemed.  I was the brat, the immature one....having my very own little inner temper tantrum. Throwing excuses around my head with reckless abandon. Looking for every reason why this moment supremely sucked and why it was not my fault. .

As others went about their routine, I sat and sulked. This was something that I envied - something my profound lack of discipline prevented my success....at anything.  I was displacing the anger I had at myself and projecting it onto my husband.  On the cusp of midlife, I was silently acting more like a spoiled toddler than mother of four. My discontent was with myself....but why? What was I afraid of? Why do I keep holding myself back? Will I ever know the answers to both questions?

I hope so....
But until I figure it out - the best I can do is multi-task:  brush the crumbs off my fleece as I move the car closer to the entrance, and hop on a treadmill for 30 minutes with a smart phone to walk and blog....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Days like this...

So Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansen are divorcing after 2 years of marriage....I mean come on....Really? I admit, my first thought was "whatever..." but then I thought about it and just got mad! Two years of marriage and now divorce! Really?

Two years of marriage, in terms of a lifetime together, is metaphorically, a rain drop in the ocean. Ryan and Scarlett, you bailed without even trying to figure the whole marriage thing out...It's the equivolent of standing on the customer service line at Walmart for 45 minutes for a return, then deciding to say "Fuck It!" and leave just as you make it to the cashier.

Marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. It all needs constant work and attention and revising. But that's life. Isn't that what most of us signed on for? Aren't we in it for the long haul? Believe me, after 13 years of marriage, I know, the whole experience ain't for wimps!

No one tells you about how you will fall in and out of love with a spouse, then passionately back in again. No one tells you there'll be times when you feel your pulling all the weight, or that you'll be so overwhelmed you want to pull the covers over your head and give up.

No one tells you that for every great day together, there
will be two that will bring adversity and challenge. No one tells you how to deal with in-laws or jealously or illness.

Or that you need to hold tight to the history you share as a couple, because those memories will keep you sane, keep you grounded, keep you in each others arms.

Almost anything you purchase comes with insructions....an owner's manual. Why isn't there one for marriage? Somewhere along the way we've all bought into this Hollywoodized version that neatly ties up relationships with a witty "meet cute" and a white pickett ending.

In reality, there is nothing neat about it. Spousal relationships are raw and visceral...like make-up sex. The answers lie hidden in the stolen moments, when you lie in bed together intertwined....just hold on and breathe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Not Always What You See

You don't know the all of me,
you only know what you can see. Sometimes, I am sweet, sincere, devout. Then other times I'm just inside-out.

Gruff and frustrated, simmering, too. Not sure to tell you off or give in to an angry screw.

The world is big and wide and full of doubt. You only see the me you want - heartfelt, subservient, with little thought...

It's not that I want to run away, just have you see the all of me, that elusive enigma that even I don't always see. And maybe one day, we'll all agree.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone