"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, February 28, 2009

SIXTEEN CANDLES AND A BOTTLE OF DREFT


Sixteen years ago today my tummy was as big as a house -- or so it seemed -- and I was a day past my due date...

There was no way to know that FINALLY, come March 2, 1993, I would, thankfully, give birth to Daniel John, our healthy, adorable, 9-pound baby boy.

I had cleaned and nested till I could clean and nest no more -- one could literally,  if one chose to, eat off my kitchen floor. The baby's room was ready and then some, I had all but alphabetized the onesies and sleepers, and our house reeked of Dreft. I was practically dabbing the stuff on my wrists. To this day, I sometimes sneak a sniff at the grocery store and I swoon, I tell ya, I swoon...

Yes, one whiff of Dreft and it all comes rushing back -- the excitement...the anticipation...

And, of course, there were the endless questions...

What would labor REALLY be like?  Would Daniel have all his fingers and toes? Would he have lots of hair? No hair? What kind of parents would we be? Should I have taken infant CPR? Was it too late to take infant CPR? How would I know if its REALLY time to go to the hospital? How bad would the pain REALLY be?

Sixteen years later I don't truly recall what I did the last few days before Daniel was born...

I'd read all the books, we had all the clothes, bottles, diapers, etc., we could possibly have ready for Our New Arrival...just bring on the baby! There was,of course, no turning back...I finally accepted the fact that what would be, would be. A small voice inside me whispered calmly, "one day at a time, Annie. One day at a time."

Now, the thought that someday our Sweet Little Bundle of Joy would be, of all scary things, a TEENAGER (YIKES-A-RONI), did cross my mind. But it seemed soooooo  many days in the distance...I told myself that it would be a very long time before all the parental worries that go along with the teenage years and beyond would arrive at our doorstep...

Well, I was wrong. 

Dear God, the years between Sweet Little Bundle of Joy and TEENAGER (YIKES-A-RONI) freaking FLEW by in a New York minute!

One day John and I are painstakingly following the directions to make THE perfect Elmo first birthday birthday cake while Our Little Darling is napping,and the next day Daniel is telling me as he runs out the door to an air soft skirmish to skip the  birthday cake this year, for crying out loud, he's going to be 16 not two.

Well, excuuuuse me.

Actually,  the cake NOT being a big deal is a bit of a relief -- I still remember his sixth birthday when I went through two botched box mix cakes before I threw in the proverbial June Cleaver apron,  bought an ice cream cake an hour before the party started, and called it good.

That was also the year we had the party in the church fellowship hall, played Pin The Tail on The Donkey, Drop The Clothespin in the Milk Bottle, and -- if my memory serves me correctly -- I also introduced Daniel and his little buddies to the thrills and chills of the 60s' birthday party fave, the Potato on Your Shoe race.

Later came the birthdays that were Everything Harry Potter, pizza, and remote control cars.

Of course, two days before his 16th birthday and the only kind of car Daniel is remotely interested in is one that he can actually drive, by himself, hither and yon, sans mother in tow.

Oy.

As I sort the laundry, I catch a whiff of Old Spice "After Hours" on Daniel's shirt. And it all comes rushing in...the excitement, the anticipation, and, once again, the endless questions...

Omigosh!  Daniel is turning 16!  What kind of a driver will Daniel REALLY be? Will he live to see 17? What does he REALLY want to  do when he graduates from high school? Have we done the best we could so far as parents to instill all those values and virtues that we want him to have? And even if we have, all kids test the waters...what will the next few years REALLY be like as Daniel quickly matures into manhood and we slowly but surely melt into old age? Will he find the right woman to marry? Will he have children? Will they be healthy? Will I live to not only see my grandchildren,  but REALLY know them and love them? Will they love me?

Will they haul me away, lock me up, and tether me if they catch me sniffing bottles of Dreft at the grocery store?

Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise. Sunset.

Swiftly fly 16 years, indeed...

I race to the grocery store, making a bee line for the laundry aisle.

Suddenly, a small  voice inside me whispers, calmly, "One day at a time, Annie. One day at a time. That's how you got him to 16, remember? Step away from the Dreft."

Damn it, it's just so hard to let go.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

WHAT'S A FORMER KOOL-AID MOM TO DO?


Frankly,  the teenage years are driving me batty.

I know, short drive, hang a left.

But seriously...

Nobody tells you how many times mothers of teenage boys can have their feelings hurt in the course of a week.

"Want to run to Wal-Mart with me and Dad?" I ask, cheerfully.

"Raincheck' he replies in that bored-teenager-monotone-grunt-like utterance that has become his typically-teenage trademark.

OK, so I set myself up for that one. 

Obviously, no  15 9/10-year-old guy only weeks away from getting his license would jump up at down at the thought of spending a couple hours schlepping around Wally World with the rents when he could, instead, be playing Call of Duty 5 for the umpteenth time on the computer, or shooting his friends with air-soft pellets down at the fairgrounds.

Hey, you can't blame a mom for tryin'.

"Can I challenge you to a quick round of pick up sticks?" I asked -- again, cheerfully --  last night.

Without even looking away from Facebook for a nano-second, he replied in his trademark  bored-teenager-monotone-grunt-like utterance, "Tomorrow". 

Confession: I didn't really expect him to reply in the affirmative, but what the hell..hope springs eternal...

(Right here is where Harry Chapin should be singing that line from Cats In The Cradle...you know the one, ""I'd love to (Mom) if I could find the time..."

But the thing is, I WAS the proverbial Kool-Aid mom. I played games and made forts and went to the playground and drew pictures and colored in coloring books and read books and played grocery store and let him play in the sink and...well, you get the picture. I was ALWAYS there for him as a small child. I was a dedicated Stay-at-Home Kool-Aid Mom for Pete's sake.

Ah, those were the good old days...

At this point, Dr. Phil would point out that Daniel, at this stage of his life, HAS to push away from his parents or he will never strike out into  this big cold cruel world  on his own. I suppose it's even more difficult for an only child, so perhaps he has to be twice as coldhearted, er, independent.

I've read where it usually more difficult for the mother than the father when the teenager begins to really exert his independence...I suppose that's because fathers recall what jerks they were to their mothers from time to time when they were teenagers.

My wise ol' Sis says boys do come back around and act humanely toward their parents sometime down the road of life, that this is, indeed, all normal teenage attitude -- God's way, she says, of making parents WANT to let go when the time comes that they HAVE to let go.

"Would you really want Daniel living in your pocket when he's 40?' a friend asked me the other day.

"Yeah, if he's nice and he'll play a game of pick-up sticks with me now and then," I quipped.

Hey, I kid, I kid. 

I really do want him to be an independent, successful adult some day. And I know this is all perfectly normal...but it hurts, damn it.  Not to mention that the whole Teenage Attitude period  is downright annoying and irritating.  Of course, I wasn't a pain in the patootie when I was a teenager...(Yeah, right, my Sis says. And she would know.)

Oh, well. 

Teenagers, I've read, are somewhat like toddlers at the playground at this stage in that they run off  to hang with their friends, but they come back to touch base, so to speak,to make sure you're still there when they need you. They just need to know you're there...

Like when Daniel needs a shirt ironed or the back of his hair trimmed. Or he's hungry. (Of course, when he's hungry, he goes to Dad for a decent meal -- I'm usually good for take-out pizza or bowling alley food).

And he gladly accepted the M&Ms I gave him on Valentine's Day...

I'll love him forever.
I'll like him for always.
As long as I'm living
My baby he'll be.

Heavy sigh.

Maybe it's because I never had any parents to push away and I had to exert my independence long before I should have had to just to survive adolescence and my teenage years...maybe that's why this is so hard for me...I would have given my eyeteeth to have had my mom alive and bugging me to play pick-up sticks with her.

"Just be glad that you can afford him the opportunity to be a perfectly normal teenager," another wise ol' friend offered the other day. "That's an opportunity you and I never had."

Ouch. Talk about some stinging insight...

OK, I'll quit with the pick-up stick baiting...instead I will learn to be  happy with  Danny Boy actually sitting in the same room with me watching Law & Order, SVU,  late on Saturday nights after he comes home from chillaxing over a game or five of Call Of Duty with his friends.

I guess it's time for this former Kool-Aid Mom to realize that, such as they are, these are the new good ol' days. So I will enjoy them...while they last.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I LIKE MY POPCORN LIKE I LIKE MY MEN...

Smokin' hot.

Just ask my co-workers who had to endure the wafts of burned popcorn hanging heavily throughout our building this morning...

OK, so maybe I AM the last person on earth to realize that you don't REALLY heat microwave popcorn according to the directions on the bag...

I blame it on the microwave in our breakroom -- it doesn't have a "popcorn" button. So when the bag said "three minutes on high", I unknowingly obliged.

Holy 2-alarm fire, Batman!

The smoke poured out of the bag as I pulled apart the corners, and I  dashed up the steps and out the door and tossed it in the trash. But too late -- the smoky smell permeated clothes, hair, hallways...

I quickly sent out an email to all:  "Yes, that is burned popcorn you smell. The building is not on fire. Hence, the card on my bulletin board that proclaims, "Domestically Disabled". From now on, I am sticking to apples, yogurt and celery on break. I promise."

Luckily, I work with a forgiving, fun-loving group, and we all had a good chuckle...

Happy Friday!