Uniform Love

Several months ago Mitchel would not let me kiss him goodbye when I dropped him off at school. He was super mad because he was wearing “bad” uniform pants and apparently it was my fault. Never in the history of time has one of my boys denied me a goodbye kiss. Ever.

There is this thing that all five of my boys do when we say goodnight or goodbye or I love you: they bow their heads down and I kiss the tops of their heads. Trying to remember when this started, I  asked my husband and he said he started it. Apparently I used to kiss the boys all over their faces with messy mommy love and he would kiss the top of their heads, to balance things out with cool dad love. Manly, easy to display in public, love. The realization that this ritual was not born of me threw me a little off kilter. I thought I was the boss of our family rituals. But I’m glad that I intuitively evolved (without realizing it until now) to an acceptable form of showing affection for my now giant man boys because I still get to put my face up close and inhale the essence of them. Their smells of sticky softness and dirt and squirming adventure have changed to Irish spring soap and hair product and occasional sweat along with courage, optimism and sometimes fearful anxiety that makes me want to pull them tight and once again place wet smooches all over them to create a mother shield that fends off all that is harmful. But I don’t. Because it would be weird. Plus I want them receive my love openly, without embarrassment or reservation. On their terms. These terms have been steady and consistent for a long enough time to feel like a code. An unwavering mother son code that has withstood the test of time and height and age. 

Until twelve year old Mitchel changed the terms, boldly declaring that there would be no love accepted from a mother who made him go to school wearing wide legged uniform pants that bagged weird in the butt

I suppose it was inevitable that he would be the one to mess up my universe. Being the sixth born and youngest of five sons, he continues to push every boundary as he tries to figure out how to stand out and blend in at the same time. His life is complicated enough without having to worry about what the kids at school are going to say about pants pulled from the “uniform bingy” that his oldest brother probably wore to the same private school nine plus years ago.

But for the record, the pants situation was not my fault. Nor was it his dad’s fault. It was 100% Mitchel’s fault. And some decent parenting went on the night prior to the bad pants day that would NOT have happened with the first born, though he turned about pretty good despite the lack of tough love that we should have thrown on him at a much younger age.

Let’s rewind two weeks prior to the day Mitchel shunned my love:

Mitchel: Mom, when do we have to wear pants instead of shorts for uniform?

Me: I’m pretty sure it’s the day after Halloween. Which is coming up so you should see if there are any pants in the uniform bingy that fit you.

Mitchel: I really think we should be able to wear shorts in the winter if we want.

Me: Well you can. But there are of course consequences. Which will affect your dad or me, since one of us will have to come pick you up from school for breaking the uniform code. Which means there will be more consequences. For you.

Mitchel: Hmmm. Okay.

One week later according to his dad, pretty much the same conversation took place.

Enter 7:30 pm on the night before he is supposed to go to school wearing PANTS instead of shorts.  

Mitchel: Mom! I don’t have any uniform pants.

Me: Did you look in the uniform bingy?

Mitchel: I don’t know which one that is.

Me: It’s the one that is marked “UNIFORM CLOTHES” in big black letters.

Mitchel: (groans)

Mitchel (10 minutes later): There aren’t any pants that fit me. David says he threw his away because the knees were ripped out. Except for the pair he burned in celebration of never having to wear a uniform to school again. There is only one pair in the bingy and they don’t fit me.

I put the pants burning vision on hold for another day, immediately recognizing the rookie move to try and put the blame for no pants on David and force me to the mall at zero hour. David and I will have a discussion later about pyromania and its long term effects on a solid future.

Me: Bring them here.

Mitchel brings the pants to me and I look at the tag. They are exactly his size.

Me: Try them on.

Mitchel groans and goes to his room to put them on. He comes back visibly upset and hunched over, dragging one leg, clearly in terrible pain, wearing a pair of pants that fit him perfectly. They are not too short or too tight or too loose but he says they look weird.

Me: Well it’s SEVEN THIRTY. I’m NOT going to take you to the store tonight. You will have to wear these for ONE day. The day after that is Friday and free dress. We will get you some pants this weekend.

Mitchel: Groans and stomps off to his room, slamming the door behind him. His limp is gone. Weird.

The next day, in front of the school, I sit in shock when Mr. Bad Pants does not bow his head for his goodbye kiss. He smiles uncomfortably at me as he gathers his things.

Mitchel: I’m going to have a terrible day because of you. I  do not want your love right now.

Me: Well. That’s a sure fire way to guarantee yourself a bad day. But whatever. I bet not one single person will notice your pants. They’re blue like everyone else’s pants and you’re a cool enough kid to pull it off and be a trendsetter if they DO notice. By the end of November everyone will be wearing wide legged pants. Then you’ll call these pants your lucky, life changing pants and probably be able to sell them for millions of dollars when you’re world famous. Who’s gonna be the best mom THEN? Huh? You’ll be begging for my kisses. And I may or may NOT be available to give them to you. I’m  completely on the fence there. So. Take THAT.

Mitchel: You clearly do not understand me or the people I have to deal with at this school. It’s a cruel world mom.

And he leaves me, his back stoic and straight, backpack draped casually over his shoulder, walking with exaggerated confidence. And my heart falls in to my stomach as I think “My God what have I done, letting the boy go to school with bad uniform pants? His life may indeed be ruined by this one key moment that could have been avoided by a 7:30 pm trip to the mall last night. You read about these moments in the NEWS. I am the worst mother in the universe.”

But this thinking passes quickly. I’m a mother of six. I know shit. What has happened here is very simple. The student momentarily scooped the master of guilt tripping. I laugh and whisper “Well played and bravo to you Mitchel Siwinski. You are soooo getting some new pants this weekend.”

And he did. Two pair. With hidden security pockets “to keep your stuff safe and 4-way stretch for game changing comfort”. But funny thing: he’s keeping the bad pants. He told me they may indeed be lucky because he had a really great day.

But I feel the need to make it known that since that day, I have not been denied a kiss by the man boy. So he could have been bluffing about the great day. It’s hard to say.

 

It’s Not about the Size of Your Pants but How you Play the Game

It’s our anniversary and so we start the day with breakfast and mimosas to toast 25 years together.

Grant: Did you notice our waitress has bitchy resting face?

Me: Her lipstick is really bright so I was mostly just looking at that. Are you getting a bad vibe? I’m just worried she’s not gonna ever bring us another mimosa. One doesn’t seem like enough to celebrate such a long time. It feels like a miracle. Though my parents were married 26 years before they divorced so we should be careful about celebrating too loudly.

Grant: You have to take off their separation time. So really, we have already beat your mom and dad.

Me: Yes! We’re winning. I would toast to that but I’m empty.

Grant: Crap. I forgot to take a stomach pill.

Me: Let’s for sure buy some stomach pills. Otherwise we won’t be able to have snacks, lunch, more snacks and then dinner. With drinks in between all of that. Good stomach health is important today.

The waitress brings us our check. She does indeed have bitchy resting face. But I overhear her talking about her three little boys to another customer. So we tip her well even though she was slow to bring us our second mimosa. Little boys can cause bitchy resting face.

We stop at Walgreens for stomach pills. I get completely paralyzed in the mascara section. My GOD: do I need long, thick, plump, or voluminous lashes? Very black, kind of black, ebony, brown-black, or brown lashes?  I buy mascara MAYBE once a year and always find myself so torn. I find Grant in the aisle where they sell things like orthopedic socks and bedside toilets and we make a few discoveries. For $18.99 you can buy a fork, spoon and knife with a red handle that apparently helps increase eating for people with dementia. We giggle at something to help relieve strain in the scrotal area. It helps with fatigue “down there”. It’s important to stay in tune with the latest medical aids. Especially Grant who is in his 50’s now. I myself am only 49, so it will be a few years before I need scrotal aid.

In addition to stomach pills and mascara, I find a wooden G & H to decorate. Maybe for our 26th anniversary celebration. Go big or go home on this day I say.

img_0845-1

Grant: Where to next wife?

Me: I could use some work pants. I don’t have a single pair of pants that I can button and I am tired of wearing moo-moos and cute boots. Cute boots are a lame attempt to try and mask the fact that I am wearing a moo-moo. Plus one of my boots has a hole in the heel and little rocks keep getting in there.  It’s rattly when I walk. Embarrassing.

Grant: So we should look for new cute boots?

Me: No. I can duct tape the hole. I need pants. Winta’s comin. It just seems so NON anniversaryish, buying pants.

We go to the mall with the intent of finding pants to fit my bigger than last year’s butt and a new Seahawks hat for Grant. While he stops at a sports store with hats in it I wander into the most expensive store in the mall just to touch a few things and try and get an idea of what today’s fashion is. A twelve year old sales girl swoops in on me and pretends to be my new best friend. “Whaty up to today?” I just don’t feel like explaining to her what I’m up to, mostly because I’m just not sure what I’m up to, so I put down the $200 pair of black pants I am looking at and mumble something about needing a snack before I find the perfect pants. The music was just too loud anyway.

I turn into the store next door for women who have “real butts and such” thinking maybe this will be my mecca land. But if feels fraudulent in there because all the pants are cleverly folded backwards to look like size two pants when they are really size twenty or more, like the pants should be ashamed for being a bigger size. I can not support hypocrisy.  Plus I’m mostly NOT a size twenty and I don’t want a repeat of six months ago when I went to the thrift store and bought a bunch of size twenty clothing, explaining to Grant that I was “planning ahead”. Hence the moo-moos. That I thought I could make cute with boots.

I walk out and see Grant sitting on a bench. No hat. So far shopping is a bust.

We walk further down the mall.

Me: Maybe I should buy a new bra. My favorite one is falling apart.

Grant: There’s Victoria’s Secret! We could go in there!

He is suddenly interested in shopping.

Me: No. I hate those people and always will. Ever since I wanted to buy a cute bra when I was gigantico prego with Daniel and asked if they had a 42 triple D and that awful brat sales girl just turned her nose up at me and said “we don’t carry sizes that big”. I wanted to DIE. And when I turned to leave the store, my big belly and boobs knocked over a stupid skinny mannequin.

Grant: She was just jealous of your giant boobs. But NO. Let’s not go there. They are bad, bad people at Victoria’s Secret.

He is saying these words but his body is steering us both toward the store. We laugh and I tug him in a different direction.

Me: Now THIS looks promising! I like some of these outfits!

Grant patiently sits back down on a bench and I walk into the nice, dignified quiet store and start looking through what I think are wonderful styles. FINALLY! I have about ten items in my arms to try on when I look up and around me and realize that the only people in the store are women in their 70s and 80s. I’m not kidding. There is NO ONE under the age of 70 in the store. Granted they were all very lovely and well dressed women but the moo-moos have been bad enough on my ego. Not only am I not a size 20 I am not even CLOSE to being eighty and so should MAYBE not dress this way. I put the clothes back on the rack, quietly exit the store and sit down on the bench next to Grant with a dramatic sigh.

Me: I don’t fit ANYWHERE. I don’t know who I AM anymore. I belong NOWHERE. God I hate shopping.

Grant: Then why in God’s name are we here? We should be drinking our second breakfast.

Me: Yes! Let’s get the hell out of here.

We walk through Kohl’s on our way to the car and I am practically knocked over in shock by the most perfect, cutest little dress I have ever seen and it is only $29.00! I grab a size large and hold it up for Grant.

Me: Look!!!! Finally a dress as cute as my nightgowns. OMG I’m so buying this! Can I buy this?

Grant: Sure. But that IS a nightgown. Though I bet it would look great with your cute rattly boots!

I look around and realize we are in the pajama department

Me: Well who the fuck would put the pajama section right at the entrance of store. Everyone knows it’s supposed to be in the BACK of the store!  I’m so pissed! I was in love with this dress until I found out it was a nighty. The world is a cruel place.

Grant: Yes it is. I have yet to find the perfect Seahawks hat so I feel your pain. Let’s go drown our sorrows.

Though I DO actually find some new pants before we leave the mall. I buy two different sizes of the same style: one sort of snug and one sort of loose. Because I just don’t know which direction I am gonna go right now in terms of butt size. And GOD only knows when I will go shopping again.

But then we go to Jack and Dan’s for a beer. We hunker up to the bar and I see this brick with the initials G H S engraved in it.

Me: OMG! It’s our initials! It’s a sign that we ARE winning! And that we are FINALLY in the right place!

And we clink our drinks to further proof that we are winning. Even though we both know the initials stand for Gonzaga High School, the private high school four of our six kids have attended so far.

We are both just happy to still be playing the game.

img_0838-1

 

How the Tibetan Buddhist Monks Practically Saved My Life, Sort Of

I have been laid up for two weeks after some extensive reconstructive surgery on both sides of my left ankle. It turns out that, in addition to some shit I don’t understand, my jagged ankle bone was trying to cut one of my ligaments in half. My ankle was clearly trying to amputate itself. Ankle suicide. I don’t really blame it. It has to have been kind of rough carrying me around for so many years. I am NOT a light load. Though it has made me wonder what the hell my right ankle has been doing all this time that would create such an imbalance of strength and power. Is my right ankle a slacker? Or has it been the strong one this whole time, carrying most of the weight while my left ankle has slowly tried to kill itself?

This is not my intended topic: what causes one ankle to be mentally ill and the other one strong. Because that’s just weird.

However the subject leads quite naturally into the thing I want to talk about: Tibetan Buddhist sand mandalas.

Screenshot 2016-04-09 at 11.09.12 PM.png

What, you don’t see the connection? Weird. It’s so clear to me. But I guess since you’re not inside my brain (thank God for you) I’m gonna have to explain.

Ever since I was a little girl I have immersed a lot of my time and energy into artistic activities that may not be deemed in any way practical by a lot of people. I know that my parents often raised their eyebrows and thought  “Oh lordy, what do we DO with this one?” I think that if I had shown an iota of talent in any of the things I persisted at they would have been more encouraging. Instead they kind of just “rolled with Heather’s current fancy” because I never seemed to settle onto any one thing for very long. There was always something more interesting to me just around the corner to try. And I have gotten worse as an adult, especially with this vast cyber world where you can learn about pretty much anything or be inspired by something with a 20 second search.

It’s kind of like taking a little nibble out of each piece of candy in a big box of chocolates because you don’t want to commit to just one or two because then you will get full too fast and not get to taste the other pieces.

Although that’s a bad example because I would never NOT finish a piece of chocolate. Plus it’s kind of rude if there are other people who also have rights to the box of chocolates. Just sayin.

Anyhoo, when I was a kid I dabbled in pretty much anything that called to me: perfume making, rock polishing; drawing; painting; furniture refinishing (my grandmother’s antique night stand was never the same); macrame; crocheting; singing; sewing;  piano;  paper mache (maracas with light bulbs where my favorite-dual purpose!); cross stitch; pottery; quilting; bird house making; gardening to name many.  I wasn’t really good at any of these things and it never once entered my mind that I wanted to be an artist in my future. I just loved DOING those things.

Yes, it was for sure satisfying when something turned out cool. I remember trying to draw a picture of a lion once. I must have been around 10. I kept showing my mom what I thought was my finished picture and she would say “you can do better”. This happened many times before my mother finally said “Yes! Beautiful!” And I gave it to her. She framed it and put it on a shelf and said it should be a reminder to me of what I could accomplish when I stayed focused and did my best. I found the picture in her stuff when she died and kept it. Not because it was a good picture but because it was a reminder of the joy I felt when I was making it and also the peace I felt handing it over to my mom, an offering of my love.

My children and husband no longer even bat an eye when they find me in the breezeway smashing glass or under a cloud of dust from carving soap stone with a dremel tool or stripping the plastic coating off of copper wire. The copper was for my latest endeavor, this year’s “Make Time for Kids” clock for an auction in April benefiting Casa Partners…

http://www.casapartners.org/

…I love the cause, because this group helps kids during the transition from a tough home situation to foster care. But I also love any excuse to create something that wasn’t there before. She “Goddess of Time” turned out quite gaudy and slightly over the top but pretty enough to get a little cash at the auction (I hope).

Screenshot 2016-04-09 at 11.00.26 PM
Goddess of Time
On the day I started working on her I emerged after three or four hours of focusing on rocks and glass and copper wire and paint and my daughter took one look at me, smiled big and said “Oh mom! You’re doing art again aren’t you!” I looked at my hands all covered in epoxy and paint and held them up laughing. “How can you tell?” And she said “Your face is lit up.”

While I admit it was a little bit hard to hand her over to be on display and then auctioned off, because she and I had a lot of fun bringing her into the world, I was really quite happy to give her away and move on to the next “thing”. That’s just part of it, see?

So. Back to how my depressed ankle and Tibetan Buddhist Sand Mandala art are connected.

On day three after my surgery bummed-out-ed-ness began to spread over me, a dark gloomy haze. The nerve block they gave me from my knee down had completely worn off and the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life: a vice grip lined with spikes slowly squeezing my ankle. So I turned to the pain pills the doctor prescribed which took away much of the agony but made me groggy and out of focus and weepy because I didn’t even have enough clarity to doodle with colored pens. And I thought “What’s the point ANYWAY? Everything I do is pretty much crap.” Because when I get bummed out it suddenly MATTERS that everything I create is crap. Depression, which thank goodness for me is generally situational and not chronic, is (at least in my mind) the opposite of clarity. It is like looking in the mirror when the glass is fogged up and having the audacity to call yourself ugly.

And so I turned to my iPad and Netflix and the series “House of Cards”, a well written but very dark show about the evil people and politics in the White House (perfect for my mood) and checked out completely on tv, something I rarely do for more than an hour or two let alone the THIRTY NINE HOURS it took to complete the 52 episodes produced thus far. I surrendered and thought dramatically (as is my way)  “Let it be done to me: narcotics and television, the beginning of the end of my life as a recluse who dies in her bed, with dirty hair, surrounded by Reese’s peanut butter cup wrappers and soggy half-frozen bags of peas.”

Screenshot 2016-04-09 at 11.47.15 PM

But something happened four days into my binge: I started to feel better. And I am POSITIVE it’s all because of the Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala art that I learned about in the 33rd ‘chapter’ of House of Cards.

In the story, as part of a cultural exchange, Tibetan Buddhist monks were on public display at the White House for thirty days while they created a sand mandala. Here are a couple of links to explain this beautiful healing art in detail:

http://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/buddhism/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-this-tibetan-art-form-seen-on-house-of-cards

http://www.mysticalartsoftibet.org/mandala.htm

But in a nutshell, the great leader of the group decides on a design, which is filled with specific healing symbols, the main deity (or god) being in the center. The chosen monks then re-create the drawing from memory and proceed to carefully and slowly fill in the drawing by sending millions of grains of colored sand through these tiny little funnels called chak-purs using vibrations from a small narrow steel rod. All through the process they pray, chant, meditate and sing, asking the deity for blessings and peace and enlightenment for themselves and the world. They are totally focussed on the act of creating for hours upon hours. (I hope they get potty breaks and such.)  And when they are finished, the beautiful, detailed creation is consecrated by the leader and then SWOOSH! the beautiful mandala is smeared with a small broom, DESTROYED to symbolize the impermanence of our material life. The sand is then placed into an urn where it is then usually poured into a moving body of water in another ceremony to disperse the purifying power to the world.

I had become deeply involved in watching the process of the creation so when this SWOOSH! happened on the show I sat up from my reclined position on the bed and yelled “Nooooooo!” And then flopped back down and thought “Oh! No wait.” I laid there for quite a long time, thinking about the dark questions I had asked myself earlier in the week and in other dark times in my life “Why bother? What is the point? To what purpose does it serve, especially when all I create is talentless crap?”

But see here’s the thing: we are all creations who are designed to create not criticize the creation. And when we open up our hearts to what calls to to us, be it music, art, stories, poetry, gardening, architecture, cosmetology, bee-keeping (that’s for you Sara), interior design… really I could go on and on because it is so personal, that which calls to our hearts, that which begs us to be a part of its own creation…when we answer, when we become fully absorbed in the process, engaged, meditative, focussed,  we become less concerned for ourselves and more connected to our God and His universe. And that act of answering the call becomes the very part of the world that makes it lush and beautiful and interesting and glorious. It is fantastic magic (that’s for you DG-ha!) and we owe it to ourselves and to the world to listen and act, regardless of the final outcome, for though it will indeed all be gone someday, just like the sand mandala, the act of saying YES is what creation really is and this yes is what is eternal.

The day of the sand mandala episode, my family had gone on a day trip to Montana. They returned that evening, gathered around my bed and grinning, bearing gifts: a huge piece of tangled driftwood with a dragon head in it (at least that’s what I saw);  102 railroad spikes (they counted them before me: pieces of gold before the queen); a smooth rock the size of a cantaloupe that had the most spectacular shades of rust and green and grey and blue and they all kept taking turns petting it while I held it like a baby. “We thought maybe you could make something from all this when you feel better.”

As if I could say no!

I’d Make a Great Socialist if I Wasn’t Such a Brat: Part One

The other day, my four youngest were all kind of flopping around staring into their technology like sweaty summer sloths so I challenged them to find the presidential candidate that they liked the best and write down at least three reasons why they would vote for that person.

Their first question was “Is this for your blog?” A couple of them were frowning.

Weird.

“It might be I’m not sure. It’s just that since the GOP debate I am wondering what your thoughts are, so just be completely honest. There are a lot of candidates from multiple parties. so do your research. Just don’t pick Hillary Clinton. Bahahaha.”

At first they were all chatty and smack talkish. But then there was this delightful pause while they used their iPods, iPhones, iPads for research. Life has changed so much with technology and it can be quite fantastic when it is put to thoughtful use.  I could just feel their witty wheels turning.

My children have a lot of things to say about a lot of things. One evening we were sitting around the pool, our feet dangling in the cooling water and the conversation went from what an existential crisis was to Irish slavery to an asteroid scheduled to hit the earth in 2029 to the idea of Hillary Clinton being elected president to how many water bugs might be in the pool to should we save the bee floating toward the filter to the question ‘is all life valuable?’ and so on. Until someone splashed someone and then intelligent conversation turned into screeching and more splashing and then water got in my wine so I left. Mostly because my brain hurt and I needed to go google a few things.

I am always torn between delight and pissed-offed-ness when my children prove to be smarter than me.

But I like to think I am wiser.

I like to let them tell. And then ask questions.

So I am at LEAST more annoying than they are. Mitchel may have been wrongly accused as being the biggest “ask-hole” in the family.

Now. It was requested that I put “in verbatim” what my children wrote down about their choice for president. And so I have done this.  But I did not say that I would not comment on their words. Or make them dig deeper. SO there will be a part two to this blog when they have answered my questions. Or commented to my comments. There are no rules except that a thought out response is required.

Or else they won’t get dinner.

Dinner that their dad cooks. Just to clarify that it would be punishment.

I’m sorry my beautiful smart children. Your mother is a socialist-want-to-be who loves a good chat. And you are each up to the challenge of a brat. That rhymes!

Daniel (14) was finished first. He likes to be the fastest. His choice was Ted Cruz for the following reasons:

  1. educated from Harvard and Princeton
  2. former advisor of Domestic Policy to former President George Bush
  3. US Senator from Texas
  4. Against Planned Parenthood
  5. Appointed to four Senate committees
  6. His middle name is Rafael Edward, that’s cool
  7. He’s really funny in the debates
  8. Lastly he was born on December 22nd, three days before Jesus, that’s cool

Daniel:

  • How does an education at Harvard and Princeton make one better qualified to be president? Were you hoping to go to Harvard and Princeton? Crap. You better start mowing some lawns.
  • Which George Bush was he an advisor to?
  • What things was he “for” when it came to domestic policy? What IS domestic policy?
  • In what ways is he against planned parenthood?
  • Are you saying we should have given you a cooler middle name than Arthur?
  • I agree that one would need a sense of humor to be president. You might stand a chance even WITH a boring middle name. But you COULD change your name to Daniel Jesus Siwinski. That would be cool.  But I think you have to wait until you are 18.

David (12) was next to finish. His choice was Jeb Bush. He wrote only the required three reasons and with briefness because I am pretty sure he wanted to get back to some important game he was playing on his iPod. And that’s okay. He’s twelve. I think. David: are you twelve?

  1. Instead of dividing the country he wants to unite it
  2. Let businesses express religious freedom against gays
  3. I like the other Bush Presidents

David:

  • Do you think our country is divided? How so? What ways would Jeb Bush fix this?
  • Do you think our family is divided, considering the fact that we disagree about something every four minutes?  If so, what are some ways you would unite our family?
  • How would you rephrase number 2 to explain your thinking in a more loving and careful way but not compromise your own beliefs? 
  • Wait, were you even born when the other Bush’s were president? Why do you like them?

Maria (16) chose Rand Paul and wrote a front and back dissertation as to why. In pink pen.

  1. Helped find an anti-tax organization in his years serving Kentucky, will hopefully do the same with our country
  2. Extremely intelligent and well spoken at the debate (during the parts I saw)
  3. Strong faith
  4. Pointed out why Hillary Clinton sucks
  5. Performs well in Colorado, which is an important saving state vote against Hillary
  6. Wants to end surveillance on American citizens, in other words believes the importance of our privacy
  7. Wants to end “crony-ism” and that means wrongfully appointing friends or relatives to positions of authority
  8. Wants to reduce national debt
  9. Wants to “preserve” the social security system for seniors who have worked long and hard and planned their lives around that system
  10. Wants to repeal Obama Care
  11. Stern with the media, sometimes angry

Maria:

  • Explain the anti-tax organization in Kentucky. Do you think it is possible to fund necessary social programs without taxes??
  • In what ways does Hillary Clinton suck?
  • Wait, are we being watched right now? Should I put on some lipstick?
  • So are you saying you wouldn’t appointment me as queen of something cool when you are president? Well what the hell is the point of being your mother then?
  • How would YOU reduce our national debt?
  • Do you think there will be social security when you are at retirement age? Or will you get to retire 10 years after you are dead instead of 2 years, like me?
  • Do you think that being stern/angry with the media will harm his chances of winning in the primaries? Does stern/angry help anything?

Mitchel (10) chose Hillary Clinton. Yeah.

  1. One reason is that it would be good is because she went to Wellesly College. And because it would be cool because she could be the FIRST GIRL President!!!!
  2. Hillary Clinton is a young 67 year old Democrat and she was born on October 29, 1947. So she would be a young president.
  3. Everytime she does something in government, she talks to people about it so she can have good advice before she does it
  4. She is a former secretary of state and she was first lady at one point

Mitchel:

  • Where is Wellesly College?
  • Can you tell me three things that a “girl” would do better as president than a “boy”?
  • There is another “girl” running in the primaries. Tell me her name and how she is different from Hillary?
  • I am so GLAD you think 67 is young! Why is being young a good thing when you are president?
  • Do you think it is important to ask the RIGHT people for advice when you are making important decisions? Can you give me an example of when you asked the WRONG people for advice?
  • What does a first lady do?
  • What does a secretary of state do?
  • Which of these jobs do you think is the most interesting?

So. This is a lot to mull over for my kids and I look forward to hearing what they each have to say from their own unique perspective of place and time. Stay tuned for part two.

Or a post on life without dinner.

Either or.

I, myself, have been pondering the possibility of a utopian world where every person is able to look outside their current set of circumstances, past their own fears and hang-ups and contribute to the world with free will (it can not be forced by the government) using their time, talent and treasure, each according to his or her own ability without any kind of distinguishment between race, gender, religion, pants size, physical/mental ability, income level, hair color, sexual orientation etc.

How about we use the fact that we are all breathing as our common denominator? We all want to keep breathing right? How about for each breath we take IN we savor ourselves for who we are and when we breathe OUT we delight in all the other breaths taken in at the very moment of our selfless exhale.

IMG_9273

Mom-Goddess: She’s the Chick to Be

I am driving my 14 year old son Daniel to his weights and conditioning class. He is still sleepy. I can tell because his forehead is wrinkled from trying to keep his eyes open. I am pretty sure he has anxiety over starting high school this fall. And also worries about freshman football: “will I be good…will I get hurt…am I going to get bigger…” All that stuff. But Daniel is one of my more reserved boys and isn’t going to say much about his worries to me.

Unlike his older sister whose every thought pretty much comes out her mouth.

She gets that from me. I don’t think all females are like this. God help us if that were true.

Which explains why words spill out my lips before I consider who my passenger is when I see these two fine looking smiling men holding political signs representing some person trying to get elected. I do not even register the position or the name of the candidate because I am busy waving and smiling at these model material males and saying in my sexiest voice “Oh I’m SO gonna vote for YOU and OH MY…YOU as well”.

I myself am now VERY wide awake on this morning and turn to my passenger expecting a high five and an ‘OH HELLS YEAH’ but then I remember that this is not my daughter but one of my five sons. Dan’s lips are flat lined and there is now an extra wrinkle in his forehead. One of his eyebrows is pointedly raised like it always is when he is mildly annoyed at how ridiculous something is.

Wow. Whoops.

Now. A good mother would have probably just stopped talking right then and there.

And so I say “Gosh. I wish I could just go into some kind of magical place for two weeks and have them take off a few layers of fat and transplant it to starving baby orphan whales and then at the same time slough off all my unbecoming rough skin and moles and marks and then maybe get a nice subtle spray tan. They’d probably first have to clip off some extra skin on account of the fat layers being gone. It takes a LOT of skin to cover all of THIS and saggy skin is NOT cool. I wonder if all of that would hurt? Maybe they could just knock me out for the whole two weeks. That way I could get some rest too. It would also be cool to get my eyelashes dyed and eyeliner tattoos. Because makeup just bites and I am finally realizing that I actually need to put it ON to look ok. Sucks. And maybe perhaps a little teeth whitening. Oh and my FEET: gawd my feet need help. And I’m while not really pro-cosmetic surgery (save for having layers of fat removed because I just don’t feel like exercising these days) it would be cool to know I had cheekbones under these robust cheeks. It just seems like a person should be able to get all of that done in two weeks. Really I can’t spare two weeks but if I could guarantee they would do ALL of that, well, I’d make time.”

Daniel turns and looks at me and I realize he was actually listening because I was using my outside voice.

Shit and whoops again.

“But then you would not look like you” he says to me.

And I suddenly wish I could just crawl inside this boy’s head and view what I look like from his perspective. This handsome young man of mine needs me to look like me and no one else.

Hmm.

I remember looking at my own mother as a young girl (before teen magazines, M-TV, commercials and other forms of media that destroy the “I am enough” mentality) and thinking she was so beautiful. And she was! I did not compare her to anyone else in terms of size, shape, hair/skin/eye color. She was just my mom: perfectly beautiful and designed to love me.

Is this the magic of being a mother? That when you are you from top to bottom you are pretty much perfect from every angle in the eyes of your child, simply because you look, feel, sound and smell like “my mom who loves me”?

How is it that I am just now realizing how f’ing fabulous this is?

Since the birth of my sixth born and last child, I have often found myself fighting the label of “mother of six”. I’m not sure why because it’s a pretty awesome thing to be a mother of six children. Being the mother of one to seventeen kids is awesome, but after that, well…you’re kinda stupid. I mean where the hell are you going to PUT eighteen or more kids?

It’s just that when I am introduced to people: “this is Heather, she has SIX KIDS (insert dramatic pause here)” as though I have some kind of crazy super power, I find myself being a little irked and often end up mentally elaborating about all my other attributes and accomplishments, mostly show-offy stuff, like: “Oh and also I finally got my dog to swim: I’m pretty much a dog whisperer” or “You should hear me sing in the bathtub: I totally rock the house down” or “Yes, and I look totally HOT in my bathing suit cover up.”  I mean if I am going to be labeled as a crazy super power chick, I feel like I should at least add more reasons why to the resume.

Because, seriously? Giving birth to six babies wasn’t exactly all my doing. I had support from my husband, nurses, doctors and in one instance about twenty medical students filling the room all examining and tisking (I’m sure in total AWE) at my child bearing nether regions, as though there wasn’t an actual person attached. Oh and there were drugs. Wonderful drugs. So for heaven’s sake. Hello. No gold medal for this gal.

Same goes for growing them up. There is even more help once they are in the world. If I forget to feed them, usually SOMEONE in the village will. Thank goodness. And in terms of guidance, yes I am part of their moral cabinet, but so are their teachers, friends, and siblings (and other less ruthless family members). So I really can’t take much credit for a whole lot of their good stuff (or their bad stuff).

So I think “Well surely I need to do, be and look like MORE for the world. To make my mark, to build my world resume, to achieve greatness outside being a mother.” Which is what often gets me to musing out loud about transplanting my jiggly fat to baby orphan whales. And while it’s a loving and environmentally friendly thought to help the baby orphan whales, it’s just not very practical.

And here’s the thing: as I grow older and maybe moderately more mentally mature (note awesome alliteration) I am slowly starting to realize that all this striving for excellence outside of who I am and who I love kind of falls flat and unnecessary.

My kids just want me to be me. And they mostly think I’m awesome, which is a hell of a lot better than the rest of the world’s opinion. They don’t want me to be some other mother, or sexy movie star, or triathlete, or high paying upper level executive. (Other moms: if you happen to BE any or all of those things, I mean no insult, you are knocking it out of the park! Bravo!  But damn girl: slow down and eat some CAKE!)

I don’t know what a mom-goddess LOOKS like but she is FOR SURE the chick to be. Because it feels wicked good to BE one: like a soft, squooshie, warm ball of beautifully loved-love.

I bet I smell like cookies too. Though probably only because I just ate one.

For the record Daniel didn’t actually SAY I am a mom-goddess. But I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant. So that basically means I AM one.  I just am helping him fine-tune his outside words.

You’re welcome Daniel. And thank you.

What’s Five More Minutes? (A Creative Reenactment)

Heather had thought there would be some breathing space (a.k.a. time to get some of the work done she was PAID to do) once she dropped the kids off at school.

Silly.

Within 20 minutes of dropping the three little boys off at school the phone rings.

Its the school. The one she was just at.

Her littlest one is on the line:  “Om. Un oth th thinth fel owt oth iy outh”

“Um, what?”

“I udent urt ut ad’s anna e ad.”

It sounds like he has marbles in his mouth which makes her think about the musical “My Fair Lady”…Audrey Hepburn…she was so beautiful…the rain in Spain…one of her favorites…she drifts off for a second.

“Om??”

“Oh. Sorry sweety. What’s wrong with your mouth? Slow down and quit talking like a weirdo.”

He clears his throat dramatically and continues slowly: “A iece um i outh a a orfaoanis ut in ame ow.”

Now she understands. The orthodontist put a metal expander in the upper part of his mouth to begin the process of getting his constantly moving little jaw aligned better. Something must have broken on it. “Did you sneak Laffy Taffy again? Is this why you are calling me and not your dad? Orthodontist stuff is a blue job. You know that.”

There is a long pause which means he is guilty.

“Is it giving you pain or are you just worried you are in trouble?”

“I’m worried dad’s gonna kill me.” It’s a miracle, the drama boy can suddenly speak clearly.

“Okay. Good. Go back to class. We will deal with the broken part and your dad later. No kid has been killed to date so you’re probably safe on this one. But NO MORE chewy stuff dude.”

“K. Love you mom.”

“K. Love you too.”

She hangs up only to see that there are three texts from her one and only daughter.

“I forgot to take my face medicine this morning!”

“What should I DO?”

“Mom! This is a crisis! Why are you not responding?”

Heather sighs. The medicine is crucial to her daughter. It’s getting her beautiful face clear so she can worry about other important things like when her braces will come off and how soon she can get contacts and pass her driving test so she can get her license and not need her mother anymore. Heather turns the car around to head back to the house to retrieve the miracle pill, dictating to SIRI a text:

“I will bring it to you after my 10 am appointment.  If you take it at lunch you will be fine.”

“Thanks mom. Loves ya.”

Heather gets back to the house to find both dogs guiltily lounging on the couches. The old yellow lab thinks she is in big trouble and starts coughing. Stress makes her cough more than usual. Then she starts shaking and needs some comforting. There was a time that couch lounging did get her in trouble but not now during her last days. But as Heather strokes and soothes the old girl she glares at the dopey black lab which is enough to make him shamefully creep off the couch and get in his $80 luxury dog bed.

Dog soothing accomplished she puts daughter’s pill in a baggy and TRIES to ignore all the dishes that have been left on the counter from breakfast but then does them. What’s another five minutes?

Dishes done, floor swept, pill baggy in hand Heather calmly heads downtown to her ten o’clock appointment. When she is almost there she receives yet another phone call from the younger boys’ school. This time it is from fifth born boy child who tearfully says he has forgotten his band instrument. Band is after lunch and he will get a bad grade if he doesn’t have his $50 pawn shop cornet to blow badly on. Seriously? Their school was four blocks from the house. But twenty five minutes from downtown. “Shit” she thinks but doesn’t say out loud. If she even speaks sternly to him he will cry which is embarrassing when you are at school.  Luckily she is still in dog soothing mode. “I will drop it off at the office before lunch sweetie.” and she hears her blue eyed blondie son sigh with relief.

Heather finishes her downtown appointment by 10:45 am and zips to the high school and meets her daughter at the bench and does the drug deal. Back to the house by 11:10 am she finds the band instrument under a pile of dirty clothes which she throws in the washing machine. The dirty clothes. Not the horn. What’s five more minutes?

When she drops the horn off at the office she sees that the littlest one is sitting outside the principal’s office. Again. She considers walking away but figures she will be late to her lunch appointment anyway.

“What did you do now buddy?” His teacher doesn’t understand his creatively rambunctious spirit and Heather is pretty sure the woman follows him around waiting for him to do something stupid.

“I was flicking my origami football across the room. A lot.”

“And THAT’S why you’re here? That’s seems like a silly reason to be sent to the principal’s office.”

“Well. When I got in trouble for that, my teacher told me to erase the board as punishment.”

“And??”

“Well, I erased the board like she told me too…”

“And???”

“Well I guess I wasn’t supposed to erase the stuff that had been up there all year, just the stuff from the day.” He is smirking.

“Sooo…I have an appointment at noon…you got this?”

“Oh yeah. I’ll be fine. There’s only eight weeks left of school. I won’t let her break my spirit mom.”

“Well. Maybe you should tone your spirit down for eight weeks. You erased the whole board on purpose, yes? What would happen if you did something like that at home?”

“You’d threaten to beat me but then send me to my room.”

“Yeah. Okay. Well.  We’ll talk more after school. I gotta go. It will probably be  an early bedtime for you tonight. Stop being dumb. Be respectful to your teacher. Eight weeks dude.”

“K. Bye mom. I love you.” His chubby cheeks face is all serious at the thought of how hard it will be to not do stupid things for eight whole weeks. Fourth grade is hard.

She drives away feeling kind of sad for him. But his teacher WON’T break his spirit. That’s the five siblings’ job. And so far they have only made him stronger. SIRI informs her lunch appointment that she will be five minutes late.

Heather enjoys a nice lunch with a long time customer/friend trying to ignore her phone that is vibrating and beeping in her purse. If it’s work it can wait till after lunch. But the way the day has gone so far she figures she’d better make sure there were not any more kid issues. “Will you excuse me for a minute?” She says to her friend. “I just need to figure out why this thing is so active.”

Sure enough, in addition to a whole bunch of work stuff, number two son is at job number two with excruciating shoulder pain. There are five texts from him:

“I have serious pain in my shoulder…”

“Hello? Are you there?”

“Is there anyway you could get me one of those warming pain patches and bring it to work?”

“Hello?”

“Ummm. Does this mean no? Thanks. Thanks a lot.”

And the school has called again. Number four son has left a message to remind her that he has his incoming freshman Honors English placement test at the high school at 3:30pm today. As though she would forget such a thing. He has major trust issues.

“Shit. I completely forgot about that” she whispers. Her friend asks if everything is ok. She grins. “It’s kid emergency day. It typically comes in sixes and usually happens when there is only one parent in town. There should only be one crisis left but number six son had two in one day so I might be off the hook.”

“What were you thinking having so many kids?” her friend asks her with a smile. He knows how much she adores her children.

Her phone beeps again. It’s her oldest. A simple text:

“Just wanted to tell you I love you mom. Hope your day is going good.”

She shows her friend the last text, beaming. “Too much thinking gets in the way of the creative spirit, don’t you think? I’m so glad I wasn’t thinking.”

FullSizeRender (13)