Monday, May 31, 2010

The Adventures of a Mediocre Mommy

It all started with a blank white posterboard and a note:

"Dear Parents, Please decorate this posterboard with the theme 'What I learned at Longmire.' Feel free to include samples of art work and handwriting and also pictures of your child. We will be displaying these posters at our pre-school graduation on May 20th."

Then another note:

"Dear Parents, Good news! Our parent graduation committee has reserved _____ Hotel in Bryan for our pre-school graduation. This hotel is newly built and a beautiful facility in which to host this important event. We are so grateful to the committee for securing this wonderful location for us!"

Then another:

"Dear Parents, Please send $16.95 for your child's graduation cap and gown."

Then another:

"Dear Parents, Please complete the attached RSVP for our pre-school graduation so that our parent graduation committee can adequately plan for the event and the reception to follow. We will have cake and punch along with a special program, and our parent graduation committee has put together an exciting video presentation to reflect on your child's time at Longmire. If you'd like to help decorate the facility for graduation, please let me know."

Then came the handmade invitation complete with multi-colored paper and ribbon and personalized with my child's picture and artwork at the bottom.

Call me crazy, but people have been born, married, and buried with less fanfare. This was a pre-school graduation, for goodness sakes! I know this may sound like sacrilege to some, but, honestly, it's not that big of an accomplishment. I'm pretty sure that even if he didn't know his colors and couldn't tell me what sound an "S" makes he would still be "graduating."

My first thought, if I'm being honest, was "Who the hell has the kind of time to care this much about pre-school?"

My second thought, only moments later,was more of an epiphany. It was a defining moment of my life, if you will. It was spiritual.

I am a mediocre mommy.

That's right. By today's suburban standards, sometimes I suck. I let my kids put stickers on the wall and play catch in the living room. They take off on their bikes and I may not see them for 20 or 30 minutes. Just yesterday, they played for six straight hours wearing only their underwear. When Tucker got pegged in the shin with a baseball last week, I yelled through the fence, "Get up! You're fine!" I think pre-school gradations should involve paper hats and pizza for lunch.

I'm not crafty. I can't decorate things. I forget to regularly wash their sheets. I have road rage in front of them. I inadvertently use the words "jackass" and "crap." And sometimes, every so often, I just want them to leave me alone.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids more than my own life. Next to my husband, they are the single greatest source of joy in my life. I want them to grow up to be well-adjusted and happy and kind.

But I can't cook a five course dinner in heels and a prom dress while they sit silently at the table in our pristine home making artwork for nursing home patients. This is not my world, even if everyone else around me wants me to believe it's theirs.

I am not, and I never will be, a Super Mommy. I have no desire to try. As the pre-school graduation from hell materialized, I resolved to never again care that I can't meet the present-day standard.

I stand before you (or my computer, actually) proud to be a Mediocre Mommy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Win

When Keaton doesn't get his way, he screams.

His mother, however, has figured him out. When he screams, I just speak to him in a calm voice and then ignore him. It works every time. Eventually.

Tonight he screamed in the parking lot of Tucker's baseball game because he left his bag of tricks at home. To each game he carries a backpack full of little trucks, tractors, gum, suckers, mints, and whatever else he thinks he might need while enjoying another one of Tucker's baseball games, but tonight he left it at home.

He screamed. I calmly explained that it was okay, and we would find a solution. Then I ignored him and continued to walk toward the ball field. In a second or two, he stopped screaming and followed me. I win.

Then, once we were seated he realized he left his gatorade in the car. So we hiked back to the car only to find that he had left the gatorade at home. So he screamed.

As a sidenote, I put two gatorades on the counter before we left and told the boys to each carry their own. They both immediately picked up the bottles and headed straight for the truck. I saw them, so I know it happened just that way. Somehow, neither gatorade made it to the game. I don't even know how it's possible, but it happened. There must be a black hole in the garage.

Anyway, Keaton was screaming again. I calmly told him that when Daddy got to the game with some money we could buy a new gatorade, and then I ignored him. He stopped screaming. I win again.

On the way home, he decided he wanted McDonalds for dinner. I told him we would eat at home tonight and maybe stop another night to eat out.

He screamed. I ignored him.

But he kept screaming.

This time he added what I'm sure he thought were great arguments.




Undaunted, I cranked up the radio as loud as it would go (some REO Speedwagon was playing, so that was fun), and I continued to ignore him. When we got home, Trey got him out of the truck and recognized the problem, and Keaton continued to scream off an on for the next few minutes.

As he sat at the bar in the kitchen while we all started throwing together dinner, he stopped screaming to announce authoritatively, "I am not eating anything that doesn't come from McDonalds."

"That's your choice," I said, "Good luck getting there." And I walked away.

What happened? He ate a hot dog. I win again.

Something else didn't go his way just a few minutes later -- I think I stopped paying attention to his percieved misery around 7:30 -- and the words came out of my mouth before I remembered he was four.

"Stop. Instead of crying or screaming can you please just speak to me like a grown up?"

Clearly he's a long way from being a grown up, but I was making a point, for goodness sakes. He stopped, composed himself, and spoke to me in as grown up a voice as he could muster.

I win again.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

When it Rains, Part 5

Hogan and I followed the Garmin's directions to the nearest ER somewhere close to midnight. When we arrived, the parking lot was packed. I remarked something about hoping there were no gunshot wounds ahead of us, and we decided not to commit - to first check out the number of people waiting.

Hogan now describes the scene as something out of the movie John Q, and he anticipated that at any time someone wielding a gun would demand to cut in line and we would surely let him. Since I've not seen that movie, I regarded it as a Thanksgiving episode of the television series ER -- people everywhere coughing and hacking and crying and talking and probably bleeding all over the place. I'm not sure though, because we didn't stay long enough to look for bleeders. In fact, we didn't even sit down.

Our conversation back in the car went something like this:

Me: I'm sorry. I guess I'm spoiled and stuck up. I can't stay in there. It doesn't hurt that bad.

Hogan: Good. Because at some point they were going to have to take you back to check out your wrist, and I would be alone in there. Not good.

He drove in circles while I tried to decide what to do. Did I really need an emergency room? Was I being a wimp? The clincher in my decision was that I was supposed to drive kids back to College Station the next day, and I didn't need to do that if I wasn't first checked out by a medical professional.

Okay, it also hurt like hell, so that was a factor, too.

Finally I decided that we were only an hour from my parents and my sister. I didn't want Hogan to think I doubted his ability to care for me, so I explained that eventually I was going to have to pee, and I didn't think I was capable of unbuttoning my own pants. He's a good friend, but not that good. He wholeheartedly agreed.

I texted my sister to see if she was awake, and she was, so I called her. Here's how that conversation went:

Me: Hey. I've hurt my wrist, and I need to go to the emergency room. Can you meet me at the one in Waxahachie?
Wendy: What?
Me: I hurt my wrist. I'm in Arlington with school kids. Can you meet me?

Wendy: How did you hurt your wrist?

This began many, many explanations of how my injury came about in the first place.

Me: Well, we were at Six Flags, and we decided to have piggy back races, and, well, I fell and hurt my wrist.

I'm pretty sure my ear needed medical attention after the screeching volume of her laughter. Thanks, Wendy, for laughing at me in my hour of need.

Anyway, Hogan took me to the Waxahachie emergency room which looked only slightly less like a third world country than the Arlington emergency room, so Wendy and I wished Hogan a safe trip back to the hotel and decided to hit up the Ennis ER. It was closer to her house, anyway.

Long story short (okay, just less long because this is part 5), we saw the world's oldest doctor in the world at the Ennis ER and left sometime around 3:30 a.m. with a splint on my arm but no indication it was broken. This was, of course, after I explained to every overnight employee in that hospital that, yes, I am 32 years old, and yes, I was riding piggy back on a friend in a race, and no, we didn't win.

Wendy took me back to her house to get some sleep, and when we woke the next morning I called my dad to fill him in on the situation and ask him to take me back to Arlington.

And I explained the story again.

Unshowered and unkempt, I rejoined the best StuCo in the world around 10:00 a.m. to watch the last program. We emoted about the end of a long journey to serve as a state secretary school. I was just a passenger, but I was no less affected by the significance of this journey's end. We took lots of pictures (like the ones below) and then headed back to good ol' College Station.

We got back to school, returned rental cars, and went our separate ways to our own homes. Lucky for me, the best family in the world was waiting for me, and I was so exhausted and in pain that I just wanted to crawl into bed.

Trey ran me a hot bath and helped me undress and get cleaned up. By this time I couldn't take a deep breath without wanting to cry in pain, and I decided that wrist sprains must be far worse than childbirth.

Around 6:00 p.m., Trey and the boys went to run an errand (probably get dinner), and I crawled into bed hoping to sleep for a week. For no reason at all, I glanced over at the phone and noticed there was a voicemail. The message there made me feel strangely vindicated for what I had thought was just wimpy-ness.

"This message is for Stormy Hickman. My name is ____, and I'm calling from the emergency room in Ennis. It seems that your wrist is broken and you'll need to see an orthopedist as soon as possible. Call us back if you have any questions."

And then, for the first time since my injury, I cried. The hospital said my wrist was broken, so now I had an actual reason to be in pain, and I cried like a baby all by myself.

As I relate the story over and over to people who ask about my cast (most of them think I have carpal tunnel syndrome, by the way), many people remark about how there is a lesson to learn here and that maybe I'm too old for such shenanigans. I'm always reminded of my dad saying "you're only as young as you feel," and I don't think my age is the message at all.

Remember how I didn't ride the roller coasters because I didn't want to plummet to my death or impalement on an amusement park ride? Guess who is the only person who got hurt that night?

The clear lesson?

Safety doesn't pay.

Monday, May 3, 2010

When it Rains, Part Four

I heard laughter and shouting. I immediately saw Hogan coming to my aid. "Are you okay?"

I couldn't stop laughing long enough to tell him I thought I was fine. I rolled over onto my tailbone, and it was instantly clear to me that the padding I have back there just isn't enough to be falling from the piggy back of a six foot four man and landing on my rear end. Visions of myself carrying a one of those inflatable donut seat cushions with me all around the school building to comfort my aching booty instantly plagued me, and I couldn't stop laughing.

One of the kids reached for my hand to help me up, and I realized then that my hand was hurting, too. Teachers and students gathered round, inquiring about my welfare, and together we laughed about the craziness of it all.

But there was a problem. I was really hurt. I could feel my forearm and hand swelling, and clearly it wasn't okay. I reassured the kids that everything was fine, but then I handed my van keys to Tiffany. I didn't want to drive with kids in the car if there was any chance that I wasn't at my best, so she took over.

Once in the van, I giggle-whispered to her "I think my wrist is really hurt. I mean, if I could stop laughing I would totally cry right now." Being the good friend that she is, she took me to the QT and let me stay in the car while she got ice for my injury.

While the kids purchased their midnight snacks, Caleb climbed into the back seat. I turned to him and said (still laughing), "Caleb, I think I broke my arm."

Caleb shook his head, "I think I broke my pride."

And at that moment the grown-up piggy back racers realized that we were all injured just a little. But they don't make x-rays and casts for pride.

We retired to the hotel, and I decided to call the 24 hour nurse to see if I needed medical attention. You see, when I was younger I had a bit of a reputation as a drama queen, and there was absolutely no way I was going to the emergency room to have them tell me I was fine. There were no protruding bones, so I figured my chances of being badly injured were slim. But if I got there and they said I was just a wimp, I probably would have slammed my arm in the automatic door to avoid the humiliation of being hypochondriacal.

The trusty phone nurse told me to go to the doctor, and the worsening pain told me she was right. Tiffany and I called the boys, and Hogan won the prize to get to take me to the emergency room.

Tiffany: Did you call Trey?
Me: No. He's probably asleep, and he can't do anything anyway. I'll just call him in the morning.
Tiffany: Really?
Me: Really. He's three hours away, and it will just keep him up all night.

But my friend is wise, and she finally asked, "Am I going to be in trouble if you don't call him?" So I sent him a facebook message to see if he was still awake, and then when he texted me that he was, I called him. I'm such a good wife.

I met Hogan at the car, we programmed "hospitals" into the trusty Garmin, chose the closest one and headed off to find a Dallas area emergency room on midnight of a Friday night. That's when the next adventure began.