You know what I hate?  Hate more than the one exercise I can’t do in my exercise video because my belly roll gets in the way? Hate more than the x-ray technician saying “I need to do the left breast one more time because I missed some tissue?”  Hate more than paying for car insurance for 2 teenage boy drivers (which is slightly less than the GNP of Madagascar)?

I hate math. More specifically, high school math.  Gimme back potty training, gimme back teaching to tie shoes, gimme back up every 3 hours to breast feed a screaming baby.  I’ll take it all to not have to suffer through my son struggling with his math class. I can’t do it for him, even if I wanted to. Not that he needs to “conquer this battle without Mommy’s help.”  I literally CAN’T help him. I can’t do the math. Sometime in the mid 90s, in grad school, I probably had a fighting chance to give him an educated guess, but not so much anymore. Starting around 7th grade, math has been his nemesis. His Voldemort. His kryptonite.  His Ivan Drago. He’s a pretty average kid all around, some things come easy, some things he has to work for, but in math he just feels like he is totally defective.

He has inherited (or been bullied into) our sarcastic sense of humor, he can be even more of a neat freak than me some times (yay!), he’s fun to be around, makes great popcorn, and loves our cats with a passion. I love him with all the love a Mom can possess. But nothing can bring down the party like an algebra homework assignment. We can be having a laugh filled family dinner, planning our summer vacation, talking about sunshine and unicorns, and then the dreaded question rears its ugly head:  “do you have any homework?” We go from smiling to miserable faster than 45 can tweet #alternatefacts to a CNN story.

My husband wonders why I like watching “My 600 LB Life” and “Hoarders”…I think I know why, at least 1 reason. Other than being what I would consider REAL reality shows, where else do you get to see such transformations, such progress, such success in under 60 minutes?  You go from shitty life to way less shitty life uber fast. It’s a pretty little success package with a bow on top. I love it. Algebra is not subject to such pleasures. It’s a nightmare, wrapped up in a bag of shit, delivered to your dining room table on a tray of rotting hamburger meat with maggots. Nothing is solved in 60 minutes. It’s everyday. Every fucking day. I hate what it does to him. I hate how it makes him feel.  And subsequently, how it makes us feel. It makes us all unhappy, frustrated, crying piles of math hating people.

Brendan is a trooper though. I honestly don’t know where we’d be without him. He sits with him, day after day, hour after hour, trying to help him understand.  He uses props, folks.  But he’s reached his breaking point several times.Then there is cursing. Because here’s the issue. If we are working harder than he is to help him succeed in math, then something is wrong.  And it’s the same conversation day after day, month after month, year after year. When you are bad at something, the only way to get better is to work at it.  Not just a little, but a LOT. Everyday. You have to do more work than the kid who breezes through math. Or even the kid who gets a B or C. Or D. The lectures, my God. It’s a CD on endless replay. He’s in 11th grade, there is no more time, there is only white knuckling til mid-June when school is done. And guess who doesn’t want to do the work to be successful?  And then guess who gets pissed that the other one doesn’t want to do the work?  And then guess who feels just sad and defeated and wants to make it all better with hugs and warm milk? Circle of hell.

He hates that he struggles and others don’t.  His internal dialogue is “I can’t do it. Studying won’t help. My teacher can’t help. I’m lost. I’ll fail no matter what.” And now on top of all that is college looming in the not so distant future.  You can eliminate all math careers from the mix easily enough, but it’s still another pressure to pile on top. For those who have kids where academics come easy, be so so so relieved, because this side of the aisle sucks. How do you convince your kid that they have worth even though they fail? Will a bad math grade keep him from success in life?  Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass. You still have to push them to do better, do more, work harder.  I tell him that we do it out of love. Other kids get crappy grades and their parents don’t care. We are on your side, we want you to be successful, be happy. We will always be your biggest cheerleaders. Brendan’s favorite line:  We’ll work with you, but we won’t work without you. You HAVE to do the work. You can’t avoid it. It’s not going away. It’s mentally exhausting for everyone.

He does every assignment, he does some math everyday, but it’s still not enough. I tell him everyone struggles in something. Or many things. It all seems to fall on deaf ears though. His next bad test grade is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I failed because I told you I can’t do it. For those of you who haven’t had school-aged kids in the recent past, you can now get almost up to the minute grades online. It’s a blessing and a curse. If you are familiar with this and are on Team Math Sucks with me, you will know the feeling in your gut, as you log in, click on assignments and hold your breath, waiting to see the latest test grade. Hoping, fingers crossed, praying to the math gods that it’s not a failing grade. And then there’s the disappointment. It’s heart wrenching because you know what’s coming next. Another lecture, more tears, solidifying the mantra “I can’t do it.”

Sorry to say, I have no happy ending here. There’s no magic math pill. We are engaged parents, given him every leg up possible, love, support, encouragement. In the final analysis, is he just plain ol’ bad at math? If that’s true, I’m totally ok with that. I truly am. I’m not particularly good at it myself and I love him just the way he is. But the greater lesson here is that he has to try. God helps those who help themselves. Help me help you. Seriously, like The Little Engine That Could. Change the narrative in your head. Persevere. Hammer away. Make math your bitch. And if at the end of the the day, it’s a C, I’ll be the first to congratulate you because I will know you tried. Now I’m going to take my parenting pity party and have a glass of wine. Anyone have some math to do?


22 Days

22 days. Last month it was 25. The month before, a standard 28. These last 2 months may just be a fluke. Or it could be the beginning. I’m 43, can I really be perimenopausal? Is that really a word? Ok, so it is, I googled it. “The time when a woman’s body naturally makes the transition to infertility.” Well, my friends, the stories I’ve heard about menopause around town makes it seem anything BUT natural. Supernatural, maybe, but definitely not natural. What it sounds like is what would happen if I stuck my finger in a light socket and then hopped in the bathtub. Cruel and unusual is my best estimate.

The symptoms of perimenopause sound like one of those new drug commercials: side effects may or may not include dizziness, shorter/longer periods, heavier/lighter periods, hot flashes, cold toes, tired but unable to sleep, severe cramping, clotting, death, leprosy, dermatitis, narcolepsy, blindness, paralysis, general emotional unrest, moodiness, flat out bitch-mode and/or psychopathic tendencies. Natural? I think not. So my body begins the process of stopping to produce eggs and apparently everything inside me goes haywire. And my friends, this process can take YEARS. Hell, I can produce another human being in 9 months flat. I’ve got 3 of them as proof. I’m calling bullshit. At least with your period you know what to expect every 4 weeks or so.  Menopause apparently brings you an erratic, maddening, painful, and turbulent experience.  Sign. Me. Up.

My Mom started menopause early, around 40 if memory serves. But my sister who is 45 is going along just like normal. So it wouldn’t surprise me if I drew the short straw here and got involuntarily signed up for the 120-month payoff program. Not that I wish for the need for surgical removal of one’s woman parts, but every time I bring up periods and menopause, my friends and family who no longer experience the exhileration of a monthly visitor, belly laugh, throw their heads back and point at me. It’s kind of an evil laugh, too. Not ashamed to admit that I’ve considered more than once, faking some pretty serious medical symptoms and kinda, sorta, make some off-handed remarks about a hysterectomy to my gynecologist. It could totally work.

The flip side of this of course is the fact that I won’t be able to have another baby. What’s that you say????  Can’t get pregnant?!?! Oh, you mean there’s a sunny side to this horror show? To some, the realization that you can’t reproduce any longer is some sort of loss. As if you are less of a woman now that you can’t make babies. (Don’t get me wrong, I am only speaking of those women who go thru the process as they age out of fertility, not those who prematurely lose the ability to have children.) I knew when my third child was born that I didn’t want any more children, buuuuuuuuut, I didn’t know it enough to have my tubes tied after numero 3. I wasn’t ready to make it permanent. But now that that decision may be taken out of my hands 13 years later, I’m totally ok with it.  I know I’m ok with it because I see other women around my age who are pregnant and I feel bad for them. Like reeeeeeally bad. I think about going thru the child rearing stages again and I swear, it’s enough to make me want to cry. Yes, I love my children, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t love other children that I could have, but it’s not wrong to say I don’t WANT any more children. I am done with that stage of my life, no more diapers, no more 2am feedings, no more shoe-tying, no more elementary school, no more babysitters, no more tantrums, and the list goes on and on. My family is complete and I am totally at peace with that.

But I digress…I had 2 IUD’s after my 3rd child, and they were fantastic!  Birth control I didn’t have to think about and the big bonus? Almost non-existent periods. I was living the dream for 10 years. When I had the 2nd one removed, my gynecologist told me some women’s bodies take up to a year to go back to regular periods. 3 weeks. That lying bitch. Been every 28 days for a while now. Until it wasn’t. So now I fear I am going to have to pay the piper with this menopausal roulette wheel. I had it too good for too long. The unpredictability of it all has me nervous. I’m a planner, and word on the street is, you don’t plan menopause, it just kind of owns you.

So now what? Sit around and wait for my randomized periods? I’m really at a loss here. And that doesn’t happen to me very often. Stuck between a rock and a hot flash. Guess I may be on this roller coaster ride whether I want to be or not. But maybe 22 days was just a fluke and I’ll be waiting in line for another 15 years instead.  Whatever it turns out to be, I see a whole lot of complaining in my future.  Shocker, I know.


End of an Era

Later this month I will watch my oldest son’s last soccer game of his career.  From a “career” standpoint, it wasn’t all that long, wasn’t all that glorious, wasn’t noteworthy to anyone but some family and friends, and that day will likely come and go with little fanfare. But this Mom will be one sad lady. If I were to brood about it too much right now, the tears would come.

We didn’t set out to have soccer be Riley’s “thing.” It was just a sport to do, a reason to get out of the house and get him involved with something.  The first time we took him to the city league at age 4, he cried on the field.  We went home.  The following spring we finally wised up and found out the details of the soccer that was going on across the street from our house. Cabrini Recreational Soccer. Cue the Star Wars theme music. When we first started, it was free–and we got a t-shirt, bonus! It wasn’t long before Riley was 7 and we knew we had a Cristiano Ronaldo on our hands.  It just wasn’t fair that he was playing on the 7/8 year old team, making the other kids look silly. He ended up playing on the 9/10 team and eventually he started travel soccer at age 9. He was athletic, had speed, and handled the soccer ball much better than almost every other kid on the the field.  At the time, we were sharpening our pencils, we knew the contracts for FIFA would be rolling in from every European powerhouse team 🙂  Ah, the dream of every young, mildly skilled, adolescent kid’s parents.

Fast forward 10 years to my 17 year old, high school senior, Varsity team soccer player.  We’ve spent hundreds of hours on the soccer field watching him play, even more in the car driving to training, games, and tournaments. The monetary total?  Off the top of my head estimate would be $25k.  Nearly 10 years of travel soccer costs, futsal, camps, technical training, uniforms, hotel stays, gas, beer (at the tournaments…let’s be real people), eating out, and Slurpees (at least $1k right there, you’re welcome 7-11).  And don’t get me started on the cleats.  2 pair of cleats a year, plus indoor shoes, plus turf shoes.  We can put shoes on three whole 11v11 teams with the number of pairs of soccer footwear we have bought for Riley. Didn’t seem so bad in monthly installments, but when you total it up…whew, that’s a lot of money.  We are blessed to have been able to do all this for him.

Riley is a good, solid, soccer player. Fantastic? No. Better than some? Yes. Fun to watch?  For sure. Mom-colored opinion of his play? Amazing, astonishing and simply unparalleled in skill 😉 He struggled with always being smaller than his similar aged teammates.  Not hitting puberty and the ensuing growth spurt until 16 made it difficult for him to compete physically. But he did his best (usually). And even on his worst days, I still love watching him play. If you’ve ever participated in a kid vs. parent athletic contest, you’ve experienced what I will term “Complete and Utter Incapability of Keeping up with your Child in a Sporting Endeavor that Requires Running.” Soccer is hard (regardless of what you football naysayers will spout).  Although if you’ve ever attended a soccer game, you will very clearly hear numerous parents yelling from the stands various ways their child/the team could be doing better. Because everything looks easier from the bleachers. Well, Mom and Dad, put some cleats on and you come out here and show me just how easy it is. I include myself in this category. In a roundabout way of getting to my point, Riley may not be Ronaldo, but he’s talented in a way I’ve grown to truly appreciate. And my goodness, I will truly miss it when he’s done.

He’s made friends, I’ve made friends, I’ve made friends with his friends. I’ve laughed and cried and smiled on the sidelines, I’ve frozen my butt off and been sunburned more than once.  Brendan managed his travel teams over the years, and I took the helm on managing his high school team, while Brendan announces home games in the booth.  It sometimes feels we’ve put in more time than he has. But that’s what parents do. And not because we love soccer. But because we love Riley. That’s what parents do. I wouldn’t trade a second.  But I am SOOOO happy he quit t-ball after 1 season.

Today’s Top Stories

Sorry for my absence, for those of you who care.  End of the year school activities had me unable to form complete sentences.

A lot of very touchy subjects are in the news spotlight right now.  It’s enough to make me want to swear off Facebook and media in general.  Everyone is pissed about something.  Many are about pissed about everything.  Some are pissed about nothing, but I don’t know any of those people.  As I’ve constructed my opinion on these matters, whether just in my head or verbalized to my friends who I know will agree with me, the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m pretty laid back about everything.  Or just too lazy to be really passionate about any one of these topics.  I have opinions, and I like to express them, but they aren’t always based on years of research, or some staunchly held religious belief.  I just think them because I do.  I have some rationales, but not always.  I generally don’t try to persuade people to my side of the fence, so I think it’s ok to just have an opinion. In any case…

#1-Gay Marriage-or as you’ve heard some call it, “Marriage”  Truth is I can’t say anything smart that you haven’t already heard in the past week since SCOTUS made their ruling.  I think it’s just fine and dandy if homosexuals want to get married.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  Not in a religious sense, not in a political sense, not in a sexual sense, not in any sense.  Some will say I have no sense.  And I’m ok with that.  My religion does think being homosexual is a sin, although we don’t exactly talk about it much.  It was a 5 paragraph article on the 4th page of the quarterly national newsletter. The equivalent of “Cat Show Spectacular in Tuscaloosa” news coverage.  I don’t agree.  Plain and simple.  I think God made homosexuals just they way they are and they deserve the legal benefits of a binding marriage contract.

#2-Sub-text of #1 Gay Marriage opinion-I also think homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children.  The homosexuals couples I know that are raising children are doing a bang up job.  Whereas on the other hand, I’ve witnessed some seriously fucked up heterosexuals doing their best, yet pathetic, version of a sideshow act of parenting I’ve ever seen.  I’m not saying sterilization should be legal…but I have a really long list of those who should be first in line should it ever come to that.  Lots of unwanted children out there, give them a loving parent, gay or straight, and they have a fighting chance in this world.

#3 Confederate Flag nonsense-Stop flying it over government buildings like a badge of honor.  Otherwise, leave it be.  We can’t rewrite or make disappear all the shitty history we’d rather forget.  We don’t have to worship former symbols of hatred, but rather teach what was and learn to be better.  And Dukes of Hazard rules!

#4 Gun Violence- We own a handgun and several WWII display rifles.  I hate all the gun violence that rips families apart on a daily basis across our country (not just Detroit, folks…).  It shames me that our country’s price for our right to bear arms is such tragedy. Like the war on drugs, I’m fairly certain there is not an answer to this question that will EVER work.  Law abiding citizens will never give up their right to lawfully own guns while criminals will abuse that right and kill innocent people. It just makes me sad.

#5 Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy-refer to previous statement about sterilization.

#6 Rob Stark being killed off on Game of Thrones-The red headed witch lady better bring him back to life next season or someone is gonna be in a world of hurt.

#7 USA Women’s Soccer Team-They won the World Cup in glorious fashion!  Being a soccer household, of course we were watching, but I know plenty of non-soccer freaks that also were engrossed.  Win for the sport, win for the ladies, win for USA!

So here is where I leave you today. There will be friends and family who disagree with my opinions, and that’s perfectly ok with me. They of course are entitled to their opinions as much as I am.  My opinions are not up for debate any more than theirs are. What these hotly discussed issues have brought to the forefront of my mind is that I need to be as respectful of those who I feel are on the “wrong” side of the fence, as I expect them to be of me.  And in that vein, what I’ve found that works is seriously just to stop reading.  I get sucked into the comments on a Facebook post, full of “racist bastards, sodomites, faggots, gun toting rednecks” and verbiage that makes me seethe with anger.

The vehemence and name calling and attacks and fury and outrage is just exhausting.  I have trouble enough getting my Keurig power button not to stick, this shit is too much for me. I hate the fact that I lay in bed last night unable to sleep due to swirling thoughts of the widespread, ongoing and irrational reactions to these issues.  So I step away. And the truth is, I can’t change them, and arguing with them sure isn’t going to get me anywhere.  So respect.  Or at least blissful ignorance. Can’t we all just get along?

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”  –John Lennon

Rational and Slightly Irrational Things That Bug Me

I hate the song “Happy.” It just bugs me. Plenty of songs I don’t like, I guess I just find it kind of ironic that I seriously don’t like this song.

Could HAVE, people.  Not “could of.”  The conjunction “could’ve” when unconjunctified is “could have.” Otherwise, the conjunction would be spelled “could’of.”

Strong winds are sooooo annoying. They mess up my hair and make it really unfun to watch kids sports outdoors.  I mean, there is no one to get mad at and blame it on. I think that is the part that bugs me the most, just get me a customer service number for crappy weather. Damn you Mother Nature!

Super hate the fact that I love pop and apparently it’s akin to drinking rat poison that manages to make you fat. Can I avoid it?  Sure. Do I want to? Hell no.  I would drink that sugar sweetness all day long if I were so inspired. A fountain Coke from McDonald’s? Yes, please! But I do resist most of the time, begrudgingly.

And maybe the #1 thing that bugs me (today anyway):  I loathe going to a baby or wedding shower and having to address my own thank you envelope. I think this is a relatively new breech of etiquette, maybe last 10 years or so? I know it wasn’t a thing when I was getting married or having babies 15-20 years ago. I get it, you’re busy, you’re having a baby, planning a wedding, blah, blah.  “We’re just trying to make it easier on the bride or mom-to-be,” says the hostesses. Here’s the deal. Too freaking bad. You (Ms. Bride or Expectant Mom) invited me to the shower, so I’m going to assume you have my address. I went out, bought you a gift, wrapped it and came to your party. I didn’t ask YOU to write our your own card, did I? I’m no stick-in-the-mud, trust me, but you can’t take 12 seconds and write my name and address on the envelope? Seriously? There’s no gray area here, people. You throw a party, you write thank you notes and don’t ask me to do 1/2 of it for you. Start to finish.

And don’t tell me that the envelopes are going to be how you draw names for prizes.  Truly, we all know this is a pathetic and lame cover up for the fact that you want me to do your work. 3 babies people, I get it. Tired, run down, doesn’t really matter, you find the time to do what’s right. Brides? You have NO excuse. While you are admiring all the $1,000s of dollars of nice shiny things you just received, take a minute and write down how thankful you are. And then put my address on the front of the envelope.

I know it will only take me 30 seconds to do it for you, but if we blur that line, then why stop there. Why bother having a party at all, just ask me to buy you a “gift” and we’ll just save everyone the time, money and hassle of following etiquette. I’m no stick-in-the-mud, believe me, but there are some things that just need to be done.  And I have to give props to my Mother-in-Law, who first voiced this etiquette catastrophe to me years ago. I knew it bugged me, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. She was and is 100% right about this.

Last but not least, I recently learned that only old people put 2 spaces after a period. I.  Can’t.  Stop.  Doing.  This.  I learned to type in 7th grade on a manual typewriter. Some 30 years later, this is a habit as ingrained in me as breathing. I’m trying to stop, but it’s like trying to stop smoking crack (which I’ve never smoked, but I hear it’s really hard to quit). It bugs me that that is one more box to mark off in the “I’m old” checklist. 😦

These things don’t keep me awake at night, but darn it all, when they rear their ugly heads, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’ll live to fight another day.

P.S.  To all my friends and family who have stopped to tell me that they enjoy my blogging adventure, and are liking or commenting on my posts on Facebook and on the WordPress site, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It truly makes me smile to hear that you enjoy my words. I’m enjoying it too 🙂

My Guilt

For all my short attention span followers, this is for you.

I am 100% positive that this is not a complete list. I have so many things that I love that I have been told are “bad” for me in one way or another. Even if I haven’t been told they are bad, that is the insinuation, collective opinion, and internal dialogue that assaults my otherwise happy go lucky sense of self. The end result, however, is guilt, guilt, guilt.

1.  McDonald’s and other fast food. Love it. It’s poison, I should be making homemade kale and lima bean salad with a spritz of olive oil with an organic, freshly caught fish bouillabaisse soup, but I don’t. I do make semi-nutritious homemade meals 4 or 5 out of 7 nights a week, but you will see me in the drive-thru, too.

2.  Diet pop and/or pop. Never read anything that says it’s good for you.  It’s just good, period.  I enjoy it.  I don’t go overboard, but I have one a day usually.  I have an old friend who was also addicted to diet coke who said, “I’ll probably grow a green glowing tail from all the aspartame.”  Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me.

3.  My 600 LB Life, Hoarders, Sister Wives, etc…it’s not like I DVR them, but I will watch them if they are on.  I don’t get into the Bachelor shows, dancing shows, housewives, or most of the ones where rich people act stupid, but for whatever reason, I enjoy several TLC “reality” shows, they intrigue me. Sue me. I also watch “smart” TV, like Modern Family and The Middle 🙂

4. Facebook. I came onto the scene late with FB, I stayed off for a couple of years on principle. Not sure what principle it was, but I was standing my ground, damnit. I like the interaction on FB, I like keeping in touch with old friends and family far away.  It makes it easy for me to reach a large audience quickly. Not everything I do on there has a larger purpose though, a lot of times it’s just mindless fun.

5. 50 Shades of Gray.  I’m reading it. Again. I saw the movie, too. I enjoyed it. I read purely for pleasure, an escape from MY reality.  I enjoy many genres of books, but mostly I will only pick up a book if it truly will entertain me.  I spent 6 years in higher education, I’m done educating myself. (And randomly, I also loved Brokeback Mountain, I thought it was a very touching love story.)

6. Cell phone.  See Facebook above. Addicted–enough said.

Most of my adult life I have been guided by the opinion umbrella, everything in moderation. Some may feel the things I enjoy are evil, some may think they are no big deal at all. It’s all relative. But just think about how many times a day you do or don’t do something that you feel guilty about. I don’t smoke, I think it’s gross and the chances it would kill me are pretty good. So I don’t smoke. But I admit, I look at people who smoke and say “what is wrong with you?” So am I guilty of making those people feel guilty!?!?!  It’s a horrific circle of guilt! Oh God! Am I wrong for not drawing that SAME line in the sand for fast food or pop for myself? Am I foolish for enjoying FB and not reading history books and becoming a more well rounded person? Where does the madness end?!?!

My point?  I guess I just want to sit back, have a diet coke and Big Mac, watch some rated R porn and browse FB for 2 hours on my cell phone. And I don’t want to feel guilty about it.  Who is with me?