Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun House Mirror

It began about a month ago. Every morning, after I am dressed for work, I do a once over glance at my attire using the full-length mirror hanging inside our closet door. It is just a spot check really. Making sure my buttons are in the proper button-holes; my shoes match my outfit and each other; no stray globs of toothpaste are attached to me.

It was completely horrifying to me to look in this mirror one morning only to see a short, squat, pot-bellied toad looking back at me. I couldn't fathom how this transition could have taken place without my seeing signs of it. Granted, I am not a skinny twig, but rather I would describe my build as athletic. The figure facing me in the mirror was the opposite of athletic. I mourned the image. I recalled how my son had patted my belly the night before asking, "When did you get so fat, Mommy?" I was stupefied. I had let myself go. My love of food outweighed my morning runs. I felt a completely fat way.

Morning after morning my psyche took hits from the image in the mirror. I tried to embrace the belly, the boobs, the thick thighs. I tried to find outfits that would disguise my unpleasant metamorphosis. Nothing seemed to work. There wasn't a single pair of slacks, jeans, or capri's that could flatter my new figure. Every top seemed tight and every blouse seemed inflated by my expansive, barrel-shaped torso.

I took action. I upped my runs. I ordered a Pilate's DVD. I ate more reasonable servings. I bought pre-measured, single serving ice creams containers (really, why give up ice cream completely?). I replaced my Dr. Pepper with Crystal Light. Yet, my efforts were wasted. Every morning I was greeted by the toad. I was infuriated and dejected at the same time. My husband's assurances that he had no idea what I was talking about upset me. I knew he was being nice. Probably fearful I would sit on him and squash him in his sleep.

Finally, I reached my breaking point. I dressed with care for somber, family event one evening. When I opened the closet door for my once over the toad looked back at me. In an instant, I reached up and pushed the toad back with all my might. The door the mirror resides on, slammed into the wall. Take that you toad!

Then it clicked. I had noticed something when I pushed the mirror. It straightened. I looked more closely. I pushed the mirror gently with my finger. It straightened again. I watched my reflection as I straightened and released pressure on the mirror. Me, toad, me, toad, me, toad... I felt tears brimming in my eyes. Tears of sheer relief. I realized the mirror was warped. Warped from the hands of children shoving behind it to see if the world of the mirror was real. I literally jumped with glee. I raced to the kitchen junk draw for my 3M double-sided sticky strips. I stuck two behind the center of the mirror and pressed it firmly against the closet door. The mirror stuck; straightened. The fun house image was gone. The old me stood in its place.

I gained a new perspective from my many weeks with my warped mirror. I realized that I am far to hard on myself. I realized that I should continue my runs (and my new found love of Pilate's) for the joy I experience and not for a feeling of obligation to simply lose weight. I didn't like the me that obsessed about weight and food. I like the me that eats with gusto and delights in second helpings. I acknowledge that I want to have a healthy lifestyle for my benefit and to set a positive example for my children. But, I acknowledge that as I age, I will change. Some changes will be easy and some will be utterly mortifying. I will continue to apply my potions creams daily to combat or slow-down as much of the aging process as possible, but I won't deny that I will age regardless of my efforts. I will defend myself as much as I can without becoming compulsive. I believe as long as I can keep the toad at bay, I will be just fine.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Little Boys and Farts

Little boys are into farts. Heck, big boys are into farts. My nephew is no exception. He spent the night with us and as we were driving out to our home he was telling me all about his imaginary friend, Fire Fartman. Really sounds like a dashing fellow if one can get past the odor of his many talents with farts.

Later that evening, all three kids were playing out in the back. They were running every which way and playing in that totally absorbed way that kids do. When the world fades away and only the play at hand exists. As I watched them, my nephew suddenly broke away from the group and came running toward me in a mad dash.

"Hey, hey! Auntie, you know what?"

I couldn't possibly so I replied, "No. What?"

"You know sometimes when you fart? Like when you fart, sometimes poop comes out of your butt?"
Oh no, no, no.

He continued, "Well, I was just out there playing and I farted and some poop came out of my butt."

I hung my head, closed my eyes, and sighed. Welcome to my world.

Then I looked at him and said, "I will go get the Shout."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Um, yeah. He's a clown.

I had a brief, very brief, career in the world of non-profit. It didn't take long for me to realize that, though I found the end result of my efforts rewarding, I just wasn't cut out for the job. During my employment with the local non-profit chapter of a very worthy cause, we coordinated one of our largest, annual fundraising events. The weeks and days that led up to the event left everyone on staff exhausted though we eagerly awaited the day of the event to see the actual turnout.

The day was beautiful. The sun was shining, the volunteers were present, the vendors were in place, and people were arriving. I just needed a chipmunk and a bird to sing with for the ultimate Disney moment. As I was taking in the sight, I noticed a paunchy fellow in a charcoal gray Members Only jacket standing off to the sidelines. Oh, yeah...this wasn't in the 80's it was 1998. He had on dark sunglasses and was shifting his weight from foot to foot. I approached him and asked if I could help him with something.

"Yeah. Are you with the organization putting on this event?"

I replied that I was as I attempted to make eye-contact with him. He would not look and me but rather looked around as if he suspected we were being watched.

"OK," he said. "I have him."

"You have who?" I questioned.

"I have Ronald."

"Ronald who?"

Frustrated, he replied, "Ronald MacDonald. I have him."

"Oh great!" I replied as I spun around looking for said clown. "Um, where is he?"

"He's close," Members Only replied.


"Yeah. When you are ready to transport him I will get him."

"Transport him?" What the heck was this guy talking about?

"Yeah. Do you have a transport vehicle?"

"Well, we are just crossing a parking lot, but I supposed I could wrestle up a 'transport vehicle' if you really need one."

"OK. I need you to get the vehicle and meet me at the black automobile sitting right behind me at the curb."

"Uh, the minivan?" I asked even though it was the only "automobile" sitting at the curb.

"Shhhhh!" the guy scolded as he spun his head around looking for, I assumed, adoring fans or Ronald groupies.

What a weirdo! I walked away and located a Mule (think four wheels with power-steering, not donkey). I got in and floored it until I screeched to a stop in front of the minivan. Sure enough, Ronald emerged.

"Hi Ronald it's a pleasure," I said as I extended my hand that was met by void space. "Er, Mr. MacDonald, I guess, it's a pleasure." Still nothing. Hand still hanging in the void. So I drew back my hand and gestured to the Mule, "Shall we?"

So off we went. Ronald, his handler, and me. The three amigos on a two-minute journey across a parking lot.

When we arrived at our destination, Ronald's handler looked at me and asked, "So, what would you like for Ronald to do?"

"Oh, OK. Well," I turned and addressed Ronald, "you were here last year so if you could just repeat that performance that would be great."

"Actually, you need to talk to me," said Members Only.

"About what?" I ask.

"No. You need to direct your comments to me. I will confer with Ronald."

It was just too much.

"Are you serious?" I asked incredulously. "You want me to talk to you when you are standing next to Ronald who is standing in front of me with two ears of his own?"

"Actually, we no longer wish to work with you. Where is the gentleman who worked with us last year?"

"What? This is ridiculous. He is a CLOWN!" Oh yes! I said it. It was at that point that I knew Ronald was not deaf. His painted face screwed up into a look of horror and he literally gasped. It was as if I had physically punched him and knocked the wind out of him.

Members Only took immediate action and stood between me and the faint-looking Ronald. "Look Lady. Ronald MacDonald is NOT a clown. He is a persona. If you want Ronald to participate in this event you will get us the gentleman that we worked with last year. Our conversing is over!"

"Fine!" I seethed. I walked back to the Mule and fired it up. I muttered and I cursed and I grumbled about Ronald the "Diva" as I quickly located my boss (and my dear friend) and told him that we had a situation with Ronald and his handler. My boss was able to smooth Ronald's ruffled feathers and I received a mild scolding from the advertising agency that represents Ronald MacDonald the persona and not Ronald the clown. But, seriously, in my book, he will always be a clown. How could he be anything but? Even if his face wasn't painted white with a big red grin he would be a clown for the way he acted.

These days when I see Ronald at non-profit events I always have the urge to trip him, but I refrain. I look at him and thank goodness that it is him, not me, in the big, floppy red shoes and red, bushy wig. I am thankful to just be me and not a diva "persona."

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Mom

I am a mom. It is weird to think sometimes. The girl-next-door who never thought she would get married, let alone have little kidlets. But here I am. I have been blessed with a puzzlemate who complements me perfectly. And, together, we have these two precious children. These children who have an amazing zest for life. These children who make friends with the neighbors when I haven't taken the time. These children who literally do stop and smell the roses when I don't even notice them bloom. These children who study and know every crease in my face and every change in my appearance. They are amazing! And, me...I am blessed to be their mother. They inspire me. They baffle me. They leave me in awe. They fill me with joy. And, they test me. They try my nerves. They push the boundaries. They push my buttons. But, they are mine and I love them beyond comprehension. I look at them and wonder how I could create something so perfect and wonderful? But, if you ask they will tell you. They will tell you that "God made me this way." And, again I find myself in awe of such a simple yet profound statement.

I wish I could keep the world simple for them. I wish I could take away every ache and broken heart that I know is facing them. I wish I could ease every worry and anxious moment. I have a desire to shelter them but that is not letting them live. They long to explore and experience. They are living life. As much as I have yet to teach them, I learn much more from them everyday. Kids are amazing creatures. Mine have forced me to reevaluate my life. I no longer live for me. I no longer work so I can buy new clothes and trinkets. I live for them. I live to be with them and share their experiences. I work to provide for them. To provide them with clothes and food and experiences and, yes, trinkets and treasures.

I know I am a mom because I smile when my children smile. My heart breaks when theirs is hurting. And disciplining my children has been my greatest downfall as a parent because it is so hard. I try so hard to understand what is going through their minds when they don't even understand that themselves.

But whether being naughty or nice, my children are the most precious gift I have ever received. They bring me the greatest joy. I marvel that I have been entrusted to care for these amazing creatures. I was delighted to wake up on Mother's Day to two kidlets calling me "Mommy." Of course, they were calling for "Mommy" to get them breakfast, but still, they were calling!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Forget the Swine Flu for a Moment...

...and instead focus on the monstrous, system-cleansing, nameless, vacation to Hell, 24-hour bug that is making the rounds. No amount of scouring the house saved the dear hubs and me from catching this wicked virus. The dear hubs scored a double whammy with a Friday diagnosis of walking pneumonia. We were two adults that were definitely down for the count.

It came on fast. One moment I am crawling into bed ready for a good night of sleep and, literally, the next moment I am overcome with body aches and a great urge to heave. And so it began. I vomited consistently all night. Anything from my mouth to my stomach was purged. Not a single particle was left behind. I am certain I purged the plaque from my teeth. Nothing was spared.

At 5am I found my self talking to a fuzzy form of my dear hubs. I was explaining my weakened state. It was when his form dissipated into nothingness that I completely freaked out. I hopped from my sick bed on the couch and staggered down the hall in tears. I woke my hubs from a precious, much-needed sleep to relate that I had experienced my first, true hallucination. That got the hubs up and he sat with me until Mother Nature beckoned him to the perils of the bathroom. I cried, and did what any 35-year-old wife and mother would 5:30am I called my mom.

When Mom answered I began talking in weeps and sobs. She had gone through this same bug just two days prior and was up with my sick father at that very moment. She knew what was going on. A half-hour later Mom was sitting with me, her mere presence emitting a phenomenal healing power. She came armed with 7-Up and anti-nausea syrup. She coached me through the last of my heaves and left well before Phase Two kicked in.

Phase Two came on like a tornado. With mere seconds of warning I dashed to the bathroom. I grabbed the sink counter and hung on for dear life as my system began to purge the lower states.

The dear hubs and I emerged from our respective hovels late in the afternoon. We appeared skeletal and hollow. The hubs was off to pick up the kidlets at his mother's house. Earlier, she had immediately agreed to watch them for the day. I crawled back into my mess of blankets on the couch and slept a hard sleep until the kids were home and I was flung back into Mommy-mode.

The kids were oblivious to our sickly state. They came home with the flurry of requests that are typical of preschoolers and pre-preschoolers. They wanted dinner, they wanted cartoons, they wanted to play, they wanted to draw, and, perhaps most thankfully, they wanted to cuddle which afforded us a few extra minutes of much needed rest.

Beware...the swine flu is making the news, but there lurks a greater evil. Wash those hands and arm yourself with Lysol. I've been to the edge and back. It is a brutal journey. Let sleeping swines lie and don't disturb the evil, 24-hour mega bug.