Shortly After 8:30am, They Lived Happily Ever After

7am. – Coffee
Pour first cup of coffee. Bump cup on edge of counter. Favorite cup breaks and splashes moderately hot coffee down the front of the cabinets and all over my feet. Do the walking on hot coals dance. Clean up mess.

7:30 – Eggs
Remove egg from carton to crack into pan. Drop egg on my foot en route. Hobble over to the sink to wipe yolk from between toes leaving a trail of egg slime from stove to sink. Clean up mess.

7:40 – Toast
Toast pops up. Reach for butter tub. Knock brand new tub of butter off counter. Splat. Falls open side down – of course – and not just on the floor, but again, on my foot. Hobble over to the sink and wipe butter from between toes. Take note that this is third time I’ve had my foot in the kitchen sink this morning. A new record. Put mostly clean glop of butter back in tub when no one is looking. Clean up mess. Spread questionable butter on cold toast to serve to my child.

7:50 – Call Sean to table to eat toast and eggs. Bump plate on the edge of the table launching scrambled eggs into centerpiece and pile of yesterday’s mail. Pick eggs off the table and put back on plate. Clean up visible mess.

8:10 – Get Dressed
Attempt to improve attitude with tube of mascara. Drop mascara brush down front of white shirt. Watch in amazement as mascara wand rolls off the vanity and – you guessed it – onto my foot. And then onto the rug. Consider kicking mascara wand across the bathroom until I see image of interested 3-year-old in mirror behind me. Make a better bad choice and mutter “damage” under my breath. Wipe mascara from between my toes. Remove rug and shirt to the laundry to join other collateral damage of the morning.

8:30 – Plan Day
Ask Sean what fun thing he’d like to do today. “The funnest thing I can think of is to play with you Mommy,” he says. Heart pops out of my chest and lands in a big sloppy mess at my feet where I splash around in it like Gene Kelly.

The Real Reason Behind On-Line Shopping

Every time I venture out into the world of retail, I always come away astonished that it is a service-based economy that keeps this great nation of ours spinning and churning.

The majority of the sales clerks I encounter make it clear they could not be more bored or put upon with having to help me. I am an unwelcome interruption to their busy schedule of yawning and looking at their cuticles. It has come to the point that I’m surprised by decent service because it’s an exception rather than the rule. And when I do run across someone who is kind and helpful, I want to put them in my shopping bag and take them home and fix up a room for them and feed them ice cream.

As you know, from a previous post, I recently purchased an iPod so that I could listen to it while I pretend to exercise. The thing is though, the iPod itself is like cocaine. Because soon after I got it, I started craving all the iPod accessories and well, today I found myself in Worst Buy at 9am trying to score an iTrip – a car adapter/charger/player. An iThingee if you will. And you know you’ve got a problem when instead of buying a nice pair of shoes, or at least something you can show your girlfriends, you’re buying something that plugs in. And no one would have predicted that.

After I made my purchase, I rushed out to my car and right there in the parking lot, I ripped the package open and plugged the iThingee in and started pushing buttons. And nothing happened. So in a fit of ingenuity, I tried reading the instructions. But I couldn’t. Not because they weren’t in English, but because the print – it is so small. And in order to read the instructions I would have had to set them up on the dashboard and then climb into the backseat. So I went back to randomly pushing buttons and jiggling cords and plugging and unplugging and still, nothing. Finally I gave up and went back into the store to see if I could lure some young thing to my car to help me. Want some candy little sales person? Come, get into my car. Heheheh….

If you’ve ever been to Worst Buy then you know Dwight from The Office oversees his vast empire from the podium at the front door. And if there is anything that indicates who is important and in charge, it’s someone standing behind a podium wearing a polo shirt with donut crumbs down the front and a pencil behind his ear.

So I approached Dwight and politely explained to him that I had just purchased an iThingee and I couldn’t seem to get it to work and I even admitted that I was sure that it was just me and that maybe he could have someone help me. Please. Pretty please. Sweet helpless little old lady smile.

“Well, feel free to go back and see if you can find someone,” he suggested. At this point I paused and stared at him until he pulled the pencil from behind his ear and started nervously drumming it on the podium.

“Um, well, since you’re in charge here, Dwight” I said slowly, “I thought maybe YOU could do that.” And then I gave him the bug eye. You know the bug eye, you’ve given it to your kids, your dog and maybe even your spouse. He sighed and in return gave me the “you idiot” look. He turned to his telephone and in an overstated manner designed to demonstrate what a huge effort he was making on my behalf, he pushed a few buttons with his pencil. “Uh, yeah, this is Dwight,” he breathed into the phone with smoldering self-importance. “I need to see you up front.” When he hung up, he made a move to put the pencil behind his ear with some flourish, but ended up nearly stabbing himself in the eye instead. And then it was my turn to give him the “you idiot” look.

Just then the same sweet young girl who helped me pick out my iThingee came up front and agreed to go with me to my car. In about two seconds, she had it working. And she didn’t even sigh or make me feel stupid. She smiled and said she was happy to help. I officially love her and want to kiss her or give her some candy or pay for her college. Because good service goes a long way with me.

Family Of Four Narrowly Misses Smack Down At Home Depot. No One Injured.

Early Friday evening, Sean and I went to the Poor Man’s Amusement Park – PetSmart and then Home Depot.

At PetSmart, we make several laps around the store looking at the various animals, riding the moving ladder by the fish tanks, weighing ourselves on the dog scale, trying out the saddles in the tack shop and seeing which dog houses Sean will fit into. When we get kicked out of there, we walk next door to Home Depot to try out all the riding lawn mowers, relax on the patio furniture and then play “snowcone stand” in the tool sheds. I figure that I have spent so much money in those places in the past twenty years that they owe me some free entertainment.

In spite of how that might sound, Antique Daddy and I both have a very strong sense of appropriate public decorum and we don’t allow Sean run amok in public or act like an uncivilized barbarian. We save that for home.

When we got to Home Depot, we ended up in the Lawn and Garden department where they had a cheesy little fake fish pond/fake water fall/fake putting green vignette set up. And of course, this kind of deal is just begging for little boys to climb all over it. And really, I didn’t see the harm, so when Sean asked if he could climb on it, I said okay.

I stood nearby watching him as he pulled the flags out of the putting green holes and put them back in. And then he pulled the flags out and put them back in. About 30 times. When he tired of that he sat on the ledge near the pond for a while and watched the not-fake fish and occasionally poked his fingers in the water. But it wasn’t long before his curiosity got the best of him and he moved to venture around to the back side to see how the fake waterfall works. I called him back and told him that only the Home Depot workers were allowed to go back there. He complied knowing better than to mess with me in public.

Just then, two unsupervised boys about age seven came charging through acting like uncivilized barbarians. They jumped up on the display and wrestled around trying to shove each other into the pond. They climbed on top of the waterfall and behind it. They pulled the flags out of the putting greens and used them to sword fight. Sean sat off to the side and watched all of this wide-eyed with disbelief. I watched it all with disgust. I really wanted to collar them both, sit them down and enlighten them on finer points of proper public behavior. But they weren’t my kids.

Just then, a Home Depot sales clerk yelled at me from across the store in a chastising tone. “Hey lady! Get those two boys off that waterfall! They’re not supposed to be up there!”

I almost yelled back to her that they weren’t MY kids, but since it was a direct order, what could I do? I cleared my throat and readied myself for a smack down. I had my big bad mama speech all ready to go.

But then their oblivious parents showed up and called them away with not a word of correction. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t the kids that needed a smack down — it was the parents.

But there were two of them and they were much bigger than me.

And I didn’t I have my big bad judgmental shopper lady speech ready to go.

Good Nurse, Bad Nurse

Dear Recovery Room Nurse:

Several weeks ago, you were assigned to care for me in the recovery room after my hysterectomy. And I just wanted to take the time to thank you for making me feel like a big bothersome pain in your behind. I think studies have shown how this attitude helps the post-surgical patient in the recovery room, which is to say, not at all.

You would think that under the influence of anesthesia and narcotics, that I might have been totally unaware of your attitude. Not so. I was painfully aware. And I haven’t forgotten either. I’m like that. I don’t forget — especially in cases where those who are charged with looking after the young, the weak, the powerless or the infirm fail so miserably.

As I struggled to regain consciousness, I tried to focus my fuzzy eyes. I looked over to see you sitting on a stool, restlessly flipping through some papers and obsessively checking your watch and sighing repeatedly and pointedly. It took all the strength I had to raise my head to see that no one else was around, that everyone else had gone home. And then I realized that I was probably keeping you. I know. It was Valentines Day and you probably had better things to do. I’m sorry. I hadn’t planned to allow my respiration to slow to six breaths per minute and delay you. I had planned to get back to my room in time for cocktails and crudités. Looks like I ruined everyone’s evening.

When I called to you that I was in extreme pain, you didn’t even bother to look up. “Well, you just had surgery,” you snapped. Thank you so much for pointing out the obvious. That was helpful. “I’ve been through this before. This is more pain, this is intolerable,” I managed to call to you even though my throat was raw and I could barely speak above a whisper. I called to you because you couldn’t bother to get up off your backside to come to me. “Oh really?” you remarked snidely, “You’ve had a hysterectomy before?” Then I had to make a decision. What to do with what little strength I had?

a) Defend myself by telling you that this was my third abdominal surgery and that I was more than familiar with pain.
b) Beg for more pain medication.
c) Imagine myself flying off the gurney and beating the snot out of you with my own chart.
d) Make a mental note to write a strongly worded letter to the hospital president.
e) Trash you on my blog.

Answer: All of the above.

Few occupations provide the opportunity to really make a difference in the life of another human being – teacher and nurse most readily come to mind. You should probably be neither.

Most sincerely,

Antique Mommy

*  *  * 

Dear Judi, Irva, 4th Floor Nurses and PCTs,

I have thought of you many times since my recent stay in the hospital. I have been thinking of how to best express to you what a difference you made in my life in the two and a half days I was under your care. You did things for me, that really, only my own mother should have to do. You bathed me, fed me and cared for me and you went out of your way to see that I was comfortable and that my pain was manageable. You never once made me feel like I was an inconvenience to your day. You made me feel like I was the most important patient on the floor. I cannot thank you enough or express in words how far that went in speeding my recovery.

I am making a donation to your hospital’s nursing scholarship program in your name so that there might be more nurses like you, nurses who love people and have a heart to serve.

Antique Mommy

Do It Anyway

The Paradoxical Commandments written by Dr. Kent M. Keith in 1968 state: “Give the world your best and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.” If ever there were a list of how to live counter to the culture, counter to human instinct, this is it.

There is a group of mothers that I come into contact with on a regular basis. I smile at these women and try to make eye contact but mostly what I get in return are eyes that look down and then away. I am invisible. On these days that I pass them, searching for a smile, searching for acknowledgement that I exist, I think of Dr. Keith’s paradoxical commandments. They are so hard. I don’t want to smile anyway. I want to lash out. But I don’t. I just smile, even though a little piece of me just died.

Recently Sean and I were in Wal-Mart looking at cards. He is sitting in the front of the cart. A man comes down the aisle behind me. I see his eyes light up as the man approaches. Sean gives him a smile that would melt an iceberg. As the man passes, I watch his face fall. Tears well up in his eyes. “That man didn’t smile at me!” he says. He is crushed. I am crushed for him. He doesn’t understand. I certainly don’t understand. I think of Dr. Kent and his commandments and how hard they are. They are so hard.

“I don’t know why he didn’t smile at you,” I say to comfort him. “But that’s okay. Just smile at him anyway.”

“Just smile anyway,” I repeat, not for emphasis, but so that I might just convince myself.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Post Surgical Pain

By Thursday afternoon, I was 24 hours post op and doing okay. I was sitting up and eating yummy hospital broth and speaking in complete sentences in English, although some people dispute that last part. As the nurse prepared to remove the morphine pump, I picked up my cell phone to call home. I couldn’t wait to call my little boy and reassure him that I was fine and that I loved him more than anything in the entire world and that I missed him and couldn’t wait to get home to see him. Even without the aid of heavy duty narcotics, I somehow imagined him sitting by the phone, waiting for news of my well being, barely able to hold back the tears.

When my dad answered the phone, I asked him to call Sean to the phone.

“Sean, come here, your mother is on the phone,” I heard my dad call into the den.

“I can’t right now. I’m too busy playing with Wivian.”

When I put the phone down, I turned to the nurse and told her that I’d just had my heart scraped out of my chest cavity with a rusty fork and maybe she could let me have that mophine pump a little while longer. Like seven or eight more years.

I’m Thinking Of Taking Up Tennis Again

Back in September, on the first day of school, Sean bounced right into the classroom and started playing with the train set. He didn’t look back or take notice when I left the room, so I left feeling smugly satisfied with how well it went. I flashed “poor you” glances at the mothers whom I passed in the hall on my way out, sobbing mothers pulling unwilling children down the hall like stubborn mules, mother’s whose children aren’t as secure and well adjusted as mine. Tsk.

And that was the last time I took Sean to school without incident.

Anytime I mention the word “school” the whining and negotiating begins.

“Oh I don’t like school! I don’t want to go to school! I have too many important things to do at home!” he informs me. “Oh really?” I ask, “Like what?”

“I have to play with you Mommy!”

I should probably stop here to admit — I am fun. So there’s no countering that argument.

Nonetheless. He needs to go to school two days a week because I have important things to do at home too. Like blog. Or go to TJMaxx.

To no avail, I have tried everything I can think of to foster the idea that school is fun. “Sean!” I encourage, “There are little people to play with at school – people who are not in their 40s and peri-menopausal!” Even given that, he remains convinced that it’s more fun at home. I am quite certain that most of the dramatics are for me. I am certain that once I leave, he has swell time.

To make the drop off a little less stressful (for me), at his insistence, I carry him into the school. I carry him, his coat, his backpack and whatever other crap I’m hauling into the school that day. And it’s a lot — more than my middle-aged joints appreciate. And I usually try to soothe and comfort him as I carry him hoping that he will brighten by the time we reach the door to his classroom. All the while he digs his nails into my neck and pretends to sob. All the while I suffer “poor you” glances. And if there is anything that will lift your spirits and bolster your confidence as a parent, it’s walking away as your kid screams for you while the other parents cast their eyes downward as they pass you in the hall.

Be that as it may.

One day recently I had had enough. The soothing-calm-super-nanny approach wasn’t working, so I opted for tough love. On that particular day, I was laden down like a pack mule with schtuff and I simply could not carry him. But I could drag him. And so I did. I no longer cared what anyone thought. He of course wailed and flailed the entire way, which drew gasps and disapproving looks from the tennis-skirt-wearing moms, but frankly, I did not care because with my elbows I’m not playing tennis anymore anyway. And then at 2:30, when I picked him up, we did it in the reverse.

As I was dragging him across the parking lot like a drunken cowboy riding on his spurs, a tennis mom, who has never once spoken to me or acknowledged my existence, flashed me a Crest white strips smile and oh so helpfully observed, “Hey, didn’t I see this same scene on the way in this morning?” And boy was that edifying.

Lucky for her I was armed with only an empty backpack and not my tennis racket. Because I still have a pretty mean backhand.