Friday, November 27, 2015

I’m a good mom.  

It doesn’t always happen.  You log too many minutes on Facebook, dinner is late and you tell your littlest to find the biggest to help her spell something special in her notebook for daddy.  You aren’t always attentive and you can’t always care.  Coloring pages scribbled on, Minecraft buildings shaped like Minions, chorus fundraisers and field trip forms. You say,  Mhmm too often and Yes, but LATER. You try to finish one more email, pay one more bill watch one more video on Facebook before getting them out of the tub. Did they even wash?  Is there soap in there?  Oh well. 

Your day has murdered your soul.  

Job, errands, arguments, finances, health problems, mustard on things that are nowhere near the kitchen.  How could you possibly make time for folding laundry this late? The kids will wear wrinkled polos tomorrow.  There are entire days that pass by without even knowing.  I find myself falling asleep with the lights on.  A book with pages mushed and spine stretched beside me. Next to the remotes, next to my glasses, on top of a pillow, under a blanket. with an action figure.  I sometimes wake up in the clothes I wore yesterday…GASP even my bra… I KNOW!

And when I wake up, I can’t remember really giving one moment of VALUE to any one of my kids at all the day previous.  Not one single “Okay, I’ll be blonde barbie.” No real analysis of an actually incredible short-fiction about the survivors of a Jewish migration boat. Just a “that’s great, babe”. There’s no real affection for yet another nonsense song sung at dinner while sopping up milk with a dirty dish towel or fetching a fork or letting a dog out to poop. (Dinner? Really? Every time.)

As parents, we adjust and learn to divide and conquer.  Divide our time to conquer our days.  Divide ourselves into different roles.  Some of us even serving as mother and father.  Some of us working from home.  Being employee and employer.  Most days it’s an accomplishment just to fall into bed wearing actual pajamas when it’s all over.   And there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving yourself a high five for keeping everyone alive.  Or for remembering to pay the water bill before they shut it off. There is no shame in thanking yourself silently for going the distance and making vegetables although nobody is going to put a damn one in their mouth tonight and-you-know-it.  And there is most certainly no shame in rewarding yourself with closet candy for eating your own vegetables. 

Do it! High fives all around for being a good parent today!

But I know you know what it feels like to add in one special thing to those days stuffed to the gills with “life”.  To let go of the email or the registration or the stop for green veg at the store before heading home.  In place of the daily thing, you do something different.  Like make a sign for your kid and show up at his school while he runs laps during a fundraiser you’ve been cursing for two weeks.  You make sandwiches for dinner and popcorn (okay just popcorn) so you’ll have time to braid her hair AND paint her nails after bath time.  You skip a shower you desperately need to watch your kiddo draw Manga for twenty minutes with her new markers. You’re always a good parent.  Even when you think you’re a bad one.  You’re a good laundry folder, teacher, cheerleader, job-seeker, bread winner, parent every day.  But some days, pushing pause on a good moment gives you time to have a great one.

That to-do list of a parent never gets smaller.  I’m not even going to try and list more things a parent attempts to accomplish on a regular basis.  If you’re reading here, you already know.  And if you’re not a parent, I certainly don’t want to be responsible for scaring you away from ever becoming one with a long list of weird shit mixed in with regular people shit.  Parents have weird shit on their lists. 

Sometimes we get so concerned with being a good parent and ticking things off that list that we miss out on moments that make use great.  Stuff we don’t put on the list. Find that time. More accurately, MAKE that time.  Stop gooding for just a bit and great.  It not only means the absolute world to those little humans (and not so little), but it feeds the hungry soul.  A minute of great can last for days and even if there are days in between or weeks, it’s never a bad time. It’s never too late to be a little great. Oh, a rhyme. (insert unicorn shitting rainbows here)

In fact.  Have you accidentally been great today? This week? It’s easy for great to go unnoticed because it’s often disguised as dropping the ball.  And how is that fair?  When you start to feel like you’re letting the world down…stop and say “Wait? Is this actually being great?” 

Are you eating frozen yogurt for dinner because you couldn’t stand to cook in a messy kitchen? Or messy-up a clean kitchen? Well take a look at the faces shoving yogurt and cookie crumbles into their front holes.  Chances are, they are grinning and laughing and growing those weird lower lip chocolate beard things that don’t make any sense.  Instead of laughing with them are you worried about the sugar rush at bedtime? (okay maybe you should be a little concerned about that, but still) You’re being great.  Snap out of it give yourself some credit. 

It’s not fair to give good mom all the credit all the time.  Sure she payed the bills.  Sure nobody ran out of toilet paper this month. Woo. But man.  Great mom showed up when she didn’t really have to.  She put her computer away and played basket ball (badly) with you in the street.  Great mom sat on the floor in the kitchen and let the dishes get crusty so she could help spell “daddy-I miss-you-and-will-you-come-back very-soon-HEART”.  Letter-by-letter in a tiny spiral notebook with a Sharpie they shouldn’t have been able to reach.

There’s no doubt.  I will live my whole life never knowing if I am any closer to figuring out how to be a good parent all the time.   But today I know I was great. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

High Five

Some mornings i wake up and sing while i pour milk and toast bagels and chase small people around holding polo shirts or hairbrushes.  Those mornings, the smiles come fast and hard and from nearly all corners of the house.  Jokes are told at the table and nobody rolls an eyeball.  Cream cheese is smeared in someone's hair, but nobody is crying about it.  Occasionally those mornings get effed.   Like, I step in dog vomit on the wood floor and go down like a bag of hammers banging elbows, head, and ass bone. For a second, I think this will change the vibe in here.  I think I might cry.  More because of the gaggy feeling that rises up from my guts because my heel is wet and slimy than from the pain in my elbow and head.  My face starts to warm starting at my ears and moving in toward my eyes.  But I quickly snap them shut and inhale deep.  So deeply that instead of red, my face should start turning blue.
And then I feel a hand on my cheek, small and a little sticky. She says, "mama, is your butt going to be okay?"
I try to remember the vibe.  The cool, swinging and singing thing I had going on just seconds before- where nobody seemed phased that the favorite cereal was gone because their mom was so happy and sunny.
I say "yes" instead of "shit".
And then my darling four year old daughter, holding a bit of bagel in one hand, reaches out with her other hand, finger pointing down at the vomit shmear on the floor and says, "What the hell?"

                    And we all die laughing.

Some mornings, not even dog vomit skating can ruin things.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Girl Attacked by Great White in Family Pool

    I didn’t read to my kids tonight.

There. I said it.  

  All three of my kids were at school all day today and I was frolicking around the house sort of doing laundry while totally watching X-files.  I didn’t have anyone asking me to open a cheese stick or trying to PUT IT ON THE CAT.  I didn’t wear pants for three hours and I certainly didn’t vacuum, sweep, or mop the floor as is written on my Monday list. 
That list can suck-it, by the way. 
I drank a cup of coffee.  Hot.  I asked the dogs hard-hitting questions and demanded real answers.  I took a shower, shaved, put on lotion and tried to braid my hair.  I didn't put any pressure on myself to waste the day doing housework when there was a stack of perfectly good books next to my bed waiting to be finished or started.  It was a glorious waste of an afternoon alone, I say.  And when I picked-up the kids I was refreshed and ready to be supermom.  

  When were driving home,  I looked at my hands on the steering wheel and noticed my engagement ring had this blackish/greenish/funky/dried snot looking stuff under the diamonds. Seven years worth of mystery funk. It looked gross and made me gag and resembled the stuff that came out of the straw of the sippy-bowl Cadence almost used for her cereal the other morning. (Think long booger.) 
So because I would never Google and drive, I asked Cadence to do it. How-to-clean-a-diamond-ring at home.  Soak, scrub, rinse, drop in disposal, repeat. 
  Okay. Some of that was obviously not in the plan, but soon enough that was me.  My hand in the garbage disposal plucking out carrot-tops and lemon peels looking for my ring. 
  Let me stop here and just say that if you can stick your hand down the garbage disposal without screaming to anyone stepping foot into the kitchen OH MY GOD GET OUT OF HERE DONT TOUCH ANYTHING MY HAND WILL GET CHOPPED OFF IF YOU EVEN LOOK AT THAT're not real.  It’s just like swimming in an above ground pool and being terrified a shark will eat you before you can reach the ladder. It can’t happen.  But it will.  And you write the headlines while you’re flailing furiously to the edge:
  I pulled my hand out of sink oubliette  and it’s just gross because who remembers to put “clean the underside of that rubber flappy thing” on their cleaning schedule? If you actually did put it on there, you’re probably also actually doing the chores on the list. Good for you.  My giant claw was wet with black slime and I had no ring to show for it.  Back down the hole just as Annie comes in looking for her “widdlefingwiffdafedderonit”.  So I politely and quietly groan to her, “Mommy’s trying to find something down the stinky sink, so can you please ask someone else to help find the feather thingie right now,” while pushing her away from the counter with my delicately pointed toe just in case she go-go-gadget-arms the disposal switch and I DIE from manglement.  
AHA! Ring. 
  I set it on windowsill above the sink and washed my hands for ten minutes.  Then I rinsed goop of my goopy/notgoopy/goopyagain ring.  AND THEN

   I dropped it down the disposal again while rinsing it because I do dumb shit like that on the regular.  What was this mess even about? Oh, yeah.  I put on two episodes of Peewee’s Playhouse for my kids instead of reading books tonight.  I didn’t win any parenting awards, but my ring is really sparkly now and my hands are sorta red and blotchy.  And clean.  Two accomplishments NOT on my cleaning list- proving how a lackadaisical sort of day can spiral into a dangerous made-for-HGTV movie and then back to lackadaisical again. 

Out from under my rock.

I am Stephanie.  

I have three perfect children who are often dirty, loud, and gassy.  That’s okay.  I’m not asking you to like them. 
I can juggle three balls exactly two times around and hypnotize a chicken.  Not at the same time. 
I can’t whistle with my fingers in my mouth.  Which is a shame because that’s pretty bad-ass. 
My biggest fear is yawning too long while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle thus rendering me temporarily blind at the wrong moment and causing a fatal accident. 
I believe every dog deserves a chance.  Or two or more.  And that every cat can and will attack without warning.  It’s just a matter of time. 
I am a member of the Church of Being a Good Person and I’m a card-carrying supporter of                    Marriage Equality/Human Rights/Gender Equality. I have my own printer
I’ve been known to faint at the sight of my own blood and barf when someone else barfs near me.  I’m gagging right now. 
I don’t eat pigs or turkeys, but I’ll smear a pickle with peanut butter any day. You’re gagging right now.  
Sometimes I wake up and want to look good in a bikini, but then I smell cookies and forget about it. 
I’m a coffee lover, tea liker, eggnog hater.  
I have a hard time saying no when people ask me favors.  My stance on abortion is your body is none of my business. Unless it’s on me. 
My kids are vaccinated and if your kids aren’t, I don’t really care.  
I have lived in Florida my whole life.  
My favorite condiment is hot sauce.  
I’m worried that someone I love will die of cancer. 
I don’t think Obama is a bad president.  I’ve lost ten pounds since February. I rounded up from nine.  
My son has Sensory Integration issues. 
My favorite color is green.   
My mother is sick.  
My father is dead.  
I miss them both. 
I desire to see the Pacific Northwest and go on a honeymoon with my husband.  At the same time is fine.  
I love reading.  
If you’ve borrowed a book from me, I still know you have it.  You can keep it.  I bought a new copy.  My favorite is East of Eden.  Get your own.  
Paul Newman. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

warning! avertissement! advertencia! 警告

   The advertised weight of a weatherproof sleeping bag lined in flannel boasting toasty toes in weather dipping into the thirties (f) is six point five pounds. When the tag of the peed-upon sleeping bag warns you not to put it in a top-loading washing machine, believe something bad is going to happen if you do.  Even if you cut off the strings that are supposed to keep it all rolled up.  Even if you remove that  tag (possibly under penalty of the law) before you cram it down into the washer with the handle of a broom, toss in  a DO NOT EAT soap pod, and slam down the lid like a boss. Something. Bad. Will. Happen.  Perhaps you’ll step in a puddle and go chasing after one of the dogs (probably the littlest one because let’s face it he’s the biggest asshole) with a wet rug in your clutches because last time the rug was wet it was his fault….wait a minute….what’s that banging noise?  
   The estimated weight of a weatherproof sleeping bag lined in flannel boasting toasty toes in weather dipping into the thirties (f) is two hundred forty six mother fucking pounds.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014


If you know me in the personal sense at all, you know my heart bleeds gushes for lost and lonely animals.  My husband knows he is always just on the cusp of living in a zoo and forgives each and every email forward from the local pound or rescue shelter I send his way.  I've transported snails in tupperware, brought turtles inside to weigh on the scale because HOLY HUGE some turtles weigh 13 lbs in my hood, and once spent a whole hour trying to catch a kitten I heard mewing in the garden section of Wal-mart. There have been emergency lizard, frog, and moth rescues.  And we have three dogs, and a cat that all knew some sort of desperation before finding a forever place at our home.  

I can't drive by a stray without my heart racing.  I look at the clock to see if wherever it is I'm headed can just wait a few more minutes.  I've followed dogs home, tempted cats with turkey from under abandoned houses and maybe picked up a puppy shamelessly chucked from a moving pickup truck.  People do these things!  

If I wasn't as skilled at rehoming these wayward souls, my family would certainly be living in aforementioned zoo.  

I took some photos of my last "project".  Her name was briefly LUCKY- since she was found by a bartender-friend in the engine of her car.  After driving two miles to a McDonalds!!!  I suppose Stowaway or Hitcher would have also been appropriate, but at my house (where she ended up since said friend has allergies) we called her OLIVE.

I mean.  I really don't get why black cats are so much harder to find homes for.  Look at that beauty!

In the end.  After only about a week in our master bath (where she hid desperately from the dogs, but loved endlessly on the children) I grew the courage to post a photo of her on Facebook and a teeny-tiny hint that she was possibly "up for adoption".

Just minutes later, a dear old friend's wife messaged me that her son was just enamored with a book about cats and especially the photos of the black ones!  And that they had been really and truly tossing around the idea of adopting a black cat because of the sweet boy's adoration.


And though tears were shed (gallons possibly) by my oldest, dearest heart... sweet Olive was given a new place to roam about where no scary dogs (or cats) would have her hiding behind toilet stumps or under dressers.  I'm so thankful for friends.  And my understanding husband.  And for children I can say are truly learning to care for other people and for animals.  

My big girl knew Olive was only a visitor.  She knew from the start because I told her.  And she was happy in her heart for the friends who took her home and grateful for those days she spent taking care of her.  On the way home from the kitty delivery, she used a box of tissues but then breathed deeply and said, "now we will have room again for another lost one". 

And that's just right. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

about a bar

Because I needed another place to keep these thoughts.  And because, well, it's been ages.  Hasn't it?

I keep telling myself it was just a place. And I know some people are seeing these posts and thinking "what's the big deal?" or "it was just a bar". Well they're wrong. They don't know what they're talking about. It was more than just a place. 64 North Orange Avenue was a hideout. A treehouse for grownups right on the streets of Orlando. But instead of "no girls allowed", it was 21 and up. There wasn't a secret handshake, rather a yellow legal pad of paper by the cash register with members' names and tabs. When you had friends in town (or your mom) you popped in to show the place off. And your guests either got-it or moved on further toward Church street for drinks. But that was okay. You slid into a booth. Close (but not too close) to the RV and found or made your mark on it's cruddy side. You met your best friend there after wandering in during your first summer of college. He was sitting at the bar. He was behind the bar. He was dating the bartender. You met your wife there. Or husband. After taking many (MANY) strips of photos in which you were kissing found a prince. (He was drinking High Life and poring over juke-box selections.) When you lost your job, Henry bought you a drink. And then Preston did. And then I did. When you broke up, She got Eye-Spy and you staked claim on BBQ (lucky dog). The girls behind you on a Saturday night are mad because you didn't get carded and they are searching blindly in their purses for an ID. But it's your place. You can do that. You can sit on a stool, rest your gut up against the bar, turn a lock that doesn't secure a damn thing and look up at a face who knows what you like in your can. And they probably know your last name and who will show up in five minutes to sit next to you. And I can't lie to myself and say that all that is no big deal. It meant so much to me. I was a patron there a few years and then I told Hurst he should give me a job so I could support my habit. He said, "Okay, come in tomorrow at 7." And I'm so grateful I had the balls to show up (hungover). This post is getting on. And faces and names are popping into memory that are making me happy and sad. Last night Ashley and Hurst hoisted up the rope ladder to the coolest fort I've ever known. I'm so thankful to have been a part of it.

not me

                                   (Ashley happens to be a photographer. Not just a bar tender.)