3

The Making of a Mad-Woman

I have for you here a perfect recipe.

A recipe so perfect that, when followed precisely, will transform you from a normal, well-adjusted, mentally-sound person into an absolute raving lunatic. A lunatic who says such things as, “Because I said so!” and “I’m a grown-up so I’ve earned the right to swear.” A Mad-woman.

 

Here we go:

A Recipe for Disaster

In a large bowl, add the following ingredients:

1 potentially historic blizzard

1 kinda sorta blizzard (depends on who you talk to)

2-3 major snow storms

6  “no school” calls from the Superintendent

2 big handfuls of below zero temps

Mix the above ingredients together with a dash of cabin fever, a little bit of “she won’t stop breathing on me”, and cup of “if you need me I’ll be outside shoveling off the roof.” Cover the bowl with an ill-timed February vacation, and set aside.

 

In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients:

(NOTE: these ingredients are to be handled with care. They are highly explosive and have a way of getting under your skin. You must resist the urge to run away screaming when faced with these ingredients. Stand your ground.)

One 11-year-old boy who takes a break from his computer and his phone only long enough to aggravate each of his siblings to the point of tears

One 9-year-old boy who decides to get sick the Sunday night before the first Monday the kids have been in school in a month. You thought you were going to get a break at last. You thought wrong.

One 7-year-old boy whose favorite phrase is “I know you are, but what am I?” (Which for some reason drives the 9-year-old crazy.) *Don’t do the whole “I am rubber you are glue…” thing. It won’t help.

One 5-year-old girl who said no to the only bagel in the house FIVE times when you asked her if she wanted a bagel with cream cheese for lunch. Five times you asked. Five. All five times she said “No” like you were some sort of crazy person offering her a worm sandwich. So you offered the bagel to her brother and he said “Yes” like you were Willy Wonka offering him the golden ticket. Which prompted the 5-year-old to suddenly decide that yes, in fact she does want the bagel and cream cheese after all. In fact she wants it more than she’s ever wanted anything ever before in her whole entire life.

One 3-year-old girl pitching a major fit, screaming and crying because you flushed her poop before she could show it to her brothers.

poop show and tell meltdown

Now here is where it gets tricky. You need to combine the ingredients from both bowls into one big massive bowl. The key is to add them in the right amounts at the right time. Add them too slowly and you run the risk of being able to handle it all easy breezy. Add them too quickly and you’ll become a mental-case waaay too fast, which is no good. You’ve got a rep to protect. So easy does it. You’ll know you have it correct because you will feel yourself s-l-o-w-l-y losing your mind. Little by little losing your grip on the “normal you” whose kids used to go to school on Mondays and Tuesdays.

When you start fantasizing about being trapped alone in an elevator you will know that you have followed the Recipe for Disaster perfectly and you are now officially a Mad-Woman.

1

It’s Just a 20 Dollar Piece of Crap

the bear

I just spent 20 bucks on the world’s crappiest stuffed animal. It’s gross. A gross stuffed bear made of gross material and stuffed with (highly flammable?) gross stuffing. I shouldn’t even know what the inside stuffing looks like because, well, it’s supposed to be on the INSIDE. But it’s not. It’s coming out thru the shoddy stitching around the neck. We’ve only had the thing for 30 minutes and its practically disintegrating in my daughter’s hands. And, ugh, she’s all jazzed up to sleep next to the nasty thing. She keeps kissing it! (Don’t put it near your mouth!) I’m just biding my time over here, waiting for her to turn her head so I can huck the offending stuffed animal into the trash. Oh, and I’m pretty sure this thing was made in a sweat shop. So now my $20 has gone to support a back alley sweat shop in the dredges of some third world country where women have no rights. I’m not down with that. So how did we end up with a highly flammable, piece of crap, stuffed bear in our possession? Two words:

Claw Machine

That’s right. We were away with the kids, and in the hotel there was an arcade. You can pretty much walk into any family-friendly hotel in the entire world and there will be a dreaded, money-sucking arcade somewhere in the building. And, of course, in any respectable money-sucking arcade there will always be at least one claw machine sitting there just waiting to torture some poor sucker. I hate claw machines. My kids love them. I seriously think they should be against the law since they are basically just a big racket. My kids think they are the best invention since the dawn of time. I may be a dreamer about a lot of things. But when it comes to the claw machine I am a realist. A very mean realist.

Me: You’re not going to win anything.

Them: Yes I am. I want to win that stuffed animal right there (pointing to the gross stuffed animal jammed under 3 layers of other gross stuffed animals.)

Me: I know you WANT to win it…but you’re not GOING to win it. There’s no way for the claw to get that far down. And even if it does get that far down, it won’t be able to pick up that toy. You’re not going to win anything. You’re just not.

Them: Yes, I am. Can I have a dollar?

Me: I hate to be a dream-crusher, but it’s rigged. I’ll give you a dollar, you can put it into the machine, move the claw around, and then drop it when you think it is over the toy you want. But you won’t win. As long as you know that going in, I’m fine with it.

Them: Okay, can I have a dollar?

Me: No crying and complaining after.

Them: Can I have a dollar?

Me: You’re not going to get that toy.

Them: Yup, can I have a dollar?

I handed over one of the two dollars she was allotted. She put it in the machine, strategically moved the claw, and pushed the red button. She was surprisingly shocked that the claw didn’t pick up and deliver the prize she wanted. She was also surprisingly confident that with her next (and “last”) dollar the bear would be hers. I handed it over (you’re not going to win) and she fed it into the machine. This time when the claw went down it actually grabbed the bear by the head and managed to lift it up an inch or two before dropping it. Huh, interesting. She wanted another dollar. I should have said no. But, I mean, she ALMOST had it the last time. One more dollar. That’s it. I mean it this time. I handed over the George Washington and we all gathered around. This time the claw picked up the bear and carried it almost all the way to the drop area. Almost ALL the way! I drank the Kool-aid. One more dollar. Another pick up, another drop…even closer to the drop area. This damn thing is rigged! (Can anyone break a $20?)  Time to call in the big guns: her 11 year old brother, Harry. Another dollar. Another drop. Another dollar. ANOTHER drop. So close. I’m all in now. Fully invested. I don’t even care what the cost is…we are getting that bear. That bear is ours. Maybe this time…nope. Maybe this time…nope. And then, just when I thought I’d be breaking another $20. The claw picked up that freaking bear and managed to hold onto it all the way to the drop area! No one was more surprised than me! WE WON! We won the bear! We won the bear! We won the… wait, ewwww, we won the bear. And I paid HOW much money to win it? 20  bucks? I paid 20 bucks for that piece of crap?

So even though we won, we lost. We are now stuck with an extremely expensive, totally gross, stuffed bear that I am going to have to sneak into the trash under the cover of darkness some night. Claw machines are like War Games (starring the great Matthew Broderick). The only way to win is not to play.

the bear we want 2          first grab

first drop         another drop

more money                big guns

we got it

2

Another snow day

caution_tired_mother_edited-13

I can’t take another snow day. Like, I seriously mentally can not take it. How is it even humanly possible that we get a huge snowstorm every Sunday night?  These kids haven’t gone to school on a Monday in about a month. Which is to say that I have been trapped in this house with five kids every Monday for the past month. The past month. Every Monday. Trapped. Sometimes Monday AND Tuesday. I’m losing it. And I’m losing it fast.

I can’t even share the snow day torture with my husband because he plows so he is gone all day and sometimes almost all night in these storms. When he leaves and I say good-bye to him I wonder if he can see the “please take me with you” look in my eyes…as I’m pretty sure I can see the “see ya later, sucka!” look in his. Yea, yea, yea, I know he is working his ass off. He calls me while he is out there in the cold and snow to fill me in on the horrors of it all. The snow banks are so unbelievably high. There’s nowhere to put the snow. He may have to just snow blow some driveways because it is impossible to plow them at this point. Oh, and his truck got stuck for an hour in some guy’s driveway. And all I can think is: You lucky bastard. I’m actually jealous! I want to say to him that all those things that are supposed to sound awful actually sound pretty damn good because he gets to do them without 5 kids breathing down his neck. I want to say, sure you had to shovel snow and put it into a pile that was over your head…but did you have to do that while breaking up another fight about whose turn it was to be player one on Xbox, or who wouldn’t stop annoyingly humming, or who farted in whose face? I know that snow blowing people’s driveways is exhausting…but did anyone call you Jeeves all day because they were playing house and they gave you the part of the butler? Yes, I realize that you are literally covered in snow like Kristoff from Frozen…but at any point today did someone ask you to let them know their Mac-n-Cheese was ready by using a secret signal? And did you then do the “ca-caw ca-caw” like a crow over and over only to realize that the secret signal receiver had fallen asleep on the couch and couldn’t even hear you?

Did any of those weird things happen while you were out by yourself plowing? No? Okay, then I want to be you. Or I at least want to go with you. Better yet, just drop me off at Starbucks and you can pick me up after the plowing is done. No, wait, scratch that. Bring me to the airport. I’ll be back when this winter is over.

 

2

The Formal Living Room

 

formal living room idea

When I was growing up I remember some of my friends having a living room in their house that no one was allowed to go in. The “formal living room”. I never understood it. Why have a room that no one is allowed to go in? The couches certainly didn’t look very comfortable. There was nothing out of place anywhere in the whole room. All surfaces were free of dust and debris. It was just a cold sterile room that was off limits. The entire house could have been falling down in mad shambles all around us, but this room remained pristine. I vowed that I would never have a room like that when I grew up because it made no sense. And then I had kids and it was like a lightbulb appeared over my head. Suddenly the ugly sterile formal living room was genius. It was the one room in the whole house that would actually stay neat and orderly no matter what. Sure the concept seems sound even before you have  kids, but its not until you actually have a house full of crazy children that you really “get” it.

Here are my top 10 things that really only make sense after you have kids.

1. Mad O’clock – Mad O’clock is a real time. It is the time shortly after the kids are supposed to be in bed but aren’t. The time when you are supposed to be able to sit down and unwind but you can’t. Its the time of night when a simple innocent question of “Mom, what is it like on the moon?” can send you into a murderous rage. Thankfully Mad O’clock doesn’t last forever. It conveniently ends just as the clock strikes Wine O’clock.

2. A Valid, Yet Seemingly Disgusting, Lunch – It’s totally normal to eat the leftover crust from four different sandwiches and call it lunch. Before you had kids this would have seemed gross and sort of mental. Now that you have kids you basically ARE gross and sort of mental… so this lunch choice fits right in with your new glamorous life.

3. Horizontal Parenting – Pre-kids, anything with the word “horizontal” in it made you all like “hubba hubba.” Now…just…well, no. Horizontal Parenting is when one parent tries to do all parenting from a position of comfortably lying down on the couch. There cannot be two parents in the same household attempting Horizontal Parenting at the same time. You have to take turns. Hint: it will almost never be your turn.

4. Back-to-Back Trips Thru the Drive-Thru -Without fail it always seem to happen that everyone in the car will get the same glorious prize in their Happy Meal…except for one of the them. One of them will get the crappy prize that was left over from the last round of prizes. And it is never the kid who can go with the flow who will get the rogue toy. Nope. It is the kid who is going to go absolutely ballistic for an hour about the injustice of it all. And so, even though the drive-thru option was supposed to be the faster option, its going to take twice as long because you have to turn around and go back, wait in line, get to the front, and explain to the 17-year-old working the drive-thru that they gave you four good prizes and one shitty prize.

5. Hiding While You Eat candy – Once you have kids you understand that hoarding and hiding candy is a normal thing to do. You really have no other choice. If the candy is anywhere accessible to the young-ins they will eat it all because they are crazy animals with no self-control. Unlike yourself. You are perfectly normal and in complete control of yourself. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to wait until they were all engrossed in a tv show to sneak off and hide in the mudroom closet while you quickly down a mini Snicker bar. See? Complete control.

6. Costco/BJs – Shopping at Costco or BJs or one of those other big warehouse stores is always a gamble because it requires you to buy things in bulk. Which is sometimes okay, if you’re buying things like toilet paper or paper towels or something. But I should caution you about buying snacks there. Your kids may appear to love Nutrigrain bars, and buying a bazllion-count box of them SEEMS like a good idea. But as soon as you have completed the transaction and money has exchanged hands and you’ve opened the huge box thereby rendering it unreturnable they will all decide that they hate Nutrigrain bars. Hate them. And you will be left trying to sneak them into their lunch bags for school hoping that they will be so hungry they will eat them out of desperation.

7. Talking About Sleep – This is a biggie so pay attention. You probably imagined that having a baby who is a good sleeper would be fantastic, right? Well you were correct, it is. You may have also believed that mentioning to someone that your baby is a good sleeper would be okay…but trust me it is NOT. Don’t do it. The minute you foolishly utter the words, “Oh, little Malaki is such a good sleeper! He’s been sleeping through the night since the day I took him home from the hospital.” little Malaki will never sleep through the night again. Like ever.

8. Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom Can Suck – Sometime before you had kids you and your significant other most likely had a talk about who would watch the children during the day. Would they go to daycare? Would you get a nanny? Would one of you stay home with the little cherubs? Maybe you two decided that for your family it would make the most sense that you would be a stay-at-home-mom. Joy! You couldn’t help but feel a little bad that you got to stay home (How exciting! You’ll get so much done around the house!) and he had to go to work. So there you are, popping out kids left and right when all of a sudden it dawns on you what you have actually agreed to: he GETS to go to work all day with other adults, and you HAVE to stay home with the kids. Cue the “whose life is harder” fights.

9. The TV as Babysitter – Now, of course I’m not talking about actually leaving your child home alone with just the TV and a package of raw cookie dough. I’m referring to the TV as more of a mother’s helper. For example, Sesame Street is awesome. You put it on and it’s like having a captivating babysitter who sings and teaches valuable social skills, and brings along its famous friends. And it gives you time to take a shower. Spongebob is a riot, and each episode lasts approx 15 minutes. Enough time to fold a load of laundry. Doc McStuffins is entertaining AND makes kids not afraid of the doctor. Which will come in handy when you take them all to get their flu shots later. TV is our friend. Our good friend. Sometimes our best friend.

10. Swearing In Front of the Kids – Yes, I know that before you had kids you were an expert in child development and you were all judgy like, “I’m never going to curse in front of my kids!”  And even when you had your first tiny sweet little baby, swearing in front of that little angel never even crossed your mind. Soon enough your loveable little nugget will turn 3, and you will be saying things like “Gosh darn it!” and “oh fudge!” But trust me, that doesn’t last for long…before you know it they will be old enough to drive you crazy and you’ll be swearing like a sailor. And I’m not talking just the “s” word or the “h” word. No…I’m talking about the mother of all swears: the “f” word. That’s right. You’ll be dropping the f-bomb like it’s going out of style. You won’t even care either. You thought you would care. Maybe you should care. But you just really won’t. Not one f’ing bit.