Archive of ‘bad parenting’ category

Five Reasons Why I am a Guilty Catholic

When I was a little girl I stole a pack of Rolos from the grocery store. I use the word stole cautiously because there wasn’t any great premeditated plan. The brown roll with the golden edges looked delicious to my three-year-old eyes, so I grabbed them and headed out of the store with my mother. Once we were in the car she noticed the silence and realized that my mouth was quiet because it was filled with chocolatey caramel goodness. I was immediately marched back in to the store where I proceeded to return the half-eaten stolen merchandise to the cashier along with a long, drawn our apology. Certain that I was faced with eternal damnation, my Catholic guilt was born that day.

I am not uncomfortable in my guilty Catholic skin. As a matter of fact, I kind of like it. I am always double checking what I do or say so that when I have to answer to St. Peter at the gates of heaven, I will have a decent story to tell. Make no mistake, I am doing things wrong all of the time. If you’ve read anything else that I have ever written, you know that. I have learned from my mother, St. Mary Maurmi herself, a few things in my life. I have gladly passed these tenants on to my own children so that they will grow up to be a bit more decent…ish……

My mother had this picture taken an entire year after I made my First Holy Communion….Not that she should feel badly about that……

1. Do not discard anything religious- My mother has boxes of broken rosaries at her house because she is sure that lightening will strike her dead if she dares put one in the trash. “These are blessed, Colleen. You can never get rid of anything blessed.” This one statement is why I have an Infant of Prague statue with no hands hidden in my secretary. I also have funeral cards of the parents of kids who my mother went to grade school with in my memory boxes. I have never met any of these people. Not a one. I have no idea how in the hell (I am going to hell for just typing that) I got them. But I sure as hell (back down to the firey abyss I go) can’t get rid of them. I say a quick may God bless you to Mrs. Mary Jones, b. 1921 d. 1994, every time I pass that Rubbermaid tub in the basement.

2. Make the Sign of the Cross when you pass a Catholic church- I live in St. Louis, you sneeze and you’re outside of a Catholic church. That’s a lot of signs of the cross and plenty of time for reflection. Very often when I am driving alone I listen to 90s gangster rap. As soon as I pass the church, that quick sign of the cross turns into a Hail Mary seeking intercession from the Blessed Mother so that I will not be condemned for listening to music filled with curse words, violence and that objectifies women. I really like rap music so I am often overwhelmed with thoughts that I probably shouldn’t be listening at all. Oh, and if I miss a church, then it is a double sign of the cross followed by a, “$h!+” and an “I’m sorry for cursing.” I get so worked up that I am sinning like crazy, I shut the rap music down and end up listening to Barry Manilow for the remainder of the day.

3. Make Sure you are Giving Back- I feel like every single time I go to the store I am asked if I would like to donate a dollar to a cause. Sometimes I say yes. Other times I really just don’t have the extra cash, so I decline. I am instantly overcome with shame knowing that when the cashier says, “Receipt with you or in the bag?” She is really thinking, “Come on lady, you can’t donate just one dollar? Don’t you know that the cure would happen if you just gave one dollar? But instead, you are enjoying that People Magazine with Richard Simmons on the cover and that Diet Coke, which, by the way, isn’t helping. So, please, take that flaming red hair and matching lips and go on about your business knowing that you have just let down the entire effort. Thanks. Thanks a lot!” I reply, “Bag is fine.” And walk out with my head hung in shame.

4. Don’t Forget the Poor Kids- I hold on to every piece of clothing, toy and book knowing that there is a poor child that needs them. Shirts, shorts, coats and anything worthwhile is bagged up and headed to those in need and the poor kids are thrilled. But what about the leftovers? The problem is, the poor kids don’t want tennis shoes with holes or stained onesies, but I feel so badly about throwing away anything useful that I keep it in bins in my basement. Just in case. My fear that the poor kids will go without is not limited to the hoarding of my children’s cast offs. I bring my sadness for the poor kids into the kitchen, too. If I experiment with a recipe that no one will touch, there is no way that we are throwing it out, because people are starving. So, my husband ends up eating the same casserole for lunch every day for a week. Or, he throws it away when he gets to work. Those decisions are on him. He’s the one who will go to hell for lying….and wasting….not me.

5. Look out for Your Guardian Angel- There is always someone watching you and it isn’t Santa Claus. Sure, he sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake, but the guardian angel isn’t limited to the holiday season. He’s with you 100 percent of the time. That angel will protect you when you need it, but he will also give you a quick reality check when it’s deemed fitting. Have you ever smarted off to your mother or slapped your brother and then walked away and tripped, or banged your elbow on the coffee table or spilled something on your shirt immediately following the infraction? That is your guardian angel giving you a shove. Just ask my mother. She has terrified her four children and eight grandchildren with this little fact for years. Next time you do or say something unkind, you’ll fee a swift kick to the back of your knees and fall right over. Mark my words!

There are a lot of things in life that I am guilty about, but my Catholic guilt is not one of them.  My mother has forever said, “If you can’t do it in front of me, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.” That statement has rung true my entire life. My Catholic guilt does not make me a paranoid basket case. Instead, it helps me to make better choices because I am concerned about what will happen to me if I don’t. They say (I don’t know who they are but they are filled with helpful nuggets of information) good things happen to good people. Lots of people call it guilt, others call it Karma, some say it is blind faith. To me, that guilt is like a warm comforting blanket that makes me feel secure in my choices. But I am not too naive to realize that blanket has the ability to spontaneously burst in to flames in case I get off course, so I always keep a bottle of water close at hand to fight the flames…. Just in case……

My Mom’s Original Gangster Parenting Hacks Would Never Fly Today

My kids are coddled like every other child on the planet. They get participation trophies. They have gigantic water bottles so that they won’t ever dehydrate. They get stickers at Target for being in the cart, even though their behavior is so deplorable I often threaten to leave a few behind. That is the way of our world. We as parents have become soft. The second you attempt to assert tough love you are labeled an a-hole parent by the rest of the pearl-clutching mothers at pick up.

We thirty-something moms were raised by a different pack of wolves. If we didn’t follow the rules, it wasn’t about a gentle consequence like losing a marble from the good girl jar. Our parents pulled out the big guns. Today’s sweet and loving Grannies and Grandpas, whose grand babies can do no wrong, were not kidding around thirty years ago. They taught us lessons that we will never forget.

I am a mother of three boys and one girl, a mirror image of the family that I grew up in. Having four kids is often chaotic, but I guess because I am from a large family it isn’t the ginormous challenge that the world assumes it is. Having said that, I certainly have my fair share of, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” days. But when I am at my worst, it is comforting to know that my mom was in the exact same place and somehow she made it through. I will often reflect on my own childhood experiences and think how lucky I was to have been raised in a loving family in the 1980s because if I pulled any of my parents’ OG child-rearing hacks today, I’d be in jail. Or at the very least, the confessional…..

Clean up, or else

Today’s child has a chore chart on the wall outlining their daily responsibilities with a corresponding magnet that they can move from one side to the other so as to earn their daily sticker and, ultimately, a prize at the end of the week. In the 1980s you had the, “I swear to God if you don’t clean up this room, I am throwing all of your crap out the window,” method. Parents didn’t just threaten, they followed through. The entire contents of my brothers’ bedroom went flying from a second story window and when my mom said she wouldn’t pick one thing up, she meant it. No,the family’s dirty little secret was never shared with anyone; but the lesson was learned and nothing took flight again. Today, the neighbors would whip out their iPhones to capture video, post it on Facebook and my mom would end up on Dr. Phil defending her boot camp-style parenting.

If you want to leave, go

If a child today threatened to run away, parents would have a mental breakdown. Why are you unhappy? What can I do better? Is there something that we can do to improve your living conditions? When I was a kid if you wanted to move out, your mother would help you pack. As a matter of fact, if you were lucky, she’d grab the gigantic Samsonite from the basement. There were no wheels of course, but it was nice and hard and made a great seat when you needed a rest. She’d pack up all of your clothes, something fancy for church on Sunday, perhaps a swimming suit in the summer, and you’d be on your way. It’s unlikely that you’d make it too far past the front stoop carrying all of your worldly possessions. However, you’d have plenty of time to think the plan through, just as your mother had intended.

You will eat this or starve

If you were a kid in the 1980s you probably had the pleasure of culinary delights like Chicken Tonight, Manwich or if it was a special occasion Bagel Bites and Totino’s Pizza Rolls. No matter what was placed on the table, that was the only option. No one was concerned that you didn’t like the way it looked, smelled or how it felt in your mouth. Dinner was served. And if you were hungry, you would eat it. If you refused, you would be forced to sit with your cold chicken and dumplings, under dimmed lighting, while the rest of the family went to watch ALF without you. If you didn’t eat said dumplings, there would be no other food offered until breakfast. You would legit go to bed hungry and live to tell the tale the next day

Do as I say, not as I do

Going out to dinner was a luxury when I was a kid. Sure there were plenty of fast food joints with outdoor play places that caused permanent scarring from their metal joy rides, but a sit-down meal was a treat. When dining out, party manners were expected, and so help me God; you had better never let anyone know how old you were. Even if it meant keeping your coat on for the entire meal to hide your blossoming chest or ducking down really low in your seat, under no circumstances should the establishment ever question whether or not you were 10 and under. There was no kids eat free with an eligible adult in the good old days. Everyone had to pay their own way, but fathers in the know had a plan. Children were prepped in the car. You are never older than the age limit for a kid’s meal. Is that clear? You will graciously accept a kid’s menu. Do you understand? Only water and soda have free refills. Don’t even think about ordering chocolate milk. Got it? Once you were clearly too old, your father became “Mr. I look so young for my old age” and would start ordering off the senior citizen’s menu to balance things out.

Don’t make me turn this car around

Vacation was a time for the whole family to pack into the station wagon and hit the open road while your mom yelled directions from that, “damn Rand McNally,” she could never fold, while your dad took long angry drags from his Salems. There were no five point harness personal utopia’s containing tablets preloaded with educational videos and apps. You played the license plate game and beat the hell out of one another for a window seat. You’d hope for a quick nap in the car before you checked in to the hotel and spent the next six nights sharing a double bed with all five of your siblings. Vacation came with no itinerary, no day trips or jaunts. Your trip consisted of the hotel pool, third-degree sunburns, bee stings and you cried when you left because you couldn’t wait for next summer.

It was a simpler time with fewer distractions. Families were big and weird and so many of them were unbelievably happy. And aside from that one summer when my brother fell from the brand new swing set and probably broke his foot, but we’ll never know because it was the 4th of July and no one was going to the ER because, “it would be loaded with idiots who’d burned themselves with firecrackers!” I think that my parents and the rest of the neighborhood moms and dads were really on to something…….

Keep Smiling, Keep Shining……

come

Since the dawn of social media the world has become obsessed with sharing. Our lives are open books of photos and text written for everyone to see. Many of us have connected ourselves with large groups of people, that if it weren’t for these sites, we may not have kept up with at all. On any given day I can tell you what people who I went to grade school with had for lunch. I can spot a friend’s husband, who I have never met in my life, at a gas station but I won’t introduce myself because that would be weird. I can name hundreds of friends’ children’s names and tell you wonderful stories about those children because I have read all about them, but they don’t even know I exist.

I, myself, tend to be an over sharer. I like to think that my kids are funny and so I write down their quips and I publish them. I am lousy at baby books,. Those 0-12 months pictures always happen a day, or a week late. And, shh, I totally throw away papers when my kids go to sleep at night. But, I will absolutely Instagram a quote about the time someone told me they hoped they could throw up just to stay home and play with an iPad. That’s my life, day in and day out, and it’s the real life of so many parents.

When I was pregnant with Darling a few months ago, we decided to keep the gender a secret until the end. We did this with all of our pregnancies, so it was nothing new, but boy did the world want to weigh in on who was growing in my womb. I thoroughly documented my pregnancy and the excitement that our entire family had during this special time.

When my Darling was born, I proudly shared her birth story and the amazing surprise that she was for all of us. I was so thrilled to announce my beautiful baby, I never really took the time to think about how my posts and pictures, so many silly and often trite, could be affecting others.

And then this note appeared in my mailbox and stopped me in my tracks.

So I never wrote you- I was going to but it seemed too strange, but you are a strange gal and will probably appreciate this! I was due with a baby last March 2016… exact same time as you! I was busy holding my breath hoping and praying that this little one would stick when you announced #4. Of course I love your posts and was thrilled for you! My sweet little one was just passing through and for some reason I had a REALLY hard time recovering emotionally from that loss. I sought out support from all different healers – therapist, energy work, etc. I KNEW it was a little girl!

I sort of lived vicariously through your pregnancy updates on Facebook! I just KNEW you were going to have a girl too!

I had a dream the night you went into labor that you had a little girl and woke up to the news on Facebook announcing the arrival of your Darling! I cried. I was so emotional because I was so happy for you and so sad for me – it was really cathartic for me to experience the joy you felt welcoming your daughter! Just so beautiful! So super dog random that you had NO IDEA that you and your pregnancy played such a role in my healing process!!!!! THANK YOU!

This message from a real-life friend from school, who lives a few states away and is a mother of three herself, was an eye opener for me. It made me realize that just being me, just being silly and just sharing what happens, made someone else feel good. It made her smile during a really hard time in her life. I find such pleasure in reading others’ updates, too. There are a few select people whom I religiously check on because they make me smile, laugh and realize that I am totally not as bad of a mother as they are. I kid, I kid. The reality is, we are all just trying to get through the day and we all serve as great blessings to one another. I am grateful to play that role for some of you and equally thankful that you are there for me.

And while we may not always care about what that girl, who totally told a nun that she hated her math class and walked out sophomore year (this was absolutely a fever-induced dementia) did over the weekend, keep her on your friend’s list. She might be just what you need when you least expect it.

Perfect 10

We are a mere nine days from the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Rio. The summer games are always my favorite. I can watch the swimmers, divers and gymnasts for hours and be in the purest state of awe as their bodies move in ways that seem almost humanly impossible. They are truly glorious athletes and I will sit, in my own personal glory, and eat lots of snacks and drink Diet Coke while watching them all go for the gold.

I never had aspirations of being an Olympiad, which I am sure comes as quite a surprise. I was far more concerned that the blue and gold ribbons in my hair matched my uniform to get too caught up with the actual sport that I was participating in. I attended Catholic school from K-12 and in grade school, I played all of the sports, excelling in none of them. During the summer, we belonged to Mackenzie Swim Club, a fond but distant memory, and of course, I was on the swim team. There was also a diving team, but I was never a part of that. I think the summer that a member fell through the bars on the high dive, crashed to the ground and broke both of her arms (totally sounds like this should have been me) killed any thought my mother may have had of getting me signed up for another adventure.

swim

 

For as many summers as I can remember, we were at the pool every day. My parents had four kids and for a few hundred dollars a year, this kept every single one of us happily occupied for hours and hours. All of my brothers and I grew up to be decent swimmers with no fear of the water. Our parents bought the house that they live in now when we were all young adults and lucky for us, there is an enormous pool in the backyard. As we have grown up, gotten married and had children, Maurmi and Pop Pop’s house is the perfect summer spot to take our kids for hours on end.

The Handsomes love to head over to their house when The Grillin’ Fool and I get home from work at night. I normally stay home with Darling, our sweet baby girl, but a few nights ago, he had some evening work to do for a client, so I took the boys for an adventure. It’s averaging 600 degrees here in the STL, so the water feels like a freshly drawn bath, perfect for evening swims. Maurmi and I spent our night floating and chatting with frequent interruptions of, “Mom! Watch this!” “Maurmi, look at me!” and “Hey, this is my best one yet.” Over and over they were in and out of the water doing tricks off of the diving board and calling us out instantly if we happened to blink.

Handsome #1 made his way over to Maurmi and I in the shallow water and started doing handstands. He went up and down barely keeping his skinny little legs together before toppling over and splashing us.

“Shoot! I just can’t keep me legs up,” he complained.

“You’ll get it buddy, you just have to keep practicing,” I reassured him.

“Can you just show me?”

“Oh, honey, I haven’t done a handstand in 30 years.”

“Please!”

When your child, who is so very much like you not only in his looks but in his manipulative ways, begs you to help him, you move your aging, expanding and somewhat sagging body to the deeper water, hold your breath and give it your best shot. I went under, hoisted my body up on my arms, attempted to put my legs together and flopped over on my back. I splashed with such gusto that I imagined the water to be far below the skimmer when I resurfaced. I was a bit embarrassed, but figured, I would give it another shot. Once again I held my breath, said a quick Hail Mary and went under. This time, I got one leg up and plunged forward. I came up for air feeling defeated, a bit light headed and determined to get both legs up and together. Third time’s a charm, right? I took a deep breath and made a final attempt, but never got my legs fully extended. Instead, my left arm slipped and I went crashing down, think Shamu Show in the big tank. I came up for air and was suddenly extremely nauseated.

The head rush from my failed attempts at showing my children that I could master something as an adult that I was never even kind of good at as a kid, was too much. I began gagging and headed for the steps.

“Colleen, what is the matter with you?” Maurmi questioned.

“Nothing, gag, I am fine, gag, gag, gag.”

“Mom, mom, are you OK?” Handsome #2 yelled from the deep.

I moved from the steps to the side of the pool dry heaving and laying my head on the salty, hot concrete. I was positioned on the ground like a beached whale, wet, flailing and disoriented, just hoping that someone would direct me back to my proper place. The fuzziness in my brain rivaled any morning after the very best nights of my life in my early 20s. I was breathing slowly in through my nose and out of my mouth. I was afraid to open my eyes, for I was certain that the world was not just spinning, but also on fire and laughing at me.

“Colleen, are you alright? What in the heck is going on?”

“Mom, I am fine! I just got a little dizzy, I’ll be fine.”

“I can’t imagine how that happened? Your form was just lovely,” she smirked.

This coming from the woman who breaks into tap dancing at Hobby Lobby, but I digress. It took a couple of minutes, but I finally gained my composure and was able to get back in the water, my handstand days clearly over. I grabbed a noodle and floated effortlessly, not a care in the world. Then, Handsome #2 yelled from the deep,

“Hey, mom! Can you show me how to do a back flip off the board?”

8 High Hopes I Have for My Girl

Handsome #3 stood on the deck in nothing but his Underoos, his chubby little belly protruding and a big smile on his face.

“Look at him. He is so sweet and happy, letting it all hang out, not a care in the world. Can you imagine having that kind of self confidence?” I asked The Grillin’ Fool.

“What do you mean? I do!” He said with a smirk.

He was only half joking. If he didn’t think anyone would call the cops, he’d be on the deck in his underwear too. But instead, he parades around the house in his boxer briefs and a t-shirt with his bird legs dancing and doesn’t think twice. I, on the other hand, feel like I should have on Spanx under my nightgown just in case the door bell rings in the middle of the night.

My husband has no shame when it comes to his body. He’s a forty-something with four kids just trying to make it through the day like every other man supporting a family. He purchases zero self-care items and will use any bottle in the shower. He has never in his life looked at a nutrition label for sugar, fat or calorie information. As long as it doesn’t smell too bad he will wear it. He is so happy in his own skin, that nothing phases him.

I have birthed three sons who are exactly like him. Handsome #1 is thin and lanky. He loves to brush his hair over to the side and lather himself up in body wash. He doesn’t care one bit about what his clothes look like and will let me pick whatever I want from his closet. Handsome #2 is a bit more of a fashionista. He has a very particular opinion about what to put on,and will fight for a win. Even if that means a sweater vest and a pair of athletic shorts. He’ll wear that combination proudly. Handsome #3 has more confidence in his little finger than the rest of them combined. They are precious, perfect little boys and I want to be just like them.

For years, I worried about what would happen if God ever gave me a daughter. How could I possibly set a good example of body image and confidence if that is the one thing that I truly struggle with on a daily basis? For my first seven years as a mom, I parented my three boys knowing that their father would have a profound impact on the type of men they will become, but not worrying that my self image would affect them.

Then a surprise pregnancy brought the biggest surprise of my life, a daughter. I was thrilled beyond thrilled, but equally terrified that I would screw her up. I am the one who she will look to for strength and guidance. She will come to me for advice and help. I will be her example of self confidence and womanhood. I want to do it right.

DMT

Thankfully, she is only a few months old and I have some time to get my act together. Gone are the days of looking in the mirror and listing all of things that I hate about my body and face. The insecurities that have plagued me for years have to die before they begin to rear their ugly face in my daughter’s eyes. When I look at her, I feel inspired to be better. She is innocent and pure and beautiful. She is so beautiful. I never want her to doubt that. I do a lot wrong, don’t we all? But, there are a few things that I have picked up along the way that I hope that she might think are worthwhile nuggets of advice.

1. Laugh- Laugh Loudly and raucously even if you are the only one who gets the joke. Most importantly, laugh at yourself and know that everyone makes mistakes. Make others laugh and know that there is no better medicine. I would also be extremely proud if you were the third generation class clown at a certain all girls Catholic high school, but I will not put unfair pressure on you to be anything that you are not.

2. Fall Hopelessly in Love with a Boy Band- There is nothing better than covering your bedroom walls with pictures of the men that you are certain you will marry one day. I will happily download all of their music, buy crazy expensive tickets and sob with you when you see them in person for the first time. Trust me, you will want to keep your t-shirts, earrings and every overpriced accessory you can even when you think you are over that part of your life. I will gladly help you hoard them, and hide them from your father, so that when your favorite band goes on tour in 20 years, you can squeeze your postpartum body into that shirt and feel like a kid again.

3. Be a Friend- Not just to the cool kids or the popular people, be a friend to everyone who needs it. The shy little girl in the back of the room wants to play in the game too, invite her. Always be the nice girl, not the mean girl. Years from now people will remember the slightest bit of kindness that you have shown them. I’m sure at some point, you will feel the wrath of a mean girl, and it will hurt, but please do your best to be kind, to watch your words and to walk away with a smile on your face, it will make you stronger.

4 . Listen- This is a tough one, because you come from a long line of people who love to talk. But, trust me as much as you may want to speak, wait your turn and let others talk. It isn’t always about what you have to say, sometimes it is about what you don’t say and the time that you take to hear someone else that makes all the difference.

5. Pray-Every single day of your life take a moment to talk to God. Thank Him for what you have, who you are and where you are going. Ask for forgiveness and guidance. Your faith will guide you in life’s most difficult times. When all else fails, close your eyes and whisper, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in thee. This has gotten several generations of women in our family through tougher times than I could ever imagine.

6. Wear Red Lipstick- Wear bright lips, shabby overalls, plaid high heel shoes, or pink gloves. Your friends may tell you that it is too bright, or too bold, or too much, but if it makes you feel good, do it! If it makes you feel pretty, then wear it, use it and flaunt it often, no matter what it is. You will develop a signature style that screams your name, make sure to scream it back.

7. If You Can’t Do it in Front of Me, Don’t Do It- This isn’t a threat, and it isn’t meant to be scary, it is just something for you to always think about. I learned this from my own mother many, many years ago. And to this day, it still rings true. The older you get, the more time you will spend on your own and you will be faced with challenges and choices to do things that you may not feel right about. If you would be comfortable doing it in front of me, you are golden. If not, it’s probably not the best idea.

8. Be Happy With the Skin You Are In- You are not fat, not today, not tomorrow, not ever! You are gorgeous and perfect and exactly as you were meant to be. Don’t ever let anyone dim your sparkle, especially not someone who wants you to fit in to some kind of mold. They aren’t worth your time if they think a single freckle on your nose needs to change.

As I read over my words, it was very clear to me that this advice is just as important to my boys as my girl. All I want is to raise children who are kind, loving and respectful members of society. Each day I try to be a good mom and I realize that parenting will never end, it will never get easier, it will always change. And it is the greatest challenge I have ever accepted as it forces me to set an example and thoughtfully work to be a better person. To my children, I am so grateful and I love you.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What’ca Gonna Do?

I have learned all kinds of things in my last eight years parenting boys. Frogs, bugs and reptiles are a regular part of conversation and I am expected to listen intently and care about the stories being told. Clothing will be filthy by the end of the day and no amount of hand washing, wet wipes or napkins on the lap can prevent it. Boys will beat the crap out of each other one minute and hug it out the next and there are never hard feelings, at all. No matter how much I preach about lifting the seat and aiming, my bathrooms, despite an inordinate amount of bleach and vinegar used, will always have a slight uriney smell. I have come to accept, albeit begrudgingly on the urine thing, all of this. It is a way of life in my house and that house is filled with happy, handsome men….and a couple of girls.

For the most part, my Handsomes are well behaved, have decent manners and do what they are told without much trouble. Sure, they all have their moments, but I can honestly say that I don’t worry too terribly much about how they will act when I am not around. I am not a huge list of rules kind of person either. We have the basics, be kind to one another, don’t talk back, put your dirty laundry in the basket, please don’t pee on your brother while you are both in the tub, all that kind of stuff. But, there is one thing in our house that my sons will unanimously announce as being the ultimate don’t cross mom on this one or she will lose her mind rule. I can handle any of the aforementioned and hand out a quick, knock if off, but when it comes to the Golden Rule in Come on Colleen land, there is no exception.

Picture if you will a lovely breakfast, lunch or dinner table. You are perfectly famished and could eat just about anything. Thankfully, there is a delicious spread before you, the company is equally as divine and you are feeling just delightful! Then, out of the corner of your eye, you spot a man at the table in a tank top. He could be the richest, kindest, funniest and most handsome man on the planet, but the second he lifts his arm to reach for the rolls, you see it. His sweaty, straggly, nasty armpit hair is dancing in the breeze. Pieces of dried deodorant are hanging on like the last bit of snow on a rock after the weather warms up. No matter how hard you try, you can’t look away and now you have completely lost your appetite and are resisting the urge to barf all over the table. Just, me? No, probably not any more…….

Did you get your tickets for the gun show? Nope, no way, not at my table. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. The Handsomes know that they absolutely must have a shirt on when we are eating. Often times they sleep in their underwear so that they can be like their idol, The Grillin’ Fool, who incidentally is the only person in our house with actual armpit hair, and will wander down the steps blurry eyed and half naked. I don’t even have to say anything. A victory in and of itself, I have mastered, “the look” that sends them scurrying in to the laundry room to find coverage.

And before you get all, “But Colleen, Handsome #1, your oldest, is only eight years old, he doesn’t even have peach fuzz in those pits.” I gagged just typing that. No, you are right, he sure doesn’t, but, I wouldn’t hand him a Salem Slim Light and a Budweiser, two of my old favorites back in the days when I was fun, so why let him engage in other risky behaviors that could lead to his mother’s premature passing from gagging on her on vomit at the table later on in life? Just not worth the risk.

This rule is infallible at our home. As a matter of fact, even when I was potty training my youngest boy, opposition was quickly squelched my by eldest.
Me- Boys, you know the rule, you must put on a shirt before breakfast.

Handsome #2- Why? Handsome #3 isn’t even wearing any underwear!

Me- No, he isn’t, but he is also tucked under the table and no one can see that.

Handsome #1- Why are you even arguing with her on this one? You will never win.

Yes. A victory. I won! I won! I won! I felt so validated. They respect me and love me and know that this is important to me and a firm rule in our home. My handsomes are allowing me to mold them into strong, respectful and respectable young men that will make me proud. I was on cloud nine for exactly 11 seconds and then I got this series of pictures from Maurmi. Remember that whole, I don’t really worry about their behavior when I’m not around bologna? Well, well, well, apparently at my house the minute I leave it’s a great big, naked, let your arm pits hang out all over the place buffet……

 

wow

 

They are lucky they are cute…….

An Open Letter to the Lady at Church

To the hateful woman at mass,

Today, I was a few minutes late and snuck in to the second to last pew with my nearly three-year-old son after stopping at the bathroom. He is very newly potty trained and the thought of tinkling in every toilet in the city is appealing. He was excited that he had made it to mass and saw his favorite priest on the pulpit. Naturally, for a child his age, this caused chatter and waving and even a bit of crying and complaining when he couldn’t see.

He was loud, as most small children are, but that is why I chose to stay close to the back. I try not to use the cry room or stand in the vestibule because I feel that if my children are going to behave, they actually have to be in the church to learn that lesson. Sadly, you disagreed and were incredibly outspoken and judgemental. The moment he began to squawk, you immediately started with the huffing and puffing and disparaging glances. I tried to ignore you, but in time I had enough and explained that he is just a baby. This is when you took it upon yourself to advise me that I shouldn’t have my children in the church if they cannot behave and that I should take them elsewhere.

Here’s the thing, lady, you have absolutely no idea what we were dealing with this morning. I was gone all day yesterday and never saw him. He was asleep when I left and in bed when I got home. He has had the rare opportunity to spend a lot of one on one time with me lately, that he has never had before. He was the youngest of three boys for the last three years and his world was turned upside down eight weeks ago when his baby sister was born. Luckily, I have been able to soften the blow during my maternity leave, but he still wants all of my attention all of the time. And that can be exhausting. I am also a bit more lenient with him because he is adjusting to a tremendous amount of change that you know nothing about.

Perhaps you never had a child, because I cannot imagine what they must think of your behavior if you did, and are truly ignorant to how this whole parenting thing works. Let me give you a bit of insight. Children are completely and totally 100 percent unpredictable. If Jesus Christ himself had a scheduled appearance this morning and I had prepared my children to meet him and how to act in the presence of the Lord, at best we are working with 50/50 odds in my favor. Kids are constantly talking and asking questions, and you guessed it, misbehaving. But they are also always learning. And I want my children to learn to be kind and loving and faithful and to live their lives as God wants them to. Funny, when it was time for the sign of peace, you completely ignored my mother when she tried to shake your hand, so incredibly Christ-like.

What if my child had autism, or a brain tumor, or some other kind of illness that caused him to act out? Thankfully, he is healthy, but I am certain that you would have still cast aspersions on his behavior and my parenting because for some reason you feel entitled to judge others. Sadly for you, you missed the entire message of today’s homily. Had you been paying attention to it, and not my child, you would have heard the priest preach about how important it is to treat others with kindness, love and respect. It’s about what happens here on earth, not what will happen after you die. But instead of soaking the message in and reflecting, you are likely sitting at home tonight with an ice pack on your neck from all of the head shaking.

Until next weekend my friend, when I will be back in that same church with my four children, I hope that you are able to feel good about what you did, how you acted and what message you walked away with. Remember, if you want the church to continue to grow, we must engage the youth and keep the pews filled. And I will always have my pew filled with children, fruit snacks, screaming and yelling and more love than you will ever know.

Sincerely,

Your worst nightmare that will come back over and over and over againimg_7572.jpg

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah……Stayin’ Alive…..

“Yep, the test is positive,” the doctor said to me with sad eyes.

OMG, I thought. This is all I need right now. I have four kids and I don’t have time for this! Ugh, no! I am not pregnant, God help us all.  Strep. Handsome #2 tested positive for strep. The nasty little bug that for my children means not only a high fever and sore throat, but we get the added bonus of vomiting….awesome! Perhaps I should have believed him when he said he didn’t feel well.

I cannot go to school today, said Handsome #2, Hooray!

I left the pediatrician’s office to grab Maurmi, Handsome #3 and the baby and headed to the pharmacy to pick up Handsome #2’s prescription. We made it past the checkout line when all of a sudden I heard the horrifying screaming.

“Ouch. Oh. Ouch. I am so hurt. Ahhhhhh! I have too much blood!”

I looked down to see Handsome #3 on the floor and huge droplets of red all over the bright white tile.

“OMG! What happened?” I screamed.

“Maurmi hurt me so bad,” He blubbered as tears poured down his cheeks and blood ran from his finger.

“Colleen! I would never hurt him. OMG, my baby. Never. I would never hurt you.”

Duh.

He got the finger caught in the cart, how, we may never know, and somehow ripped a ginormous piece of skin in the process. I thought that we were headed to the ER, I mean, So.much.blood. I always react well in emergency situations.

“Jesus, mom! OMG. What do we do?”

“Colleen! He is hurt.”

“I realize that. What am I supposed to do?”

“Colleen! He is hurt!”

“What do I do?”

This game of moron who’s on first went on for much longer than it should have, extremely loudly and neither one of us really doing anything. Maurmi took off to grab napkins when a helpful young man in uniform appeared to inform me that they had a first aid kit available in case I needed it. Nice offer, but I needed something immediately as my child was becoming more and more hysterical.

Maurmi returned with her contribution to the ER effort and I ran to the pharmacy area to grab a box of Band Aids, hoping that he would sit still long enough for me to put them on. As I returned to the scene with a box of Paw Patrol bandages, there stood a big man with a walkie talkie acting very important.

“Yep. I’ve got them. I am here. Yep. Blood. There is blood. Yep. Yep. Got it. Bring on the clean up crew.”

By the look on his face, I was certain that there would be a hazmat team approaching soon. Maurmi did her best to wipe up the floor while big red stood there doing a whole lot of nothing.

“Excuse me,” I said trying to get to my baby.

“Ma’am, we have a first aid kit for these kinds of the things.”

This is now the second time that the first aid kit has been offered, but nothing has been produced. Perhaps they wanted me to sign some kind of permission slip, but instead I ripped open the box and started to tend to the wound. Thankfully, my baby boy sat still and I was able to attach the bandages tightly enough to stop the bleeding.

“Oh. Ewe, gross,” Said the walkie talkie man.

Thankfully for him, I bit my tongue and went on about my business. I wanted to get Handsome #2’s medicine and get the heck out there. I headed to the pharmacy, still covered in blood myself and looking like a serial killer, and requested the prescription. Not ready….awesome…. Since the bleeding had stopped and I needed a few more lunchbox items, I pressed on with my shopping.

We wandered through the toy department, the grocery area and the baby section when I noticed that Handsome #3 was starting to act funny. His eyes were drooping and he was nodding off.

“Colleen, what is the matter with him?” Maurmi asked.

“I don’t know. This is really odd, ” I replied.

“My God, did he hit his head? Or is he in shock from the pain?”

“Handsome #3, wake up! Wake up!” I demanded.

“Stop talking to me. Don’t look at me. I am so hurting,” he screamed.

Certain that he had some kind of concussion, again, I started to panic. Maurmi and I stood next to the cart discussing our next course of action, but neither one of us touching him, not wanting to disturb him. Had we reached out to comfort him, perhaps we could have saved the conspiracy theories and realized a few minutes sooner that he was hotter than a firecracker. God help us, another one bites the dust. Strep is ugly and mean and contagious as hell!

Thankfully he had tried to amputate his finger a few minutes earlier and we were still at the store so that I could call the pediatrician and get his medicine called in before I left. I checked in at the pharmacy to make sure they had received the new order and grabbed Handsome #2’s medicine and gave him a dose right there in the store. The sooner we attack the bug, the better, right? Ten minutes later, Handsome #3’s medicine was ready, so I dosed him up too and we headed to the cafe for a quick drink and a pretzel.


The fever had taken its toll on my buddy and he had enough trauma for the day, so we headed home to get everyone comfortable and in bed. As I unloaded my bags to put away the groceries I found that I was one bottle short. Handsome #2’s medicine was somehow left at the store. Come on! Seriously?!?!!?

I waited until the Grillin’ Fool got back from work before I headed back to the store, with Maurmi of course, to pick up the newly ordered medicine because no one could find it in the store. Maurmi looked through every cart.


We retraced our steps, searched the aisles and shelves, but it was nowhere to be found. I returned to the pharmacy for the third time and promised not to lose it, even putting it in my mother’s purse to ensure it would stay with me.

As we left the store to head home, we walked past the scene of the crime and noticed there was still a bit of blood left. Interestingly, the large fella with the walkie talkie was also still there, still hooked up to the walkie….Having a snack…..

 

Hey, You Guys!

 

Goonies-Movie-Quotes

On June 7, 1985, exactly 30 years ago today, ‘The Goonies’ was released. At the time, I was six. My brothers were four, three and eight weeks. My mom and dad were 33 and 36, respectively. Today, I am 36. My sons are seven, five and two. I am the exact age that my father was when he and my mother decided to head to the movie theater with four and three-year-old boys. Four children under six, including a newborn who was left with God only knows that day, would make anyone’s judgement a bit lax.

 

The anticipation was incredible. After what seemed like hours, 15 minutes real time, we walked in the doors. Candy, a huge tub of popcorn and one soda with four straws later, we were headed to the upper balcony ready for the Goonies experience.

 

We were all hooked on the tale of friendship packed with action, adventure and a really creepy guy chained up in the basement. Despite our young ages, we sat pretty still while devouring snacks and slurping drinks, until we didn’t. There was dancing down the aisle. Not tap or salsa, this looked a bit more like the hustle.

 

One-eyed Willy’s boat had just been discovered when the real performance started. A poor, Pepsi-filled toddler, began the chant familiar to all parents,

 

It began softly with a chair squirm. “Um, I have to go. I have to go to the bathroom.” He twisted and twirled. “I have to go. I have to go. Daddy, I really have to go.”

 

The Fratelli’s just appeared and now a kid is filled with urine up to his eyeballs. Perfect. With mere minutes of the movie left, but not wanting to miss a second, my dad did what any loving parent would do. He made the ultimate sacrifice. Even though he was really full, he forced himself to eat the last of the popcorn, creating a makeshift toilet and told my brother to tinkle. Right there. In the tub. In the theatre. And he did.

Goonies never say die……

Watch for Falling Idiots

I have never considered myself terribly proactive. I have been known to wait until there are so few groceries in the house that I make my children “junk lunches” to take to school. They call this an adventure, I call it a futile attempt to make string cheese, raisins and a handful of cereal flakes a balanced meal. The laundry has piled up to the point of no return and rather than tackle it, I have bought everyone new outfits. So when the change battery light came on in my car a few weeks ago, I looked at it for 10 seconds and then went about my business. It popped up again last week and I almost got concerned, but then forgot that I didn’t care. But when I saw it today a midst the snow flurries and temperatures that make me want to put on what the handsomes lovingly refer to as the coverfeets and keep them on for the next several months, I realized that I better take action.

It was the end of a long day at work and I figured that super big box store that does and sells just about everything was just as good a place as any for a quick battery replacement. Evidently 1/2 of SoCo agreed because the line was way longer than I anticipated. I arrived at about 5:50 and was greeted by a gentleman who said that it would be about an hour and that as soon as my car was finished they would page me. No big deal, I could certainly fill my cart with groceries and at least $100 worth of other crap that I didn’t need.

I walked the aisles grabbing bread, bottled water, pajamas, socks, deodorant, you know, the usual. I was quite enjoying the stroll alone without three little loves nagging, err helping me. I got lost in the peace and quiet and before I knew it, it was 7:15. I hadn’t heard my name called, so I strolled back to automotive to see how much longer the wait would be.

As I turned the corner, to say that I was surprised was an understatement. The department was dark as night, the registers off, the doors closed, not a sole in site. Certainly there must have been a power failure back there causing all of the lights to be off because no way in the world could they be closed, right? Wrong…..

I made my way to the service desk and very calmly, even laughing, explained my predicament. I mean, really, who comes in to the store in a car, asks to have service on that car, and doesn’t expect to leave in that car? I might as well have said that I murdered a family of puppies because the look of horror on their faces was intense. They had no idea what to do. Again, I was calm. They called a supervisor, who suggested they call a manager. Hmm, no $h!+?!?!? The manager then said to call a supervisor. These poor women were playing a game of who’s on first and I was starting to come unhinged.

I could feel myself  ready to explode. I called my husband and while maniacally laughing told him what was happening. He wasn’t sure whether to call the manager or the police, but ultimately laughed and gave me a, “Good luck. Let me know how is works out.” A manager finally showed up and when I, once again, explained what had happened, I was greeted with the look of, “I have no f@#^ing idea how to do my job,” on her face. She disappeared in to the night, leaving me with a cart full of a crap and an old man behind me offering to drive me home in a kind of nice, but I could totally be a predator way.

I was finally greeted by a man who seemed even more confused than everyone else in the store because he said that he was back there the whole time and that no one came to get him. At this point, I couldn’t have cared less, I just wanted to get the hell out of there and home to my babies. A cool $110 for the battery later, I was out the door. I had just discovered on my way home from work that Holly was back on satellite radio an I was ready to rock the hell out of some Karen Carpenter.

I turned the car on, all systems go. Well, all except the navigation and sound systems. If there is one thing that is absolutely essential in a minivan to a woman like myself who wants nothing more than to bless the world with her musical styling,it is a fully-functioning stereo system. When I got in the car tonight, instead of seeing my navigation and audio menu, I saw this middle finger right in my face.

Ha, Ha, Ha, Idiot…We win, we always win!

Not.a.clue. Not a f%^&!”! clue…..You might as well ask me to predict the Powerball numbers because there was just as much of a chance that I would get those correct as my knowing what the hell this PIN is. I tried everything, every combination of every significant and insignificant numbers, nothing. So instead of singing Christmas tunes on the way home, I screamed, cried and beat the steering wheel. Dramatic? Perhaps, but this on top of the news of Richard Simmon’s depression today. I just can’t even…..If you need me, I’ll be singing along to Sweatin’ to the Oldies 2 while eating a bowl of Cookies n Cream…..

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