Posts Tagged ‘Maurmi’

Got Milk?

“Look, Colleen, here’s the deal. When you’re a kid, your mother is an idiot. And then she becomes OK for a while. And then, well, she just falls again. You are just back to the time in your life when your mother is an idiot.”

This profound, and mostly true, quote didn’t come up in conversation at after school pickup. I didn’t receive a text from my bestie explaining my life. Nope, wasn’t a meme on my Facebook feed either. These words were astutely spoken by my own mother as we reminisced over coffee about an incident earlier in the week.

Typical day for Maurmi and me. We were headed on an adventure with Handsome #3 and Darling while the other Handsomes were in school. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood and we promised Handsome #3 the finest cuisine at McDonald’s and some time on the swings at the park. He barrelled through his nuggets and fries, but had no interest in his chocolate milk. As we gathered our things, I noticed his bottle left on the window sill. I headed to the car with Darling and called out to Maurmi, “Grab that milk and toss it.” She heard, “Grab that milk.” This is where the trouble began.

There are two rules in my home that are infallible. A boy may never show up at my table with his armpits exposed. We do not do breakfast shirtless, there are no tank tops allowed, period. We keep the offensive body part, that will one day be covered in hair and hanging balls of deodorant -yep, I just threw up too-covered at all times. The other rule that we do not break? Under no circumstances is milk ever allowed in the car. One sippy cup that dripped on the floor mat of my luxury sedan and caused the car to smell like the foulest of bodily functions for the remainder of my ownership was the end of to-go dairy products.

I finished loading Darling and Handsome #3 in the car and went to buckle myself in when I saw it. A half full bottle of death with no lid staring me in the face as it made its descent into the cup holder. Then in slow motion I screamed and grabbed for the bottle, “Nooooooooo!”

Just as my arm reached down, so did Maurmi’s. I unintentionally hit her in the head, knocking her sunglasses off of her face and turning her hair into a bird’s nest. As our arms collided, the bottle went flying and milk spilled right in between the seat and the arm rest. You know where I mean, right? The most difficult place to reach in the entire car. The place that collects pennies, french fries, dust and when you were in high school the tell tale ashes that you could never quite vacuum up and subsequently blew your Marlboro lovin’ cover when your dad got in. Yeah, that’s the place.

“OMG. OMG. OMG. Milk! Seriously, milk? Holy $h!+, mom! You know that is a rule! That is the number one rule,” I screamed.

“You told me to grab the milk,” She yelled.

“No I said grab the milk and toss it.”

“You said grab the milk!! Holy Jesus, Colleen. What in the hell are you talking about? My head really hurts. OMG! Am I bleeding? I am serious, you could have given me a concussion. Damn it, Colleen. It is extremely painful,” she said.

“I am sorry. I never meant to hurt you. Really, I am sorry. I would never hurt you!”

That’s when I started to cry. I was crying partly because I hurt my mother and partly because my car was drowning in chocolate milk. The two of us grabbed wet wipes and every fast food napkin that she has hoarded in my glove box for the last three years and started the massive cleanup.

“I’ve got it, Colleen, just get out of the way,” she demanded.

“No, you don’t know where it is. I’ll get it. OMG, milk. I can’t believe this milk,” I moaned.

“Colleen, I swear to Christ if you don’t calm down I am going to call your father to come and pick me up. Get yourself together!”

We bickered back and forth for what seemed like an hour as we detailed the ole Odyssey. Since it was peak lunchtime hours, the drive thru was packed. We walked back and forth through the cars dumping sopping wet brown napkins in the trash. Driver’s gagged as they attempted to order lunch and looked at what appeared to be vomit trailing from my car to the trash can over and over again.

We cleaned it up as best we could and I started the Hail Mary hoping for divine intercession from the Blessed Mother that I would not be knocked out by the smell of spoiled milk when the temps hit 90! We got back in the car, me sobbing and her rubbing the top of her head and checking her fingertips for blood.

Handsome #3 was hell bent on going to the park and despite the fact that she never wanted to speak to me again, she would never disappoint him so we continued on in silence. We got to the park loaded Darling in the stroller, got Handsome #3 out of the car and headed to see the animals. Once again, not a word was spoken. Maurmi broke her silence momentarily to tell me that she needed to go to the bathroom. I acknowledged her request and followed behind with my kids in tow.

She said hello to a man passing by and headed in the door. Immediately I yelled, “Mom! Mom!” Silence and then I hear her distant call, “Oh! Oh! OMG! Colleen!”

She came out of the door and we both collapsed in laughter. I could not breathe I was laughing so hard and tears rolled down her cheeks. We had to take turns running to the bathroom as we both wet our pants standing there.

“Everything was fine. It was all fine. And then I saw the urinal. Then I realized I was somewhere  I shouldn’t be. I think I have a concussion from when you hit me in the head. I was very confused in there.” She said through the tears.

Just as it always does, our day ended with laughter. My mother is my very best friend and she brings out the best and the worst of me. But even when she is more angry at me than she has ever been in her life, she will let it all go for a laugh. And despite what she believes I think of her, the only idiot that day was me. Life is too short to get worked up over spilled milk. Even if it is in your car and will make it smell like a landfill in just a few weeks. That’s what Febreeze and Yankee Candle car fresheners are for, right?

We headed to pick up the older Handsomes from school. We asked how their days went and they asked about ours. Maurmi said, “Listen to what your mother did to me today?” They always love to hear her stories and immediately had their listening ears on. I quickly interrupted and asked, “What is the number one rule in my car?”

Handsome #1-“That’s easy, no milk in the car.”

Handsome #3-“No milk in the car.”

Handsome #2-“Um, no guns in the car. Well, at least that’s the rule for me, right?”

Just like Meatloaf said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

 

 

 

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……

Tell ‘Em that it’s Human Nature

It's fine, I don't need sunglasses you all just protect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

It’s fine, I don’t need sunglasses you all just protect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

If you can’t do it in front of me, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. My mother spoke those words when I was a young girl and they stuck with me through very difficult times. There were moments in my life when I was tempted to do not so great things like smoking in a bathroom, underage drinking in a field, or that time I was with friends listening to a bootleg copy of a 2LiveCrew tape and I was certain that the neighbors could hear and would call the police because we were completely and totally ignoring that parental advisory. But never fear, my mother’s cautionary wisdom was always with me.

I had a blog post all ready to go about a recent adventure with my boys and I let her preview it, as I always do, and she said, “I don’t like it. Sorry.” At first I thought, well forget you, I don’t care what you think. But then I had to dig deeper, because even at 37-years-old, I seek parental approval. She was concerned that I was casting my Handsomes in a negative light. Part of my decision not to use their real names on my blog is for that exact reason. I never want what I believe to be funny to be hurtful, shameful or embarrassing to them years later. I likened her distaste for my post to a pair of her jeggings that are on my own personal worst dressed list. Her response, “But I can defend myself.” Mic drop!

As they get older, I suppose that I will need to be a bit more discretionary with what I choose to post. Not that I would ever purposefully embarrass my children, but they may not love every detail of their lives shared. Back when I was a kid, I didn’t have a clue about the world around me and had no idea if my mother was telling all of her friends about the silly things that I did.

Since there was no Internet way back then, stories were beloved because they were told over and over and over again. We have many tales from our own childhood that my brothers and I love to recount. I am certain that this will happen with my own children as they get older as well. Some have been shared with the world, some have been untold for 27 years…….But who’s counting?

Once upon a time, I was in to Michael Jackson. Not like I kind of liked him, more like I kissed the poster on my closet door goodnight, obsessed.  I wanted nothing more than to win tickets to see him when he performed in St. Louis. It was 1988, I was nine, and the only way to win anything back then was to call in to radio and TV stations during various contests. A local television station was running a promotion that involved video clips of popular Michael Jackson songs. When the video ran, you were to call in and say the name of the song being performed and you won. This was a dream come true! I could totally do this.

For days, I watched and dialed in a futile attempt to spend an evening listening to the King of Pop live with thousands of other screaming fans. I would hit the redial button over and over and over, only to be met by the fast busy signal, my archenemy. The clips played once per 30-minute show, so there was quite a bit of lag time, but I kept busy. And when there are six people living in your house, there is constant chaos. Surely someone was crying, someone was screaming and someone was just trying to keep her sanity. It was Girl Scout cookie time and my mother had been taking last minute orders from family and friends throughout the day. These final additions had to be called in by that evening. She was making dinner, but had just enough time to make one quick call for Thin Mints.

The last promo spot of the day aired and I was ready. Human Nature, one of my most favorite songs. It had to be a sign from God that this was my shot. I grabbed the phone, hit redial and it began to ring. The butterflies in my stomach were in overdrive. The moment I heard a hello on the other end of the line, I couldn’t speak. I stood motionless, my eyes and mouth open. My Nani, realizing what was happening, grabbed the phone and began to scream.

“Human Nature! Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature!”

I was in awe. She had done it. We had done it. All those hours of Diff’rent Strokes episodes had paid off! I was going to see Michael Jackson. I began to pick out my outfit for the evening and what autographs I wanted when the needle was ripped from the record.

“Oh my God, mom! Who are you yelling at?” My mother asked.

“She won the tickets. We got the tickets! I just redialed and I got the tickets. We’re going to see Michael Jackson,”I announced.

“I said Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature” she continued to yell.

“Hang up! Hang up! Hang up the phone! That’s not the TV station. That’s the Girl Scouts!”

The two of them proceeded to laugh to to the point of no return, tears flowing down their cheeks and tinkle down their legs. It was the 1980s. There was no caller ID, no *69, and absolutely no way for anyone to ever know that very strange phone call came from our house. The three of us swore to secrecy that night, all for different reasons. I was devastated, they were embarrassed and the poor person on the other end of that call was confused.

My mother was looking out for my best interests then, not wanting me to be humiliated or disappointed and she is still looking out for those interests today. No matter how old I am, I will hope that I am making her proud. As a mother, I can only pray to instill the same caution and love in my own children. My biggest dream for them is to find laughter in the little things. Every time Human Nature comes up on my iTunes I can smile knowing that it brings such a wonderful memory for me and a completely different, and likely terrifying, memory for someone else.

Mother's are always right...Ugh....

Mother’s are always right…Ugh….

To My Nani Nine Years Later……

dkm

Nine years ago today was one of the most emotionally thrilling and equally devastating days of my life. Just the day before, I had an overwhelming urge to take a pregnancy test, something that had never even crossed my mind before. I was home alone and stared down at those two pink lines knowing that my life was about to change in the most profound way, but having no idea what that really meant. My first inclination was to tell my Nani, even before my husband or my mother. She had been my very best friend for my entire life and I always shared my biggest news with her.

She was very ill, in the hospital, and I knew that my time with her was likely coming to an end. But she was a cat with nine lives and I hoped that she would give us all one more miraculous recovery. After sharing my news with The Grillin’ Fool, we decided to head out to see her and tell her about our baby.

For the past few days the hospital had been filled with our extended family, visiting, praying and loving our Nani. There wasn’t a single moment that a cousin, Aunt or Uncle wasn’t keeping vigil over her bed. Because of the constant flow of visitors, I had not had a chance to tell my own parents that we were expecting. I felt a bit guilty, but knew that ultimately they would understand why I chose to tell her first. I opened the door to her room and waiting inside were my three brothers, my parents and Nani laying peacefully in her bed. Just my immediate family, no one else. I knew that God intended for us to share this news right then and there with all of them.

I leaned in, kissed my Nani on the forehead and said,

“Nani, I have something to tell you. I am going to have a baby.”

You could hear a pin drop. There were looks of shock on the faces of my family, but no one said a word. She opened her eyes, ever so slightly and smiled.

“Oh honey. I am so happy about your baby. That makes my life complete.”

The next day, she passed away. My heart broke in a way that I had never experienced. But even in my sorrow, I took solace in the fact that my final conversation with her was to share the most amazing news of my life and I knew that she would watch over me throughout my pregnancy.

I believe in God, I believe in miracles and I believe in signs. I have felt her presence in my life many times in the last nine years. As I was preparing for Handsome #1’s baptism the May after she died, Maurmi brought over the silver cup that Nani had given to me as an infant. It was horribly tarnished and the inscription was illegible. Maurmi scrubbed and polished that cup until it looked brand new. She handed it to me and as I read the engraving, my heart skipped a beat.

Colleen McKernan Dilthey

April 22, 1979

Most infant cups have the baby’s birth date on them. My Nani had mine inscribed with my baptismal date. That seemingly benign date also happens to be Handsome #1’s birthday, the boy whose baptism we were preparing for. She was there the day he was born, she was there the day he was baptized and she was with us in my kitchen as my mother and I cried staring at that cup.

Life has moved on in nine years and mine has changed so very much, but I don’t think that she has missed a thing. Sure, I wish that she was still here with me, but as I have grown older and wiser, I use that word very cautiously, I realize that you have to live your best life while you are here on earth and your guardian angel will take care of you. When I need a little boost, I think of her and the wonderful things she did for me. I could write a book just about her and the Friday nights that I spent at her house watching Love Connection and eating peanuts and drinking Sprite in bed.

While I miss her like crazy and I wish she was here, I watch her daughter and she has embodied the very best of her own mother and is becoming her. My Nani was at every game, every performance, every thing that she could be for her grandchildren. She was the ultimate cheerleader and we could do no wrong. If you look out in the stands at St. Simon today, you will see that same fierce defender of her grandchildren with a smile on her face and more love in her heart that anyone I know. Her name is Maurmi and her grandchildren adore her.

For the first 28 years of my life, I watched my Nani and my mother with envy. They had the kind of relationship that many mothers and daughters dream of having. I was close to my mother, but nothing like the two of them. My Nani had been my very best friend and it wasn’t until she was gone that I truly began to appreciate my own mother for the woman that she is. I used to be a bit jealous of the way that my children’s faces light up when she comes in the room, but then I remember my own childhood and realize that is the way it is supposed to be.

As a mom, I admire her. I know that she learned from the best in the world and I want like hell to be like them. No words can accurately describe the way that I feel about my mom. She is my best friend, my partner in crime and the source of more laughter than any person on the planet. Every minute that we spend together is cherished. She loves her family, her faith and her friends and will drop anything to help others. I cannot imagine what I would ever do without her. Many women dread hearing, “You’re turning into your mother.” To me, it is the ultimate compliment.

God surprised us last summer and gave my husband and I a fourth baby. Like always, we decided to keep the gender a surprise, truly wanting nothing but this blessing. I prayed for a smooth pregnancy. I prayed for a safe delivery. I prayed for a healthy baby. God granted me each of these. Unlike my previous deliveries that all began in induction, with baby #4 my water broke in the middle of the night and we headed to the hospital despite the fact that I was scheduled to deliver via c-section a few days later.

After painful contractions in the hallway, even worse pains in pre op and miserable pains before the spinal block was in, the surgery started.

Before I knew what hit me, my doctor cheerfully announced,

“Oh my God, Colleen, it’s a girl. It’s a girl!”

As I looked at my gorgeous pink bundle of love, I knew that my life was forever changed for the fourth time. I was once again inspired to be a better mother. I looked at my husband, both of us with tears in our eyes, and fell in love with him all over again. My heart was so very full. Together we have created an incredible family and I am so very proud.

That beautiful girl, Darling, was named after my Nani and Maurmi in the hopes that she will posses their special breed of moxie. I know that she is destined to make her mark on this world. Every day, I look at her sweet little face, and I hope that she and I will have the kind of relationship that my mom and I and she and her mother had.

Nani, nine years has literally been a lifetime for me. I was just a girl when you left me, now I am a mother of four trying to get it right. You certainly left an impression on the hearts of those who knew you. Believe it or not, people still talk about you and your constant presence when we were growing up. It has not gone unnoticed the impact that you had on your baby girl as she has truly embodied your spirit and continues to make you proud continuing your legacy as the best grandmother out there.

I miss you more than ever and I wish I could have you back for just one day to laugh and smile and eat of loaf of jelly toast in your kitchen. I know that you will continue to watch over us all and to bless each of us in your special way. I love you so and appreciate what you have helped me to become more than I could ever explain. She is a fireball with smiling Irish eyes and I promise that your namesake will do you proud. I can’t wait to see you back in two and two……

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?”

Airing Our Dirty Laundry, All Over Saint Louis Hills

 

My first reaction to this video was to be critical of myself. The horrendous screen shot of a five-week postpartum mother, couldn’t they have chosen something better? I wanted to point out my errors, the way that I look and the way that I sound. But, I am throwing all of that out the window. I am so incredibly proud of this accomplishment. I stepped completely out of my comfort zone, put my heart and soul on the line with an original piece and the audience loved it. I am so incredibly thankful for the support of my family, my three brothers and my dad, who allowed me to bring a little laughter into the world at all of their expense, but particularly to my mother, who has always been my biggest supporter. I am also grateful for my husband and children who allowed me to take this time to be completely selfish and to do something just for me. I love each and every one of you!

The Listen to Your Mother experience truly was life changing for me. It helped me to realize that God has blessed me with a talent and that I need to take advantage of that talent. I am currently working on a collection of essays from my childhood, very similar to the following, that I hope to publish soon. I appreciate all of your kind words and your love. You will be seeing a lot more from me soon!

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……

 

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They are lucky they are cute…….

Because You Loved Me…..

I went back to work last week. I wasn’t kicking or screaming. I wasn’t even really crying, but I had a lump in my throat as I kissed my four babies goodbye. I know deep down that in order to keep up with the lifestyle that we have become accustomed to, I have to work. Our life isn’t extravagant or fancy, despite the fact that I am married to a celebrity, but it makes the six of us happy. And knowing that I contribute to that happiness makes me feel validated. And the icing on the cake is that I actually love my job.

My first day was long, because I was fixated on what was happening at home. I had spent the last 12 weeks with my children every single minute and all of a sudden, I felt lonely. I missed their hugs and kisses. I missed their screaming and yelling. I missed their tattles and their stories. I missed my best friends and I missed my mom. She had been with me from the minute I gave birth to my baby girl and stayed with me my entire maternity leave.

As I walked in the door after the first day, I was greeted by four smiling faces and eight arms embracing me. I looked up at Maurmi and smiled, so thankful that she had been there with them that first day. They adore her as much as I do and I knew that I probably wasn’t missed too terribly much. I looked around and noticed that the house was spotless.

“Mom, you didn’t have to clean my house,” I said, feeling utterly guilty and so incredibly grateful. Maurmi knows that I hate to have things a mess, but that I am not a Martha Stewart-type housekeeper either.

“I just didn’t want you to come home and have to do work anymore. You are my baby girl and it is my job to take care of you,” She said with tears in her eyes.

She has always told me that parenting never ends. No matter if your child is six or sixty, you will always have an overwhelming urge to take care of them. I want to think that I can do it all. I want to believe that I am some kind of super mom who can work full time, keep my house under control, feed my children nothing but nutrient-rich foods and always have a full face of makeup. It just isn’t real life. At all…Ever….I can’t do it all all of the time. Well except for the makeup because, let’s be honest, Carly Simon probably could’ve written that song about me!

I am honest about the fact that I make mistakes all the time. I try to find laughter every day because many days if I didn’t, I would cry. I don’t have it all together, and I don’t think that anyone else does either, no matter what their Instagram feed says. No one’s kids look at the camera 100 percent of the time. I know just as well as you do that the perfect pic you just posted was shot number 44 after you screamed a few times, perhaps cursing, to get them all to look. I also know that you are cropping the hell out of your family room because you don’t want anyone to see your kids’, or maybe your husband’s, socks and underwear randomly on the floor. And date night is not always that much fun! You have gotten in a huge fight on the way to the restaurant and spent the night texting your mom all about how much of a jerk your husband acted like in the car but you are staying out because, hello, you have a sitter!

The voyeuristic world that we live in today isn’t real. Rushing home when you are 37 because you just want a hug from your mom is real. Putting on your nightgown, smelling the detergent and crying, because the fresh laundry that your mom does always smells better, is real. Having your kids accidentally call their grandmother mom, not because they love them more but because they love you both so much, is real. Being a career woman, a wife and a mom is all hard. Having a mom who has done it all, who knows how you feel and who is well beyond having to parent but wants to parent you, makes it all so much easier.

I hope that when my children have children that they will allow me to continue to help clean up their messes, to hold their babies, to make them dinner and to wrap my arms around them so that they can feel my love. Right now, even when I am the most tired that I have ever been, there is nothing in the world better than tiny hands on my cheek and little lips whispering, “Mommy, I love you.” As those hands grow bigger I hope that they will still love me as much as I love them and know that no matter how tough life my seem, that I am always in their corner, just like Maurmi…….

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If only I had Listened to My Mother………

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I love to write. Love it. Love it. Love it. I truly believe in the fact that God gives each of us very specific gifts and talents that He wants us to use. He happened to make me a pretty good storyteller, a talent that I certainly inherited from my mother, and I chronicle those stories on Facebook and here on my blog. I have often been told to write a book by friends and followers and nearly daily by my mother. They tell me how much they love my stories and would absolutely buy my book and share it with their own friends and family. This is where my crippling fear takes over. This is when my complete and total lack of self confidence comes in to play and I immediately second guess myself and want to run and hide. Surprised? Don’t be. That’s the real me.

I know that I make you laugh. I know that I have made you cry. I know that I have made many of you feel better about yourselves by living vicariously through my misadventures. Throughout my journey on this site, social media and sharing my life with you, it has always been easy for me to hit post and then hide. While I know many of you personally, I don’t interact with you face to face very often. I love to read your comments and reactions, but if you see me in person, you will often find that I become very embarrassed by the attention. I have a total and complete lack of self confidence that has plagued me my entire life. This may come as a surprise because I put on quite a show, but the fact of the matter is, I always feel like I am just shy of being good enough.

Recently, I took a plunge, a leap of faith. And I did it in complete and total secrecy. I had read about the Listen to Your Mother Show on Facebook the last couple of years and thought that it was an amazing opportunity. I envied the storytellers with their confidence and moxie. I just didn’t have it. I stalked the website and knew exactly what it entailed, but I never could pull the trigger. The procedure was simple enough. All I had to do was submit a story about motherhood, that I had written, to a panel to be reviewed. If they liked it, I would be called to read my story at a live audition. Certainly I would never really be called upon to audition, so what is the harm in sending an email?

For those of you thinking, wait a minute, aren’t you the same person who was in like 100 plays in your lifetime, often playing pretty big roles? Yep. Why in the world would this be a problem for you? True, I have had a life-long love affair with the stage. I have never had a problem speaking in front of a crowd. I haven’t gotten particularly nervous, it has always come naturally. But never in my life have I actually presented my own work. Something that came from inside of me. Something that I was allowing total strangers to read and then decide whether or not they thought it was good enough. The thought was truly terrifying.

I didn’t dare run it by Maurmi or The Grillin’ Fool because I knew that they would instantly encourage me, which would make me even more uncomfortable and resistant. Instead, I penned a tale about a truly stand out memory from my own childhood that depicts exactly the kind of mother I want to be and I hit send. Not expecting to hear a thing. A few weeks went by and then this………..

“CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are thrilled to inform you that YOU have been selected to AUDITION your written submission piece for Listen To Your Mother, St. Louis!”

Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! They wanted me to read. They wanted me to tell my story in person. They wanted me to audition….at 37 weeks pregnant…..this would be no problem…..no problem at all?!?!?!?! I could no longer keep it to myself, so I shared my excitement with my mother, who sadly was attending the funeral of Justice Antonin Scalia, in her kitchen, at the time and may have been caught a bit off guard.

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Once it hit her, she was thrilled and encouraging and insistent that I follow through. I scheduled my audition and promised that she could come along if she swore on her life that she wouldn’t say a word. I didn’t want her telling anyone because I was certain that it would be a bust and I didn’t want to not be chosen and have to explain it to anyone. Plus, since the story was about her and what may or may not have been, probably was, a total nervous breakdown during her mid thirties, I thought it only fair that she hear it first hand.

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We arrived at the auditorium, I signed in and was immediately taken in to read. I hadn’t been to an audition since college, but it just felt right. Despite the fact that I was reading my own words, I felt comfortable. I felt happy. I was at home.The producers laughed and they cried and they clapped. For the first time in a very long time, I felt really, really good about what I had done.

I walked out with my head held high truly believing that no matter what happened, I had accomplished something big that day. I had a fingernail’s worth of self confidence and it felt great. But I can’t lie, I wanted it. I wanted it badly. I wanted to be a part of the cast to prove to myself that everything that I had been hearing was true. That I am good enough. For the next 10 days I agonized over the silence. I checked my email over, and over, and over again. Nothing……..

I had decided that it was a lost cause that it was time to give up and then the email arrived.

“CONGRATULATIONS!!! We loved your story on “AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY”, and you have been chosen for the cast of the 4th annual Listen to Your Mother St. Louis. Whoo Hoo! We applaud you for having the courage to share your story with us, and you are one of 13 people in the cast this year. We promise, it’s going to be an experience you will never forget!”

I cried. I cried big ugly tears. This is really happening. This is huge. I feel so honored. This has ignited a fire inside of me and I cannot wait to write more stories and to share them with the world. This is all happening because I listened to my mother. I just wish that I would have done it sooner.

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