Archive of ‘colleen’ category

Dear Darling, I Need a Big Favor

Dear Dar­ling,

You are my only girl and it is my respon­si­bil­i­ty as your moth­er to talk to you about impor­tant things. From the time I was a lit­tle girl, I’ve dreamed of being a mom and hav­ing the­se con­ver­sa­tions. One day we’ll pine over Pin­ter­est Boards as we plan your dream wed­ding. I look for­ward to see­ing your face when you find the per­fect prom dress. I’m even train­ing myself to be pre­pared when you have your first peri­od, but let’s not get ahead of our­selves, here. I have big dreams for you, my beau­ti­ful girl. I want you to be strong and smart and hap­py. I want you to fight for what you believe in and nev­er let any­one tell you that you can’t do some­thing. I want you to wear the bright­est red lip­stick you can find and blow kiss­es at the haters. But right now more than any­thing, my dar­ling, I need you to fall in love with a boy band. And I need you to do it quick­ly so that I can start stash­ing away mem­o­ra­bil­ia for your midlife cri­sis.

If you’re any­thing like me, you’re going to have all kinds of cocka­mamie ideas through­out your ado­les­cence. You’ll have an inven­tion idea that you’ll want to send to Shark Tank. You’ll prob­a­bly have a self-image cri­sis and decide to have a throw back fash­ion iden­ti­ty and will hope I saved some­thing from the 90s. You are going to think that I am crazy and embar­rass­ing and the most uncool mom in the world. The­se things, I will prob­a­bly not love, but boy band obses­sion, this is one phase that I will get behind. You see, my dear, it is inevitable that you will fall down this par­tic­u­lar rab­bit hole. You come from a long lin­eage of wom­en who have fal­l­en in love with a musi­cian. I had my boy band, your grand­moth­er had The Beat­les and your great grand­moth­er had her ever­last­ing love, Lib­er­ace. Per­haps that last pick was a bit mis­guid­ed, but I digress. I promise, to give you my whole heart, and bank account, when you decide on the one that will be yours forever.

I solemn­ly swear to emo­tion­al­ly and finan­cial­ly sup­port this habit. I will donate my 401k for shirts, pins, but­tons and a Fat Head for your wall. I will buy all of the iTunes gift cards so that you can pre-order albums and instant­ly down­load sin­gles. I will even sub­scribe to the YouTube chan­nel so that you can watch the same videos over and over and over again. I com­mit to buy­ing mag­a­zi­nes, I’m not sure if they still make mag­a­zi­nes, but if they do, they’re yours. As time goes on you will begin plan­ning your wed­ding, com­ing up with baby names and decide whose fam­i­ly to spend Christ­mas with. The dev­as­ta­tion that will come when you see him on TMZ with his new gal pal will be pal­pa­ble. That day, we will cry togeth­er and eat crap­py food and talk about how much bet­ter you would be for him. Once our sob ses­sion is over, I will help you to erad­i­cate any mem­o­ry of that low life from your mind. Togeth­er we will pack up your col­lec­tion and ready it for trash day. But here’s where I am going to go rogue. I’m not real­ly going to throw away any­thing. Nope, I’m going to pack it in a box in the base­ment and hide it among Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions and baby clothes that no else even know exist. Trust me, one day when you are yearn­ing for your youth and an escape from the pres­sures of adult­hood, you are going to want the­se things.

You see, my own life has recent­ly come full cir­cle and I’ve real­ized how impor­tant my mother’s sup­port of my fan girl dreams was. In 1989 I fell in love with five boys from Boston. It was more than just a crush, it was an obses­sion. The New Kids on the Block posters cov­ered my walls. My boom box con­stant­ly played their tapes-I’ll take you to the Smith­so­ni­an some­day and you’ll see what I’m talk­ing about. I wore t-shirts and giant but­tons and I was sure that one day I would mar­ry Don­nie Wahlberg and live hap­pi­ly ever after. Well, your father’s name isn’t Don­nie, your uncle isn’t Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are nowhere to be found. I am not; how­ev­er, dis­ap­point­ed. The fact that I nev­er mar­ried a boy ban­der means that I can still hang on to a bit of my child­hood fan­ta­sy.

This past sum­mer, I pulled out my Hang­in’ Tough t-shirt, it still fits which says a whole lot about how we were wear­ing our clothes in the 80’s, and head­ed out to see NKOTB, their more mature moniker, in con­cert. I walked into a venue that seats 20,000 and saw that many wom­en who are exact­ly like me. The­se wom­an are the ones who are sud­den­ly find­ing chin hairs that pop up two inch­es long overnight. The­se same wom­en have given birth to babies and are won­der­ing how did we all get here and why is time mov­ing so fast? Long ago the­se wom­en had crimped hair and frost­ed eye shad­ow and sobbed uncon­trol­lably when five boys hit the stage. The­se wom­en are my peo­ple. We are all the same. We’ve hid­den our sev­en­th-grade year­book in hopes that our hus­bands will nev­er dis­cov­er the old us. We have worn breast pads that slipped and sprung a leak in the mid­dle of the gro­cery store. We have had bad job inter­views and ter­ri­ble rela­tion­ships. We have lived par­al­lel lives and grown up togeth­er, although most of us have nev­er met.

We gath­ered togeth­er, almost 30 years lat­er, and soaked up every min­ute. We didn’t want to hear new songs. We didn’t want to see new dances. We want­ed Step by Step with all five steps, all five boys and seam­less chore­og­ra­phy accom­pa­nied by pyrotech­nic mag­ic. And that’s just what we received. The­se guys know exact­ly what they are doing. Being able to watch 40-some­thing men sing the same songs and per­form the same moves three decades lat­er is noth­ing short of mag­ic. They came back just as their fans are com­ing of age. We are get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing kids and start­ing to feel old. We are dis­con­nect­ed from our youth and this has brought us back. If only for one night, we were those same cry­ing girls with black hats and over­alls that could take on the world.

And guess what? We did take on the world. We are moms and daugh­ters and friends and doc­tors and lawyers and CEOs and teach­ers and wait­ress­es and mechan­ics and what­ev­er else we ever want­ed to be. We all start­ed as young girls and have grown into wom­en stitched togeth­er by a com­mon thread. And I wouldn’t change one bit of that. I want that same kind of hap­pi­ness for you, my sweet girl. In 30 years, you will be liv­ing a grown up life filled with pres­sure and chal­lenge and frus­tra­tion and you will need an escape from real­i­ty, too. When the time comes, you will open the box that I have saved for all of those years and the mem­o­ries will flood back. You will feel a pit in your stom­ach for what was, but flut­ters in your heart in antic­i­pa­tion of the reunion tour. You will belt out your favorite tunes, dance the famil­iar moves and swoon at their old­er, yet, sex­ier bod­ies. It will be worth every one of the hun­dreds of dol­lars you paid for the tick­et. Trust me, if you allow your­self to get away from dia­pers and dead­li­nes and sleep depri­va­tion and you self­ish­ly indul­ge in one night with 20,000 wom­an in your tribe, you’ve got the right stuff!

Love,

Mom

Mama Said There’d be Days Like This

Today was pic­ture day. Now before you get all con­cerned that my kids showed up at school in white polos already stained with choco­late milk and week-old bed­head, rest assured, I remem­bered. As a mat­ter of fact, every­one was up at 6am, in the show­er, had a deli­cious break­fast poured right out of the card­board box with love and in the car with time to spare. I gave my final farewells and watched my hand­some boys frol­ic into school not a care in the world. I also saw sev­er­al of their class­mates head­ed into the build­ing hold­ing pic­ture order forms. The same order forms that were sit­ting in the bas­ket of papers that I had no inten­tion of look­ing at for at least six months. $h!+!!!

Liv­ing in a Jack But­ler world of North to pick up and South to drop off, there was no turn­ing around, so I had to head down the street and make a U-Turn. Upon my return, the park­ing lot was full and there was no way for me to sneak in and out with­out any­one notic­ing. Instead, I got to take Hand­some #3 and Dar­ling, still in her paja­mas, through the obsta­cle course of senior cit­i­zens sure not to miss the ear­ly bird park­ing for 8:15 mass and the throngs of par­ents who couldn’t wait for their argu­ing chil­dren to final­ly get out of the damn car! We made it through to the school office where I grabbed the envelopes ready to place my order when I saw that they only take checks. Since I had just forged my husband’s sig­na­ture on the last check from the book at soc­cer uni­form pick up, that wasn’t an option. Instead, I had to take the walk of shame, envelope in hand, with my disheveled chil­dren and order my prints online. Thank­ful­ly, that part went off with­out a hitch.

Hand­some #3’s school day starts 45 min­utes after his old­er broth­ers’. We have a dai­ly rit­u­al that includes him refus­ing to eat the break­fast that I have just pre­pared, cry­ing that he hates school and an absolute refusal to let me help with any shoes or but­tons. We live less than five min­utes from preschool and we are late every.single.day. Once we get there it’s all smiles and high fives and how are you friends? His per­for­mance at home and the entire way there should gar­ner him a day­time Emmy.

We walked Hand­some #3 to class, but there was no time to dawdle. Dar­ling and I were in a hur­ry this morn­ing. As I men­tioned, it was pic­ture day and Hand­some #2 real­ly want­ed to wear his favorite black glass­es. One slight prob­lem, they were bro­ken. I promised him that I would go to Lens Crafters first thing and get those qual­i­ty craft­ed specs back to school in an hour, before he saw the pho­tog­ra­pher. Dar­ling was strapped in, my cof­fee was still hot and we were right on time to be wait­ing at the door when the store opened. I put the key in the igni­tion a lit­tle sput­ter­ing, a few lights flick­er­ing on the dash, but the engine would not turn. Per­fect. I called AAA and they said it would be 30–45 min­utes before the tech­ni­cian would arrive. Even more per­fect.

Dar­ling was done being strapped into her carseat about 45 sec­onds into our strand­ed state, so out she went ready to explore the front seat. She did a dandy job push­ing every but­ton, pulling every knob, find­ing my secret stash of tam­pons, gum and expired insur­ance cards. By the time she was fin­ished it looked like a tor­nado had ripped through the front seat. The AAA man final­ly showed up, replaced the bat­tery and $129 lat­er, we were on our way.

Due to our lit­tle bump in the road, there was no way I was get­ting to school on time, but I fig­ured I’d get the glass­es tak­en care of as long as I was out. Hand­some #2 loved those glass­es. They were his first pair and he was super excit­ed to get them back. Well he would have been excit­ed, except that they’re dis­con­tin­ued and unavail­able in the state of Mis­souri. Excel­lent! Mr. Extreme­ly patient Lens Crafters Man, who want­ed to kick me through the win­dow after 30 min­utes of total inde­ci­sion about new frames, and I picked out a per­fect new pair. They whipped those pup­pies up in no time and we were on our way.

I had just a few min­utes before pick­ing up Hand­some #3, so I decid­ed to run into Aldi to grab a few essen­tials. One thing on my list that I have be mean­ing to get the last 10 trips is that $.39 con­tain­er of salt. Remem­ber that, it’ll come back to haunt me in the lat­er rounds. There was a child los­ing its ever lov­ing mind some­where in the store, I nev­er saw it, but the whole city could hear it. Thank­ful it wasn’t mine, I said a quick Hail Mary for the poor moth­er and head­ed out. Once again, we were back on track ready to get Hand­some #3 from school.

Hand­some #3 was beam­ing at dis­missal, hap­py to see his sis­ter and me. “He had a great day, ” called his teacher. Of course he did, he only puts on the spit­ting pea soup show for me. We got home, had lunch, watched a lit­tle Elmo and were all just ready to relax for a min­ute. It was peace­ful and hap­py and serene. Like the per­fect lit­tle fam­i­ly in an anti­de­pres­sants ad.

Since the morn­ing was such a train wreck, I fig­ured it could only go up, so I got cre­ative. Some­times I like to think that I’m June cleaver in a mod­est polka dot dress with a half apron and plas­tic-cov­ered fur­ni­ture. Today was one of those days and I decid­ed to take my stay-at-home mom game to the next lev­el. Oh the boys would just love a pump­kin bundt cake as an after school sur­prise, wouldn’t they? Of course they would, I’ll just whip one right up!

I got out my pan, I pre­heat­ed my oven, pulled out the 800-lb-Kitchenaid and gath­ered my ingre­di­ents. I opened the cab­i­net to grab my sug­ar and flour can­is­ters when that $.39 salt appeared, clear­ly unhap­py with its new accom­mo­da­tions. In what can only be described as a sui­cide attempt, the salt took a free fall direct­ly into my face. Caught com­plete­ly off guard by the incred­i­ble pain throb­bing in my nose, I dropped the fresh­ly-filled with 5 pounds of sug­ar con­tain­er that sub­se­quent­ly broke into 6,000 pieces the sec­ond it hit the gran­ite. I would have tak­en a pic­ture, but I didn’t want to hurt the feel­ings of any of the 4,656,000 sug­ar gran­ules that dis­persed them­selves through­out my entire kitchen if they didn’t make the shot.

I was on the verge of tears when Hand­some #3 ever so kind­ly dis­tract­ed me.

Mom! Dar­ling pooped and she stinks so, so bad!”

I changed the dia­per, put her down for a nap and came down to sur­vey the dam­age. It was bad. I was defeat­ed. Hand­some #3 went to watch a show, Dar­ling was sleep­ing and I need­ed my favorite rap playlist and a Diet Coke. I took a deep breath and tried to put things into per­spec­tive. I am thank­ful for my four beau­ti­ful chil­dren and a lov­ing hus­band, who works his butt off, so that I can have the­se $h!++y days at home with our kids. I rolled my sleeves up, turned the speak­ers on high and got to work. “Hot n Her­re” on my lips, I scrubbed the cab­i­nets, the floors and the coun­ters, and sud­den­ly caught my reflec­tion in the mir­ror and thought, Damn! I think my butt get­tin’ big.….…

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.”

 

 

 

My Barbies Taught Me How to be a Good Mom


When I was a kid I played with my Bar­bie dolls every day. I had Bar­bie and the Rock­ers, Cal­i­for­nia Dream Bar­bie, I even had those knock­off Max­ie Dolls. I was a Bar­bie Girl liv­ing in a Bar­bie world long before Aqua came around. My Bar­bi­es all lived in the Dream House and dat­ed the New Kids on the Block and Michael Jack­son, who were way cool­er than Ken. I spent so much time with my Bar­bi­es that by the time I had chil­dren, I con­sid­ered myself pre­pared for all kinds of things. As a mat­ter of fact, Bar­bi­es taught me so many lessons I nev­er even cracked a sin­gle What to Expect about any­thing book.

First and fore­most I think we can all agree that you should not cut your children’s hair, right? This one is a given. We all took our Fiskars to that beloved blonde hair and thought for sure that she would end up with a chic bob after­ward. Instead, Bar­bie was forever tak­ing the walk of shame with a lop-sid­ed reverse mul­let. The same lesson applies to kids. Unless you have a license with your pic­ture on it, your sweet lit­tle child does not deserve the psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture that comes from tak­ing a whack at her bangs with safe­ty scis­sors. We all remem­ber that girl in the year book with the hat on because her moth­er was sure she could save $8, God bless her.

Let’s move on to num­ber two, don’t leave your chil­dren unat­tend­ed on the floor. Your moth­er always told you not to leave your dolls lay­ing out when you left the room or the dog would eat them. No, I don’t think the dog will eat the baby, but the baby sure as hell will eat any­thing off of the floor if you’re not look­ing. I have screamed in slow motion watch­ing my daugh­ter eat the most minus­cule speck of left­over wood chip that remained on the hearth from the win­ter gone by. I turned my back for one sec­ond and she was eat­ing the most organ­ic meal ever pre­pared in our house. Just like my moth­er said, we should always pack up our things, dolls and babies, and take them where they are out of harm’s way.

Next, we need to be super care­ful when we are dress­ing our chil­dren. Bar­bi­es came in two vari­eties, the ones with the smooth legs who could wear any­thing and the kind with the rub­ber legs that took forever to dress. So much time was spent pulling and stretch­ing that half of my Bar­bi­es’ wardrobes went from high 80s fash­ion to trashy street wear in a sin­gle, way too hard tug. This is the same with a tod­dler who is lanky and one with a lit­tle more fluff. Don’t both­er try­ing to stuff a 25lb one-year-old into some skin­ny jeans. Give that lit­tle girl some stretchy leg­gings and let her breathe! If you insist of hav­ing a mini fash­ion­ista on your hands, you’ll just end up pulling too hard, stuff will get ripped, and there will be lots of tears.

Let’s move on to the shoes, shall we? Bar­bie was load­ed with heels, boots, and occa­sion­al­ly a pair of sneak­ers. Some­times those shoes just didn’t fit right, caus­ing you to jam them on leav­ing her feet to stick out kind of fun­ny. A lot of times it was sim­pler just to throw them on the wrong foot. Have you ever fought with a three-year-old over just about any­thing when you are 20 min­utes late? There is noth­ing bet­ter than talk­ing to a child with his shirt on back­wards, his pants inside out and his shoes on the wrong feet when you are head­ed to mass where you will cer­tain­ly be judged by every old bit­ty in the church. No mat­ter how pre­pared you may be to talk him out of his ques­tion­able attire with reverse psy­chol­o­gy and bribery, it is a bat­tle of will and more often than not, you are going to lose. Do your­self a favor and throw those Crocs on the wrong feet and the whole fam­i­ly is hap­py.

Remem­ber when your Barbie’s head popped off and you total­ly freaked out for a mil­lisec­ond but then remem­bered you could just put it back on? Apply that same log­ic with your kids. If their head pops off, just stick it back on. You know when I say head, I total­ly mean hat, right? If your kid’s hat falls off, just put the darn thing back on and keep mov­ing. There is absolute­ly no need to have a com­plete and total men­tal break­down about some­thing that is fix­able. We all spend too much time focus­ing on per­fec­tion for our­selves and our kids that we lose sight of the big pic­ture. It will real­ly all be OK even if your fam­i­ly isn’t a Nor­man Rock­well paint­ing.

Some­times the best lis­ten­ers are those who remain silent. I encour­age you to keep talk­ing to your chil­dren even if they don’t talk back. I had more con­ver­sa­tions about impor­tant things with my dolls than I have ever had with my hus­band. Grant­ed he rarely lis­tens to what I say any­way, but I don’t want to take a chance and let any­thing impor­tant slip. That’s why I tell my baby about my new shoes or the dress that I hid in the clos­et when my hus­band wasn’t look­ing. My son was 14 months old and the first one who knew I was preg­nant with his broth­er. It is nice to share the most sala­cious secrets with your best friend who will nev­er tell a soul.

And final­ly, love them more than any­thing. My Bar­bie dolls were my favorite toy grow­ing up. I nev­er want­ed to let them go. But, I got old­er and it was time to put them away. No mat­ter how old I get, they will always be a spe­cial part of me and hold some of my most pre­cious mem­o­ries.  I know that as my kids get old­er they will begin to out­grow me, too. Even if they don’t want me to, I will always clothe them, pro­tect them, talk to them, and cher­ish them just as I did my dolls. But I promise I will nev­er do to them what I did to poor Swedish Barbie’s flow­ing locks.….ever.….

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.……

Guess What kids? It’s not my fault!

kidsYour base­ball uni­form is still damp because I for­got to put it in the dry­er last night. It’s time to go so I hang it out the car win­dow on the high­way for a lit­tle line dry action, that is my fault. You have to take your lunch in a plas­tic shop­ping bag from Tar­get instead of brown bag­ging it because I didn’t buy them on my last trip, you can blame that on me. Your oat­meal mixed with paprika instead of cin­na­mon, I am respon­si­ble for that. I will not; how­ev­er, take cred­it for any of this.

You are exhaust­ed

Well, mom, if you just put us to bed on time I wouldn’t be this angry and cry­ing every morn­ing!” Oh my lit­tle Hand­some, how quick­ly you for­get that I sent you to bed on time last night, and every oth­er night of your whole life because when the witch­ing hour arrives I am ready to jump out the win­dow. You decid­ed to laugh and wrestle and do every­thing else you weren’t sup­posed to be doing with your broth­er for an hour and a half while I yelled from my bed­room to go to sleep. You didn’t lis­ten. Not my fault.

You are cov­ered in some­thing

Mom, I have tooth­paste all over the back of my neck!”  Well, when you insist on sit­ting on the toi­let in the down­stairs half bath, even though there are three oth­er bath­rooms in the house, while your broth­ers are also brush­ing their teeth in said bath­room tow­er­ing over you because, why would we ever not be togeth­er in the small­est bath­room in the house? Some­one is prob­a­bly going to spit on you. Not my fault.

You can’t find your shoes

The last time I wore them, I put them away.” Your Grand­pa loved to use this one on your uncles and me when we were kids. It’s my favorite. I share this lit­tle tid­bit with you every sin­gle time you can’t find your Nikes. They are sup­posed to go by the front door so that we can avoid being 15 min­utes late, instead of our tra­di­tion­al ten. Of course, you ignore me and throw one upstairs the oth­er in the base­ment and have no mem­o­ry of either. Now you’re wear­ing pen­ny loafers and gym shorts to Mass. Not my fault.

You are starv­ing

Um, what is that? It looks bas­gust­ing.” My cook­ing may not be on par with Julia Child, but give me a break! I can crack open and thought­ful­ly pre­pare that jar of Ragu that you asked  for a mere 30 min­utes ago. The fact that you have decid­ed that any­thing red will induce vom­it­ing and there is absolute­ly no way in hell you will touch the fork that I put in the bowl instead of on the table takes crazy to a lev­el that I am not pre­pared to deal with. Not my fault.

You are not ready for bed

At the end of the day you need a drink of water, anoth­er hug, one more kiss and a short sto­ry. Bed­time is here and you need to go to sleep. And even when I am the most tired that I have ever been, there is noth­ing like lit­tle hands on my face and lit­tle lips whis­per­ing, “Good­night, mom. I love you.” I don’t want the­se days of you need­ing and want­i­ng and lov­ing me more than any­one to end. So, I indul­ge those last lit­tle requests because from the moment you were born, you stole my heart. Not my fault.

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.

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.…..

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