8 High Hopes I Have for My Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.…..

 

wow

 

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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Put Me in Coach.…

I am not par­tic­u­lar­ly ath­let­ic, unless you include Sweat­in’ to the Oldies, but as a moth­er of a lot of boys, sports, cur­rent­ly base­ball, have infil­trat­ed every part of our lives. I love to watch lit­tle kids get a hit, or make a catch and to see the pride beam­ing from their faces. There is noth­ing like watch­ing your child smil­ing from ear to ear after mak­ing a great play and know­ing that not one bit of that ath­let­ic abil­i­ty came from you, and your pret­ty sure not your hus­band either, but hop­ing that it might last a few more years.

Recent­ly, Hand­somes #1 and #2 had week­night games, at dif­fer­ent loca­tions, that over­lapped; there­fore, The Grillin’ Fool and I had to divide and con­quer. It’s bare­ly mid June and already 1000 degrees in St. Louis, so a full day at the pool fol­lowed by an ear­ly evening game, that I kind of for­got about until about an hour before hand, is about as much fun as I could pos­si­bly han­dle dur­ing the last week of my mater­ni­ty leave.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, we couldn’t find hats, socks or cleats, despite the fact that every sin­gle per­son in the house swears that they put them away in their prop­er places just like I asked. Hand­some #2 and I were head­ed out for the ear­ly shift. He was clad in head to toe black and grey poly­ester, bright blue and yel­low soc­cer socks and ten­nis shoes due to the fact that we couldn’t devote any more time to the scav­enger hunt for prop­er equip­ment. All the damns that I gave had melt­ed in the heat.

The game start­ed at 6pm and was locat­ed at least 15 min­utes from home. We left at 5:51pm. I bare­ly made it out of the sub­di­vi­sion when I noticed this in the rear view mir­ror.

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He hadn’t just nod­ded off, this child was snoring.…loudly. Rather than poke the bear, I fig­ured I would let him rest until we got to the field. We rolled in at 6:03pm and I noticed that every play­er on the field was female. Per­fect. I had dri­ven to the wrong place, miles past where we were sup­posed to be. Sud­den­ly, Chief Mete­o­rol­o­gist Mau­r­mi comes in with this warn­ing.

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I check my cal­en­dar, find the right loca­tion and get to the field at 6:17pm just in time for Hand­some #2 to wake up with a seat belt crease across his face that could eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en as a failed attempt to gauge his eye out.

Are we here? Oh good, my team is up to bat!”

He runs to the dugout and after miss­ing the top of the inning some­how finds him­self on deck. Seems fair that all of the oth­er soon-to-be first graders who have bat­tled the sev­en­th cir­cle of hell in the field should move aside for some­one who just fin­ished his beau­ty sleep, right?!?!?! He gets a hit, the kids fin­ish out the inning and head back out to the field.

Hand­some #2 didn’t seem par­tic­u­lar­ly thrilled to be out in the heat and each time the thun­der would clap, he’d look up as if God was talk­ing direct­ly to him. The oth­er team got a few hits, scored a few runs and it was time for our boys to bat. Once again, there he stood with a hel­met on, seem­ing­ly unde­served­ly high up in the bat­ting order, when the coach­es spot light­en­ing and the game is called.…at 6:31pm. In just 40 min­utes, Hand­some #2 had tak­en a nap, vis­it­ed two Catholic Church fields, bat­ted and got­ten a hit, and played an inning in the field. This kid has done more with his ath­let­ic career in less than an hour than I have my entire life!

We head­ed for the car and he looked up at me and said,

I need a nap, that was exhaust­ing!”

 

 

 

 

Hangin’ Tough

Not a sin­gle soul had spo­ken to me for the last two hours. I announced to every per­son in the house that I was going upstairs and would be back in 20 min­utes. Clear­ly, this was a rook­ie mis­take. Nev­er make your pres­ence known lest you want the preda­tor to devour you. I had bare­ly turned the water on when the door opened the first time.

Hand­some #2- Mom! Can you make me some­thing to eat?

Me- Can you please give me a few min­utes?

Hand­some #2- Yes, but hur­ry!

I sham­pooed and almost con­di­tioned before the next inter­rup­tion. A naked from the waist down light saber-wield­ing child appeared and opened the show­er door. 

Me- Hon­ey, I am in the show­er. What do you need?

Hand­some #3- Um, noth­ing. I don’t need noth­ing.

Me- Where are your pants?!?!?!

Hand­some #3- I lost them. But, I could find them. Mom! Can you wipe me, please?

Suc­cess­ful­ly wip­ing a child with one hand while putting the rest of the con­di­tion­er on your head with the oth­er should at the very least come with a cash prize.

Once he was gone, I thought I’d try shav­ing my legs. Then I heard the scream­ing from the oth­er side of the door, the only one of my chil­dren to give me any pri­va­cy.

Hand­some #1- Mom! The baby is cry­ing!

Me- Put the binkie in her mouth, I’ll be there in five min­utes.

I want­ed a few min­utes of unin­ter­rupt­ed time, but instead I got to speak to all three of The Hand­somes and got a sta­tus update on the baby. As I stepped out and caught a glimpse of my face in the fog­gy mir­ror, I cried. I cried big ugly tears because all too soon, it will be over. I will miss the scream­ing and yelling and con­stant emer­gen­cies. I will miss the hugs and the kiss­es and a chub­by sweaty hand grab­bing mine. I will miss my lit­tle loves need­ing me as they become more inde­pen­dent and self-suf­fi­cient.

As much as I want­ed to wal­low in my sor­row, I decid­ed that my hus­band find­ing me in a heap on the bath­room floor wouldn’t be the best way to kick off his week­end. My moth­er always says that a lit­tle bit of fra­grance and a fresh coat of lip­stick can alter your mood instant­ly, so I fig­ured I would give it a shot. Despite the fact that I am now a moth­er of four, near­ing forty with a road map of stretch­marks and oth­er badges of life’s expe­ri­ences, The Grillin’ Fool still likes me and he deserves me at my best.

And today, the very best I could do was my sig­na­ture red lips and a New Kids on the Block T-shirt that could like­ly find a home in the Smith­so­ni­an. I snapped a self­ie, because no one would real­ly believe that I not only still own this shirt but wear it often. And just like that, as if on cue, from the first floor I heard, “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 

NKOTB

An Open Letter to the Lady at Church

To the hate­ful wom­an at mass,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sin­cere­ly,

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

Vacation, all I ever wanted.….

Last sum­mer, super new­ly preg­nant, we trav­eled with my par­ents, broth­er and sis­ter-in-law, also preg­nant, and our nephew to Hol­i­day World in San­ta Claus, IN. If you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s fam­i­ly friend­ly, clean, afford­able and there is a ton to do with lit­tle kids. My boys love it and talk all the time about when we can go back.

Recent­ly, Hand­some #2 was given an assign­ment in his kinder­garten class to bring in a pic­ture and a brief write up about a recent trip. The­se pic­tures would be shared with the class in a show and tell for­mat. Obvi­ous­ly, he was super excit­ed about this par­tic­u­lar home­work and couldn’t wait to recount his adven­ture with the class. 

We talked about the rides, the food, the water park and even the car ride there. He was proud as a pea­cock to tell his friends all about it. He wrote three sen­tences on the paper and I found a pic­ture on my phone and sent it to Wal­greens. Done and done. Weeks have passed and the assign­ment was all but for­got­ten. 

Today after school the boys burst through the door soak­ing wet from the tor­ren­tial down­pour that hit this after­noon. I ran upstairs to get clean clothes for each of them retun­ing with a Hol­i­day World t-shirt. This opened Pandora’s Box.

Hand­some #2- Mom! I am not wear­ing that. I’m not even going back there.

Me- Why not? You love Hol­i­day World.

Hand­some #2- Nope. Not any­more I sure don’t. Do you want to know why?

Me- Please, tell me.

Hand­some #2- Remem­ber my vaca­tion home­work?

Me- Yes.

Hand­some #2- Well, that’s why! 

Me- I don’t under­stand.

Hand­some #2- That pic­ture you got of the trip, well guess what? You can’t even see me. Hand­some #1 is hold­ing up the park map right in front of my face! 

We took approx­i­mate­ly 5,000 pic­tures on that trip.….naturally, I chose this.…..

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah.…..Stayin’ Alive.….

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

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

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

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

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

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

OMG! What hap­pened?” I screamed.

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

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

Duh.

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

Jesus, mom! OMG. What do we do?”

Colleen! He is hurt.”

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

Colleen! He is hurt!”

What do I do?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

 

If only I had Listened to My Mother.….….

ltyn

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.

image2

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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