I got nothin’!

By Becky Andrews

 

I got nothin’!

You read that right. After a few weeks waiting for something funny, dangerous, or even inspiring to happen…nothing. I started and stopped about 30 different story ideas. This happens sometimes but this time… nothing.

I started one about how uncomfortable funerals and death in general make me feel. You can find book after book on how to deal with the loss of a loved one, but there’s very little information out there on the best ways to comfort someone suffering a loss. From personal experience, I can attest that humor can often be a magical elixir to soothe an aching heart… sometimes it’s easier to swallow with a little alcohol. The only caveat to my theory is that you must have the right timing. For instance, I don’t understand why people say, “Doesn’t he/she look great?” Especially if this is the first time you are seeing the deceased. Someone said this to me once and I blurted out, “This is the first time I’ve seen him, but he looks just like the pictures.” Under the right circumstances, that might have been gotten a chuckle. Recently, we were attending a memorial service and noticed a visitor Facetiming a relative so that relative could speak to the deceased. Sure, I may have found that a little humorous, but I didn’t mention it to the bereaved.

The next one started because I was angry at a kid who said something nasty to one of mine. The words were there and it was FUNNY but my husband reminded me that once printed it makes me look a tad irrational calling someone under 10 a mean little turd face or insinuating that I have Santa on speed dial and this kid is getting NOTHING FOR CHRISTMAS! NOTHING, I TELL YA!

Then the there’s the one that almost made the cut. A year or so ago I was checking my teenagers Instagram account. The next day I picked him up from school. He shut the car door and said, “MOM! If you are going to check my Instagram account, log out of my account before you start commenting on my friend’s pictures.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You commented on a picture of Kaleb running at the last meet.”

“So! I was trying to be encouraging.”

“It was under my name.”

“Why does that matter?”

“Because you said, ‘Kaleb, you look awesome! You are an amazing runner!’ Your legs are on fleek!’ It looked like I left it! And for the last time, stop saying ‘fleek!’ No one says it anymore!”

That’s it. I’m stuck. Stuck in a land of 1,000 stories and nothing to write about. At this very moment, my children just started fighting. I’ve had to retreat to my bathroom to finish writing this. I’m even ignoring the loud crash followed by a hush, two sets of feet hurrying up the stairs and the gentle closing (and locking) of my oldest son’s bedroom door. I think about ignoring it completely and letting my husband deal with whatever mess has been made then I realize this could be my shot for a quirky little story about my boys. But it’s not worth it. I just don’t have time for the nervous breakdown I’ll deserve if they’ve broken another glass or spilled another glass of milk down the air vent.

Comments? Even mean ones? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

 

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Happiness on hold and other DIY mommy projects

 

By Andrea Hagan

My kids and I love visiting the library.  As an adult, you get to relive those great childhood memories of your library, excited to pick a few new books to take home.  I allow my daughter to check out two books at a time; otherwise, we’d wind up losing them.  She went through a stage where it was great fun to place items in various locations throughout the house (Mom’s hairbrush shoved in the onion bin in the pantry, check!  Mom’s bra tied around lion’s neck, check!  Mom’s wedding ring under the trampoline, check!)

I like to check out a few books too, usually cookbooks.  While perusing the cooking section, I stumbled up “The Happiness Project,” a book that had obviously been mishelved (Can’t blame my daughter, she was in the stroller at the time…).  This is an older book I vaguely remember hearing about back when I had the time to read one book a week, ie before children.  I decide to check it out.  Why not?  What mom couldn’t use a little more happiness?

Fast forward three months later.  I am exactly on page three, having renewed this book a total of four times.  I’m almost embarrassed to attempt a fifth renewal, afraid the librarian will see this in the computer system and say, “Lady, you’re delusional!  You and I both know that you are not going to make the time to read this book!  Extension denied!  With a big thud of the stamper on the card in the back of the book (Well, there are no more stampers or cards in the back of the book as everything is now electronic, but it would certainly make for a more dramatic effect).  A hush would fall over the library, everyone would turn from their board backed periodicals (okay, their Facebook pages on the library computers) to stare at the woman who simply could not find the time to be happy.  Shamefully, I would exit the library with nothing to show for the humiliation except for my daughter’s two Clifford books that I could dramatically reenact if called upon, having painfully read and reread.

There were all sorts of projects and plans that simply never happened.  For example, I was going to organize all my daughter’s pictures and make several collage canvases and baby books by her first birthday Never happened as we are now at age three.  The shadow boxes of newborn keepsakes still adorn my dining room table, a project that at least got started.

I’m not going to say that happiness is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, because that is too cliché.  Maybe the lesson here is that the very essence of happiness cannot be turned into a project or captured in a DIY book.  That my happiness today was my daughter snuggling in my lap for a few minutes or my son looking up at me from his crib, smiling and holding up his arms, waiting for me to pick him up from his nap.  At least that’s what I’ll tell that judgmental librarian when I return the unread Happiness Project book next week….

Till next month!

 

 

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I miss dial up

By Angel Kane

Like all parents, I have become keenly aware that the World Wide Web is much more than Facebook, amazon.com and Pinterest. For me at least, that has been the sum total of my basic internet world. Throw in a crock pot recipe search and an online symptom checklist here and there and that is what I spend my time doing when I’m surfing the net.

I suppose, however, I’ve always known there is more “bad stuff” out there but considering we live in the country and our internet was slower than a slug, I’ve never worried much with what our kids were looking at online. If they did try to search anything inappropriate it would take an hour to search for it and another two hours to download it and by then I’d be onto them! Thank you Jesus for buffering!

But recently technology came to our part of the world and with the dawn of technology came the need to monitor what they were now looking at online, losing my ever loving mind when I found out and then restricting them to all access!

And like any mom, when it comes to my kids, I went overboard.

I not only put all sorts of restrictions on our iPads, computers and televisions but for extra good measure restricted our verizon phones plans and then the icing on top was a program that tracks, restricts, and then reports their every move.

It’s called Mobicip and it’s the number one monitoring program in the country. For just $39.99 a year it has the works.

Problem is it’s going to cost me way more than that to hire an IT guy to undo it!

So I spent several hours downloading, uploading, putting in my special codes by which I now literally control every device in the house.

No one can watch anything without my approving it. No one can go anywhere without my being able to track them and find them. No one can search anything without my getting to search it right along with them.

That includes my husband. (Woops!)

So on Sunday I’ll turn on the family locator app to find all my teenage children and my husband, who is in our den watching football, will call out “Why are you trying to locate me, I’m right here!”

In war, it’s called collateral damage! Problem is I don’t know how to remove his devices or mine from this nightmare.

Family locator is the least of my problems. We can’t watch anything not age appropriate for anyone under 7 years old without my phone sounding an alarm. Searching anything requires me to remember my 10 digit code! And every few hours I’m having to approve a search that is completely appropriate, that is if you consider searching “Why Jalen Hurd quit UT?” an appropriate search from a middle aged man.

Arguably, I could just remove the restrictions but then I would be admitting defeat. Not to mention the fact that I would have to have my 14 year son show me how!

Oh how I long for the days of AOL and dial up!

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It could be worse, right?

By Becky Andrews

 

Most of the time it starts off with a question about something going on in the world that will likely never affect them (Ebola). Sometimes, it can be serious. Like when a classmate’s father passed away suddenly or why parents get divorced. No matter the question, I’m mostly prepared. *** (By prepared I mean holding my composure long enough to call my sister to get advice on how to handle the conversation.)

So, a few weeks ago, my boys and I were on our way home from a faraway cross country meet when my oldest who had been texting tirelessly since leaving the meet, broke the silence and asked, “Have you ever regretted anything, mom?”

While I would love nothing more than to tell my 17-year-old that I’ve managed to avoid mistakes like: getting a tattoo at 18 just because I could, or dating that guy in college strictly based on looks… again, because I could, I knew he was just looking for the human side of his mom. “Sure, everyone has.”

“Like what?”

“It might be quicker to tell you things I haven’t regretted.”

“What about the things you don’t regret?”

“Marrying your dad, having you and your brother.”

I tried explaining that regret is a vehicle for learning so even if I regret certain things, I’d never take them back because even changing a teeny tiny detail of a single event could change everything about our life and blah, blah, blah. I could tell he stopped listening after, “vehicle for learning.” But before I could get to the next obvious question; “Why are you asking this? What do you need to tell me? Did you forget to turn in your Spanish paper?”, my youngest piped up from the back seat, “Mom, what if it’s something bad? Like something you can’t stop thinking about?”

Suddenly I went from mentally preparing a list of things my 17-year-old will be grounded from when he admits to what he’s regretting to… I don’t know what to think. I mean, he’s the baby, the one who always makes the right choices, follows rules, responsible. Truth be told, I feel safer when he’s at home with his big brother, not the other way around.

No matter how much I prodded, he wouldn’t tell me.

“I can’t, mom. I wish I could get it out of my head but I can’t.”

At this point I’m panicking. My God, what has he done? With Jacob, it’s always something along the lines of “I didn’t know leaving a half-eaten pizza under my bed would eventually stink and attack an army of gnats.” That, I was prepared for. But whatever my little tender hearted, dependable, thoughtful, child, had on his mind was disturbing enough that he couldn’t even tell me. By his tone, I fearfully wondered if his dad and I should keep track of the squirrel population in our backyard.

No matter how much I assured him he could tell me anything, he wouldn’t budge. I started to panic. What was so bad that he couldn’t tell me? This had to be bad. I was positive that whatever it was it had to be my husband’s fault. He’s the one that let him watch CSI and that crazy OMEN movie. Although my husband would say it’s all the show tunes and Sex and the City marathons I watched while pregnant.

Finally, he agreed to tell his big brother. By this time, we’d arrived home. The boys had gone upstairs so Jackson could tell his brother the “secret.” I tried not to worry. How bad could it be? Wrong question. It could be bad. I’m sure it’s nothing, right?

After what seemed like an hour, my oldest ran downstairs, threw a bag of popcorn into the microwave and opened the fridge.”

“Well, what is it? Tell me from beginning to end. Your dad is on his way home. Should we wait for him? Tell me!”

“What?”

“WHAT IS THAT THING YOUR BROTHER CAN’T GET OUT OF HIS HEAD?!!! How bad is it? Does he need therapy? Tell me now…unless it’s so bad I need to wait for dad to get here?”

With a laugh, he said, “Yeah, no it’s not bad but he probably will need therapy.”

“Oh God, what is it? What did he do?”

“HE didn’t DO anything. He walked in when you and dad were having sex.”

I was right… it WAS worse than what I thought.

Comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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About a boy…

By Becky Andrews

“I’ll never be one of those moms.” I said that when my firstborn was six years old. At the time, my nephew was a senior in high school and my sister was distraught over his impending graduation. My big sister Laura is my hero, my touchstone, my person. But when she was going through this “thing” with her oldest, I wasn’t as supportive as I should have been. The truth is I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. He’s going to college. He’s got a scholarship, good friends, good grades… what’s the big deal?

Yet here I am 11 years later with my oldest and… I’M. A. WRECK. Since day one of his last year of high school, I walk around like Bill Murray’s character Bob Wiley in “What about Bob?” “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.”

Jacob: “Which senior picture do you like the most?”

Me: “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.”

Jacob: “We only have 98 school days left in this school year!”

Me: “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.”

Jacob: “Today was the first practice for my last year of track! That’s insane.”

Me: “I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful.”

I thought Jacob would always give me a “one more minute” hug. I thought he would always talk to me about everything. Of course, our conversations would change. He would talk to me about school, dating, girls instead of his Yu-Gi-Oh card collection. But still, we would talk.

During my nephew’s senior year in high school, my sister would give me weekly, sometimes daily updates on how things were going.

“Evan’s senior pictures came in. I cried all day.”

“We got his dorm assignment today. I locked myself in the bathroom with a sleeve of Oreos and People magazine.”

I couldn’t imagine ever being so upset about my kids starting college. I would miss them yes, but I was under that illusion all parents are under when their kids are small. My kids would always be my biggest fan. They would always love spending time with me for no reason… not because they wanted a new Patagonia jacket or the latest installment of Call of Duty. I know. I am a total moron.

I was also positive I would never in a million years say things like, “Time, slow down,” while watching my boys prepare for college. I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

Since day one of his senior year, I’ve had this weight on my chest. It feels like I’m out of breath. Like I’m on a tight deadline. Like I’m forgetting something. I thought when he wasn’t working, or in school or at cross country practice, he would WANT to spend time at home with his parents and little brother. I mean, I never wanted to be home with my parents when I was a senior, but we’re different than our parents. We’re cool. We understand what it’s like to be a teenager (in the 90’s!)

I find myself metaphorically pulling him back to me while he struggles to break free. He’s racing to the next party, club meeting, study group, or date while I sit on the sidelines screaming, “You need a jacket. Don’t text and drive. I love you. I said, ‘I LOVE YOU.’”

So, last week we prepared for his senior banquet for cross country. I thought I would pass out. While everyone else was “oohing” and “ahhing” at photo displays showcasing the last four seasons, I was silently screaming, “What’s wrong with you people?! Don’t you know this is their senior year? Instead of oohing and ahhing, we need to huddle together and cry because right now that’s the only thing I’m positive I could do without causing a scene.”

On the way home, I cried. I cried again when I got home. I cried when I woke up the next morning. If I’m being totally honest, I’m crying right now. I have no control over this. I don’t know the proper etiquette for navigating this new road. I don’t want time to stop. I don’t really want it to slow down. The logical part of my brain knows that’s simply not possible so why even say it. I want time to matter. I want time to understand what I’m feeling and make me feel better. But time doesn’t do that. However, I am more aware of time now. Maybe time’s only job is to make us aware that it doesn’t stop for anything. So, you better enjoy every second of it now.

He’s my oldest. He doesn’t want to spend every waking moment with me. I suppose it would be odd if he did. But instead of worrying so much about the fact that THERE ARE LESS THAN 100 DAYS LEFT IN THE SCHOOL YEAR, I’ll try to enjoy the parts of his life, he doesn’t mind his old mama being a part of.

 

Comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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