Anonymous Soccer Mom

Musings from the Mundane to the Marvelous


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As Seen on ScaryMommy…Thanks, Jill!

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This week, I was honored to be featured on ScaryMommy.com, Jill Smokler’s amazing blog, of which I’m a huge fan. The following is an excerpt from my guest post. Please visit ScaryMommy for the rest!

THERE’S NO ‘ME’ IN MOTHERHOOD…OR IS THERE?

Something strange and insidious happens when you become a mother. And no, I’m not talking about stretch marks, although those suckers are truly strange and insidious.

The moment a woman becomes a mom — as soon as that screaming, slippery, wonderful, miraculous baby is pushed from her loins — her world suddenly shrinks down to those things that involve her child.

When I was younger, before I had kids, if people asked me about myself, I would tell them all the fantastic things I enjoyed doing, or had done, like singing in clubs around New York City, or jumping out of airplanes from 14,000 feet, or going on national tours with off-Broadway shows.

Now, when people ask me about myself, I talk about my kids. Not that they aren’t worthy of conversation. They are amazing and gorgeous and great and terrific and funny and bright and — oops. See? I did it again.

But sometimes I wonder, what happened to me? The me before kids who parasailed in Florida and closed a club called Tattinger’s in Atlantic City at 7AM, and chased owls and assorted oddly colored bugs in Joshua Tree, and walked on the ruins of the Acropolis.

- See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/theres-no-me-in-motherhood-or-is-there/#sthash.VMKixKSp.dpuf

 

 

 

 


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NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo  NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November, during which hundreds of thousands of writers undertake to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I have a fondness for NaNoWriMo because I wrote my debut novel, SOMETHING NEW, during the 2010 competition, and it later went on to be published by Berkley Trade–a division of Penguin USA.

This has been a particularly tough year for me, as my mom passed away in May. My writing has suffered, a fact that would make my mom very upset with me. So I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this month, not just to get me back on track, but to offer me an escape from my grief and the many pressures I’ve fallen under from settling my mother’s affairs.

Perhaps some of you reading this are participating in NaNoWriMo. If so, I would like to offer you some of my reflections about this month:

1) You are not alone. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people just like you parked in front of a computer screen wringing words out of their brains to meet their daily word count.

2) You are not crazy. Yes, 50,000 words in 30 days is insane. But doable. 100,000 words is doable if you don’t eat or sleep or go to the bathroom. Just saying.

3) Your kids will not starve. For moms like me who tend to do everything for their kids, like choose their clothes and brush their hair and stand over them whilst they do their homework, let this month be for you a chance to foster your children’s independence. And, really, if they’re hungry enough, your kids can find food all on their own.

4) There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. There is boredom and there is brain fry and there is ambivalence and paralysis. But you can always get the words out. They may not be brilliant, but you can always go back and make them brilliant later. If you’re stuck, write through it. Push yourself through to the next scene and the next. Pretty soon, you’ll get your groove back.

5) Stop reading this blog, or any other blog post, update, pin, or tweet and get back to your novel. It’s waiting for you.

I am 17,000 words in. And although I don’t think this novel will win any prizes, I’m proud of the fact that I am back to writing every day, and even prouder to call myself a writer. We’re a kooky bunch. We have the dialogue of made-up people swirling around in our heads, we journey to faraway places and alien worlds without ever stepping outside, we work hard to inject conflict into our lives, at least on paper. But we also get to create on a daily basis, and that’s pretty great.

To all my fellow NaNoWriMos, I won’t wish you luck. You don’t need it. I wish you the gift of more and more words!


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Dragonfly Mom

dragonflyI was in my sister’s pool doing laps when a large red dragonfly swooped down and started following me back and forth. My first thought was “Mom?”

I know how crazy that sounds—I don’t believe in reincarnation, and even if I did, my mom would never come back as a dragonfly or an insect of any kind, for that matter. She’d come back as a mighty lioness or a beautiful dolphin or Sophia Loren. And I was angry with myself for even having this thought.

But I realized that I was simply desperate to feel that Mom is with me in some way, that she hovers somewhere close by watching over me, that she’s STILL HERE. Because despite what others say (i.e. “She’s with you, Janis. She’s within you, Janis”), and whether or not what they say is true, Mom is NOT HERE. I can’t give her a hug. I can’t hear her musical laugh. I can’t receive from her the advice and wisdom I need. I can’t make her smile or listen to her sing a bawdy British drinking song or shake up a martini for her to enjoy. I can’t hold her hand and watch Bones with her.

And, quite frankly, that sucks.

My son, who is ten, often tells me that he will love me and need me forever. (And, furthermore, he says he is never moving out—gulp!) And I know that he means what he says. Because we do love and need our moms forever. I need my mom now, probably more than I ever did, as I try to navigate middle age and motherhood and menopause. I am constantly questioning my choices and worrying about my decisions and ruing my hormone-challenged, ever-changing (and not for the better) body.

If Mom were here, I know what she would say. She’d say, “Janis, you are wonderful. You’re doing a terrific job. I’m so proud of you.”

And maybe knowing what Mom would say to me is the way in which she IS HERE. And although it’s not enough, it’ll have to do for now.

Until the next dragonfly comes along.


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The Secret Shameful Sigh of Relief

Summer is almost over and the little darlings are headed back to school in about one hundred and thirteen hours (but who’s counting?).

I consider myself a good mom. Not the Mother Teresa of parenting, but, you know, solid. I don’t let my kids drink Dr.Pepper (which means that I have to drink my own Dr. Pepper whilst hiding in the closet) and I don’t let them juggle knives or watch Friday the 13th Part Gazillion.

I fall short all the time, like for example, I really wanted the kids to learn French this summer, planned to start lessons the week after school let out, 30 minutes every day.  However, I only broke the French cds out of the packaging yesterday. (With 113 hours left, no one is going to be parlayvouing any time soon, if you know what I mean.) I wanted to get them on a strict exercise regimen…I think they each may have done 15 minutes on the elliptical machine in June. I thought it would be good for them to read five chapter books this summer, but I had to settle for Ninjago comics instead. So, okay, best laid plans, and all. But, despite what my husband says, I make up for my deficiencies in other ways. Really I do.

The last two and a half months have been terrific. I managed to entertain my kids and stimulate them and offer them all kinds of frolicking fun. The loss of my mom in May made me a little manic about making sure they had a FANTASTIC summer. And they did. They had a great time! And do you know what? I am freaking exhausted!

mom drinkI love my kids, adore them actually. They’re smart and funny and entertaining, but they are also a lot of work! Not only are they physically exhausting (i.e. we were at SeaWorld and Aquatica from opening until closing two days in a row!), but they are also mentally exhausting. Now that they’re older, they argue intelligently. They debate with a canniness that keeps me on my toes (and makes me wish Happy Hour started at about noon).

So while I can say honestly—again—that we had a great summer, the impending start of the school year has me conflicted. Not because I’m not looking forward to sending them off into someone else’s care for seven hours a day, but because I am looking forward to it.

When other moms or dads or anyone, for that matter, ask me if I’m glad that summer’s over, there’s a little voice inside of me that whispers in my ear:

“If you were a really good mom, you’d say ‘Heck, no! I never want school to start again. I’ll miss my kids terribly. I want them home with me 24/7 because they are the best things in my life and I wish summer would last forever!’”

So  I find myself stuttering. “Uh…uh…uh…” thinking that if I say ‘Yes, I can’t wait for the freaking school bell to ring Wednesday morning!’ I’m admitting that I suck as a parent, at least to myself.

I know this is ridiculous. I know that all moms (and dads) have their own personal kid-tolerance level and that by September 1st, every single one of them is ready for an asylum. But it’s that darn voice. The voice of Miss Perfect-Mom who I will never be but who I strive to be and end up continually disappointing myself.

So, by way of answer, I say, “Oh, we’ve had a great summer!” Then I let out a little shameful sigh of relief. And the other parents, the ones who have their own Miss or Mr. Perfect-Parent living inside of them? They understand me perfectly.

But I envy the parents who just lay it all out there and, without hesitation, say, “I wish school started in July.”

September For-Fun Minute


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Come See The Sexist Side of Sears

searsI don’t consider myself a feminist. I’ve never marched with Gloria Steinem or burned my bra or thrown out my pantyhose, although I have been known to ignore (read: misplace) my razor for weeks at a time. On the other hand, I’m not June Cleaver either. I don’t wear a frilly apron and wait on my husband hand and foot. I don’t call him Sire, or anything. I move my own furniture and kill my own bugs—except for spiders, which I remove from the house without causing any bodily harm, and not because I’m superstitious, but because that single spider has about three hundred siblings living right outside my front door who will storm my home and bite the crap out of me if I kill one of their brethren.

So, basically, I’m just an average Jane. I don’t take offense easily. I don’t have to make noises about how women are just as good as men because I secretly know that women are far superior to men and knowing that gives me a sense of peace that need not be shouted from the rooftops.

But, wait, I digress.

The other day, something happened to me that made me angry on behalf of all my sister-housewives across the land. I’d made an appointment with Sears to have one of their contractors come out to my home to give me an estimate on some kitchen remodeling. Let me repeat that. I made the appointment. While I was on the phone with the woman setting up the appointment, she asked for my husband’s name. I didn’t understand why she needed his name. I mean what if I was single? What if I was married, but my husband was in a coma fighting a flesh-eating bacteria? What if I had a wife instead of a husband? Wasn’t asking for my husband’s name somewhat presumptuous on the scheduler’s part?

Anyway, I decided to let that one go and gave up my husband’s name. To which she responded: “And will your husband be present when Sergio comes out?”

“Why, no,” I replied. “He’ll be at work. It’ll just be little ole me.” (That’s irony, folks, because I am neither little nor  ole.)

So, on the day of the appointment, Sergio called to tell me he had been double-booked and we would have to reschedule. He asked me to call him to chat about the kitchen. I did, but got his voicemail. He never called me back.

Now, my life has been busy, so I didn’t call Sears right away to reschedule. I figured I’d get to it when I could, or I’d hear from Sears sooner or later. And I did. Sort of. Wait, no. I didn’t. This is what happened:

Three days after the failed appointment, MY HUSBAND got a brochure in the mail saying: Dear Alex- Thank you for scheduling a free in-home design consultation…blah blah blah…etc.

Three days after that, MY HUSBAND got a post card in the mail saying: Alex, it’s time to reschedule your appointment with Sears Home Services…blah blah blah…etc.

Excuse me? Is it 1950 all over again? I’m sorry, but that is just totally bogus. MY HUSBAND did not make the appointment. MY HUSBAND had nothing to do with calling Sears. Had it been up to him, I never would have called Sears in the first place. And by the way, my husband supports the family, but I’M paying for the kitchen remodel. And do you know who I’M paying to do the kitchen remodel?

NOT SEARS!

Softer side, my ass.


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Eulogy for Sharon, March 2, 1936 – May 30, 2013

 

 

 

 

photoThe world looks different today. The sun less bright, the sky less blue. I mourn, but I am thankful for every moment I shared with this amazing woman. She touched so many lives with her warmth, her generosity, her charm, her passion, her fierce loyalty and unfailing love and her dazzling joie de vivre.

There is so much I could share with you about my Mom. She was so many things to me and to so many people. She was thoughtful and kind and generous with her time and herself. She loved her family and her friends fiercely, passionately, and if she loved you, she would do anything in the world for you. She loved life and her enthusiasm was contagious. But those are big picture things. And I’d like to talk about the little things.

She loved to be useful, to be needed, to be helpful. She could get stains out of clothing like no one else I know. Honestly, I could use the same stain stick as she did (of course it was the same stain stick–she gave it to me) and use the same technique she used and I couldn’t for the life of me get the stain out. But she could, and she would victoriously display the garment to me, always hung neatly on a hanger. She could fix zippers. I still have one I need her to fix. She could refinish furniture. She could mend any rip, tear or hole in any kind of fabric. She could reupholster dining room chairs, or any chair or cushion for that matter. She could do pull ups in a moving subway car. No joke. She made the best scrambled eggs on the planet. (I’ve tried to mimic her, but without success according to AJ and Elle). She could make an ensemble from Ross Dress For Less look like a million bucks. She was a hoarder of canned goods.  She was a hoarder of Kleenex. She loved to swipe the little butter packets and sugar packets from restaurants. She had an amazing vocabulary. She loved to laugh and had a smile that lit up a room. When she was trying to be annoyed, she did what her kids would call ‘the lower teeth thing.’ She loved a good garage sale and actually threw the best garage sales in the neighborhood. She loved to watch Bones and Castle, but you didn’t dare call her during NCIS or Big Bang Theory, and if you did, she would politely, but very hurriedly tell you she’d call you back at the commercial. She was quick with a thank you note, or a note of encouragement or a note of friendship. She never ever forgot a birthday. If you ever mentioned some item you needed, perhaps just in passing, like for example, ‘Oh, Elle needs a green shirt for her play’ or ‘I just can’t find a rug to fit in my bathroom’,  the very next day Mom would provide the very thing you asked for or needed. She had ESP about paper towel, always gifting me with an eight-pack on the exact day I pulled my last roll out of the cupboard.

I am the baby of the family, and I was a surprise, coming several years after my siblings. So I was blessed to have Mom to myself a lot of the time. Mark, Craig and Sharilyn would be dashing ahead, and I would be by my mother’s side, holding her hand. I always held her hand, everywhere we went, and it was a habit I never outgrew. Our theme song was “You and Me Against the World,” and we sang it to each other often. The lyrics of the final stanza go as follows: And when one of us is gone, and one of us is left to carry on, then remembering will have to do, our memories alone will get us through. With the blessed ignorance of youth, I never gave those lyrics much thought. But now, I understand them. My mom is gone. And now, remembering will have to do.

I love you, Mom, with all my heart.


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The Big Cheese

How did I not know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month? That just seems like something I would definitely be aware of.  For instance, I know that July 7 is National Chocolate Day. And May 13 is National Apple Pie Day. And October 12 is Hugh Jackman’s birthday. Sigh. But, wait. I digress.

cropped-cropped-Day-2fLuckily for me, I have wonderful friends in the blogoshpere who make me aware of important things like this. And I am honored to be a part of Chick Lit Chit Chat’s celebration of all things cheesy. I was invited to write a guest post which–duh–had to have something to do with cheese. I’m going to give you a tease, right here on Anonymous Soccer Mom…you know, like that gooey, melted bit of cheese you get when you lift the grilled cheese sandwich from the pan, the bit you pull on until it is a long, buttery, stringy morsel that tastes wonderful when you pop it into your mouth, and promises that your sandwich is going to be delicious when you finally tuck in to eat it. Oops, digressing again.

Okay, so here’s the tease. And if you want the whole sandwich (which is code for blog post), you’ll have to hop on over to Chick Lit Chit Chat.

IT’S EASY BEING CHEESY

Remember when you and your spouse were first dating, those endless nights you spent talking and sharing and revealing things about yourself? It was a world of discovery, and you felt as though you were meant to be with this person forever. My husband and I passed many of those nights early in our relationship. To be honest, I recall very little of what he said—it was a long time ago, mind you. But one thing he said sticks with me to this day:

“When I retire, I want to learn to make cheese…”

Yes, at that moment I knew I wanted to spend my life with this man.

Of course, when he went on to say he also wanted to own a goat, I had to rethink my decision. Not that I don’t like goats. Goats are very nice. And I hear they make great lawnmowers. But I’m not so sure what the neighbors will think, and I’m pretty confident there’s a city ordinance banning farm animals from residential backyards.

Anyway, I happen to enjoy cheese, all kinds, from mild to stinky, although I draw the line at the really foul-smelling stuff that makes your eyes water and brings to mind foot fungus. I take my cheese in any form: cut into cubes or sliced or smeared on crackers or baguettes. I like cheese melted under the broiler or in the pan. In fact, I spent the whole of my first pregnancy eating grilled cheese sandwiches made with…

How’s that for a cliffhanger?

Head on over to Chick Lit Chit Chat for the rest of my post. And hang out for a while. It’s a great place to spend some time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a hunk of Gouda in my fridge and it’s calling my name. I’m going to call it Hugh…

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