Anonymous Soccer Mom

Musings from the Mundane to the Marvelous


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Happy Freaking Birthday

photoMy mother used to say, “It’s hell getting old.”

I could never figure out why she said this because my mom was one of those people who seemed to defy the aging process, like Ruby Dee, ruby

or Jaimie Lee Curtiscurtis

or Roger Federer (Yes, this is a cheap way of inserting Roger’s picture in my blog, but hey, he’s awesome!)Roger Federer pumps his fist

But on the morning of my birthday, and I’m not going to tell you which birthday, except to say that I can no longer say I’m in my MID forties, but am now in my LATE forties–I awoke to searing, immobilizing pain in my back. After planning my special day down to the minute, I was forced to spend the entirety of my birthday on the couch, icing my inflamed scapula and the vertebrae in my neck. Oh, joy!

I have always prided myself on my athleticism. I play tennis, I jog, I swim. I also pretend I’m eighteen. On the tennis court, I don’t just swing at the ball. I go for it, racket blazing, stretching, sliding , racing to make the shot. Just like a teenager. But I’m not a teenager any longer. And, from the memo my back received on my birthday, I realize that I can’t behave like a teenager any longer. Not if I want to keep playing.

I’ve never been much of a stretcher. (I could use a stretcher right now, but that’s a different story!) I never did those warm-up things that other people–aka professionals–said I should do before exercising. I just jumped right in. But now, I have to. I never did core exercises, espoused by trainers everywhere, to keep my center in shape (as is evidenced by my protuberant belly.) I never lifted weights to strengthen my muscles and keep my bones healthy.

Guess what? I have to now.

But the thing is, my mom worked hard to maintain her glowing youthful appearance. The older she got, the harder she worked. She worked out with a trainer twice a week into her seventies. She ate right. She took amazing care of her skin, exfoliating every night and creaming her face to within an inch of her life.

So perhaps the “It’s hell getting old” business was about the fact that the older you get, the more damn stuff you have to do to age gracefully.

But since there is only one alternative to aging, and that alternative is not one I’d like to contemplate at this time, I suppose the thing to do is to make the effort.

I guess I better take that Olay Skincare System out of the box, huh? I’ll exfoliate the dead skin cells on my face right after I finish my sit ups, which I’ll do after a half hour of stretching and weight lifting, which will be preceded by a kale and spinach smoothie.

Ah, crap….

I’d like to rephrase my mother’s words: Getting old sucks.

 

 

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I MISS THE FRESH SCENT OF LAUNDRY

good chemicalsRemember when you were a kid and your mom did the laundry. She would wash it with Tide or Wisk or All-Tempi-Cheer. She’d fold it and set it on your bed, and you’d bury your nose in the stack before you put it away. And every time you reached for a clean t-shirt or undies or socks or whatever, you got a delightful whiff of spring flowers or citrus orchards or tea-rose petals. Well, my friends, this scenario just doesn’t happen anymore. Why? Because scented detergent will kill you.

You know what else will kill you? Toothpaste. Dish-washing liquid. Hand soap. Antiperspirant. Mold and mildew sprays. Plastic bottles. Don’t even get me started on microwaves. You know that new car smell, a scent so universally revered that they make air fresheners to mimic it? That will kill you. Apparently, you should roll down all the windows of your precious new car to release the noxious fumes that are spewing from your brand new air conditioner.

I try to be a good mom, so I do my best to buy the organic fruits and veggies, the BPA-free bottles, I stand a good eighteen inches from my microwave while it’s running, and even when it’s not, just in case. And I buy only the dye-free, chemical-free, fragrance-free detergents. I know that I’m protecting my kids, but some part of me also feels like I am depriving them of some future wonderful sense memory from their childhood. My kids don’t bury their faces in their clean laundry, they just dutifully put their clothes away with nary a sniff. And the worst part is, most of the time, they can’t even tell the clean laundry from the dirty, unless there’s a four-inch-Rorschach splotch of ketchup on the item in question, and even then, that item might just be clean because the all-natural detergents are crap at getting out stains!

Another problem is that I cannot control the world at large (which doesn’t stop me from trying—I am the master of my universe, darn it). But I’d bet, dollars to doughnuts, the local Target doesn’t use all-natural cleaning products in their industrial floor-mopping machines. Heaven knows what kinds of chemicals the restaurants use to scour their grills at night. My favorite sushi place is guilty of polluting our lungs. Every time a patron leaves, the waiter clears their plates then sprays the table or sushi bar with Windex. Windex! Even when someone is sitting in the very next seat trying to enjoy their yellowtail hand roll. WHOOSH! goes the spray bottle and suddenly the air is filled with blue-tinged toxins.

It’s hard enough to protect my kids from pedophiles and cyber-bullies. Now I worry about airborne chemicals. What is a mother to do? The burden of keeping my kids safe from pollutants and free radicals and carcinogens and pesticides is overwhelming.

Maybe I should move my family into a plastic bubble. As long as the plastic is BPA free….


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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