Crazy Mom Days

(This is an homage to one of my favorites books, Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but I’ve tricked it out…mom-style.)

When I woke up this morning I realized that I forgot to take out my contacts last night. I tried to peel them off my eyeballs but they clung to them like second skin. I finally just gave up and left them in with the understanding that I would spend the day blinking and peering through a fog.

After more investigating in the bathroom mirror, I found a long blond hair sprouting out the middle of my forehead. It wasn’t there yesterday. How could it grow so quickly? Did I accidentally replace my regular moisturizer with Miracle-Gro?

I got the kids out the door for school. When I returned home I emptied the dishwasher. After all the plates and flatware and drinking glasses were neatly put away, I realized the dishwasher detergent was still in the dispenser, a chalky, soapy chunk. The hot water is what really sanitizes the dishes anyway, right?

Starting my period really caught me off-guard. I was totally unprepared with supplies. (I’ve only been doing this nearly every month since I was twelve.) The only feminine hygiene products in the house were those giant pillow pads they pass out in the hospital after you give birth. I decided they would be better than nothing.

I make a grocery list and head out to Kroger. I get all the way in the store before realizing that I left my reusable bags in the car. I turn around to go back and fetch them but the automatic doors will have none of that. You know how some doors that say “ENTER” are fairly loose in their interpretation of the term? “Enter…Exit…I don’t give a care.” Well, these doors were really sticking to their guns. I stepped forward, anticipating them to spread apart and ran into them instead.

While perusing the produce section my list got sprayed by the automatic vegetable mister. Then I hit my head on one of those thoughtlessly placed hanging scales. They obviously don’t want me too near the vegetables.

I spent most of the day running errands. When my list seems too long for the allotted time, I give myself pep talks. “Okay, you can do this! Just go to three more places and it’s back home!” At a recent soccer game, I got a mosquito bite down the front of my shirt. I was doing an indecent amount of scratching as I drove around town. This fact, plus the talking to myself, plus the stress twitch I had developed in my right eye, all added up to me looking like a crazy person who should not be allowed among regular people.

When it was time to pick the kids up from school, I noticed how hot the afternoon had become. I went to change into shorts and then I paused. I hadn’t shaved anything above my knees all through the winter, jeans-wearing months. Now I had a nice set of bangs to set off my Bermudas. That’s why God made capris. (One could use the same logic that God also made bikinis, but we know Him to be a lovingGod. I’m pretty sure Adam made the first bikini for Eve. It was part of her punishment for eating the fruit—bikinis and painful, messy childbirth.)

After homework was finished, supper was eaten, baths were taken, and children were in bed, it was time to breathe (and get my eye to stop twitching). I don’t know how full-time working moms do it! How do they get it all done when they’re away from home eight hours everyday? I’m in awe of them! There are days when I feel rushed and pulled and rung out, and I know that working moms have those days much more often. They are my heroes!

Spring Break with Elvis

When Spring Break rolled around last week, we were faced with five whole weekdays with no work or school but also no plans. Though we knew it was coming, we had treated the week with hesitancy. When the optimistic part of your brain is in a constant state of hope for travel news about the final stages of an adoption making plans that include family vacations—events that require both time-off and money—are tricky.

A few days before the week began, I called up our dear friends who live in Memphis to make sure they’d be in town: We were westward bound! We booked a Quality Suites in a nicer part of town with an indoor pool and Continental breakfast. We could’ve just stopped there. If push came to shove, our kids would be cool with a deepish puddle and a waffle maker. That was about all the hotel had to recommend itself but that was okay. We were actually going for three main reasons: 1) To see old friends, 2) To show the kids where we used to live, grocery shop, worship, etc., and 3) To get out of town.

We arrived on Monday afternoon. Our first stop was the house we moved to after we’d been married a couple of years. (Fun fact: It dead-ends into Rosser Road.) It looked basically the same: It had the same brownish gray wood siding and the grass still won’t grow under the large oak trees in the front. The new owners had upgraded the mailbox from the one we had. Ours came with the house. It was topped off with a metal silhouette of a couple on a bicycle. Considering that it’s now a very basic, very plain, standard-issue black metal mailbox, I don’t know if that really qualifies as an upgrade. The “bicycle-built-for-two” mailbox was probably a collector’s item.

After our car ride down memory lane, we went to our friends’ house. Russ and Amy moved to a different house in town just before we left Memphis but for a big chunk of our time there they had lived across the street from us. In other words, the couple on the two-seater Schwinn on our mailbox could’ve pedaled to their house in about thirty seconds. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly six years, but we picked back up with a comfort and familiarity you only experience with old friends that have been your rescue. That may sound a bit over-reaching but it’s true. I have friends from high school that I can go for years without seeing and then—click—we’re back to our same roles, our same conversation shorthand. That’s because we were each other’s rescue from the teen years. It’s the same with Russ and Amy. We were young adults together, navigating responsibilities like church work and trash day. We were newlyweds together, discussing what was normal to fight about and cheap to serve for supper. We were new parents together…no explanation necessary. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re supposed to be doing. We spent Monday night laughing and reminiscing and watching our kids blend seamlessly like they’d never been apart.

On Tuesday, we went to Graceland. If you’ve never been to Elvis’ home I highly recommend it. Our kids have now been to the Trifecta of American Homes: The White House? Check. The Biltmore? Check. Graceland? Check! Afterwards we went to lunch at our favorite hamburger joint, Huey’s. Then we took a tour of the children’s hospital where Brent used to work. Guess which part was the kids’ least favorite? Luckily, it was Resident Appreciation Week and they were serving frozen yogurt in the conference room. Phew! Barely missed a huge Whine-a-Palooza! (If your kids don’t whine at some point, it’s not a real family vacation.)

We took the kids back to the hotel to squeeze in a little swim time before returning to our friends’ house for supper. The kids needed to splash and yell a bit after Graceland lines and hospital tours. While they were swimming, they took turns baptizing each other. After Ella took Knox’s confession and gave him a good dunk, he looked at me and asked, “Does that count?”

“Does what count?” I asked.

“Ella just baptized me. Does it count?”

Hmmm. “No, honey. Daddy wasn’t watching. When you do it for real I’ll make sure he’s not on his cell.”

It’s been almost nine years since we left Memphis but we still carry it around with us. No, I’m not suggesting that Brent wears a white, bedazzled jumpsuit under his clothes every day. I’m also not saying that we are renovating our house into the shape of the Pyramid. What I mean to say is that during the years (eight for Brent and about 6 1/2 for me) we lived in Memphis we became “BrentandAbby,” an entity, a team, a force to be reckoned with. We did the “leave and cleave” God was so jazzed about in Genesis. After five years of married bliss, we brought home 10 pounds of beautiful baby girl. (That’s 10 lbs divided by two, for any of you mathematicians out there. Our twin daughters weighed about 5 lbs each.) If our marriage were a book, Memphis would be a really pivotal chapter most likely titled “Campbell Soup and Grilled Cheese again?” or maybe “Making Our Dreams Come True (Or Other Phrases from the Lavergne & Shirley Theme Song).” Either way, it would be an amazing chapter!

Sweet Dreams

A few nights ago, I awoke to the sight of my daughter Ella standing by my side of the bed fully dressed, wet hair combed, and ready for school. I glanced at the clock—12:45 am.

“What’s the matter?” I asked, groggily.

“My alarm went off so I took my shower,” she replied. “I guess it was just a dream.”

“Go back to bed. It’s the middle of the night,” I told her.

“Should I change?” she asked, pointing down at her blue jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan.

“No. Just go to bed.”

The next morning I reflected on the weird sleep practices of my kids and I did what I always do when it comes to oddities in my offspring—I blamed it on my husband.

Before we were married, I heard stories from Brent’s roommates about his frequent sleepwalking (or sometimes sleep running). Once he was found sitting in the corner of his dorm room playing an invisible video game complete with sound effects of his own making.

After we were married, Brent continued with his nighttime activities. Once, I was shocked awake when he stood at the foot of our bed, yelled “Spiders!” and ripped the covers off me.

For a Labor Day weekend early in our marriage, we went to the beach with another married couple. We were too poor to get separate hotel rooms, so the four of us shared one room with two queen-sized beds. All through the night Brent attempted to answer the hotel phone that never rang. He also picked up a large cardboard carton of Whoppers candy. Slowly he turned it upside down, letting the hard chocolate candy balls bump into each other, creating a rainfall of clattering sounds. Not satisfied with the level of noise he had just made, he slowly turned the carton right side up, creating the racket again. Our friends lay in the bed next to us, shaking with laughter.

Now that we’ve been married more than fifteen years, I’ve noticed that his crazy sleep behavior has pretty much disappeared, or I’ve learned how to sleep through it. Now his only sleep-related strangeness comes in the form of dreams. We’ll be standing in our shared bathroom in the morning following a dream-filled night. As I insert my contacts, he’ll tell me some ridiculous scenario involving a person he hasn’t seen since middle school, his job at a McDonald’s with a malfunctioning cash register, and a sudden locale change to his grand parents’ house that was swiftly filling up with miniature marshmallows.

It’s always a weird feeling to get a few hours into your day before you see someone who you realize was in your dream. Even if his role in your dream is completely innocent, it feels oddly intimate and slightly embarrassing to see him. Recently and in the span of a few days, two different people told me they had a dream about me. In one instance, I was giving birth to a baby. In the other one, I was in a house packed full of kids. No matter if these dreams foreshadow any baby news or they just predict a future slumber, these dreams encourage me. They’re not embarrassing at all. These dreamers were thinking of me even in their subconscious. They could’ve been dreaming about marshmallows or spiders or Whoppers but their minds were full of me and kids.