Picking Up Chicks

The military has afforded us the opportunity to make some incredible friends. INCREDIBLE. Friends who I cried for as we or they moved on to the next adventure. Friends who I still chat with via social media and text, and yes, even by phone. There have also been what I call “friend fails”. Those would be the people you find out much too late are just either not compatible or are flat out crazy, but slipped under the craydar (crazy radar).

I’ve pondered the wonder that is making adult friends many times, but I have to say – California is a world unto its own. How the heck do you make mom friends when you move every three years? One word about being in the military sends many potentials running for the hills, even in a military town. Why invest when you’re just gonna move away? I get it. How do you make adult friends when your kids are older than all the toddlers running around the playground…and you don’t drink….annnnnnd you are kind of an introvert?

I met one mom at school orientation. She seemed nice and the kids hit it off. She told me many great places to eat in the area and some of the local hot spots. The secrets to navigating traffic timing were shared. We saw each other at a couple of functions. It was nice, all happening organically and not too fast (wouldn’t want to rush into anything too quickly). Then I bumped into her at a store and noticed what could have been a bit of powdered donut residue just around a nostril. Or it could have been some not-blended face powder. But….it seemed to be something else entirely based on observed behavior. It was also 8:30 am. Super awkward. Not my scene.

The second day of school I was approached blindsided by a mom of a student in my son’s class at the crosswalk. “HI! I noticed your son is in my son’s class! My name is June and this is my husband Mark. You are? And are you new to the area? Oh! You’re military! So you live right here!? No? Oh, you are on the waitlist. I see. And how long are you going to be here for? Andallthe500otherquestions.” I had no idea you could interrogate someone at a crosswalk and ask that many question in the time it takes for the stoplight to cycle through 1 time. I had to sit in my car for 3 minutes sipping my coffee to digest that entirely one-sided conversation. Who does that?!

Over the summer I chatted with a nice mom at the playground in our neighborhood. She had just moved in so we were commiserating on the challenges of relocating and being in the thick of the cardboard ocean. Against my better judgement, we exchanged numbers. I haven’t heard a word from her since. Today I got a text asking how I was, and what I was up to this Saturday. It had been so long, I had to think for 10 minutes about who the heck this person was. Once I realized it was a ghost from summer past, I responded, and she then invited me to a “business opportunity” to make residual income. Obviously I need to trust my instincts. A month and a half and no word. Then boom – besties who are going into business together?! Uhhh, no. Lose my number thankyouverymuch.

Not so shockingly, Hannah has made many friends already, being the ray of sunshine that she is. (Come to think of it, Hannah might one day be the crosswalk interviewer!) She came running up to me after school last week, breathless, “MOM! My friend’s mom wants to meet you!! Come quick!”

Me: “Sure!” I say brightly! With lots! of! exclamation! points! and! fake! smiles!

Sigh.

Turning the corner I walk in the room and see a woman who is everything I am not. She literally looks like she stepped out of Vogue. I tower over her because of course she is the size of a child. I could hip check her and she’d bounce half a mile. “Hi! I’m Hannah’s mom,” I introduce myself and try not to crush the limp Barbie-esque hand she extends. Picture Real Housewives. Or Stepford Wives.

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Friend’s Mom gushes: “Oh it’s such a pleasure to finally meet you! Hannah has told me so much about you!”

Me: Blinking. ***Crickets***  ‘Finally’ meet me? School has only been in for a week and a half! What the heck has my child told her? Oh I’m sure I’m under the bus. Waaayyyy under that bus.

Friend’s Mom continues in her sing-song voice, “My daughter has been raving about how wonderful Hannah is and I was so hoping she’d find someone to be her BFF! They seem to be a perfect match! Let’s meet at the park tomorrow if you’re free to have a playdate!”

Me: Still blinking. This is all happening way too fast. Her voice is seriously like a character on SNL. (Yes, the Californians. EXACTLY like that. For real.) “Okay, that would be lovely,” I reply, continuing the ruse that I am, in fact, a functioning adult and am not panicking inside that I will have to make small talk with a stranger to whom my daughter has no doubt told our entire life story.

The following day Hannah can hardly contain her excitement. We meet up at the playground and the kids play. We chat. Lots of talk of GMOs and healthy eating. She insists that I must try a nut bar she just purchased. She laments that her “household help” that has been with her family for over two decades has suddenly moved away. “I’m simply overtaxed with committees and volunteer work – I just don’t know what I’ll do!” She asks if I have a cleaning person. I respond with the “I’m a do-it-yourselfer”-type. She tells me that I “simply must come by the house for another play date some time.” When my daughter sees this person’s beach front property, boat and hired help, she’s never going to want to come home!

I try to be an optimist/”bloom where you’re planted”/make the best of all the duty stations sort of approach to life in the military. Some are better than others, but after my track record so far, I’m just not holding my breath. I feel like I’m being Punk’d. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Recreational drug use, check.

Crosswalk interrogator, check.

Untethered to reality, check.

Pyramid/ponzi schemer, check, check, check.

As the saying goes, ‘I think the more people I meet, the more I like my dogs’. Based on what we’ve seen so far, if I’m friend-single this time around, I think I’ll be okay with that!

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Milestones and Mermaids

Hannah eyeing the pregnant lady in the lounge chair, we made our way over to a shaded table to plunk down our towels and kick off flip flops for an afternoon poolside. The kids love the pool. Without fail they inquire the precise time we will be going to swim each morning. Kids off and splashing I sit down and smile at the lady and preemptively apologize for my daughter’s obsessive staring. She laughed and we chatted for a bit.

Of course hindsight is always 20/20, but time has a way of warp-speeding when viewed through a rear view mirror. It sure doesn’t seem like it’s been a decade since I was first pregnant myself. But here I sit with an almost 8 and 10 year old, chatting with a young mom.

There have been some big milestones in our world. These self-proclaimed big kids are riding bikes to the nearby playground, exploring our new place – stepping into their first bits of independence. I remember wondering about my then-infant and toddler when my sister and her daughters came to visit us in Hawaii. It seemed like so long until I would be able to just enjoy our time swimming instead of worrying and being on patrol, ensuring safety. I remember marveling at moms who sat poolside looking at their phones while their kids played and swam, part of me loving playing in the water, part of me longing for the day when they would find friends and play on their own.

That’s motherhood in a nutshell, I suppose – being divided. Not only daily working ourselves out of a job to grow independent and hopefully productive adult humans, but also wondering what the next step will look like, while simultaneously reminiscing about previous phases.

Flash forward to our time in Texas where they both had swim lessons and became comfortable in the water. Playing in the waves on South Padre Island still made me nervous, yet they had no fear, jumping and giggling as waves crashed and tried to knock them over.

Here I sit today, book in hand, sipping on an iced coffee (because I have waded through cardboard seas to rescue my coffeemaker from an ocean of chaos) .

Yet another little step, them in the pool making friends, practicing tricks and flips and jumps. My mermaid and merman happy to swim and soak in all of summer in our new home.

“Mom?” Hannah asks, as we gather up our stuff to leave when the need for food overpowers the need to be submerged.

“Yeah, baby?”

“Will you swim with us tomorrow? I love swimming and meeting friends, but tomorrow I’d like to swim with you, like we did in Texas.”

“Sure thing Hannah,” I say smiling.

I think we’re going to like it here.

Irony

The daily post prompts of the last three days; Adrift, Unmoored, and Descend all succinctly describe my inner thoughts as of late. Perhaps depressed, anxious and floundering would be more accurate.

Continually vacillating between feeling justified and completely ridiculous by any real world standard; in my head it’s a panicked loop of: upcoming deployment, two great – but challenging – kiddos, single parenting for a year, sell the house, move to an apartment (but how will the dogs adjust?), get out of debt, don’t let the kids see you sad, exercise, eat right, self-care, walk the dogs, cook from scratch, feel crappy for not being grateful and wanting for things that don’t really matter (but matter to me), have a drink, get back on the wagon, mop the floor, keep the house clean because God forbid someone see the real you and how you live, don’t be so hard on the kids, those kids need more discipline, I’m doing it all wrong, I want to exercise, but my body hurts, my feet ache and my shoulders are numb again, feel guilty for not doing any and all of the above. Repeat at full volume and ever-increasing speed.

The other voice tells me to shut up and just “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and it will be fine. You’re overreacting and overanalyzing. Maybe I am. Or maybe I’m clawing and scratching to get off the mental merry-go-round.

I’m grieving the loss of relationships. I feel like I’m being a bad person and completely relieved at the same time. I don’t want to hurt them. I don’t want a relationship with them and I feel like crap for thinking it out loud. They are not entirely to blame, and neither am I. It’s a dysfunctional pattern that’s gone on for so long it seems normal. I chose to step away for self preservation, only now I feel like I’m drowning in the consequence of it. Do I mend fences just to keep the so-called peace or forge ahead into uncharted territory? Feeling scared, sad, liberated, relieved, guilty, nauseous, uncertain, etc.

So where to from here?

I have absolutely no idea. I’m trying to take all this one task at a time and get through to the next thing. It’s raining here and has me feeling a bit melancholy. I’d like to take a nap, but I will walk the dogs.

Dogs make everything better. And snapchat silliness. Such as this:

Dogs and humor for me. What about you? What helps your anxious and or depressed heart and mind get through to a more even keel?

The Post I Wish I’d Written…

My good friend Katy Chaffin wrote this piece. As a vet and a proud military spouse, I feel she is qualified in a very unique way to express what so many of us feel. Katy’s family is currently serving our country overseas. 

“Each time my family is separated in defense of this “Great Nation” I become increasingly disheartened. To what end are our service members and their families sacrificing so much? All the time we hear, “thank you for your service.” We appreciate those words, we really do, but often times I feel it’s just something that is said. Our country is a great and wonderful place of opportunity but it is still a very young country and we have so much to learn.

If you truly want to thank us, start taking better care of the country we work so hard to defend. Do something nice for someone. Quit teaching your children to be lazy, entitled brats and instead teach them that hard work and sacrifice are a good and rewarding thing. Teach them that it’s okay to be an electrician, or plumber, or a berry picker! All of these jobs need to be done and not a single job should be “beneath” doing and doing well.

Quit being violent to one another. Quit using harsh language and judging other races, religions and people of other sexual orientations. Walk a mile in their shoes and you’ll realize that hey, they are human just like you and deserve love and respect just like you! It’s okay to have an opinion, it’s not okay to use your opinion to oppress, bully, or dissolve the rights of another human being.

Instead of being upset and bitter about all the things you don’t have appreciate the people and things you do have. We need to stop teaching our kids that instead of working hard for things it’s okay to try and take them from other people or get ahead at the expense of someone else. Things are so much more rewarding when you work hard for them.

I love America, I am an very proud American. I just feel like our people are in a downward slide of Self Entitlement, Hate, Ignorance, and Violence. We need to teach our youth to take care of this great country we are handing down to them. Teach them the golden rule -”Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated”.  Just because it isn’t 100% in line with your beliefs doesn’t make it wrong – just different. Different is good, if we were all the same how boring would life be? We have a wonderful melting pot of culture in our country and we need to embrace it. Open your minds and your hearts people. It’s really that simple.”

Things You Should Not Say To Me While Ringing Up My Purchases

There are so many instances where I’ve nearly left a pile of drool at the checkout line because my mouth was gaping open, shocked at the audacity of people and the things they say. So much so, that I felt compelled to share the list of what customer service people should never say to me (or anyone else) at the register.

1. Do not tell me how to parent my child. If I wanted your advice, I would ask for it. And if I’m asking for advice, I’m probably not going to solicit someone who I don’t know, doesn’t know my kids, or someone who may not even have kids of their own. Seriously – I’m sure you are just the “best auntie ever”, but if you don’t have kids of your own – you really shouldn’t be handing out parental advice. (The only exception to this would be if you are a teacher.)

1.b. Don’t parent my child for me. This has happened to me only twice. Both times a person attempted to tell my son what not to do. (He was eyeing the candy and the clerk told him no.) I laughed. (And no, I didn’t buy the candy.)

2. Unless you are 1000% sure – do not comment on what a “big boy” my baby is (when she is in fact a girl in head-to-toe pink!) Just say how beautiful my baby is and move on.

3. Do not comment on the price of an item. As in, “Whoa! You’re gonna pay how much for that?!” No lie. This actually happened to me, over a pair of $40 jeans. Umm. You work here. At the place that sells the jeans at the price you are balking at. Why the shock?

4. Do not make judgments out loud about anything I am buying. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinion. I just don’t need to hear yours when you feel critical or morally superior.

5. Don’t ask weird questions. Questions like, “Wow. you have a lot of vegetables here. And all organic. You some kind of health nut?” How the heck am I supposed to answer that? “Why yes, I try to be a super-wacko!” Good grief!

6. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not tell me your life’s story. I am sure you are a very sweet person and working retail is VERY hard, I know. But these two minions in my cart have a limited attention span. If we don’t speed it up, I’m seriously going to have an aneurism.

7. Yes, 15-year-old customer service rep, they are feminine products. No I’m not really embarrassed, but I can clearly see that you are. I’m sorry. It’s part of life. You’ll get over it.

8.  Please don’t tell me to do your job for you. At the Navy Exchange there are a few customer service reps that sit while ringing up customers. I don’t have a problem with that. I used to be a bank teller, I know long days on your feet are rough. But there is one rep, (the one I avoid like the plague) who is rude and actually said, “I’m too tired to get up and reach your stuff. Put  your stuff closer to the scanner.” It was literally inches from her hand. I almost laughed. Then I realized she was dead serious.

9. Please don’t check your phone in the middle of our transaction. I think it is very rude for customers to talk on cell phones while simultaneously treating the person behind the counter as if they are a robot. It’s obnoxious and demeaning. I keep my phone off and I expect you to do the same.

1o. Do not act as if I don’t exist. I am a person, too. Please don’t have a conversation with a co-worker and ignore me entirely.

I won’t be rude to you, you don’t be rude to me, mmmkay?

What crazy things have you heard while being waited on at the checkout line?

Being a Mom

Looking, watching, observing moms about

Many types that really leave no doubt

The one who never learned to swim, never jumped in the pool,

Couldn’t play with her kids in the water, never lost her cool

But in the end missed out on all the fun

the way that water feels under warm summer sun

So afraid, afraid of anything new

Living on the sidelines of life, experiencing too few

The one who is a vision, hair and makeup all done perfectly

but one breath from those pretty lips come words that spew ugly

I would love to see beneath your cool, wonder what you’re thinking

Because I’m in comfy clothes with no make up on

I’ve peeled back my mask, the doubt is almost gone

I’m the mom that’s not at all put together

but rather

playing with her kids,

comfortable in my skin

having a ball, participating,

no longer afraid of life

or of living.

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The Oxymorons of Parenting

Lately I’ve been realizing there are discrepancies in the things I am telling my son.

Most recently, I told my son that he needs to come to me if he needs help setting a dispute with his sister or with a playmate.  So the minute he did, what was my reply?

“Don’t be a tattle-tale.”

Rock >  My Son < Hard place

ARGH! (Insert palm hitting my head here.)

Poor kid! Here are some of the other oxymorons of parenting I’ve run into lately:

*With my potty training daughter, I tell her to go pee in the potty. Then, today, we have a bit of a drive so I put a pull up on her because she tends to fall asleep in the car. Diapers or underwear? The kid is probably so confused, it’s no wonder she doesn’t know where the heck to go!

*We tell our kids to clean their rooms, then go do it for them because they “didn’t do it right”. They can’t learn and take ownership of a job well done if we do everything for them.  Sometimes its just a matter of different, not right or wrong.  Redoing their “job” sends the message that they did it wrong.

*We tell our kids we love them more than anything and they are our top priority, but then get busy and our actions don’t reflect our beliefs. (Pretty much being human!) How many times do I tell them, “Just a minute, baby. Mommy just needs to finish this __________”. And then how often does that minute turn into 5 or 10 minutes?

*We say things like, “Who can buckle our seats the fastest?!” in the attempt to hurry up the process of getting in the car. Then when they compete in all manner of things, we tell them that “It doesn’t matter, life isn’t a competition.”

Oy, the mixed messages! Absolutely no guilt intended here, just my observations in my own parenting journey as of late.

Sigh.

This parenting gig is not for the weak.

I take comfort in the fact that I do consider my parenting tactics, analyze and then try again each day. I know there is no perfect parent. Motherhood is a a privilege and not one to be taken lightly. All I can do is be the best mom to my kids that I can.

Even if it involves a “D’OH!” every once in a while!