Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mother's Day?

I have a friend that got me hooked on a phrase, "Got my game on."  She uses this as an all-encompassing phrase for any time she does great things - goes to the store and remembers the shopping list, goes to the store with her hair done, goes to the store with the kids behaving...you get the picture.  The other day I was heading home from a brief meeting for my job, and said out loud, "Brooke - you've totally got your game on!"  I had reported on the year as a Scholarship Advisor, and it was a great year for our seniors.  Teachers clapped for me during a presentation.  A parent told me "Thank You" for helping her son.  The Principal joked that I could never move away.  I definitely had my game on.

I then proceeded home.  Within twenty minutes of being home, Noel kicked me in the face while I was changing her diaper, I burned the candied walnuts for dinner, and Juliet became hysterical when her sister buried her under a mountain of blankets.  I definitely did not have my game on.

I don't work a lot - about 10 hours a week.  But it's just enough to let me know what if feels like to have people appreciate your work.  Noel appreciates my work as only a 2-year-old can.  She says "no" to the dinner I cooked, runs away from the outfits I pick out, and screams at the top of her lungs at the store when I attempt to put her in the shopping cart.  I don't feel a whole lot of appreciation, and I wonder if this one of the reasons why being a mom is difficult.  (Just one reason, mind you). 

This feeling continued on Sunday, which was Mother's Day.  As hard as I tried, we arrived at Church at 9:11 a.m., exactly 20 seconds after the sacrament.  Juliet had no interest in sitting still for any meeting, and Noel was only momentarily sedated by licking on a sucker.  We played "Finding Nemo" on the DVD player the entire drive to Grandma Joy's house, because we just couldn't sing another round of "Itsy-Bitsy Spider". 

Several hours later, I was changing Noel into her pajamas.  While changing her diaper, she kicked me in the face; I responded by swatting her bum.  I'm pretty sure everyone in the house heard me say, "Dang it, Noel - hold still!"  Or maybe that was yell.  Either way, I definitely did not have my game on.  At that exact moment, my sister came in to say, "Happy Mother's Day, Brooke!"

It was a lovely moment, and I bemoaned that I had been sucked into my 2-year-old's emotions.  How does this happen, I wondered?  I wondered it during the hour-drive home, and each day since.

Being a mom means that I'm in the game all the time - sometimes my game is on, sometimes it's not.  Sometimes we have a great morning of games and storytime, followed by a crummy afternoon where neither girl wants to eat yogurt, strawberries, or any of the other 20 items that I pull out of the fridge for snacktime.  Sometimes they eat spaghetti, sometimes they throw it on the floor.  Sometimes they sleep through the night, sometimes we are all awake at 3:00 a.m., and I just want to cry from sleep-deprivation.  And sometimes the kids warm my heart so much I forget all the hard moments. 

Until the next one happens. 

So next year when Mother's Day rolls around, I'm going to prep myself that if I don't have my game on for this special day, it's okay.  Because within an hour of getting kicked in the face by my 2-year old, she'll shower me with kisses, say "Thanks Mommy", and that's more important than feeling like I've got my game on.   

Monday, May 21, 2012

You Just Can't Win Them All

Jobs are funny.  No matter what you do, or how well you do it, there will always be someone that won't like it.  I met this woman today.

I was at the grocery store and saw one of the students from my school.  She came up to me, said hi, and introduced me to her mom.  We talked for a minute or two, and then the student asked about a Scholarship Prep Night I am hosting later this week.  At this point, her mother chimed in.

"I'm not going to sit through another hour that is a waste of time."

Supposedly the Scholarship Night I hosted in January had been a waste of time.  Tell that to the seniors I worked with this year, who followed my "boring" advice.  They were awarded a total of $390,899 in scholarships.  I responded.

"I'm sorry you feel it is a waste of an hour to help your daughter with her future.  What I have to say is important, and I'm sorry you feel differently." 

I turned and walked away, because you just can't win them all. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Ode to our Basement Apartment"

We're moving soon - and I'm getting ready to say goodbye to our apartment.  I'm not much of a poet, but I enjoy it.  Here's my "Ode to our Basement Apartment":

Yellowed paint flaking, the girls pulling more
from the walls, from the hallway,
from the holes in the door.
Wherever their fingers
can find a beginning.
I wonder if this is what I will remember.

Will I remember the Whistling Room named
for the echo it made,
and the dip for a drain?
Or will memory hold of the room "MPR"
that housed our dining table
and the bed, not too far?

Is there room to remember the bathroom so neat
with plastic stained glass
on the window complete?
Will I recall doors,
wouldn't shut, never budged,
always squeaked, until slammed with a terrible thud? 

Is there room to remember that our story began
in that basement apartment
a home 'round the bend?
For this was our home,
and homely at that,
but it served as the place, where our family began. 

Friday, May 11, 2012


Juliet fell asleep in my arms tonight.  We were watching a show, and suddenly I looked down and saw that her eyes were closed.  I didn't take her to bed for another twenty minutes.  I sat there, looked at her, and  marveled that this little piece of heaven is a part of our family. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Outings with Greg

"What are you going to eat?"  Greg asks. 

He asks it on the phone, again in the car, and a third time while we order.  I hesitate to answer, knowing he will imitate my order exactly, and that I will hear the regrets for the next two hours.

These are outings with Greg, who is turning 61 years old today.  Greg is my father-in-law, and every time we have an outing, I come home laughing, enlightened, and a bit overwhelmed. 

Today I was overwhelmed because as we were ordering our food, Greg's debit card didn't work. 

"Where is my card?  I have another card!"  He shouted at me - at the cashier - at the other 10 people in line. 

"It's okay...I have cash."  I said, quickly putting the correct amount on the counter, ushering Greg to the table.  Noel and Juliet were crawling away - 50 feet towards the exit by the time I caught up.  Greg went back to the cashier, demanded that he had lost his card. 

One slice of pizza, 2 polish dogs, and an ice cream sundae later, we made our exit from Sam's Club. 

We go on these outings because Greg needs them - or rather I need them.  The reason Greg needs them is a long story involving a head injury some 26 years ago.  The reason I need them is because it gives me a jolt of perspective.

Greg lost his short-term memory in that accident, as well as the ability to control his emotions, or speak clearly.  That said, it makes sense why he was upset about his missing credit card.  He couldn't remember where the card was, or if he even had a card.  He opened and re-opened his wallet so many times at lunch, all the cards spilled out onto the table.  Except the missing card. 

I called my mother-in-law.  She confirmed that there was no other card.  She confirmed it to Greg, who did not believe me.  There are moments when Greg doesn't remember my name, which makes the situation all the more intriguing.  It looks as if I'm trying to steal money from this sweet, old man.  To the observer, I'm going through his wallet, and he is yelling at me in slurred words.  I want to explain to everyone, but instead, I just smile and think, My mother-in-law is a saint.  She has done this for 26 years.

After three hours, we drop off Greg and head home.  And I make a vow that we will not go to Sam's Club on our next outing with Greg.