What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Monday, June 19, 2017

...and the living is easy....

Last night was a pretty quiet night here in the Gelato House. With the school year winding down, The Children didn’t have homework to fight over (and if they did, all three of us follow a ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy this time of year), we had no after school practices or lessons to run off too; I mean we basically had….nothing…to do besides bug each other and complain about dinner and watch American Ninja Warrior. Evenings like that always sort of throw me off balance; while it’s nice to have a chill night, it makes me feel a little antsy; like I’m not being a productive enough human because I’m not yelling GET YOUR SHOES ON IT’S TIME TO GO 37 times in five minutes. (And really, how productive am I being if I have to repeat something 37 times?) I had already declared it was Clean Out The Fridge week, so dinner was leftovers; the laundry was done; the house was clean. Daughter was playing in her room quietly. Son, after my repeated efforts to quell his proclamations of boredom by offering to play catch or go to the park or play cards or Yahtzee, rejected my ideas and instead sat on the sofa and read his book. So…with nothing pressing to do….I turned on my favorite Pandora station, grabbed my Vanity Fair, and read right alongside him. And as we sat there, side by side, with our chosen reading material, I realized how productive I actually was being. This moment of silent solitude; this quiet, yet effective time spent with my Oldest while my Youngest was happily occupying herself with nary a device in sight…it was so much more productive than running around and feeling overwhelmed; this notion of being busy for busyness sakes always trying to smother the beauty that lies in a book and a sofa and a Son. 

As The Children grow older, these years I have with them seem so much more valuable and precious because of Time’s stubborn defiance to slowing down. And as Summer once again approaches as another school year becomes a thing of the past, I am desperate to find a way to enjoy all the minutes, all the hours, all the days. It’s almost as if a Ghost of Gelato Mama Future is hovering above me, whispering in my ear to slow down and look around. She’s telling me to hug them tighter, laugh with them longer, listen to them more intently, be gentle with my words to them and to be graceful in my actions. I’m doing my very best to honor the murmurs gracing my ears. Because while I love that My Children get to play baseball and take swim lessons and go to soccer and try football and play with their friends and always have another idea, another thing they want to try, I also want them to be able to sit in silence and appreciate how very valuable it is to be present in a moment that most would not even stop to notice. I want them to believe in the magic of normalcy; to relish in it’s mundane beauty.  I want them to grow older and remember a Mama who sat on the sofa and listened to their stories while tickling their backs. 

I clearly don’t always succeed at this ideal image I have of the Mother I want to be.  I obviously get frustrated and impatient and yell and feel defeated as My Children can drive me absolutely mad and they are experts with all the buttons on all the parts they can push. But I am determined to keep trying to diminish my faults with my strengths. And I can be called a lot of things and I’m certain I have but the most important name I get called each day is Mama and the most important thing I can do is just keep trying, each day, to be better.

So here we are, at the edge of Summer, peering over the cliff. It somehow feels cute to be excited about all the long days that loom ahead, knowing full well The Children will be bored within two hours of waking on their first day of freedom. But after we jump in and climb up the other side to the early fall days of another school year beginning, we’ll be staring wistfully back at Summer, wondering how it all went by so quickly. And while I know the next eleven weeks or so will be full of laughter and fighting and yelling and fighting and adventures and fighting and boredom and fighting, I’m going to do my best to…enjoy?…survive?…soak up?…no. I’m going to do my best to just be present. To believe in the magic of normalcy.

I think there might be a book or two in our future this summer.

Happy Summer.
May the force be with you.
We’re in it together.
Send wine.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Traveling Light

I was on a flight recently….by myself.

The End. 

Seriously, this could be the whole post. Because if you’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of flying with Young Children, you know that your shit is GAME ON the second you set foot inside that airport. And having dozens upon dozens of flights under my 10 year old Parent Belt with The Children, I can tell you I’ve done quite a few things that are more fun than flying alone with babies and toddlers. It’s hard work. Just sitting here typing this I have dozens of images flooding my brain from flights past. Here's a cute little sample.

That one time I nursed a three month old Son while sitting next to a 27 year old Australian man who’s eyes pretty much looked STRAIGHT FORWARD for 4 continuous hours. 

Having to get creative for diaper changes when for some godforsaken reason, the luxurious airplane bathroom isn’t equipped with a changing table. (Don’t.Get.Me.Started.) 

That one time I left Baby Crack, aka Puffs, in the bottom of the stroller that was checked at the gate and my only thought was-Kill me now. I’m not strong enough without the Baby Crack. 

Being cramped into one seat with a 1 year old on my lap and a 3 year old trying to climb on my lap because I’m not paying for that damn seat until I have too. 

Finding myself frozen in some sort of strange, cirque du soleil position for hours so THE BABY KEEPS SLEEPING.

Apologizing for my ass being in your face while I stand in the thin aisle trying to rock a restless, irritated, really-over-it Baby Girl to sleep. (Nevertheless, she persisted. In crying. The entire flight.) 

Having to wake Children who decide, without fail, to ONLY fall asleep upon descent to destination. 

Convincing The Children that yes, they can indeed HOLD THEIR POOP while we stand in the endless security line, taking the time to remind Son that one time, he held his poop FOR 6 DAYS, so 20 more minutes shouldn’t be a problem.

Realizing that someone is about to barf on the bouncy bus shuttle, and they’ll have to do it in their sippy cup. And also my hand. 

The one time I said, Fuck It, and handed my 6 month old Daughter to the woman behind me in the security line so I could break the stroller down with two hands instead of my usual chin, pinky and foot maneuver. (I mean, to be fair, she DID ask if she could help me and come on-even though it was obvious she had never held a tiny, live human in her life, I figured it was easier than trying to explain to her how to break down the stroller.) 

When I finally learned how to always say yes when someone asked me if they could help. Or buy me a drink. And I can happily say that the side-eye from the bitchy flight attendants when I order my double Tito’s and soda doesn’t bother me anymore because for every old, bitchy attendant, there is

the one that gives you your drink, a wink, and carries on without asking for payment. 

So, yeah, getting on a plane by yourself…it’s pretty exciting. Just walking through the airport without having to make the inevitable bathroom stop with all The Kids  and all The Stuff and not negotiating which $26 bag of candy they have to share and then there’s not even a wrestling match to break up while we sit at the gate and wait to board in Group 18….it’s…nice.

Except…….

I miss them. 

That’s the fucked up thing about being a mom. 

There you are, sitting at an airport bar, having a pre-flight cocktail and reading a book, and whizzing by you is a busy mom with her unruly crew and you….okay, you kind of laugh at her a little because you know she hates you sitting all smug at the bar by yourself, but then you also….start to have this funny feeling….that you wish…The Children were with you. And even as you try to shoo that feeling away with another glass of wine and another chapter of your book...nevertheless...it persists....and you want your buddies with you.

The Children are 10 and 8 now. I’ve learned that as kids get older, many things get much harder, but other things get much easier. Like flying alone with them. They carry their own stuff, we play cards, we all settle in and watch our own movies. We still fight about who gets to sit next to me, but I’ll happily listen to that fight anytime because I think it means they like me as much as I like them. And if I’ve learned anything while going through Divorce, it’s that I am addicted to my Children. I gave them life, but they are the life that beats inside of me. And every second that I have gotten to be with them and get to be with them, is one better second of my life. 

Even the seconds they spent puking in my hand on a shuttle bus. 

Happy trails to you and yours. 

Here's a picture of us surviving another security line while holding our poop.




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wanted: Roommate. Must Like Dance Parties

For a full decade, I have lived directly next door to a duplex that houses small, one bedroom apartments. Two things here: when I say directly next door, I mean that if you open my front door and just sort of… stick your arm out and lean forward, you can touch the front unit’s door. Also-when I say small-I mean, they are very small, outdated little hotboxes that do not benefit at all from our cool ocean breezes and mostly sunny skies. But what is truly amazing is that in the last ten years with the seemingly revolving door of new tenants entering our lives-I can honestly say there was ONE bad tenant. One. It turned out she really valued her privacy, didn’t like children or people in general so it’s no surprise she hated every second of her year as my neighbor. The TWO locks she had secured to her front door when she moved in did tip me off that maaaaaybe we wouldn't be sloshing sav blanc together on the front stoop like MOST of my neighbors like to do, but her pure disdain for her living situation was apparent to even The Children who would run and hide every time her car pulled up. (To be fair, they were just taking my lead.)

Mean, Privacy-Loving, Person-Hating Lady aside, the relationships that I have formed with my Roommates, as I like to call my Duplex Neighbors, have been some of the richest in my life. Not because we all become the best of friends, although that has certainly happened, but because of how intertwined our lives become. When you live thisclose to people, you have two choices: get two locks on your door and pretend it’s not happening or fling your door open and let the life around you come in. And considering that pretty much my entire neighborhood knows the code to both my garage AND my front door, I think you know where I stand. Our door is always wide, wide open. I try to close it when it’s Time To Yell, but even then, fuck….that’s just the way it is so get used to it. (And do you know what a good Roommate does when Mama is losing her shit? They bring her alcohol.)

But all good Roommates do come to an end. As it is about to again. Back Unit Roommates have decided that Sunlight and Grass seem like a good idea and hence…they are moving out. When I was told by Roommate  that they were moving out he said-Don’t worry; we’re telling everyone who comes to check it out that they aren’t just moving into an apartment, they’re moving into a family. And I had little tears in my eyes and I said that’s so sweet. And so true. And after a tender moment shared I looked him squarely in the eye and asked: But you are warning them about Daughter, aren’t you? He laughed because he knows he can’t explain what it’s like living next door to an invasive, somewhat inappropriate 7 year old girl, he can only warn any new potential tenant that the second you start moving your shit in, Daughter will be all over your ass like white on rice. The best advice I can give with regards to Daughter? Don’t resist. Lean into the crazy. She’ll break you down eventually so it’s better to just get on her good side right away. 

A few tips if you happen to find yourself our new Roommate in the Back Unit;

One: Have a few interesting books for Daughter to look at when she wanders into your place unannounced; this way she won’t talk as much and you can continue whatever it is you were doing before she invaded. (Where’s Waldo has been very popular over the years.) Also, if you plan on handing her your device to get her to be quiet, please make sure there are some age appropriate educational games on it. And a basket of some art supplies within easy reach is not a bad idea either. 

Two: She likes dance parties. A lot. It’s probably easiest for you to have some sort of streaming service so every song is at your fingertips for her aggressive demands. Turn it up loud and give her some space because she’ll probably bust out some splits. And it’s not a bad idea to make sure you’re working out so you can do the lifts and the twirling she has lined up for you. 

Three: Be prepared for some completely invasive questions. Are you married? Why? Why not? Are you having a baby? Do you want a baby? Why don’t you have a baby? Where were you? What time are you coming back? Why don’t you have a job? Do you like your job? How old are you? 

Four: If your door is open, it means, Come on in! (This also goes for our door, and once you’ve been properly vetted by Daughter, you, too, can have the code to the garage and the front door.) Although there are clearly some boundary issues with Daughter, she’s pretty respectful of the Closed Door. She’ll pepper you with questions about it later, but you can have peace if you so desire it with the Closed Door Policy I’ve been forced to implement.  

Five: Don’t be afraid to put her to work! Need help walking your dog? She’s your girl. Locked yourself out of the house and need a Small Person to climb through your window? Look no further. Need a hand with a little light house cleaning?Give that girl a dust rag and tell her to get on it! Somewhere in there she knows she needs to earn her keep with you and will happily oblige. 

Each new Roommate that has entered our lives has left an impression on me and My Children. Some impressions have stood the test of time and others slip away silently as they tend to do. But every now and again, I think of each of them, having come and gone in our lives and I wonder if they ever stop and think of The Gelato Family. I hope they do. I hope they are as grateful for the year or two they watched Son and Daughter grow as I was for their random acts of kindness towards them; the Christmas and birthday gifts bestowed upon them, the games of catch in the street, the sheer willingness to let Crazy enter your apartment at free will and actually enjoy the company of Small Children. I cannot imagine a life without knowing my neighbors. I cannot imagine emptiness beside me. I mean, sometimes I can, but 87% of the time, I am forever grateful for the lives that are lived beside me.

So if you find yourself in that back unit, remember those two choices: close up real tight and pretend we’re not happening, or fling that door open and let us in. And considering I’ve had to help my Roommates break into both of those units before….just go ahead and let us in.

Daughter is waiting for you. 

(She actually is.) 


((I think she’s back there right now….))

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year, New...Rules....

Welcome, 2017.

I’ve been waiting for you. 2016 be like Bye, Felicia, and I would just like to say that although the state of many things in our world terrifies the shit out of me, I welcome you, 2017, with open arms and an open mind. I am aware of the many…many ways in which i could use vast improvements, but instead of boring you with my said imperfections, let’s talk about Everyone Else’s. And by Everyone Else’s, I mean, America's.

I know what you’re thinking. Yeah yeah yeah, teenagers drinking coffee is annoying but get over it already, Lady. Look, I’ve lost that battle, and I am reminded of my defeat each time I listen to a 13 year old order something she can’t even spell, but I’m moving on. Barely.

And a recent visit to the bathroom in Target is where I’d like to begin. 

Number One: Use A Public Restroom Thoughtfully 

Okay, America. This one. THIS one. I cannot fucking believe I still have to read a Please Do Not Flush Feminine Products sign when I use the ladies room. Or, even more unbelievable-Don’t Forget to Flush. That’s a SIGN. In BATHROOMS. In PLACES. I’m sorry, but unless you’re under the age of 5, you don’t get to FORGET to FLUSH the TOILET you just WENT in. Sadly, I think we need to add another sign to the bathroom wall: I See You’ve Protected Your Little Tush From Scary Scary Germs By Putting This Toilet Seat Cover Down. I Can See That You Used One Because IT’S STILL ON THE DAMN SEAT. Please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, FLUSH YOUR USED TOILET SEAT COVER. This basically proves my theory that germaphobes are probably the most disgusting people on the planet because they only care about their personal hygiene, not anyone else’s. (Except for all my friends who are germaphobes-you guys are the best. And so clean.)  Listen, I don’t want to use the Target restroom anymore than you do, but think how much more tolerable it would be if people didn’t turn into little piglets as soon as they walked in there. Mull that around. See how it feels. 

Number Two: Be A More Patient Driver

I know it’s really frustrating when someone has the audacity to turn their blinker on and try to get into your lane, which clearly you own, but maybe just chill for a second and let them over. Who knows-maybe they’re lost…maybe they’ve never been on this road before, maybe they really are just dicks, but I know I am personally trying to be a more patient driver and have come to realize that the one second I lose by letting someone over is surely worth the several more seconds I would lose by playing cat and mouse with a car to try and teach them who the boss really is. And also- when someone does let you over, let’s not forget the Thank You Wave. The Thank You Wave goes a surprisingly long way in convincing people that you are not Satan. Also, sometimes I like to smile a Sorry Smile and give that face like, oh my God, I’m such an idiot. This does two things: it makes that person feel better about themselves that they really are superior to you, and also forces them to realize that perhaps they were acting a little too aggressively and they give you that awkward Oh, No Problem Face, as if they weren’t just ready road rage your ass. 

Also, I understand that asking people to come to a COMPLETE stop at a stop sign is, like, kha-razy, but maybe we can find a compromise? Perhaps something between a Yield and a Stop? I mean, unless you’re Really Important and Have Somewhere To Be-disregard everything that’s happening right now obviously. Buuuttttttt…..I assure you, as that Lady Who Did Lots of Stuff To Her Face and Drives A Car I Cannot Pronounce found out, when you run a stop sign that happens to be a crosswalk to a park where KIDS play, *some people* have no problem running down the street, knocking on your window and investigating why it is you seem to be in such a hurry that the running over of a child seems to be an option. (Fun fact: when you’re willing to look and act a liiiittttllleee bit like a crazy person, all kinds of things become an option. Like chasing Plastic People in Expensive Cars.)

Number Three: Pick Up Your Dog’s Shit

This one is specifically written for that mysterious person who lets their dog shit on my lawn every morning and then just…leaves it there, but, sadly,  I know I’m not alone in this problem. Like, you have a dog. It pooped. As living things tend to do. Pick it up. And throw it in your OWN trash can. I didn’t throw my kids’ diapers in your trash can. Poop should stay in the family, you know what I’m saying? Don’t make me get one of those cutesy little dog signs in my yard asking your dog to not do what your dog does in my yard. I mean, that’s the equivalent of the mini-van family stickers. 

Number Four: Please Please Pretty Please Can We Not Use Our Cell Phones When Other People Can Hear Everything?

Sometimes I know that I am on the complete opposite end of something and have to understand that just because I have a super low tolerance for…I guess…um….everything, the fact that I am completely mortified to answer a phone call while standing in line somewhere simply to tell that caller that I will call them right back when I’m alone…. this is not normal. But this morning as I was in the gym locker room minding my own business at an appropriate level of nudity, the naked ass woman beside me answered her phone, put it on speaker and then when the few other people and I looked are her like-what the fuck-she looked at US like what the fuck-and we were all, wait, no, what the FUCK….well, she clearly saw no problem being butt ass naked having a full on conversation while on speaker phone. And while I make it a point to actually never answer the phone because I have that weird phone phobia that makes you afraid to talk to people, I think the only time I would ever answer it butt naked in a room with other people was if it was The Children’s School calling. And even then…I mean, I know they’re going to leave a message and the fact that now you can READ your voicemails….I mean…that’s the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life. 

This explains a lot about me. 
Anyway.

Number Five: Combine All The TV Stuff

This is less a resolution as it is a personal request that I just feel like sharing. Can we make all the TV Stuff like…One Happy Thing? Netlix, Amazon Prime, cable, Hulu, other ones I can’t think of right now…People-I am CONFUSED and I want to WATCH IT ALL and I don’t want to have to subscribe to all these things because good God, I can’t remember all those passwords. I mean, when someone comes to me with a glow surrounding them and asks me-Oh my God, have you seen <insert show> I want to say YES! Oh my God-YES! Because so often I have to say No. Oh my God, no. I haven’t seen it. And the complete disgust in that person’s eyes reminds me that I am the lowest of the low and I deserve the shame they’ve thrust upon me because I have not yet watched <insert show.>  I know that disgust because it’s the same thing I feel for all people who have not yet experienced Friday Night Lights because that really IS the Best.Show.Ever and all men should aspire to be Coach Taylor. 

Just thinking off the cuff here…but maybe unity in television is the key to unity in humanity…..?

I should seriously run for office. Or run for something. Or just run away. 



Number Six: Be Coach Taylor

Truuussstttt me…..NOBODY will be disappointed.  

I’m gonna wrap this up. I need to go use the bathroom here at Barnes and Noble like a clean, normal person, then get in my car and smile at everyone, make a voodoo doll for that dude who lets his dog shit in my yard, not answer my phone if you call and I look forward to watching The Mick tonight, which is on FOX by the way, and you should definitely be watching it, all while daydreaming of Coach Taylor and believing that Clear Eyes and Full Hearts Can’t Lose. 

Happy New Year.

Let’s do this.