Time after Time

 

So, what are you going to do now that all the kids are in school?

I would like to officially apologize to every woman I have said this to. I am pretty sure, I tried to funny it up when I asked, but the meta message was still there.

What on earth are you going to do with all that time, I wish I had, but I don’t.

I am not sure what a better question would even be. What are you going to do with all that potential?   How do you intend to use your super powers now? Will you finally get to do all that you dreamed of doing before you became a nurse log? No matter how the inquiry is framed it feels something like: GET A JOB!

Mike calls this season my sabbatical–my golden moment to pursue health and discover my passions.  (Where did I find a man like this, you ask? I had him made. Thank you Ken and Deb.)  Unfortunately, my focus on health has awakened my inner hypochondriac.  I can’t seem to get rid of the sensation that there is something stuck in my throat and am fairly confident that I am at death’s door. I don’t think this is what my dear husband had in mind, but here we are.

The pursuing my passions piece has been interesting, but I confess the pursuit has mostly consisted of random career assessment tests, solo brainstorming sessions and crying spells. I have unsuccessfully submitted one story to NPR, written one blog about being stuck in my own pants,  painted a portrait of Einstein, and researched the voice over industry and how middle aged women can break into the field as painlessly as possible. I coach choir club once a week and occasionally practice long vowel sounds with Mrs. Juhl’s first grade class.  I rock the orca costume from time to time, against my better judgment,  but no longer on the regular.  Overall, I just spend a lot of time feeling like somewhere along the way, the list of things I wanted to do with my life got lost, and now I need to find it.

As a result of my weird, possibly hormonally driven, quasi midlife crisis, I have  required Mike to prepare and deliver weekly pep talks on the beauty, sexiness, wisdom and viability of women in their forties. (I turn forty in three months. The separation is in the preparation.) During these pep talks, I have been encouraged to think outside the box. So here I go. Jobs I would be interested in, if prior experience, education, salary and aptitude were non issues–followed by naysaying.

Astronaut–I am terrible at math, claustrophobic, and have poor vision. Not a great candidate for space travel.

Today Show Host: A little late to the game. The women seem to age out in their forties on that program.  It’s like Dazed and Confused. Lauer keeps getting older… and the girls stay the same age.

Foreign Correspondent:  Family put the kibosh on this option due to safety concerns but I think I would be awesome at it. As long as I am not required to wear pencil skirts. Those don’t sit well with me.

Travel Writer: Waiting for Rick Steves to kick the bucket.

Motivational Speaker:  Might need to nail down my own motivation first, but I do have a stage name on lock down:  Robin Tonies.

Artist: I set up an etsy account to sell paintings, but my “cyber store” remains empty due to a total lack of confidence and a fear of art consumers, who seem naughty by nature and prone to judgy feedback.

Disney Land Tour Guide:  Typically this role is reserved for young people willing to wear safari shorts and tropical button downs.  Not sure if I am willing to relocate the whole family to make that happen.

Diplomat: I AM a push over. So….you know….maybe.

Member of an Improv Troop: I hear these cats make like $50 a night and the hours are flexible.

Sea Gal: I could be the lady that all the wives don’t mind.  The Sea “every woman” gal.  The one that helps them decide it’s okay to wear pants.  I would also encourage them to bring an end to the shimmy, shimmy, bend move.  It is tiresome.  Simply bending over is not a viable dance move and adding a couple shimmies before-hand doesn’t make it good.  If I don’t make the cut, I will just promote the drinking game I created years ago, (aptly named) “The Shimmy, Shimmy, Bend Drinking Game”.  The rules are simple. If they double shimmy and bend over, you drink.  I guarantee public intoxication by half time. Go Hawks.

Blogger:  With approximately 3 views a day, I think it might behoove me to seek other avenue for revenue.

Teaching: Not just yet. I want to get my little ones farther along in their own academic journey before I become uninterruptible after school due to a heavy workload. Teaching is no joke man.

Insert suggestion here: __________________________________________________________________

I realize this is a wonderful problem to have. And I completely understand if women with toddlers and or folks working 60+ hours a week want to punch me in the face. But, consider this: there is a degree of additional responsibility that comes with not having as many responsibilities anymore.  For example: When you have four children, people expect you to be late. They are not surprised if you cancel.  Most mistakes can be blamed, at least in part, on children. In general, no one expects much out of you outside of executing your maternal responsibilities. You are a hero for bathing.

So, what am I doing with myself, now that all the kids are in school?  I’ll let you know when I find out.  In the meantime, I am going to take a bath whenever I feel like it.

 

Questions for my little audience that I love:

  1. I am nervous about turning forty and I am not sure why.  Any ideas?
  2. If you are in your forties, what do you love about it?
  3. Did you or someone you know experience a mild crisis during a similar transition?
  4. Know any good sermons on aging gracefully?

 

 

Send Me the Bill

I couldn’t stop crying as I entered the Priceless Pet Clinic. Intimate crying. The kind you only let a few people in your life see due to unsightly swelling.  The kind that won’t stop and makes others uncomfortable.

“I think he is done. I think he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  I think he wants to be done now. ” I said between sobs as I approached the desk holding our cat.  Bill writhed and whimpered and took in only hard earned breaths–his bones visible through his fur coat. All the piss and vinegar that made him the cat from hell, our cat from hell, was drained out of him, a fighter without without a ring, only a blanket.

This melodramatic scene would have been perfect for a Marlee and Me cat spin off.  Especially since my tears were dripping with irony. I hated our cat. Not a malicious hate.  Not like I hate suffering or cruelty. More like I hate the 49ers or room temperature milk. He was not likable. He was mean to me, my mother and pretty much everyone else too. He ruined our sleeping arrangements.  He caused me and family bodily harm. He made our neighbors uncomfortable. He was aloof. He hijacked my computer. And then there was his awful habit of murdering local wildlife.

We weren’t exactly his dream humans either.  He came from a wealthy family.  A family that purchased him intentionally and lavished upon him accordingly.  A family without small children and loud music. A family with an organized garage and clearly labeled bins for everything. A family with cat allergies.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

“You fell for the you look like a nice family”trick? Don’t do it! You don’t even like cats!  This is a bad idea.  I will let you decide, but if you say yes…he is your cat.”

Mike was right. I am not a cat person.  At all.  I have had several downright traumatic experiences with them throughout my life.

Scritty Palitty the Kitty, our first cat, was an arsonist. He knocked a lamp over on my parents bed that led to the house fire that claimed our home when I was 3 years old Scritty survived by hiding under the house.

As a pre teen I got to know some feral cats who lived among us on the property we rented from my Grandfather. He decided to let them breed at will because they were skilled exterminators, and there was a rat problem. He was a shrewd business man.

Mike had a cat when we first started dating that hated me.  Her name was Cora.  She had a negative attitude and made me feel bad about myself.  I think she also made his parents question my integrity.

Then there was Maggie and Tanner.  Before I married Mike, I lived with his lovely sister, Kate.  The aforementioned cats were hers.  Tanner was socially maladjusted. He ate and hid.  Hid and ate.  He was weird, emotional and orange.  It wasn’t right.  I was always afraid that one day I would come home to him listening to the Cure.  Maggie had a more interesting personality, but was reckless.  She destroyed several of my most precious belongings including a set of teacups that belonged to my great grandmother. She never apologized.

This tumultuous history made it all the more surprising that I fell victim to flattery that day at the pool, when the wealthy family with cat allergies offered us a kitten named Billy.  Maybe I needed affirmation that day. After all, I was a new mother of four and not exactly swimming in confidence. Maybe I just wanted to know that I was capable of loving an animal.   Maybe I just needed a story to tell…

 

 

Bed and Butter

She had a rash.  She was tired. She was miserable. She wanted to sleep but couldn’t. 

Our other three children were also in need.   One was emotionally distraught over an upcoming jog-a-thon, another was not happy with  her bedtime attire, and our young son was attempting to suplex anyone that crossed his path.

When all offspring are in need at once, I find the triage approach to be helpful.  The rash was clearly the most  life-threatening issue, followed by the suplexing toddler and the jog-a-thon situation . The pajama problem would be dealt with last if at all. So, with a plan in place, I headed to the rash victim’s room. I applied a salve to the affected region, all the while cursing the bargain Easter dress whose lace was likely to blame. Next, I dealt with the baby wrestler. A bottle did the trick. It kept his hands busy and his mouth closed.  Problem solved. Back to the rash. Her anguish was untouched by the salve, so I hit up the freezer for the trusty, all powerful ice pack.  Unfortunately, we had no pack, just ice.  Chaylee, the afflicted one, loves to eat ice, so I searched for some frozen vegetables to use instead.  None were sealed.  The alternative solution? Frozen butter. We had loads of it and she hates butter, so there would be no danger of her ingesting the cure. I said a prayer, kissed her goodnight  and promised to pick up the butter after dealing with the jog-a-thon problem–by then she would surely be asleep.

I am not sure what woke me. Perhaps my maternal alert system picked up a needy presence in the room. Or maybe it was the rhythmic thud of a child flying up the stairs at mind boggling speed to avoid the nothing behind them.  I can’t be sure, but when I opened my eyes she was 6 inches away from me, standing sternly by my bedside. 

“What is it honey? Did you have a bad dream?”

“No,” she replied indignantly.”I’m covered in butter!”

As my eyes adjusted to the subtle light from the alarm clock,  I could see that she was indeed glistening. It was 2am. She had been rolling around on two sticks of butter for hours, slowly melting them with her body heat until she was fully glazed like a self basting turkey.  

I took her to the bathroom as she cried. “I hate butter!!!!” 

I attempted some fun word play to lighten the mood and hide my shame. 

“Nothing like a little bed and butter.”

No laughter, just tears.

“You’ll feel butter in the morning,” I quipped.

More tears.

After a thorough scrub down with warm rags and barrage of hugs and apologies, she was back to sleep — in our bed of course. Hers was smothered in butter. At least the rash was gone.

Poll: What food would you rather not find yourself sleeping in or on?

Family Fun Fact:  Mike slept through this debacle. He learned of the incident by looking for his favorite pillow in Chaylee’s room. Didn’t see that one coming did ya Mikey?

In other news:  This is my first blog attempt since departing my beloved Australia.  It feels weird. But, I needed to get this story off my chest, and I thought it might help other mothers feel butter about themselves.