“Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever”
~ The Beatles
I love strawberries with fresh cream. I love my kids too. They do not necessarily love the same things I do.
It was the first weekend in June, last summer.
Even though I met with a fair amount of objections, I managed to persuade my kids that this outing would be fun. As we approached the annual Strawberry Festival at the waterfront by the train station in a neighboring town, we came upon a young police officer diverting traffic away from the train station parking area which was full. Ten minutes later we finally found a spot. This diversion along with a blazing, hot sun, hastened the regression of both of my kids to those early toddler-tantrum days. The sweltering heat which hovered in the mid-nineties that day didn’t help. It caused my kids to moan, groan, rebel and resist as we embarked on the half-mile decent from the very tippy-top of a winding hill. By the time we reached the entrance-way to the festival, my kids were toast; hot, sweaty and agitated to a point-of- no-return. That happens with teenagers sometimes and it was clear, no one was going to have a good time. I all but gave up trying to convince them they would. We decided to abort this mission and just leave.
Before making the steamy ascent back up to the car however, I needed to use one of the several port-a-potties lined up at the start of the festival.
Ugh! Gross! And Yuck!
I’ll be right out. I explained.
Three times in two minutes, someone attempted to enter the stall I was in, even though I’d made it clear that someone was inside. I left flummoxed and aggravated. When we were all finally back in the car my motherly instincts to try and salvage the afternoon kicked in and I declared that we would stop for ice-cream before heading home.
I can’t think of too many things that would be more embarrassing for an 11-year old girl and a 13-year old boy than for their mom to
force bring them into a sit-down ice-cream parlor, chat-it-up with the new owner and then discover she had no money or credit card with her to pay for the three sundaes they just enjoyed when presented with the bill. That’s right, nothing. Not-one-penny did I have, despite the fact that I distinctly remembered putting cash, a credit card and my license into the back pocket of my jean shorts. ‘Gone’ I thought in a panic and Oh. My. God. there was only one place they could be.
We left with an I-OWE-YOU and headed back to the port-a-potty at the Strawberry Festival from hell.
This time when meeting up with the young officer directing traffic to the tippy-top of the hill half-a-mile away from the festival, I gave him that get-out-of-my-way-and-let-me-pass look that only a mother in distress, who means business can give. If you’re a mom, you know the one. You know exactly what I am talking about. It’s the same kind of aura you emit when your child is in danger and the strength to lift a vehicle or move mountains automatically fills you.
With my son in the passenger seat and my daughter in the back, I rolled down my window smiling that no-nonsense-smile and before he could get a word in, I said,
I’m going down there with my car to get my wallet, drivers license and credit cards.
Without hesitation, he stepped aside and waved me through.
Of course, there was no available parking in the lot by the entrance to the festival where the port-a-potties were, so I did what any other good, mortified mom in this desperate situation would do: I drove to the end of the lot and parked head-on at the wall, blocking in at least four parked cars, two on either side of me. Then of course, I did what I’m sure every other mother in my sad and sorry situation would do: I left my car running with my two kids in it. The temperature after all was in the nineties.
Don’t move. I’ll be right back! I bellowed to the blank stares looking back at me.
Of course, I was not, right back.
How many embarrassing moments can happen in the span of one hour?
There was nothing to be found in the port-a-potty that three people walked in on me, in the span of 2-minutes nearly an hour earlier, so I did some inquiring and sprinted over to the “Lost & Found” booth at the far end of the park. In the middle of the park a stage had been setup for bands. One was getting ready to play. The pleasant woman at the Lost & Found table said nothing was brought over but,
We can make an announcement, she said. Come with me.
Unwittingly, I followed, passing all the luscious booths selling the strawberries and cream and shortcake in a variety of mouth-watering versions that I had come for but would not have that day. Instead, I found myself standing in the center of the stage where the band was setting up. The woman I followed stepped over to the microphone and in a very matter-of-fact motion removed it from its resting place and handed it to me. I stood bewildered until she snapped her head toward me in a, “go ahead” nod of affirmation. Startled and stunned, I stumbled over my words as feedback from the microphone penetrated the park and the hustle and bustle of the festival’s activities came to a screeching halt. All eyes curiously gazed upon me. I have no idea what I said. All I remember is that my mouth moved and words came out. When I was done, I bolted toward the parking lot where my kids were waiting in the running car.
Could there be any more embarrassment?
Of course there could. Indeed, there was a not-so-happy man trapped in his car as a result of where mine was.
Oh, my God, Mom! I heard as I jumped into the driver seat and proceeded to back my way out. That man is so frustrated. He kept coming up and asking us when you were coming back!
Uh-huh. That’s right. I left my kids in a running car where they were approached by a strange (aggravated) man more than once.
They were mortified. So was I.
The ride home was a quiet one. I kept trying to tell myself it could be worse, it was only money and a credit card and my license, all things that could be replaced. Once inside I retreated to my bedroom. Now, I was toast and needed to change into something more comfortable. When I opened up my closet door there was a pair of jean shorts laying on the floor, ‘right,’ I thought, the ones I had on first this morning and Oh. My. God.
…. the ones with the cash, credit card and license in the back pocket.
Life has a way of throwing a wrench in even the simplest of plans. As parents we try our best without a lot of training. For me, finding the humor is key. Thankfully, hindsight is a wonderful gift and today my kids and I laugh a lot and out loud about the calamities of that day.
Once you’ve brought your bundle-of-joy home and realized that the temporary sleep adjustment period is really sleep deprivation with staying power– like, a few years staying power — you barely catch a few much needed ‘ZZZs before you find yourself entering the realm of unnatural attachments; your child’s affinity for a favorite toy, binky or blanket perhaps, turns well, ugly. Your little tike’s obsession usually rears it’s head for the first time, when you forget, it, which is usually on a very long car ride and it’s usually, way too late to turn around and go back for it after you finally realize what it is, that your child is convulsing over in their car seat. It, you quickly learn, is the one and only thing that can make long car rides enjoyable or absolute hell, lest you forget it. Shortly after this stage comes the era of repetition which could last for several years. Be it a word, a song, a story, a movie or all of the above, moms have heard it, sang it, told it, re-told it and watched it, over and over and over again, a zillion times, all before their little one has reached the ripe old age of five.
Another truth: the myth that moms have super-powers, is not a myth.
There is a certain inexplicable, ESP-like knowing that comes with the insanity of motherhood that all moms possess in varying degrees.
My mother could see it in our eyes.
L – I – E, she would say, I see it right there in your eyes. Now, tell me the truth.
How could a kid argue with that? The jig was up and the truth was told. It’s all in the eyes and she also had eyes in the back of her head.
When my kids are in awe of, or aghast by, something I know that they thought was in their own little vault, I merely look at them and say,
Who am I?
Over the years, they’ve learned there is only one correct response to that question when I ask it.
That’s right. I am, The Mama. They know it and The Mama, knows.
It’s true, mom’s just know things, especially when their kids need them. There’s an instinctive inner nagging that just doesn’t quit when one of my kids is in need.
It’s a super-power that comes with giving birth; a natural brain-radar for knowing or being in the right place at the right time with the right people for finding out. It never fades either. To this day, when I‘m upset or in need or retreating and trying to hide from the world for whatever reason, I can be certain of one thing: my mom will call or show up or find me in my darkest hour. And no matter how much grief I give her or how much I lean or unload on her, she is ALWAYS there for me — still.
At 74, she continues to be an amazing power of example.
When I count my blessings and I often do, the fact that she is still with me and such an integral part of my and my children’s lives is right up there with my children’s health. Being a mom is not only a blessing in my life, it is the biggest privilege of my life, an honor that I don’t take for granted and am constantly working to improve upon. Motherhood requires insane amounts of patience, understanding and perseverance and all too often, I find myself falling short or being short when what was really needed was a little more time or just an ear and not an opinion. The beauty of being a mom thankfully, is that it is a lifetime gig with a chance to do better tomorrow.
Children are adaptable, forgiving and full of surprising, heartwarming rewards.
Recently, it occurred to me, that every time I make dinner for my 13-year old son, he “thanks” me before leaving the table.
Thanks for dinner, mom.
And the other evening, my 11-year old daughter didn’t want me to spend too much money on knitting needles for her. Knitting needles! I know NOTHING about knitting. I bought them anyway.
“Oh mom, these needles are so beautiful – thank you!”
Making dinner for my son is a pleasure and I was spending money on my daughter’s new hobby and passion for knitting, not playing video games, KNITTING!
It can’t possibly get any better than that.
Here’s to moms EVERYWHERE, their insanity, their super-powers and their blessings!
I have a boy. He’s twelve. I don’t write about him much or post too many pics of him because a) he does not want me to and b) I suspect the boy living in my house right now, is not really my son. My angel boy I believe, was abducted by the Mother Ship and an alien child has been left here in his place.
It became apparent about a year ago when I began to notice this strange being emerge from my little boy’s body. Not quite the butterfly blossoming from the cocoon process, more like it’s reversal. The first real hint I had that something was amiss was when I started to detect a rather foul odor coming from my son’s room.
What in God’s name could that be? I thought.
Not even dirty, sweaty socks could smell that bad and that smell, certainly couldn’t be coming from a human child! The next thing I knew, I was buying Axe’s Phoenix scent deodorant for an 11-year old! Who knew they put cologne in deodorant these days? OUT, is your basic Speed Stick. Then came the request for “boxers”. Boxers!? What was wrong with the super-hero briefs he’d been wearing all these years? Shortly after that, came the hair and I’m not talking about the hair on his head either. Honestly! I don’t think there is a single part of this alien child’s body that doesn’t have hair on it!
Excuse me, but I would like my baby’s smooth, silky, velvet-like skin back! Clearly, this hair ball sleeping in my boy’s bed is an impostor!
The alien child also comes with an attitude and has a frog stuck in his throat! He barely speaks English and when he does, it’s the same two words mumbled over and over again, “I dunno – I dunno”, regardless of the question being asked. Otherwise, I’m lucky if I get a grunt or a nod.
And another thing, I liked it quite better when my boy looked up to me. Literally. Not vice-versa. In the past 12-months this imposter has shot up nearly eight inches and grew a hearty set of abs! In clothing, he went from a size 14 boys to a men’s small! How is that possible? He’s twelve! Perhaps it has something to do with the amount of food he consumes. Six tacos in one sitting! Enough said.
“Hello, Mother Ship? Please, come back!
Pick up your alien child and return my angel boy!”
Sigh. Nothing has prepared me for this shocking occurrence. I thought that when it happened, it would be a gradual, peaceful thing. I thought I’d have more time to adjust and accept. I don’t even think there is a course I could take that could teach me what I need to know right now. I suppose there are books but quite frankly, after reading Alfie Kohen’s Unconditional Parenting, a few years ago, I was left rather traumatized. EVERYTHING he said NOT to do, I had been doing for 10 years. Let’s face it, there’s no undoing that kind of damage!
Thankfully, the eternal optimist in me has hope that one day I will see my angel boy again or at least an older variation of the one I miss so much. I have faith that the foundation he was reared upon will help him find his way back, when he’s ready, in-tact and unharmed from this awkward growth period. In the meantime, I realize that even the alien child sleeping in my son’s bed now, needs a mom to care for him, too. So, I will do my best to be patient with his sometimes odd and infuriating ways. And I will try to love him even when I feel like, well, strangling him, in the hopes that somewhere out there, there’s an alien mom on a Mother Ship doing the same for my angel boy.
Tell me, has your angel boy also been abducted by the Mother Ship?