Saturday, May 25, 2013


Yes, actually, I DO deserve the Mother of the Decade award. It's just that my children keep takin' me down. 

        Years ago, my daughter who was four at the time, came smiling into the bedroom, holding her arms out in front of her, hands clasping together then pulling apart, together then apart, spreading a thousand spidery fibers from palm to palm. 

“Look Mom! I’m Spider-girl! We found some spiderman goo, and now I can climb up walls. But—” (smear across her shirt)—my webs (smear) won’t (smear) come (smear) off (smear, smear). 

“Did you wash your hands?” I asked, barely looking up twice and counting crochet stitches.

“Yeah. But it still won’t (smear).”
I reluctantly set aside my project and took her into the bathroom to wash her hands. After scrubbing with soap and a washcloth, there was absolutely no improvement. For heaven’s sake.

So I grabbed the fingernail polish remover and some cotton balls, then scrubbed and scrubbed until the cotton balls dried out, then began to spread and adhere to every square inch of her hands, front and back.

“What in the?! Now WHAT is this stuff? Spiderman goo what? Where did you get it?”

Just then Seth walked in with a mailbox stuck to his face, and both kids shared the story; Chris had found this goo (sticky insect pad) in the garage, then cast his net throughout the neighborhood, enticing all the kids with, “HEY, WANNA BE SPIDERMANS?”

They came scurrying from every corner, pressing hands and feet into the sticky platter, then taking turns placing them strategically on our garage door frame and attempting to scale the 20 foot walls. Finding little success, they then entertained themselves with the webbing on their hands and feet, until they realized that everything they touched—grass, bugs, patches of hair, the trampoline—EVERYTHING THEY TOUCHED was stuck to them, and they couldn’t get it off. 

About this time, while I tried to decontaminate the children and inadvertently covered my own hands, arms and clothes with this indestructible glue, I heard the kitchen door slam shut, and a child fled silently up the stairs. I knew it was Chris.

“CHRIIIIIIIS!” I bellowed from the bottom of the staircase. And when I say bellowed, I don’t mean yelled. I mean—and I am not proud of this—but I mean I reached into the deepest innards of my guts and pulled a sound out of me that only belongs in the depths of the bog of eternal stench and had no business whatsoever coming out of a mother’s mouth. But it did. And I only share this with you because it’s too late to press charges.

Anyway, “CHRIIIIIIS!” I bellowed. And peeking from around the corner, I saw the panicked face of a child on his knees. Not because he was begging, no, not because of that. But rather, because his feet were three inches thick with debris which had accumulated as he tried to wipe them off on the grass.

To save time, I’ll fast forward this story an hour, past the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, which culminated in the three sobbing, hiccuping children sitting on the kitchen counter while their hysterical mother doused them head to toe with her last ditch effort—some sort of toxic solvent that came with an explicit skull and crossbones warning.

“Are we going to die?” they whispered, hoping for reassurance. And once again, I am NOT proud of this, but I may have answered, “Yes. Yes, we just might die.” But the thing is, I kind of thought we could, because for whatever reason, it seemed logical to me that glue could be fatal.

They were silent from that point on, surrendering themselves to their mother, and trusting that, if she could, she would save them. And save them I did. 

As I finished stripping the final layer of skin from their bones, I heard a noise and turned around just in time to see our neighbor, tiptoeing out of the front door as quiet as a mouse, and only then remembered that he had been downstairs the entire time, doing some carpentry for us. 

And that is when I wished that the glue had taken my life, because it might be less painful than dying of humiliation. 

We haven’t made eye contact since. Almost had to move.

Fortunately, he kept those things in his blessed heart all these years, probably waiting for me to come clean...which I just did. So go ahead, Johnny. The tale is yours to tell...just try to make sure that I sound thin when you do. 

Friday, May 10, 2013


A lesson in perspective:

       When I was young, I was pretty sure that there was no problem so big that a pot of creamy blue eyeshadow could not solve it. Lucky for me, we had an Avon lady who supplied me with monthly samples of lipstick, shadow and rouge and never questioned what I did with them all, or why I kept needing more...probably because the explanation was smeared from my chin to my eyebrows, and beyond, every time we met.
Of course, this particular Avon lady was a kindred spirit, in that she wore most of her products all at the same time. So rather than search through the catalogue trying to find what you wanted to order, one could simply point to a spot on her face and request “some of that”. I guess you could say moderation was a stranger to her, and that’s likely why her memory still lives in my head, like a lipstick stain to my brain.

Now because of these abundant samples, I figured there wasn’t a 4th grade girl in the world who didn’t look better with midnight blue eyelids and dark suntan pantyhose peaking out from underneath her shorts. Thus, this was my go-to ensemble for every event—ward parties, babysitting, a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. And it wasn’t until my older sister called me out during Family Home Evening, that I imagined there might be something age inappropriate in my choices.

Seems Nicki found it “humiliating” that her little sister was seen walking the streets, looking like she was, well, walking the streets. So against my will I toned things down, going to a lighter shade of sky blue, because everybody knows that if you want blue eyes, you wear blue eyeshadow. Duh.  

A year or so later, the Max Factor warehouse sales came to town, and we were introduced to earth tones. About that time, Nicki tried to give me a makeover, telling me she was sure my eyes would look more blue if my shadow was coppery brown. I sat there snarling, like a feral cat waiting to scratch it’s way out of captivity, while she worked her magic. When she was finished, I darted into the bathroom to see the results, then graciously responded with:


I don’t know why she let me live.

Of course I did, in fact, wear brown eyeshadow again because it turns out she was right—coppery brown made my eyes look blue. Even the color wheel was on her side. But that was a great lesson in perception.

Recently, there’s been a commercial by Dove going around on social media. Sight unseen, a sketch artist has women describe themselves, then an acquaintance describe them, and he draws both accounts. Interestingly, the way they see themselves is far from reality—much less attractive than they truly are—but the way another person sees them is very close to the truth. The women stand there looking at the different renditions, and there is a moment of illumination.  

I’m afraid that, had it been me in that commercial, they’d have been forced to edit out my first reaction, which would have been something like, “WHAT THE?! DID YOU SKETCH ME FROM UNDERNEATH? I HAVE LIKE, 20 EXTRA POUNDS OF CHIN IN THIS PICTURE!”

And that would have undone all the good they were trying to do.

A while back a friend of ours shot some fun pictures of our family at the sand dunes, then tagged the entire clan on Facebook, including the chubby, unaware matriarch. With lightening quick reflexes, I untagged my fat face from each one of those misguided pictures, before the cameraman even logged off of his computer. And it wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the thought, bless his heart. It’s just that I didn’t appreciate the proof. 

Once again, a lesson in perception. Everyone else in my family was beautiful to me, and I’d have proudly displayed them on my mantle. But my own flaws were the elephant in the sand, and I couldn’t see it any other way.

And I’m sure that the older and fatter I get, the more I will wish I had covered my house in wallpaper made out of those images of me at the dunes, because they will eventually be my glory days, as my viewpoint changes day by day, year to year and experience after experience.  

But until then, my finger hovers over the mouse, ready and waiting to untag the unflattering...and photoshopping my eyes until they’re as blue as the sea. ;)