Tag Archives: aging

Why I Can Deal With 56

Why I Can Deal With 56

Tomorrow’s my birthday! Remember how delightful that phrase used to be? (Assuming you are past the age of looking forward to growing older…21? 40?) I used to lie awake nights and calculate how long I would need to wait until turning one year older. I still lie awake, but in a “holy crap! Has it really been 40 years since I was allowed to date without my husband’s permission?” way.

Back when The Beatles roamed the earth, (together, engaging in cheeky banter), I used to begin looking forward to my birthday on the day after my birthday. Then I went into labor on my 30th birthday which made the whole agitation about turning 30 a pain glazed, surreal blend of terror and amazement where I discovered that I had really constructed an entire human being from materials I had around the house. The doctors told me this would happen, but these were the same people who said I needed to exercise, so I was skeptical.

But there he was, a mostly blue individual who apparently was under the impression that I, a very young person, was his mother and who was I to tell him differently as he didn’t speak English or tell time, if his sleep patterns were any indication. They handed him over with not so much as a owners manual and I learned that my birthday would be, heretofore, a day of preparation for his birthday and because I grew to think of him as the greatest person in the world, I went along with it.

Eventually, my birthday began to climb out from the rubble and became the most important day in everyone’s life once more. You’d think this would make me happy, but like Captain Hook, I was beginning to hear the ticking of blue hair and orthopedic shoes, or what ever sound terror makes.

That was stupid. I was still young in my thirties. Same goes for my forties, I’d like to go back to my forties and kick myself in my still firm flesh. I’ll probably feel the same in my sixties about my fifties, but thank goodness, that’s really far away.

Only it’s not! I’ll be 56 tomorrow, November 11! 56! That makes it fifty years since I couldn’t wait to get my drivers license and gas cost 47 cents a gallon and I used to return bottles to get the money! (That last sentence was brought to you by “In My Day,” the reality show only old people engage in, although most of us are unaware.)

Which reminds me, I am so old that I feel compelled to tell young people how things were in my day, which can only mean this is not my day! When did it stop being my day!?

Was it when I stopped wearing high heels because they hurt my knees? Was it when a late night out meant I could still be home for prime time tv? Was it when I stopped using pliers to pull up my zipper on my pants, not because they were too small, but because they were just right?

Yes, yes, yes, and so much more, most of which doesn’t bother me, because although I have grown older, my immaturity has remained intact. In fact, I recently took a Facebook quiz which tagged me as a 19-years-old, which doesn’t make me immature so much as the fact that I took a quiz, written by 14-year-olds, which placed me as one of their contemporaries and I was happy about it. My goddaughter, who is, by virtue of the year of her birth, actually a contemporary of the authors of the test, came out as 39, because she is an adult.

Despite the downside, which some would characterize as still being alive, but I prefer to consider as being victimized by gravity, I like most of the aspects of November 11. For one thing, I always got the day off of school because, aside from the day honoring my birth, it is Veterans Day. But mostly, if I were asked what three things are most important to me in life I would say world peace and next, that all the people—-(sound of record being removed from the turntable in a less than careful way). Presents, attention and cake, that’s what I live for, oh and love, of course. I live for the people I love giving me presents, attention and cake. (I’ve included a picture of me at last year’s celebration. Yup. That’s me, blowing out my candles. Sad, isn’t it?)

So, tomorrow, just when I got used to saying 55 with a grimace when asked my age, I will begin saying 56 with a grimace and cake on a day which so far as I’m concerned, is all about me…and presents and cake. And when it comes to making a wish, I’ll probably wish for more cake because the rest of my life is pretty good and after all, I’m 56. It’s not like I’m 57. Holy crap.


Why my 55th Isn’t About Senior Discounts


Depending on how long it takes me to complete this missive, I will either be 55 in a few days


55. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

or last week. Unlike most people, who get sick and then after a few days, recover, I feel the need to prolong the process to wring every bit of attention out of looking and feeling like hell with the added bonus that I don’t have to work or cook dinner. So, I may be writing this between naps, which take up most of my time these days.

So. 55. If you’re under 30, you’re thinking, Wow! That’s really old! What century were you born in?

Well, kids. I was born before The Beatles invented color. I was born before the previous statement could be countered by the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz on our televisions. You know, when Dorothy steps into Munchkin Land? Aside from the height challenged population, and the large, plastic vegetation Munchkin Land could be Downtown USA if DT, USA decorated itself in shades of grey (Not that kind. No one behaved like that before color was invented.) and determined it’s leadership by dropping houses on the opposition, which might be, in some cases, a model worth considering.

So, 55. If you’re over 40, and not yet 50, you’re probably thinking, good thing I’m not that old. You may also think 15 years is a long time. Keep telling yourself that, no need to become despondent as the sands in the hour-glass race past before you can even turn the damn thing over again.

Once you have a child, of course, time goes by in triple speed. Enough has been said about this phenomenon and I don’t need to delve into it here, but suffice to say, Sunrise, Sunset is a terrible song to play at your wedding. If you hate your parents and hope that they remember your wedding day as the day they wept into the rental tablecloths, gagging on tears, go ahead, be that person. Otherwise, have a heart. Karma is a bitch and all that.  Also, if you have any aged child, do not click on the above link; not unless you have hours to throw down the weeping uncontrollably well.

It’s not that my life at 54 is a living hell. The problem, as Doris Day (ask your grandparents) put it is, you grow out of it. Hence, 55.

At this point I have a husband whom I love and respect, who has put up with me for 35 years and that’s nothing to sneeze at. (Has anyone ever sneezed at less than impressive facts? Does anyone still use this expression besides Doris Day and me?) Putting up with me is quite an accomplishment because I am, after all, me, which is something no one else has even tried to be and for good reason.

I have the best son possible and made him myself from materials I had around the house, which, as anyone can tell you, is quite unique. Despite the fact that he has cruelly abandoned me to attend college and have a life of his own which doesn’t revolve around being available for movies and lunch dates, I love and respect him as well. (Next time he comes home I’m going to perform some sort of evil deed which will make it impossible for him to leave my home of his own volition. Please, don’t tell him this.)

I have lovely friends, some of which knew me before I met my husband and son and still like me, or so they say when their birthdays roll around. Most of them are older than me so, I like them too. Those that are younger, make up for it by speaking up when we’re talking so I don’t have to say, Eh?

There are many members of my family that I don’t want to shoot and who feel less than violent toward me, which anyone with a family knows, is quite an accomplishment.

Yet, 55. 55? That means in less than a decade, I will be 60 and then who knows what will happen next? (I do. I’m just hoping someone will come up with a time travel device before I hit the sixes. It could happen.)

And while, we’re at it, 25. That’s how old my son will be the day after I weep into my hands until I need them to eat cake. How can I be 32 if my son is 25? It defies logic.

Something tells me that my grandparents were happy to see 55 as their fore bearers considered 40 a ripe, old, age and thereby spent very little time wondering if wearing Spanx under your jeans will cut off the circulation to your legs. When my darling Mother-in-Law was 55, by golly, she looked how I feel and, I can only guess by what I know about her now, spent very little time wondering how to meet the lead singer of her favorite band.

So, 55 is on the horizon and I can live by their example and attempt to act my age or I can avoid mirrors and get slapped with a restraining order by Chris Martin (and wouldn’t that be a nice birthday present since he lives in Santa Monica these days?)

It occurs to me, as I became well enough to this project, on the final day of my 54…ism, that it might be about balance; the inner me and the outer me, but anyone who had seen a my dinner menu since I’ve been ill knows balance is not always my forte.

But, I can have a go. Inner me, which has seen enough life to know what is and isn’t important, meet outer me, who doesn’t recognize the surface me and fears the long-term process of disappearing until nothing about the outer me is recognizable. Shake hands. Make peace. Work together. Happy Birthday.

Why a Lack of Vulgarity Can Be Amusing. (Rated PG-13) (R For My Mother)


Because my mother was uncomfortable with the human body and its functions as I grew up, she came up with unusual names for urination and defecation, (and everything else). The urination euphemism wasn’t as bad as the defecation word, and really didn’t stick with me, otherwise the following question might have inadvertently offended me: Is it wet where you’re sitting?ifwt-grandma-surprised

That’s right, my mother called urination wetting. Therefore the above question would insinuate that I don’t have control of my bladder, which I usually do; less so since my son trounced around on the poor organ before his birth, but still, “Hey!”, might have been my answer, but I speak Normal Person now.

The bigger problem for me has been her name for a bowel movement: Something Special. Yes, you read right. My mother would ask me, upon exiting the bathroom; Did you do something special or wet?

Needless to say, but I will anyway, Delta Airline’s former slogan, spoken majestically by Oprah Winfrey at the end of every show as a thank you to the airline which transported her guests to Chicago, never failed to amuse me: “Delta Airlines, Something special in the air.”

I’m a little embarrassed to say, this still makes me laugh. Even as I typed, alone on my couch, I giggled. This isn’t a rare event, as anyone who has lived with me for any amount of time will tell you.

I amuse myself. My son recently pointed out that I am probably my best friend. I responded in the same way that I would if someone would tell me that they brought me something special, but he’s right. I silently entertain myself and laugh out loud. That’s neither here nor there, but as a trait, it really is something special. (Take that as you will.)

I have evolved or deteriorated linguistically, depending on your outlook, from my mother, who was horrified when I told her that she had been mispronouncing the word Volvo, a car company, after hearing my sister-in-law, an immigrant from China, mispronouncing the word as the anatomical name for a part of a woman’s nether regions.

“Look!” She’d announce, as we drove along. “There goes a vulva! Sue has one of those!’

That was a real head swinger the first time I heard it. She saw this where? On the expressway?

Once, I understood, of course, I laughed until I wet. See, how that sounds more lady-like?

Being perceived as lady-like is a number one priority for my mother. For me, not so much.

When she still held the reigns of my life, she sent me to charm school, hoping a magical transformation would result and I would exit, wearing lovely frocks and using euphemisms for private parts, or at least stop me from flopping down the street like David Cassidy, (her words) The experience didn’t suck as hard as it sounds.

I’m sorry. It was not as uncomfortable as I had previously anticipated.

My friend and I attended together and, as a result I learned that “shitting bricks” referred to a person’s level of unhappiness and had nothing to do with something special.

At 12 this elicited a shocked response which I muffled so as not to be detected as young and naïve. Soon after, however, I mimicked this phrase as it applied, even slightly, to every situation and that’s what I learned in Charm School. That and the fact that girls who seemed lady-like were often less so when it came to inter-personal social situations.

I’ve moved on to words that would cause my mother to have the vapors at least, if she understood what I was saying or gesturing.

For years, my mother thought giving someone the finger had an entirely different meaning from what it means on the freeways where all the vulvas are.

Once, as I was visiting her in her current home of Georgia, we were driving along and my mother marveled at how many people from her native Pennsylvania lived in the south.

I asked how she recognized Pennsylvanians and-I kid you not- she gave me the finger. I wondered what I had said to elicit this vulgarity from my mother.

Turns out, flipping people the bird was some sort of Pennsylvania thing in my mother’s mind and meant, “Hello and how do you do, Fellow Pennsylvanian!” when, as we all know, it’s more of an invitation.

All of this information may make the casual reader consider my mother’s sanity as something less than attainable for her and they would be right to an extent, but mostly my mother’s behavior stems from a complete naïvete which arose from living her first 19 years in a town which was apparently run by the Disney Corporation and her expectation that the rest of the world complied with Uncle Walt’s rules for behavior (pre-1970s or so.)

Luckily, she considers me less of a vulgar excuse for a lady and more of a curiosity, so if anyone tells her about this blog, I’d be less than pleased…if she understood the meaning of the word blogs, or online or Internet or DVR or !@#$%^!

Just let her live, happily saluting her fellow Pennsylvanians, who, seemed less likely to signal their Pennsylvania roots while I lived among them briefly, than my fellow Chicagoans, who must make up the largest population of former Quaker Staters in all of the 50 states, including Pennsylvania.

She lives in a nicer place and she’s happy there.

Why 32?

Side mirror with warning legend

Side mirror with warning legend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The older I get, the less likely it is that I will reach my target age of 32. 32 is not only in my rear view mirror, it is dozens of mile markers back and I can’t find a turn around on this stupid highway.

Sometimes, in my dreams, someone asks my age-usually Chris Martin of Coldplay- and I answer-not even coquettishly, because the reality, in my dream is-32.

At some point however, in my dreams- which should be exempt from reality- I realize that, although I feel like I have all the earmarks of 32-a lack of gravity induced sag and a smooth glossy surface, that 32 is laughably off target and when I say laughably I mean ludicrously. (I hate that guy That was for those of you with some knowledge of rap music. We will discuss if speaking rhythmically over someone else’s music qualifies as music at a later date. Maybe when I’m nostalgically wishing I was 34.)

There are many logical and scientific reasons I can no longer be 32, but logic can be defeated by mental disturbances and science? I got a D minus and a defeated shrug from every one who ever tried to instruct me in that bastard of a subject. (In full disclosure, I received that grade in a great deal of my high school classes, not because I’m unteachable, but because I preferred not to leave my bed in the middle of the night. Admittedly, I’ve always maintained that night ends when I wake up and that tends to be more in the brunch-like area of the day, still, it was too damn early and sometimes Hard Days Night was on the morning movie. Remember that? They used to cut out so much of a movie in order to sell stuff to housewives, who had a legitimate reason to be home, that by the time it ended you sometimes came away with the idea that John Lennon was singing love songs to Madge, the manicure lady, who soaked people’s hands in dishwashing detergent. How weird was she?)

Where was I and does Guinness have an award for people who stuffed the most words into a parenthetical remark?

Oh, yeah. My son. Sort of.

My son is 24 and is coming perilously close to become 25, which as many of you know, is a quarter of a century. Now, you may be asking yourself, just how old is this lady? And the answer is 32. Shut up. I’m not fully awake, so until the dogs bark at the mailman, I’m 32.

Sometimes I wonder, but mostly I don’t because I know the answer, why 32? Why, out of all the ages, 32? How about 17 when nothing was physically impossible and I was completely clueless about what constituted a fat stomach? Meh. Seems bland to me or maybe my mind has wiped the year off of my wet board of a memory, leaving a slick white surface, which, by all accounts is dull.

Why not 23 when going out dancing 4 nights a week along with regular Jazzercise proved that stamina is the answer to weight loss, a point that would become irrelevant in my late 40s? Well, 23 had its merits, but I was forced to wear a frizzy perm and large shouldered blouses, plus my normal hearing was replaced with a ringing in my ears as a result of standing in front of amps in small bars and expecting that my hearing would not be affected. None of which seems appealing.

My forties were OK, but I spent most of the decade worrying that I would turn fifty, not considering the fact that not turning fifty was a much worse predicament.

Now, just as I suspected would happen, I’m 54. Fifty-freakin’-four! And I expect to reach 55 a day before my son turns the big 2-5.

So, why 32? I was the mother of a small person who thought the sun listened to me when I rebuked it in the car. (The visor actually did the muscle work in that situation, but I took the credit, because, as we know visors are inanimate objects.)

I was the mother of a person so small that he was portable and happy to be so.

I was the mother of a person who wore what I put on him without complaint. (Actually this is still the case as my son is happy to get free clothes as long as I do not attempt to put them on him myself.)

I was the mother of a little person who sang songs to me in the grocery cart, who told me all the things which are important to three-year-olds and attempted to slip out of his crib without disturbing me because he thought I should sleep as long as I felt the need to. I’m serious. He actually operated like that.

I was still wearing the frizzy perm, but, on the whole, all was right with the world. Except when I spent time worrying that he would outgrow this age and I’d be less than happy with the next, which goes to show that cluelessness is not limited to any certain age in my life.

Anyway, as usual, I’ve lost my point, (as Groucho Marx would say, if you wear a hat, no one will notice.)

Oh. My inner world longs for 32, while my outer world, by necessity, is dealing with 54 where I’m worried about 60 and I beginning to think Oprah is a liar what with her insistence that fifties are the best years of your life.

Or maybe she just recognizes her age and accepts it. Or maybe, just maybe, she makes millions of dollars which compound, as times goes by, making her content.

Either way, 55 is coming up on the highway of life, and once again, no turn around, although the exit is visible, as it was at every age. I’ll just drive past till I run out of gas, although I can’t guarantee to keep my eyes on the road ahead and not in my rear view mirror, where I wish there was still a car seat.

Why Ma’am is OK With Me and Men Should Still Read This

Scared of the Dark

Scared of the Dark (Photo credit: jbelluch)

There we were, two friends, standing in line to get popcorn for a long ago forgotten movie. As we stepped up to get our chemically enhanced butter flavored popcorn, the punk behind the counter looked at us and used the word that The Huffington Post declared as the ultimate no-no for (a-hem) mature women.

According to The Post, which is always right about everything, women hate the word Ma’am.

Ma’am, according to those polled, (and who allows that to happen in public, let alone admit to it just so that generalizations can be formed?) is reserved for women not only past their prime, but so far beyond it that they would require a GPS device to return to the half way point.

In keeping with every poll ever taken, no one has asked my opinion, probably because I don’t answer phone calls unless I recognize the name on the caller id and try to look busy when people try to catch up with me at the mall; this strategy consists of walking as if I have a purpose and frowning lightly.

This works apparently, as once, as I walked through a hotel lobby, a man stopped me to ask about the establishment. When I asked what made him think I would know, he told me that I walked with a purpose and that was true, as the hotel gave out warm cookies and I wanted to get to my room so that we could have some alone time before it cooled off, which is generally the purpose of hotels if you exclude sleeping.

Anyway, my point, and I did have one, is that I no longer consider myself a miss. The last time I thought of myself as a miss was a long off yesteryear when I was still dewy with youth (which is a good name for a band,) and, since that time I have found the cure for the dewiness and it isn’t matte makeup (well, it can be, but for my purposes, just go along with me.) The cure, unfortunately, is a few decades of living, especially if you engage in shenanigans and less then stellar behavior.

So, back to the counter and the kid whose world was about to be rocked and not in a good way. This excuse for a nearly completely formed human being, who was mostly made up of acne and brace and who is probably a bank president by now, had the outright gall to call one of us, ma’am. (I’m pretty sure , it was my friend.)

Okay, breathe, majority of people who answered the Huff Post poll. Breathe! You’re going to hyperventilate.

In response, my friend leaned over and took this puzzled piece of nonsense by his crooked clip-on bow tie and…

Actually she leaned over and said, “Just a tip. Women don’t like being called Ma’am.”

Now, this is where this story goes right off the rails, so, as Dave Letterman says, hold on to your wigs and keys. I elbowed my friend aside and said, “Here’s another tip. Some women don’t care.”

I know. This is the equivalent of a man telling a young girl that men can be less than sincere when it comes to, you know what. And then another telling her nothing of the sort is true.

Actually this is nothing like that at all. This is the equivalent of women having different opinions on things, which many men seem to interpret as pure lunacy designed to confuse them.

It might be easier for the opposite sex, ie: dudes, if we all thought the same on every subject, but in all honesty, I don’t have the wherewithal to take a world-wide opinion poll and then point out the error of everyone’s ways. The grading process itself would be a real time suck, so you’re just going to have to live with the idea of a vastly divergent female gender, unless you’re gay, in which case you’re just going to have to live with that because women still exist outside of a man’s sexual interest.

And, here’s the thing. This preponderance of diverse opinion is not specifically gauged to confuse our male counterparts. If I were really trying to confuse the male gender I would teach all women to ask this question: Are you worried that I’m getting fat?

Any male readers who have not yet wandered off to find the TV remote are now beginning to sweat profusely, because, although they don’t know the correct answer, they sense danger, kind of like a gazelle wandering into a lioness bar.

(Those of you which are still reading, stop sweating on your laptop, it’ll kill it and it won’t be my fault.)

Back to the secret answer; as every woman has probably guessed, there are two answers far as men are (wrongly) concerned; no or yes. And here’s the scenarios as these two answers are played out.

Gal: Are you worried that I’m getting fat?

Trembling guy: N-no?

Gal: “So, you’re not worried about how fat I’m getting?”

(At this point the man in question will burrow around his brain through the sports and ways to burp the national anthem and, without thinking it through, will make the following fatal mistake.)

Quivering wreck of male gender: Yes!

At this point, the woman can make several choices. She can hold back tears before clapping her hand over her mouth and bolting from the room or she can try the classic,“Are you saying I’m fat?” It is entirely up to her. Have fun with it.

The answer of course is “You are simply perfect, my little dove, in every way. Do you want chocolate?”

Now, there are some women who are angry at me for disclosing this, as angry as they would be if they’d been called Ma’am at the popcorn counter and I may be vilified for it, but I have a very good reason for parting with this knowledge; I’m the mother of a boy and I like it when he’s not having nervous break downs, so I actually drew up this lesson in order to give him a leg up on other guys.

(Turns out , according to a recent poll, most guys hate when other guys put their legs up on other guys, so this may be a bad idea all around.)

In full disclosure, I also told some of my son’s friends about this, but, in my defense, guys don’t talk to each other about relationships and they forget everything women tell them, almost immediately. So, I’m not really giving away the store.

Finally, back to the whole ma’am thing. There are two choices when youngsters are trying to be polite to women; one is to say Miss and the other is to say Ma’am. To me, calling me Miss is like a handsome young man telling me I’m spry for my age. We both know that I’ve long ago past the finish line on the Miss thing and my feeling is, if a young man wants to compliment rather than patronize me, he has to acknowledge that I’m a fully formed female human being who has lived too long to be to let foolish flattery turn my head and not long enough to think those days are completely behind me.

So, young men, here’s what you say: Yes, Ma’am. Whatever you say, Ma’am. Here’s some chocolate, Ma’am and, want a massage Ma’am? And we’ll get along just fine.

Anyway, since my son has shown no signs of returning to the days when mommy was the sun and the earth revolved around me, (and wouldn’t that be creepy if he did?) I’ve decided to throw my energy toward preparing him for life with a woman.

I don’t want to overstate this, but I believe I have come up with a single question which encapsulates the land mine that exists in the heart of many women and have offered it to my son as practice if the future mother of my grandchildren tricks him in to marriage.

Are you worried about how fat I’m getting?” Can you taste the genius? I’ll wait while you ask your male significant other, (it may work for gay couples, someone will need to research this and get back to me) the question that will cut all mystery away from the husband/wife dynamic. Go on. Print it out if you need to. I’ll wait.

So, you asked? And he presumable replied yes or no. (Gazing at you in abject terror doesn’t count. He has to answer.) The treasure is not in the asking of the question, or even the answering of such. The gold comes in your reply.

Most will say, something along the lines of, “No?” in a small but mandatoryily terrified voice. Here’s what you will reply: “So, you’re not worried about how fat I’m getting?” He will most likely try to rectify this answer with the opposite answer having forgotten what the original question was. His face will light up and he will proclaim the word he hopes will save his life, “Yes!”

At this point, you’re on your own. You can either hold back tears before nodding, clapping your hand over your mouth and bolting from the room or you can reply, “Are you saying I’m fat?” Either way. You can even improvise from this point on. It’s all for the sake of education, after all.

You may wonder, not that it matters, if there is a reasonably safe answer to this question. Of course. That answer must be, without deviation: “You are simply perfect, my little dove, in every way. Do you want chocolate?”

How to have a Perfect Marriage in Six Easy Steps


As a person of advanced years, one might think I have valuable advice to offer on any number of topics. One would be wrong. There are few subjects of which I feel I have the expertise to offer up with certainty and a whiff of condescension, but, as a rule, since no one listens, I just wake up in the middle of the night and go over the details while begging myself to go back to sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, with little to no encouragement, I will offer my opinion, but I’ve grown to know that, although my opinions are almost always correct, they are seldom recognized as the rule of law; it has been a hard truth to accept, but we all have all cross to bear.

There is one area, however, by virtue of my thirty-four years in the trenches, that I feel I can offer a few words of wisdom, keeping in mind that, because it’s aimed at people younger than me, it will be completely ignored.

The following is my six point guide to a perfect marriage. Follow it to the letter and every day with your significant other will be better than the last, especially if you spent yesterday with your in-laws. (Just kidding in-laws.)

Rule One: Don’t get married.

Marriage is a lot of things, many of them not awful, but marriage is not a magical wand and it will never make a relationship improve. If your fiance is surly, squirrely or a goat herder by trade, he will, most likely, remain so after the wedding you’ve planned all your life and fear will never take place if you don’t settle for sharing your kitchen wt a herd of goats or maybe sheep, either way, it’s just not sanitary. Remember, it’s better to be alone than to wish you were or so I’ve been told by people who aren’t alone.

Rule Two: Always go to bed angry.

 So you’ve been fighting, or not speaking, whichever annoys your partner the most for hours and now you’re tired and long for sleep. Your mother told you to avoid going to bed angry and you’ve heeded this advice so I have no sympathy for you. Now listen to your Aunt Jamie; go to bed, sleep, live to fight another day. What is worse than being just this side of coming up with an alibi for the last night your spouse was seen alive and then growing delusional with lack of sleep? Sleepy anger is the cause of more near misses than any other phenomenon. (It’s hard to precise while aiming a deadly object, bleary-eyed with exhaustion.)

Rule Three: Your Spouse is as annoyed as you are.

 This is related to rule two and should be considered a cautionary tale. Say your birthday has arrived and your spouse either completely forgot or presented a gift which illuminates his preference for watching football when reputable stores are open. Now further suppose he goes out the next day, to a store, while football is on and returns with a super deluxe wood chipper for himself.

You’re angry and then you’re hurt and you cry and then you’re angry once more and you lie awake at night wondering if anyone would think he accidentally fell into said chipper and thereby relieve the inevitable suspicion the officers of the law might have when pieces of your beloved are found in your garden mulch.

I promise you, your significant other has spent as many nights plotting your demise for some slight you innocently and without malice perpetrated. Every marriage is going to run the gamut from devoted love to murderous rage; if you’re lucky it ebbs and flows through out the years on both shores. If the ebbs outnumber the flows consider not killing your spouse. There are a number of other options, including holding a grudge.

 Rule Four: Never do anything because your parents did it.

Marriage is personal. If you and your spouse agree that party hats should be worn during love making or that neither of you mind buying new dishes every week rather then washing them by hand, do that. I don’t care what they do on TV and I don’t care if your neighbor who watches you from between the slats of the blinds thinks you’re weird (and who’s he to talk?) make your own rules and get better curtains.

Rule Five: Do not have children with your spouse or anyone else unless, two decades from now, you are prepared to come face to face with a person who looks, thinks, talks and walks exactly like the person with whom you decided to throw caution and articles of clothing to the wind on a random night when there was nothing on TV.

Ask yourself, do I like this person well enough to accept his DNA to create a mini-him which I will be required to love with all of my heart and soul despite the sneer of my darling child’s face that screams “Perhaps I should have built a baby with the goat herder?” If not, don’t procreate. You’ll thank me years later unless your lack of children develops into a lack of grandchildren which we all know is fatal.

Rule Six: Don’t take advice from anyone unless you agree with them somewhere inside of you. When I was engaged I was taken aside by members of my church warning that my future husband would not let me go to church. My dad told me Italian guys go bald and get fat and beat their wives. My mom told my husband to make sure he cooked chicken thoroughly. My mom was right, (who’d have thought.)

I think that pretty much covers things. I have some advice on child rearing which you can also ignore if the mood strikes you, but for now; go to bed.


Why I Allow My Mom to Visit at Christmas


So, my mom threw out my Christmas presents when she came to spend the holidays with me last week. I know what you’re thinking, “So? Doesn’t everyone’s mom throw out their Christmas presents?”

No you’re not thinking that. Although everyone’s mom has her idiosyncrasies; your mom may correct your grammar and another mom may try to give her adult child a bath in the kitchen sink since it worked well when they were a kid, my mom, however is, well…quirky. Yes, let’s use that word.

In this case, my mom tossed two gift cards while in the course of her duties; disposing of everything she doesn’t deem important in my home, i.e. everything on every flat surface. Unfortunately, having just opened my gifts, I set them in a decorative bowl on my coffee table, not realizing that the bowl did not circumvent the flat surface rule.

After sifting through my recycling and some stomach churning garbage, (turns out Christmas dinner looks way better on the dining room table than it does three days hence at the bottom of a plastic bag, just FYI,) I found my gift cards in a third garbage location and retrieved them. I have hidden them in a place so secret I will absolutely never remember where they are, but at least they won’t end up in a land fill along with all of the other things my mom intends to dispose of.

My mom is currently throwing things out at her girlfriend’s condo so I’m able to jot down a few words before looking for my dog who must have settled on a flat surface for just a moment too long.

I can’t help but wonder what I will someday do while visiting my son’s home which will make him wonder why he continues to invite me to stay. I can, however, share why he’ll open his door rather than pretend he’s in Fiji, a place he knows is too far for me to fly; he is alive.

Most everyone who belongs to that less than exclusive club owes a debt to a primary caregiver, most often a mother, for keeping them alive for the first three years of their life when the average child spends most of its waking hours testing the agility, mind and body, of the woman responsible for bringing them into the world.

Despite this bit of proprietary information, many of us continue to reproduce, secure in the idea that we, as the next (better informed) generation will find a way to raise versions of ourselves without repeating the words which have been passed down, generation after generation just before another sun rises on our precious baby’s newest day. “Just go the !@#$%^ to sleep you little !@#$%^,” a phrase first uttered by Eve resulting in her expulsion from paradise along with Adam, who was pretending he was asleep. The apple thing was invented to avoid using blue language in Genesis.

Once a child is mobile, a stage for which many parents inexplicably long for reasons only evolution can explain, children become tiny drunks and drug addicts, stumbling from one misadventure to the next with nary a backward glance at their harried caregivers who are charged with coming up with funny stories about their child’s near death experiences twenty years hence.

My son, who was apparently a light drinker, had few near death experiences. The most vivid in my mind was when he was a new walker and had followed my husband and I into our walk-in closet. Why we were compelled to meet there, I no longer remember, but I do remember glancing in the direction he normally occupied (south) and finding a dog, which held many of his endearing properties, but none of my DNA resulting in my preference for the baby who was standing thirty feet away at the top of my winding staircase.

He was a charming fellow even then, and before I could react to his precarious situation, he smiled, waved (if he’s been wearing a hat, I swear he would have tipped it,) and said one of his newer phrases, “Bye-bye,” before stepping out with no apparent deference to the lack of solid footing. (He also said, hi, mama, Dindy and Ernie, none of which suited the situation, but I don’t want you, the reader, to consider him a dolt, which you might after the following paragraph, so I added them.)

You know how, in movies, when something is going to happen to Bruce Willis’ or Samuel Jackson’s family, the action turns to slow motion and the hero screams, “nooooooooooooo,” as he runs to save his beloved family at the pace of a LA traffic jam? There’s a reason for that, it’s called reality. As my newly upright son stepped out without the smallest clue that the largest percentage of household accidents are caused by the lack of ability when it comes to descending stairs, (sticking your wet fingers into electrical sockets is the second most dangerous of household injuries, both of which are seldom experienced by the over two set,) my son had tumbled all the way down the stairs and I had yet to complete the final o! even as gravity released him.

Obviously, he turned out OK and that’s the story we’re sticking with (and you’re welcome, Jesse.) I credit his diaper. We’ll never know how many injuries have been evaded by a lack of potty training.

There were other near misses, most of them caused by me with complete lack of malice, such as attempting to cut his baby nails and taking a bit of pinkie with them and letting the young boy place the palm of his hand on the automatic folding headlights of my car which, surprise! close when you turn off the ignition even if a small hand is still exploring.

Every parent knows that the terror involved with raising a child, coupled with the crippling love, ages a person, which would be a great deterrent to premarital sex if we could only convey the nauseating reality to teens. On the bright side, it guarantees an open door policy at our grown child’s residence when they make the mistake of publicizing their address.

Whether our moms were the squishy, puddled adoration type, (me) or the practical you’ll do-as-I-say-or (insert vague threat here) kind, they loved us and still see us as kids. How do I know? Because my little man is the most darling and precious Angel Bunny in all the land, plus he looks even cuter when his beard grows out.

There are times (like when I spit on a finger and clean a whoopsie from his face after following him in a car while he participates in an adult ritual with a hussy) he probably wishes I was the alternative mom, which is, in essence, more what my mom is, but there’s no changing horses mid-stream or leaving your mom in a rest room in London, which wouldn’t really bother me that much, because I know where Paul McCartney’s house is and where Coldplay’s office/rehearsal space is, so…

Anyway. My mom flies in from Atlanta where she moved while I was on my honeymoon in London thirty four years ago. (It’s kind of theme.) Since I live in Chicago, this an example of how different we are as mothers. Get this, my son wants to move to London, (See? A theme!) but has been unable to, thus far because I have shackled him in the basement, where I intend to keep him until he realizes he can’t bear to live outside of a half a miles distance from his mom.

OK, you’re probably thinking, “Poor guy. His mother’s a @#$% nut.” You should know, however, that I’m just making a literary point with exaggeration. He probably could live as far away as say, the post office without breaking my heart. (This is called mommy guilt of which I am Elvis.)

Here we find ourselves returning to the original premise of this missive and by the time you read it, my mother will have arrived and will have been telling me the same stories for at least 72 hours, if you take out for sleep and disapproval of how much money I spend taking her to nice places and after-Christmas sales. (She will also tell family members about what a nice time she had after the fact, so it’s a yin yang sort of situation.)

Other certainties of my mother’s visit: she will claim credit for any talent I have as a writer. (This is not the time to criticize.) She will claim credit for my son’s talent as a musician. She will clean my house (and I will be grateful once she tells me where the dog is). She will sort the gargantuan pile of what I consider single socks and find at least fifty pairs. She will sing songs she doesn’t know by repeating the lyrics a beat after the singer. She will chew and we all know how irritating THAT can be. She will tell me about an ailment she believes can be cured by something she read in the back of the National Enquirer and she will cry when she has to go.

I will cry too, naturally. I will also feel guilty for any irritation that I feel during her visit because I realize by virtue of my own motherhood that someday my son will choose to move someplace where seeing him will be a sometime thing and while I visit, I’ll find ways to irritate him even though I only want to be in his presence.

Also, I owe her for getting me through the first three years of life, relatively unscathed, if you don’t count my unfortunate habit of setting items on surfaces.