Gravitational Pulls

Summer has come and past,
The innocent can never last,
Wake me up when September ends.
Billy Joe Armstrong, GREEN DAY

September proved to be a stupidly busy month.

And as usual, it wasn't my schedule that made it so. One of these days, I vow, I really am going to get a life of my own. I had one once. It was nice.

Should they ever consider reviving that old game show, This is Your Life, I just know with absolute certainty that I would not make a good contestant. They would run the reel of my current life, but I would be too busy either trying to perfect the facial expression from The Scream for TiVo replay effect, or too hellbent on finessing my upstream backstroke on dat big ole river, 'da Nile, to acknowledge the biographical nod to moi.

I am so not embracing that this current lot, which looks suspiciously like a parkade, is my life. You see, I truly suck at this stay-at-home-mom schtick. I suspect that's why I have never identified myself with the SAHM crowd, with the noted exception of the multi-tasking bloggers, who, for the most part, don't really appear to either.

Anthropologically speaking, I really do admire mainstream stay-at-home moms ~ if I may be so bold as to lump a bunch of colours into one pile of laundry without fear of risking a tie-dye mess. They (the happy, happy, joy, joy SAHMs) are an amazing species of animal. These moms are eternally grateful and for the most part, utterly content with their maternal identity. By and large, they adore staying home with the kids, cooking meals, doing laundry, working on their crafts, and arranging playdates with other moms. They feel momentary existential angst like all the rest of us (although some of us feel it chronically), but they wouldn't have it any other way.

I on the other hand, harbour unrealistic fantasies about getting headhunted by Universal Jobshop Inc., for the exalted and most coveted position of Queen of the Universe. Said position would naturally pay a stupidly, ridiculous salary, thus, affording us the luxury of being able to hire a whiz bang live-in nanny who would then cook, clean, run errands and most importantly, run the kids all over hell's half acre after school, all the while allowing me to set about running the universe in royal fashion.

If there was a mommy confessional, I admit that I would need to repent for this unbridled absentee parenting ambition of mine first.

In the larger scheme of parental confessions, I suppose this is a rather innocuous admission. After all, I have never been majorly tempted to cut a deal with dingos to steal my babies. (Thank God for that big body of water called the Pacific that separated me from such temptations). And here's another shocker. I vacationed with hubby and the kids last winter at a luxe Mexican resort and we (the parental units) never once considered leaving the kids in the room alone. The same considerations cannot be said of the kids, however, who fairly begged us to do so.

But, OK so back in the day, I'll admit....I did kinda sorta used to put my kids on remote control at the playground next door while I toiled away in my office loft with work or school; keeping only one lazy eye fixed on them through the upstairs window. And I do admit to having drank the odd glass of wine or Baja Tango in my coffee cup with another neighborhood mom at the same playground, whilst summarily ignoring my/our respective children who played, fought and bickered during those penultimate minutes after school leading up to witching hour. It was practical, happy parenting at its best and I just know Christie Mellor would have been so proud of me. This happened a time or two dozen but we reveled in knowing that we were very chic alor suburban moms, thanks to the advent of Desperate Housewives circa 2005. We were somewhere between George Thorogood first drink temptations and three martini desperation.

Anyways, enough about me and my so-called life that I used to have. September was not about me, except insofar as it had me running with scissors. Seriously, I had scissors in the car at one point. Don't ask.

On one memorable afternoon/evening, I ran between a Brownie meeting, two conflicting soccer practices, an Irish dance class, and a boy scout meeting. Welcome to my nightmare, whispered Alice the Coop'ed up Housewife. It was a cb radio moment. Breaker, breaker 1-9, WTF, over.

The kids, mind you, are having the time of their lives.

Holy Son thrives on being busy. He's positively Pavlovian when it comes to going from one activity to the next. Bring it on, bring it on, might well be his mantra. If ever there was an image that defined the quintessential spirit of my son, it would be that retro Norman Rockwell pic of the kid hanging out of the family car window in abject excitement, waiting with bated nacho cheese breath for the next big adventure on the roadtrip of life.

Holy Daughter is taking it all in stride too. Maybe too much. She has become a quick change artiste extradordinaire. She can strip from soccer gear to Irish dance wear in the course of six blocks.

I now understand that checkbox on the school district registration form that asks applicants to identify if they live in a house, in a car or on the street. No schmidt, schmerlock, it really says that. When I first saw it, I had no context whatsoever for understanding how such home displacement could possibly be so in this high falutin' bubble of suburbia we happen to find ourselves residing in. But I get it now. We actually do live in the car. Next time I have to fill out that form, I will check that box: (c) We live in a minivan.

It's quite true. Just ask Holy Hubby. He mumbles and grumbles no less than 3 times a month when faced with the daunting task of unloading the plethora of coats, clothes, shoes, food, sports gear, books, blankets, toys and garbage that tend to take up semi-permanent residence in our vehicle.

September was not so much about running around, however, as it was about adjusting to two hours a night of homework, now that Holy Son is a middle schooler. He has done admirably, considering he never used to get assigned homework as a 5th grader - apparently they were smart enough, and didn't need any. Or my own personal theory? His teacher was too old and lazy to assign anything that might require additional marking.

So really, it's a good thing we don't have a life because every free evening moment (apart from nit-picking my kid's hair - it's my new OCD pasttime - the lice are long gone but I can't seem to stop - look for me soon on Maury Povich)...anyhoo, every spare minute is now consumed with ensuring he's completed his next day assignments and projects. If this keeps up, I will soon be sporting a bumper sticker that says, "I am an Honor Student at my Son's School." As much as I once vowed never to do that, I'm re-thinking my logic. Especially if I can survive 7 years of this 7 core subject curriculum times two. Think how smart a mother I'll become.

He's managed to stay on top of everything plus maintain about a 3.5 GPA thus far, with the noted exception of his cello practice. He's supposed to be playing the cello at home two hours a week but we haven't been able to tolerate err, I mean, assist him with squeezing regular practice time in as of yet. I have also managed to come up with a good effort bribe whenever he properly discerns his their/there homophones. We keep the Easy button handy so he can hit it each time he gets it right or done (not quite a bell but close enough) and I've also begun teaching him how to polka so that we can do a celebratory dance when the mood strikes him to have a kinesthetic battery re-charge. Once a Puke (Polish/Ukrainian), always a Puke. So depending on the night, the neighbors are often afforded a not-so-rare glimpse of our mother/son polka. Who needs scissors when you can bellow out Weird Al music on demand, I always say.

He loves the school and feels ├╝ber comfortable there ~ and after visiting it on curriculum night recently, I have to admit, we're pretty tickled with it, too. The kids are doing 7th grade humanities and will maintain advanced level coursework from here on in (not to be visually confused with heroin - ours is a drug-free school district, dontcha know), because they only take seven core subjects (humanities, int'l. studies, music, phys ed, math, science and German or French) and no options, so thus, are able to fast track things a bit.

They (the institutional types) continually remind us how fortunate these kids are to have won the lottery so to speak (which is literally how they are placed there), and to be earning an education at a school that looks and acts like a small private school (approx 70 students per grade from Grades 6-12) and perhaps more importantly, ranks within the top 99.95% of all public high schools, based on their impressive ranking on the Newsweek list of who's who schools. It's PTA ideology at it's best, because of course, the prouder and more tickled we are, the more dollars we'll contribute. Or so they hope.

I can see why Holy Son seems to have grown up so fast in the past month. To be a sixth grader strolling the halls with high schoolers who will actually talk to you is pretty cool stuff. To be a relatively tall (5', 2") bottle blonde and handsome 10 year old who gets fawned over by a bevvy of girls is even cooler yet. And to be a sixth grader in possession of his very own, brand-new Razr phone with a neon green silicone cell cover....well, that's pricelessly cool.

Yes, we finally made good on our summer school threat/promise/bribe and got him his cell phone yesterday. He thinks, make that knows he's totally stylin' now. We've been lending him Holy Hub's phone the past month and have found it to be an essential mode of communication after school, because I never know from day to day whether I'll be picking him up or letting him ride the bus home. He knows how to work the phone way better than I do. I just learned how to use speed dial on my phone yesterday. I'm such a dinosaur.

But at least I'm an 80's dinosaur. I'm still exhuberantly happy about this pop culture nod to the 80s lately. I wish we could freeze time. I'm so grooving on the headband hair, black tights & leggings, high boots and long tunic fashion look, and my new near black hair. I was accused of looking goth this morning. Tee hee.

And I wear my new houndstoothy/plaid designer Ukrainian boots everywhere now, much to the complete horror of my family, who curiously, seldom walk with me or even acknowledge my presence anymore when we're in a store. I'm like this strange lady who they only pretend to know for a moment at the checkstand, and only then because it's financially prudent for them to do so.

Holy Hub tolerates the look but only because I know he's secretly plotting a way to begin wearing Hush Puppies again. You see, for 20 years, his boxed pair of brown suede Hush Puppies in the closet were a source of great amusement for me. They were in mint condition but, of course, horribly geeky. He would always threaten to wear them. Meanwhile I was busy planting cheese in the closet, praying for a mice infestation. Alas, they somehow accidentally, on purpose got misplaced in a move. And then they ended up coming back in fashion and they're now worth a fortune, more's the pity, or so I noticed the last time I strolled through Nordie's shoe department.

I'm also digging that the music continues to stay in retro mode these days, too. It kills me. Depeche Mode is all the rage again, as is every 80s post-punk band that still has living members. My current fave-ola is Shiny Toy Guns. The kids and I crank that all the time and it makes feel like I am young again. The best thing about Sunday mornings here in Seattle, besides sleeping in, is Ressurection Flashback Sunday. I love hearing the underground bands, like Joy Division, who were mein zeitgeist (not to mention a major impetus for my wasted, sonic youth), and my secret listening refuge while my friends were busy banging heads to Judas Priest. Joy Division only ever hit the alt-rock university stations but you may or may not recognize them as New Order, minus Ian Curtis. Many bands owe giant nods to Joy Division, most notably U2, who continue to pay tribute to them in concert three decades later.

Which is why it's such a shame (and no surprise) that I'm deaf right now. My right ear has completely plugged up and I'm thinking I might need to host an ear candling home party. Wouldn't that be wick? :)

OK so poetic waxing aside, I do sort of wish a friend, Roman or countryman would lend me their ear - minus hair sticking out of it though - as I've been feeling rather like Mrs. Potatohead with only one auditory orifice. I didn't notice how bad it was until I went to the Seahawks/Bengals game a couple of weeks ago and ended up having to scam earplugs from the firstaid station adjacent to our seats. Holy loud stadium, batman - no wonder Qwest Field has been rated the loudest in the NFL. My ears were ringing so bad from all the yelling that I wasn't sure I'd even be able to stick it out the whole game. Good thing we did though because the Hawks ended up pulling through in the bitter end.

Perhaps that's why God gave us two ears. Spending $250 to go see a doctor and get it flushed out seems, well, a huge waste of money. So I'm off to the drug store to get an earwax kit. This is the same drug store that has been tracking my lice shampoo purchases so I may have to wear my boots, some shades, my son's purple scout kerchief over my goth hair, and an overcoat. Thanks to Hollie, we're trying the tea tree oil route with shampooing. So far so good, but I could still swear I'm finding nits in the kid's hair.

But at least it's so cold around here now that the giant spiders have disappeared. And I haven't seen Mr. Mole or the yappy beagles for awhile. The only critter hanging around is Spud, our guinea pig, who is now the size of a large swine, most likely on account of the fact that he is being fed the daily equivalent of Canada's annual agricultural exports to China. He is only slightly more Pavlovian than Holy Son, in that when the fridge door opens, Spud will immediately let out a series of high-pitched squeals and squeaks until we finally relent and feed him some produce scraps.

In other news, the next phase of our immigration fun is upon us. We are scheduled to go have our green card pictures taken and get fingerprinted in a couple of weeks. I think it would be so cool to draw an outline of a maple leaf on my index finger. Just to see the look on fingerprint dude's face. Cheap thrills.

And since they've already cashed out cheques, I'm guessing that my work permit authorization will be just around the corner as well. Which means I need to get off my fanny and find a job so we can keep up with all the other DITKies. A four or five hour a day schtick that is super close to home, pays amazingly well, provides awesome health benefits, permits me summers off, has a lenient footwear policy, and allows me to not even have to think about the job in the off hours. Hmmm, does such a job exist? If so, I'm going to put the beagles on the beat to sniff it out.

I also need to sniff out some birthday party ideas. I have two weeks to come up with a theme and I'm stuck. We were thinking of doing a space lounge idea for Holy Daughter and I've always wanted to do an Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Tea Party slash unbirthday affair, and have everyone exchange silly gifts. And I thought of doing a fall carnival but that would feel way too much like work. So I dunno. I may combine elements of both and have a Wild & Crazy 8s bash. I'll drink blueberry tea, wear my earplugs and my rubber boots and perchance I'll even play some polka tunes and let Holy Son practice the cello.

Like I said, I need a life.


Hollie said...

Oh Holy I can so relate!

I am glad to be looking for work, after two yars at home it is time for a change!

Now I will miss the after school playground mixers, and being in the school so klnowing all the dit

but I am dying to have a real life, you know what I mean?

Natalie said...

Duuuu-uu-uude! Those are some totally rad boots! And you've gone goth on top and scootergirl on bottom. Way to mesh.

I loved Joy Division. I can remember listening to them, Depeche Mode, the smiths, a bunch of English Bands... and the real break-out of reggae (BB=Beyond Bob in such ways as finally recognizing Peter Tosh, Mutabaruka [although a totally angry black man, I could somehow relate), UB-40 [prior to the smash hit, "Red, Red Wine"; do you know what UB-40 actually stands for? I do.], TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS!!) Remember The Alarm? Psuedo U2 band... Bow Wow Wow... The better days of the Pretenders (LOVE Chrissy!), Patty Smith.
Did I ever tell you I was in an all-girl band in the '80's? Yep. Sang back-up and played rhythm guitar and bass. We were pretty darned good, if you ask me.
These were the days of blonde dredlocks, a nose ring with a chain attached to my earring ala Jane Childs... I was a freakazoid. And then there was that... the freakazoids like Clinton, Parliament, Prince, Madonna, Chaka Khan, etc... I was a DJ in a gay bar from 1981-1986. Good times!
Man, how your ramblings brings it all back.
And now it's all about the school district, Doc Martens, Starbucks, two hours worth of homework, dinner, and scoopin' poop.
How far we've come...
I actually liked the '90's better.
I'm more grungy than pop-y.
These days I'm listening to more hard-core rock. It's as good as a quad, grande, dry cap... or, my new favorite drink: Iced grande, 5 shot, 6 raw sugar, espresso...
The only way to fly...
It's Balloon Fiesta here in the 'burque. It took me a freakin' hour to get to work this morning. It usually takes me fifteen minutes. Bah!
S has her big Balloon Fiesta wedding this weekend and I have the continuing saga of community input meetings for the superintendent search.
More and more, I'm considering applying for jobs at APS.
Maybe you should consider working for your school district? You have a fairly new superintendent and I'm sure there are a slew of jobs...
Great post. I'm always thrown back in time and then jerked forward by your SAHM not-wanna-be. Been there. Know the feelin'.

Tanya said...

I know how you feel with the whole SAHM thing - I'm secretly glad I'm not doing it all the time. Especially since the terrible twos makes an appearance at least every other day.

When you find that dream job I can't wait to hear what it is - and send me an app. for it! I'm just happy to love where I work - now if only retail would pay better :)

Jeri said...

I hear you on the SAHM issue. While I do believe it’s a wonderful calling for those who have the talent and dedication, it’s never been for me. I took time off when I had each of my kids, and was back in the job market, Prozac and resume in hand, within six months.

There do need to be better options though! Full time is way too much, you end up shortchanging your family and yourself and have no life. Part time work is rarely lucrative or challenging – and many part time professionals end up working nearly full time anyway, just without the pay. I did full time most of my life, and for my kids first several years it was necessary as I was the breadwinner, then a single mom. Now it’s just habit.

I have always curtailed my kids’ activities a little selfishly – never more than one “thing” at a time. I wanted to not run into scheduling disasters, and wanted them to have time to breathe and play a little. It helped that neither of them were ever big into sports, although we did scouts for many years. Now the oldest has a job and will have a drivers’ license soon – and the youngest only has photography club.

Here’s the real question – does your chauffering/errand running ‘count’ in the scheme of parental effort? My hub and I split housekeeping tasks, with him doing a little more around the house but me doing more errand running, shopping, and kid-related stuff. Somehow the latter doesn’t ‘count’ on the same level as laundry, apparently it’s really a pleasurable little driving hobby.

We got younger son a cell phone, and he never uses it, rarely even has it turned on. (He can’t have it on at school and never remembers to after.) Older son has a pay-as-you-go and regularly burns about $35 a month. Of course, older son is tons more chatty.

Woo-hoo on the green-card process chugging along! I’m really excited for you and the family... You’ll be a VP at some local foundation before we know it.

Love the boots! I’d wear ‘em if I had ‘em! I’m busy breaking in my new sage green crocs – kinda old-ladyish but hey, they’re comfy!

gferenczi said...

Again, you have left me with a smile on my face, and wonder in my heart - how does this woman arrange to DO ALL THIS, and still find time to write about it? Be well,

Brenda said...

You made my lunch hour complete with this fine post Holy. And now after reading the comments, I must concur with just about everything Jeri remarked... minus the sage green crocs. Striped purple/blue/white fuzzy socks with chunk heals here, thanksverymuch.

How about if you started getting paid to blog? Seriously!

Brenda said...

make that 'heels'... doh!