Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Motherbrain and Other Embarrassing Disorders

I recently had to make a visit to my eye doctor. I have the eyes of a 103-year-old in a 29-year-old (ok, ok, 31-year-old) body. The technicians literally gasp when they first see my prescription and I get the feeling they dread the “which is better, one or two?” game just as much as I do because I answer “blurry is blurry” for so many times they have to quit to take a smoke break.

But this is not my point. Because this was my first time to this particular office, I had to fill out the 1000-page medical and insurance forms before I could be seen. No problem, I thought, I won’t have the girls with me and will quickly and easily fill out any forms and answer any questions necessary. I am a college educated adult, after all.

Name, Sharon Webber. Male or female? Female. So far, so good, I think.

I breeze through the form asking for my address, maiden name, and medical history. No one asks me to take them to the bathroom. No one colors on my shoes with a sharpie. No one even lays on the floor screaming for my attention as I continue through the forms, happily discovering that I do, in fact, still remember how to write in cursive.

But just as I begin to relax and enjoy the process of form-filling, I am hit by a sever and sudden onset of what is laughed at by the world of non-mothers. A disorder that shows up randomly and without warning at any time, leaving its victim virtually paralyzed, and it is nearly impossible to hide. What is it, you ask? A little something I refer to as “mother brain”.

I see the blank lines looking at me sinisterly, as if they dare me to come up with an answer. The trouble is this, they have asked my social security number. I begin to feel warm as I loosen my scarf around my neck and try to summon the magic numbers from the recesses of my mind. Social security I still have one of those? Am I still an official citizen with one of these prized numbers? If I could just think of the first few numbers that would get me started. In triumph I whip out my driver’s license. But wait, Michael made me take it off for security reasons. Hmmm....umm....well, nevermind, it will come to me, I’m sure. I move onto the next question.

Birthdate. In horror I realize these numbers, too, are slow in coming. I was born, wasn’t I? When might that have been? I look around to see if I know anyone else in the waiting room who maybe would remember, but they are all happily filling out their own forms, pens busily scribbling information they have not forgotten.

Suddenly, a technician approaches me to ask for my glasses. I hand them over and then she asks, “what kind of lenses do you wear?” I open my mouth to answer, but just look at her instead. NOTHING. NADA. I wear contact lenses? “Ummm...hard lenses,” I blurt out in relief. “Yes, dear, I know, but I need to know what BRAND.” My, this mother brain is going downhill fast. I sheepishly confess that I have no idea and she tells me not to worry, she will try to figure it out.

Finally, I finish the forms and turn back to the social security question. For goodness’ sakes, I can remember all kinds of numbers. I know each of my three children’s birthweights, how many inches they were, what time they were each born, how many ounces of formula they drank at what time, how many wet diapers they had any given day, I even once knew the number of hairs on my youngest baby’s head (three).

Reluctantly, I pull out my cell phone to call my husband and ask for the answer. I stare at the keypad, only to realize two things....first, I cannot recall the number. Second, I forgot to charge the phone.

But finally, as if sensing the seriousness of my mother brain moment, the receptionist offers helpfully to find my social security number for me in my medical records. And just like that, I am saved. Rescued from my brief interlude with insanity. I absentmindedly rifle through my purse and clutch the pacifier hidden in my lipstick pouch. Instantly, I relax. Everything is coming back. I know who I am. I am Sharon Webber, supermom.

Just please, please don’t ask me what my area code is.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vocab. for Supermoms

Vocabulary and I go way back. With a minor in literature and all the reading and writing assignments that came along with that, I have done my fair share of studying word meanings.
But as a supermom, I have found that all my college training is basically crap. My new professors are my three daughters, and some days they are lenient and patient as they teach me new definitions, sometimes they are slave drivers giggling with glee as their mother fails miserably to get their drift.
Below are a few of the terms I have learned as a supermom...

*back massage - when I lie down on the floor and let the girls take turns walking on
my back
*steam treatment - putting my face over a steaming pot of boiling potatoes during dinner prep
*willpower - saying no after allowing my children to eat just 4 popsicles...each
*adult conversation - there is no definition for this b/c it has yet to be discovered at my house
*gourmet meal - Tyson breaded popcorn chicken nuggets instead of the Costco brand
*torture - two words: WIGGLES MARATHON
*manicure - desitin moisturizing balm along with food coloring stains under my nails from dyeing playdough
*being interrupted - synonymous with breathing

There are more definitions my kids are trying to teach me every day. Too many to list here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Adventures in Eating Out

I'm telling you...feeding my family is a result of the Fall. I've already explained how cooking (and the grocery shopping necessary) is caused by sin in the world. Today I'd like to explore this line of thinking and how it plays out in the world of restaurants.

At my house, we have an understanding on Sunday mornings. I, Mommy, am supposed to go to church to worship Jesus. After dressing three children (two of whom argue with me about wardrobe choice and one who spits up on at least two outfits), enduring the hair brushing scene (which we may explore in a later blog), directing breakfast, and getting myself ready (why, yes, it WAS another ponytail kind of morning), I am already struggling mightily to have a heart ready to worship. If you add in being responsible for an edible meal when we return from church, Satan just won the battle that morning. Look out, here comes Mama on the rampage.

That being said, our only other option is to venture into the world of food industry after church. Today we rather reluctantly gave in to our oldest daughter's pleas for Jason's Deli (she has figured out that they have free ice wouldn't matter if they served squid, she would still want to go there if it meant ice cream). After waiting in a long line, we place our orders and I head to the restroom with the girls. And while we're on this subject, let me just say that while I love having all girls, you have to admit my husband has a slight advantage when it comes to bathroom duty in public places....

Fifteen minutes later, we emerge from the restroom (only one injury occurred in there, so it was a good bathroom break this time) and find Michael and our food waiting. Cries of indignation about the food being too hot, three of our four forks being dropped on the floor, and two of the kids drinking my diet coke instead of their Sprite while the baby grabs the nearest plate, we finally get everyone settled. Literally 2 seconds later "settled" time is over and the baby is squirming, fighting to be freed from her high chair.

A well-meaning grandpa type behind us makes friendly efforts toward our unhappy baby, only to be answered with shrieks so high-pitched I saw the hearing impaired everywhere adjusting their hearing aids. Quickly I grab a cracker (or it could've been a butter knife, I'm not sure) and give it to her, finding sweet silence for the first time since I sat down. I choke down two bites of my chicken wrap before the requests for ice cream begin.

Two tables down, my husband and I spot two of our couple friends enjoying lively conversation and what looks like actual normally-paced eating (vs. our eating, which could qualify us for the hot dog eating contest since we have to eat at a rate that outpaces our children's attention spans). Does it bother me that we don't ask friends to join us for lunch? Not at all, because we have tried it in the past and it invariably ends with one of us taking a tour of the grounds outside the restaurant with the kids while the other spouse makes apologies while picking the turkey pieces out of the other couples' hair.

After the big moment of free ice cream has passed and our children have lost all interest whatsoever in sitting in the booth, Michael and I give up the remainder of our meal and call it a day. I cringe as I see the condition of the floor under the high chair and think I see the bus boy approach his boss for a raise before he heads to our table.

And that is our Sunday lunch experience. Please excuse me as I go peel the dried macaroni and cheese off my children's faces, and I'll look forward to seeing you next week....choose your location wisely.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Rodent Problem

Let's talk rodents. Actually, I have just one specific rodent in mind, a Mr. Chuck E. Cheeses. Just the mention of his name brings on chills and immediate dread in the hearts of parents. This rodent laughs in the face of Terminex, Cooks, even the less than legal methods some of us have been guilty of using in order to get rid of unwanted pests.

Lauren received a birthday invitation this week for a little girl in her class (and so far the only things I've heard about this child is that she cut a hole in her shirt with scissors and also that she scratched another child's I'm already jumping at the chance to buy her a present). But alright, I suppose we could fit that into our Saturday. And then I see it. The location. And like a slow motion movie in my head, I'm already picturing the scene that will become my Saturday afternoon.

I will step into the purple and green themed party place known as Chuck E. Cheeses, have my hand stamped with a coordinating number as my child, and venture timidly into the world of preschool arcades and loud music. I will voluntarily give my daughter what could possibly be the only radioactive pizza in existence, oozing with so much grease I can already feel future breakouts occurring and I'm not even eating it.

Dinner entertainment will include remakes by the Beach Boys and Barney, only they will be sung by what can only be described as freaks of nature. Creatures so scary I still cannot get close enough to touch them. Honestly, who decided a huge royal purple gorilla with gold hair and other oversized critters would be easy listening artists? Their mechanical heads jerking this way and that and their creepy eyelids blinking randomly with loud clicking noises. The children will all watch wide-eyed and with one hand solidly clutching the legs of their mothers.

Next, we will be given tokens to play various games and thrilling rides. All the while I will try mightily to push away thoughts of H1N1 and other contagious diseases which seem to be lurking on each handle, knob, and ski ball, and I will NOT freak out when I see my 4-year-old lick the plastic handle to the bumblebee game.

Finally, we will trade our tickets for a precious treasure from the prize counter. Now I'm no math whiz, but by my rough estimations, the stretchy, plastic grashopper with a pink bow that my daughter chose just cost the birthday hosts a mere $19.50. Not to mention the ten minutes of soothing I will be forced to do in the parking lot when said grasshopper loses a leg and its bow-clad head falls off for no apparent reason.

After two hours or so of fun, it will be time to leave this place of magic. I will get in line with Lauren, praying that our stamped invisible numbers on our hands do actually match. I have witnessed a father trying in vain to coax his crying daughters into telling the Chuck E. employee that he really is their father so they can leave (he somehow missed the stamping of the hand and it was a very unfortunate experience for everyone...those kids knew they had power at that point).

So folks, this will be my Saturday afternoon, all for a kid I've never met. But truly, what parent wouldn't do all this and more for the sake of their child? I am just hoping she will remember this when I am elderly and just want to get out of my nursing home room for an outing to the garden. May supermoms everywhere find the courage to face Chuck E.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Exercise with Kids and Other Myths

Sanctification is defined as the process by which God makes you more like Him.

I propose that there are few activities in my life which sanctify me
more than taking my 4-yr-old on a walk/bike ride in our neighborhood. For proof, I've added two pictures. This is the pre-walk picture....all smiles and enthusiasm, ready to have an adventure.

I do realize that life is about the journey, not the destination, and that's a good thing, because this if I were trying for any respectable distance it would end in disaster. But come on, I do like to try for more than two blocks. Block one
is pure joy. Lauren spots a cat in a garage and stops to collect pine cones for her bike basket. Though she is slow
ing my pace considerably, we are having fun and I am even halfway entertaining the notion that I just might get a very small cardiovascular workout.

One and a half blocks in it begins to rain. No big deal, everyone's still happy. Leighanne's looking around and trying to figure out why she's being pelted with drops of water, Lauren's talking a blue streak about how this is funny. She's still happy, but knowing that she will soon reach her limit I reluctantly turn us around towards home.

This is when things almost always start going downhill....I use that word figuratively, b/c things go downhill when Lauren must ride her bike uphill. The frustration is coming on quickly and suddenly I am told I am "so mean" and that she is "never going to ride bikes again."

After half a dozen pushes to get her going and ignoring her tears, we arrive in sight of our cul-de-sac. Ah, sweet relief is soon to come for us all. Exercise is overrated anyway, right? Lauren walks her bike the remaining distance (two whole houses) and very begrudgingly takes it into the garage.
This is the post-bike ride picture....

We go inside to get started on the fingerprint art I promised her and after creating everything from ducks to reindeer with her thumbprint, Lauren looks at me and says, "You know what, Mommy? You're REALLY fun." And just like that, I'm back in the circle of trust, back in my daughter's good graces, back to being supermom.

To sum up my morning....calories burned on walk: 10. Calories burned helping Lauren: 50. Frustration level: 4 for me, 10 for her. Transition time from evil mom to supermom...about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grocery Shopping and Other Acts of Bravery

I am convinced that cooking is a product of the Fall of Man. Just think about it for a minute. I have to feed my family and the only way to do that is to spend an hour the night before making my menu and list, load up my troops, and try to act cheerful as I pull into the parking lot of one of the scariest places on earth to a mother of young children, the grocery store.

I build up my resolve that we WILL be in and out in an hour's time as I gather my things, and take a deep breath as we enter the land of flourescent lit hell.

After searching for the "right" buggy (my kids will only ride in the two-seater kind that I'm sure have resulted in multiple customer injuries because they are impossible to steer...I'm still nursing a bruised ankle from the last trip) and strapping the kids in, we are finally ready to get started. Everyone wants to be part of the action and excitement of choosing fruits and veggies from the produce section, so each child is given a plastic sack and one item to place inside. After dropping and hopelessly bruising at least three apples, kissing a cucumber b/c it looks like Larry, and frantically wiping off the baby's hands after she grabbed a handful of jalapenos, we head for the next area.

Everything is going well, but out of the corner of my eye I see a mother trying in vain to get thru the check-out line with a child who has just had it. I hear shrieking and "I don't want a cookie if I'm good!" as I quickly push my children away from the highly contagious whines.

35 minutes later (and after opening a package of teddy grahams and saltines for my STARVING children), we are there, the gleaming with goodies line for the registers. My stars, there is more candy here than I saw at Halloween, and aren't we just so thankful to the person who schemed against mothers everywhere by placing them within reach of even the youngest child? The sun rises in the east, the earth rotates around the sun, and in keeping with the laws of nature, there is not a single line with less than three people. It's a little like playing the craps table in Vegas, but I choose a line and commit to it, almost audibly willing it to be the right number, which it almost invariably is not.

The cashier gives my children a smile and says, "oh, how adorable" or something like that as she begins scanning my groceries. Her smile becomes slightly less enthusiastic when the baby reaches over and grabs the electronic pen to taste test it, and even less (if that's possible) genuine when I have to excuse myself for just a second to place back the half a dozen candy bars my 4-year-old has brought to me.

But at long last, receipt in hand and with T minus 5 minutes til the next scheduled toddler meltdown, I feel a small glimmer of pride. I have conquered the grocery store. I have chosen healthy foods (I pretend not to see the bag containing mommy's secret stash of dove chocolates or the half-eaten package of cookies I bribed my kids with). I have fulfilled my half of the hunter/gatherer duo that is my marriage...and I do not look back when I hear a comment from someone who's forgotten what it's like when they see the dried chocolate on my baby's face.

With reluctance I acknowledge that we will meet again, the grocery store and I. And suddenly a starvation diet to lose that last ten pounds has never sounded so appealing....
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