End of School Year Madness

I finally lost my mind last night.  I threw out my first grader’s homework.  I didn’t mean to, it just happened. It’s been happening a lot lately.  It’s the third time I’ve misplaced or thrown out my children’s assignments.  I think it’s subliminal.  I think my subconscious is finally telling me to pack it in and call it a school year.  It’s been ten long months of hard work.  Ten long months of helping with homework assignments, math projects, science experiments, creative essays, book reports and, my favorite, arts and craft.   Ten long months of finding glue bits stuck in my hair, deep paper cuts on my fingers, and strips of construction paper tucked in the corner of my kitchen floor.  Ten long months of balancing my work schedule with my kid’s school schedule and after-school activities that seem to go on and on until the wee hours of the night.  Ten long months of snack duty and field trips and Christmas pageants and lunch boxes and attempts at healthy and nutritious meals. . .  you get the picture.  It’s gotten so bad that I even wrote a long ranting letter to my son’s teacher to stop, for the love of God, the madness!  She must have thought I was a raving lunatic, but the truth of the matter is my kids have already mentally checked out and so have I.

 Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE my children and to see them grow into such lovely young adults is so gratifying.  I so appreciate their teachers and all they do to make them productive members of our society.  I love the school they are in, the friends that they have made, and the colorful and bright hallway walls decorated with crayon-drawn pictures and neat cursive essays about Abraham Lincoln.  But I need this school year to “officially” be over . . . seriously . . . or I might have to check myself into a psychiatric ward.

I know I’ll regret this at the beginning of August when you’ll find me slumped over the kitchen sink pulling my hair out as I hear my kids tell me, for the fifteen time, that they are bored and have nothing to do.  I know I’ll be longing for the crisp fall mornings when I happily see them off to school so that I can enjoy my first cup of coffee in peace and solitude.    I know I’ll soon be crossing off the days on the calendar (in red ink) as we inch closer to the first day of the new school year with longing, just like I would eye a chocolate candy bar two weeks into a diet.  I know I’ll crave the structure of a five-day school week and look forward to the eight hours in a day when I am given the gift of uninterrupted time to clean, to work, to go to the post office, to take a shower without someone shouting a question from the other side of the door.

But, for right now, I don’t want any of that.  For right now, I’m counting down the days, hours, seconds until it’s all over.  Like a bad break up, I need time and space to miss the school year.  I’m ready for you summer!  I’m ready for the lounging at poolside.   I’m ready for barbecues and weekday getaways.  I’m ready to watch movies with my kids until late in the evening without worrying about getting up early the next day.  And I’m soooo ready for the backpacks to be put away . . . even if I know it will only last for about a minute . . .

 Erin

 

When Did My Bed Get Too Small?

 

I have a king size bed.  My husband and I bought it a few years back.  But before you think that this is a good thing, let me just explain.

When my husband and I were first married, we slept on a full size bed.  We didn’t think it was too small.  Just like realtors who advertise a tiny house as quaint and cozy, that’s how we felt about our bed.  Keep in mind we were also newlyweds and so the thought of feeling each other’s feet and intertwining legs under the covers was kind of sexy and very intimate.  Of course, that was at a time in our marriage when we couldn’t get enough of each other and we were practically attached at the hip. But you get the picture…

Fast-forward a few years into our blessed union.  We were elated at the birth of our first-born child and were determined to be perfect parents and so we never let the baby out of our sight.  Our son slept very comfortably in a sleeper, positioned between the both of us on our bed.  A few weeks of this and we quickly realized our full size bed was, indeed…full and not big enough for the three of us.  Suddenly, cozy was not cutting it anymore. So we bought ourselves a queen size bed.  Now by this time, we wore socks to bed and the only time our feet touched was to keep warm.  As new parents, sex was something we saw briefly in an R rated movie which ending credits, if we were lucky, we stayed awake long enough to see roll down the TV screen.

Then my daughter was born and we found that our queen size bed was yet again… a full one!  By now my son was a toddler and he had his own bed but every night he would sneak into ours. Four people sleeping in a bed made for two, even if two of the four made up the equivalent of one adult, was still crowding.  My husband and I stayed at either end of the bed and if our legs found each other, we would swat them away with a gentle but firm kick.

Now, that we have our third child, we felt that it was time again to bite the bullet and buy the king size tempurpedic mattress –which the salesman insisted we could put a glass of wine in the middle of the bed and it wouldn’t spill or be dislodged. Naturally, that made the sale!  How cool is it to drink wine in bed?  Now, we have five people sleeping in our bed at any given time of night.  It has become a sporting event where my husband and I take turns maneuvering our kids out of our beds and back into their own.  We gently tell them that there are no monsters under their own beds –although sometimes one may be luring under ours-lightning cannot come through a closed window and the bogeyman does not have a key to our front door.  We walk them bleary eyed to their own rooms.  Most of the times, we are too exhausted to do any of that and we just give in and let them sleep in our bed curled up like circus people, assuming positions that only a contortionist would be able to.  My husband and I are miles apart on this king size bed and our legs no longer can reach far enough to touch.  Sex is now just a three-letter word that seems vaguely familiar to us.   The other day, I woke up with a splitting headache to find a Pokemon toy jabbing my temple under my pillow.

Sigh.  Its’ days like that when I really miss my full size bed.

Erin

How Many Kids Do I Really Have?

Aside from being a writer, I am the proud mother of three young children.   So in addition to being a storyteller, I am also a mediator of fights involving food and/or toys and enforcer of bedtime rituals, teeth brushing and homework, as well as, the motivational speaker to pre-teen angst; not to forget the crazy mom on the sidelines at soccer games yelling at the referee to leave my kid alone (yes, I am that wild eyed woman with no makeup hiding under a baseball hat with a large coffee cup in my hand pacing the field back and forth).

In my spare time, I’m also laundress, housekeeper, cook, server (think Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore and Carson from Downton Abbey without the staff) and finder of everything missing in my home (think CSI without the cool locations and sophisticated labs), aka “the GPS for all things lost.”

So, you might be asking yourself right about now, what  in the world does this have to do with being an author?  Well, the answer occurred to me the other night while I was finishing up a chapter to a novel in progress: It’s the way I have become overprotective of my characters.  They have become, indeed, my offsprings, just like any one of my children.

Now, if you are a mother too and can remember back to the days you were pregnant, you know how much you went through to deliver your little bundle of joy.  Everything in your body was in turmoil, your emotions ran from high to low and vice-versa (like  a  Corvette goes from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds) and you were being stretched to the point that if you were Play Doh, you’d be broken into a million of squishy pieces (I cringe just trying to come up with a mental picture of this).

Whether you remember the labor, the delivery or, like me, had blocked the pain by either passing out or being helped along the way (all I have to say to that is one word-epidural.  Where have you been all of my life?), at the end of a 10-going-25 hour ordeal to the tune of  “Oh dear God, when is this thing coming out of me,”  you were left drained, exhausted but utterly happy holding your little bundle of joy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying writing is the same as delivering a 7-pound baby and all that comes with that (again, cringe-worthy image) but the process is somewhat the same.  As a writer, you fret, you worry, you write to the point of exhaustion.  You suffer through writer’s block, you read and reread the same paragraph until you think you’ve gone mad.  You endure sleepless nights and anxiety. And at the end of it all, you are left with your pride and joy-your finished novel.

And just like a mother, you are fiercely protective of it.  Just like when my first born son came into this world, I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  No one could tell me differently.   Now twelve years later as I look back at pictures of him as a newborn, I realize how unattractive he really was and wondered what exactly was I thinking (I might have still been under the Percocet induced haze).  But at that time, you couldn’t tell me otherwise or, like a lion, I would have eaten you alive!

I guess when it comes down to it, you always think your children are the best.  They are brilliant, beautiful and the center of your world.  There was a period of a year where I seriously believed my daughter was the next Jackson Pollock.  Her drawings were abstract, vibrant, and full of truth.  The truth was she was three and  she just meshed all of her colors together on a piece of paper because she liked the feel of it between her fingers; not that she was thinking of some greater existential meaning behind it.  But you couldn’t tell me differently at the time.  She was a genius.  A soulful painter who happened to also eat chalk.

And the same thinking applies to my writing.  I can’t help myself. Every time a review comes in, I cringe, hoping that someone liked my story, loved my characters .  After all, they are my babies.  They give me grief. They have me worrying about what direction they will take, what decisions they will make.  And yes, they do make mistakes and are not always smart at making choices.  They can be ditzy and sometimes cruel.  But they’re mine and I love them, flawed and all.

Just like my children, I may roll my eyes at them and wonder what I was  thinking when I created them but I would never change things.  If I had to do it over again, I would still get in front of that computer and type out the same story, the same characters.