Subourbon Mom


College Orientation – You Had the Power All Along, My Dear

We recently attended college orientation for Daughter #2 at a large university, and to be honest, I was lucky it ended up on my calendar. Not because I don’t care but because, like everything with the not-the-first-kid, you are just a little more relaxed about it. Added to that, it’s very disconcerting to suddenly not have access to every detail of your child’s schedule after being in charge of it for eighteen years. I had to text her the night before and ask if there were any parking passes we had to print out, what the address was, or if there was anything else that needed to be done ahead of time – shockingly, there wasn’t. Daughter #2, like her older sister, had it all under control.

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I like to think it was good parenting that made it happen, but I’m pretty sure it had more to do with me accidentally leaving them at restaurants or school, trying and failing to explain simple math, and letting them believe that many of the phrases I use are common phrases until their friends asked what they meant. I was clearly not to be trusted (I never understood algebra and I said “Fooped” instead of “Sharted” because I didn’t want them implying the word Shit…it sounds stupid now, but it made sense when I was tired and they were little).

The orientation started with the usual official school cheer, and we stood and made arm motions over our heads and yelled the appropriate things, like a bunch of sadly sober, not-quite-caffeinated-Village People.

At Daughter #1’s orientation, I paid close attention to Dean Somethingaboutliberalartsandgraduatinginfouryears, and Associate Dean of WhatdidshesayIhavetopee.  The second time around? Nope. I was busy feeling superior and counting blonds vs. brunettes in each row to pass the time.

And then they took our sweet babies to meet with their advisors, or hang out with the cultish, singing and dancing university groupies to get them acclimated to campus life. Some parents looked scared and bereft.

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Others looked around like plane passengers do when they’re trying to decide who would be worth having aboard if there was a crash on a tiny Pacific island. There were a few that I would not have trusted with the exit aisle…just sayin’.

The Deans of Random Departments spoke about how great the school is (yeah, the choir knows – our kids applied and we are writing a substantial check for them to go here – we get it), followed by lunch in the Dining Hall. That hasn’t changed, except that we never got to pick from a pizza bar, Mexican, a grill menu, a vegan menu, and a Chinese buffet. My school had one of those things as a theme, and God help you if you didn’t like flat burgers.  I spent many a dinner standing at the cereal bar, picking the stupid strawberry things out of Captain Crunch because…seriously, who orders Crunchberries instead of plain Captain Crunch?

The parents’ Resource Fair was okay, but the table I really wanted to see would have been called “Crap You Still Have to Buy.” Since we don’t find out until August what dorm Daughter #2 is in, I’ve already decided I’m going to buy every variety of drawers and basket in Target and start playing Tetris as soon as we get there.

And finally, there was a speech by the Mental Health Professional on how our roles as parents and children transition when they go to school, what to say and not to say, and things to watch out for. For that one, I put down my Candy Crush game (sadly, I’m on level 800-and-something) and paid attention. It never hurts to hear how this momentous change is affecting your baby, and what you need to do to make the transition easier.

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I made notes about what local delivery services were available (every college town should have Insomnia Cookies) to send things on bad days. I felt guilty about not writing more letters to Daughter #1, but realized that probably wasn’t going to get any better for Daughter #2, so then I felt extra guilty – I suck as a parent for not doing that for the first one, and suck even more for knowing I probably won’t do it this time, either.

I was nervous and scared for my baby, until I remembered that I’d already had my chance to be an attentive mom…and I was. Aside from accidentally leaving them at restaurants or sports events (I swear, it was a mis-communication…OMG let it go!) and swearing a lot, I know I must have done something right because they’re ready. They are strong, independent young women, ready to try new things, accept new challenges, and let me know, “I got this, Mom.”

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Small Talk vs. Verbal Incontinence
September 7, 2018, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Middle Age, Parenting | Tags: , , , ,

2.-And-neither-is-small-talks.-You-suck.-Really.

I used to be able to attend adult functions and make the necessary small talk society requires. I could talk with a complete wallflower, as long as I followed my mother’s advice:  “Just ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.”

Now? Not so much.

I don’t know if it’s an age thing or sheer laziness, but mostly I think it’s because I just don’t have the energy to care anymore.

Some of the worst small talk functions are school parental gatherings.  Sometimes I’m genuinely interested, if it’s a family I like or friends of my kids, but mostly I end up pasting a smile on face and listening to what the other children did over the summer, the awards they won and what teachers are currently on the collective parental shit list.  I do all of this while making snarky comments in my head.

These events do not bring out the best in me. And I think after what I said at the last couple of gatherings, I should probably stay home.

I recently went to a “Meet the New High School Director” coffee.  I showed up, along with the other parents of kids whose parents really don’t need to be there (trust me, he’ll meet the parents of the kids who need a little extra “guidance” soon enough).  I hung out with my mom friends until it was almost time to leave, and finally decided I should actually go meet the guy.

I waltzed up to a group of moms (I knew a couple) and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m so-and-so’s mom, it’s so good to have you here blah, blah, blah…”

Awkward silence…which, of course, I had to fill.

“Well, I’m sure I’ll be in your office at some point this year!” I chirped.

“For good reasons, I hope?” he asked, looking at me oddly.

I panicked.  “We’ll see!” I said. I gave a little wave and practically ran out the door.

When I told Daughter #2 about it, she said, “Great Mom – now he thinks I’m a delinquent.”

“So do you want me to say anything to him at Back to School Night?”

“Maybe tell him I’m not a delinquent?”

“Hmmmm…nope.  I think we’re going to set the bar low and let him be pleasantly surprised.”

“You’re the worst mom ever.”

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So that was the first event.

The second, awkward, “please-let-me-suck-those-words-back-in” moment happened a few days later. Hubby and I were standing with the mother of a younger child at a school function.  She was stunning – the kind of mom that I’m secretly jealous of because she looks sophisticated and sleek.  This beautiful mom had makeup on, like most grownup women do, and I’m pretty sure she used primer (apparently it’s a thing now), too, because her face was perfectly smooth, and her makeup was flawless. Like my daughters, she has learned how to apply it and look gorgeous – I put on makeup and look like I fell onto a Kardashian’s face in a bar at 2:00am.

So, there we were, and I was talking about how my girls where more makeup than I ever learned how to use.  “Oh my God, I mean, they put on ‘primer,’ which I think is just ridiculous, because a face is not a wall in your house!”

I couldn’t stop it, even after it dawned on me that I was probably insulting her.  When the event was over, Hubby looked at me and said, “You know she wears makeup, right?”

“I know.” I sighed.  “And she’s beautiful.”

“And you know you were just going on and on about how too much makeup is bad, right?”

“Yes! I know! I could hear the words come out and I couldn’t stop it!”

“Just checking.”

Ugh. I really just should have listened to my mother’s advice and only asked questions.  Not once during either of these encounters did I do that – I simply filled any void with my verbal diarrhea.

Tonight is Back to School Night. God help me if any of the teachers address me directly. I’ll probably blurt out a question like “Was teaching your first choice as a profession?”  So to all of Daughter #2’s teachers, here is my blanket apology in advance:

You will never be paid enough or honored enough for the work you do.  Please keep trying to educate our children and fill in the gaps that we have left yawning open in their character.  Every day you rise above pettiness, exhaustion and frustration to embrace these young people as they try to make sense of a senseless world, and for that you should be shown the respect and encouragement you deserve. 

Plus, you look pretty.  And your tie goes with your pants….



FaceBook – Guilt, Not a Guilty Pleasure

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I’m tired of FaceBook making me feel like a crappy parent, an uninvolved citizen, an un-inspiring adult, and someone who is only marginally good at weird visual puzzles. Mostly, I’m tired of feeling guilty about things I didn’t realize I’m supposed to be doing to be a good person, according to the Facebook Junkies.

Brace yourselves – I realize I’m probably going to offend some of you – but I’ve never been accused of holding back or using much of a filter, so here comes the hurricane…

First, stop with the chain posts – Share this with 10 people who need a hug today. If you send me one of those, consider it dead when it reaches my page. Adding a task to my already overloaded shit-I-have-to-do-today list does not make me feel more loved. I need an administrative assistant, not a FaceBook hug.

I also need a break from all those pseudo-inspirational messages like, Who did you inspire today? Or, my personal non-favorite, How are you bringing your AMAZING to work today? Seriously? How about “Congratulations! You didn’t punch that person in the throat today!” Or maybe, “Hang in there – they can’t all be that stupid.” Or, if you don’t like the heavy sarcasm, how about “Try to be nice to people today – yep, even them.”

But the ones that REALLY get me are the posts that say something like Share this if you have an amazing son/daughter. Wow – those are annoying on so many levels.

First, I’m pretty sure my kids know I think they’re amazing. If you don’t, D1 and D2, please be confident that I’m well aware that you both are already better people than I am, that you inspire me every day, and that I brag about you to the people that matter. When I criticize you, it doesn’t mean I think you’re stupid – it means I’m trying to protect you, and enable you to function as a kind adult in an unkind world.

Second, if I were a person struggling to conceive, or who’s child had passed away, I can only imagine that it would break my heart a little every time one of those little brag posts popped up.

And finally, I noticed there are precious few posts in the same vein saying, Share if you have an amazing husband/wife/partner/grandparent/parent.  Hmmmmm….what does that say about us?

The Share this if you love your son/daughter/grandchild posts are almost as bad. So are you saying that if I don’t share it I don’t love my kid? Seriously? I would be more irritated with this one if I thought a lot of kids were actually on FaceBook and fretting that their parents didn’t love them since they didn’t share that post. But, since most of them are on every platform other than FaceBook, maybe these aren’t so bad – just mildly guilt-inducing for us dinosaurs who don’t speak in pictures and acronyms.

So, like many of my friends have from time to time, I’m going to take a break from FaceBook. My blog posts will still appear because they automatically push to it, so don’t worry – you’ll still get your doses of Subourbonmom wit. Of course, it will help my chances of getting them published in a an actual book if you follow the blog by signing up to receive it via email. (Okay, that’s my very rare marketing plug.)

And don’t worry, Family, I’ll still be stalking you on Instagram and SnapChat, and yes, I know y’all have Finstas and other places where I’m the subject of many a meme. Have at it – the fact that you’re posting anything about me means I’m making an impact on your life.

Share this if you love sharing FaceBook rants. 

 



The Best Catalog Ever

The holiday season is upon us. Christmas music plays incessantly on local radio stations, pumpkin spice everything has been replaced with cinnamon everything and the marketing onslaught is in full swing.

Now I’m all for marketing – a store’s got to do something to get your attention amid the mind-boggling Elf on a Shelf displays. But come on, Marketers, every day can’t be “The BIGGEST SALE EVER.”  I don’t care how much your store has to sell by the end of the year – no marketing email should ever be labeled URGENT unless Victoria has decided to reveal her secret, or I’m getting something good for free that doesn’t include shipping or some God-awful tote bag I’ll never take in public.

Along with emails, the catalogs are also rolling in faster than sexual harassment accusations in the media.

In two days I got 19 catalogs in the mail. That’s right…19 catalogs. But the number of catalogs isn’t what I’m here to write about. In fact, I love looking through them every morning while I drink my coffee. (Catalogs are window shopping for people who have an aversion to other people.) It’s funny how at this time of year I will actually consider buying weird, only-funny-to-me gifts that I would never spend the money on at any other time. In previous years I’ve ordered squirrel spray, Sasquatch Band-Aids and key chains with made up nicknames on them.

But in this latest batch of shopper’s crack, I found two catalogs whose marketing teams failed (in my humble opinion).

When I saw this cover on a catalog for toy horse models, I couldn’t decide who the target audience was – was it kids who want to be like this model with the BRF, who clearly would rather be anywhere else? Or parents who want to believe their twelve-year-old still plays with model horses instead of obsessively checking the likes on her Finsta? (I have nothing personal against this model – she’s obviously very attractive and was told how to pose and smile.) Perhaps a better image for the cover would have been a younger kid happily playing on the floor on a rainy day with all the crap in the catalog. To the parents it says, “You are buying yourself some peace and quiet.” To the kid, it says, “This will bring you happiness until you can wear them down and they give you your own pony to keep in the garage.”

The other cover fail was on this American Girl catalog:

Nothing says I’m a stalker like hugging your best friend while also clutching a doll that looks and dresses exactly like her.

But in all of this marketing blitz, I realized there is a catalog I have never received, that I think a lot of people might want to order from as well. It’s filled with all my favorite things that I can’t by in a store, like these:

  • Life do-overs
  • The smell of my mother’s garage
  • Knowing how to speak and understand animals in their language
  • The ability to fly
  • One consequence-free bitch slap on the person of my choice
  • Opportunities to suck words back into my head that should never have escaped
  • Time to spend with those who aren’t here anymore
  • Dog kisses
  • An interview with King Arthur
  • The feeling you get when you snuggle with your kids

 

What would your catalog have in it?

 



My “Senior Project”

yougotthisAs the end of Daughter #1’s Senior Year approaches, the final sprint towards final exams, AP tests, and Senior Project has begun. Not to mention prom, graduation, college selection, and the never-ending game of Senior Assassin (more on this later). For Seniors this means tearing themselves away from watching vines and shopping for prom dresses and studying for exams, throwing together last-minute power point presentations and agonizing over roommate selection. ugly prom dress For parents this means panicking when you realize you never ordered graduation announcements, approving and paying for the last prom and graduation dresses, and deciding how to celebrate this momentous of times – do we have a keg at the party for the adults or not?

It also means attending the Senior project presentations. At our school, Senior Project is a year-long process involving learning a new skill or challenging yourself in a new way (like learning to make cheese, hatching and raising chickens, trying to understand the lyrics to Rhianna’s songs, etc.), documenting it, doing a research paper, and presenting the whole thing in front of a small group of parents and teachers.

As I sat there watching these impressive young adults show how they started their own yoga classes, created scholarships, ran half-marathons, published their own international blog on Russian politics and even learned how to fly fish, I wondered What the hell have I been doing with my life?

I was impressed and depressed all at the same time. These young people were avidly exploring new ideas, challenging themselves and getting out of their comfort zones in ways that many adults never will.

Thank goodness these kids will be in charge of me when I finally become an adult.

I was depressed because I took an inventory of my recent years and realized I haven’t done much in the way of challenging myself other than to start a new job. Somehow I don’t think trying new food at the local Iranian restaurant counts.

And then I realized that my Senior Project isn’t done yet. I’m still researching how to raise successful women on a daily basis. I’m nearly always out of my comfort zone. My PowerPoint presentation is currently still housed in my laptop under “Pictures” and in the copies of report cards and assignments I’ve kept over the years. And, I present my project in front of my parents every time they visit or call.

I don’t know what my final grade will be, but I’m no longer depressed. I’m more and more impressed with my project every day.

Now if I could just figure out how to cite all those parenting how-to websites I’ve visited over the years.

 




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