Friday, May 25, 2012

your moment(s) of zen.

image by navila kalam

last night my father was talking to me in my dream.

he had the richest most melodic voice.

he still does.

he took care with his words as he spoke.

to be sure that they rose and fell right where they needed to.

that the pitch matched the pace.

he was sure to draw you in, even as you longed to leave.

occasionally he'd talk about something you were interested in.

mostly, he talked.

about this and that.


conspiracies and theories and civilization and books.

music. mostly what he couldn't stand.

something he read about asafoetida.

and everything you'd ever want to know about it.

and endlessly about his pack.

his gear.

always his gear.

i think the beauty of the dead is the ability to cast your gaze with a softened beam. you can put away the armor, the laser, the 10 foot pole. you don't have to think about the bad stuff or the hurt. you don't have to unless you want to. and mostly, i don't.

the beauty of the dead is when they come to you in your dreams they are their dream selves. and whether they were their dream selves ever while living, it doesn't matter. you have them now as you want them to be. forever and ever. they are cast in the dreaming bronze of the sepia-toned epilogue. the rewrite gone perfectly.

when we dream about the living the possibilities are endless. and frankly, frightening. who wants possibilities and endless? especially when you know what one is capable of. especially then.

no. not me. give me the father i loved and the one i liked. roll them into the one i saw in real living life, but not nearly enough, always longing for more. of that. of that father.

i used to sit on my father's lap. when we'd be out at a holiday gathering or friend's house or a party. and it would grow late and i would grow tired and i would plant myself on his lap. and i would lean my head against his chest and listen to the low rumble of his voice. and i would close my eyes and i would soften and i would sink. i would lower my shoulders from their space by my ears, and i would let down my guard. and i would be in the safest place in the world. the softest place. the dream place on my earth, always longing for more. of that. of that feeling.

i miss my father. terribly. and i wish that he didn't die. but i would be lying if i said i didn't like the fact that when he visits me now it's mostly peaceful. filled with the good and the safe the charming and the familiar. the safe familiar. i don't like that he died, but i like that he is where he is. i like that i am mostly no longer afraid.

that we are both safe.

that he has let down his guard, too.

anyhow, this installment of your moment(s) of zen have nothing to do with my father and me. and it's a song and a band i am sure he would have nothing less than a 45 minute perfectly delivered eye rolling (me) lecture on its horrible awfulness  (though he would use a much, much better group of words strung together in stinging phrase) BUT, it was in my dream. in the background. seems fitting. i guess. so. here you go.

sweet dreams.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NEVER SURRENDER. okay. maybe. do.

i learned a little something the other evening.

it's okay to 'give in' to your teenager.

even when you've laid it down.

and hammered it out.

and made a plan.

and it's a school night.

and there's still some homework left.

and he still has laundry and a room to clean.

it's okay to negotiate and soften and say yes. really.

teenagers are marvelous negotiators. given that they suffer from the disease of 'right here right now the future is nothing but a theory' they really have no idea what they are saying so they'll tell you exactly what you want to hear. sometimes they even believe it. when more time with your friends is on the line you'll say anything.

damn teenagers.


because if you don't keep constant vigilance and say yes after you said no they'll surely right then and there develop an insatiable need to feed with drugs and alcohol and inappropriate facebook posts and pictures and promiscuous sex. or girls with daddy issues. or, drummers.

so i went into this particular parenting phase being an accommodating and fair parent, but i am firm. understanding, but firm. allow in the beginning, but do not concede after the no. don't negotiate your position once you've firmly stated it. ever.

this is as much for safety as it is for sanity and let's face it, perceived control over a mass of hormones and emotions and growth and dorkiness hurtling through your space and bouncing off whatever happens to be in the vicinity. or, eating it.

the thing is, what i forget to remember sometimes, is how MUCH it is to be a teenager. how it's the little things. it's that one moment that means EVERYTHING OH MY GOD. i forget how much is riding on making that call and asking for extra time. when your friends are hovered around 'ask her.' 'what did she say?' 'tell her that blah blah blah.'

when everyone else gets to stay and watch the fireworks why shouldn't he be able to, too. to him it's the most unfair thing, i am too protective of his time, his sleep, etc. etc. oh, he's too respectful and he wouldn't say those things out loud to me, but i know that's what he's feeling. and he has every right. but, to me it's that i only want him home because it's getting dark and late and i want to feed him something healthy and make sure he gets a good night's rest.

(i know. i have it so rough with my unruly teen. boo hoo, poor mama. don't worry, i have a point.)

and i am in charge and i am right so what's the deal.

here's call #1 we made a deal, honey. oh and here's text #2 with more better info and a way home. and text #3 to papa, 'tell her...'

finally i just called him. hey, we made a plan. i said no. we were firm before you left the house. i feel like you're putting me on the spot and i really don't like that.

you're right mama. it isn't fair for me to do that. i don't mean to manipulate you, i just really want to stay. i want to see the fireworks. and i wanted to tell you it's at a different spot closer to home so i'd been home sooner.

how much homework do you have left?

a half an hour tops.

really? that's it?

yes. i promise.

and at this point i don't know if he has a 1/2 an hour of homework or 3. or if his promise to start his laundry and finish his room tomorrow means anything. i just know he really wants this one thing. he wants me to give him this one stinkin' thing when he does all the things i want him to do. well, except put away the milk. he's 15 and he's with his friends. he's having trouble with some idiots at his school. he likes this group of friends. they are always so busy he doesn't get to see them a lot except at school. he's moving in a month and he hasn't put up a stink about the change. he's 15. tonight is what he has right now.

fine. be home right after the fireworks. get to your homework right away. and no tomfoolery.

i don't even know anyone named tom.


thanks mama so much i totally appreciate it!


so this may not seem like a big deal. at all. so your kid got to stay late for fireworks after you said no. um, okay...

but here's the deal. and it's not just a mama/teen thing.

this particular time when i wasn't saying yes i felt like all i was doing was holding on hard to my *control* of the situation. that's it. it was the control. i was RIGHT but it didn't feel right. i wasn't really listening to his position. my maintaining control was more important than listening. i had already said no and it was easy to hold onto that. I SAID NO GODDAMMIT! i was thinking to myself. even as i was ALSO thinking to myself, so he gets to bed later. so he just eats hot dogs all night. where's the issue? that's being a teenager. this is an isolated incident.

in our relationships, especially parent/teen, we think the way to get what we need/want/have to have is to be unyielding. if we are in complete unyielding charge we will be listened to, right?

i'll give you a minute to consider your own adolescence. your own relationships.

hey, it's easy to be 'right,' especially as a parent. especially as a parent to teens. but i think we do this out of personality (some of us) and fear (a lot of us.) fear that we will lose our perceived control, fear that our kids will jump off the cliff because everyone else is, fear that if something 'bad' happens it's because we let down our guard and loosened our grip.

it's very important that this is NOT how we teach our teens to be in relationships.

it's important that they listen to us and respect us and have rules and boundaries, but it's also important to be told no and to push back successfully. this is an important skill to have. i used to tell the duke, learn the rules and boundaries and respect them FIRST. then you can figure out when to push.

i think he figured it out.

starting out small is fine, too. ;)

hey, you, don't be afraid to NOT be in charge all the time.

whether it's your teen or your toddler your partner or your pal.

even if you're right and you know it.

especially if you're right and you know it.

at the very least take a minute to listen.

it'll be good. i promise.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


i have to go to a pancake breakfast this morning.

there are two things wrong with this.

1. if given the choice of a firing squad at dawn complete with blindfold and my first and last cigarette OR to be clumped in a large group of strangers milling about all doing the same exact thing i'd really be hard pressed not to ask for a minute to decide.

2. i don't like pancakes. at all.

i wish i was more like my little sister and the goddess mother who like these sorts of community minded events. at least, they tolerate them. it seems like a good thing to be able to do that. be amongst the people. you know, hanging with humanity. but. i don't. i'm more like my father. who would have rather crawled under his truck and covered himself with a blue tarp and sleep than do stuff that falls under the category of 'pancake breakfast.'

whenever i have to do something like say oh a pancake breakfast or board an airplane and i'm in some advancing line of shufflers and i'm just thinking what is this? where am i? this is not my glamorous life. there's like this rising hum of desperation and anxiety amongst the gathered. will i get on the plane WITH my bag? will i get my window seat? will there be any pancakes left? what about my slab of sad ham? is there still one left for me? why is this guy on my right seem like he's trying to ooch in in front of me. the collective neuroses builds and then BAM! suddenly it's all too much. like a huge crowd of woody allens on his worst day. and i'm one of them.

no thanks.

my grandmother used to have a sourdough starter. from this she made pancakes. big thick fluffy huge pancakes. every weekend i was there she'd make these pancakes. my grandmother, bless her heart i loved that woman, was not what one would call a 'good' cook. everything looked all right, but it would always just be a bit 'off.' chewy tough beef, undercooked chicken, and cookies frozen solid. 'just give them a minute.' it was summer, she had frozen the christmas cookies. they were never defrosted when she served them. those cookies needed a hell of a lot more than a 'minute.'

so she'd make the pancakes and they were never done in the middle. big and thick and never done in the middle. and she never let me fix my own plate. she just set it in front of me. i was a thin child prone to stomach aches and nervousness. kind of like a small hairless dog who has to wear sweaters in the summer. and here's a huge ass plate of thick underdone sourdough pancakes. and if i didn't eat everything set in front of me she'd be upset which would upset my father and let's just say it was easier to choke down the pancakes.

now. lest you think i'm some kind butt head who can't get over things well you'd be wrong. but that was so long ago, you say. can't you give it another chance, you ask.

i give plenty of things another chance! first kiss (he was cute, sweet, funny, but it was awkward of course AND he wore braces) did i walk away from that saying well, that's never gonna happen again. NO! i was like, huh, yeah, i'll try that again! first time having sex (don't ask) huh, yeah, i'll try that again! first beer (hamm's light. warm and flat from a can.) huh, yeah, i'll try that again!

me. rising to the occasion.


okay all right those *may* be unfair examples BUT it serves to illustrate that i don't just always hold fast to hard first beliefs.

pancakes are just wrong. i mean devoid of nutrition and covered in butter and is that breakfast unless you're an elf? i know i know there are healthier pancakes. but they don't fit in my rant so i'm not going to include them.

and i've been out with people who order them as a side at breakfast. that's like ordering a steak and saying, 'oh, and i'll have a side of ribs with that.' okay, maybe not. but how can a breakfast entree that shouldn't be a breakfast entree get to ALSO be a side. i ask you.


isn't there always one

i love my kids and this is a fundraiser and they love pancakes and i INVITED FRIENDS (moral support. they can have mine.) so i will go like i did before and be happy just to be with friends and my little family. and i'll eat one.stinkin.pancake. and i will do so with a smile on my face. because my kids think it's terrifically fabulous when i do. for them it's like spotting a rainbow. or spotting crappy cereal on sale i'll let them have 'just this once.'

and if you invite me over to your house and you're serving pancakes i will eat them. because i'm not allergic and i'm not an ass and if you made them for me i will happily indulge. because i like you. and you were kind enough to invite me over. obviously not a reader of the blog...but that's okay, too. sometimes ignorance is bliss.

oh and by the way, if you come over here? i make AWESOME pancakes. and i even warm the real maple syrup and make sure the butter is nice and soft.

because i like you, too.

so there.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012


there's a reason why this blog is called sillymortalmama.

i lost my shit with the duke last night.

i hate it when that happens.

it usually means i'm overwhelmed, there's historical evidence for this, but it's no excuse.

once i hid in a closet because if i didn't have 3 minutes to myself i was going to explode. because it was week 3 of living in a crappy extended stay hotel room. on a busy boulevard. overlooking a parking lot. looking for a place to live. because we moved from the farm for a job. i missed the farm. i had every good excuse for losing my shit. and no excuse at all. but see, before i hid the duke saw me run to hide. i literally ran from the kitchenette because i felt trapped and smothered and i needed 3 minutes. the duke was two going on 3. he came after me. he did not find me. and he burst into tears and said, 'she's gone!'

he was heartbroken.

it was horrible.

i can still hear him.

i felt like the world's biggest asshole.

maybe, at that moment, i was.

once i threw a box of popsicles against the wall and shouted that duke COULD HAVE THE WHOLE ENTIRE BOX SINCE HE WANTED THEM SO BADLY!!! it was 10 am. he had been up for 4 hours by then. and so had his mama. he had been whining. and pushing. about the popsicles. about everything. and would not stop. he was 3. he hadn't yet started preschool. i was 3 months pregnant. i was sick all the time. i was so sick we didn't get out as much as usual. i would count down the hours until the husband came home to take him to the park and i could be sick in peace. and we were away from the space of the farm and living in an apartment. and we always had to be quiet because the guy upstairs came down on one really really bad day (not the popsicles day. a different day. a few weeks before.) when the duke was just done with the world, mad at his toys, mad at his lunch, mad at me. so i put him in his seat in the tub, filled it with warm water and soft bubbles and his favorite bath toys, and let him cry.

i sat on the bath mat and cried. too.

the sound must have traveled upstairs. not surprising, sometimes the duke was a dramatic crier. and he was a mad AND dramatic crier that day. the guy came down and knocked. i opened the door. he looked past me and his eyes widened. the living room was a disaster. a total fucking nightmare. then he looked at me. my shirt was wet and misbuttoned, my eyes were red from crying, i was so sick i looked like i was in withdrawal. the duke was crying his dramatic, mad cry in the background. the guy from upstairs didn't know me, couldn't tell i was pregnant. with perpetual morning sickness. it just looked like i was running a crack house day care out of a very nice apartment in a very nice neighborhood. and i was disturbing his very nice day.

and because the guy from upstairs was an ignorant asshole because he didn't ask, and because he didn't understand and he assumed, and because he could, he all but threatened to call CPS on me. make him be quiet, he said. don't make me get people involved, he said. i was sick. i was young. i complied. so we were quiet on the days he worked from home (he finally moved. thank god).

so the popsicles day i was just done. done with trying to keep a toddler/preschooler TAURUS duke quiet. done with being sick. done with the whining. and there go the popsicles. against the wall. WHAM! HIT! DROP! and the shouting. i felt like the world's biggest asshole. again.

so, last night. i told the duke to go to bed with no dinner. SHOUTED for him to go to bed with no dinner. it was 7 pm. he and wingman would.not.stop.bickering. you stop. no, you stop. no YOU stop. all about the duke making his pen click. and it annoying wingman. i told them both to stop. twice. i looked at the duke and said you need to stop. we're all in this tiny house together. it can't be perfect. take the high road. do your homework elsewhere. just stop.

he didn't stop.

he threw his pen.

not at me. but just threw it. like a toddler. which they sometimes are as teens. which normally i can address rationally and let him know what asinine behavior that is. and to knock it off. and then he says he knows and then that's that. usually.

except last night i didn't do any of that. instead, i lost my shit. i have never in my LIFE sent anyone to bed without dinner. i don't know what came over me. i just had to make it stop.

the look on his face. he was so hurt. his little face. so little to me still. cracked in confusion and dawning sadness. geeze. sometimes parents can be such assholes. i mean, kids are no picnic, but, they're just kids. they're trying, too.

i could illustrate the reasons why i reached the break, the reasons why i came to the brink, the reasons why i did not have the reserves to pull myself back. i have the world's best excuses right now. but. it doesn't matter.

just like it didn't matter those other times. not when you're yelling at a child. nothing matters except that you stop. because it hurts. to be yelled at. no matter how old or not old you are.

they never tell you in the parenting books about what to do when you're an asshole. when you yell and fly off the handle. when you say things you don't mean.

i figured an apology is always a good start.

i mean, that's what i taught the duke. and he always apologizes to me for yelling or flying off the handle.

so. i went upstairs. and i talked to the duke. he apologized for not listening, says he 'tossed' the pen, didn't throw it. i said stop talking you're making it worse. don't throw stuff. it's asinine. then i apologized for my inappropriate reaction, for yelling. while it wasn't an excuse, i did remind him what led me there. and reminded him that he needs to be mindful, to listen, to pull back before he pushes. that i would try to relax, even though it's been nigh on impossible lately. but that i would try. and he had to do better than try. he had to stop when i told him to stop. it's as simple as that.

he came down. we ate. then i went to the bathtub and texted the husband for a big glass of wine and box of tissues and i cried.

because i'm overwhelmed. and because i let overwhelmed win and i yelled and i was mean. it's mean to deny food to a hungry child. meaner still if they're a starving teenager. meaner STILL when he's smelled marinated tri tip grilling for the past 20 minutes.

and i tell you guys these things not so you can say, oh...don't worry...we've all been there don'tbesohardonyourself and i tell you these things NOT so you can roll your eyes and say THAT? that's you losing your shit? honey, you should spend a day with me...

i tell you these things to say them out loud. to say it happened. that i messed up. to say that some days are just really hard. some days being a parent is really really hard. i say this just because i can. and it feels better to.

and there are rough days with every job, sure. but most jobs come with some kind of training. or test you have to pass. or a manual. a supervisor or a certificate. something that says YOU EARNED THIS AND YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO. and when you don't you get the supervisor or the manual.

the only test you have to pass to be a parent is waiting 3 minutes to see if there's one line or two.

(i know this isn't the only way. allow me the largesse.)

the rest is up to you, baby. all you.

and we can tell ourselves oh this day or month has been hard, when it has. we can tell ourselves that we're only human, when we are. but the bottom line is when we yell at our kids or fly off the handle and overreact we are hurting their feelings. even if they are little shits that day, even if they 'deserve' it...they aren't and they don't. they're just kids. trying to make it, too.

when my kids are wrong they are wrong and if they don't know it i let them know it. they're 'just kids' doesn't mean they get to do what they want and i shrug it off. it means i point it out, i model behavior, and consequences are appropriate.

and i hate it when i fuck that up because i hurt my kids' feelings. that's the worst. it happens, it's human, but it doesn't mean it doesn't suck.

i hate it that this late in the game the potential for fucking up is still present. good lord. 

like i said for some of you these transgressions might be so small as to be laughable and certainly not worthy of my writing them all up. of remembering them so clearly.

but i did and i do. because this is my day job. because this is what i chose. to do. to be. this is what i do. right now. i don't have to be perfect, am not, but i don't like being an ass at my job. an ass to my kids. ever. because in my world of parenting i never once for even one second wanted my child to feel abandoned or alone, to live in a house where things are thrown, with yelling, and over the top, inappropriate punishment.

i already did that as a child.

and i didn't like it. i don't like it.

i finished my bath, and my wine, and had my cry, and gave myself a big fucking break. which is easy to do when you're clean and relaxed and naked and slightly drunk. thank god for the bathtub.

i tucked wingman in. had a nice evening with the duke. went to bed.

and today i flashed the mailman.

on accident.


back to normal. silly & mortal. just the way i like it.

hey. when you have a bad day do what you need to move past it. whatever works. try to give yourself a break. and if nothing else, i'm here. and i'll listen. and i won't judge. and i might even get you to chuckle a bit. i'm here. don't forget. no one is alone in this. remember that. don't forget.