Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Serenity In Aisle 6

The grotesque glow of fluorescent lights welcomes me as I walk through the doors. I feel an immediate sense of calm pass through me.

It's not lavender that I smell, but perhaps basil or cilantro.
No cucumber mud masks here, just plenty of cucumbers.

An elderly gentleman smiles at me and shuffles by. A Sponge Bob balloon floats next to Mickey Mouse in the distance. I try my best to ignore them. I stroll casually along, hearing the babble of a baby wrapped up tightly in fleece. I tune it right out.

This is my night. My moment.

Supermarket shopping sans toddler.

Ah, serenity. Serenity. Serenity at the supermarket.

I might as well be at a spa in Sedona wrapped in seaweed. This is pure bliss.

I wouldn't care if the checkout lines were snaked around like those at Disney World. That would just mean extra time for me to be free with my thoughts.


Oh, wait a minute. Someone's calling my name.

Oh, lucky day! A friend is walking towards me, basking in the glow of her own ingenious idea of leaving her daughter at home with daddy.

"I feel high," I confess, giggling. "Isn't this FANTASTIC, just strolling the aisles without anyone yelling, 'SNACK!'?" She nods in agreement. "The only thing that would make this better: cocktails. Next time, I'm serving cocktails in aisle 4."

She laughs, wondering what kind of meds I'm on and how she can get her hands on some too.

Seriously, I may pour cocktails the next time I sneak out to the supermarket without my little cookie monster. Can you imagine if you're perusing the ingredients on the side of a cereal box and you hear:

"Attention shoppers: Calling all exhausted, hardworking, deserving moms. Were you wise enough to leave your kids at home tonight? If so, come sample some delicious strawberry mojitos in Aisle 3, as well as freshly made guacamole and chips. And that's not all! The bakery department is cutting a cookie cake in your honor."

Would you bolt towards Aisle 3?

What if it had been a particularly stressful day, full of antics, like your toddler standing, no, jumping, in his high chair, throwing chunks of chicken onto the Persian rug and banging trains on the window, with a mischievous gleam in his eye?

The announcement continues: "Looking to make an evening out of this supermarket outing? We've got toilet paper, facial cleanser, and any other toiletries you may need in Aisle 8."

Would you sprint towards Aisle 8? Would you stay the night?

I stroll through the frozen foods section, contemplating this idea. A slumber party at the supermarket. Wow.

But, then I think of my two favorite guys getting cozy at home, watching "Roary the Racing Car" in bed.

It's official. It's time to leave the "spa." It's time to say goodbye to serenity.

It's time to go home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Moon, The Sun, and Everything in Between

"Da MOOON, da MOOOON!" my son exclaims, his little pointer finger poking up towards outer space. He peers out of the car window, into the pitch black night, clutching his stuffed monkey in his left hand.

"Hol, hol!" he yells, his eyes lit up as if the moon has embodied him.

"You want to HOLD the moon?" I ask, laughing, already sure of the answer.

"Yesh!" he shouts.

"But the moon is way up in the sky."

"Oh noooooooooooo," he moans. "Reach! Reach!"

"You can't reach it," I try to explain.

"Mommy reach!" he pleads.

"I can't reach it either. It's way up in the sky."

"Daddy reach?" he suggests.

"Daddy does have long arms . . . .but, Daddy can't reach it either."

"Noooo," he sighs.

"Should we try?" I ask, again sure of the answer.


I extend my arms up towards the sun roof. If I could just pluck the moon out of the sky and hand it to my little stargazer, I'd gladly do it.

We turn on his stuffed turtle at bedtime, which projects the constellation on his ceiling in blue, green, or yellow. "Da MOOON!" he shrieks.

"Hey Galileo, show Monkey where the moon is," my husband suggests. He stands up in his crib with Monkey in his outstretched right hand, like the Statue of Liberty holding her torch. Monkey's smile seems to grow a bit wider. Monkey catches the magic.

It reminds me of one time when I was home from college for Thanksgiving weekend. Ready for bed, I turned off the lights in my bedroom and my entire ceiling lit up shockingly like Times Square. My sister and her boyfriend (now my brother-in-law) had drawn pictures and notes to me in glow-in-the-dark chalk just for fun. I laughed myself to sleep under the majestic misshapen stars and doodles of Snoopy and Bart Simpson. Not only did I refuse to erase their "masterpiece," but my parents sold the house with my ceiling artwork about a year later to an unsuspecting buyer. It was no Michelangelo but, hey, to me it was magic.

Last night, there was a spectacular rare blue moon in the sky. My son almost "took a heart attack," as they say in South Philadelphia, when he spotted it through the high window in our living room's cathedral ceiling.

"Da mooooooooooon!"

And we had the same conversation that we have almost every night. Hol! You want to hold the MOON? Yesh!

I don't know what it is, but there is something so sweet and innocent and charming about a baby wanting to hold the moon and the sun and everything that is beautiful in nature that makes me want to stop and see things again, as if for the first time. It makes me want to jump up and down, laugh a maniacal laugh like he does, clap my hands, and feel a bit of that joy.

So, whether you have glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling, or clouds fogging your view, take a moment and see - feel - remember - what's out there. A whole universe waiting to be discovered.

Don't let the magic pass you by.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Never Negotiate with a Woman with Road Rage

We were getting a Prius.
Or so he said.

I wasn't thrilled about the idea.

He said we were going green.
I started to make a scene.

I come from a family of car crazies.
"I need to uphold the tradition of speeding tickets and questionable control behind the wheel," I argued.

I did not believe a Prius could handle that kind of responsibility.

"I need something with pep," I explained.

"The Prius is peppy, you'll see," he said. "Larry David drives one," he added.

I love Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I was not buying a Prius just because Larry had one.

"Just think about it," he begged as he kissed me goodbye and sent me off to my friend's wedding. "I'll see you tonight, after my cousin's party."

"Ok, but can you tell me how to get to the church again?"

He walked me through my turns and I was on my way, driving his slightly tattered generic white sedan. 20 minutes later, I made a panicked call from my cell phone:

"Sorry to interrupt the party, but are you sure you gave me the right directions?"

"Yes, Magellan, just keep driving straight another couple of miles and you'll see it. Love you."

I rolled on, staring at the clock. I had 5 minutes to get to the wedding.

"All weddings start late, they must be starting at least 10 or 15 minutes late," I convinced myself.

10 minutes passed. I made a frantic call:

"I am lost. It is NOT this way!"

"Wait, let me ask my dad," he responded nervously. I checked the clock. A time bomb was about to blow.

"Babe? I AM SO SORRY. It's the other direction."

"WHAT?!!!! I'm going to miss the whole goddamn wedding!" I yelled, pounding on the steering wheel.

"I ---"

"You told me not to print directions because you knew where it was!"

"I'm sorr-"

"I have to go!" I yelled. I stomped on the gas pedal and nearly took out a cyclist next to me. I flirted with tears but got a grip - of the wheel - and floored it. The car barely stayed in one piece as I zoomed up to the church.

I ran clumsily in my heels up to the church door. It was locked. A middle-aged usher in an ill-fitting suit frowned at me and shook his head. I was forced to wait outside. Apparently, not all weddings go off late. I watched the bride and groom kiss from behind a dingy window outside the front door.

I felt my face scorching, my blood pressure jumping off the charts.

I turned my phone off and refused to answer my soon-to-be husband's apologetic calls for the next two hours. When I did call him back, I spoke in a cool and calm voice that is often attributed to violent criminals:

"I missed the wedding. The entire ceremony. LOCKED OUT OF THE CHURCH! I drove like a maniac to get there, but was too late."

"Babe, I am so sorr---"

" I punched the steering wheel . . ."

"You punched ---?" He giggled.

"Sore knuckles and all, I concluded that I need a car with good handling and quick pickup that can handle such situations."

He paused nervously. "Is the Prius . . . ?"

"Off the table," I told him definitively.

"Ok, fine," he conceded. "The Prius is dead."


"And, in exchange, you'll never bring this up again?"

"Never again," I said curtly.

We were getting a Mercedes.
Or so I said.

He smiled behind the wheel,
a win-win situation and, all in all, a pre-tty pre-tty good deal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A 3 Xanax Day

It's a 3 Xanax kind of day and you know how many I've taken?

It's not like I pop pills on a regular basis, but if I did, today would be at least a .75 milligram day.

It started uneventfully, but I learned quickly that I was dealing with a toddler still hung over from Halloween and the high of playing conductor on a friend's new train table well past his bedtime last night.

Then there were the teeth. Teething never seems to end and today, a new front tooth made an appearance.

All of these things together created the perfect storm.

My son eluded me as I tried to slip his feet into his sneakers. Everything is a game and now the stakes are higher because he is Usain Bolt fast. I finally got him dressed and carried him squirming out to the car.

He eluded me once again as I tried to strap him into his car seat. He arched his back gracefully and slid halfway to the floor of the car before I grabbed him and tried to go in for landing #2. No chance. Landing #3? I circled back again. Nothing.

"Okay, let's go back in and take a nap," I told him. Luckily, I only wanted to run some errands and there was nowhere we had to be.

I shot some Motrin into his mouth with some resistance and considered a shot of whiskey for myself. He screamed and cried and fell asleep 2.5 minutes later. It was great parenting, if I may say so myself.

An hour later, he woke up cranky, but happy to see me. We read a few books and he did a puzzle.

"Let's put your shoes on, okay?"

"CHASE!" he replied, grinning.

"You want mommy to chase you?"

He was already down the hall. I played along. Got his shoes on. Got him in the car on attempt #1. Handed him a football to hold. Forgot the monkey. I forgot THE monkey. MR. MONKEY, to those of you not on a first name basis.

Now, this I knew was a huge risk, leaving home without Mr. Monkey. But, we were already in the car, engine running, and we went.

First, a quick trip to the pharmacy. He was an angel. We played catch in the toy aisle and I let him pick out a matchbox car. We then ventured on to the supermarket and for the first 5 minutes, all was right in the world, or at least the Gladwyne Superfresh.

Then it happened.

He started yelling his favorite new word: "Nack! S - nack! Nack! S-nack!"

Now, I never thought I'd be one of those mothers shoving snacks down her child's throat in the middle of aisle 9, but now I know better. You do what you have to do. I was 1/4 through my shopping list (which I left conveniently at home and was trying to recall by memory). A snack seemed reasonable. I grabbed the nearest thing to me: a chocolate graham cracker box.

I opened it as quickly as a person defusing a bomb. Technically speaking, that's what I was doing. He smiled when he got the first taste of that cracker.

I raced down the aisles throwing in groceries like I had won a shopping spree and time was running out. Then he said another word: "Wa-ter."

I was in trouble.

Not only did I forget Mr. Monkey at home, but I had a purse without a sippy cup full of water. Now this is poor parenting, to say the least. The only reason I didn't have a cup full of water for my little man was because a second before we left the house, he grabbed it out of my purse and ran around, yelling, "Chase!"

"We don't have any water, but we'll get some as soon as we get home, okay?"

It was not okay. He freaked in a way that he rarely has. He threw the chocolate graham cracker at me with such force that it ricocheted off the shopping cart handle and landed in pieces on the floor. Mortified, I scooped up the pieces and threw them into my sweatshirt pocket.

Blame it on the Halloween hangover, blame it on the teeth. I don't know. I picked him up out of the cart and tried to give him some freedom to walk.

Literally 24 hours ago, he was gallivanting around Buddakan like Stephen Starr. Now, he was throwing himself face first onto the floor of Superfresh in the frozens section. I kept walking because I've read that you're supposed to ignore such dramatic conduct from a toddler. It did not stop. He started banging his mouth onto the floor.

I picked him up, tossing more items into my cart in a last-ditch effort.

"All done," I told him as he cried.

We got into a fast-moving checkout line and I tossed my items towards the clerk.

"Here, you want to get down?"

I figured he'd stand right next to me and continue admiring the Sponge Bob balloon he was checking out. Not so. He got that huge grin on his face and started booking. Straight towards the exit. I ran at full speed and swooped him up as he was exiting towards the parking lot.

"Now I have to hold you," I explained as he squirmed back down to the floor.

I was furious at myself for wearing Uggs. I felt myself melting into them, and I wondered if I might melt away completely. I hoped so. My core body temp spiked at 110 when I chased him out of the store for the 2nd time. I ran back in with him under my arm like a football. The checkout clerks cheered as if I had scored a touchdown.

I paid. We left. We got home. He ate a snack. He drank water. I emptied out chocolate crumbs from my sweatshirt pocket. I put him in his crib. With Mr. Monkey. I carried in the groceries.

And I write this now as an alternative to popping Xanax and/or slugging some vodka and, most importantly, to all of the moms and dads who know exactly what I'm talking about, to celebrate us.

If this isn't work, I don't know what is.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inspiration, Move Me Brightly . . .

I love being in the company of people who are doing exactly what they live to do. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the famed memoir, "Eat, Pray, Love" is one of those people. I had the opportunity to hear her speak last night and here's what I concluded:

She's just like us.
Okay, not just like us in a witches and warlocks/Christine O'Donnell kind of way.

She's just like us in a human way.

Liz Gilbert has strengths (writing) and weaknesses (sense of direction, athleticism), successes (publishing) and failures (her 1st marriage). She is cerebral, anxious, charming, honest, intelligent, and witty in the same breath. She is average looking yet exudes an illuminating light. She struggles with real life issues, even amidst fame and fortune. She lives in a small town in New Jersey.

She's just like us.

She's not an expert on relationships or marriage or love. But when asked the key to a good marriage, she responded: "kindness."

Her key to a happy life: "Good work ongoing."

What sets Liz Gilbert apart from us?


She certainly has a gift. And she was gracious enough to share that gift with the world.

Does that make Gilbert extraordinary?

I don't think so.

I returned home last night inspired by Gilbert, but woke up this morning to her true message:

We all have gifts, it's just a matter of sharing them with others, sending them out into the universe. And doing so simply for the love of it.

So next time you're looking for inspiration from a favorite author, singer, (dare I say) politician, look no further than your own mirror. You know what your gifts are. The question is: will you share them with the world?

I'm going to try my best to live Gilbert's simple words and keep

Good Work Ongoing.