Monday, March 23, 2009

Random Thoughts.....

Sometimes, right before I fall asleep or while I'm in the shower, a series of random thoughts run through my brain. I'm sure it's because my body is at rest/relaxing, and my mind is free to focus on other things. There have been days where I wished I could turn some of these random thoughts into posts for this blog, but there wasn't enough material to make for an interesting post.

Yesterday, one of my random thoughts was this: why can't I turn all those, seemingly disconnected, thoughts into one post; sort of lump them all together? The answer, of course, is I CAN!

So, without further ado, here are my random thoughts (obviously, in no particular order!)...

1) Why do most people in the Western Hemisphere seem to measure everybody by their financial worth and financial intelligence?

a) If you asked most people if finances were a good yardstick for deciding if someone would
make a good friend or spouse, I'm sure they would say, "Of course not!"
b) If you asked most parents if they loved their children because they had the potential
to earn a good living, they would look at you like you were crazy.
c) If you asked any God-fearing person if he/she thought God would check his/her credit
score before allowing him/her through the Pearly Gates, the answer would be a
resounding "no!".
Unfortunately, our society measures ALL things with that financial yardstick, and because we
are human, we integrate that into our personalities. What I mean to say is, we begin to believe the financial hype (or, lack thereof) about ourselves and others: "I must not be a very good person, if I can't pay my bills/don't make enough money/don't drive a new car", and conversely, "I am better than so-and-so because my mortgage payment is always on time and I invest wisely".
But, you and I, dear Reader, know the Truth, don't we? We don't want a friend whose best character traits are balancing a checkbook, a credit score of 750, and 6 months worth of salary in the bank? NO, we do not! (Shake your head with me!)

2) Why does it take 3 months of careful eating and exercise to lose 14.8 pounds (my weight loss total, to date!), but eating 1 candy bar in one week results in a 2 pound weight gain?

a) I'll get back to you on this one.....

3) If I buy one of my kids 12 pairs of socks on Tuesday, and by Friday he claims he can only find
5 socks (that's 2.5 pairs) that all have holes, where am I going wrong?

a) Should I not be buying this child any socks at all?
b) Should I force him to carry a mesh bag around his neck at all times, so that he can place his
dirty socks in it and then throw the bag into the wash on laundry day?

4) Can a mom of a large-ish family find the time to learn a new language?

a) I'd like to learn French; it's such a pretty language and I never learned Spanish properly
in school, so it would be nice to "have a language".
b) Do I even have time to take a class and complete the homework?
c) More importantly, do I even want homework?
d) Are those Learn in Your Car Cd's at the library capable of really teaching me?
e) Am I ever truly going to go to France? Or, will I just end up sounding really snooty when I
order my lunch at the local Panera ("Oui, I'd like a turkey CWA-SAHN with some Brie")?

5) Is it normal to get fed up so easily with other people's behavior?

a) Yes, it bothers me when people use "supposably" as if it's a real word. Instead of correcting
them (which I feel would be rude) on things such as this, I tolerate it (sometimes for years)
until I have to take a "vacation" from that person for a while.
b) Does this make me cranky? Probably. But, if that bothers people, they are free to take a
"vacation" from me, as well.
c) Apparently, some people have tried giving me the silent treatment in the past, and
after some length of time has passed, ended up telling me that they weren't speaking
to me because I hadn't noticed. (this includes one of my children who sulked in the
bathroom for 2 hours without my noticing it).

6) Am I the only person on the planet who believes that her biggest job as a mother is NOT to make sure her children are happy?

a) Do I want them to be happy? SURE! But, that can't be how I choose to make decisions
regarding their lifestyles.
b) I have friends (or, at least I did before they read Random Thought #5!), I am not
interested in being my children's friends. This does not mean I am not kind to them, or
that I do not enjoy joking around with them. It simply means that I am able to enforce
rules without being afraid that they'll "hate me for it".
c) It costs a lot of money to be my kids' friend. It's a lot cheaper to be their mom (and that's
still pretty expensive!).

7) Why does the lady at the dry cleaners always say that I must be rich because I have "so many kids"?

a) Um, HELLO, my lack of wealth is precisely because I do have "so many kids".
b) My husband and I didn't say, "Let's win the Lottery, THEN have lots of kids!"
c) Shoot! I forgot to buy a Lottery ticket!

So, these are some of the thoughts that pop into my head during my "quiet time". Most of the time, they don't really lead anywhere. Some of the time, they make me more upset than I needed to be. And, the rest of the time I actually solve a problem.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Wearing of the Green

Yup. We're Irish. Some of us are more Irish than others; I'm 75%, my husband is 50%, so that makes our kids 62.5% (they like to point out that they are more Irish than their father!). Most of our kids have Irish first &/or middle names, and we all have an Irish surname. And, we're Catholic. (Spare me your inane Irish-Catholic-Big-Families jokes. I've heard them all.)

So, yes, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal for us. Maybe not as big of deal as Christmas, but pretty big. We decorate our house. We have a large stockpile of Irish-themed/green clothing that gets put to extra use on March 17th (we are guilty of wearing it all year long, though!). We plan on eating corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes at a minimum of 2 meals in mid-March. Our Guinness supply, which is always on hand, is stepped up a notch in March. All of my kids' teachers know that our family will supply their classes with Irish Soda Bread in honor of the Sainted Man's Feast Day, while my mother will make a small presentation about Patrick in each class. And, my husband proudly trots out his polyester shamrock tie every year (I think he secretly loves wearing that thing!).

Over the years, as our family has grown, some of the traditions have changed, though. My husband and I no longer drag ourselves, or our children, to the St. Patrick's Day Parade; since we have to be responsible for little ones, we can no longer keep ourselves warm in the 20-degree temperatures with mass quantities of beer. We don't host/attend crazy 24-hour debaucheries in the name of proving that we're worthy of our heritage (once you have more than 4 kids, you've proven that in another way!).

However, some traditions still continue: I still make my Bailey's Irish Cream Cake, I still wear the Celtic Cross pin my husband gave me for our 1st St. Patrick's Day, we listen to Irish music all day long, we eat Irish Soda Bread at every meal on March 17th, we still tell the kids the story of how St. Patrick used the shamrock as a way to explain the Holy Trinity and how he drove out the snakes from Ireland, we still gather at my parents' house for dinner, and, after the kids go to bed, my husband and I cuddle up on the couch to watch The Quiet Man (can you guess who I was named for?).

I like it. I like that we can proudly display our heritage. I like that my kids can see that they have a rich (albeit somewhat checkered!) ancestry that can be traced back for thousands of years. I like that feeling of camaraderie with my fellow Gaels. I like that it's another reason for our family to spend time together. And, I like that we display our pride in the clothes we wear on that day.

I even like that darn polyester shamrock tie my husband wears; but, don't tell him that!

Monday, March 9, 2009

So help me.......

Remember when you were 7 years old and you kept pestering your mother while she was chatting on the phone?
What was her reaction?
Well, if she was at all similar to most mothers, she probably snapped her fingers in an angry manner in order to focus your attention, and then she shook her fist at you. That, of course, was followed by a tinkling bout of laughter at whatever her phone-friend was saying to her.

This behavior also bears some resemblance to another kind of "mom episode", where the doorbell is ringing and you and your brother are in the fight of your lives on the living room floor. On her way to answer the door, your mother stoops very low to both of you, hisses out a warning (it's very colorful verbiage hints at some glorious punishment, as well), then opens the door with a supermodel smile and a "well, HELLO there!".

Did your mom have a split personality? Maybe, but I don't think so. There is a much simpler explanation, that only a mother would understand.

Your mother's insane behavior was fueled entirely by YOU. Yep, YOU and YOUR SIBLINGS (if any), are 100% responsible for your mother's trips to Crazyland.

How do I know this?
Because, I am that mother.
I have been to Crazyland and it's not a nice place.

I have the not-so-unique perspective of most mothers: I have been that pestering child and I have been that hissing mother. So, I can confidently speak to both positions.

CHILD: "What the HECK?!? Mom is wigging out AGAIN? All I want is an answer on whether or not she is signing me up for bow-hunting lessons. I just need to know when that is going to happen, and if I can practice in the basement, and if it's OK to shoot out all our windows, and if it's OK to blindfold my younger sister and shoot at the feather she is holding above her head. Hello, MOM? Can you just answer this question really quickly RIGHT AWAY? Geez!"

MOTHER: "What the HECK?!? Is my child really doing this AGAIN? Did I not make myself expressly clear the last 17 times he tried this while I was talking on the phone? Does some kind of 'Alarm for Idiotic Questions' go off when I pick up this phone? This kid cannot be for real. Does he have a hidden camera somewhere, recording all of this for a TV show? Hey, kid, I'm gonna lose it in about 5 seconds! Warning! Exploding Mommy-Head!"

Accurate on both sides?
While I have you agreeing with me, keep on nodding your head to show your solidarity with mothers everywhere. These kids are nuts, right? Any mother has a right to lose her mind under these harsh conditions, correct?
Can I get an "AMEN"?

As a child, you think you are being completely reasonable and cannot understand why your behavior would bother your mother, in the least. However, there is some part of your subconscious which switches into "annoying-kid-high-gear" whenever the phone starts ringing.

But, even an adult with a semi-functioning brain can see that trying to maintain a conversation with someone, while trying to field ridiculous requests from munchkins is highly frustrating and nearly impossible. And, just like your child, a certain part of your subconscious goes into "defensive-pity-me/aggressive-take-away-TV-privileges" mode when you hear the phone ring.

So, who wins? I'd like to say that no one wins. But, that wouldn't be truthful (and the Good Lord knows that all I have left to me is my honesty).

Approximately, 79% of the time, the kid (or kids) win. Annoying behavior will almost always get you something; even if it's a "buy-off prize", such as a popsicle (plug up that noisemaker with some sugar!).

The other 21% of the time? It's a toss-up. Sometimes, mothers will win: the child will actually fall silent and wait. The rest of the time no one claims victory: both parties end up in angry tears.

Solution? Yeah, right. Like I have any answers!
So far, what I have done is NEVER announce that I will be making/receiving a phone call, then hide myself in a closet when I do have to use the phone.

The one bright spot? (Cue Maniacal Laughter)
Already I am realizing just how much fun it is to interrupt my teenager while he's on the phone, or speaking in person to his friends. ("Mom, please. I'll be done in a minute!").

And, Crazyland? Well, I plan to be here for a while. Tomorrow, I'm having a recliner delivered here.