Monthly Archives: March 2011

Gnomes, Jock Straps and Mason Jars

I’ve always considered myself the anti-soccer mom.

But then I looked up the term “soccer mom” just to be sure I could truthfully claim I have  my keister firmly wedged into the opposite position. According to Wikipedia, that wretched woman is defined as:  “the overburdened middle income working mother who ferries her kids from soccer practice to scouts to school.” It also points out that she usually drives a minivan.


Five years ago I could have been smugly confident. Yes, I took my kids to scouts. But the bus took them to school, and because I was neither working nor middle income, I couldn’t afford the copious amounts of gas–let alone registration fees, shin guards, balls, helmets, uniforms, jock straps (yeah, that was on my shopping list yesterday… why aren’t we taught that in Mothering 101, right up there with how to knot a necktie and pick out fresh produce?) etc, that inherent to those activities. And I definitely couldn’t afford a minivan.

You could have safely hurled the epithet den mother my way, but not soccer mom.

Last night I spent two and a half hours in my car and never got farther than six miles away from my house. (Trying to conserve gas, you know–and when one practice ends forty minutes before the next begins, it’s hardly worth the fifteen minute trip home.)

Oh, and I was driving a minivan.

And doing my taxes and my homework in the front seat. In between stops at the soccer fields (two), the baseball diamond, the sporting goods store (for a $43 scout shirt), and the city council meeting I didn’t attend, but sent my son to. Citizenship merit badge or some such thing.


I am that soccer mom.


I have proof:

Although this was taken a couple weeks ago in the dead of winter when all the intelligent powers-that-be scheduled the first games of the season. Not only was I a quilt wielding, van driving, snack toting soccer mom, I was a redneck soccer mom: all I could find to transport my hot drink was a mason jar, and the lid was somewhat rusty.

I found that I didn’t really care because my hands were warm.

That’s the thing about blowing past 35 and seeing 40 up ahead: You no longer care what the valley girls think. And when your daughter tells you your hat makes you look like a gnome, you just tie it tighter. You drive the minivan and you ask the sales clerk how to size a jockstrap and you wear ugly shoes because they fit.

But you never become the stereotype because you realize that woman doesn’t exist; every other woman on the sidelines is just like you: under the extant trappings of necessity, she is seventeen, too, and somewhat bemused to hear herself answering to the title “mother”.

Reinventing The Wheel

Child looking out the kitchen window, before he heads off to the bus stop in the semi-dark of  early morning:

Hey Mom, you know what they should make?


Leg coats.

Lathe coats?

LEG coats.

Leg coats? As in: ski pants?

No, like that you could wear every day.


While I’m trying to process this idea, he steps fully into view: dressed in a winter coat, socks, shoes, and shorts.

Uh-huh. Yeah, last I checked, they invented this thing called pants



About those fingers: No, I haven’t been flailing about mummified for three weeks. Although, that first day, had I stuck by my original intentions, I’d have rivaled King Tut by four pm.

At which time I decided that:

  1. Losing all the fingers on one hand was going far enough; point taken. And,
  2. I would need to give myself a clean slate every morning. Even God is that merciful.

So the next morning I rose, set out the box of band-aids… and thought to myself, “This could get really expensive. And time consuming.”

And then, “Unless…  I just knock it off.” I mean, really: how ridiculous is self-punishment?

And believe it or not, I was able to just. quit. Stop entertaining those thoughts. If you know me,  you’ll realize how miraculous that is; divine intervention is the only explanation.

Because I’ve tried to change this tendency in myself for close to thirty years without success. But for some reason, things clicked.

I find it much more efficient to not let things get to me. The two year old just redecorated twenty-four square feet of wall with one crayon while I made him a sandwhich?


What are you going to do about it, really? (And what did you expect a two year old would do with a crayon, anyway?) My options were to stew about finding a brush, touch up paint, and a kid-free couple hours–not to mention putting down lunch prep to bind my own fingers which would make repainting even more difficult and time consuming–or: I could just hand him a coloring book, point out an alternate use for crayons, and continue with the pb&j assembly line.

So much easier.  And I don’t get a headache. And my hair is growing back.

No kidding. In the past three weeks or so my hair has stopped falling out in clumps, and I’ve got almost half an inch of new growth sprouting all over my head. I only noticed because the fringe along my hair line makes it look like maybe I cut really short bangs for some reason.

I don’t know if it’s this, or the result of other changes (in my diet, etc,) but I’m not complaining. I wasn’t looking forward to wig shopping.

The second day of the experiment, I probably deserved one good binding–when I found myself literally hyperventilating over the behavior of someone way beyond my influence.

But that was it.

It’s been eerie, how simple the choice has been, to just not go there.  Just don’t think it. Don’t do it. Don’t stew. Take a deep breath and believe that all things work together for your good. I have paid lip service to this in the past, but I also only took that deep breath after figuratively going blue in the face, first–because letting frustrations and worries go was a last resort for problems I proved irrefutably I was incapable of solving.

So my fingers have been as nimble as ever, albeit dedicated solely to academic rattling of the keyboard and not mental musings of this sort. This semester has been concussive, brutal in its demands and relentless. But it gets me out of bed in the morning, and that’s always a good thing. But I have been neglecting this and I have decided upon repentance–or an attempt thereat. Time will tell.

Fused Fingers

Here’s to selling out:

Oh, wait, I cashed that check before I even snapped the  picture I intended to post here. Which I honestly intended to do–partly as proof that I wasn’t totally slacking the past few weeks of my relative silence, but also because writing purely for money, well, that’s about the only reward you ever see:  money. And as pathetic as it might feel to be scratching out inane paragraphs about heat pumps or local athletic companies (that the goons in layout will grammatically mangle in an effort to make it fit around a graphic or on a page) it can make the difference between paying the bills or not.

I’ve also been hanging out in various clinics and doctor’s offices, shooting up with radioactive imaging substances, and just generally living the life of a freak. None of which makes for particularly fascinating reading.

I did, however, over the last two weeks:

  1. Survive two more weeks of Ann Olson’s literature classes, which, in case you were wondering, I’d recommend you never take more than one of in the same semester.
  2. Write some pretty awesome math lessons. For the first time in my life, math is really making sense; I never dreamed I’d consider teaching middle school math, but that’s the direction I’m leaning at this moment. And no, my own middle-school-aged children’s vociferous hatred of their English classes doesn’t really factor in here–I don’t think…
  3. Quit running entirely. Not once in three weeks, actually. Testing out the theory that my liver cannot handle the waste products from muscle breakdown. Not sure I see a correlation yet. But how crazy would that be? I could actually claim to be allergic to exercise.
  4. Locate every single pair of scissors in my entire house.  Proof that 20+ pair of scissors can effectively conceal themselves in the crevasses of your life: 
  5. Begin a  program of self improvement which involves this:

(Go ahead: try to take a picture of your right hand…)

No, this project does not involve sharp objects or peril for my fingers. Unless I totally fail I suppose: because what I’m really trying to do is break a perniciously bad habit, pernicious because it is a habit purely of thought. The idea is that if I catch myself choosing to engage in that spiral I lose the use of yet another finger for a week.

Note that I said “engage” which has an entirely different connotation than just, say,   “acknowledge”, I can acknowledge the existence of a thought without letting it control my behavior or poison an entire day.

Because I believe that we are creatures of perfect freedom: we choose our thoughts, even the ones we tend to feel are thrust upon us. We choose to get angry when someone wrongs us, we choose disappointment when our reality doesn’t measure up to fantasy, we choose fear when we face the unknown.


We choose something else.

And I refuse to live a fearful, sorrowful, or disappointed existence. Because that would be like living with your hands taped into useless sorts of clubs: perfect only for flailing about in impotence and frustration, but not much else.

Yes, I am typing this with fused fingers.  And it’s only the morning of Day One. But since the fusing thereof, I’ve caught myself a dozen times and made more coherent choices.

I’ll let you know how it  goes.

(Unless I end up without any fingers at all, in which case I’ll just hit “Add New Post”  and “Publish” with my elbow and you’ll know because my next post will be titled something like “#876” and have nothing at all in the body thereof…)