I Second That Thank You

It’s been several days since the kids and I jumped up and down on the bed when we heard the First Lady read the word ‘Argo’ from that gold and red envelope at the Academy Awards.

My husband came bounding up the stairs grinning from ear to ear and we all kissed and high fived- he was one of the many that had worked on Argo, so this Oscar belonged to him as well.

Not long after the rambunctious celebrations I listened to Ben Affleck thank his wife, fellow West Virginian like my husband, and talk about marriage being hard work. Momofali echoed my thoughts immediately after the awards show, writing “In my opinion it was the perfect venue for him to say such a thing. Hollywood is one big fairy-tale, complete with beautiful people and princess dresses, and millions of people were watching. I commend Ben for taking the opportunity to say that even with loads of money, good looks and an Oscar in his hand, that marriage is work. If it’s a struggle for them, what about those of us with financial problems, average appearance and no awards of which to speak?”

It took me this long to write this post because of that work. It’s been hard to blog at all lately due to that work. Hell, I was upstairs and he was downstairs when Argo WON and my husband won because I was putting the kids to bed and he wasn’t…part of that work that we all do every single day that is the balance of marriage.

As always @aaronvest is ready to rock the 5k #colordash

Argo seemed to me to be a labor of love. A story told about a mission that too, was seemingly against the odds. Marriage is against the odds these days. Hard work and some finesse is needed to get through. Which is why I gave Ben Affleck a ton of credit for looking over to his wife and telling the world I love and her and our children and our family and yes, it takes WORK.

Because he said what all of us married folk are thinking about marriage, about our spouses. Make no mistake, I love my husband dearly and I am in this for the long haul, but marriage is hard work. Not easy work, HARD work. Which means most of the time I am muttering under my breath to him …. Argofuckyourself.

Love Taps

I remember that feeling sitting in class, going through each Valentine and wondering if there was a deeper meaning to ‘Bee My Valentine’ with the picture of a bumblebee flitting around on that breakaway card that came in a pack of 24.

Because that is what some of us girls do. We look for the deeper meaning and hold the Valentine against our chest convinced the bumblebee was a symbol for something that was a symbol for something that was a symbol for something that clearly meant the boy who scribbled his name on the bottom loved us more than anything and we’d get married and have babies and live happily ever after.

No really.

I did this.

I still do this.

And I’m married and I have kids and I will continue to live happily ever after. Even if every day I want the ‘I love you’ and I want to hold the Valentine against my chest and dream.

I watched my daughter go through each and every Valentine from her bag last night. My son tossed his on the ottoman and only dug inside to find a piece of candy. And I realized some things just don’t change.

At one point my daughter came over to me and said “Mom, no one got you a Valentine…we didn’t get one for you.”  And upon hearing those words my son immediately stopped his game (so you KNOW it’s a big deal) and rubbed his hand up and down my arm, consoling me. Truly worried and upset I had no Valentine.

It’s ok Mom, you can have one of mine.

And I explained, again, their father and I have our own tradition. And that just as he had to sign each of his Valentine’s for his classmates, someone signed that Valentine for him, and it wouldn’t be right to give it away. Even if it was very sweet.

Sweet matters. Traditions matter. That time taken to scribble that name on the bottom of the card matters. But I have learned it matters more daily, not just on the ONE day. It matters in the morning when walking out the door. It matters at night when going to bed. It matters when scared and instinctively fingers intertwine.

Today, the day after Valentine’s Day, I sat in the waiting room of my doctor’s office feeling miserable emotionally. I wanted to be clutching that Valentine to my chest and making juvenile wishes. I wanted a hand on mine to calm down my beating heart.

Instead I was sent an elderly man who didn’t think twice about walking right up to me and asking about my scarf.

Did you make that?

And he actually poked it with his cane.

Just reached on over and poked the scarf hanging around my neck with his cane! Then he used the cane to lift the bottom of the scarf up and examine the stitching.

In my head the first thing I thought was…oh please, not now. I don’t have the energy.

I explained I did not, in fact, knit the scarf but I wish I had the talent. And I smiled politely hoping that would end the conversation.

But he kept going. And going. And going.

His wife wandered out a few minutes later, I’m not sure how many, glanced at him talking to me and seemed to survey the situation…was he bothering me too much? Was he talking too much? Should she intervene? I gave her a polite smile letting her know it was alright, we were fine. She seemed to decide I had it under control and went back to writing a check at the front desk.

Over the course of the next 10-15 minutes I learned my new friend was 87-years old and his wife of 62 years (!!!!!!) was a young 85. I learned about his time in a ‘trio’ where he played guitar for a ‘blonde bombshell’ and traveled. But he always came back to his wife.

He gushed over her like they were newlyweds. Gushed.

Then his wife came over and motioned for me to move my purse. She too used her cane. Of course I couldn’t help but think of my own cane, sitting unused in my car. Thankful it’s unused right now….I obliged and picked up my bag and moved it to the ground so she could take the seat next to me.

As she took the seat her husband immediately told her I did not, in fact, make the scarf I was wearing and that I was, originally from Detroit and that my husband and I had Italian food for Valentine’s Day.

But why was I there? In the doctor’s office?

I didn’t want to tell them.

For some reason it just didn’t feel right to tell them I was there because I’m always there. Because this is my life.

I told them I was having stitches removed. And it was as if the wife knew I was lying to her.

She patted my thigh and said ‘we all have our crosses to bear, don’t we dear?’

And I cried.

Right there in the doctor’s waiting room I cried with two strangers.

Luckily I held it together and it wasn’t an ugly cry. And wise beyond their years this couple just kept talking, as if my tears were as normal as the conversation they had decided to just carry on with a woman they didn’t know in the middle of a doctor’s waiting room.

They made me laugh.

Every time the husband would compliment or gush over his wife, she would roll her eyes and say something like ‘oh, he’s just making up for all the trouble he causes’ and playfully smacked him with her cane. It was a good smack too. You could tell she had done it a million times before.

Then, as if reality emerged loudly with the opening of a door and the BOOMING nurse’s voice ERIN VEST… ERIN VEST…the door opened, they called my name, and the couple stood up with me. The 85-year old woman handed me my purse, when I should have been helping her with her cane. As they headed to the door the husband said ‘Now you know that she is all that matters…’

As they were leaving he said 'now you know that she is all that matters'
…and the wife looked back and me and rolled her eyes one more time and shook her head.

I was thankful to have met them today. 62-years of marriage and they were playful and loving and clearly taking care of one another. They gave me such hope.

They reminded me of why we hold that Valentine to our chest and let our heart beat fast and why we dare to dream.

I also now know what to do with that cane of mine…currently and thankfully collecting dust in the back of my car. I will just save it for years from now, because apparently it will come in very, very handy later on when I can’t lean over as quickly or reach as far to give my husband a swift tap when needed.

 

 

Candles and Pink Coats

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Someone is going to have to rent a storage unit when I die and move all my shit into it’s sorry, cement walls because my husband does not know which candle in our house was used during our wedding.

Ok let me back up.

Everyone needs to stop, find those they love, and explain to them what they want when they die. This might be as simple as what to do with your jewelry, to what you would prefer happen to your children after you are gone.

Morbid, I know…but necessary, even if you are not facing a life threatening disease.

Which leads me to what I want, and how you all will need to force my husband to keep everything I own until it can be properly sorted, because he’s going to throw away our wedding candle.

You see we have been having these important conversations and the other night I expressed to him that I didn’t want him to throw anything of mine away. I mean, I don’t want him to go all Hoarders on everyone, but that he needed to hold on to nearly everything so that when the kids are older and wiser they can sort through it all and decide what they would like.

This lead him to looking at me with that look he always gives me, the one that is half ‘you are insane, woman’ and half ‘go on.. go on…because I’m going to totally make fun of you once you finish explaining.’ THEN he proceeded to say something like ‘that’s crazy… I mean, like that candle over there, I’m totally throwing that out’ … which lead me to screech something like ‘YOU MEAN OUR WEDDING CANDLE??!!!!’ which made his face drop slightly, realizing he had no clue that was our wedding candle and he was busted, before blubbering some nonsense about me having too many candles around the house and how the hell was he supposed to know…blah blah blah. Thus totally confirming my suspicions that I need a storage facility for all my things to be kept in after I die.

Is this all making sense yet?

Let me take another deep breath and try again.

See that pink coat I am wearing in the photo above? I had been teasing my friend Gregg that I was going to will him that coat upon my death, because he got such a kick out of my purchase and subsequent flaunting of said coat. It amused him greatly that not only would I just up and buy an obnoxious, vintage, hot pink house coat with a faux fur collar and broach…but then wear it out to an event where he could snap photos of me in the monstrosity. It made him laugh. And it made him laugh even more that he could take that picture you see up there, complete with me drinking a dirty martini.

This morning I woke up to find out Gregg lost his battle with cancer.

Gregg who was supposed to be the one to take the obnoxious pink coat off my hands when it was my turn to leave this world.

My wedding candle sits on my dresser. The pink coat remains in my closet. And everyone needs to have these conversations, because sometimes you wake up and the whole world has changed.

Now I’m off to rent that storage facility…unless one of you promises to do it for me.

Gregg, I will miss the hell out of you my friend.

6-year old Gets Some. Mom Mortified. News at 11

My 6-year old got his first piece of ass today.

Jack's first Gar burger

Yes, my baby boy thought it was appropriate to swim underwater right on over to Megan and pinch her butt.

That’s right, an adult he’s never met. A guest in my home. And my son thinks its just fine to grab her ass.

I blame his father.

Alright not really, but I do blame the casual …ummm…atmosphere at our home. My son thought it was totally fine to pinch Megan’s ass because he’s pinched mine. And his Dad has pinched mine. And when we’re swimming in the pool they are the ‘sharks’ and they come get Mom. They get me by going underwater and pinching my butt. I squeal, they laugh…and life goes on.

Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me my little guy would think this was fine to do this to other people.

Imagine, if you will, being a guest in my home and swimming in my pool. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you feel a pinch on your ass and turn to find a 1st grader underwater by your butt.

Of course I’d like to say, as the Mom, I handled the situation well. But as it turns out just moments before said pinching, I had been stung by a bee and was far from able to give the situation the attention it deserved.

Megan was a gracious guest and laughed it off…but what else could she do? My son had just got himself some and giggled  about it. What sort of hedonistic home had she brought herself and her children to?

Mine.

Parenting fail.

But now he can say he’s grabbed Megan’s butt.

Happy Father’s Day

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I Want A ‘MOM’s Club’ (alternate title: God Help My New PTA)

I took my eldest to Kindergarten today. While the emotions are ravaging my mind and soul tonight, I can’t help but exhale a bit.

He did great. He seems great. Life moves on.

So while the Mom in me grapples with time passing and children growing, the woman in me is rather pissed off.

Expectations are killing me.

As most of you know, I work.

I work like millions of Americans and like millions of other mothers and fathers.

What is making me angry, and what I can’t wrap my head around tonight, is why my parenting expectations are so much higher than my husband’s.

He works, too.

But there are special ‘clubs’ at school for Dads, catering to ‘finding opportunities for father’s to participate’ in school functions. Me? It’s just expected.

So there I was, signing up for a few volunteer positions (because if I didn’t god only knows what doom it would spell for my child or our future at a brand new school) and my husband is afforded the luxury of ‘Dads Club.’

Which, mind you, he nearly skipped signing up for because…you know…he works.

I realize there are larger things at work here like society and culture and biological predispositions…but stay with me.

As a thinking person I realize that regardless of work, I need to be involved in my child’s school. It’s not convenient. I have a million other things to do, but ‘work’ is not an excuse to get out of it.

The only thing that makes this even slightly manageable – I work from home. What about the millions of mothers who leave the house to work daily? Who punch a clock? And is my work diminished because I DO work from home?

You just work from home…you can come sell cookies and help organize the fundraiser.

Why are all these working women expected to participate, while their male counterparts are given a pass? Or a special fucking club, like if they show up they are already 10 steps ahead of any other working father on the planet.

Reminds me of the Dads (of which my husband is one) that actually change diapers and give baths and suck out snot with the bulb thingy. You’d think they had walked on water from all the praise they received for participating in their child’s life.

Every time I think we’ve made progress, I am confronted with the reality of our society expecting everything of  women when it comes to raising children. Nevermind there is another capable adult in the mix.

Oh, that guy? Yes well, he works.

No one thinks anything of raising an eyebrow if I dare text on my blackberry while sitting at a school function, yet those same no ones don’t even glance when the guy in the suit gets a call during Kindergarten RoundUp and he spends 3 minutes whispering into his cell.

Obviously, he’s a guy. In a suit. It MUST be very important.

Me? Oh you know, not much at all. Just feeling like not paying attention to my child’s teacher momentarily to do something as UNimportant as reply to Barack Obama and John McCain’s staff.

It has nothing to do with gender roles or societal norms. It has everything to do with being a parent.

Which is why, at my very first PTA meeting, I just might have to ask for a MOM’s Club. You know, to find those ‘opportunities’ for involvement in my child’s education.

Or maybe I’ll just sign up for the Dad’s Club.

School’s in session.

Going to the Chapel

I’m not going to lie.

My brain still fuzzy after the 4th’s fireworks and libations, I had to rub my eyes and go get my glasses upon reading this morning’s headlines.

Obama: Mental distress can’t justify late abortion

My heart sank.

Then I had to clear the cobwebs from my brain and process what was being said before I cried into my Women for Obama t-shirt.

Here is the short version, and what went on in my head as I read:

Senator Obama did an interview with some Christian magazine and said

Obama said prohibitions on late-term abortions must contain “a strict, well defined exception for the health of the mother.”

Obama then added: “Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term.”

In my head:

oh holy hell, is he pandering to the right with this crap? are you kidding me? why would he even talk about limits and and definitions when the women’s vote is being so heavily courted by Senator McCain…is he talking about limits on just late term or could this carry over into ‘mental distress’ in any termination of pregnancy and what exactly qualifies as ‘mental distress’ and who gets to decide and why is the government even INVOLVED in this and why on earth wold he say some like that to a Christian magazine and would he have said the same to planned parenthood and what in the hell is going on with my candidate because I realize this whole ‘move to the center’ thing is really just people educating themselves on where he has ALWAYS stood but has he always stood against mental distress/late term abortion stuff….crap I need coffee.

I then hinted to fellow Huffington Post contributor Lee Stranahan that he was welcome to drive the extra 20 minutes to deliver me a latte, since he was already out getting one for his wife. Lee politely mentioned something about gas prices and I begrudgingly made myself a pot.

I’m now two cups in and ready to break this down a bit so no one gets hysterical and suffers the same caffeine-free heart failure I did a few hours ago.

NARAL endorsed Obama. They believe “A health exception must also account for the mental health problems that may occur in pregnancy. Severe fetal anomalies, for example, can exact a tremendous emotional toll on a pregnant woman and her family.”

If Obama acts on his position, he’d be going against NARAL and other pro-choice entities.

However, Obama spokespeople stress “Obviously, as he stated in the interview, he has consistently believed those exceptions should be clear and limited enough to ensure that they don’t undermine the prohibition on late-term abortions.”

Which I HOPE means he’s not going to push that provision because it would undermine.

We will need clarification on that before we all go crazy here.

I’ll be the first to admit late-term abortion is where my very staunch support of all reproductive rights gets clouded. It’s uncomfortable to think about, to grapple with, to imagine. However I always default to the position of NOT knowing every woman’s situation.

We also know our right to control our own reproduction is constantly under attack. The anti-choice movement takes every inch they can get on any issue on the table to tries and ‘undermine’ current laws and legislation.

The issues are varied and the debate is large and overwhelming.

Even in my own family, the discussion and debate causes problems. My husband and I disagree over parental consent and continue to go around-and-around on the topic.

I respect my husband’s opinion, but I think he’s wrong.

I respect Senator Obama’s opinion, but I think he’s wrong.

I still married my husband, and we continue to debate the issue.

I’m still voting for Obama, and expect we will continue to debate the issue.

Maybe voting is a bit like marriage.

My husband has core values that I agree with and we compromise and fight and respect each other on some of the details.

Senator Obama has a core values that I agree with…I’m guessing between FISA and this, the compromise and fight and respect on those details will also emerge.

So long as those core values remain, I’m guessing we can stay out of divorce proceedings.

So long as those core values remain, I’m guessing we can stay out of third-party candidate, write-in vote proceedings.

The Senator, like my husband, remains the best person for the job.

Although I wish they were both a bit more like Mrs. Stranahan’s husband and would bring me some coffee.


Erin Kotecki Vest is Political Director at BlogHer.com and thinks she’s Queen of the World on her own blog Queen of Spain blog. She also contributes over at MOMocrats where even her non-coffee bringing husband has guest posted so the entire family can Rage Against the McCain.

Canary in the Social Media Coal Mine

Something very important in the online world took place recently- and this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and even this guy all missed it.

It had nothing to do with the election (half of you just sighed and said ‘thank gawd’) and it had nothing to do with my kids (the other half just sighed and said ‘thank gawd’). It also had nothing to do with Google or Yahoo or anyone who may even come close to ever landing on ValleyWag.

So what is this all important event that should have the web world buzzing?

Sarah started plurking.

I know, doesn’t seem like a big deal at all-does it?

Let me explain- Sarah started plurking and *I* was not the one who showed her Plurk. More importantly, Sarah saw a bit of buzz and checked it out on her own.

If you are still confused, let me break it down for you:

Sarah is a mommyblogger who once said to me ‘What the hell is Twitter and what the Fuck is an Utterz?’

Sarah is a friend, a fellow community member, who got into this whole ball of social media and tech as a hobby.

A hobby.

As in- starting writing about her kids for fun and to meet other moms.

Sarah does not code, Sarah does not care about scalability. Sarah could give a shit who any of you tech people are-unless you also have twins or want to talk about football or beer.

Sarah blogs to talk with her friends and make a few extra dollars here and there. Sarah is also going to probably kill me for using her as an example, but I shall buy her many drinks at BlogHer and it will all be ok.

Sarah is now an early adopter.

Sarah is out-plurking me.

Sarah and I are officially geeks who know very little geek stuff.

I couldn’t even install a wordpress plugin today, and Sarah needed my help locating where the graphic for her header is housed (after much searching we found it on an old Photobucket account, in case you were wondering).

Sarah now says things like: “What did I ever do before iPhones and Twitter? Oh right. I used to read.” And: “@trollbaby I’m still waiting for someone to pitch me a Kindle.”

Please note how she said ‘pitch.’

Cough.

Over 36.2 million women are writing and reading blogs on a weekly basis. The latest spin is some “believe blogging is now officially mainstream among women.

Which leads me back to Sarah, and the idea that if blogging is mainstream for her…what is off-the-beaten path? Women have already upped their video site usage. Isn’t video where everyone is wetting their pants currently?

Keep in mind Sarah is one of my ‘dragging-her-kicking-and-screaming-to-Twitter’ late-adopter community members.

I don’t know how else to say this but, batten down the hatches boys.

If the nontechy Mommybloggers and other women bloggers are early adopting the latest betas and talking Friend Feed over playdates, you might want to make room at the lunch tables.

You might also want to think twice about the booth babes for next year.

Oh, and just one more word of advice…and I know some of you have already gotten a taste from me…but please consider leaving the usual BS back in Silicon Valley as we join the party.

I might mix it up with you for fun in a nice twitter or blog fight- but these women won’t. They are much more stealth and a lot less ego-driven.

They will just organize and hit you where it hurts…no, not your nuts (that’s my job)…they go straight for the wallet. All those advertisers you love and court and get all monetize-erect over? Uh-huh, as I said batten down the hatches boys.

“Today, women make 83 percent of all consumer purchases – everything from breakfast cereal to big-ticket items like cars and personal computers – for themselves and for their families.”

Sarah is the canary in the coal mine.