Sunday, March 27, 2011

Corn anyone?

Around four years ago, my entire home was in a neighbor war with the people who live to the left of us. I never planned on giving any credence to the matter here; however, it is relevant to the story as it totally altered my behavior one glorious summer day.

The nicest and most peaceful part of my home is my deck that was built eleven years back even though it is five feet from people who have tried to destroy me. During warmer spring and autumn months and all summer long every meal is shared on my beautiful patio. The children play, we work and my husband and I share romantic summer eves on it as well. It truly is an oasis surrounded by beautiful oak trees amidst the hustle and noise of Sunrise Highway and the LIRR.

During the melee that pursued with them, the family next door added to the negative energy by installing video cameras equipped with sound pointing right at my deck and pool. My busy schedule started to peak at this time as well with our business at full speed and in transition and three older boys involved in every activity as well as a blooming toddler. After a busy workday, it was time for a peaceful dinner in my paradise. I was extremely frazzled this day and longed to sip a glass of wine while we ate outside.

Because the cameras panned immediately on our eating area, I tried so hard to be calm after this particularly harrowing day. I cooked a basic hot dog meal complete with fries and corn and alean cuisine for me. I settled the boys outside after they helped setting up the table and left the oldest in charge while I began bringing out the food. I was extremely uncomfortable with the cameras on me and tried to quiet the boys down in the most calming of tones when all I wanted to do was SCREAM. They had a long day as well and when four boys get hungry, let's just say it isn't pretty.

My deck had to be built according to "code" because if you live in the Incorporated Village of Valley Stream, you need a permit for everything, including passing gas. It needed to be a certain amount of feet away from the property line and a particular height, which meant for us that we needed to add three steps from the side door to the deck. It is a short trek from the door through the dining room to the kitchen, but I was rushing around anyway to feed my bears and get to the much-needed glass of vino. Hot dogs were on the table in their buns, one cut up for Sean who ate my dinner anyway and only the corn was left to serve. Since we were eating outside, flies love to descend upon the food and the two youngest ones hate them, which added to my haste as I need to chase them away or they won't eat. I scurried back up the steps, grabbed the pot of corn and spoon, ran back out, served my little kings their corn and margarine and hurried back up the steps to get my gourmet TV dinner when I lost my footing and the front of my foot hit the bottom step which propelled me forward into the doorway face first into the dining room with my feet dangling off the deck steps out of the doorway, buttery corn all over the floor and walls leading up to the kitchen.

All that was running through my mind was, "shit, that's gonna end up on Youtube" until I heard nothing. No laughter was heard from the rug-rats waiting outside, it was eerily quiet. I got up, brushed the corn from my hair, wiped the grease off my shirt, turned around and walked back outside to see four boys beet red looking like their little heads were going to explode if they didn't bust out laughing, They waited to make sure I was ok and NOT ANGRY and that was it, as soon as they saw me smile; guffaws flew from their lips and tears ran from their eyes from their hysterics.

It is still their favorite story to tell of the mom who thinks she's all that fall flat on her face.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I don't do vomit

My fourth son and baby, Sean, never liked school. Now in Kindergarten, he faced each day of nursery and pre-k with some type of tearful emotion. Inevitably, he would be fine after we dropped him off and full of joy when we would pick him up. It didn’t help during pre-kindergarten that he missed many, many days of school to a persistent cough which to our surprise and dismay turned out to be whooping cough, even though he did receive his inoculations. It came as no surprise that Kindergarten wasn’t met with favorably either, although, we hoped for the best since he would be attending the same school as his big brother Jason.

Many days since September he would say he didn’t feel well and would pay the school nurse frequent visits. He would complain to me in the morning or not eat his lunch, but eventually as time wore on, he has gradually gotten better, only clinging slightly to my leg. Talks from his loving teacher and calls from the nurse are commonplace regarding Sean and his “stomach ache”. (Sound familiar mom?) After a busy weekend and a lot of rushing this morning, I wasn’t surprised when I heard him utter on the way out of the house this morning, “my stomach hurts”. I pooh-poohed it as nerves since it was raining, we couldn’t walk and my husband was late getting back to us with the car. As Frank pulled up, Sean complained when I nudged him toward the car. But, they all arrived on time and yet another week of school began.

I was off from work today, and Frank had another morning appointment, so we planned on spending the afternoon “together”.  He left for his appointment and I finished my morning workout. To save money, I started my own waxing. I was doing laundry and planned on jumping right in the shower after I finished torturing my self. Since I had a quiet house alone and wanted to expedite the laundering, I undressed before the skin ripping began. I was half way done when the phone rang…it was the elementary school and on the line was the school nurse, “Hi Mrs. Haggerty, my friend Sean came to see me again today.” “Ugh!” rang out in my head. She began by discussing one never knows if he is really sick, then onto how he ran around like a maniac in gym and sometimes when he gets upset, he will visit her office which is across the hall from his brother where she will take him to say hi and it makes him feel better. But, today, Jason wasn’t in his class so she wanted to inform me and get my thoughts. I continued the brutality that laid below while I told her the events of the morning, but then realized my neighbors who we are always with and whom we carpool had the dreaded stomach bug run rampant through their home this weekend. No sooner did I pull the muslin then my son walked back in her office. She put him on the phone and I could barely hear him. I was trying to figure out if he was sick or sad and then he was gone, the phone made a sound as if it fell and the next thing I hear is the nurse back on the phone, “HE JUST THREW UP ALL OVER ME!” My husband has the car, I’m covered in wax in a very inconvenient place, it’s raining and I have no dirty clothes to put on. “Ok”, I replied, “let me find an umbrella and I will walk there, I don’t have a car.” “NO”, she yelled “CALL A CAB IF YOU HAVE TO!” I hung up the phone, looked at myself and almost peed myself laughing so hard. I grabbed pajama pants, put on my husband’s shirt (thank God he’s a slob and doesn’t put his clothes away), called my neighbor, borrowed his car, and ran up to school all sticky.

When I arrived in the nurse’s office, she was in the bathroom changing and Lisa, the Janitor, was cleaning up my son’s mess. Sean was waiting for me, my poor baby, looking terrible. As I changed his clothes, he vomited again in the bucket while I gagged. I’m terrible with vomit. My dear husband handles it much better than me. After ten thousand apologies I took my sick baby home and he has gotten sick three more times. Now he is gassing us and laughing. I can’t breathe and he thinks it’s hysterical. I guess he’s getting better. OH, and yeh, I finally finished my wax.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lunch with friends

Everyone has at least one friend from childhood or their teen years that left a lasting impression and helped to form whom they grow to be. It's the supportive friend with the shoulder you cried on. The one who built your self-confidence, not destroyed it. The one you talked to on the phone for hours until you fell asleep with the phone in your ear. The one who, unfortunately, remembered EVERYTHING. The one whose defense you ran to and the one who always ran to your side. The one that God took way too early. The one who was your maid of honor then became your first-born's godmother. The ones with unending laughs, good times and times that should never be repeated. The ones who were inseparable. Some girls find it very early on while others had to wade through the bullies and jealousy to find their perfect fit. I was lucky enough to find five in my early teens.

Some of us are fortunate enough to keep those friendships tight throughout our adult lives and sometimes life just gets in the way. Unfortunately hurtful words may be spoken, and then pride and anger take over those feelings of love and friendship. Sometimes death intervenes and pulls the brakes on everything. The six abruptly dwindled to five after a tragic loss of the glue to us all. The five split into an uneven half after hurtful words were uttered in anger. I never realized how poignant the 80's anthem from The Breakfast Club was to my life until we made plans to finally see one another again.

Eighteen years later as four of the five us sat in the diner for lunch, my eyes welled with tears at the apology I wanted to blurt out. I refrained because my words are clearer on paper or cyberspace than the slur from my emotional lips. I refrained because I didn't want to be a bumbling crybaby, but wanted to enjoy every new second with my lost friends. I didn't want to sour a happy reunion. I tried to hold my tears and turned them into laughter. I am so sorry for the painful things I said eighteen years ago. I said them in anger and frustration when I should have just communicated my thoughts. Then I lashed out. Now I discuss. It has taken many trials and tribulations to grow into me.

There was no denying a few awkward moments to begin with, but very fast it felt as comfortable as old times. It was bittersweet to hear of all the things I had missed and that they had shared. But, at the same time I was so eager to hear about their families and so happy they had each other. I had Deb all those years, who was noticeably missing because she had a family engagement. I was so tempted to wait for her to be able to join us as my crutch, but decided I am a big girl and I can do this, I don't need a crutch. When I talked to my Deb the next day, the half that stayed with me, she stated that she would have needed me as her crutch. I just love her so much and I will always be there for her.

Hours passed and it was time to head home.  I could've talked all day. It was amazing to have that time to reminisce about the crazy kids we were and how everyone's family has grown and developed. There is still so many years to catch up on and I hope we find the time to do it again; next time with Debbie. There was a point in our lives where we were all tied to each other's hips. Over the years many, many people asked about us, because where there was one, another would walk in. Now I am able to answer positively, without hesitation that they are still as beautiful as ever and doing very well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's not as easy as it looks

It's not as easy as it looks. Any parent who juggles work etc. feels like throwing in the towel sometimes. I know I may look like Wonder Woman (sans the giant tetas, gorgeous looks, utility belt, lasso and invisible car), but newsflash: I am NOT! Actually there are days I want to scream (oh...I do), sleep (never) and just walk away and let someone else run the show. Instead, I gaze at the surrounding ten loving eyes, drink a glass of Little Penguin Cabernet and forge forward to meet another day.

From my mid-thirties on I have spoken with many woman whom need to take anti-anxiety medication to survive a day of work, kids and family life. And some of them have two children or less. Imagine life for three or more and then some. It's not as easy as it looks. I've often heard parents of two or more kids say the third puts you over the edge because they are now outnumbered; therefore, what's one more. Imagine how single parents fair?

I'm one of the lucky ones who manage my days and nights without medication or sleep aids. I've even decided for the third year in a row to give up buying wine and having a daily glass with dinner or at night for Lent. That decision is more about vanity and dropping an unwanted winter pooch before the summer comes around and humiliates me. That is not as easy as it looks. I've repeatedly heard comments about my weight, some pleasant and some downright nasty and mean. I need to watch everything I ingest and have to exercise regularly because of a chronic stomach condition I have, which, when it flares up, I get hospitalized. I prefer prevention, especially since we don't have health insurance.

A close friend and former employee whom I left unemployed when I closed my business recently began online classes to begin a career in medical billing. She asked me for some tips on how I juggle everything I do. I said, oh great, we will get together for coffee and chat. It's been about three weeks and I haven't contacted her for coffee-SORRY JEN! I will soon, I promise. Although, I did speak to her before about coloring her hair, we never made a date. It's just not as easy as it looks.

I'd love to hear from working moms who have more than two children and hear their secrets. Sorry to the two and under crowd, I am not diminishing your efforts or anything that you do. It is double everything the more kids you have. I work 18 to 22 hours out of my house in a hair salon with another 20 to 25 hours a week spent writing, blogging, and building my website: The rest of the time I am in the car driving my four boys to and from school at various location and different times, to religion at two separate times, dance five times a week up to four times a day, voice lessons, band rehearsals at two other schools, NYSSMA, performances, concerts, tutoring (they tutor) competitions, play practices, church, doctors, orthodontists, dentists and ophthalmologists and once in a while a friend's house. So when I repeatedly get asked to do something that I simply cannot, I do tend to bark loudly. Oh, by the way, I have one car; a five passenger Ford Focus. I do carpool with two other people and have had lovely women help me out in a pinch. But honestly, adding third parties never works out in my favor. I just don't have the time, so yeh, it's definitely not as easy as it looks.

Don't get me wrong! Even though I run them everywhere, I love how involved they are. I love that they don't hang out and get into trouble. I love that they are all brilliant, A+ students in advanced, challenge and AP classes. I love that my oldest just got accepted into NYU. I'm in awe at the talent every one of them exudes. I love how charming and empathetic they are to anyone in need. I love the work ethic that these kids have which is better than many adults I know. And I take 100% credit for it all! That's right: 100% for giving them the tools and esteem to do what they do, the rest is all their hard work and talent. So, on my not so good days, my days when my amazing kids are making my husband stutter and me scream, I go to bed thanking GOD everyday for another day with them and asking for the strength to go on tomorrow. My prayer and my boys make it look as easy as it does.

So, how do I make it look so easy? I don't think I do. What's my secret? I don't have one. At times I feel content and at ease and at others I feel like a ticking time bomb. I think at 43, I just finally grew up and take responsibility for me. I've learned to say NO. If it doesn't fit into my life, I feel comfortable saying no now. It is my empowerment. All too often, women feel this incredible need to satisfy everyone and let ourselves go. I enjoy my weekly Zumba class. It is my time. My son needed to get picked up in the middle of my class. I got him, but took him back with me until I finished. Oh, how he was pissed. Especially since I wouldn't drop him home for him to "work out"! But, my class was closer for me than taking him home and it was my time! I would've made him walk but he had a trombone and he wasn't in a nice part of town. Earlier that day I got quite angry at a friend who incessantly asked me to go to a Mardi Gras party that I had zero time to stop for. She went so far as to follow my child and whisper repeatedly in his ear to make me take them. Sorry, but I can't be in four places at once and actually, I am not sorry. NO is NO! Saying no isn't as easy as it sounds.

I make time for me with an hour of daily exercise. Happy endorphins make for happy mamas. My husband and I fit in a weekly date and other activities, which time needs to be allotted for and which is ridiculously not as easy as it looks.

For the past seventeen years my wonderful husband and I have juggled schedules and owned our own business to raise our children. Once in a while someone reaches out a hand to help, but we are the only caregivers. My oldest has been tremendous since he can now drive and help baby-sit along with the 13 year old is now chipping in with sitting duties. All my babies have chores assigned to them and things seem to be flowing nicely. (Except for the insane gas prices-that needs to change ASAP!) I am very blessed. Blessed beyond words! Below is a video of how I definitely make it look so easy. Every week, including tonight, one of my boys are in some type of show and I get to witness first hand all of their efforts and mine. This skit was written and directed by my oldest and stars my second oldest with three talented young ladies who happen to be dear friends as well. It is a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Italian.

Even though I started writing this last week, this morning brought devastating news from Japan. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people in the Pacific.