Sunday, July 31, 2011

Can you feel the love?

Kate is home from camp. I got a phone call yesterday at 11:30 am asking when I was going to pick her up to which I responded, "oh, I'll be there around 9ish tomorrow morning, right before Mass. Is that okay?" Whoever I was speaking to kindly pointed out that, "um, well, camp actually is over today and the girls were meant to be picked up on Saturday morning, not Sunday, but it's okay, get here when you can."

The one minute it took to grab Maggie, get her dressed and throw her into the van was quite exciting. I never knew how many lively words spouses could fit into sixty seconds when they are each desperately trying to shove off the blame on the other for being the irresponsible parent who overlooked the camp pick up time and day. It was fun. He he, ho ho, ha ha, oh marriage is just always so sweet and lovely.

A few weeks ago we were sitting in church and a couple was called up to the alter for a renewal of their vows. They had been married for fifty years and Father Blase pointed out how happy and in love they still were and I thought to myself, this really isn't inspirational. What we need is two people who at times don't like each other much, yet in spite of it, they stick it out. So I raised my hand and asked if Greg and I could come up there instead.

Relax. I kid. I kid because it's fun and also because it happens to be a little true. Greg and I love each other, but honestly, after eighteen years of marriage we don't always approach one another with grace and kindness, especially in moments of stress and confusion. Some people blow sunshine up your behind and tell you they never get upset with their spouse, to which I can only respond that if marriage was always easy there would be no need to counter every positive marital vow with a negative one. It's a nice little reminder when you're standing on the altar completely in love that you aren't always going to feel this happy, things aren't always going to be this good.

If nothing else, the sometimes irritating aspects of marriage do provide me with quick blog fodder and thank goodness, because honestly I think I have officially run out of things to write about. So thank you Greg, thank you for being such a jerk yesterday. If not for you, I would have had nothing to write about today.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of camp and heat and sweat

Kate left for "nun" camp last night. We call it that because it happens to be run by a religious order of Sisters, but every time I say it I feel odd and want to clarify that Kate is not going away to become a nun. Or maybe she is. I really can't say. It certainly wouldn't be something I would discourage. Last time the girls went to this camp Jane came home and told me the Sisters were the most calm, peaceful, happy people she had ever met, so I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if one of them wanted to follow that path. You know what I was disappointed with? Jane not including me on her list of most calm, peaceful, happy people she's ever met.

Jane is in a different age group this year and so she leaves for her camp next Sunday morning. Kate won't be back home until that afternoon so they'll be away from each other for two whole weeks. This prompted them to stay up until the wee hours of the morning talking endlessly about who knows what. At some point, Jane passed out and Kate continued on, talking louder and louder in the hopes of waking Jane up. This is a nightly occurrence with Kate. She refuses to stop talking until either Jane (or me) yells for her to please stop.

Now here is where I must digress from all this talk of sleeping habits, and nun camp, and Kate being away and mention a little something about Florida heat. Some people who don't live here make fun of our extremely hot weather and talk about how unbearable it must be to live through such insufferable temperatures. Usually these people are from colder areas and making fun of our weather makes them feel better about their own. I know because I used to be one of those people. Now that I live here I make fun of the New England winters. Isn't this what life is all about anyway - mocking everything that is different from our own current experience? If you've thought of a better way to get through life, please share.

I used to believe the Florida heat caused people to dropped like flies on a regular basis. Then we moved here and I realized that, unless you're a meteorologist, weather isn't something you think about too much, other than to remember to bring a sweater with you when you go out because every church, store, library, and any other public place you happen to visit keeps the air conditioning set at frigid temperatures. This is all done to ensure that no one ever sweats, because sweating is gross and makes people smell bad, and how would we end up falling in love and having babies if we were all grossing each other out. The air conditioning is set like that to ensure the world goes on and we should be grateful and never complain about it.

Occasionally, though, we are forced to reckon with Mother Nature and her heat. Yesterday was one of those days. Kate's camp is in the forest and I suppose in order to keep things as quaint and lovely as possible this particular place is not equipped with air conditioning. This is a foolish idea.

After being there for a short time people began to sweat, and stink, and get red in the face. It wasn't pretty. I ran and hid in Greg's air conditioned truck, until Jane came and told me I was acting like a child. I reminded her that I get body odor and didn't think it was nice to inflict that on the others, but at some point I was forced to get out of the truck and be of service. That's what we're called to do as good Catholics, and trust me when I tell you I am one of the best out there. At the very least I like for others to think I am, so I sweetly asked around about making myself useful and decided to just accept the fact that no matter how much I begged God to make me stop sweating, it wasn't going to happen, not even for a good Catholic like myself.

After everyone was properly drenched and done helping the sisters set up, it was time for Mass, which was held in the hall - the hall with no air conditioning because like I said, this camp doesn't have it. People looked weak and tired, but happy, because it's nearly impossible to not be happy in Mass, even for someone like myself who spends quite a bit of her life being angry about something or other.

Mass started, the sisters sang and the priest gave an amazing homily(which I later learned none of my kids heard because they were busy wondering when the black dots they were seeing would disappear). And then it was time to give one another the sign of peace. I turned to Kate and she looked glassy and not at all excited about being there, which annoyed me, so I said, "excuse me Kate, I'm peacing you, please look happy," but she just passed out, literally. Thankfully Greg and I were there to catch her.

I'm happy to report it was nothing more serious than her getting hot and having low blood sugar. She sat for a while and ate something and promised me she would drink plenty of water and eat even if she wasn't hungry. The sisters reassured me they would look after the girls and keep them hydrated, but how can a mother not worry? I barely slept last night thinking about Kate and her cute little face and her constant, "I'm fine, don't worry about me," refrain we hear all the time, but I'm sure she is okay, since no news is good news, right?

Despite the heat and the sweat and the passing out it was a lovely day. And we filled our weekly quota for suffering. It's good to get that in at the beginning of the week.

Have a good week - and keep cool. Trust me when I say, no one wants to see you sweat.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Boy - What's herpes?

Mother - What? How did you hear about herpes?

Boy - There was an ad on TV about herpes medicine. What's herpes?

Mother - A disease.

Boy - What kind of disease?

Mother - I don't know.

Boy - Do you really not know or are you just saying that because you don't feel like telling me.

Mother - You don't really need to know what herpes is right now in your life.

Boy - I'll just ask the girls.

Mother - No you won't. Herpes is a disease you get from having sex with the wrong people.

Boy - You can get diseases from having sex?

Mother - Yeah, but only if you have sex before you're married and don't ever forget that.

Wise older sister - Well, what if you get married to someone who had pre-marital sex, but you didn't know it when you got married and they had herpes, then you can get it, too, right? How will I know if I can trust someone when they tell me they haven't had pre-marital sex?

Mother - Are you kidding me? Are you going to start this now? Can you leave the room because you're of no help at all.

Boy - Why would you have sex before you're married?

Mother - Well, YOU wouldn't have sex before your married so it really doesn't matter and we can stop talking about this.

Boy - Well, what happens to you when you get herpes.

Mother - Stuff.

Boy - What stuff?

Mother - Gross stuff.

Boy - Like what.

Mother - Well, since you won't give up talking about this - your penis falls off.

Boy - (Makes gasping sound indicating how horrible he thinks that is) If a guy's penis falls off does that mean a girl's vagina would fall off if she got it?

Mother - (excuses herself so she can go say a quick prayer asking God if perhaps she has not handled this in the best way and also, she has to laugh a little because she was not expecting that last question.)

Mother - (returns to room.) Okay, I made up the thing about your penis falling off.

Boy - Oh, good because that was really scary.

Mother - Scary enough to make you never want to engage in premarital sex.

Boy - Yes!

Mother - Then maybe that is what happens to you. I can't say for sure.

Boy - Are you just saying that to scare me?

Mother - Yes, and also I'm a horrible mother who can't handle these conversations anymore so you need to start asking your father all of this stuff otherwise I'm going to start drinking and never come out of my bedroom.

When you tell your children there is nothing that they can't come to you about, that they should only ask you and your husband certain things, they will take you seriously, especially if you have a pattern of actually engaging them in lively conversation. The tricky part is that at first the conversations are simple and sweet and you don't mind answering questions and concerns truthfully, but over time the questions become complicated and annoying and you will be left coming up with answers that are based on lies meant to make your kids scared to leave the house, because if your kids are scared to leave the house then you never have to worry about them getting into trouble and as a parent that is all you want. You want your kids to be safe forever and to never get hurt and to never have to face the world's problems.

But then you go look in the mirror and you realize that actually, it may be you who the kids need to be shielded from. You'll throw your hands up in the air and ask God why exactly he saw fit to give you four children. You'll also realize that TV is evil and this whole conversation most likely never would have happened if you didn't have a TV to begin with, at which point you decide the TV is off limits for quite some time. You may even consider telling your son that not only does herpes make your penis fall off, but so does watching Spongebob Squarepants.

note: In the interest of honesty I must admit something. I posted this this afternoon and took it down a few hours later, fearing I looked like an awful parent and that some people who don't knwo me well would misunderstand and possibly judge the interaction that takes place between me and my children. Then I realized that I was being judgemental in assuming that other people would be judgemental when reading this - or even care about it enough to form an opinion, or even that anyone would be reading this to begin with. I need to remember I am just not that important. To Deb and mom and dad...the thoughts of you guys never seeing this post made me a little sad, so here it is again. And thanks Terri!