She’s All That And A Bag Of Chips- Tabitha

Tabitha age 39 Myrtle Beach, SC

Homecoming Queen 1992

Homecoming Queen 1992

Her Story: I have had the pleasure of knowing Tabitha almost my entire life. Anyone who has ever met her has described her the same way. She’s beautiful. Absolutely stunning to look at and equally beautiful on the inside. Her smile and laugh could light up an entire room. She is the second oldest child in a family of seven. Her childhood was full of love, laughing, sports, dancing, singing, theatre and music. One of my favorite memories of Tabitha was in 7th grade. It made such a profound impact on me that I still remember it vividly today.  Tabitha saw a classmate sitting all by himself at a lunch table.  He hung his head low and seemed sad. He was a little nerdy by 7th grade standards but Tabitha certainly didn’t mind. She saw a soul in need of some company. With no explanation she excused herself and joined him. I remember it shocking me. She was so brave and kind. A true leader. Despite her immense popularity, she never let it get to her head.  She was always grounded and knew what was important in life.  She was only twelve at the time yet seemed wise beyond her years. She knew that outward beauty was only a temporary thing here on earth and that the truly beautiful things in life were much deeper.

At the young age of 18, Tabitha was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. A disease that has unzipped her outward shell and allowed her to focus on the core of her inner soul.

When did you first realize that something was wrong?  It was a series of events. First I developed blurred vision but I didn’t think much about it. I got some glasses and they seemed to fix the problem. Then I started to struggle with school.  I was always a good student but suddenly math became almost impossible. In fact, it prevented me from graduating high school on time. Everyone thought I was goofing off and not focusing on my school work but it was more than that.  I couldn’t remember formulas and nothing made sense in the classroom.  Actually, the only thing in my life that did make sense to me was music, so I focused on that. I love to sing. Then one morning I woke up and my entire left side of my body was completely numb. I was only 18. That’s when I saw a neurologist.  Two weeks later after a series of tests, I got the diagnosis.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?  It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks your nervous system.  The nervous system is damaged with lesions disrupting the flow of messages from the brain. It affects everyone differently but the disease can alter your ability to walk, talk, see and think.  There are periods of time when my symptoms are better, it’s called remission.  And there are other times when the symptoms are worse, a relapse.

How did you initially react to having a chronic disease?  I was stunned.  Stunned mentally, physically and emotionally.  For years actually. The night I got the diagnosis I remember feeling so sad and crying. The bishop from my church came to my house and said a prayer with me. He gave me strength to put one foot in front of the other and reassured me that this disease was not a punishment or in any way my fault. That kind of support really helped me.

When did you accept it? I used to write a lot of poems.They helped me sort through my emotions surrounding the diagnosis. I also remember a life changing line in the movie Shawshank Redemption.  As silly as it sounds, it changed my outlook and helped me. The character Brooks said it best, “get busy living or get busy dying”.  So I figured I better get busy living.

What symptoms have you experienced?  I’m legally blind, I have sporadic neuropathy (heaviness and painful prickles) in feet, hands and legs, balance issues, forgetfulness, incontinence, dizziness, numbness, shakes and muscle spasms.  Basically my nerves are having a party and I’m not invited.  I mean, honestly, sometimes I beat myself up trying to brush my teeth. (laughs)

You have a good sense of humor, don’t you?  Yes,  you have to!  Everybody needs to laugh more! (laughs again)

How does this affect your everyday life?  It affects everything, everyday.  It’s something I have learned to accept. I can’t drive, I can’t read and it’s an effort to walk.  Daily living is a challenge. I have to focus on every movement and every breath but ya know what…it keeps me living in the present.

Do you ever feel isolated and alone? Yes.  I feel alone from the world I once knew.  I have no patience for people who seem to live on another planet.  Ya know?  So many people have no clue about what’s really important in life.  They get caught up in the material stuff.  So, yes, I feel like I’m alone when I hear people talk about meaningless  crap and I’m focused on living.

What makes you feel good?  Laughing.  Helping others . Singing. I love to sing.  God gave me that gift. I also like things tidy.  I think I became a neat freak after my diagnosis.  It’s something I can control.

What has living with MS taught you about life?  To chill out and put things into perspective.  Everything is not as serious as you think it is.  Give yourself a break. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do!

What advice would you give someone who has been diagnosed with MS?  Accept the disease, don’t fight it. You have MS; MS does not have you.  Learn its rules and how to live together. When you do this, you will find harmony.

How can we help others with this disease?  Be kind. It’s that simple. Offer help, be compassionate, lend an ear, share a laugh or visit.  Just make sure they have what they need and keep them safe. Use empathy and avoid sympathy.

As a patient, what would you like neurologists and doctors to know about living with this disease? Please treat me as a person, not a diagnosis.

Here’s why we think Tabitha is all that and a bag of chips

Although she has a whole bunch of reasons to complain, she doesn’t. She focuses on what she can do instead of what she cannot do. Sometimes when people “get busy living” they deserve to be recognized. Tabitha’s perseverance leaves me in awe every time we speak. No matter how bad my day is, she grounds me and keeps me focused on what really matters in life.  Thank you Tabitha! I know you have helped others by sharing your story. Hold your head high and walk proudly, there are others behind you.

be kind quote

 

 

 

 

The Olaf Debacle

For at least a month (and that is no exaggeration) Maggie, age 3, has been begging me on a daily basis to wear her “Olaf with the carrot nose” costume.  And when I say daily, I actually mean several hundred times a day.  It became laughable.

Olaf

 

“You have to wait until Halloween Mags” was my usual reply.  Routinely she followed up with a confirmation “Halloween?”

Yes.  On Halloween you can wear Olaf and you will be the cutest Olaf in all the land.”

“Ok.  Mommy.  When is Halloween?”

“When the leaves turn orange and all the kids wear costumes.”

We repeated this conversation a few thousand times and just before we both completely lost our minds, Harborween arrived. Every fall we drive four hours to visit our friends in Vermont and celebrate something called Harborween.  It is a fun tradition.  It’s a pre-halloween celebration and a chance for all the kids to wear their costumes, carve pumpkins and trick-or-treat.  At last, Olaf could be revealed to the world.  I lugged the whole costume.  The fuzzy head with the carrot nose.  The snowman’s midsection, some white pants to wear underneath the snowman suit, the white shoes and a white turtleneck.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a child so excited to wear a costume in all my years as a mom.  We laid everything out the night before. When I kissed her goodnight I reminded her that tomorrow she could finally wear her costume.  She was delighted and fell asleep with a smile.

The following day I had a plan.  Trick-or-treating was scheduled for the evening hours so I knew I needed to feed the kids a decent meal before we left.  Food before trick-or-treating is absolutely necessary to keep mood swings and sugar highs under control. All moms know this.  Of course, this means that they have to eat before they put on their costumes to avoid the drama of spills.  I can’t even begin to imagine the scene that might happen if their only costume got ruined with a spill. GASP!  And because I suck at time management;  I fed my children in the usual manner before trick-or-treating…military style.

I must admit that I have a rhythmic way of pulling their chair out, ordering them to sit down and slapping food on a plate.  Then I linger to keep them on task.  I literally stand over them and monitor every bite with my arms crossed pacing back and forth like a drill sergeant.  Doesn’t that sound relaxing?  Well, let’s be honest, Halloween is not a time to relax.  We have a mission to complete.  I looked around the table.  All four kids were wide-eyed and focused on eating but for my entertainment I continue to taunt them,“If you want candy, you need to eat!  Let’s go little people!”

They shoveled their food in like good soldiers and one by one I sent them to get their costumes on.  Getting four kids ready for Halloween is no small task.  It is a well oiled machine with lots of moving parts.  There is always lots of stress.  Normally I am either barking orders or building their confidence, depending on each child’s personality.   “You look great, no really you do!  Just go!”  “You picked your costume, don’t blame me.”  ‘”I  told you it would be chilly.  You wouldn’t listen”  These are normal things heard in our house every single year.  There is always a certain amount of drama no matter how much you plan but this year I was caught off guard.

Maggie’s moment had arrived.  I took a deep breath and calmly approached my 3-year-old on one knee, “Maggie, guess what?  You get to wear Olaf now.”  

Her response shocked me. Perhaps it was my militant parenting style at dinner or maybe it was the mach 5 level of chaos in the room.  I’m not sure what it was but Maggie did NOT want to put her costume on.

“No!  I don’t want to!”

“What?  Of course you want to!  You have been begging me to wear this costume everyday for a month.  You love Olaf.”  

Then suddenly, without warning, Olaf was the devil.

“No!  NOOOOOO!  NO Olaf! I no like Olaf!  No mask!  I don’t want to wear a mask! I don’t like Halloween.”

Are you freaking kidding me?  What is this little brat doing?  She’s the one who begged me to buy Olaf.  My dumb ass actually spent money on a costume. I know better!  She tricked me. I wanted to spit venom and say evil things like ‘listen you little shit.  Put Olaf on and like it!  I’m not playing this stupid ass toddler defiance bullshit game.  You have been annoying the shit out of me for a whole month to wear this stupid snowman costume, now wear it!’ But instead I remained classy and spoke like a lady…

“Honey.  What’s wrong?  Look.  It’s your buddy, Olaf.” 

The thought of being forced to wear a mask with a carrot nose apparently traumatized Maggie.  Because we all know how terrifying a snowman can be, right?  (wink, wink) There was no rationalizing with my stubborn toddler.

“No, Olaf!   He’s NOT my buddy mommy!   NOOOOOO! I don’t wike him!  No mask-is (her word)”

I tried every tactic I could think of. “I’m getting your father.”  “We’re leaving”  “Do you want candy or not?”   “Olaf will be sad if you leave him here.”  “Please? You will look so cute!” “Come on Mags. You’ve been looking forward to this day” and then I finished up my very persuasive toddler conversation with my personal favorite,  “That’s it!  You stay here with daddy!”  This sent Maggie into a frenzy.  Apparently, watching football with daddy was not nearly as fun as trick-or-treating.  Who knew?  “No, no, no.  You hold me!  I want to go mommy but I don’t want to wear Olaf.”

I hugged her out of guilt because I was annoyed!!!  Then I sprinkled in a little sarcasm like all good mothers do. “Yes Maggie.  Look at Olaf with his carrot nose and fuzzy little head over there smiling at us.  He’s a very scary snowman, isn’t he?”

Unsure how to answer she slowly nodded yes and hugged me tight still muttering “I no like Olaf” under her breath.

“Yes, you have made that clear.”

I noticed the three older kids were getting antsy as they watched the clock tick.  We needed to get moving if we wanted any candy.  It was one of those mothering moments that I was forced to take a step back and put life into perspective.  I decided to give up. Olaf wasn’t happening.  “Ok, Maggie.  Get dressed. We will go watch the kids trick-or-treat.”  

Then everything calmed down and resumed to a normal level of chaos. I’ve never seen a 3-year-old so excited to wear jeans and t-shirt.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this year.  Olaf will go down in history as the most expensive Halloween costume that I was ever conned into buying.  I moved on but I’ll have everyone know that I didn’t  Let it Go.

Olaf can kiss my ass.  Stupid effin snowman.

She’s All That And A Bag Of Chips- Beth

Beth age 39 Norfolk, Massachusetts

Beth Reilly

 

 

Her Story:  Meet Beth.  Isn’t she cute?  Beth is happily married and has an adorable 8 year old son name Braedon. All was normal in their life until they tried to conceive a second baby.  After two miscarriages and seeing an infertility clinic, they were finally pregnant with their second child!  You can imagine how blessed they felt to be pregnant and when they found out it was a girl; it seemed perfect.  This pregnancy went well until the 20 week ultrasound revealed something different.  After several weeks of follow-up tests, it was clear that Beth had an unusual hole in her uterus. Despite plans for bed rest and attempts to keep the baby in utero; she made her grand entrance much earlier than anyone could have anticipated.  Kate Anne was born on December 21st 2010. She was 23 1/2 weeks old and weighed 1lb -7 ounces.  She was admitted to the NICU immediately .

For the next two weeks Beth spent endless hours at her bedside showering her premie with motherly love. Every minute spent with her felt like a gift. Kate had good days and bad days but nobody could argue that she was an amazing little soul. How could someone so tiny make such a big impact in the world?  The NICU staff became an extended family to Beth and she looked forward to her visits daily. Beth knew that if she survived, she would have challenges but she never expected to hold a lifeless baby.  On January 7th 2011, Beth held Kate for the first time as she said goodbye. Kate Anne died and she took a piece of Beth with her.  It was hard.  Really hard.  Nothing can prepare a mother for the loss of a baby.  Nobody wants to hear about a baby dying. Nobody knows what to say and Beth was no different. “Friends and family pull you through the darkness” says Beth.  Tears welled in her eyes as she explained to me about how important it is to support those grieving. “There were at least a hundred people who made the effort to attend Kate’s funeral and say goodbye with us; some of them were the doctors and nurses who cared for her at the hospital.  That meant a lot. I’m forever changed as a person. The grief never escapes you but you learn different ways to cope.”

What’s your biggest fear?   I’m afraid that as the years pass, Kate will be forgotten.  I am also haunted by the fear that something will happen to my only living child.  I find myself protecting him from everything.

What’s your advice to other Mom’s suffering with the grief of losing a baby?  Don’t be too hard on yourself.   Losing a baby is an emotional roller coaster and everyone deals with grief in their own way.  It’s normal to have bad days and feel angry or sad.  Allow yourself the time to heal. If someone reaches out to help you, grab their hand.  It helps to know you are not alone and to talk about how you are feeling.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to support a grieving friend?  Just be there and listen.  Small gestures make a big difference.  A hug, a quick text or a phone call is often a ray of light on a dark day.  Your effort matters, despite the reaction you receive at the moment.

What are some things you do to remember Kate?  Sometimes when I’m thinking about her I do something simple.  I might wear pink or buy some beautiful flowers.  We also donated some rocking chairs to the NICU and engraved them, With Love For Kate. Some of my favorite moments with Kate were spent in the rocking chair next to her isolette.  I read her books to pass the time and bond with her.  One of my favorite books to read was called  On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.  After Kate passed, we donated over a hundred copies of this book to the NICU. One day recently I went to visit the NICU and saw a little girl reading one of the books we donated to her premie sibling.  It made me smile.

What did Kate teach you? I know this sounds cliche’ but it’s so true.  She taught me to live life to the fullest and love wholeheartedly.  Every minute of this life is valuable and every child is a gift. Your circumstances can change in an instant and you never get that time back.

Here’s why we think Beth is All That And A Bag Of Chips: Despite suffering an unimaginable loss, she continues to move forward and help others who have also suffered.  Beth volunteers countless hours of her time working with the March of Dimes.  She helps organize a walk to remember other babies who lost their lives, speaks publicly to raise awareness and participates in an annual charity golf tournament.  “Sharing my story with other mothers who have endured the same pain is very healing” Beth explains.

Way to pay it forward Beth!  We love you!

be kind quote

 

 

 

She’s All That And A Bag Of Chips

A few years ago I was mentally in a bad place.  I was having a real pity party feeling sorry for myself. It’s out of character for me because I’m usually spewing insane amounts of awesomeness. (cough) This time I wasn’t feeling so awesome or smiling.  In fact, I felt pretty crappy.   Trapped in circumstances beyond my control.  It wasn’t one particular thing, it was the combination of many.  We moved to a new place, my marriage was struggling, my husband lost his job, we were dealing with a law suit with a corporate giant, we lost money in real estate and we had a baby in NICU that we were not prepared for.  I remember the moment clearly.  I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom.  I heard my three small children bickering over a toy downstairs and all I could think about was Maggie, my fourth child.  She was my newest addition that was stuck in the NICU with PPHN.  She was the sickest baby in the unit.  I was not allowed to hold her.  I picked up my phone and called the NICU.  I thought an update would ease my mind.  It didn’t.  I hung up with the nurse.  Nothing has changed was my update.  Great.  She’s still sick as hell and I’m still here….trapped in the chaos. I was surrounded by cardboard boxes that were stacked to the ceiling.  The movers dropped them there and they didn’t move for a month.  Life was tailspinning.  I tried to motivate myself because it felt like the right thing to do. I got up and found a pair of scissors to open a box.  I cut the masking tape off and inside I found at least thirty sweatshirts.  I grabbed the one on top and folded it perfectly.  I needed order in my life.  A closet seemed to be a good place to start.  I had a vision of stacking each sweatshirt in a neat pile but when I walked into the closet I was overwhelmed by the mountain of boxes blocking my way.   I threw my folded sweatshirt on the floor, flopped on my unmade bed and cried my eyes out.  It was too much.

Then God did something.  He sprinkled good people into my life when I needed them most.   Actually, they were people that have always been there but this time I opened my eyes.  I looked around and realized that I wasn’t alone.  Everyone has a story..everyone. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one, a disease, a divorce or a job loss but every single person in your life has something. We all walk through thick, heavy mud at some point in our lives.  Sometimes we get so buried in mud and escaping on our own seems impossible. Like so many, I needed help. I needed a firm, genuine grasp of a strong hand to pull me out. At one point, I also needed a couple of hands behind me to nudge me forward but guess what?  I got out.

mud shoe

Now I’m standing on the other side watching friends and loved ones walk through their own mud.  I often reach out to those I love and care about.  Sometimes it’s all they need and I know first hand how much it helps.  Once you’ve been through it, you walk more cautiously. The muddy bank is slippery.  I  believe the expert’s call this the cycle of life.  And for every human life, there is a truck load of bullshittery (great word) dumped in every garden of goodness.

As women, we are too judgmental.  Ladies, enough of the jealousy, cattiness and competition. We should help our friends when they are down and celebrate them when they are up.  That’s why I am starting a new segment called  She’s all that and a bag of chips.  Yes, I know…what a title, right?  So 1990 awesome!  Let’s be honest. It’s one thing to be All that but when you throw in a bag of chips; things get REAL!   Each week I will celebrate chicks in my life that deserve a pat on the back.  It’s a spotlight on everyday women who go above and beyond and make the rest of us scratch our heads wondering how they do it.  Each one is special and I have chosen to celebrate them for different reasons.  Some are survivors and some are warriors.  Some are completely selfless and some are leaders.  One thing is for certain, they all deserve a little love.  Join me next week and let’s all hug it out.

If you know of a female who deserves some sugah let Mrs. D know about it.  Send an email to mrsdohertyunleashed@gmail.com telling me who it is and why you think she’s all that and a bag of chips.

 

It Never Ends

It’s an average spring day in May at my house.  3/4 of the kids are at school.  The laundry is spinning, the sink is piled with breakfast dishes and the dishwasher is loaded with clean dishes that need to be put away. I’ll get to those eventually. I’m sipping my coffee with one hand and logging onto my bank account with the other.  My 2-year-old, Maggie, is begging me to paint.  She pleas her case over and over again as she swings on the dining room chair legs in a rhythmic fashion.  She has already mastered begging.  Her tone and persistent whining are like fingernails on a chalkboard to an exhausted mom searching for a few moments of peace.

“Can I puwease paint somefing… anyfing..puwease Mommy!

I talk to myself.  Why paint?  Paint is messy.  Attempting to buy myself a little time, I respond. “Maybe later honey.  Why don’t you color?” 

“Nooo!  I don’t wike colors.”

I ignore her nasty attitude and study her.  Her arms are crossed tight and her eyes are angry but there is something adorable about her.  I love the innocence of her problem.  It makes me smile. I think psychologists call this motherly love. I call it happiness. I’ve learned that fighting with a 2-year-old never goes well. It’s best to smile and watch their bad attitude dissolve.

Ted is literally laying under my feet and slowly rolls onto his back.  He needs me to rub his belly with the heel of my foot.  I oblige and he thanks me with his chocolate-brown eyes.  

Bing.

The sound of a new email snaps me out of my daze.

images

Subconsciously that subtle bing sound gives me a mild panic attack.  Who is it this time? Perhaps it’s the team mom or the class mom. It doesn’t really matter I suppose.  Much like a child screaming “Moooooom!”  The fact that someone needs me for something I really don’t want to do makes me instantly annoyed. I mentally respond to emails with the same attitude I give my children when they cry my name.

“Whaaat? What do you want?”

I finish paying a few bills and then click over to my inbox and check my new message.  The title alone makes me cringe, “class sign up” It’s that time of year again when I am forced to donate obscene amounts of time, money and effort into school parties, sports, after school activities, teacher conferences and random celebrations.  Every single email requires some type of commitment from me.  I open the email that was sent less than 10 minutes ago, yet I am the last parent to sign up.  And by the way, how the hell does that happen? Did the class mom call all of her friends and warn them that a sign up email would be sent and to get ready in 3-2-1?  I mean really?  Ugh.  The only things left on the list were cupcakes and cookies.  Go ahead and call me an overachiever but I was kinda praying for napkins or paper plates.  I stared at the screen hoping another parent would magically sign up for both items right before my eyes and all the motherly guilt would be lifted from my soul but that did not happen.  The only mom’s left to sign up were the slackers; myself included. Sigh.  Should I do cupcakes?  No, Maybe cookies? Hmmm…distracted by another email.

Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

Will Flynn be at baseball practice today?

And then another, Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

We are asking parents to send in a donation for the teacher gift?

Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

Will Molly be at soccer practice tomorrow?

Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

Will the 2-2:30 time slot work for our parent/teacher conference?

Bing

All dancers will need a hair bow to match their costume for the dance recital.

Bing

Just a friendly reminder that we have you signed up to bring orange slices Saturday.

Bing

Have you paid your team dues yet?   They are due this week.  Thanks so much!

Bing, Bing, Bing...

It never ends.  Slowly but surely my calendar fills up and my bank account is depleted.  All I did was check my email and my mood completely changed.  I went from having a great day to feeling overwhelmed and broke.  I close my laptop to hide from the world.

“Mommy?  Can I paint now?”

“Yes Maggie.  That’s a great idea.  Let’s paint.”

Suddenly, painting sounds like an amazing idea.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I cannot wait for the summer.  I have absolutely nothing planned.

Clearly, We Love Each Other

This past weekend was Flynn’s 10th birthday.  In my mind, 10 is a big one.  We have entered double digits and he is now only a few short years away from the dreaded teenage years.  I did what every mother does on their child’s birthday.  I asked myself the age-old question “Where has the time gone?”.   My eyes filled with tears as I  looked at baby photos. Look at this little cutie pie!

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Basically, I sent myself into a maternal emotional roller coaster that scared Flynn.  The morning began when I forced him to hear about the joy I felt when I became a mother and held him for the first time.  I could tell by the way he stared at the floor and continuously changed the subject that my story inspired him.  The poor kid couldn’t walk anywhere near me all day without me grabbing his arm and pulling him in for an awkward bear hug.

I love to taunt him when he is trying to avoid me.  One day he will learn that his life would be easier if he would just give me a decent hug without making me beg for it.

I have to say; I’ve become a good hugging coach.  “Come on buddy.  Wrap your arms around your mom.  You can do it.”

If I am persistent, I can still get a real hug out of him but usually it’s a no-arm leaner.  Sigh.  I’ve been working on him for a decade and I’m not about to quit now, damn it.  I have dreams of him coming home from college and giving me a completely voluntary hug.  Is that sad?  Normal people dream about going to Fiji or winning the lottery not a good hug. Right?

Anyway, Flynn is a total guy.  If you ask him about his day he responds “Fine”.  He hates to be the center of attention and usually requests that I don’t surprise him at school with huge cupcakes and my famous tambourine solo (just kidding).  How does this child have my DNA? It has taken me 10 years to learn that planning a birthday party for someone who prefers not to have one is a waste of time.  So this year, I respected his request and kept his birthday simple but that didn’t stop me from being a big mush all day.  By dinner time he was rolling his eyes when I repeated “I can’t believe you’re 10!”

“Mom!!!  Stop!”  he kept saying.

“Aw, I’m sorry.  Am I annoying you?  Listen kid.  It’s devastating for a mother.  Pretty soon you will be too cool for me and you won’t hug me any more.”

He was so annoyed with me. “Mom!!”

“Just promise you will always hug me and I’ll leave you alone. Ok?”

“Fine!”

“And I want a picture of you with your cake today, OK.”

“Fine!”

Fast forward to cake time.  I don’t know what it’s like at your house but at ours, it takes a small miracle to get everyone looking at the camera and smiling.  I wanted a nice picture of Flynn and his siblings around the cake.  Armed with my camera, the drama began.

Me:“OK Flynn.  Smile.

He looked miserable.  So miserable that it made me laugh.

Ming: “Flynn.  Smile for your mother.”

Molly: “Dude.  Smile”

Flynn: (now angry and screaming) “I AM!”

Take 1

 

photo-15

Molly helping Flynn smile

Me: “Ok.  I need all 4 kids next to Flynn for a quick picture.  Maggie?  Where’s Maggie?  We just need Maggie and then I can take the picture.  Wait?  What’s going on? Teagan, why are you crying?”

Teagan: (screaming) “Flynn is pushing me!!!!”

Me: “Flynn!!!!  Leave her alone.  I mean it.  Since when do you push a girl.  Honestly!”

Flynn: “I’m not pushing her, she’s breathing on me.”

Me: “Breathing on you?  What are you talking about? Molly, look at my camera not daddy’s.”

Molly:  “Let’s hurry up and take the picture!  I am excited!  I love cake!  I want a big piece.  Can I please have a big piece?  Please. Please.  Pleeeeeaaase?”

Me: “Molly, it’s not your birthday.  Settle down.  Ok, if I could get everyone to stop crying and look at me, that would be great.”

Teagan: “It’s not my fault.  I can’t stop crying.  Flynn is making me cry worser.”

Maggie: “I can’t see.  I want cake too.  Can I have cake pwease?”

TAKE 2

Flynn didn't want Teagan to breathe on his cake

We are a happy family!  Very happy!

Teagan: “Flynn!  Mom said I NEED to get closer to be in the picture.”

Flynn: “No.  You are fine right where you are you little pip squeak.”

Teagan: “Mom?  He called me a pip squeak!” (more tears)

Me: “Oh my God.  Flynn, please let her in the picture.”

Ming: “Come on guys.  Let’s go!  Knock it off.

Me: “Ew Molly.  What are you doing?”

Molly: “What?  I like icing.  I just want a little lick.”

Flynn: (shoves molly) “Get away from my cake.  That’s disgusting!”

Take 3

Flynn is distracted shielding Teagan's breath and Molly sees an opportunity

And then I said the words that confirm that I am the world’s most patient and amazing mother.

Me: “Ok.  Nevermind.  Let’s just sing happy freakin birthday and get this over with. You guys really know how to ruin a perfectly good birthday.”

 

Clearly, we love each other and I am an amazing mother.

 

Which reminds me of one of my all time favorite Vine videos:

Click here to see a video

 

 

 

 

The Not So EZ Pass

Marriage is a funny thing.  Newlyweds seem to start off as two individuals learning how to live together and then over the years you find yourself merging like a bad traffic jam, sharing the same thoughts and quirks. Sometimes you don’t even realize that what you are doing is different or strange until an outsider lets you know.  Let me give you an example.  Years ago in our life before kids, my husband and I lived in a town house.  The most exciting thing about that town house was the fireplace.  We absolutely loved that fireplace!   We were young and we really couldn’t afford to buy tons of firewood to burn so we improvised.  We would go to the local grocery store and stock up on fire starting logs and burn them sparingly.  We would burn them one at a time never adding real wood to the mix.  When the starter log burned out, then the fire was over.  It was cheap, easy to clean and lasted just about the right amount of time.  It never occurred to us that our little habit was strange until one night our friends came over for dinner and laughed at our pitiful example of ambiance.  It was an embarrassing eye opener but I know we aren’t alone.  Couples all over America fall victim to weird habits of cohabitation.

WHICH BRINGS ME TO THE REAL STORY….

Recently, Ming (the hubs) and I went for a little weekend getaway to Maine and we witnessed our friends Scott and Aviva displaying one of these weird quirks first hand.

For those of you already familiar with EZ Pass; please forgive me for a moment while I explain it to the rest of the group.  EZ Pass is a small device that drivers mount on their dashboard.

ez passIt’s about the size of a deck of playing cards and it’s designed to make life easier for drivers who use toll roads.  It is very simple to set up and automatically deducts money from your online bank account as you pass through a toll booth.

ez pass works

It saves time.  You don’t ever need to look for spare change while driving or bring your vehicle to a complete stop.  IF…you use it correctly.

Now where was I?  Oh yes…

Ming and I were in the backseat of Scott’s car.  Scott was driving and his wife, Aviva, was riding shotgun.  We were heading north through Maine when it happened.   There, on the horizon, was the first toll booth.   Tension picked up in the car as we got closer and closer to the toll booth.  Aviva made eye contact with Scott and you could tell by the look in her eye that it was game on!  She quickly opened the glove compartment and began fumbling through its entire contents.  Things were flying left and right as she searched for something specific.

Scott kept his eye on the road and carefully picked a lane.

“You got it Aviva?”

“Yes.  It’s ready to go.” she was a little short of breath at this point.

Ming and I watched in awe from the backseat.  We couldn’t figure out what these two were doing.

Then Aviva, now sweating, quickly unwrapped the EZ pass out of the original foil wrapper and held it up to the windshield.  She looked uncomfortable stretching in her seatbelt as she leaned all the way forward.  As we entered the toll lane Scott slowed the car to almost a complete stop and assisted his wife.  Together they held the EZ pass towards the sky as if it were a chalice of wine during a holy communion.

Please accept my EZ Pass!  Please accept it!  Please!

Please accept my EZ Pass! Please accept it! Please!

They waited patiently praying that all would go well.  Finally, the toll light turned green and they had confirmation that their EZ pass worked.  Success!  They gazed at each other the way couples do after a good therapy session.  They were on the same page, working together as a team.

“What the hell was that?” Ming whispered in my ear.

I shrugged my shoulders confused and in disbelieve.  “I donno.” I answered.

I asked Scott and Aviva the plaguing question, “Was that the first time you ever used your EZ pass?”

“Oh no!” they answered in unison.

This confused us “No?? Um what?” We laughed a nervous laugh trying to make sense of the scene we just witnessed.

Ming couldn’t keep quiet “Why do you keep the EZ pass in the original wrapper inside your glove compartment?  Please tell me the rationale behind that one.”

I thought this was a fair question and we listened intently.

“We don’t use it that much.” Aviva responded.

“Then why did you buy it?” asked Ming

“Because we used to need it quite often.” she answered with confidence.

Scott added his opinion as if it would clear things up “It never works right. We have to keep it in that wrapper so it doesn’t demagnetize.”

“Umm…demagnetize???  Like a hotel key?  What are you talking about?” I added.

“Yes”  Scott answered with confidence.  “And we leave it in the glove compartment so the GPS can’t find us.”

Ming busted out laughing.  He couldn’t take it anymore.  “Oh my God!  You’re an idiot!”

Scott looked out the window pondering what he had just said out loud. He now wondered if he really was an idiot. The thought of spending the rest of the weekend with Ming suddenly felt like a chore.  He knew this was going to be a long day.

Ming continued to belittle Scott, “If you go to the trouble to register an EZ pass and to have it in your car, doesn’t it make sense to put it on your dashboard so that it’s easy?”

Without any hesitation at all and with great passion they both answered in unison as if his suggestion was a ridiculous one.
“NOOOOO!”

I chimed in “So, you two think it’s a horrible idea to mount your EZ pass on your dashboard?”

Scott defended himself. “Absolutely! I’m not mounting that on my dashboard permanently.”

Ming and I couldn’t stop laughing.  We couldn’t figure out why they were so against mounting the device.  It made no sense.

“Yes.  Why would one EVER mount something on their dashboard permanently?  Oh, the horror!”  I was laughing so hard at this point I was cracking myself up. “It’s not like it’s your high school graduation tassel.”

Scott continued to drive and ignore our bantering.

I continued “Ya know what Scott?  We should call your EZ pass the not so EZ pass’!”

Ming recapped their thoughts out loud for all of us. “So instead of mounting it on your dashboard like the rest of the world.  You find it easier to keep it inside the wrapper, inside your glove compartment and hold it up to the windshield every time you go through a toll booth.  Is that correct?”

“Yes!” they confirmed.

 

Well alrighty then….

Do you and your spouse have any bizarre quirks?  Please share! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleanzilla

For the most part, I have always considered myself a somewhat tidy person.  I am not by any standards a neat-freak but I seem to have a wall that I hit when things get too disgusting in my house.  This threshold has gotten looser and looser with each new addition to our family.   Let’s just say that by the time the fourth kid came along, my “clean” standards have dropped considerably.

Over the years February has become my mortal enemy.  For the entire month we are cooped up in the house.  Everyday it’s cold, dark and gray outside. Where does the sun go?  I mean, for the love of all sanity, make an appearance will ya?  Yesterday the queen of all things warm made her grand appearance.  It’s like losing a child in the clothes rack at Target.  Should I kiss her warm lips or spank her ass for hiding? Anyway, I tried to enjoy her presence. It was that late morning sunshine. So bright and delightful.  I closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my face.  It made me smile.  I took a deep cleansing breath.  It’s the way I would breathe if I ever made it to a yoga class.  I felt so relaxed.  All of my problems vanished for a moment and life was good.

And then… I opened my eyes. That special bond I had with the sun was instantly over. The first thing I noticed were the disgusting, dirty windows.  And I am not talking about your normal dirty windows.  These were February windows.  It’s a combination of fingerprints, large amounts of dust and moisture that join together to form a sticky grime. The sort of grime you might find in a frat house.  Short of breath and embarrassed  by my own housekeeping, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a full bottle of Windex and a banner of paper towels.   I sprayed and wiped in a frantic fashion until it was eventually clean.  How could I have missed this?  I look out of this window every single day.  Apparently the gray clouds of winter mask poor house cleaning.  In some ways it’s delightful and relaxing but when that first burst of sunlight pours through your home; prepare for the embarrassing reality. I feel the same way when I step on the scale after the holidays. It’s overwhelming. The paper towel went from pure white to army green as I made a welcome entryway for the sunshine that I have missed all of these dark, cold months.  I stepped back and admired my work.  It’s interesting how cleaning a window can make the whole room feel clean.

I talked to myself and made a promise to do that more often. I walked back into the kitchen and bent down to put the Windex back under the sink.  The sunlight followed me and magnified more grime.  There, along the baseboards, I saw splatters of all sorts. Apparently someone spilled a chocolate milk and what seemed to be an entire  bowl of spaghetti sauce but never thought to wipe it off of the baseboard. I grabbed some disinfectant spray and began scrubbing.  I shamed myself under my breath as I continued to work diligently.  What on earth?  How did I let this get so bad?  I scrubbed and scrubbed until the baseboard returned to its original white color.

441237_1273750429847_full

Again, I promised myself that I would make a point to look at those baseboards more often.  Thirsty from all of that scrubbing; I rewarded myself with a little water break.  I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water.  I put it to my lips and just before I took my first sip, I noticed the spots.  Water spots on the glass. Tons of them.  What on earth is going on?  I’m a pig.  No maybe I’m just raising pigs. I’m not sure but I do know that I’m the only one who notices or cares.  Disgusted, I put the spotted glass in the sink and that’s when I noticed the hot chocolate and coffee stains all over the counter.  This is the moment when I felt myself losing it.  It’s as if I couldn’t move fast enough.  I cleaned the counter and then all of my actions became a blur.  I ran from appliance to appliance cleaning like a complete lunatic.  My eyes couldn’t find anything clean.  Every single thing I looked at was dirty. The refrigerator was decorated with hand prints, the oven door was brown, crumbs were all over the toaster, a bowl of spaghetti exploded in the microwave, water stains on the dishwasher, dust on the lights and the place mats were stuck to the table with syrup.  A demon took over my body and I have no idea what I was muttering under my breath when my daughter walked in to find me.  God bless her poor sweet, innocent soul.

With great caution she whispered; “Mom?  Are you okay?”

I snapped “No.  I am NOT okay.  Are you okay?”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened.  I just realized that I live with a bunch of pigs.  Disgusting dirty pigs.  All of you.  Did you spill a chocolate milk and leave it for me to clean up?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Either you did or you didn’t.”

“Well.  I did.  But I definitely cleaned it up.”

Then my head spun around a few times and I pointed to the baseboards. “You didn’t clean the baseboards!  I’ll tell you that!  They were filthy.  Totally gross! I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed them for 10 minutes.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it..”

She stopped talking and looked at me like she was afraid to say another word.  I must’ve had steam coming out of my ears and devil horns on my head because she backed out of the kitchen slowly so I wouldn’t attack.  Armed with a disinfectant spray and an unbroken stream of nasty comments under my breath; I returned to my cleaning.

I heard my husbands footsteps coming down the stairs and heading toward the kitchen and I felt myself getting angrier and angrier.  I needed an adult to verbally abuse.  Why am I the only one who cleans?  Shouldn’t he be 50% responsible?  When will these kids be old enough to clean the right way?  He walked in the kitchen and was heading for the coffee maker when my 8-year-old stopped him in his tracks.

“Dad.  Don’t go in there.  I’m warning you.”

“Why?”

She pointed and stared at me like a monster “It’s not Mom.  It’s Cleanzilla and you don’t want to get in her way!”

 

 

 

 

 

What Would Mrs. D Say?

Dear Mrs. D:

I have a great guilt thinking that my 13-year-old daughter is a bitch.  Are these thoughts normal?  She is always right, always stirring trouble with the younger kids, expects me to drop everything for her, and refuses to help with household chores because “she didn’t make the mess”  My only thought that comes to mind is…what a bitch! -someone save ME!

 

-Can’t Stand My Teenager
Dear Can’t Stand My Teenager,
Rest easy Mama!  I think this is a normal phase for both a daughter and her mother!
Teenager ecard
My pediatrician calls this type of child strong-willed, independent and a leader (wink-wink).  Although she sounds tough to deal with right now; she already has some of the best survival tools for life.  Maybe she is suffering from “teenager-itis”.  (This is a word that I may have made up but I feel like I have heard it before.)  Anyway, it’s when teenagers are stuck in that awkward middle ground.  They become jealous of the younger kids and are too young to be called a grown-up.  Perhaps a little date will cure all of your problems and reset her brain to the sweet little girl she once was.  Take her on a daughter/mommy date and do something special together.  Let me know if it works.  If it doesn’t, I will hide under my desk.
-Mrs. D
Dear Mrs. D:
I am forced to listen to a fellow new mom whining because her 4 month old has been up once in the middle of the night for THREE WHOLE NIGHTS in a row?  My thoughts … I just want to scream — my almost 4 month old has been up once in the middle of the night since birth with no sign of that changing – am I tired? yes – do I whine about it? – no … so please shut the F-up and stop complaining!

-New and Annoyed

 

Dear New and Annoyed:

People who complain about something that seems manageable to the rest of the world ARE annoying but try not to let them get under your skin.  Chances are high that the same mom who has a good sleeper  struggles with something else.  The grass is really never greener, trust me.

-Mrs. D

 

Dear Mrs. D:

People that constantly comment on the size my child annoy me.  He is tall.  We are aware.  His/her statement of this fact is by no way bringing it to my attention for the first time.  What the hell do they want me to do?  Startle and say “my god he is tall – thank you, thank you for pointing that out to me”?

-Mother of the Tall One

 

Dear Mother of the Tall One:

For some stupid reason people feel they need to state the obvious.  It starts with pregnancy and never really goes away.  I think you should come up with a funny reply like “Yeah…he’s a big boy. You should see the size of his penis?”  Ha ha ha!  That will get rid of ‘em.

-Mrs. D

 

Do you have a parenting question for Mrs. D?

Please write.  mrsdohertyunleashed@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: Any and all answers are completely unprofessional and should not be taken seriously.  Don’t be an idiot.  If you have real issues, seek a real professional, not me.  Any question sent via email can be used on my website and/or social media.  Authors will remain anonymous. You suck.  Just kidding. I was making sure you were reading this very important message.  Don’t sue me. I hate that.  It ruins all the fun and then you really would suck.  My advice is random and solely depends on the amount of sleep I got last night.  Sad but true.  Peace out bitches.

 

 

 

Let It Go

Today I caught myself daydreaming about having a house full of boys.  Specifically, boys with short hair.  Here’s the thing, all my girls were born with bad hair.  It’s thin and tangles very easily.  It causes drama.   I hate drama.  I know I have complained about this before but I think I am officially throwing in the towel today.  I had what Oprah calls an “ah-ha” moment.  A light bulb went off in my head and I learned a very important mom lesson.  Here is how it all unfolded….

Let It Go

Maggie is only two and a half years old and is an absolute beast when I need to brush her hair.

“Mags.  Come here sweetie.  I need to brush your hair.”

I waited in the bathroom armed with a brush and some detangler spray and prepared myself for the worst. She politely responds from the playroom, “No thank you!”

“Yes.  Maggie.  You need to come to the bathroom please.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Maggie.  I’m counting to three.  1…2……………3!”

My threat did not work.  She didn’t budge; so I walked into the playroom with parental authority and took matters into my own hands.

“Did you hear me call your name?”

She stands with her hands on her hips and whines. “I don’t want you to brush my haaaaaiiiir Moooooommy!”

I change to my sweet mom voice; “C’mon.  It will only take a minute.”

“No!!”

Now, I’m getting pissed.  “Hey? You don’t tell mommy no.  Do you understand me young lady?”

Judging by her reaction; I don’t think she liked what I had to say.  She prepped her whole body for a dramatic toddler tantrum.  Her bottom lip started quivering and she made a fist with both hands.  Arms straight and stiff by her side, she screams.   If I had a video of this little scene, I’m certain that high schools all over America would use it as a form of birth control.

I attempt to bring her back to reality.

“Maggie.  Stop that screaming right now.”

We now have a full toddler meltdown. She is on the floor pounding it with her fists and kicking her feet.    The first time I saw my child do this, I was alarmed, horrified and stunned.  I wondered where I failed as a parent and questioned the sanity of my offspring.   But by the fourth kid, I laugh.  The amount of energy used to fight a hair brush is comical to me.  I pick her up and hold her.

“Maggie.  Shhhh, now stop that.  Mommy just wants to brush your hair.  It will only take a minute and then you can play again, OK?”

She stops crying for a minute to look at me.  She takes the brief moment to give me a nasty look and then returns to her stubborn tantrum.  Sometimes removing a toddler from one location to another is enough to snap them out of their funk; so I try it.  Gently, I sit her on the couch with a blanket and allow her some time to calm down.  I return a few minutes later.

“Ok.  Are we ready now?”

Through sniffles and tears she shakes her head yes.  Hooray, step one is complete.  She agrees to the “torture”. Together we walk to the bathroom and she stands on the step stool and looks at herself in the mirror as I begin to brush through the tangles.

There is a barrette sitting on the counter that distracts her 2-year-old brain.

“What’s dis?

“That’s a hair barrette.”

“Oh.”

Then she turns on the water full speed.

“Maggie, what are you doing?”

“I washing my hands.”

“Can you please wait and do that after I finish your hair?”

“But I gotta wash my hands.”

I quickly pull half of her hair into a piggy tail and secure it with a hair band as she reaches for the soap.

I turn off the water and return the soap to the edge of the sink.

“Maggie. I said no.”

She crosses her arm in defiance but quickly forgets she is angry when she sees a hairdryer on the counter.

“What’s dis?”

“That’s a hairdryer.”

“A hair dryer?”

“Yes, a hair dryer.”

Let the records show, that this simple line of questioning is making me dumber and dumber as the years pass.

I am consumed with putting the second piggy tail in when she turns on the hair dryer.  The noise scares her and she drops the hairdryer on the ground and starts crying.  I continue brushing her hair while she pushes my hands away.

I impress myself at this point.  It’s as if I am in a rodeo and I am tying a calf’s legs together.

“Hang on, don’t move.  I’m almost done.”  

“No Mommy. Stop it!”

Quickly, I finish and secure the hair band and throw my hands in the air like a cowgirl racing the clock. Yeeee-haw!

cowgirl 2

“OK, you can go now.  I’m all done.”

She runs away.

I am sweating.  Isn’t that pitiful?  I sweat doing hair.  I picked the hairdryer up off of the floor and took a deep breath.  Phew, I did it.  Toddlers have an amazing ability to make the most simple tasks difficult, don’t they?  I planned my daily schedule as I wiped the spilled water off the counter and put the hair accessories into the drawer.

Maggie was quiet watching TV when I walked by the playroom and noticed.  There she was, sitting in front of the TV watching Dora.

She was content.

She was quiet.

And she had a new hair-do.

Her piggy tails were gone.  She ripped them out. My jaw dropped in total shock.  How dare she undo my masterpiece!

In her defense, she is a girl who knows what she wants.  She tried to make it clear to me that piggy tails don’t excite her; but I did not listen.

I felt defeated.  I lost a battle with a 2-year-old.  I sat watching her for a few minutes.  I actually considered putting those piggy tails back in her hair.  Sure, I could win this battle.  I am bigger and stronger but what was the purpose?   I mentally listed the reasons why I thought redoing her hair was important to me.

1. Because I said so

2. Because it looks better

Suddenly, both reasons felt stupid and a huge waste of energy. It was in that moment that I decided hair was not a battle worth fighting.   I got her dressed and brought her to the store with the messiest hair in the world.

It took four kids for me to learn that a beautiful smile was far more important than messy hair.   I’m smiling too because today I learned to let it go.