Life With Boys

This is life with boys.

Husband, after mowing: “You’ll need to pull your car back into the garage because I’m too sweaty.”

So, I go out to move my car…

boys-think-they-are-funny

In the house, all the boys are snickering. One did it, they all knew about it. Not one warned me.

So, don’t anyone dare suggest to me that raising boys is easier than raising girls. I happen to know from experience that that “easier” comes only when you’ve grown a pair, if you know what I mean.

Me, with the evilest eye I can muster, after removing a dangling snake skin from my rearview mirror to pull my car into the garage: “That wasn’t nice. And payback can be a b**ch.”

I’m not mad. Really, I’m not. I actually like that they bond together over pranking me. But I just don’t see how I can let this go unreciprocated. Because a snake was involved!

This is life with boys. And when you’re the only girl in the house, you get ganged up on in the name of fun. But karma has nothing on a mama who has a prank to repay.

Stay tuned…

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As Long As It Looks Clean, It’s Good Enough

This is what 7am on the first Monday of DST looks like.

This is what 7am on the first Monday of DST looks like.

Not long after we all got up and moving this first Monday morning of Daylight Saving Time, I heard strange noises coming from the direction of our laundry room. When I went to investigate, I found my fifteen year-old son ironing his school shirt.

This would be more impressive if it hadn’t been the dirty Friday school shirt that had been sitting all weekend in the huge pile of laundry on his closet floor. But still, for any fifteen year-old boy, this is something of a marvel. Especially for the child who is too lazy to carry the aforementioned dirty clothes down the hall to the laundry room to be washed by someone else – me.

All my boys learned to do laundry at an early age. When I say, learned to do laundry, it simply means put clothes in the washer, put the soap in, and turn on the normal cycle. There’s no sorting, buttoning of pants, or stain removal included. Nor do they usually remember to check pockets.

It seems that, with each child, the motivation to wear clean clothes has waned substantially. So much so, that the youngest two would rarely wear a clean article of clothing if I hadn’t decided to wash their clothes for them during the school year, provided they get them to the laundry room.

I have a suspicion that Axe Body products were created by a mom of boys.

If I knew there were elves in my laundry room that would sort, wash, dry, fold, and return my clothes to my bedroom, you’d better believe I’d take advantage of that on a regular basis. Like every time I ran out of clean underwear. My boys have yet to appreciate and utilize their elf.

(Did I really just refer to myself as an elf?)

This ironing revelation (which turns out isn’t a new thing – my husband says this child irons several morning a week) comes not long after finding out this same child doesn’t know how to write in cursive.

What! How can that be? Yes, imagine my overreaction. I was stunned at how I could miss that for so many years and could feel my good mama status slipping away like a mudslide. And I considered giving him a crash course that very minute.

I had to let that one go because, after all, he knows how to do laundry and iron a shirt, for crying out loud. (Good mama status, still in tact.)

He may not wear another clean shirt this school year, but at least he won’t look like his mama let him sleep in his school clothes.

 

 

Hard Times Call For YoYos

It used to be that I hardly ever caught the sicknesses my children brought home. Our household was like any other in that if one kid got sick, they all got sick. They would pass it around to each other and sometimes back again, but I managed to stay away from most of it, even being the head caretaker.

Those days are evidently gone, and it seems they’ve taken my immunity with them.

Now, if one of the kids gets so much as the sniffles, I can pretty much count on not only catching it, but it’s guaranteed to morph into something multiple times cruddier by the time it gets to me.

One kid brings home a cough, I get the flu. Another kid starts the chain with sneezing and, by the time it circles around it me, it’s turned into World War III for the sinuses.

I am not one of those brave, selfless, does-it-all-anyway moms, who puts on the happy face, does all the laundry, sterilizes every surface and handle, and still has a hot meal on the table at the end of the day.

I also do not live with any nurturers. Not that any one of them wouldn’t do something for me if I asked them, but there won’t be any volunteering going on. I don’t get offended, I just understand this is how many boymen are and claim YoYo.

I love YoYo, which stands for You’re on Your own. It means I take care of me, and you take care of you. It’s also known as Every Man For Himself – EMFH – but that isn’t as acrostically friendly.

Yesterday I started having symptoms of the colds my children have been tossing around the last couple of weeks. I did what I usually do, which is spend the first three-fourths of the day trying to convince my body that it’s wrong and my mind not to listen to it. Then I did something I never do and never allow my kids to do – I took a decongestant at dinner time. Big-time good mama no-no.

By six o’clock this morning, when I hadn’t slept at all despite what my little activity tracking wrist friend said (serves to show it doesn’t know the difference between still and sleep,)  I was reminded why I have a rule never to do this.

Pseudoephedrine works great for two things: as a decongestant and a stimulant. The latter is why buying it requires a photo ID, a blood sample, and your first-born child – kidding, sort of – and is the steam behind the train that is Breaking Bad. (Or was.) And it will keep you awake all night long. Believe me.

Then the dilemma becomes: don’t take it again so you can get some sleep but then not sleep because you can’t breathe except through your mouth, or take it again so you can breathe but not ever sleep again.

(These are the times that try a mama’s soul. Ok, maybe not her soul, but probably her sanity. And definitely her mood.)

This mama chose to take another one first thing this morning. Right out of the gate I cleaned a toilet, did a couple of loads of laundry, and purged my closet (because me and those clothes both know there’s no going back.)

But now it’s mid-afternoon and the Mucinex-D is wearing off, which means I’m tired and I can’t breathe outma nose. Twelve hours, my eye. Back to the dilemma.

I’m going to go take a nap, the YoYo card tucked in my back pocket. We’ll see if it gets played tonight.

Resolutions Feed Garage Sales

Treadmill for SaleA few years ago, I wrote a newspaper column about the flawed thinking in making New Year’s resolutions. January resolutions feed self-contempt and June garage sales. I suggested that, rather than putting our lives and habits under the microscope at the top of every year to find the things we don’t like about ourselves in order to form a plan for improvement, we instead find those things that make us happy and keep doing those.

It was a tongue-in-cheek piece in which I admitted to drinking too much coffee (still do) and not washing my hair every day (still don’t.)  But having turned forty-something this week, I’m faced with the reality that my body and my mind are aging quicker than I’d like and it might benefit me in the long run to at least make some goals for 2015. I guess that’s what “mature” people do.

Note that I am calling these GOALS and not resolutions. According to a statistic I read recently, only eight percent of people that make resolutions actually keep them. I know myself well enough to know that I am not likely to be in that percentage.

Resolutions are too finite. All or nothing. Pass or fail. Gold star or frownie face. I just don’t need that kind of stress, especially self-induced.

Goals can be measured more like a grade where even fifty percent doesn’t mean failure, it just means lack of effort. Seventy-five percent says I didn’t get there, but I tried.

As an act of accountability, I am recruiting some friends and family to hold my feet to the fire. This might be really dumb on my part because I’m putting those I love the most in the target zone of fiery darts when I slip up and they call me on it. But, in the event that I do reach that elusive one hundred percent, I want someone to celebrate with.

This year I’m writing more, reading more, moving more, connecting more.

At least that’s my GOAL.

Because That’s Just The Way We’ve Always Done It

Anything but N O E L

Anything but N O E L

Traditions. Some make sense, some don’t. Some are passed down from generation to generation, some are only one generation old.

A couple weeks before Christmas this year, I was having a very hard time getting into the spirit. Part of it was probably being in a new city and a new house and not yet feeling “settled.” I’m sure the warm, humid weather had something to do with it too. It’s hard to get in the Christmas spirit when you sweat putting up the outside lights.

If it weren’t for our family traditions, Christmas would never feel like Christmas to me. And yet, I seem to forget that when I need it most. This year was the first in twenty-five Christmases that we were not celebrating with my in-laws. It was going to be just the six of us, far far from home. So more than any year before, this is the year I needed traditions.

Many years ago, I worked with a woman who told me of a tradition she had for “The Twelve Days” of Christmas for her girls. Each day for the twelve days leading up to Christmas Day, she gave them small, inexpensive gifts. At the time she told me of this tradition, her girls were in college in another town but she still mailed them their gifts to open each day they were away. The gifts changed over time to match their age, and as college students she got them stamps and sticky notes, pens and stationary.

That very year, I instituted the Eslick Twelve Days tradition. I’m not exactly sure what year the tradition of starting Day 1 with Tic Tacs stuck, but the boys have been receiving packs of Tic Tacs on Day 1 for many years and I think they’d be disappointed if I changed that now.

This year, like a few before, I’ve considered skipping The Twelve Days for the sake of my own convenience. And again this year I was reminded that “it’s tradition.”

I realized this year, after my oldest son took away the trash bag I was planning to collect the discarded wrapping paper and bows as they flew off the packages, that the mess is tradition as well. Just like decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend, sending Christmas cards, making monkey bread for breakfast Christmas morning, opening stocking stuffers last, doing family Christmas puzzles, driving around looking at Christmas lights, the NOEL stocking holders that mysteriously rearrange themselves, and the countless other traditions I’ve taken for granted.

Christmas morning monkey bread

Christmas morning monkey bread

Traditions are what make family family. They are what bind us together, what makes us unique, what sets us apart from everyone else. Some families share a few of our traditions. Some have traditions we’ve never had, like caroling on Christmas Eve or going to the movies on Christmas Day. But no other family holds all of our traditions, and ours don’t exactly match anyone else’s.

God made me to crave change in some things. That’s part of the reason my hair has been so many colors over the years. But Christmas is Christmas anywhere we take our traditions.

I wanted to start a new tradition this year, our “Georgia” Christmas tradition, and have s’mores on Christmas Eve. But it had been raining for two days and was too humid to get the fire going. We managed to get it done Christmas night instead, so I guess that’ll be our s’mores day instead. That’s just the way it worked out.

And years from now, when asked why we have s’mores on Christmas night, we’ll say, “Because that’s just the way we’ve always done it.”

Christmas S'mores, Year #1

Christmas S’mores, Year #1