Don’t let me down

I break everything I touch – washers, vehicles, computers, vacuums. I break them all, and I can tell you why. It’s because I have three little kids, a house to clean, a full-time job, and I feel like I do the work of three women and I expect everything else around me to do the same.

Oh your recommended load is no more than 8 towels? Well I have 15, so let’s start there and see how you do.

You can’t sweep up an entire box of Cheerios? Let’s give it a go. I believe in you.

You’re not meant to grind enough food for an entire army? Right, if you were an ordinary garbage disposal, but you’re no ordinary garbage disposal.

You want me to rinse my plate for you before loading because you can’t digest the scraps? Then what do I need you for, Dishwasher? If I’m going to do all of that, I might as well wash the plate myself. Plus your buddy, the garbage disposal, is refusing to take these last few scraps so step up and do your part. 

I expect everything around me to do its personal best because that’s what I try to do, but appliances don’t give a damn about their job performance. They are lazy! Which is why I use and abuse every appliance that comes here. They mean nothing to me. When an appliance is purchased by the Swans, it knows it is going to live a brief and miserable life, full of toil and sadness. 

There are a lot of things The Husband hates about me, but I’m pretty sure this is near the top. Luckily, he’s really handy because I would have bankrupted us years ago if he weren’t. He follows me around fixing everything in my path of devastation. Our house is like a real-life version of Wreck-it Ralph. 

Me: I’m gonna wreck it!

And then along comes Fix-it Felix to cheerfully fix it with his magic hammer. 

The Husband: I can fix it!

Except in this version, Felix doesn’t have a magic hammer so every repair takes hours and is expensive. And Felix cusses at Ralph through the whole thing. And Ralph just sits and watches Felix make the repair while sipping a glass of wine. 

So I hate telling The Husband when I’ve broken something. Tonight, I tried to incorporate a little playful humor in my confession/maintenance request:

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Of course his answer was to stick my hand down the garbage disposal to remove the blockage. I’m not sure why I asked how to fix it because I have no intention of doing so. I guess this gives the illusion that I did plan to fix it so maybe it will mitigate his anger. In fact, maybe I’ll even tell him I did try to fix it, but just couldn’t get the job done. Because I’m but a mere woman and I need a big, strong man to save the day and get this garbage disposal fixed…..because it will be a cold day in Hell before I stick my hand in that disgusting water. Who knows what’s in there!? I cleaned out the entire fridge. The last things I remember putting in there were broccoli, spaghetti, chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, and rotten chocolate milk from a sippy cup I found under The Girl’s bed. I think it quit working somewhere abound the beginning of the chicken and noodles, but I had faith it was going to rally. No such luck. So yeah, it’s a pretty disgusting combination of leftovers that is filling the entire kitchen with a peculiar smell, so I’m avoiding the area altogether until he gets home. 

Hungry like the Wolf

So I don’t do church. It’s not that I don’t believe in God; I just don’t do the organized religion thing. I could go into the messy back story of how a church scarred me as a child and ruined my whole entire life, but that is outside the scope of this blog – plus, it would be difficult to spin it into a funny story.

So anyway, I don’t go to church, but the kids do. Mom is very involved with her church and it was important to her that her grandchildren experience church so they go with her every week. This means that every week I can count on two hours to enjoy any activity of my choosing. I’ve used this time in different ways over the years. When Boy One was a newborn and I was still trying to come to terms with the fact that I would never sleep again, I used it for sleeping. When I was taking classes, I used it for homework. I went through a long phase where it was used for a weekly angry cleaning ritual. During the Breaking Bad madness, it was used for binge watching TV. When we were trying to save money for our house and The Husband was working tons of overtime, I used it to “visit” with him. Some were noble causes – others were a little more shameful – but I can generally gauge the quality of my life at different points by how my Sunday mornings were used at that time.

The phase I’m in now is probably one of the most disgraceful. I currently spend my Sunday mornings devouring a huge, delicious meal alone.

One of the things I hate most about being a mom is that the kids are always begging for food from my plate. As soon as I  sit down, it’s a feeding frenzy. They swarm me and beg for whatever is on my plate, even if I just served them the same thing 15 minutes earlier. I’m OK with hiding in the pantry to enjoy a piece of chocolate or a cupcake. I understand a kid wanting to go after something like that, but my kids go after every single thing I try to eat. I could be eating a sauteed rotten frog brain and they would be all over it. You hear about how prisoners eat quickly with their arms on the table surrounding their plate to protect their meal from the other prisoners, but even the best form of prisoner stance is no match for my kids.

The scavenging particularly bothers me because I like spicy food so when a kid comes begging for food from my plate, it’s most likely covered in red pepper, jalapenos, hot sauce, etc.

Can I have a bite of yours?

No, it’s hot.

I don’t care.

Fine, eat it then.

They take a bite and then run off, eyes watering, scraping their tongue with their fingernails, and crying.

MOM!!! IT’S HOT!!

You don’t say?

I don’t feel bad because they had their warning, but the problem is The Girl. I can’t, in good conscience, feed a baby something that I know is going to cause her pain. Especially when I’m the one that has to figure out how to quiet her after it happens. So, during the week, I wait until she goes to bed and then grab something quick before bed and I’m OK with that because I know that Sunday morning is just around the corner.

I drop them off at church at 9 a.m. and then, Hallelujah!, it’s chow time. By 9:45, I’m sitting down to a five-course meal. This week it was pasta, garlic bread, salad, ice cream and (not) wine (ok, maybe wine but only one small glass). Yes, that’s what I had at 9:45 a.m. I ate at my own pace, in complete silence, without fear of being forced to share. It was heavenly. In a roundabout way, it’s kind of like I am getting a little religion because enjoying that meal confirms for me that there is a god.

I would have never guessed that mothering would degrade my quality of life to the point where simply enjoying a meal alone is such an event, but it has. Someday, when my kids are grown and I’m sitting in my empty nest, whining about how lonely I am, I’m going to go back and read this post and then treat myself to a huge delicious meal at an odd hour for old times’ sake. I’m sure, when that time comes, I’ll probably feel sad that there is no little mouth there to scorch with my jalapeno pasta.

Going under

We have a frog problem. A major frog problem. Like Second Egyptian Plague status. So the boys had a friend over this weekend and they captured a good number of frogs. The plan was to relocate them to the pond, where frogs belong. Because, you know, just letting them die in the aquarium would be inhumane. So the kids spent all day herding frogs and then we headed down to the pond for the release. We throw the first frog in and it just floats there. I don’t think it kicked its legs or anything like you would expect, but I didn’t have much time to observe it before a big fish came out of nowhere and swallowed it in one bite. I thought the boys would be upset, but they were cool with it so we threw in another frog. Again, no movement. It just floated there helplessly until it was eaten. I thought that was odd, but I rationalized it:

Well, if it doesn’t have anywhere it wants to go, why would it start swimming when we throw it in? 

The frogs must just be lazy. The grand finale was the biggest frog which was clearly a different species. It had different markings and was 20 times larger than the others. We threw it in and it started swimming exactly like I expected of all of the frogs. Hmm…

So I texted The Husband.

This may be a stupid question, but can these small frogs swim? It kind of seems like they are drowning when we throw them in the pond.

He responds.

No. For the millionth time, they are not water frogs.

I guess we’ve had this conversation before and I have no recollection. My failure to listen to The Husband and his dumb stories apparently cost 20 frogs their lives today.

Mama, I’m coming home

So my grandma passed away a month ago. Today, we attended a memorial event at the cemetery that included a balloon release. I’d never been to a memorial balloon release. In case you haven’t either, this is how it’s supposed to go:

  1. Distribute one balloon per each loved one being memorialized.
  2. The family of the loved one writes a heartfelt message on the balloon.
  3. The crowd stands silently as each name is read and they release their balloon when the name of their loved one is read.

A balloon release is always a risky place to take children because, to a child, losing a balloon can be a traumatizing event, often resulting in tears and devastation. A memorial balloon release has all of that with the added expectation that the child stand quietly and respectfully.

There were a number of issues at the memorial balloon release. Since our group was only memorializing one loved one, we only got one balloon to split between three children. I managed to find an empty balloon string on the ground, which satisfied The Girl, but I still needed an additional balloon. I had two options:

  1. Kill a member of our group so we could get an additional balloon, or
  2. Dishonestly obtain a second balloon for our group.

I went with the less radical option – lying at a memorial service. Now that everyone had balloons (or balloon strings) in hand, we were back on track, and the boys wrote their notes on their balloons.

Boy One wrote a sweet note about how much we miss Nana:

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Boy Two, on the other hand:

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Yes, you read that correctly. “I love mom.” Other attendees looked on with pity at this poor, sweet boy who had apparently lost his mother. I felt like I should correct them, but who am I to say anything? I just lied five minutes ago to get the stupid balloon for him. Also, it doesn’t actually say his mother is deceased and it’s not really his fault if  others read between the lines. And finally, maybe he knew something I didn’t? The day isn’t over yet.

In the end, his fraudulent balloon message ended up being a blessing and here is why:

As the event wore on, the boys became more and more restless. As boys typically do, they started a game of hitting each other in the head with their balloons, which I was powerless to stop without reverting to Option 1 above. This resulted in Boy Two’s special balloon memorializing his mother coming undone and being released. You will recall that he had firmly decided that he would not be releasing his balloon so this was an issue. Luckily, a kindhearted stranger with a soft spot for orphans offered her balloon to him, but her balloon was red, not white. This was another issue. He proceeded to cry. Red-faced, gigantic tears crying.  I was mortified. This grieving woman gave up her balloon memorializing her loved one (who most likely is legitimately dead) and he’s crying like a spoiled brat because it is the wrong color. I managed to look up through my embarrassment and when I did, I found misty-eyed, sympathetic faces looking back. Then I saw what they were seeing: an innocent boy who had already endured the loss of his loving mother (probably untimely cancer or maybe a tragic car accident). Now he has lost the only thing he had to memorialize her. His whole life is just loss and grief. How much pain can one little boy endure?

Shamefully, I just went with it, although I did stop short of referring to myself as “Auntie” while comforting him and reminding him of what a wonderful person his mother was.

Don’t give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself

So we raise chickens. Well, that’s not completely accurate. We just purchased chickens a couple of months ago. It’s yet to be seen if we can actually raise them. We just had our first death today. Boy two came in to announce the death. He was somewhat cryptic about the circumstances of the death, so he was actually my primary suspect. He said he discovered the body in the coop, but when The Husband went to investigate, it was actually in the field. He had to elaborate on his story to explain this inconsistency:

I found it in the coop, picked it up by the leg, and threw it in the field. That’s why it’s in the field. 

First of all, gross.
Second of all, haven’t you ever watched CSI? You never tamper with the crime scene.
Third of all, gross, go wash your hands.

He comes back from the bathroom two seconds later with “clean hands.” Yeah right.

You did not wash your hands.
Yes I did.
No you didn’t. Let me smell them.

I lean in for the smell test. I had just enough time to determine that no soap had been used when he reached up and grabbed my face with his dead chicken hands. Are you kidding me?

I’m not sure what killed the chicken, but now I’m kind of hoping it was just blunt force trauma at the hands of Boy Two. At least that can’t be transmitted by skin to skin contact.