Server error

I am a procrastinor of epic magnitude.  When I am overwhelmed — and as a wife, mother, sister, daughter and marketing professional who works full time from my home, I often am — I am prone to either A) flit about in a flurry of meaningless activity, or B) lapse into a state of full-body paralysis.  It’s not that I don’t get things done.  I do.  I just like to wait until I’ve worked myself up into a healthy froth of total anxiety before commencing with meaningful task execution. 

My therapist (although I suppose I really should call her my ex-therapist since I only met with her biweekly for two months before winter hit the NC mountains like a really pissed off woman scorned, and I used the ice as a reasonable excuse to commence hibernation) told me this is result of a lack of “me time.”  While her explanation is no doubt valid, I prefer to function in a semi-consistent state of self-inflicted delusion.  Not about everything.  Just certain things…like why I procrastinate.  I tell myself that I work best under pressure.  Adrenaline, brought on by the aforementioned frothy anxiety, makes me brilliant.  Some of the best executive speeches I have ever written were composed at 3:30 AM a full 12-48 hours after the proposed deadline. 

But today, I really need to get moving.  My sister, her husband and my 3-week new nephew will be arriving on my doorstep in approximately five hours.  I have nine loads of laundry sorted and strategically placed by category on my family room floor.  The house is a mess.  I have no fewer than four overdue work assigments.  The oldest child has an early release day from school (t-minus 23 minutes until he descends up on me).  And my vacuum was fatally injured in a run-in with my puppy, who could think of nothing more entertaining to do on Tuesday than chew the cord to a fine shred and spread it artfully across my bedroom rug.

Seriously, I have a lot to do.  I’d prefer to be flitting about in meaningless activity, mostly because virtually no activity — from emptying the coffee pot to wandering about folding the toilet paper tails into cute triangles — would be truly meaningless today.  I doubt seriously I could find a way to flit that wouldn’t ultimately contribute to my end OCD goals of having the house immaculately clean, the laundry done and put away, dinner premade and in the fridge, and two conference calls checked off the list before my sister arrives.

Unfortunately, I have choosen paralysis.  The universe is making an attempt to assist.  The server on my work laptop has been down all morning, making it virtually impossible for me to get anything done in terms of the job I am actually paid to do.  A golden opportunity.  And yet, here I sit, listening for the washer to complete its cycle.  Writing.   Knowing that with each passing minute, I will have to compromise something on the list of things I want to get done today.  And coming to the very-not-new conclusion that this procrastination thing has gotten entirely Out Of Hand. 

I absolutely must address this issue.  Catch the plane off Fantasy Island, conduct some productive soul searching, stroll down to the root of the problem and identify a workable solution.  I am.  I will.  Right after I sort my hot roller clips by size and color.  I think I feel a flit coming on….

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Alpha Dog Seeks Kinder, Gentler Handlers

There has been a mistake. My daughter is sure of it.  Maybe at the moment of her conception, the Fates were having an off day.  You know, the kind where inexplicable distraction drives you to do horrible things you can’t take back?  Like hitting ‘Reply All’ on an email detailing the many ways in which your boss has lost her mind.  That kind of day.

In at least one of her past lives, I’m quite certain Addison was a serious, ass-kicking monarch.  Like Cleopatra — powerful, idolized and obeyed.  There was no one yanking her chain, incessantly attempting to enforce strange and unreasonable mandates like an 8:00 PM bedtime or three more brussel sprouts.  And there was undoutedly no one who dared raise their voice in defiance or disagreement.  Bottom line, in her last life, Addison was in control. She knew it.  Her subjects knew it.  And all those dudes trying to move in on her stash of coal eyeliner definitely knew it.  Addison was a Hellenistic rock star.  Full stop. Move on, people.

Imagine the injustice of it all.  There you are in the reincarnation line plotting the takeover of your next kingdom, mentally redecorating the pyramid, and wondering why they still haven’t opened a ’20 lives or less’ lane, when BOOM, some idiot pushes the wrong button and you find yourself emerging into the world as the youngest child of two common people who clearly did not get the memo on your past achievements, refined tastes, or highly detailed needs.  ‘Bummer’ does not even begin to cover your disgust. 

Since she was able to form words, our little princess has been amping up to break out and find her real people.  Several months ago, after an exhausting day of trying to make imposter Mommy understand that she couldn’t possibly go to preschool in anything less than a tiara and pink satin, and throwing play phones at ignorant classmates who refused to move promptly to the next activity, she broke it to me:  “You ruin my life.  You’re a ruiner.  And I’m going to find a new family…FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.”

I feel for her.  It must be hard to go from pharaoh to filthy peasant.  And so, because I love her with a fierce and mysterious intensity, I have taken the liberty of enclosing a classified ad I hope will help her find just the right kind of environment to prepare her to fulfill her true destiny.  We will miss her deeply.  Well, her father and I will.  The jury is still out on her big brother…

 

WANTED:  Former dictator in search of real family.  Grave error made in central processing.  Likely candidates include presidents, kings, or really indulgent rich guys.  Must be currently childless and in need of small, beautiful, but strong-willed little girl to lavish with all of life’s luxuries and mentor to wildly successful business or political top dog.  World leaders with net worth of less than US$2.5 billion need not apply.  Must have fleet of impressive cars, access to or willingness to procure pretty pink ponies, and aversion to brussel sprouts.  Interested parties should forward resume, references and notorized financial statement to wrongmommy@theuniversebitthebigoneonthis.com.  Please reply ASAP; fake family is seriously cramping my style.

The perfectly-attired child

Addison at age 3, letting Mommy have her way for family pictures on the beach.

My four year old daughter departed for preschool this morning in an outfit of her own design: a pale pink skort, a short-sleeved grey t-shirt emblazoned in hot pink with the words, “Daddy’s girl,” white ankle socks and beat up brown tennis shoes.  “Not bad,” I thought.  Ah, how times change.

Prior to having children of my own, I assessed many cape-, tutu- and tiara-clad toddlers in malls and movie theaters.  And while I appreciated that their mothers afforded them a semblance of autonomy and the opportunity to creatively express their individuality, I determined that my own children would venture into the world suitably attired in comfortable, yet stylish outfits that provided me with the flexibility to confidently move them from preschool to a dinner out or an extended family function. Ha.  Ha-ha-HA.

The operative phrase here is, “prior to having children of my own.”  This is a critically important series of words that denote early onset of what I like to refer to as Delusions of Grandeur.  We’ve all been that person.  The one quietly wondering what kind of mother lets their kid go out in Spiderman pajamas and duck slippers.  Incredulous that a grown woman can’t get a grip on a two year old throwing a full-on tantrum in the cereal aisle or remember to carry one of those little travel packs of tissue for the five year old with the face full of green snot.  “It’s ridiculous, rude and gross,” we thought.  “A rational adult should be able to handle that situation.  That’s what being a parent is all about.”  We were smug with the certainty that when our time came, we would manage in an all together more efficent and effective manner. 

Yes, before kids, it’s easy to judge.  To see the clear and obvious path to the perfect solution. To concoct cute fantasies in our heads before we are actually face-to-face with a small, but freakishly defiant person determined to be Cuckoo for Coco-Puffs or venture out to meet the world attired in their best, pretty-pretty princess dress and black flowered cowgirl boots. 

My own children, ages 8 and 4, have done much to help banish my delusions as they soldier on in their quest to break me like a wild, but clearly misguided, mother mare.  Under their unfailing tutelage, I am learning to pick my battles.  A case in point from last summer:  It is early morning.  I am standing next to my own bed, where my daughter lounges, waiting for me to help her get ready to face the day.  I am holding one of the aforementioned comfortable, yet stylish outfits up for approval.

“I don’t want that shirt.  No one will like it,” she says.
“But it’s cute,” I insist.  “It matches your pants perfectly.  See?  It’s got pink on it.” 

Pink is very important these days.

“No, no, no.  Go pick another,” intones my little Lindsay Lohan protege.
“OK, well why don’t you go pick another?” I suggest.
“No, you can do it.”

I sigh and pick up the shirt, along with her PJs and night-time pull-up.  Not wanting to instigate a full blown tantrum at 7:30 AM, I shuffle back to her closet and select two shirts, thinking naively that providing options will enable me to gain commitment on two garments I obviously know are not on the list of Top 10 favorites.  But I’m trying to get some mileage out of all these clothes before she outgrows them so I  give it a shot.  This is my first, but not last mistake of the day.  As I hold them both up, I say,

“Here.  Which one would you like?  They are so cute.  One has a poodle on it and the other one has a kitty.”

My son, bless him, tries hard to back me up. 

“Yeah, Addison. They are really cute.  See?  You can pick a cute doggie or a little kitty.  And they both have pink.” 

She turns from the TV and places her hand thoughtfully on her chin.  After three seconds, she screws up her face and with a wave of her hand says, “No.  People will think these look silly.  Take them away.”

Unwilling to believe my four year old has just waived me off like Paris Hilton’s top stylist, I dumbly reply, “What?”

“They won’t work.  I SAID, take them away.” 

As I take her hand to lead her back to the closet to make her own selection, I wonder for the three thousandth time how I ever thought this parenting thing might be easy or even remotely straightforward.  In my head, I apologize to all those mothers I so glibly judged. And as I survey her final look, I consider it a victory that she more or less matches. After all, at what other time in your life can you rock hot pink short-shorts, frilly socks, patent leather dress shoes and a green seahorse tank top and still look pretty cute?  If she likes it, who am I to derail her inner fashion diva? 

Go ahead, work it girl.  I’ll find bigger, more important battles to fight.

In case you were wondering…

My favorite 8 year old, Griffin

You don’t look good in yellow.  You have peach fuzz on your upper lip.  And “dude,” your husband has a weight problem.  In case you were wondering (and even if you weren’t), your eight year old will tell you.  They will tell you the ugly, unmitigated truth without a trace of malice.  They are not 16 year olds after all.  There is no intent to hurt or instill self-doubt so great you rethink the Friday night party at the house with the kegerator, open bar and notably absent parental figures.  It’s just an observation intended to help you make good choices moving forward. Like eliminating anything vaguely yolk-hued from your closet and finally answering in the affirmative to the biweekly inquiry, “You want me do lip?”

Four year olds will tell you the truth too.  But you can’t trust a four year old.  They have multiple personality disorder.  You never know if you’re getting feedback from your actual child, Marcy-the-My-Brother-Switched-Spongebob-and-Deserves-to-Die or Patty-the-Please-Don’t-Let-Daddy-Put-Me-to-Bed-Because-He-Never-Turns-on-the-Nightlight-and-Always-Forgets-the-Sleepytime-CD.  Bottom line, those little creatures are tricky, so it’s best to let compliments and criticism roll off your back.  The story will change tomorrow anyway.

But if you really want to know whether you’re too white to wear the strappy sundress, too old to go to with the chunky blond highlights, or too wrinkled for this season’s metallic, shimmer eye shadow, don’t ask your husband.  Brace yourself for impact…and ask the eight year old.

 

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