She doesn’t remember

The Matchbox car that lies haphazardly on the kitchen floor digs into my foot as I step on it.

I screech out a four letter word in a very un-motherly fashion, and wince with pain.  I’m thankful the kids aren’t home to hear it.  I look down in disgust at the discarded toy, the same one I’ve reprimanded her countless times to not leave lying around for someone to step on.

She doesn’t remember to pick up her toys like I always ask.  I’m annoyed.

Screaming penetrates the air.  I’ve just gotten home from work, and am exhausted.  I yearn for a few minutes of peace and quiet.   But, yet, she cavorts throughout the house on a tear, howling and giggling with abandon.

“Inside voices!” I yell at her, losing my cool already.  I’ve told her a thousand times that screaming in the house is not allowed.

She doesn’t remember to use her inside voice.  Again.  I’m impatient.

She tears into our bedroom like a tornado.  It’s 5:30 in the morning.  Way too early for me to be muffling a her loud preschooler cackles.  And what makes it doubly worse is that I haven’t yet had my first cup of coffee.

We trudge downstairs.  Her feet stomping on the floor sound a wild elephant herd running through the house, and the pitter-patter is anything but tiny.  I’m quite certain, in fact, that the noise can be heard from the next county.

“Quiet!”  I hiss.  “Do you want to wake up your brother?”

She doesn’t remember that we need to be respectful of other people.  Especially at the butt crack of dawn. When they’re sleeping.  I’m perturbed.

We go to see my grandma.  It’s a visit that is long overdue, and one that I’ve been subconsciously putting off for far too long.

When we get there, I see Grandma sitting on the couch, staring vacantly off into the distance.  We go up to her, and hug her.  She smiles faintly, but I can tell she doesn’t recognize us.  As if it would help her remember, I proceed to babble incessantly about what’s been going on in our lives.  Grandma stares through me, and mumbles something incoherently.

She doesn’t remember who we are.  To say that I feel sadness would be an understatement.

In the car ride on the way home, we talk about it.  I tell my daughter that Grandma has a hard time remembering things now.  But she is special to mommy.  And it’s important that we go visit.  Even if it’s hard.

“Maybe we can go visit Grandma together sometime soon,” I offer.  “Just me and you?”

“Sure, mom,” she replies, absently.

“But she won’t remember,” I think to myself.  And almost immediately after we get home, the thought vanishes from my own mind.   I get wrapped up in every day life.  I forget about visiting.  I forget about the promises I made.

And then, I enter her preschool room.

“Look what I did today!” she exclaims excitedly when I walk in.  She motions to the folder bulging with artwork.

I absently leaf through the piles of construction paper and scribbles.  The crayon markings blur together in a Crayola haze, until I get to one in particular that catches my eye.

“Dear Grandma” is written in awkward, cramped lettering on one of the pieces.

“She’s been working hard on this today,” her teacher explains.  “She said she wanted to draw a special picture for her Grandma, because Grandma doesn’t remember very well.”

As I look at the artwork, I feel an unexpected lump in my throat.

“Turn it over, mommy!” she continues.  “I wrote my name on the back.  So it would help Grandma remember who I was.  Can we take it to her?”

And right then and there, I lose it.

Not because I’m annoyed, impatient, perturbed or saddened.

But because my daughter remembered.

It wasn’t a little thing.

It was a huge thing.  An important thing.

Some things, she doesn’t remember.  But I know that there is a part of her that remembers that which is truly important.

And the other things that are forgotten?  Maybe that’s okay.  Because even if she doesn’t remember, someone else will.

15 Things I Wish I Had Known About BlogHer

Alternate titles:

  • The things people didn’t tell me about BlogHer before I went, but what I wish they would have.
  • Unsolicited advice to newbies who might go to #BlogHer12.
  • Things that did not happen to me at BlogHer, but that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend.
  • Yet another #BlogHer11 recap post.

What I wish someone would have told me prior to going to BlogHer ’11:

  1. When packing for a blog conference, include a collapsible duffel bag in your suitcase.  Use it to bring home massive amounts of swag, dirty laundry, or perhaps that blogger that you just adore and want to keep as your new real-life BFF.  Not that I’m endorsing kidnapping.  But you never know when that duffel bag will come in handy.
  2. Making eye contact with people in the hallways is really hard.  People aren’t looking straight ahead.  Everyone is tweeting, texting or emailing on their smart phones.  If you want to get someone’s attention in the hall, the best tactic is to accidentally bump into them.  Or, better yet, send them a DM.
  3. You will be showered with swag.  And I don’t mean the fun, Christmas decoration sort of swag.  I’m talking tchotchkes, in embarrassingly obscene amounts.
  4. Only bring home swag that you would be comfortable handing over to TSA for hand inspection.  Don’t be tempted to pick up, say, paraphernalia from an adult toy booth, unless you’re willing to explain repeatedly to the security guard, “I swear.  It was a blogging conference.”
  5. You’ll meet some people that you immediately adore.  Some may exceed your expectations of what they would be like in real life.  And yet others may fall a little short of what you would expect them to be by reading their blogs.  That’s life, I guess.  Or, more accurately, that’s life when you bring thousands of women together in one place.  Move on to the next person.
  6. Drink tickets are worth their weight in gold.  So much so, that they are sometimes bartered for swag, favors, and places in the ladies restroom line.  Hold on to those suckers for dear life until you’re ready to redeem them.  And if you’re not a drinker, for Pete’s Sake, give them to someone who will put them to good use.
  7. Don’t worry about buying meals when you’re at the conference.  There is literally food everywhere.  One night, I had a 12 course meal while making my way through the expo hall.  And, yes, I regretted going back for seconds at the Dove ice cream booth.  And thirds.
  8. If you think Twitter moves fast in every day life, just try to keep up with the hashtags when you’re at a blog conference.  #itsimpossible
  9. No matter how short you are, ditch the high heels.  You might get compliments on your cute new shoes.  But the whole look is offset when you get blisters on your feet, and all you have in your purse are Hello Kitty band-aids.
  10. Starting a conversation with, “So, how long have you been blogging?” or “What’s your blog about?” might not be the best idea.  Especially when you’re unknowingly standing next to someone that’s been blogging since the dawning of the internet, and you have no clue who they are.  Instead, maybe start with, “Ooh, I love your shoes.”  They’ll appreciate the effort you took in noticing.  Especially if they’re wearing cute heels.
  11. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.  For someone who spends 14 hours a day behind a computer, this was a toughie for me.  In some cases, I had to force myself to break out of my reclusive behavior to interact with real people.  And, in the end, I’m glad I did.  Even if it was scary.
  12. Smile.  Please.  You’re so much more approachable when you do.
  13. On the way home, allow extra time going through security.  Especially if the conference is in San Diego, and the security line makes Black Friday shopping lines look like a walk in the park.  And if you disregarded point #4?  Just be forewarned that you might never get to your gate on time.
  14. Always introduce yourself by at least one or more of the following information: first name, Twitter handle, and blog name.  Ideally, at least some of these are the same.  Otherwise, you’ll end up starting conversations with, “I’m Kayleen, but my Twitter handle is @booyahsmomma, and I write at a blog called Chip and Bobo.”  Yeah.  I don’t blame you if were confused after meeting me.
  15. And while we’re on the subject of names?  Whatever you do, don’t name your online identity or company with a name that contains an apostrophe.  There might be a computer error that cuts off the last part of your name.  And you might end up walking around with a badge like this:

And you might just feel a little silly.  Either that, or it might be Booyah.

Ta ta, my friends

Oh, my dear friends.

I look at you, and I don’t even recognize you anymore.  What happened to the twins I used to love so much?

You used to be plump.  Inviting.  Symmetrical.  I might even say, perky.

And now?  None of those words describe you.  You are both the antithesis of perky.

Flattened.  Deflated.  A little lumpy.  And definitely anything but inviting.

I know life hasn’t been easy for you two.  I acknowledge that you’ve been through a lot, so I’ll give you that.  More than a few years of marriage and a couple of kids can make anyone a little, well, a little saggy.  And the fact that I sleep on my stomach and squish you flat every night probably doesn’t help much with the plumpness factor.

I wish you could just go back to the way you were.  At one time, you were perfect.  But, lately, you’ve changed so much that I’ve been considering the alternatives.

I’ve sadly realized that it’s time to upgrade.  I need something bigger and better.  Out with the old, and in with the new.

So we’ve been researching the possibilities, and comparing the options.  And, boy, are there a lot of options.

How big?  How firm?  Do we go for “top of the line,” or skimp to save a few bucks?  I had no idea how expensive you guys could be, so when I started calling around for prices, I was floor-struck.

And perhaps the most important question: do we make you both the same size?  Or go with one bigger, and one smaller?

It’s a decision I’ve had to consult with my husband on.  Because, when it comes down to it, you’re partly his as well.  And he needs to be happy with the decision I make as well.

I hope you understand, my friends.  It’s time to say, “Ta Ta.”  No pun intended.

Here’s hoping that your replacements will not sag, droop or become lumpy.  But I’m not holding out hope.

You see, I’ve been searching for the perfect pillow for a long, long time.

But we always knew.

Tonight, we celebrated.

Three kids, their spouses, and nine grandkids gathered for a party.  We celebrated the birthday of the woman who brought some of us into the world, who welcomed others of us into the family, and who was a mother to all of us.  She’ll turn 70 years young later this week.

Besides good food, a few beers, and some shenanigans with the slip-n-slide that turned my back yard into a gigantic mud puddle, there was a time for reminiscing.  We shared old pictures, took some walks down memory lane, and exchanged stories about the things we did behind our parents’ backs in our crazier younger years.

There was a lot of love crammed around that backyard table tonight.  You could feel it in the air.

But we didn’t say the words.

You see, growing up, in my family, it wasn’t something that was said.  Emotions weren’t often expressed.  Affections weren’t verbalized.  The words “I love you” were not ones we heard my mother utter very often when we were younger.

But here’s the thing.  We always knew.

We knew by the way she’d take us school shopping and always opted for the practical, yet heinously ugly Buster Browns.  She wouldn’t give in and buy us Jellies to be cool like the other kids, because she knew those cheap pieces of plastic crap would fall apart and give us blisters.  And, as we tromped home in our comfortably atrocious shoes, we knew she was right.  We also knew she wasn’t trying to make us wear hideous shoes because she wanted her kids to be fashion victims, but rather, because she loved us.  (And, possibly, because she didn’t want to hear us whine about how much our feet hurt.)

We knew by the way she’d pepper us with questions before we went anywhere.  Where are you going?  When will you be home?  Who will be there?  Who’s driving?  What’s the square root of 364? Even as teenagers, we knew why she was asking.  And we knew she asked out of love.

Some days, when my older brother and sister were at school and dad was at work, mom would make liver and onions for the two of us at home.  Most kids would wretch at the idea.  But for me, it was a special treat.  And I knew that a house that reeked of liver smell was just another way my mom said “I love you,” in her own special way.

We knew by the way she’d roust herself out of bed at 5 am every year on Black Friday to take us shopping for socks.  We knew that only two things could get my mom out of bed that early: love of a good deal, and love for her kids.

We knew because she was always at every game, tournament, competition and match.  I can recall only a few times throughout my teens that she wasn’t at an event, whether we wanted her there or not.  Sometimes she’d watch from afar.  But she was there.  And we always knew.

Sometimes it was a handwritten note slipped into a tennis racquet cover the night before a big match.  Words like “Good luck!  Do your best!  Mom and Dad” would be scribbled on a little Suzy’s Zoo sticky note.  And as I geared up to play, I knew.

Even if the words weren’t articulated often, we always knew how much our mother loved us.  A thousand tiny events, little gestures and seemingly insignificant details over the years epitomized the words that weren’t always spoken.

Now that I’m a mother myself, I can doubly appreciate the symbolism of her actions.  And I understand now what it all meant.  In reality, I always knew.

She was saying “I love you.”

We love you, too, Mom.  Happy 70th.

Richer by the Dozen

I’ve got a number on my mind today.  12.

It’s not a dozen eggs.  Although there are plenty of crack-ups involved.

It’s not a dozen donuts.  Although it is pretty sweet in my book.

It’s not the 12 pounds that I’ve gained, and can’t seem to shake off, post kids.  Although it does have some girth.

It’s not a dozen long stemmed, red roses.  Although one can always hope, can’t they?  Hint, hint, honey.

It’s not a half rack of beer.  We’ve gone through plenty o’ those over the years, though.

It’s not the months of the year.  It’s many months of many years.

It’s 12 years of marriage.

Twelve years of laughter, everyday life, ups, downs, a few tears, and endless fart jokes that I still laugh at even though I try not to.   I got pretty lucky when I married this guy a dozen years ago.

Happy Anniversary, Jay.  Love you.