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Grounds For…?

Posted on Sep 11, 2011 07:05:26 PM

TRAGEDY OF THE WEEK: September 12, 2011

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Grounds For…?

It was too early. I was still in my bathrobe, desperate for a cup of coffee before I started my day with Charlie and Tucker. I had broken the glass carafe for the coffee maker the day before, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from finding a way to get my morning fix. I couldn’t possibly begin my day with a four-year-old and a newborn without coffee. I filled the machine with coffee grounds, and water, and I waited until I could hear it percolating. I hunched over the counter with a makeshift carafe that I had fashioned from a glass measuring cup and the plastic coffee pot lid. I held the potentially clever but mostly pathetic device under the brew spout, and I pushed up the spring hoping for the best.

“OW! DAMMIT!” I screamed as steaming hot coffee dripped from under the machine and saturated my hand.

“What are you doing?” Tom questioned, as he entered the kitchen.

“I’m burning the shit out of my fingers, TOM, that’s what I’m doing!” I yelled.

“Are you trying to make coffee?” Tom had a look of quizzical horror on his face as if he thought I might have finally lost my mind.

“I’m making coffee! What does it look like I’m doing?” I hoped my attitude would make him feel like he was the one lacking reason.

“What do you mean? The coffee maker is broken, Ellie. What are you trying to do?”

“No. The coffee maker is not broken. I broke the carafe, not the machine.” I readjusted my fingers and continued pressing up into the spring of the brew spout. “Shit!” I yelled as another flow of coffee gushed out onto my fingers and trickled down my hand.

“You can’t make coffee without the pot, Ellie,” Tom calmly insisted.

“Too late. I’m already making it,” I snapped.

“You’re being a little extreme.”

I shot Tom a fiery look that I hope burned with the same intensity as the coffee that was now dripping down my arm and into the sleeve holes of my bathrobe. “You don’t have to stand there and watch me. Go away!”

“Are you trying to push on the spring with your fingers?”

“YES…OW! DAMMIT! Stupid piece of …”  I sucked in my breath and continued to swear under my breath.

“Can’t you just go get a cup of coffee?”


I slammed the glass measuring cup on the counter, and turned towards Tom. “Are you kidding me?” I said, motioning to my bathrobe. “I haven’t even showered, and I smell like milk. I can’t leave the house like this.”

“Ellie, half the kids working at the coffee shop look like they just rolled out of bed too. No one cares what you look like.”

“Well, now I feel sexy. Thanks!” I rolled my eyes in exasperation. Tucker cried from upstairs. My body crumpled in response. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter,” I said as I trudged out of the kitchen.

“I’ll get him,” Tom said. He passed me in the hall and went upstairs while I made myself as comfortable as possible on the couch and prepared to nurse. It hadn’t been going well, and without my coffee, I was feeling especially emotional.

Tom came downstairs with Tucker, and Charlie bounced down behind them. He was blocking his ears in response to Tucker’s crying.

“Sorry, buddy. Did he wake you up?” I asked.

“No, but he’s too loud. I don’t like it.”

Tom passed Tucker over to my nest of pillows that I had positioned in a way I hoped might help things go more smoothly. Charlie stayed in the doorway of the living room and watched. “Are you going to feed him?” he asked, removing his hands from his ears as Tucker quieted himself with a mouthful of milk.

“Yes,” I said, trying to smile through the pain to ease Charlie’s discomfort and concerns about nursing.

“That’s gross, Mom.”

“It’s not gross, Charlie. I fed you like this when you were a baby.”

“Blech!” he said, sticking out his tongue. Tucker squirmed and fussed with an inability to latch on comfortably. “I don’t think he likes it, Mom. You should give him a doughnut instead.”

“Babies can’t eat doughnuts, buddy.” I smiled and repositioned Tucker to try to stop his fussing.

“Okay. I’ll eat his doughnut for him. Me and Dad are going to get some.”

“We are?” Tom asked.

“Yeah. You promised. You said after Tucker was born we could get doughnuts.”

Tom shook his head as if flustered. “I didn’t mean today.” Charlie scowled, but before he had a chance to complain, Tom raised his eyebrows and nodded his head. “Actually, let’s do that. We’ll get some doughnuts, and I’ll get your mom some coffee. What kind of doughnut do you want?” he asked me with a wink.

“Mom likes pink. Right Mom?” Charlie offered.

“I do like pink,” I said, smiling at Charlie. I looked at Tom. “I like Boston cream too, but I think the last thing I need right now is a doughnut.” I gave my belly a pat and hoped Tom would give me the – You just had a baby, you’re not fat – lecture again.

“Okay, I’ll just get you a coffee,” Tom said with an oblivious shrug as he turned away from me. “Ready to go?” he asked Charlie. Charlie nodded enthusiastically as he hopped off the couch, and they headed out.

I was relieved when they left because Tucker was still not latching well, and it was hard to keep my discomfort hidden from Charlie. I tried to reposition myself, but Tucker suddenly pulled his head backwards without releasing me and a seething pain pierced my chest. “OW! SHIT!” I screamed, startling Tucker. I wasn’t any better at brewing breast milk than I was at brewing coffee. I sat and cried quietly. Tucker squirmed but eventually settled into a position that worked for him. It continued to be painful for me, but I didn’t dare move. My body was frozen in a cringe of pain that only a warm cup of coffee could thaw. I couldn’t wait for Tom to get back.

It felt like forever, but I finally heard the return of the car in the driveway. Charlie burst through the door with his usual loud excitement. “Mom, look!” he yelled, running to me with a doughnut bag and a very blue drink. “Dad let me get the blue raspberry freeze and a doughnut.”

“Awesome!” I said.

Charlie plopped next to me on the couch, and jostled my arm, but Tucker was finally too full of milk to fuss.

“Here,” Tom said, passing me my coffee.

“Wait, wait!” I said, waving him off. “Just put it down. I can’t hold hot coffee with Tucker.”

Tom put the cup down on the coffee table. “Here, I’ll take him.”

I passed a contented and sleeping Tucker to Tom and relaxed for a moment. The morning finally felt peaceful as I watched Charlie happily eating his doughnut and Tom holding our newborn son. I reached for the coffee and took a few cautious sips. It was hot, but so strongly flavored with normalcy that I couldn’t resist inhaling a few gulps, even at the risk of burning my mouth. “This is the best! Thank you,” I said to Tom. “You got a doughnut in there for me?” I joked to Charlie.

“No,” he said. He looked nervous. “Dad said you didn’t want one.”

I nodded and took another swig of coffee. I could feel the magic as it warmed my soul. “Seriously, this is the best coffee. Is this their usual decaf or did you get me something special?”

“What do you mean? It’s not decaf?”


“It’s your usual with the chocolate syrup and cream.”

“It’s not decaf?”

“No. Why would you want that?”

“Because I’m nursing! I can’t drink regular coffee.” I plopped the cup down on the coffee table and took a shaky breath.

“So you were doing all that stuff earlier for decaf? Are you serious?”

Tom’s tone was one of innocent surprise, but I couldn’t hold back my emotion. I burst into tears.

“I told you we should have got her the pink doughnut,” Charlie said, looking at Tom. “It’s okay, Mom.” He rested his head on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me.

Tom shrugged and shook his head. “ Sorry. El. I didn’t know you were drinking decaf.”

“It’s okay. Never mind. Just forget it,” I said with a pitiful sigh. I was well practiced with being a martyr these days, and I quickly sniffled up my tears. I took a deep breath and tried to smile at Charlie but my jaw was set with teeth that clenched and made room for no more than a smirk.

“Here, Mom,” Charlie said, offering a piece of his doughnut. His gesture was enough to at least coax my eyes into a smile.

“Thank’s, honey,” I said.

Tom passed Tucker back to me, and walked towards the hall. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to get you another coffee,” he said softly. “Need anything else?”

“Yeah,” I said, munching my piece of Charlie’s chocolate doughnut. “Get me a Boston Cream, too.”

Brace Me

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 06:29:16 PM

TRAGEDY OF THE WEEK -  September 4, 2011

Sponsored by: Momma Zone – This is that special place in a mother’s mind that she is able to access at times when she needs complete focus and concentration. It creates a brain cushion that allows a mom to tune out so successfully that she can nod her head “yes” or shake her head “no” in an effective and automated way, releasing her from the need to divert her attention to actually listen. This zone is often accessed so successfully that moms forget the appointments, meetings, and responsibilities that influenced their need to get in the zone in the first place, making them appear disorganized, nervous and tired.


Brace Me

Having five children presents me with the challenge of coordinating 5 different schedules, especially because, aside from all of the usual appointments, play-dates, and sports schedules, I have children at different schools. With school starting in a week, I decided to take advantage of my time while Elsie napped, and plan the calendar for the next 3 months. The boys were all out, and Lanie was reading, so I figured it was a good time. In the past, I have tried to coordinate everything by giving each member of the family a different color of pen. I wrote Tom’s schedule in black, my own appointments in red, Charlie was blue, Tucker was green, Lanie was purple, Henry was orange, and Elsie was pink. This technique didn’t always work, and it usually put me into a panic when I needed to change things. Trying to locate the correct color of pen to make the changes and additions to the schedule was often a real pain in the neck, but I was stubborn and insisted, mostly to myself, that someday this would turn into a brilliant idea that would catch on. Every mother in the world would be jealous of my unique and brilliant organizational skills because clearly no one else had ever thought of color-coordinating their family in this way. I bet even “Super Nanny” would be impressed and invite me as an expert consultant and guest on her program.

“Mom, what are you doing?’ Lanie asked when she came into the dining room where I was “working,” trying to coordinate the different school calendars.

“What?” I said kind of desperately and half-listening because I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the different schedules. “How in the world am I supposed to coordinate all these different times for things?” I said out loud, but really to myself.

“What?” Lanie said confused. When I didn’t answer, she said, “Did you ask me something, Mom?”

“No, Lanie, I’m not talking to you. I’m just thinking out loud.”

“Oh,” she said with a little smirk and slight eye roll, as if my behavior was too crazy to comment on with actual words. “Well, what are you doing anyway?”

There was a pause, as I continued to look over my notes for all the different school social events, doctors’ appointments, and sports games and frantically searched for the pens that were the correct colors. “Oh, shoot,” I said, “now I’m going to have to reschedule that dentist appointment.“ I continued to talk to myself, still not really listening to Lanie or addressing her. I was in the “Mom Zone” needing to focus on what I was doing and unintentionally blocking out everything else.

“Mom.” Lanie said again, trying to get my attention.

“Oh, Lanie, could you just wait one minute. I’m almost done here, and I really need to finish checking some of these schedules to make sure I don’t have any conflicts. Do you really need something right now? I’m trying to get this done before Elsie wakes up and your brothers come home,” I said looking around for my red pen that seemed to have disappeared.  “Do you see a red pen on the floor over there?” I asked pointing in Lanie’s direction and wondering if it might have fallen and rolled to nowhere.

“But, I wanted to call Kelly and see if she could come over tomorrow,” Lanie said, glancing in the direction of the floor, but not really looking or trying to be helpful.

“Okay, I’ll check our schedule just a ‘sec,” I said kind of absently and looking over the calendar.

“But, Mom, I need to call her right now. She said she wouldn’t be home after lunch, and if I don’t call now I might not get her, and then I’ll just be bored because I won’t know what I’m doing tomorrow,”

“Lanie, look at this schedule,” I said, so impressed with my own handiwork. “How could anyone possibly be bored with a schedule like this?” and I gesticulated towards the calendar with my hands. I was so proud.Mommas Dramas

“I am bored now. I have nothing to do.”

“Fine,” I said, still only half-listening, “Why don’t you just invite Kelly over now, and then you will have something to do, and I can finish this. Come on, honey,” I kind of pleaded with her, “ it is not often that I have these few moments to myself to work all of this out. Just invite Kelly over now, I still don’t know what is happening tomorrow.”

“Mom, you didn’t even listen. I just told you that Kelly is busy today after lunch, and anyway, you said that I had things to do today. Don’t I have an appointment or something?”

“No you don’t.” I said nervously, wondering if I could have possibly forgotten something. I never forget things, especially appointments.

“Well, you said I was busy today,” she said in an accusatory tone. “Great,” she exclaimed with a dramatic girl huff, “so I could have done something with Kelly, but I didn’t because you said I had an appointment.”

“What appointment?”

“How should I know?” she said with annoyance, throwing her hands in the air, “you’re the one doing the calendar.” Leave it to Lanie to use some pre-teen sass to blame me for something. I decided to defend myself and let the rude attitude go. I would calmly show her that she must have misunderstood me.

“I’m sorry we had a misunderstanding, honey, but look here, see,” I said pointing at the calendar, “today is the first, and we have nothing scheduled for you. Charlie has an eye doctor appointment at 3:00, but other than that, our day is free.” I was a little confused as I said that because it seemed to me that I had just taken Charlie to the eye doctor. Maybe there was a follow-up that I had forgotten about. I tuned out again pondering this appointment when Lanie interrupted my thoughts.

“Mom, that is the schedule for August. It’s September first, not August first,” she said pointing at the large AUGUST at the top of the calendar that I had failed to adequately notice.

I realized that I was so focused on scheduling all of our future obligations that I had not checked the month that I was in when looking at the schedule for today.

I reluctantly turned the calendar to the new correct month of September. Lanie peered over my shoulder.

“Oh, great! See, Mom,” she said pointing. “I had an orthodontist appointment today at 10,” and her finger rested on the bright purple ‘Lanie’ ink on the calendar. “Now I’m going to have to have these stupid braces for even longer because we missed my appointment.”

“Sorry about that. I guess I just forgot, but I don’t think one appointment is going to change how long you have to have your braces. “

“Whatever, “ she sighed. “Can I call Kelly now about tomorrow?”

I checked the schedule for September 2 very carefully. I had scheduled an appointment for myself to go to the supermarket in the morning, but I guessed that could wait. I kind of owed Lanie.

“Yes, call Kelly, but first let me use the phone to call Dr. Perry’s office to reschedule your appointment.” I tried to smile and relax like it was no big deal, but I felt really awful and guilty so I added, “I’m so sorry, honey, I don’t know how that escaped me.”

Lanie glared a little, obviously displeased. “Fine,” she said and went to her room to finish reading.

I was staring in disbelief at the calendar and the clock. It was now 10:30. How could I have missed that appointment staring back at me in the bright purple ink? So much for my organizational skills. I wondered if anyone sold calendars with blinking neon signs or calendars that could tap you on the shoulder and say “Hey, you need to leave for that appointment in 15 minutes.” Maybe something like that would capture my attention more effectively. Oh, well.

I nervously called Dr. Perry’s office and apologized to the receptionist. I hated missing appointments, and I hated the embarrassment of missing an appointment even more. “Oh don’t worry,” she said, “it happens all the time, especially with the first of the month. Did you forget to flip your calendar?”

“Oh, no,” I lied, too guilty to admit my mistake but not too guilty to lie, “ my daughter is with a friend. The mom was supposed to bring them home in time for this appointment, but they’re not here yet. I’m not sure where they are. Can I just reschedule for sometime next week?”

I was extra bubbly and friendly, trying to sound very pleasant and innocent on the phone, but I was sure that if Dr. Perry’s receptionist could see my crooked smile, she would have booked an appointment for me as well.



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