The scene of the crime: the day I fell flat on my face in the goat pen while feeding my eager and equally fragrant friends. I was hurried and harried, late for work. I rushed to get everything done before heading out. My pace proved my undoing as I climbed over the fence and landed in a slippery patch of what can only be described as the unmistakable stew of mud and goat poop. Within moments I was face down, spread eagle in this…indignity. Covered. Just COVERED. Head to toe in it. The goats were delighted by my entry, and being male, clearly enjoyed the Three stooges comedy of my situation. I had little choice but to climb to my feet and continue with my chores before stripping down quite publicly on my porch to the amusement of passers by. I was certainly not going to trail THAT delightful mess through my house on the way to shower! It’s fascinating the perspective this gives. Interestingly enough, when your day starts covered in excrement, the rest of the day’s problems seem relatively manageable.
To pig, or not to pig? That is the question before us. I admit to a deep infatuation with the little oinkers, a love of round, snuffly noses and adorably squat bodies. I love a good mud bath. I’m more than a little partial to high jinks and tomfoolery precipitated by their clever little minds. I’m a sucker for a good escape artist and things that finish everything on their plate because those are the kind of compliments my children showered on me, affirming that I was in fact,
both suffocating them to the point of escape with my affections, and feeding them good food (strong indications of parenting success no Lebanese mother can survive without). HOWEVER, that being said, I complied with hubby’s plea for reason and restraint and agreed to research just what I was dying to jump into. I had a willing accomplice in my sister in law. A woman I adore, as impulsive and enthusiastic as I am, ready to bankroll my impetuous flight of fancy. Not an easy thing to resist…But in a marriage, terms must be mostly agreeable to both parties (mostly to me) in order for harmony (and the participation of the household “builder”, aka: said hubby) and peace to abide. Research had both my sister in law and I thinking it might be more work than anticipated, which hardened into a definite resolve not to add other…oder producing pets…after a hot days breeze carried unholy fragrances over to our research area. Nope, nope, NOPE. As fate would have it, yesterday’s 2 1/2 hours spent clearing and leveling our chicken yard enclosure, covered in mud and…not mud…sealed the deal for me. No pigs. The universe does NOT want me to have pigs. The universe wants me to visit pigs that OTHER people have, and then go home.
This. Just…THIS. This night sky greeted my eyes moments ago when I gingerly stepped outside for a slow, cool, soothing breath. Today I had 4 shots in my spine to abate the chronic pain and inflammation that I refuse to give in to. I thought, with great hubris, that my husband, Dale, would be able to simply pick me up from my work and take me back after the procedure with this small inconvenience only a blip on my screen for the day. I had plans, but hubris, that’s what I had more of. Getting up from the table I was met with the unplanned, the un-allotted for, the how-dare-I-be-human reality. It was more painful than I expected, but I’ve had 5 kids, so this is small potatoes. If hubris is my fatal flaw, perspective levels the field as my dear companion. This won’t take me down, there are much worse things that could happen. I’ll carry this one gladly. However, nausea, deep, sweeping nausea from my toes to the hair in my head, met me. Unceasing, sweaty, dizzying nausea that I know with certainty will be a faint memory in a matter of days, hopefully replaced by a spine that won’t defy me all the time, met me with a desperate intensity sending me home and banishing me to my bed. But this nausea is so overwhelming, and the dull ache in my back and legs cause a restlessness and drive me out of my bed and into the evenings embrace for fresh air and peace. And with that first, slow, cold breath filling my lungs I opened my eyes and saw this beautiful, brilliant sunset. This. Here. Now. Peace.
Our wee little chicks have out grown their kitchen based domicile. Being still quite small compared with those big boned gals in the coop-de-ville, an interim base camp was needed. With hubby away, and the itty bitties bursting at the seems inside, I headed to the local hardware store armed only with desperation and a half baked, hair brained idea taking form. Lacking a working knowledge of the tools in our shed, strong spacial skills, basic math abilities, and solid upper body strength, I decided to rely solely on materials I could tie together and drag around the yard myself. The plan was simple: construct a basic rectangular box out of PVC pipes and 3 way joints to connect them, at which point I planned to wrap the entire thing in old chicken wire, held to the form with the 3 zip ties I found rummaging around the house, a 5 foot length of wire I found stumbling around the poorly lit shed, and a huge pile of twisters I usually reserve for tying Christmas lights to the eves. It was fool proof! A kindly gentleman at the store, blessed with the patience usually required by parents of 4th graders the night before a science project is due, listened while I used wild hand gestures and vague descriptions to communicate my “blueprint”. Amazingly he understood enough of my native language (utter hooey) to help me gather the required supplies, even cutting the pipes to my non specific, arms stretched out to indicate lengths, directions. I was on fire. Upon arriving back home I enlisted the help of the two unlucky children not otherwise engaged, and used the same eloquent articulation to convey the plan. Less than half an hour later, I stood proudly gazing at our handiwork, my hands and arms covered in a multitude of tiny cuts because I refused to use common sense and wear protective gloves to handle the chicken wire (a hellish mistress with a devil of a temper), pride swelling in my heart. The result is a fantastic, inexpensive , light weight and portable “mini coop” that can even fit into the big coop at night, and most impressively, is so simple to assemble, even a team of reluctant monkeys can do it. Success!
*For anyone facing a similar dilemma and as apt at “construction” as I am, the PVC pipes are 1/2″, are sold 10 feet long at less than $3 a length. The one I made is 5 feet long by 3’4″‘s wide, 3’4″s high. The odd measurements are because I had the guy cut 2 of the poles in half (5′ each half), and three other poles equally in 3rds (hence the strange 3’4″ lengths! A side note: you only need 8 of them so you end up with an extra 3’4″ length). I used eight 3 way connectors (4 at each end) to make squares and then connected the squares with the 5’ poles. One roll of chicken wire will cover 4 sides and the top. I HIGHLY recommend coughing up the extra money for a big bag of zip ties, way faster and easier than twisting a million actual twisters all around the thing to hold the wire to the frame!
I am happy I have crows feet around my eyes that tell everyone immediately at a distance that I laugh. I laugh A LOT. Laughter makes everything so much more manageable and the unmanageable stuff, well slightly better. I am happy I have a belly that hangs a bit over my pants, and bulges a bit at the hips like a delicious doughnut that proclaims I break bread with my family and friends on a regular basis. I may not grace the covers of swimsuit magazines, but I happily salute any woman comfortable enough in her own skin that she lets herself shed layers and revel in sunshine and water in a bikini or even a one piece if that’s daring enough for her to manage. It took a while but I made my peace with the silver hairs that sprout by the dozens around my temples. They testify that I have lived long enough and interestingly enough to have earned them. Truth be told, I am more than a little amazed to have made it so far. ❤️
St. Paddy’s day is a pretty huge thing if you live in the Boston area. It’s probably a pretty big deal elsewhere I’m certain but for the purposes of this post I will stick close to what I know for sure. I am not Irish. Not even a smidge. I am entirely certain this is obvious to anyone who lays eyes on my deeply middle eastern visage: swarthy features, proudly arching beak of a nose beneath the thick, dark wings of my birdlike eyebrows, and olive skin tone. You might cock your head, cross your eyes ever so slightly and determine that the mischievous glint in my eyes bespeaks a devilish hint of a potentially Viking gifted drop of Irish blood, but my grandmother has assured me this is not so. The devilish glint is my own. At any rate, my proximity to Boston growing up bred in me a fierce adopted nationalistic pride on this one day each year. It is an excuse to decorate, and I love to decorate. It is an excuse to don fantastically ridiculous themed costumes, and I love to don fantastically ridiculous themed costumes.
I count myself a number of this tribe each year, justifying my claims through marriage to a nice WASP of a guy, and the five children we brought into this world together. I am Irish this day by both proximity and association. It should be no surprise then that on this illustrious day I filled a large pot with water, meat, root vegetables and cabbage and boiled the crap out of the whole thing to serve for dinner. I chose a bright green dress, an understated head band with bobbing antennae topped with four leaf clovers bearing the bold “Kiss me, I’m Irish” on each, and cracked my knuckles in preparation for pinching the bottoms of people not properly dressed to observe this holiday. I proceded to work, ready, willing and able to start mischief wherever mischief was needed. Here it must be noted that I work for a Catholic Church, coordinating education programs for elementary school children, and individual plans for kids with special needs. I am a totally respectable woman. Totally appropriate. Entirely reverent. Most of the time. Ok, SOME of the time. Imagine my surprise this morning when my boss greeted me enthusiastically upon seeing me, and announced with great gusto to the entire office how ironic it was for someone like ME, who couldn’t look less Irish, to be dressed as I was and wearing such an impressive headband “being so lesbian” . He looked deeply mollified and attempted to get the word “Lebanese” out several more times, only to declare me lesbian over and over again to his open consternation and embarrassment, the wild and red faced laughter of the staff, and my complete and utter delight! I eventually supplied the correct word, patting him on the arm as he apologized profusely through a crimson cheeked, pained smile, and responded “It’s ok, father, besides it was just that one time in college.” Yep, this is gonna be an awesome day.
Dignity. Ever dignity. That was my father’s motto, and like the dutiful children my siblings and I were, we endeavored to strip him of it. Every chance we got. Our good fortune lay in his tireless patience and humor.
My own sojourn into parenthood lead me along much the same path. The eternal lessons in humility, panic, patience, and the art of field stitching wounds, finding lost items, locating public bathrooms for pea sized bladders, and cultivating a level of civilized behavior in my offspring suitable for general audiences. It’s a bumpy road, to say the least. To say the most…well, entire libraries of books on the subject already litter the landscape. I will spare you the unabridged version.
I love my children. I am continually amazed by their brilliance (which they get from their dad) and their keen sense of humor, sliding often into the dark, irreverent side, which I am certain they get from me. At every opportunity I have thrust upon them to become cultured and refined, they have proven time and again that my genetic contributions to their proper sensibilities has won out. Shenanigans and tomfoolery ensue.
I have, maybe, 3 or 4 pictures over the past 20 years in which my children are looking at the camera and smiling nicely. I have thousands more where not a single one of them was able to master the self control necessary for a 20 second photograph.
My albums, the records of my beautiful children, read like a year book for the local insane asylum. Why does this make me ridiculously proud?
On the way home
“On the way home” is a phrase that most people consider to refer to a point on the map between a starting point and a final destination. You know, like “I’ll stop for milk on my way home from work”, or “I’ll pick up your kid on my way past your house for basketball practice”, because those things are conveniently place in between point A and point B. “On the way home” is a small favor to do, not even a favor really, since your going pretty much right past that thing or kid to get where you were going to go anyway, right? You really only need to break a little, maybe even stop the car so the extra kid can dive roll in and buckle up as you rev the engine and bring the car back to top speeds with out skipping a beat. My friends and I do it all the time for each other, mostly because while we like each other, it is pretty much ON THE WAY, so why not? If your kid lived across town and I had to drive in some crazy triangle just to get your kid before driving in a totally opposite direction, I certainly wouldn’t consider it “on the way” and while I would still do it for you, it would ABSOLUTELY be a favor. I might even grumble on occasion, as I’m sure you would. Muttering under my breath as I add extra time to do this THING for my friend because it meant heaving my lazy butt off the couch and into a cold car on a dark night that much sooner. I mean, I love you all, really I do, and I will always help you out and I won’t even complain out loud. I don’t need to since having a continual internal dialogue going on in my warped brain anyway, that would terrify most sane people.
I’ll talk and rail at myself in the privacy of my brain. No need to expose you to all that. Anyway, the point is while I will do this for you anytime, I don’t consider it “on the way”, that’s all. Here’s the thing that amazes me though: My parents are always saying this to me. “Honey, we thought we would just stop by on the way home from your sister’s.
My sister, it should be noted, lives two and a half hours south of me, and my parents live an hour south of me so I am most definitely NOT on their way home. They’ll stop by “on their way home” from points across the globe, and always with arms full of things they picked up shopping (that they will never use) that they figure we can use/need/like.
They are amazing. It hasn’t mattered how long their flight back from a sojourn somewhere wonderful was; still they will call and say, “We thought we would swing by on our way home…” They have logged more out of the way miles than that guy from “Dumpsters, dives and diners” has and all in the name of coming to me “on their way home”.
When my Dad and Mom say “on the way home” what they are really saying is “I love you”. Like Wesley in the Princess Bride movie who’s “as you wish” was really “I love you”. My parents have ways of saying this that at first go unnoticed for the expression it really is. I am not “on the way home” for them, not by any stretch of the imagination, but for my mom and dad, I will always be “on the way home. And, you know what? I love them too.
A dare. That’s what most of motherhood is: one, giant, everyone’s watching DARE. Actually, it’s the ultimate dare. The DOUBLE DOG DARE, the dare from which there is no backing down, no saying “pass”. It’s the dare to end all dares and everyone is watching. It’s you against the unknown challenge. You somehow know instinctively that it will involve being outside of your comfort zone, and also, probably, a little humiliation for laughs.
It’s worth it, don’t get me wrong, but you WILL be the subject of many, many blackmail worthy pictures your kids are probably assembling into a final presentation for your commitment hearings. Don’t worry, you’ll have your day in court. Two can play at this game after all. I mean your average teen will melt in horror at any public demonstration of your singing…and your choice in outfits? Go for flamboyant costumes and I guarantee you will walk across that parking lot ALONE.
If anyone had been completely upfront with me about the huge leaps of faith, the near constant blindfolded trust walks, and the outright make-it-up-as-you-go-along technique required to shepherd those adorable, pudgy, toothless babies through their teen years and beyond, I might have run the other way.
But then again, I would have missed out on the best ride of my life. Go on and try it. I DARE you. Slap on your war paint and get ready to get down and dirty because being a mom is many things, and I wouldn’t trade a single one of them. Bring. It. ON.