Monday, January 18, 2010

I can't come to the phone right now. Oprah made me do it.

I was all set to write a funny blog entry today about a hilarious discovery I made this weekend while organizing, but then I had to watch Oprah yesterday.

Damn, Opes. I hate it when you make me think too much. You're supposed to be light-hearted and funny and talk about cheating spouses and how we're all wearing the wrong bra size, and how the right bra will change our life. You're supposed to give away free cars and give makeovers to frumps. You're supposed to kiss celebrity ass and shout, "JOHN TRA-VOL-TA!" or "WILL SA-MI-ITH!" or "CHRIS RO-OCK!" I guess you're also allowed to occasionally make me cry when you feature stories about inspirational people or two-legged dogs.

But come on, now. I don't like it when you make me think too hard and feel guilty at 4:00 in the afternoon. The only thing I should feel guilty about at 4:00 in the afternoon is when I decide that it's a chicken-nuggets-and-macaroni-and-cheese-for-dinner kind of day.

However, the Mighty Oprah hath spoken, and I, usually a skeptic on all decrees of the Mighty Oprah, heeded her call.

I don't blame you for being an Oprah skeptic. I get it. But hear me out on this one.

Today's show was about texting and talking on the phone while driving. I started out the show all, "Whatevs, Ope. Tell me something I don't know. Texting while driving is dangerous. Blah, blah, blah." I have told you all my feelings about texting while driving. I don't do it because, a.) it's dangerous, and b.) I don't have the patience to text, when I could just call and talk to my potential textee.

So I was riding way up high on my high horse, all Miss Perfect, all She's Not Talking to Me, all I Can't Believe Some People Are So Stupid and I'm So Glad Oprah is Calling Them Out, and then Ope knocked me down a peg.

I was the parade, and Oprah was my rain.

Because then she started throwing out statistics and telling stories about people who had either died or killed someone else while talking on their cell phone while driving, and then I was all, "Oops. Gotta go pack my bags, because Oprah's taking me on an all-expenses paid guilt trip, and it's not to some place exotic and fun."

With the best of intentions, I have promised myself many times that I will stop talking on the cell phone while driving. Not too long ago, I was driving all of my kids home from school, and I was distracted for a moment while talking to my sister about a topic that I have no memory of now because it was that insignificant, and I almost rear-ended the car in front of me. The incident scared me enough that I swore off talking on my phone while driving. It lasted three whole days. Most recently, I told you about the time when Charlie yelled at me when I answered my phone as we were driving down a snowy, treacherous road. Once again, I swore off the phone in the car. But true to form, my pledge lasted about a day and a half.

It's so easy for Oprah to tell us not to talk on our phones while driving, because does she ever drive anywhere? She can call Gayle and gossip any old time she wants to, because the chauffeur is the one making the right turns and merging onto the freeway for her. She does not have to suffer the sheer boredom of driving down the same road every single day, passing the same stores, waiting for the same lights to change from red to green.

So clearly, it wasn't she that convinced me that I should give up my cell phone addiction. (And believe you me, I am addicted to talking on the phone in the car. Full-on, hardcore, gotta take a hit off my phone addicted.) It was a crying mother who convinced me. A crying mother whose daughter died while riding her bike, steps from her front door, because some lady was too busy having a convo on her cell phone while operating her 5,000 pound SUV to notice the little girl.

I know you don't come to this blog for a lecture. I know you come here for laughs and to find a place free of judgment from parenting mistakes we all make. Feeding the kids cereal for dinner tonight? Me too. Yelled at your little angels a bit too loudly today? Been there, done that. Nagged your husband to change the toilet paper roll? Um...yeah.

My intent is not to lecture. I'm just getting my own guilt off my chest. I have realized that I am a hypocrite, and it doesn't feel good.

Why do I talk on my phone almost every time I get in my car? Because I'm bored. Bored out of my EVER-LOVING mind. Bored enough to scream if I don't get at least 10 minutes of adult conversation. Bored of listening to the movie "Cars" playing on the DVD player. Just plain bored.

Do you ever have those nights when you lie in bed, and everyone else is sleeping, and the house is quiet, and you replay your day in your mind, and you don't like what you see in your head? Your guilt overwhelms you. You yelled too much. Or you let your kids watch too much TV. Or you fed them crap because you were just too tired to cook that organic meal from scratch. You lie there in your bed and you think about how fast your babies are growing up, and you wonder if you are being the best mom you can be.

No? Just me? Nobody else worries about these things?

Well then, let me tell you how it feels. It feels like crap. Sure, I have plenty of days when I replay my day, and I like what I see. But sometimes the crappy days outweigh the good ones in my mind, and Bill tells me I overanalyze way too much.

Well duh.

Here's the part where I realized that I am a hypocrite. I researched my kids' car seats to find the best ones. I wouldn't dream of letting them ride in a car unbuckled. I feed them well most of the time. I don't let them watch violent movies. I know who all their friends are. Yet, despite all this, I still do something almost every time that I get in the car with them, that puts myself and them at 4 times the risk of being in an accident, perhaps a fatal one. FOUR TIMES.

I am lying to myself when I say that talking on my cell phone doesn't distract me when I'm driving. As if there are not enough distractions driving four kids around town on a daily basis, I have to add another thing to the list?

I would hate myself for exactly forever plus one day if I hurt or killed someone else while talking on the phone and driving.

I would hate myself for exactly forever plus TWO days if I hurt or killed one of my kids while talking on the phone and driving.

You convinced me Ope. I'm kicking the habit.

I asked myself how this time would be any different, and I have decided that the only way I could kick this habit is to get my kids involved. So I got out a piece of paper and wrote,

"I, Mommy, promise to not talk on my cell phone or text on my cell phone while driving a car. I promise to only use it in the car as a passenger, or when the car is stopped or parked. Signed, Mommy, 1/18/10"

After reading this out loud, I signed my name to the paper, right in front of my family at the dinner table last night. Then I tacked it to the bulletin board in our office, for all to see. My boys were extra giddy when I told them that they have free reign to "bust me" if I cheated. And I sincerely hope they don't have to.

I also went to the Oprah website and signed the petition, just so I could further cement it in my stubborn mind. Check it out here.

I'm trying here. I'm just trying my best and I fall short of perfect every single day, which is a tough thing for me to admit.

So I am telling Therese, Bridget, Colette, Veronica, Bern, Amy, Jan, Maureen, and all my other peeps that I like hash it out with on a daily basis, that I still love our chats, but it's time for me to shut my yap a little bit.

I'm just trying to do right by my kids.

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