Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What can I say? It's a weakness.

Is the sky up? Is Santa fat? Is the sun hot? Am I still watching The Bachelor?

Yes, yes, yes.

And yes.

You know you are watching it too, because it is the eleventy fortieth season of this show, and it exists because we still watch.

Or, the whole show is just a vast conspiracy concocted on behalf of the the rose growers of America.

Anyway, I know you watch, and if you say you don't, then you are either:

a.) a stinkin' liar, and actually DVR-ing the crap out of this show, or
b.) telling the truth, and you possess a tremendous amount of willpower, and therefore, you need to bottle up all that willpower, slap a label on that puppy, and sell it to me, because clearly? I have none.

We groan and complain and ask ourselves why we watch this show. We acknowledge that it treats women like herd of cattle. We scoff at the idea that people can really find love in this setting.

Yet we watch. Just because we want to see if it's possible.

So, yes, I watch the Bachelor, and yes, I am a strong, intelligent woman. I am a happy wife, mother, and contributing member of society.

Who watches the Bach.

Deal with it.

Brad seems like a stand-up guy who is in it to win it. Sure, there were the little matters of check fraud and forgery (Thank you, grocery store tabloid!) he was convicted of years ago, but really, what's a little fraud and forgery among friends, people? Brad is a changed man, he wants us to know it, and let's face it. What is an interesting reality show character without a checkered past? Because that, right there, is why I would make a boring reality show character, what with my law-abiding ways and all.

However, like I said, Brad seems like the bees knees, but ABC really needs to cool it with the whole, "Most hated man in America" schtick. Because murderers, ABC. And bad guys. And must I keep going with this list?

Drama much, ABC?

I guess that's a rhetorical question. Because that's the point. The drama.

Why would we hate Brad for doing what no Bachelor has done yet, and that is, pick NO ONE on his first go-around? To pick no one takes guts. Chutzpah. Sure, it's not the most popular or desired outcome on this show, but better to say, "I don't pick either girl," rather than lead a girl on, propose, and then two weeks later I'm standing at the grocery store, minding my biz, when I am greeted by tabloid covers proclaiming that, ohnohowcrazyknockmeoverwithafeather, The Bachelor and his gal are history! Kaput! Splitsville!

Like we didn't see that one coming.

Realistically, if someone put 25 dresses in front of me, and they said, "Pick just one and love it!" I'm not sure that it would happen. But people are supposed to pick their partner for life this way? What are the chances that your soul mate is in that group of 25? Because really, the pool has already been polluted a bit by ABC as they throw a couple dashes of downright cri-za-zy into the mix, which lessens the pool of realistic candidates to about 20-ish people.

Not that I'm naming names.

But you know of whom I speak.

That is, if you watch.

Which I know you do.

Anyway, enough of the apologizing, Brad Womack. We get it. You didn't pick anyone. America was let down. But I assure you, we got over it in about 5 minutes, once we remembered, "Oh yeah! We have real lives! And real issues! And real problems! None of which involve The Bachelor!"

You are just a diversion to us, Bachelor.

An entertaining diversion.

Or, as Brad says at least 100 times per episode, it is, "A--MA--ZING".

Well, not really, but I just wanted to point out that he says, "amazing" frequently. Like all the time.

Sure, most of the situations are contrived and unrealistic, because who goes zip-lining on a first date? Or for a spin on the Pacific Coast Highway in a Lamborghini? Or on a shopping spree with unlimited credit? Or to a funeral home to see how a body is embalmed?

Well, actually, I did the funeral home thing.

Bill grew up in a funeral home as the son of a mortician, and when we were in college and dating, we went to the funeral home with his dad (no longer their family home, but still the family place of business at the time) and they showed me the embalming room.

No, there was not a body in the room. Yes, it is as scary as it looks on television, with big needles and drains and tubes and contraptions.

Like Brad, I almost ran screaming for the hills.

But I fell head over heels in love with the guy anyway, and thanked my lucky stars that he chose the business world for his profession instead of the dead body profession.

I digress.

Clearly, Brad could not deal with Shawntel's chosen profession, and you can't really blame the guy, because if your heart's not in it, it's just not in it. Just like his heart is into the mature and pretty Emily, but he cannot form a complete sentence around her to save his life, which is why he will probably choose Chantal.

I have it all figured out.

Because I still watch this show.

Because I can't help it.

I need a brainless escape.

And I know you do too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love in a lunchbox.

He has carried the same lunchbox to school with him almost every school day (except for the days he orders hot lunch) for the last five years.

As I have done for all my school-age children, I ordered it for him out of the L.L. Bean catalog when he started kindergarten. It was a bright apple green color, with black trim, and I paid a few dollars extra to have his monogram stitched on the front pocket in black thread.

Over the years it has faded and gotten dirty from being shoved in and out of backpacks and cafeteria lunch buckets. Recently, he informed me that his lunchbox is, "lame".

He sighed to me one morning as he was cramming his lunchbox into his backpack, "Mom, I have carried this same lunchbox FOR. EV. ER. I had it when I was a baby! Can I ever get a new one?"

Silly me. I had no idea that a lunchbox had the ability to be lame. It is, after all, just a lunchbox. You put a sandwich, some baked chips, a squeeze yogurt, and two cookies in there, and VOILA! The job is done. Not lamely, I might add.

We are a practical people. We don't replace things unless they need replacing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Lame or not, the lunchbox stays.

Every Sunday night, my job is the same. I pull all three lunchboxes out of the pantry, line them up on the counter and get to work filling them, saving myself the job on an already harried Monday morning. As I was about to unzip the lunchbox of my oldest son, the purported, Lamest Lunchbox of Them All, I noticed a small bulge in the small, rarely-used, top zip pocket.

I was afraid at what I might discover once the pocket was unzipped. A rotten apple core? A half-eaten granola bar? Orange peels?

Hesitatingly, I unzipped the pocket, and stuck my hand inside. I was stunned by what I found.

Napkins.



Napkins on which I had written notes to him.

He had saved them.

I don't know why I never noticed this small little bump in his lunchbox before, but I looked over at my next son's lunchbox, and I saw the same thing.

This third extra pocket, too small to hold more than a bag of fruit snacks, held the napkins on which I had scribbled words like, "I love you! Have a great day! Love, Mom" or "I'm so proud of you! Good luck on your science test!"

My love letters to my children.

Writing notes on their napkins is not something I do every day. It is not something I do every week. It is something I do when I think they need to hear it, whether it be encouraging them to do well on a test, or I just feel like they need a smile.

But I had no idea they actually cared. In fact, the older they get, the more I thought it would embarrass them. Most days as of late, with the exception of their birthdays, the napkins placed inside their lunchboxes on a daily basis are white and silent.

Before bedtime, I asked them about it.

"Yeah Mom. Of course I saved them. We like when you do that," my oldest son said very plainly.

"You do?" I asked, still trying to absorb this somewhat shocking information. "You mean it doesn't embarrass you that I write, 'love' and hearts on your napkins?"

"Naw," was the general consensus among my boys.

Is it ironic that I discovered these napkins the night before Valentine's Day?

Of course it was.

Every mother of a boy wants to raise a kind man.

A sensitive man.

A man who is not afraid to express his feelings.

A man who treats others with respect.

A man who notices the little things.

Luckily, these three boys of ours have my husband, their father, as the perfect example.

On these days when I feel like I am losing my two oldest boys to the moody tween years which will soon evolve into the teen years, I will remember this.

That they still need their mom. Even if they don't always say it, I know it.

As I continued packing lunches last night, I decided to go for it.

Heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


And another note scrawled on a napkin, for good measure.

Anything to liven up an otherwise lame lunchbox.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wishing you love and happiness in your life, wherever you find it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Perspective in a photograph.

It was the picture that got me.

It was a picture of a mother gazing into her daughter's eyes, holding her little body tightly to her own in her lap as they rocked.

Pure contentment was in the mother's eyes.

It could have been any picture of any mother with any child. But it wasn't.

It just wasn't your typical mother/child photograph.

Most of the girl's hair was missing, save for a few long strands that hung loosely and haphazardly on her sweet, little head.

Cancer. In a 6-year old girl.

A stomachache that wasn't. A stomachache that is a cancerous tumor.

Unfathomable.

She is a local girl, but I do not know her. I first heard of her a few weeks ago through Facebook, when her family and friends asked for prayers and donations. I clicked, "Like" for her cause.

Ironic, isn't it? To click the, "Like" button for such a tragic story. But I wanted to follow it, and her story touched my heart.

I want to read the status update one day soon of, "She's cured! Cancer-free!"

A random stranger has touched my heart.

Because she could be my child.

Any of our children.

I saw the picture on Tuesday evening, as I took a break from my day and scrolled through the updates on my Facebook page. To say that it made me take pause is an understatement.

Not more than ten minutes earlier, I was complaining to my husband about my, "stressful" day. I was worn out. I couldn't listen to another whine from another shortie for another second. I just wanted to fall into bed.

Poor me.

Laundry. Driving the kids around the town. Mediating squabbles between the shorties. Cleaning up messes. Listening to the cries of, "I'M SO BORRRRRRED, MOM!" Keeping myself organized because I am chairing the school auction. Winter weather. Making another boring chicken dinner.

Waaaaa. Waaaaa. Waaaaa.

Poor me, and the, "stresses" of my life.

Then I saw the picture of a loving mother holding her cancer-stricken child.

And tears rolled down my cheeks.

Shame on me for thinking my problems are worth any dramatics.

It is human nature to complain about what bothers us. I fervently try not to be a complainer, because I realize how blessed I am.

But I am human.

And, as a human who gets caught up in the minutiae at times, I lose perspective on what is worth getting upset about.

Whining shorties and laundry piles are not worth thoughts of, "UGH. I. JUST. CAN'T. DEAL."

Because I can deal.

It's not that I don't have problems or worries. But not one of my problems entails me having to sit in a cancer ward, rocking my beloved child.

That mother in the picture would love the,"stress" of which I was complaining.

May God bless their child, and anyone with cancer.

I offered up more prayers in my heart for this family.

Prayers and a sense of perspective.