Mom, Where is My Uniform?

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“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a mantra that is supposed to work for me and other parents who are desperate to be organized, but I am here to tell you that it doesn’t. Take, for example, Little League uniforms. Ideally, uniforms should be located in one spot, easily accessible by the child who is going to wear it. However, because there are so many games, my son’s uniform is almost always “in the wash,” which means at any given point in time, it could be in one of five places:

  1. The washing machine
  2. The dryer
  3. A basket in the basement
  4. A basket on the main floor
  5. The hamper, still dirty from the last game

As a result, I have given up on the idea that a baseball uniform can ever have a permanent home, which means that on the rare occasion it isn’t in the wash, I have no idea where to put it. Most of the time, I’ll put it in his dresser drawer. Other times, for reasons I can’t fully explain, I’ll hang it in his closet, and still others (mostly when the drawers are too crowded and the closet is too full), I’ll put it in a plastic bin under his bed, along with a ton of other sports-related clothes.

Those of you without kids in baseball (or any other sport) will be shocked to learn just how many components there are to a Little League uniform. As far as I can tell, there are ten:

  1. Jersey
  2. Under Armour (if it’s cold)
  3. Pants
  4. Official uniform belt
  5. Heart guard, purchased at Dick’s on sale for $78
  6. Special baseball underwear, purchased at Dick’s with a coupon for $42
  7. Cup
  8. Official uniform socks
  9. Cleats
  10. Official uniform hat

On those days when my son’s baseball game starts at 9am, I have to set my alarm for 4am to make sure there’s enough time to get him dressed. If both of my boys have a game that day at 9am, I have no other choice than to pull an all-nighter.

An hour before every baseball game, my son and I will have a screaming match throughout the house which always goes something like this:

Son, from the bedroom: “Mom, where is my uniform?”

Me, from the kitchen: “In your drawer!”

Son: “I checked, it’s not there.”

Me: “Ok, check under the bed.”

Son: “It’s not here!”

Me, sighing hard: “It’s probably in the basement.”

Son: “Come with me!”

Me: “I can’t!”

Son: “But it’s dark down there!”

We’ll find the pants and the jersey in the basement, but the other eight items won’t be there. We’ll go back upstairs to find the special underwear in his brother’s drawer, and the protective cup that slides into the front of the underwear in the dog’s mouth. We’ll chase the dog around the house until we are forced to yell, “Do you want some cheese?” so that the dog drops the cup and tears into the kitchen for a tiny piece from a Kraft single, cementing in his brain the reward he gets for stealing the cup from now until forever, Amen.

Against all odds, I will finally get the boy dressed, only then to move on to Phase 2 of Baseball Game Preparation, which is gathering the equipment. As far as I can tell, there are eight of these items we need to gather:

  1. Mitt
  2. Batting gloves
  3. Bat, purchased at the local sports shop on sale for $345
  4. Helmet, not for sharing lest you get lice
  5. Water bottle, leaking from somewhere
  6. Snack
  7. Sports glasses
  8. A bag to keep all of the above stuff together

As is the case with Phase 1, it’s anyone’s guess where these items are, although they are supposed to be in their designated places. The bat is supposed to be in a bin in the garage, but we’ll find it hidden in the grass in the backyard. The water bottle is supposed to be in a kitchen cabinet but it’s in the back of my husband’s car, and the sports glasses will be in his desk at school.

Phase 3 is when we pour into the car and I’ll back out of the driveway without having any real idea as to where the game is being played. I’ll take an educated guess, and if I’m wrong, I’ll check an app on my phone from the parking lot, but only if a) I remembered to bring my phone, and b) it’s not dead.

Thankfully, baseball is almost over, except that it’s not because both of my boys have signed up for summer leagues. I think I’m going to need a new mantra.

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40 Ways I Embarrass My Children

Recently, my daughter, who is 12, was invited to a special event at the mayor’s office. It was very exciting, and when we arrived, I ran into another Mom whose daughter was being recognized for the same thing. I greeted them in what I thought was a regular and normal way, until my daughter glared at me and said, “Mom…stop.”

“What?”

“Stop.”

“Stop what? What am I doing?”

“You are embarrassing me.”

“What did I do?”

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhh…”

I dutifully shushed and sat quiet, silently running over the greeting again in my mind and could not come up with anything I did that was even remotely embarrassing. The problem, I concluded, was with her and not me, and so, I brushed it off.

A week later, I crossed the street with my son, three years younger than my daughter, and exchanged pleasantries with the crossing guard. I got the same familiar glare from him after we walked away.

“What’s the matter?”

“You are so embarrassing!”

“What do you mean? What did I do?”

“You laughed!”

“So what?”

“She didn’t even say anything funny!”

It’s true that I’m socially awkward and often laugh at things that aren’t really funny, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is embarrassing. Then again, he is just a kid, and he does, in fact, tend toward the self-conscious. Also, I have never seen a video of myself socializing with a crossing guard. Maybe he has every right to be mortified.

I began to pay better attention to whenever my kids cringed, rolled their eyes or otherwise glared at me after I said or did something I thought was innocuous and, as many bloggers are known to do, kept a running list. Here are 40 things I should never do again to spare my children any embarrassment:

  1. Speak
  2. Cough
  3. Yawn
  4. Wear a shirt with flowers on it
  5. Wear a shirt with a graphic design
  6. Wear a sleeveless shirt that exposes my armpits
  7. Wear a shirt that is a little snug
  8. Wear capris
  9. Wear chinos
  10. Refer to pants as “chinos”
  11. Wear shorts
  12. Eat a sandwich
  13. Eat soup
  14. Listen to music
  15. Sing
  16. Dance
  17. Show happiness of any kind
  18. Respond “OMG” or “LOL” to a text
  19. Ask how their day was
  20. Tell them they look good
  21. Pay them any sort of a compliment
  22. Engage one of their friends in a conversation
  23. Appear anywhere in the house when they have friends over
  24. Use the word “playdate”
  25. Show concern and/or suggest a band-aid after an injury
  26. Ride a bike
  27. Rollerblade
  28. Walk swiftly
  29. Try to play a sport of any kind
  30. Tell a joke
  31. Take a photo of them
  32. Ask them to smile when taking their photo
  33. Remind them about the importance of proper hygiene
  34. Remind them to say “please” and “thank you”
  35. Show affection for their father
  36. Remind them of the important role fiber plays in digestion
  37. Be friendly to the waitress
  38. Chat with the cashier
  39. Strike up a conversation with someone on a train
  40. Say the word “bra”

Home Sick

Dear Child,

I am so psyched that you are home sick today. When the nurse called yesterday to give me the exciting news that you weren’t feeling well, I almost jumped for joy. I mean, it’s been–what?–three whole weeks since you were sick? I love tending to you when you are sick. I love how you moan, how you writhe in pain, how you beg me for food that I can’t give you because I know you are going to throw it right up.

I love how when you vomit, you never make it to the toilet but to an expensive rug instead. I love how I gave you red Gatorade instead of white so that now I have to throw out all the rugs. I love how once you are feeling better and in school again I won’t be able to get a pedicure or meet a friend for lunch because I’ll be too busy driving up and down the state of New Jersey looking for a good sale on rugs.

I love how I don’t sleep when you are sick because it worries me so much. I love the anxiety I get and the buzzed feeling it gives me. I love how your father is still working from home today even though you are sick and will still ask me to make him a tuna sandwich for lunch as if it’s a regular, normal day and I’m not hallucinating.

I love how you cling to me while we watch another episode of the Amazing World of Gumball, which isn’t amazing at all but bizarre and, frankly, painful. I love how you will not release me to wash the dishes or do laundry so that when your brother and sister come barreling in later this afternoon, I won’t be able to provide either of them with a clean drinking glass or soccer uniform.

I love that I won’t be able to walk the dog as long or as frequently today, so that his pent-up energy will cause him to steal and chew one of my brand new erasable Pilot Frixion pens that I had to special order from Amazon. He will also poop in the basement today, but he’ll do it in a spot that is hidden from view and so I won’t discover it until someone steps in it and tracks it all over the damn place.

I love that it is finally gorgeous outside but I am inside, as if it is still winter. I love wiping your butt raw from another rotten bout of diarrhea while I listen to the birds happily chirping outside the bathroom window. I love that the world keeps humming along when you are sick, leaving me feeling forgotten and alone in my misery.

I love that your sister has an orthodontist appointment today–the same one I have had to cancel six times before–but because your father is going to a golf tournament this afternoon, I either have to cancel the appointment for the seventh time or bring you with us and hope you don’t vomit in the waiting room.

I love that after a successful trip to the orthodontist, you will think you have recovered completely and insist on playing basketball in our driveway, even though I know it is too soon for basketball.

I love how you will try your best to rest but will instead follow me around the house while I catch up on everything I have neglected, sharing with me every thought that goes through your six-year-old head, no matter how rambling, irrelevant or insignificant.

I love how great it will feel to drop you off at school tomorrow (depending on how tonight goes), and just as I begin to get my bearings again, the nurse will call me with the joyous news that your brother isn’t feeling well and the whole cycle will begin anew.

Love,

Mom

Motherhood by a Nose

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I’ve always had a sensitive nose. It runs in my family. My aunt’s sense of smell is legendary. One time, many years ago, she almost divorced my uncle after he had the audacity to use a bathroom cleaner with bleach to remove some mildew on the ceiling. Another time she slept with her nose out the first floor bedroom window after he used an oil-based deck paint somewhere in the basement.

When I became a mother, my overly sensitive nose was bombarded by all kinds of scents, most of which were awful. However, I was surprised to discover that there are a few that aren’t awful at all. In fact, some of them are nothing short of sublime, and being a scent connoisseur of sorts, I sniff them out every chance I get.

For example, my youngest child, who is six, scraped his elbow the other day and I was rummaging around in our bathroom for some Neosporin to apply but instead found an old crusty tube of A&D. For anyone who doesn’t know what A&D is, it is an ointment used to prevent diaper rash. And it smells like heaven, but with a distinct medicinal finishing note.

When I found it, I felt a rush of excitement, quickly unscrewed the cap, and breathed in memory after memory of tiny babies cooing and blowing raspberries while lying naked upon a terrycloth changing pad. That smell was with me 10 to 12 times a day for too many years than I care to count, but now it’s gone, and the sadness is almost too much to bear (which is why I went out and bought a fresh, new tube).

Here are a few other non-awful smells that define motherhood:

Baby’s Breath

There is nothing on this earth that smells better than the breath of a baby. When my babies wailed from hunger or exhaustion, my ears bled, my eyes leaked, but my nose could not have been happier. This is perhaps the part of my children growing up that I regret the most, because they won’t let me bury my nose in their mouths anymore–they think it’s weird. Not sure why?

Dreft

This laundry detergent, specially formulated to smell like puppies, rainbows and unicorns, is a close second to baby’s breath for the most wonderful smell in the world. I know it’s not the smartest choice to have your baby’s sensitive skin exposed to clothes washed in such a powerful, artificial scent, but taking care of a baby is really hard and sometimes you just need some aromatherapy to get you through the day. I should buy some Dreft just for old time’s sake, like I did with the A&D, but I’m pretty sure my husband does not want to smell like puppies, rainbows or unicorns at his next Little League board meeting.

Anything from Johnson & Johnson

The links to cancer notwithstanding, anything from Johnson & Johnson (e.g., the baby shampoo, the powder, and the bubblegum pink lotion) lulls me into an intoxicated state of euphoria even when the daily rigors of parenting are killing me. I’m pretty sure Johnson & Johnson is the reason why I accidentally had a third child.

Baked Goods

I am not and have never identified myself as a baker, but something happened when I became a mother that compelled me to think that maybe if I combined all-purpose flour with a few other white and powdery ingredients something resembling a muffin or a cake might magically emerge from my oven. And sometimes this actually happens but mostly, it doesn’t. Still, though, even if my muffins taste like paper and my cake sticks to the pan with a ferocity typically seen only with white on rice, they fill my house with a fragrance that can only be described as joy, hope, and beautiful dreams all coming true at the same time.

Coffee

Most parents I know drink a lot of coffee. It’s how we cope with everything from colic to college. If you are a parent and you don’t drink coffee, I am suspicious. As a result, the rich, seductive aroma of coffee has become an integral part of parenting–as omnipresent as sippy cups and umbrella strollers. One time, I even confused the smell of coffee for the smell of a dirty diaper, the two are so intertwined. I recognize that I am probably the only one who ever did that, but that’s what happens when you’re a Mom with a nose on overdrive.