Thursday, January 19, 2012

Muppet Magic and the day I became that mom

This is a story that is hard to begin. I could start at the hair salon or really early, like at the beginning.

When I was a little girl the first craze I remember revolved around the cabbage patch kids. There were countless others, but the first time I remember true consumer insanity had to do with the weird looking chubby faced dolls that women were beating each other over in parking lots to grab for their daughters around Christmas. Perhaps it was my mom's good sense or maybe it was purely financial, in any case I would not be getting one. I  understood and even then thought it was kind of gross the way people were standing in line for hours and hours for a doll.

Fastforward to being pregnant. I imagined that I would never ever be "that mom". You know the crazed lady in the line for the next new hot pink plastic object of adoration. Not me. I am far too hip and cool and strict and moral to be taken in by the glitz and glam of whatever princess unicorn glows in the dark makes you happy toy they try to shove down my throat.

Enter the perfect storm of Muppet nailpolish, working mom guilt, and a really bad day at school.

I felt guilty because I had just left my daughter overnight for the first time for a conference in the Big Apple. She was crying a lot and having a hard time and I had to keep on acting like being separated for the first time in her life was no big deal and make her go to school. And I really needed to get my hair colored. See there isn't anything cool about having a child later in life when it is obvious from your grey skunk stripe that you waited a while for your baby. So I did what any good mom would do, I packed her off to school and took an afternoon off to fix my roots.

This type of self indulgence doesn't come easy for me. I've had a handful of manicures in my life and most of my hair care is the home improvement kind that comes in a box despite knowing better. In fact the reason I was at this nice salon is that I received a gift certificate. Upon arrival I was taken in immediatly by the new mupppet mini nailpolishes.

They were sparkly. Indulgent. And they spoke to me. I wanted me some Muppet nailpolish in the worst way and rationalized it would be a perfect stocking stuffer "for my daughter". Inappropriate sparkles remind me of happier times, carefree days at the beach, and well the muppets really to their core have that Dreams Come True bottom line that is what I am all about.

I sat in a chair seemingly forever while I had a nice girl make my hair a shade unknown in nature and I thought about how fun it would be to see my little girl open her fancy polish on Christmas morning. Then I got the email from school. There was a scuffle, she was ok........

What horrible mother has her hair turned red while her poor baby is hurt! What is wrong with me? I was fighting tears when I decided the rational thing to do was buy the nailpolish and give it to her today instead of waiting for a special occassion. The sensible thing was to buy more nailploish than originally planned in lieu of running to school and waking her from her nap to smother her with hugs. Surely that would fix her bad day and hurt feelings!

While I sat upstairs sipping my tea in the flavor of calm an evil villian with a french manicure bought the last 3 boxes of Muppet Minis and I felt the tears welling up against the cruelty and unfairness of the world. Then an angel appeared in a black apron from a room in the back and said she'd be happy to place a special order for me. And I became that mom. The mom that special orders sparkly fingernail polish for a child that isn't even three. The mom that thinks that OPI's Rainbow Connection can cure the working mom blues or paint over a bad day.

Although I never planned to be that mom and I still hope against hope that I never stand in line for anything plastic, I am here to tell you that every time I look down at my Warm and Fozzie toes I feel like things are going to be ok.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Osoji: or my bizarre take on the clutter free home equaling inner peace

So a few years ago I read an article about the ancient Japanese practice of Osoji. To my Eastern friends, I assure you that I have not studied up on Osoji other than taking time to google articles. That being said for the purpose of this blog we shall pretend I am an expert.

I love the holidays. I love to wrap gifts. I love all the trappings and merry makings. I was overjoyed that I convinced my spouse this was the wonderful year of two trees (one real, one not so much) and I go overboard in decking the halls. The problem is that once the holiday ends you are left with so much stuff and such a mess.The holiday joy is no free lunch.

I think that the first time I found myself googling "unclutter" had a lot to do with my first post Christmas as a mom. Not only do I have my halls to undeck and my belongings to put away but oh my the toys, toys, toys, toys. It was truly enough to make me understand the Grinch a bit better.

Enter Osoji. Translation: Free and Clean. Of all the resolution making we do in America it seems so simple and speaks to me. A clean house and tidy affairs...what better way to enter the New Year? In Japan they clean and clean and enter the New Year free of the burdens of the past. Being busy over the holidays I have given myself a westerner's pass and try to spend the month of January (because it takes a month) purging, forgiving, and loosing the clutter. I figure the Chinese New Year comes later and so as long as I am in the ballpark it will work.

What is it about the clutter that drives me so insane? I think it has something to do with control. Like a table covered in mail is a visual that I didn't have the self discipline to open and sort mail. Piles of dirty laundry just scream that I am not a mom on top of her game. Perhaps it is an article I read ages ago claiming that people with dirty houses tend to gain weight faster and afterall--aren't we all conditioned to want to shed pounds in a New Year?

Now I could read a ton of self help articles telling me not to beat myself up, but I know I feel better surrounded by tidiness and order. Getting there is simply a battle. I consider control and how around the holidays I feel so out of control by the demands of my job, the hectic schedules, family obligations, unpredictable weather and for me there is no worse feeling than being out of control except perhaps being controlled.

And so I clean. Yesterday it was maybe the unseasonable sunshine or the 4 bags at Goodwill but I felt better. Lighter. Happier. And it only took 10 days.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Day of the Last Year

So if the Mayans are right, and I hope they are not, today begins the last year. What would you do, how would you live if every day were numbered? Some live like this already. They have their reasons. Now I have mine. Sitting at my desk at the beginning of the last new year I wrote 3 things on a piece of paper: Write More, Complain Less, Be Thankful. I thought of it as a mantra, not a resolution. Turns out I am no better at keeping up a mantra than a resolution.

And so here we are. The blog I meant to start last year is getting off the ground before the clock strikes midnight. I will write more. I'll try to complain less. I intend to be thankful every day for the crazy wonderful life I have. Along the way I hope we'll have some laughs.