A ‘Gramma’ for all of us

We were not the “cool kids,” but we certainly thought we were.

In reality, we were Catholic-grade school kiddos who twice a week walked about two blocks from our private school to the public middle school just to “be in the band.”

Not a rock band either – concert band.

There were seven of us – Lisa, Fidel, Devon, Allison, Matt, Michelle and myself. Lisa played the drums; Fidel, Matt and Allison were trumpet players and rest of us, clarinets. And none of us were THAT great. But, twice a week we got to mingle with the PUBLIC school kids.

And that alone made us “cool” in our minds.

I don’t remember what time we had to leave, but I do remember we always told our private school teacher that “we had to be there early” … that was our code.

We never had to be there early. In fact, most of the time we didn’t want to go – we just wanted out of school.

So there we went – in the rain, snow and any type of weather in between. The seven of us.

But, secretly, we were making a pit-stop.

You see, in between our school and the public school, in a two-story white house Lisa’s grandparents lived.

If I close my eyes, I can still remember walking into the side door and then up three steps into the small kitchen. Inside the kitchen was a table – making it even smaller, but no one ever sat in the dining room. Everyone congregated inside the kitchen.

And there would be Lisa’s grandma – we all just called her Gramma Sanchez – offering us nothing short of a meal. Wearing her button-up smock, Gramma Sanchez gave us warm tortilla shells – made with love and tasted like heaven.

Eventually, we forced ourselves to leave her house, but we knew we’d be back.

After we all graduated from Catholic school, the seven of us were never in the house at the same time ever again. But, that didn’t mean we never saw Gramma Sanchez again.

She was everywhere in our hometown – what with having six kids and too many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews to count – she stayed busy.

Gramma Sanchez was the most loved Gramma in my opinion. No matter how busy she seemed to be, she never shooed us band kids out of her kitchen. She never told us to stop coming. She never stopped making tortilla shells or tamales. She was a gramma to all of us.

Today, Nov. 2, she was called “home.” There, she was welcomed in the arms of her daughter CeCe, her husband and countless other relatives. I am pretty sure she is smiling down at her children and grandchildren left on Earth – watching them with that careful eye that only a grandmother has – all while telling stories of those crazy kiddos from St. Mary’s who never wanted to leave her kitchen.

 

 

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Time is slipping away

It’s happening.

On Monday, my firstborn will enter high school as a freshman.

Wasn’t I just feeding him a bottle and putting him down for a nap?

Weren’t we just in the beginning stages of potty training?

Weren’t we just teaching him how to read a book and write his name?

Somewhere after July 17, 2008 time seemed to blur – that was the day the twins were born and life as I knew it before being a mom to one kiddo evaporated.

Within a few short hours, I went from devoting all of my time to one kid to sharing it between three.

What I would give to have a few moments left where I just had one child. That’s not to say I don’t love my other kids. I do. I just miss the one-on-one time spent between my firstborn and myself.

Sure, we make time to chat, but gone are the days when I was his world.

For more than five years, he was my everything.

He was my errand-runner, picnic-partner, pool-entertainment and my only son.

Then in one quick swoop, I had to share my time, energy and love.

Eight years seems to have gone by in eight seconds.

One day I was watching him get on the school bus at the end of our driveway, crying as the bus drove away. The next, I sat in the back of a classroom listening to all the required requirements for graduating from high school.

Excuse me. No. This cannot be happening! I refuse to believe I am old enough to have a freshman in high school. In my mind, I am still 25 years old. I don’t feel old enough to have a kid in high school.

But I do.

During orientation, I saw his name on the PowerPoint presentation as class treasurer. At varsity soccer games, his name is announced over the loudspeaker as goalkeeper.

I am just a sideline spectator now – watching with baited breath that he makes the right decisions and chooses the right path in life.

And while I am not 100 percent OK with that status, I accept it because after all I was a high school freshman once – 24 years ago – and I’m pretty sure my parents felt the same way.

 

 

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Top 10 things you should experience before parenthood

Parenthood is not a walk in the park. Is it rewarding? Absolutely – especially as your children age and you realize you didn’t scar them for life.

But, before embarking on the longest journey of your life, there are a few things to consider, or experience:

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COMMON CORE MATH

#10: Find a First Grade Math book and start studying it now. Common Core is the worst form of math ever created. Start learning it now, before you have kids. Maybe by the time you child enters first grade, you will understand it enough to form a support group in your kid’s school. You will have a bigger following than the school’s PTA.

#9: Store a container of milk on the kitchen counter. Leave it there for a week. After it’s set out in the heat, open it up and take a whiff. That is will be the same odor you will smell after you realize your kid dropped their sippy cup in the car, and you can’t find it for a week or longer. It will smell like death, and probably, so will your car.

#8: Ask a friend to borrow a bin of Legos. Drop them over your floor. Walk on them without shoes. Walking on Legos is a rite of passage into parenthood. If you can walk over Legos with bare feet and not bat an eyelash, you will survive parenthood.

#7: Borrow a child. Attempt to take a shower or simply go to the bathroom. Listen as that child screams “MOM” or “DAD” 10,000 times in a matter of minutes. That will be how you use the bathroom for the rest of your life. Enjoy showering and peeing in peace now.

#6: Buy stock in the following items: tissues, toilet paper, napkins, Band-Aids, plastic cups, diapers, baby wipes, milk and hot dogs. Those items will magically disappear right before your eyes. And if you think you have “one more gallon of milk stored away” – think again. Eventually, a neighbor may see your FB post about being out of milk … yet again … and they will drive down to give you theirs.

#5: Be prepared to no longer have a social life with friends. Your social life will now consist of playdates, baseball games, softball games, tournaments and birthday parties. The days of making a split decision to grab a nice dinner and movie are gone … at least until you can afford a babysitter and escape for four hours.

#4: Learn how to control your gut instinct to throw up at the first sight of … well, throw up. Kids cannot control their bodily fluids. It doesn’t matter if the trash can is right next to their bed. They will miss and the vomit will end up on their floor. Hold your breath and pray as you are forced to clean up the mess at 2 a.m. (Because that is when kids get sick the most often – in the middle of the night.)

#3: Take a class in negotiation. It doesn’t matter how many children you have … you will be forced to bribe them to do the most mundane activities – like brush their teeth, pee before bed or get dressed.

#2: Take a VACATION with your partner. Once you have children, and you take them with you, it’s no longer a VACATION. It becomes a TRIP.

#1: Before having kids, set your alarm for every three hours. This is how often you will be up once you bring a newborn home – probably less in reality. And you will never get a full night of sleep again.

Melissa Linebrink is an award-winning blogger. Read her blog at http://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com. Follow her on Twitter @train_crazy or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ParenthoodthenewCrazyTrain/

 

 

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Hey you there: Are you stressed?

My mom broke the unspoken rule of motherhood the other day.

She asked me if I was stressed.

I lied and told her everything was fine.

She didn’t need to know that I can’t even go to the bathroom without someone screaming, “MOOOOMMMM!!!” Most summer days, I don’t shower until 10 p.m. My husband comes home to a ragged, dark-circles-under-eyes, exhausted as hell wife with her dirty hair in a clip, pulling her bangs away from her face. The days I do appear showered and put together, he wants to know where we are going that night.

She doesn’t need to know that every day my kids fight, whine and argue like they are trying to set a world record for “Aggravating Mom the Most.”

She doesn’t need to know that me working from home when my kids are home is getting increasingly more difficult as my kids age. I thought it would be easier, but it’s because my children no longer take naps. Back, long, long ago, I had two to three hours of peace and quiet during the day. That was MY time. A time when if I needed to nap, I could grab 20 minutes and feel rested. If I needed to work, I could. Now, my kids surround me like a bee to a flower. Buzzing, buzzing … all the time.

She doesn’t need to know that rather than be a mom to my 14-year-old son, I am now his personal taxi service for all high school sporting events. Who has practice at 5 p.m. on the weekdays? Answer … my son.

She wanted to know what she could do help ease my stress. She let me know that she is there for me if I needed to talk. I actually told her I have no time to talk – that is what talk-to-texting is for where I don’t need to have a conversation for 20 minutes, explaining why I am stressed.

Besides, no one cares!

A day later, I confessed I was stressed. Who isn’t?

Moms are all in the same boat – making our way through muddied waters called Motherhood. Day in and day out, we experience the same crap. And it doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home mom, working-mom or whatever-type-of mom.

Being a mom is stressful enough without adding all the extra shit – like laundry, cleaning, cooking, dishes and sleeping (if we are lucky).

To know that we are responsible for our children is an insane amount of stress – especially if we don’t want our kids turning into assholes later in life.

We have to dole out the chores, the punishments, the rewards, the explanations. We have to set good examples.

We have to make sure they are associating themselves with the right kind of people.

We have to make sure they receive proper nutrition and the right amount of sleep.

We have to control how much screen time they have on a daily basis.

The list is endless.

And it’s not just moms … this goes for dads too. Parenthood is the hardest job I have ever had in my life. Some days, I yearn for my college days where the only person who I was in charge of was me. I’d give anything to pull an all-nighter, cramming for an exam. I’d give anything to have two days to write a 10-page-double-spaced paper on revolution. I’d give anything to live in dorm with 200 other people.

This isn’t saying I don’t wish I was 19 years old again. Because, I don’t. I don’t miss my teens, 20s or what’s left of my 30s (which is six months). Those years are who made me the crazy, loud, fun-loving, honest, hard-working mom I am today.

So, yes, I will continue to pretend everything is fine; and that I am not stressed because no one wants to be weighed down by my problems because we all have them – it’s just how we deal with them that makes us … us.

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If it slithers, creeps or crawls …

Apparently my kids never got the memo about my strong dislike for nature.

It should be noted that I live in the country with a creek running behind my house, surrounded by farmland.

For most, this would be paradise. And 80 percent of the time it IS paradise.

Until I start seeing creatures that slither, creep along and otherwise scare the living daylights out of me.

Last night was perfect for a stroll through the park. Trees, fishing ponds and benches dot the two-mile loop of the paved path.

It was perfect until I saw something flopping out of the corner of my eye near the tree-line.

I screamed and did that pathetic “girly move” where I moved my hands up and down in a super quick motion while jumping in place. I was trying to make the creature more afraid of me.

I looked like an idiot.

My friends walking behind us quipped up, “You OK??”

“Yup, sure am … it was a bird!” I said picking up the pace.

Later that same evening, while sitting on our deck underneath the pergola with twinkling white lights, our son presented us with a gift.

The tiniest frog known to man-kind.

I moved away in my chair. My husband gathered the small frog in between his two fingers and put it on my friend’s toe.

She also screamed.

And all of us live within a country-block of each other. You’d think by now we’d know what to expect living out here.

Snakes are slithering through our yards. A craw-daddy with large claws has taken up residence in a mud-hole behind our basketball hoop. The coyotes hold nightly conventions in the woods behind our house.

Two weeks ago, while on her riding lawn mower, my friend ran over a snake.

This week, I almost stepped on a snake in our yard.

And granted these snakes are mostly your small, yard snakes that eat bugs, but a snake is a snake is a snake.

Why did I think moving to the country would be an ideal environment to raise our children?

And now we have tiny frogs that are multiplying in and around our house at lightning speed. And our son has a keen eye to find them.

“Hey mom!! Quick!! GET ME A JAR!”

Then he plopped the frog inside. I thought it was dead … until it hopped … and scared me half-to-death.

I hate living out here in BFE.

The author, Melissa Linebrink, was recently awarded first place in 2017 Ohio’s Best Journalism in the “Best Overall Blog” category. She also placed first in the same category in 2016 for her blog, “Parenthood: The New Crazy Train.”

 

 

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Motherhood is.

We are everywhere.

We can be found at school functions, in grocery stores and churches. We are at swimming pools, the beach and ball parks during the summer.

No place is safe. No one is safe.

Moms are starting to lose it, and other moms are starting to take notice.

A crying 9-year-old here; a smart-mouth teen there.

A 2-year-old throwing a temper tantrum on the floor while hurling a sippy cup 15-feet across the room. A pre-school-aged child lagging behind you at Wal-Mart, waiting to see how long it takes you to turn around, demanding their presence at your side.

At the heart of every chaotic scene is a mom who wants nothing more than to crumble at her feet and assume the fetal position. But she can’t. She has to take control of every situation and try to either improve it or end the behavior that started it in the first place.

Nearly every day, I feel like I am walking around my house with a large, “WARNING: CRAZED MOTHER” sign dangling around my neck.

All I am asking of my 14-year-old and 8-year-old twins is to make their beds, clean up their rooms, get dressed and brush their teeth. There may be an occasional “empty the dishwasher” or “feed the cat” notice. I am not asking them to move a mountain. But they certainly act like I am. So, when they fail to “do their summer chores” and I start screaming through the house, they act like they either A. don’t hear me or B. can’t see me.

The slogan in BFE this summer is “There is no summer fun until the chores are done.”

Right now, my daughter is sprawled out on the floor, begging me to open the pool. I still have two baskets of laundry to fold and put away. I asked her earlier, when she declared for the 100th time today that she was bored, if she wanted to fold the clothes on my bed. She turned and went back to her room to craft accessories for her non-American Girl Doll.

“I’m still bored!” I heard her yell through the door.

Meanwhile, my 14-year-old who missed lunch two hours ago is telling me there is nothing to eat in a house with a stocked pantry and refrigerator.

“Mom, we don’t have anything. I want like buttermilk pancakes, um, or pizza rolls, a burger, that’s it, oh stuffed French Toast too,” he is telling me wearing only a pair of summer shorts because getting dressed isn’t on his “to-do” list until apparently this evening.

So, in a nutshell, my kids are bored and starving – and we’ve only been on summer break less than three weeks.

 

Introducing 2016 Ohio SPJ award-winning blogger Melissa Linebrink. Melissa is a creative, witty blogger who doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships of everyday parenting. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ParenthoodthenewCrazyTrain/

 

 

 

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Getting pulled over … causes mom to pause

I couldn’t locate the cash box anywhere in the house. And it was driving me crazy. After looking in everyone’s closet and in the basement, I decided it was either loaned out or simply stolen.

I needed more tables. The tables set up in the garage were already filled with old board games, decorations, bedding, clothes and knick-knacks.

And soccer practice started at 6 p.m.

Dinner had to be made. Dishes had to be washed. The cats needed fed. You name it, it needed to be done.

Add into that the twins were talking to me non-stop all day about the impending garage sale.

“What time does it start?” “Can we make muffins to sell?” “I don’t want to sell my toys, but can I still keep some money?” “What if no one comes?”

I was beyond stressed out and my mind was literally spinning in 100 damn directions.

“Let’s go NOW,” I screamed to my 14-year-old son.

And off we went to soccer practice 4 miles always, my spinning mind and all. The fact is, we left the house early. We had plenty of time to make it to the soccer fields.

But I was in a hurry.

Driving down the road, my mind wasn’t on the drive at all. I wasn’t paying attention at all. I make the 4 mile drive to the community park, once, if not twice per day. I was driving on auto-pilot.

But then I saw the lights go off … and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a finger pointing to me to pull over immediately.

I was caught.

Nearly 1.5 miles from my house, a county sheriff pulled me over.

“I clocked you going 68 miles per hour …” he told me.

I couldn’t even complain as my mind was still racing about what else I had to do that evening for the garage sale.

Digging through my purse, I found my driver’s license and then by some grace of God, I actually put the insurance card in my van the day before, so I pulled that out along with the registration papers.

I have lived in the same county for 16 years and have never had so much as a parking ticket.

My only response was, “Yup, OK. Sorry.”

I know I looked like a trainwreck. I had Jazzercised that morning, and taking a shower was an afterthought to getting the sale ready. I didn’t care how I looked.

Maybe that actually helped my cause? You know the look – hair pulled over with a clip, yoga pants on, coupled with a work-out tank and gym shoes, all sans makeup. I may have had deodorant on, but who knows. Thank God I tossed on  my prescription sunglasses – I am required by the State of Ohio to wear glasses due to my poor vision that over the years has worsened due to being pregnant with the kid(s) I taxi all over the place. So, I actually had on two pairs of sunglasses – my Dollar Tree pair on the top of my head and the $100 pair covering my eyes.

I was a hot mess.

As I sat in the car, looking at my teenage son, I saw the sheriff sitting in his car too. He was running my plates through the system. I knew he’d find nothing on me since I am boring-stay-at-home-mom-turned-taxi-service-in-the-summer.

Making his way back to my vehicle, I knew I was gonna get a lecture about safe driving. I was right. “Doesn’t it bother you when drivers speed down this road? And you have kids! It bothers me and you live on this road, just like me!”

 

The truth is, yes, it bothers me a lot when motorists speed down my road. But, on the flip side, my kids don’t play in or even near the road. I am more worried about a driver losing control and hitting a tree head on than hitting a kid. I dread the day when I hear a crash only to run out to my front yard to find someone incapacitated. That scares me. That bothers me.

Thankfully, the sheriff only gave me a warning. But it was a warning that changed my life. Ever since that day, I have set my speedometer on 55 miles per hour. I’d rather be late than get pulled over again. It’s just not worth it.

 

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