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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Life – Could there be something more?

Do you ever ask yourself – what’s it all mean?

Could there really be something more?

Maybe not necessarily referring to the way we live our lives, but rather the choices we make that mold us into the people we are today.

For about three months, my blog has remained untouched. Sure, I still get the daily notices that someone has “enrolled” onto my blog page, other times I get Twitter notifications that someone has agreed to follow me. And, then my Facebook page has gradually been receiving more and more views, and a few more “likes” here and there.

But those are just numbers adding up to virtually nothing.

For me, blogging has been my way of venting. Yet while I consider it “venting” others call it bitching. Either way, they are my words based on the way I am feeling as a woman, wife and mother at any given moment in my life.

One aspect of life my followers know is that I am bold and do not bow down to adversity.

But at what point does that translate into “she doesn’t like being a mom” or “she doesn’t love her kids.”

It doesn’t. It never has.

Not every day is full of rainbows and unicorns. Not every day is wonderful.

But I am blessed that I get to live every day.

I have been trolling sites for blog jobs, but more and more often, those sites are aiming to hire bloggers with a passion for something.

Well, I hate cooking – so those gigs are out.

I craft, but it’s not my passion to explore every faucet of Pinterest in the hopes of creating something more amazing than the hand-painted wine bottles decorating various parts of my house. (If you want one, by the way, let me know – I have six currently sitting on shelves collecting dust.)

I do, however, enjoy gardening and planting flowers. Do people really want to know what I plant in my garden year after year? Do people really want to know that for the life of me, the soil in my garden produces rotten tomatoes every single year since I began gardening in 2007?

Maybe they do; maybe they don’t.

Yet the reason why I blog isn’t too tell others how to live their life, or to even complain about my own life.

The reason I blog is to let other parents around the world know they are not alone.

Parents in Oregon are dealing with the same teenage drama that storms through my house at 4:35 p.m. every day.

Parents in England are dealing with preparing meals that their second-graders deem “poison” as they dissect every single piece of food that touches their plate.

Mothers are overworked. Fathers are underappreciated. And somewhere in the mix, are trying to find the reason they fell in love and got married in the first place in between carting their children to every single extra-curricular activity known to mankind.

That is why I blog.

I guess I just needed to remind myself why too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with a ‘bully’ MY way

Her name was Dawn. She had ash-blonde hair. She was several years older than I was and she sat behind me on Bus 5.

For months, she would pull my hair. I would turn around and yell at her – the best I could considering we were riding the bus.

She didn’t stop.

I would go home, crying – and then hide from my dad as soon as I walked into the house.

I was only in kindergarten.

Finally, one day, she pulled on my hair a bit too hard. I had enough. It was time to react.

For the first time in my young life – remember, I was only maybe 5 years old – I stood up for myself. I wasn’t going let her ruin my life.

I felt her fingers touch my hair, quickly grabbing her arm, I clawed her – hard. I drew blood.

She cried. I went home – less than a block from her own house – and yelled for my dad. I told him what I had done. I was waiting for him to punish me. But, I also told him how every day she would pull my hair and how on that particular day, I used my nails to scratch her.

He heard enough.

Taking my hand, he marched up to her front door. She answered.
“Is your mom or dad home?” he asked in his “teacher voice.”

“What’s the problem?” the man asked my dad.

“Dawn here has been pulling on Melissa’s hair when riding the bus. This better stop NOW!” he said looking straight into her eyes.

“Dawn …” the father said.

And then turning to my dad, her father apologized and then forced Dawn to do the same.

The girl never touched me again.

Today, we live in a society where we are almost afraid to stick up for ourselves. We are too afraid of what might happen. We are too afraid that we may hurt someone else’s feelings. We are constantly being politically correct.

It’s exhausting and complete bullshit.

Sticking up for myself at the age of 5 has stuck with me for the past 34 years. I have not, nor will I ever, allow for someone to hurt me the way Dawn did all those years ago. Sure, she was “only pulling on my hair” but what if I never told my dad what was happening on the bus? What if I continued to let it happen over and over again?

Being a parent in the 2000s is very different from the 1980s, but sadly, people really haven’t changed. And I refuse to let my kids suffer in silence. We, as parents, are their voice. It’s time to be heard and not silenced.

‘Sign, sign … everywhere you must sign’ — When did school become much like buying a house?

“Sign here!” “Initial here!” “Read and sign below!”

Good God!

It’s elementary school! Not an application for a mortgage! In fact, I signed less papers when I agreed to enter into marriage.

Even worse is being told by my spiffy 8-year-old daughter that I have to “check her power packet.”

Why, why in God’s name do I have to do that if her father just helped her with the entire homework assignment?

Oh, and to make matters worse, I have twins. That means, I get to deal with this nightly agenda TWICE.

Her womb-counterpart nailed it tonight:

“I was just in school all day. I am not doing homework from now until I go to bed. I am going outside to play!”

And I didn’t stop him. I called him in when dinner was ready.

This is what our society has come down to folks.

The constant push to BE THE BEST. TO PASS A TEST. TO EXCEL.

Their brains never ever stop working.

They never ever have any downtime at the age of 8. And that is complete bullshit. Reading power packets – read a short story, highlight the answers and then write the answers (if this sounds redundant, it’s because it is). This is given on a Monday and due on Friday.

Nightly math homework – comes in the form of either sheets, online, papers or flash cards. Must be done nightly.

Accelerated Reading (AR) – children must read “X” amount of books per month and each book has a point value. In September, the twins had to read 7 points worth of books. Now, they have to “up” their point-value. It took 14 books to make 7 points.

Now, put that all together.

Add in 6.5 hours of school.

It’s far too much for 8 year olds.

Times are changing – that I understand. But at what cost?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heartbeat

Middle of the night, Oct. 30, 2001

From the depths of my dream, I heard the landline phone ringing on the side of my husband’s nightstand.

“BBBbbbbrrrrinnnnggg …. Bbbbbrrrriinnnggg …”

I grabbed it on the third or fourth ring. In a groggy voice, I whispered a simple, “Hello? …”

The person on the other end wasn’t as quiet. In fact, I heard fear and sadness in her voice.

“Melis … my dad died …”

I swore I was still dreaming.

“WHAT?”

“He and my mom were walking and he just had a heart attack on the sidewalk,” my former college roommate turned bridesmaid in my wedding (now the Godmother of my twins) said.

I quietly padded down the hall and down the five steps, into my living room, so as to not wake my husband.

There, on the couch, I just sat and listened to my best friend share the worst day of her life through the telephone.

Sarah’s mom was an OBGYN nurse. She had seen her share of scares, but this was something completely different.

Sure, heart disease ran in Bob’s family, but no one in a million years thought he would die from a heart attack. That only happened to “other” people’s parents.

Not a father of four grown daughters and a handful of grandchildren to boot.

Not to a man who wasn’t retired.

Not to a man who had yet to see his youngest daughter marry and have two girls of her own.

Not to a man who loved his wife and God.

But it did.

To this day, no one knows why Bob died on October 29, 2001.

But what I do know is the passing of Bob Bednarski shook my friend’s family to the very core.

It also opened my eyes to realize life is fragile.

And I never want to see anyone go through that again. It’s not fair.

For one Grafton, Ohio mom, she got lucky. Others aren’t so lucky.

On April 3, 2016 the mother and grandmother suffered what doctor’s refer to as the “Widow Maker” – mostly this type of heart attack hits men, but this time around, it hit her.

Her family called 911 and began CPR.

They did everything by the book.

Moments later, Brent Payne, a part-time police officer with the Village of Grafton, arrived. En route, he heard the words “full cardiac arrest” come across the scanner.

He knew what he had to do, and he was prepared.

Tucked away inside the trunk of Brent’s patrol car was an AED unit. The AED, or automated external defibrillator, is the device that may have saved the woman’ life. An AED is a portable electronic device that can automatically restart a heart rhythm.

“I always have it on my shift in case of incidents like this,” Brent said. “After speaking with paramedics on scene, they determined that if I did not have the AED with me and able to deliver the initial quick shocks, she may not have made it to the hospital with any signs of life.”

But, if any other officer had shown up at the Grafton woman’s door, no one is for certain what the outcome could have been.

You see, up until April 3, there was only one police officer on the Grafton Police force who carried an AED unit – Brent Payne. And, he was a part-time police officer. To say he was meant to be covering the night shift on April 3 is an understatement.

I don’t know if Brent truly understands the gift he gave to the family in Grafton, Ohio.

I hope he does, because in my gut, I know that rather than planning a Mother’s Day celebration, they would have been planning her funeral in early April.

I’m not sure if my friend’s dad would have survived his heart attack if a store nearby carried the AED units as some do now. But, that was in 2001 – and protocol is different now.

While Sarah’s dad is forever watching his family from Heaven, the Grafton mom has been given a second chance at life – that alone is the best Mother’s Day gift of them all.

 

About the author:

Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, www.humorwriters.org. She also writes, edits and manages her blog, https://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com/. She can be reached at mlinebrink@yahoo.com.

 

‘Dress-up’ days at school = hellish mornings

“PING-PING” — the cell phone chimes.

It’s an alert that I ignore.

Two seconds later, I open two folders from two different children, who happen to be twins.

Two pretty pieces of orange paper fly out and land at my feet.

Two seconds after that, another sound emits from my phone telling me someone from town has posted a notification on a parental social media page.

Finally, after reading through the messages, notes and notifications,  I want nothing more than to throw the cell phone or burn the folder.

Fuck me: It’s a “SCHOOL-WIDE DRESS-UP DAY”

“We’re ‘groovy’ for reading … Wear your GROOVY clothes tomorrow!”

Fuck me again. Didn’t we just have “DRESS UP AS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK CHARACTER!” Day?

I don’t have time for this shit.

Sure, I get the reminders (obviously), but still, there’s a part of me hoping the twins weren’t paying attention at the end of the school day when THEY too are reminded of the impending “DRESS-UP DAY.”

For “DRESS UP AS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK CHARACTER” we went ALL OUT. And by that I mean, they were themselves.

“You have written books about yourselves before … remember?” I tell them.

“Oh, yeah” they say seconds later.

PERFECT.

Then “GROOVY DAY” comes along. Damnit.

Just because I was BORN in the 1970s doesn’t mean I own shit from that decade.

Thus begins the 7 a.m. full-blown-temper tantrums from two different children. One on the top bunk. The other on the bottom.

“I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR! WHY DON’T I OWN ANYTHING GROOVY?”

Um, because it’s 2016, not 1976.

We fought about pants, shirts and accessories.

“Here, wear this shirt and those jeans … I will braid your hair like your gramma used to do back in the 1970s. You’ll be fine” I said to my daughter as she sat in her bed with her head down, contemplating whether or not she’d be the laughing stock of first grade.

Finally, she agreed. She left wearing a multi-colored shirt and black pants. At the advice of another mom suffering through the same morning bullshit, I added a peace sign on her face. We didn’t have time to dig out the paints. I used lip-liner. It will probably be there for another 20 years.

As for my son, I dug around the clothes until I found a kinda-sorta tye-dyed shirt he made with handprints in kindergarten. He refused the lip-liner-drawn peace sign.

They got on the bus.

PEACE OUT!

I get it. Sorta. Dressing up somehow builds school moral or some other bullshit.

But you know what …

As a student, we NEVER had random dress-up days. We had ONE day per year we were able to pretend we were someone else. It was called HALLOWEEN.

But guess what, students are no longer allowed to dress up for Halloween. It’s against some lame-ass education regulation.

“Some people don’t believe in Halloween.”

No shit.

But ya know what I don’t believe in … searching all over my fucking house looking for “groovy” or “character” clothing.

So, the next time my phone chimes, papers fall and notifications blow up my social media page telling me about a “dress-up” day, I’m gonna pretend it never happened – kinda like what the education system did with Halloween.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ‘trip’ on ‘vacation’ — assho!es a-plenty

cancun

Sometimes, as adults, there is a need to escape the everyday norm. It could be a long-weekend spent together while the kiddos visit the grandparents. Or, it can be a vacation – away from it all.

A friend of ours phrased it well, even though you may disagree. He said, “A vacation is MINUS the kids, a TRIP is with the kids.”

Either way, we left Ohio and our beloved children for six days and flew to Cancun, Mexico.

Even the drive on the way to the airport was pure bliss. Thirty-minutes of adult conversation. We never heard “I’m bored” or “She’s touching me!” being screamed from the backseat every 10 seconds.

So, there we were … in Cancun, staying at an all-inclusive resort. Adult beverages, nightlife and the most scrumptious meals on the planet Earth were at our fingertips.

Until we realized we weren’t there alone … and I’m not talking about the other ADULTS staying at the resort.

No, I am referring to the spring-breakers. College-aged students living the dream for a week in Cancun, without parents, roommates, professors or classes.

Minus manners too if you asked us.

By the final day, I wanted to wear a hand-made sign declaring, “PICK UP YOUR OWN SHIT” … My friend added: “YOUR MOMMA AIN’T HERE!”

It was classic.

Empty beer and margarita cups littered the tables situated within the pool. We removed them. It wasn’t our job, but it was gross and bothered us. Our husbands told us time and time again, “You can take ladies out of the USA, but you can’t take the moms out of them.” Or something like that.

Inside the sports bar, assholes left half-eaten cheeseburgers, nachos and hotdogs on paper plates when a trashcan was less than 20 feet away.

Where in the world did they leave their manners? Are they like this at home? Are they like this in their college dormitories or apartments?

Those were our thoughts as we walked from table to table removing the assholes’ shit they left behind.

Our vacation continued by watching the near-three fights break out amongst various nationalities, except no one from the United States was acting like an asshole. It was everyone else, shouting out phrases no one understood. My guess, they were calling everyone else assholes for different reasons.

I loved watching people call the hotel manager after someone took their poolside chairs. Now would be an ideal time to note this asshole was like 60 years old complaining. The manager told him, “You can’t save chairs.” He didn’t like that answer. The group he was arguing with kept blowing him kisses – that just pissed him off even more. It was hilarious. It was like the time my brother got in trouble for something I did and I reacted the same way, telling him to “kiss it.”

Add, “Watching Groups of People Argue Over Which Country is THE BEST” is a must on everyone’s “Bucket List.” Clearly the country that did NOT get BANNED from the alcohol at the all-inclusive resort were “better.” But not by much by our standards.

And, let’s not forget the group of 15 guys fighting with five other guys and three girls over the style of music being played over a loudspeaker. Our friends nailed the reason for the fight – the five guys were close to “Closing the deal with the three girls and taking them up to bed after talking to them for five hours when the other guys came over with their bad music.” BUZZ KILL … or … well, some kind of kill.

Upon leaving the resort, I assumed our journey back to the USA would go smooth. What else could go wrong? Oh, you know, our bus driver could run 15 minutes late and then make up time by driving in the middle of the road, cutting every other vehicle off – including bicyclists and motorcyclists. By this time, hands were being laid upon a Bible brought from Ohio. Our lives flashed before our eyes.

After coming to what felt like a screeching halt in the airport parking lot, we staggered out of the bus as if we had just topped of a bottle of tequila. I kinda wish I had because it would have made the next scene “that much more hilarious.”

Again, a group of four ladies were standing in the customs line, while the rest of us were waiting to be X-rayed, poked and prodded when they picked THAT time to … you guessed it, take A SELFIE.

The man behind the ladies spoke up, told them they were basically assholes and to move along because they were holding the line up.

Long story short, Mexican security showed up, but they weren’t as intimidating as I imagined them to be at the border. They just laughed and shook their heads while moving the ladies through security. They wanted those selfie-bitches OUT of Cancun.

Good news … after we made it past customs, we all headed toward the duty-free shop and bought tequila and/or Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. That made THE VACATION all worth … THE TRIP (WITH COLLEGE-AGED KIDS).

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, www.humorwriters.org and Great Moments in Parenting. She also writes, edits and manages her blog, https://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com/. She can be reached at mlinebrink@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter @train_crazy.