As I look outside my home office window, I am inspired by the bare branches exposing the awkward, gnarled limbs of my once beautiful trees. In the interest of public safety, I have decided to keep my awkward, gnarled limbs covered and write this blog post instead.
So grab a sweater, a cup of the steaming beverage of your choice (mine will have liberal amounts of alcohol and an abundance of marshmallows) and relax in a comfortable chair for my latest version of true confessions from a suburban mom.
1. I first noticed a change in the mirror about 18 months ago during one of my many critical naked stances in front of the full-length mirror in which I grab loose, stretch-marked skin and move it, grab it, pinch it and shape it into various more flattering placements on my body. As I can't afford the long list of plastic surgery that I desire, I have resorted to playing with the squishy, jiggly bits like play-doh in the mirror and I have also invested in so many pairs of Spanx that I could be the Spanx spokesperson, which I would gladly do for free in exchange for a lifetime supply.
Back to that naked mirror episode of 18 months ago - I'm examining my bare back and admiring how since losing weight that the outline of my rib cage is emerging. And it's beautiful. Not scary skeletal like my boys look without their shirts on, but it looks like a normal skinny person back (just don't let your eyes drift to my backside, which defines why the term "pear shape" was coined.) As I'm admiring the only part of my body that I truly like to look at, I noticed an odd bump on the right side of my back. At the time, I vainly assumed that it was further evidence of my weight loss and eagerly waited for a matching one to emerge on the left side.
It never did.
The mysterious object started growing. And growing.
So, I touched it. And it moved. My bump was squishy and moveable and had grown to the size of an egg. I went to the doctor, who informed me that I had won the Lipoma lottery. She confirmed that the bump on my back was a Lipoma, a benign tumor of fatty tissue, but added that more would likely form on my thighs, stomach, trunk, arms and anywhere on the body where fat is located. (I secretly hope that my fat ass is really just a network of Lipomas and not caused by my out-of-control sugar addiction.)
As I have been literally working my ass off, fatty cells in my body have been having an unprotected orgy and reproducing quicker than the bunnies in my backyard. She attempted to reassure me by telling me that removal isn't medically necessary, so I shouldn't worry. What!? And then her words "removal is not medically necessary" resonated in my brain. Oh, crap! Will insurance even pay for the removal? She didn't answer my question and measured the clump of fat instead.
That initial appointment was in July. Five months later, and my lipoma is still growing. I'm pretty sure that it has at least one evil little eye and a mean set of teeth. And, it taunts me in my sleep. If the sucker sprouts even one dark hair, I will personally remove it with a kitchen knife.
2. I forgot my youngest son's lunch twice - in one day.
I have never been the mother who eagerly makes school lunches for her children, packing sandwiches cut with heart cookie-cutters and sneaking in napkins filled with poetry. As much as I love to look at pictures of Bento, Japanese box lunches that mothers lovingly prepare for their children, I have never been tempted to painstakingly cut out tiny pieces of vegetables, fish, and rice and arrange them into whimsical creations. (If you ever want to feel like a total slacker loser mom, search for Bento images on your computer.) Once a month, I deposit a wad of cash into their cafeteria accounts and give them the school lunch menu. They have the tools, the funds and the knowledge that mom will never bring a forgotten lunch to school.
Cassie buys the same cafeteria hot pretzel meal every day. On most days, Phillip chooses to bring a lunch from home. Brooks is the school cafeteria connoisseur. He eagerly tries every new item on the menu. Every month, Brooks peruses the monthly school menu and diligently initials his food choices in each tiny box. He will proudly exclaim, "I'm only bringing a home lunch twice this month," and explain in great detail why he is not purchasing lunch on those two days. His animated face reveals all as he vividly describes the smell, taste, color, consistency and presentation of each meal scooped onto the lunch trays.
Last week, Brooks was sleepy and distracted in the morning and forgot his lunch. The phone rang 10 minutes after he left for school, and all my tough-love parenting ideas were abandoned the second I heard his sweet little voice. Sure, he is 8 years old, but he will always be my last baby. So, I agreed to bring his lunch to school. Feeling needed for the first time in weeks, I even promised him that I would bring his lunch as soon as I ended the phone call.
However, as I was walking to the front door to deliver his lunch, I started to notice the many items that my children had discarded during their frenzied dash to school. I put down the lunch, promptly forgot about it and started picking up the pencils, gum wrappers and crinkled wads of paper. As I was walking back from the garbage can, I saw my gym shoes and decided to work out on my elliptical for 45 minutes. As I was coming up from the basement, I noticed that darn White Sox lunch bag sitting on the table by the door. I started to grab it to bring it to school, but, well, sweat had pooled in unflattering places on my work-out clothes, and I smelled nasty - the kind of odor that I never really think is possible for my own body to emit until I am gagging on my own funk. I put the lunch back down on the table and hopped in the shower. All promises of lunch delivery washed down the drain with the bubbles from my soap. I exited the shower, dressed and raced to my hair appointment.
Hating interruptions when I'm getting pampered by hair extraordinaire/magician, Samantha, I ignored my cell phone's beeps and vibrations. As I admired my new warm, dark, fall hair color, it occurred to me to check my phone. As soon as I saw the elementary school's phone number, I remembered the lunch, my promise and the sound of his happy little voice telling me that he loved me as we ended that morning phone call. I, apparently needing more punishment, dialed my voice mail and his little tear-filled voice overwhelmed my senses and wounded my soul. "Mama, lunch is almost over. Are you bringing my lunch for me?" Poor Brooks was forced to eat the turkey corn dog that day, which is soggy in the middle and hard at the ends and looks a little green when you bite into it. My mother guilt still gnaws at my insides.
3. I have already depleted the enormous mound of Halloween candy, which I quickly hoarded from my kids' Halloween bags while they weren't looking and before the candy counting and trading began so they would never notice. I am now forced to stealthily sneak upstairs, search for their stashes and steal. However, I am an equal opportunity thief. I make sure that if I steal 2 pieces from Brooks, that I also steal 2 pieces from Phillip and Cassie, too. And that is all I will confess. I will certainly not divulge how many packages of fun-sized goodness that I continue to consume on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. I blame the Lipoma. I've got to feed the beast. Did I mention that I think it has teeth and probably weighs at least ten or fifteen pounds, which is why my jeans don't quite button anymore?
4. As I was watching a cautionary expose on teenagers soaking gummy bears in vodka, I secretly took mental notes and am totally going to invite some other moms over to try it. I know that the purpose of the news segment was to make me worry for the safety of my children and give me yet another thing to fear as my children age, but instead I immediately went to CVS to buy gummy bears and cheap vodka. I am not wasting the good stuff on this experiment. I'm not quite sure how to explain to the kids why I can't share any of my gummy bears with them, especially when I still have a wad of their stolen Halloween wrappers in my pocket.
Despite my good intentions and the deep love that I really do have for my children, I am a continual example of What Not To Do - Parenting Edition. During my first pregnancy, I swore that I was going to be the best mom, the perfect mom, the mom to whom all others would be compared, but instead I am just me, the mom who forgets school lunches, steals her kids' candy, eats booze-soaked bears and licks the bowl after it is empty and angrily mutters to the scary looking lump on her back. And the only thing that I know for sure is that I will continue to screw up. But at the end of the day, my children are happy, healthy and know that while their mother isn't perfect that she loves them most of all. And that will just have to be enough.