Butterflies and Bubblegum Lipgloss

My nextdoor neighbor slash best-boy-friend and I were playing in his backyard after school one day in fifth grade. Trees shaded us from the April sun. I sat on the swing and pumped my legs toward the branches of the tree above. He stood in the treehouse, teasing me for saying Fila like filet. Honest mistake for someone who has never owned a pair of name-brand shoes. But kids with money don’t get it.  

“Wanna kiss me?” he asked as he climbed down. He hopped onto the ground beside me with a thud.

“Huh?” I asked. He knocked the wind from my lungs with his question. 

“We should kiss. Ya know, just to see what it’s like.” He shrugged.

He was kind of cute with his curly brown hair and emerald green eyes. But did I like him, like him? Maybe? Maybe not. I hadn’t really thought about him that way until smack in the middle of that moment.

I kicked a rock beneath my feet and thought about running away from him. Last year, in fourth grade, that’s what I would have done — ran from the boy. Any boy. All boys. But so much changed in fifth grade. Girl friends in my class were curious. We stopped running and started batting our eyelashes. First and second kisses were all the rage at recess. The butterflies. The fireworks. The goosebumps. I wanted to share in those conversations with a story of my own.

I stood, and my knees slipped like spaghetti. “Sure,” I said. Afterall, our parents were rooms away, inside their kitchens making dinner. No one would ever know.

He leaned in to the left. So did I, so he adjusted and leaned to my right. He pressed his lips to mine and, before I could decide whether I liked it or not, his braces scraped my bubble-gum-glossed lips. Eww. And Ouch. But mostly Eww.

I nudged him away. No fireworks. No feeling at all.

“You’re blushing,” he laughed.

“Whatever,” I said as I wiped his drool from my chin. “We should stay friends.”

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

How To Paint Your Own Cabinets

Make sure your house has plenty of ugly cabinets — ones with years of grease stuck to them. This is crucial for steps later on. The more cabinets, the better. Your first apartment in Brooklyn with four cabinets won’t do. 

Once you’ve got the cabinets, pick your color at the paint store. This will be a hard decision. If you have kids, give them lollipops to keep them busy for five minutes because you think that will honestly be enough time to choose. But there are at least twenty shades of light gray. Some with red undertones, some with blue. Spend a half-hour looking at all of them while your kids run amok in the supply aisle. Roll your eyes when your oldest asks you to buy her the purple paint roller, because you half knew she’d ask for something. She always asks,whether it’s a toy at Target, gum at the grocery store, or a purple paint roller at the paint store.

Finally, choose a grey based on the name, because they all look the same and your hypothetical kids are testing your last sliver of patience.

With your paint, brushes, rollers, and drop cloths in tow, head home.

Don’t plan your attack on your cabinets. Only reasonable people do that. Instead, dive right in. 

Remove all the knobs and drawer pulls and set them aside to donate. Brass might make a comeback, but this shade of fake gold will not be in your house. Still, tossing it would be wasteful. Someone else will love it.

Remove all twenty-two of your cabinet doors and all eleven drawers. Lay them in various places throughout the basement and the garage. Don’t buy tripod-stand-things to paint on, because that would make it easier on you. This needs to be the most difficult labor of love you’ve ever attempted.

Sand both sides of all the doors, all drawers and the fronts of the cabinets, then clean them all with wood soap. The cabinets and doors from around the stove will need an extra washing or two. They will be completely caked in grease. If you paint without cleaning, the grease will seep through and turn the paint brown. Then you will have to complete the sand/wash/paint steps all over. This process should be hard, not impossible.

Soak all the hinges in a vinegar and water solution, then scrub them with S.O.S. Pads and let them dry. The hinges are exposed, also made of brass, and purchasing new nickel ones would be the easy and expensive way out. You need to paint those too. Spray paint all sides of all forty-four hinges in batches. Ten at a time. Vinegar will linger on your skin, which somehow reminds you of your favorite drink. 

So, drink wine. Lots of it, because it calms your anxiety about the unfinished project.

Over the next two months, apply six coats of paint to each drawer front, cabinet front, and both sides of each door. Before breakfast, after putting your kids on the bus, after dinner, and before bed. Steal every moment you can to paint. 

Put off hanging with friends, getting out of the house, exercising, and pretty much anything else that brings you joy. Despise the paint, the color you chose, and anything that gets in the way of your mission to finish.

Develop pain in your right hand. Tell yourself it must be arthritis, because you’re approaching thirty-six. Don’t admit that it’s because you are painting all the freaking day.

Eventually you will finish. When you do, stand back and marvel at what you’ve done. All the days, all the paint, aches and bad days have ended. The kitchen looks bigger, cleaner even. It nearly killed you, but damn it’s beautiful.

Be proud. You did it on your own.

Once a Thief

Novembers in Toledo were dark and dreary. This Saturday in particular was no different. Temperatures had fallen from crisp to crap it’s friggin FREEZING. Dark clouds and high winds had settled over our city for the season. Because of the frigid air outside and our bad insulation inside, my stepdad had a fire going in our wood-burning stove with wood scraps from the backyard and old newspapers from the neighbor. Brittany, my sister, had plopped herself in front of the television to watch reruns of Full House, munch on knock-off Doritos and sip Sierra Mist from the can with a neon bendy straw. Brittany loved those Olson girls and bendy straws, as I’m sure most seven-year-old girls did at the time. I only watched because I had a crush on Uncle Jesse.

Mom stopped her needlework to look at me, freshly fourteen, full of angst and bored out of my damn mind. “Wanna go to Meijer?” She asked. For those who don’t know, think Midwestern Walmart, a mega-sized store with everything from groceries to electronics and discount clothes. It was a boring place to spend a Saturday, but better than my current situation on the couch.

“Sure,” I said. There was this new CD I wanted. Not to hang with my mom or to help her budget our weekly menu. “Coolio has a new single out,” I added. What I really wanted was to steal something.

“You have money?” she asked.

“Yes,” I lied. Until that point, I’d only taken Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper lip gloss and Designer Imposters U from Target. I liked the thrill of being bad, liked the feeling of having some kind of otherwise unaffordable luxury at my fingertips. Shoplifting was cool in junior high, and at the time I tried so desperately to fit in with my peers.

But other kids at school stole way better than me. They swiped Nike shirts and Levi jeans from Dillards when their parents dropped them off at the mall on the weekends. Put their own clothes on top of the stolen ones they tried on in fitting rooms and walked out like nothing. Not fair. Those kids already had nice things. If anyone deserved to steal, it was me.

Right?

As soon as we rushed through the doors of the massive retail chain with chill in our bones, we parted ways. Mom thought she was helping, letting me have freedom. She had no idea.

My feet mosied to the music section where I pondered my approach and went back and forth about my decision. Mom wouldn’t buy it. No extra money. I knew stealing was bad, but my id told me I needed it. I skimmed through the new releases for a while before I got the courage to finally shove the disc in my pocket. My right hand worked on ripping the cellophane while I occasionally flipped through the posters with my left.

I glanced over my shoulder on the sly. Behind me, there was suddenly a lady with feathered hair tamed beneath a Detroit Red Wings cap. She was reading the back of Mariah Carey’s newest album. Crap.

I left the aisle with the CD still in my pocket. The stubborn glue wouldn’t budge to let my fingernail slide in.

I ducked into the Hallmark aisle. Rows of paper apologies, thank yous, and celebrations in neat order lined both sides. There wasn’t a piece of paper there that could save me from the mess I was close to. I turned. Detroit Red Wings lady had followed, and she stood there seemingly distracted by the birthday cards. But I knew better. I’d heard of people like her. She had to be a loss prevention agent, and I was about to get snagged.

My heart raced, face flushed. I walked faster, out of the cards. Weaving, thinking, weighing the consequences of my impending actions. I desired a bit of naughtiness under my skin, not criminal status. That wasn’t me.

In the shoe aisle, I dumped the still – wrapped disc on top of a pair of work boots.

That’s when I jogged, almost sprinted but not enough to draw attention, until I found Mom bagging oranges in the produce section on the other side of the store.

“Hey, Mom,” I said.

“Find that CD?” she asked, examining a piece of fruit.

“Yeah,” I shrugged. “But I can’t afford it.”

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

A Letter to the Tooth Fairy

Dear Tooth Fairy,

This letter is two years and eight teeth overdue. Let’s be honest. I don’t like you very much. You sneak into my child’s room in the middle of the night, climb into her bed and take her teeth. What is wrong with you? I mean, at least Santa leaves gifts wrapped in shiny paper, and the Easter Bunny gives sweet-smelling chocolate. But you and all your tooth-hoarding? Creep-y.

I know, I know. I drank too much wine last night and forgot to contact you regarding the swap. Instead, I brushed my teeth, put in my mouth guard and fell asleep watching The History Channel. Honest mistake and not the last time it’ll happen. But then before six this morning, Reagan stomped into my room to tell me the Tooth Fairy had forgotten her…again. I messed up, and how did I cover up the Tooth Fairy mess-up? With a big ol’ lie. I fed her some rubbish excuse that she didn’t get to bed in time, and The Tooth Fairy ain’t got time for that.

And I hate all your crazy-ass rules. According to you, we must hide the tiny tooth in a microscopic box and put it under our child’s sleeping head. Then you come in there in the middle of the night when you’ve most likely had a bourbon or two. I worry about you tripping on something or poking my daughter in the eye whilst making the switch. Too many things can go wrong. Lightning could crash at the exact moment you take her tooth, illuminating your hunched figure and tattered wings near her bed. Her alarm clock could become possessed and beep manically, waking her in time to catch you sliding a wad of cash beneath her head.

Your rules set us up for failure. Ridiculous. Why can’t we just have our kid toss her tooth in a zip-top bag and tape it to the front of her bedroom door? Then there’s no chance of waking her up when you swap out the tooth for some cash. Bada boom, bada bing. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

And while we’re on the subject of money, who is supposed to determine the cost of a tooth? I’ve heard anywhere from $1.00 – $10.00 is the going rate. You know kids talk, right? When I was little, we all got fifty cents. Inflation may be a mother, but you tooth fairies need to get your collective stuff together. Kids are going to start wondering why they got more than their neighbor in school. We should go low. It’s a tooth, for God’s sake. If they want money, make them do manual labor. Losing a tooth is zero work.

My kid likes to hang on to hers until it literally flies out while she’s whistling. She won’t let anyone yank it or tie a string around it. Why is that deserving of a crisp bill?

In closing, I’m tired. So tired, so I’m throwing in the tooth treasure box on this relationship. I mean it. We’re tossing the teeth in the trash and forgetting you ever existed.

Not so sincerely,

Angry (and Slightly Hungover) Mom of Two

Bit by Bit

Tonight, my daughter is having a sleepover with a friend. It’s not her first sleepover. She’s had several this year. But this pang in my heart, loss of breath in my lungs, gets no easier with time.

I worry about her, miss her laugh, and wish to hold her while she’s gone.

It’s not any different from the first time she slept through the night with no need for milk or snuggles at three a.m.. And just like when she didn’t need me to catch her at the bottom of the playground slide anymore.

I’m sure it’ll be the same or harder when she goes on her first date, drives the car alone with her new licence, or moves into her first apartment.

Little by little, she grows up and away.

And bit by bit, I have to let go.

Knowing this, I look forward to tomorrow when she sails through the front door sharing sleepover stories about the brownies they baked and the front walkover she finally had the courage to complete. I’ll bend to smell her coconut shampoo.

At least for now, she still lets me brush her hair.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Flicker

Last year, I bought a lantern for our cabin and filled the batteries for storm season. My child played with it in the “woods” of her darkened bedroom.

Last week, power flickered. I flipped the lantern switch. The batteries may have died, but we never lost the light.

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

How To Hit A Deer With Your Minivan On Moms’ Weekend


  1. Drive four hours with your two best friends to the mountains for some kid-free mom time skiing on the slopes.
    1. Make sure you leave the dads with enough frozen peas and baby carrots. If you don’t, the kids won’t eat their veggies and you’ll be freaking out for two full days instead of letting your messy bun down.
  2. When you arrive at your tiny condo at the bottom of the mountain, light the fire and drink too much wine. This won’t work unless you all drink, so fill all red plastic cups and blame it on the switchbacks and fog for needing a little something, something, to calm your nerves.
  3. Go to bed at four in the morning, because nothing good happens after two a.m., and you want – no need – to remove yourself from motherhood and be nothing good for the night.
  4. Wake up at ten a.m. when your husband calls to see how the slopes are. The lifts opened one hour ago and you’re in no shape to be getting out of bed just yet. At this point, you know you won’t be putting sticks on your feet and sliding down any kind of hill. Not gonna happen.
  5. Eat all the vegan brownies and Tylenol for breakfast with Mom 2. Joke about how you’re all too old to be drinking that much and going to bed that late. Lay back down until the Tylenol kicks in.
  6. Plug your ears when Mom 3 wakes up and barely makes it to the toilet to puke. She’s obvi a total rookie.
  7. Once you’ve all showered, go to the top of the mountain for greasy lunch. Burgers, sweet potato fries (because they’re healthier, duh), and Bloody Marys all around. You choke down the Bloody Mary. It’s not that you want to drink, but hey – hair of the dog, amirite?
  8. Decide to go tubing to salvage what’s left of the weekend.
  9. In the minivan, aka The Swagger Wagon, share funny stories like, “And once, my daughter confused a pantyliner for a giant Band-aid.” You’re a mom after all, and you can’t ever fully leave your children at home, even on a moms’ trip. It’s okay, though, because this is what you needed. Not the booze or skiing, but a weekend with your friends full of fun.
    1. Hear Mom 2 gasp, interrupting the laughter.
  10. See a deer jump in front of your moving tank, slam on the brakes, get a new understanding via personal experience for the term “deer in headlights.” That fucker won’t move.
  11. Connect with her eyes, illuminated by your car’s front end. Realize she is your spirit animal just before she turns in a too-late-dumbass attempt to run away.
  12. Only hit her in the butt going ten miles an hour before she scampers off, uninjured into the woods. Pull over and cry for her with your friends.
  13. After you pull yourself together, finish driving to the tubing hill.
  14. Once there, laugh, careen down the hill, act like a child.
  15. Have fun. Have so much fun.
  16. After tubing, eat a pile of chips and salsa and tell dirty jokes with your friends because the best cure for a hangover is laughter and carbs. Always more carbs.

*Photo courtesy of Pixabay