My Family Circus

To say I have an "interesting" family is a blatant understatement. To attend a family dinner at my grandmother's ranch house is an experience. And to meet a few choice members can quite literally change the way you think (mostly of me, but also the way you think about the world and the people in it, too). John had the pleasure of meeting most of my family at one of these infamous gatherings well before we were married. So, I figured, he knew what he was in for before he "bought the cow". But Aunt Moe, somehow, slid under the radar. My Aunt Moe is Janis Joplin, reincarnated. She looks like her, she sounds like her, she even swaggers like her. Moe's tried and mastered every hallucinogenic drug on the market from 1962 to 1992 and three quarters of her brain is crispy fried to prove it. She's crashed cars, been to jail, outrun an abusive stalker husband, lived the rock star legend lifestyle with out the star. But she's definitely hit the rock (bottom, that is). She's an artist, a poet, and a really trippy dancer. I love her for her passion and her authentic hippie wardrobe. I love the way she finishes all her statements with, "right on, man". I love that she can recount the complete lyrics from any song produced between '64 and '81 without fail. And even if Janis Joplin didn't sing it, Moe can sing any song in her likeness. I love her long kinky fly away hair that is always parted down the middle. Tonight, I took the girls down to the ranch for dinner with my parents and grandmother, a few other family members and of course, good ol' Aunt Moe. Well, if you know Catholics, then you know it's the season of Lent. And every good Catholic gives up his or her favorite things for the 6 weeks or so preceding Easter. In my parents' case, this meant alcohol. They actually stopped drinking for Jesus. So dinner tonight was accompanied by plenty of cranberry & tonic mocktails. There's always a theme at these get togethers, tonight's theme: Mole Party. Everyone wore a mole (my dad provided brown felt stickers in various shapes and sizes) somewhere on their face. Why do we do this? Because life is a stage, and my family is nominated for it's umpteenth Oscar. And tonight, we were all sober. The sobriety is weird in itself, but add a mole and then you know you're in the twilight zone. I was actually glad John was working tonight and couldn't attend, I could only picture his reaction to all this nonsense. So I was saying, we were all sober....and then Aunt Moe shows up. Definitely NOT sober. As if we needed more entertainment. Well, you can imagine the hilarity of the night, a handful of sober Jesus freaks, Shelby all hopped up on Cadbury Eggs with a fresh mole stuck to her forehead, my mom pouring mocktails, my dad adjusting and reapplying moles, my grandmother asking me if my dog was my dog, "and what kind of dog? Is that your dog? And what kind of dog? Oh I had a lab once. Is that your dog? And what kind of dog?" You get the idea. And in the middle of it all was Aunt Moe, rockin on at higher and higher decibel levels, man. Oh yeah, and she had her mole on, too. She named it "The Holy Mole-y".

Our Less Than Quiet Street

John and I were headed to a wine pairing dinner at Papillon Restaurant in Los Osos for a much needed date night. I could hardly believe we were actually going out to a restaurant full of adults as I slipped my freshly painted toenails into my peephole red high heels. Lipstick, perfume, coat, kiss the girls goodbye and wish the sitter luck. We pulled away from the house and immediately noticed a red car parked in front of our yard. Seeing as nearly every house on our block is either vacant, empty, or vacant, this makes visitor's cars rare. We stared down the middle aged red headed man seated in the driver's seat. "What the hell is that guy doing?" I asked. "I don't know," John said as he slowed the car to snail pace, "but, it's probably not good." I fought the urge to turn the car around, dismiss the babysitter and call off our plans. So I called our neighbor instead. Her daughter was watching our kids, and I asked her to keep an eye on this creepy guy. "I'm calling the cops," she replied after confirming the creepy guy and his car were still there. "Okay, call me back," I said, hanging up. We pulled up to the restaurant and my phone rang again. The neighbor was talking before I said Hello, "Well, you're missing the drama! The cop pulled up and told creepy guy to stay in his car and then ordered him to keep his hands on the wheel and hold still while he called for backup! It's crazy, the cop is poised in the street with his hand on his holster and the radio in his hand. Oh, and don't worry, I talked to the kids, they're fine and all the doors & windows are locked." Oh my god, my babies are in the house just a stretch of lawn away! John disappeared into the restaurant to get a table while I anxiously awaited more news. Talk about starting the night off with a little anxiety! Long story short, the backup arrived, the guy was detained for driving with an expired license and he claimed to have broken down there. Hmm. Well, all's well that ends well, I suppose.


Lonely for the First Time

We moved to our little bungalow by the sea just over a year ago, leaving behind a close circle of friendships we'd built over the five years of our marriage and establishment in the area. I knew I was separating myself from an amazing support group of friends when we moved, and I had no intentions of seeking out replacement friends in my new neighborhood. In fact, I deliberately avoided any interactions that might lead to new found friendships. Our new community provided great parent participation classes but instead of attending the classes a few blocks from our house, I chose to drive to the neighboring community so I wouldn't meet any moms nearby my home that I'd have to befriend! No play dates, or new coffee dates, or invites for girl's jewelry parties. Bah-humbug! I kept my head down at the library's story hour, avoided all eye contact at the park. New friends? Who needs 'em! Well, this all worked fine as we remodeled our house and I stayed focused on the looming arrival of our second child. Ana arrived and I focused in on balancing two kids, my marriage, and finishing a few jobs around the house (my still unfinished kitchen, for starters!). Sure, I saw my friends from "back home" every so often. The occasional baby shower, or bunco night. My friends even came out to our new place on the odd Saturday. I had a few low times during the past year or so, but I chalked it up to quality family time. But yesterday, I hit the rock bottom of mommy loneliness. A typical Tuesday morning begins with the long walk to our neighborhood park. We arrived and immediately noticed the group of moms and kids seated in a circle by the swings chatting and snacking together. Shelby and I slowed the stroller to a crawl and took it all in like kids in a candy shop, jaws open, drool pooling on our lips. Adult and kid interaction that completely ignored us. OK, no big deal. We can still have fun by ourselves. I kept thinking about all my mom friends an hour away. Were they all together at the park right now? Without me and my kids? Ugh. And just when I started to convince myself that I was being a more attentive mother to my kids by being alone, I saw them. Way off in the distance, like an oasis of moving wheels and tennis shoes, I saw a parade of moms and strollers huffing along, smiling, flipping their ponytails as they turned from one friend to another chatting away their social parenthood. My heart sunk, the loneliness rose up in my throat and I knew I had officially hit my ultra low. The lone mommy at the park with no friends. I might as well pick my nose and eat the results I was "That Mom". Not only did the mommy brigade roll on past, they circled behind us like a swarm of giggling bees and parked their strollers, pulled out stretch bands and blankets and proceeded to flop down their kids and exercise together! I was frozen in place next to the twirly slide. The smiling conversations and singsong chants of children and babies all interacting, all friends, and together was more than I could take. C'mon girls, mommy needs to go home and dial-a-friend. Loneliness Calls.


A Common Divide

Shelby had just wrapped up a speed shower with John when she came bounding into the kitchen with a giggling daddy not so far behind. "Mommy, Reece says boys have peanuts. Do boys have peanuts?" This conversation had to have occurred during last week's birthday party for our friend's 3 year old. I humored her, "Yes, honey." She continued, "Well, boys have to wear panties then so their peanuts don't fall out!"


Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Or maybe it's "Scowl at him when he takes a work related call for a weekend meeting after being gone for a week...and she shall have her way." Whatever it took, John just pulled out of the driveway this sunny Sunday morning loaded with diapers, bottles, two kids and the dog. I can't imagine how he's gonna pull off a 4 hour interview with two kids. Am I worried about it? Hell no. I'm finishing this blog, jetting off to the gym for...well, for as long as I damn feel like it (or until my ooey gooey body crumbles into a heap on the floor) and then meeting friends for a mid morning brunch complete with at least one glass of champagne. An almost complete "Me Day". The only thing that might improve this scenario would be an overnight trip with friends, a miraculous improvement to my current boobs (or lack thereof) and some great shoes.