Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy-mother's Happy Mother's Day

The other day I read a magazine article about some male professional athletes and how they adjusted to being the fathers of girls – and only girls. Or maybe it was about some female celebrities who were mothers of boys – and only boys.

Whichever it was, the point of the article was how wonderfully challenging and ultimately rewarding it was to be the parent of children who were not the same gender as you. Wasn't it amazing that this big, burly, studly-stud athlete could put aside all that testosterone, pull off the helmet and put on a tiarra to enjoy a tea party with his little girls? How marvelous that this petite, delicate-flower of an actress could stow her estrogen in a Dooney and Burke bag and risk nail breakage just to play race cars with her little boys!

Give me a break.

In our little family microcosm, it doesn't matter how many X or Y chromosomes match. It doesn't matter if they share more than 50% of your DNA. It doesn't matter if they're from Mars and you're from Venus.

Because in our family, I am from Earth and my children are from an entirely different galaxy. A galaxy that is far, far, far away and completely, totally, 180 degrees different from mine.

I used to dream about raising mini-me's – not just in looks but in interests and hobbies. I know it happens. I've seen the Christmas card pictures. The family who sings together. The family softball team. The family on stage together, on the race track together, in the orchestra together, on the hunt together, in the kitchen together, at the pageant together …. (Oh, wait a minute, that was Honey Boo Boo. Never mind.)

In short, I imagined my kids and I would share a multitude of interests. In fact, not so much.

In practice, not at all.

When the Royal Progeny were young I shared all the things I love with them. I took them to plays, musicals and concerts. We visited museums, libraries, and historical markers. I schlepped them through quilt shops, kitchen stores, garden centers and book stores. I hauled them (not exactly kicking and screaming, but certainly sighing and whining) to piano lessons, swimming lessons, dance classes (Princess) and tumbling (Prince). One summer all three of us took tennis lessons (and played a couple awkward games of two-on-one tennis).

None of it stuck.

And I was OK with that. Except for the swimming part, which I consider more of a safety thing than anything else. But what can you do?

I learned to see it from their perspective.

Instead of spending my Saturdays at speech contests, I spent them at volleyball and softball tournaments.

Instead of seeing Billy Joel live and in concert, I saw Iron Maiden.

Instead of the Chicago Museum of Art, we go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Instead of a piano recital, we play disc golf.

Instead of Garrison Keiller, I get roller skating.

Instead of quilting, we lift weights.

Instead of the antique shop, we went paddle boarding.

Instead of sitting poolside at the aquatic center, I sit ramp-side at the skateboard park (and cringe).

Instead of Spamalot on stage. I get Iron Man on the big screen. Instead of Les Miserables on the big screen, I get Netflix on my laptop.

Instead of swooning at a Billy Joel concert, I will be reeling at a One Direction concert (I'm noticing a disturbing musical bias here).

Instead of raising mini-me's, we've raised mini-thems.

And I'm OK with that. (Well, except for the not seeing Billy Joel part.) But what can you do?

Because being a mom to these two alien life forms has been wonderfully challenging and ultimately rewarding.

And I've learned so much.

And had so much fun.

And they make me so very happy.

Here's to a Happy happy-mother Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goin' to Home Ec in a Handbasket

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop 2014.

I became a Home Ec teacher.

Well, technically I'm a long-term substitute Family and Consumer Science Teacher. But when I teach it, it's Home Ec.

I guess it's not funny ha-ha, unless you're part of my immediate family or friends. Judging from their responses when I told them the news, the thought of me teaching youngsters how to cook and sew correctly and successfully is pee-your-pants funny.

And it's not funny ironic, because irony doesn't mean what anyone thinks it does. Then again, a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected” (thank you Merriam-Webster) does pretty much sum things up. I certainly wouldn't describe myself as your typical “Becky Home-Ecky.” More of a “Becky's Home's Wreckied.”

It's more like funny in a way that makes you go “Hmmm, well, that settles it. The world as we know it is truly going to hell in a handbasket and I have front row seats.

I myself believe it's just another one of those things that proves that God has a sense of humor, and I am the butt of the joke.

I was at a crossroads. I enjoyed my part-time job(s), but I was approaching (yes, damn it, approaching) middle-age with no a clear career path in sight. Whether we like it or not, many people – at least me – define themselves by their jobs and/or income earning potential. Although wife/mother/daughter is a more-than-full-time job with great benefits (usually), the earning potential is, shall we say, non-existent. Ditto with my current blogging initiative.

It was time for me to decide whether I wanted to write, or get off the pot and find a job that actually paid enough cash for me to buy those new shoes I wanted.

So I did what any rational, well-educated, independent, self-sufficient, Catholic-convert gal would do.

I prayed.

“Please God, send me a sign. Should I purse my life-long dream of becoming a writer, or settle for a life of toil and drudgery as a slave to the man?” (I wasn't at all biased.)

Then I received an email notifying me that registration for the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop had just opened.

So I applied.

And lo! As choirs of angels sang, I was bathed in a golden light and a confirmation email was delivered unto me: “Congratulations! You will be attending the EBWW in Dayton, Ohio, in April.” The world is your oyster, huzzah, huzzah! (OK, I might have imagined that last part).

Then I received another email.

Was I interested in a long-term, part-time substitute position teaching Family and Consumer Science at the local high school?

Really, God? Did I lisp? I said “sign,” singular. As in one clear, neon-arrow, you-are-here sign.

Now, considering I had just put the four-day workshop, and five-night hotel stay on my credit card – and that the combined monthly income from my two part-time jobs would cover about one tank of gas for the drive out there, it was a pretty tempting offer. Maybe God had a plan after all?

Tempting, even though I'm an English and Communications major, with a license to teach English and Journalism. Hmmm, back to that sign thing. Did you really think this over? Did I forget to sign my name on my prayer? I'm already working as a part-time bookkeeper... how much different could teaching Home Ec be?

A lot, as it turns out.

But, long-story short(ish), after spending nearly a month panicking, updating my substitute teaching license, and scouring the internet for lesson plans, I was teaching Home Ec, I mean Family and Consumer Science.

No. I mean Home Ec.

I realize “Family Consumer Science” is the politically correct term, chosen to more accurately depict the wide range of topics studied. However, given that “Economics” is “the social science that studies the behavior of individuals, households and organizations... when they manage or use scarce resources, which have alternative uses, to achieve desired ends” (thank you Wikipedia), I think that Home Ec pretty much sums up “Family Consumer Science,” and does so in fewer words.

And people know what you're talking about when you say Home Ec.

Use words you know. That's what I learned from being an English and Communications major.

Maybe they aren't so different after all. Maybe a sign is a sign, after all.