Dear Teacher

Dear Smile Fingers,
I sleep in my bed with Blankie and not in the car turned around so I couldn’t see you until Milk Hands took me out and said hi and buh-bye and you leaned in and said I’ve gotten fat and you don’t know where my brother is oh no you don’t and bed is good but the car is gooder.

—–

Dear Mrs. Smith,
Mom made me pull out all my school clothes, she put them in a box. She said [in a Mom voice] “We aren’t going to use these, so we may as well pack them up.” Then she made me put away the stuff from my desk we got from you. You remember when we went to your house and threw candy at you? [laughs] I don’t know where to put my folders so I put them under the bed but don’t tell Mom. I miss when you read to us but not when you made me put my book away.

—–

Dear Teacher,
I only know a little about you; from the e-mails you send, the Zoom meetings I overhear, and the morning videos you share every day. I spoke to you forever ago, at carpool pickup after school, but never appreciated what you did before that time.
Most days, I can’t get my son to get off the floor if he’s determined to melt there. Yet, every day; you taught him, motivated him, got him to work, and loved him. Your stinkeye is legendary.
As I tucked my baby into bed, I remembered how you smiled and talked to him at pickup. As we folded the school clothes and sorted the school folders, I remembered the school conferences and class parties you held. You were surrounded by noise and chaos but thrived and guided so all those children also thrived.
You’re amazing -I thought you should know.
I’m not sure what to tell you, as normal keeps getting put off till later, except for, “Thank you.” Thank you for the magic you performed for every person for every day. I know you’ll get to do it again; will you stick around till the baby’s old enough?
Anyway, thank you. And sorry about the candy-throwing.

 

Written for the teachers.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

What Pregnancy is Really Like

I remember my first pregnancy like it was over a decade ago. Mostly, I remember anxiety, confusion, surprise, and trepidation -besides feeling sick all the time, of course. I wrote a journal to my baby. Nearly all of the entries included, “I’m so nervous,” or “I’m not sure what to expect.”

So I picked up a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. From it, I learned that any odd ailment may occur in pregnancy and that my growing fetus was always a type of fruit. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean.

Really, though, for one as curious as I, that book and my laid-back OB/GYN utterly failed to help me know what to expect.

For there is no book that can give you the sensation of pregnancy.

It’s weird.

When you are pregnant, you always know there is something off about yourself. Videos of babies and children and young animals make you cry. Commercials make you cry. Dropping a cup of milk makes you cry. Not being able to think about sex because you are so sick and feel fat and your favorite chocolate bar tastes awful makes you cry.

Then you get some sleep and are sunshine and rainbows.

But… that’s for about two hours. Then you’re exhausted and dropping milk again.

If you make it to a little over halfway, the real fun begins. I referenced the movie Aliens in a previous post; because, at this point, you can feel the growing child inside of you. I explained the sensation to a coworker once: “It’s like you ate something that’s alive and it’s moving around.” If you’re that imaginative, the analogy works.

Now that I’m at hippopotamus size, I can literally watch my stomach surface undulate and jerk. Inside, meanwhile, my organs, lungs, and bladder get kicked, pushed, and butted against.

Pregnancy can bless you with all sorts of side effects like hemorrhoids, diabetes, high blood pressure, changes in saliva pH, swelling, nausea, dizziness, sudden paralysis of legs, hair color or curliness, tender women parts, nail and hair growth changes, spots, skin lines, breast enlargement and tenderness, loss of short-term memory, exhaustion…

It begins to sound like one of those new drug commercials, the kinds where you listen and think, Why in the heck would ANYONE take this medication??

I can’t speak for others out there, but I often wonder that about pregnancy.

Yes, I know this is my fifth impregnation.

Yes, I should have a good reason besides shrugging and saying, “Well, I suppose it was because I wasn’t doing anything else at the time…”

Because -yes, pregnancy sucks. Raising the children produced from pregnancy is difficult. Given my druthers, I’d prefer to selfishly play video games all day while eating a pan of brownies.

However, most employers won’t fund that lifestyle.

And, making kids is actually pretty cool. I remember Bill Cosby dubbing it “erotic arts and crafts.” Really, though, it is. Every time we’ve gotten pregnant, my husband and I have speculated on how the kid will turn out. Will he have my dark hair or my husband’s lighter blond? My brown eyes or his hazel? Will he understand our jokes? Will he be creative? What sorts of dreams will he have? How tall? Cheerful or serious?

Will he like Firefly? What about Starcraft??

Even at almost five, we still have fun guessing.

So, that’s what you can take away from today’s lesson: pregnancy is weird. It’s full of many things you cannot expect. In the end, you get a tiny human that will be like you and your husband.

Yes, that means he or she will be a nerd like you.

Happy crafting.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Parenting: The Fine Line

I’m no expert at parenting. My life plan was not to be a mother; I use this as an excuse whenever raising offspring is difficult.

Still, I care about my kids. I care that they aren’t psychopaths or sociopaths. I care that they know how to cook, clean, and respect authority. They’ll definitely put the seat down.

Training my spawn involves a lot of strain, some of which comes from doubt:

Am I doing the right thing by making his friend send him home to finish a job?

Should I have yelled when my sweet, little pre-teen gave me attitude?

Was that too harsh to make him walk to school because he slept in and refused to get ready on time?

(In case you wonder at the masculine pronouns, I have all boys.)

I thought about the fine line of parenting today. I believe I thought about it the third time I prepared for vocal conflict with my most difficult son.

Me in the driver’s seat, patiently, “So, you threw the carseat into the back, yet say it’s #4’s fault because it hit his head before hitting #3?”

Him, mimicking my patient manner, “Yes. #4 made a dumb decision to climb over the seat. If he hadn’t done that, #3 wouldn’t have been hit.”

Believe it or not, this exchange went on for a good ten minutes. He refused responsibility for the thrown-carseat injuries; I refused to let him dodge said responsibility.

The Line here is Respect vs. “pick your battles.” Almost all of my lines are Something vs. “pick your battles.” My choice to engage (or not) goes back to that no-sociopath thing.

*Sigh*

I know not all of you have children -at least, not currently. Whether you have or not, have you felt the strain of walking a line? What did you choose? Was it worth it?

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—————-

Here’s what went down this past week:
Wednesday, October 16: Wrote “Where, Oh Where Should My Blogging Go?

Thursday, October 17: Throwback to my first post, “Hello, My Name Is.”

Friday, October 18: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to MagicQuill17!

Saturday, October 19: Announced the 48th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is the Old West. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 20: Shared Carrot Ranch‘s 3rd rodeo. Another one’s coming tomorrow!

Also wrote “The Wife Stands Alone” for Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge.

Monday, October 21: An inspirational quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Tuesday, October 22: “Since the Bombs Fell: One,” the first in a dystopian series.

Wednesday, October 23: Today.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Blogging, Blogging, LOOK AT ME! Problems

The irony is not lost on me that I’m posting this directly after observations of phone narcissism. Problem is, I’m sort-of, kind-of, often saying that I’m writing a book. -All right! I’m at least writing, okay?!

I got on WordPress because the wonderful crowd of social-junky peeps on Facebook were giving my ramblings over there a lukewarm response. I had a few loyal, wonderful, intelligent, devoted, absolutely fantastic fans -and I love that handful more than I love myself. But the real-time responses of my ‘friends’ were killing my self-esteem.

I’ve told this story before. My wiser, better-looking, very talented actual friend said I need to move over to a blog. And she was right. I *sniff* love you guys who read my blog posts.

You’re just not thousands of adoring fans pouring over here from everywhere. Okay -I’m kidding.

Over a year of blogging has taught me how things work, and I’m cool with that. I have a very long reader’s feed of wonderful material to get through every day and can stop anytime I want but right now I just need a poem or two then I’ll get to my WIP…

As such, I started another blog specifically to promote The Book That May Come to Be Sometime Before My Death. I joined *shudder* Twitter. I’ve searched, followed, commented, and created another Reader’s feed of amazing articles I love reading and can quit reading anytime…

But it’s discouraging. Everyone wants to be read and hardly anyone wants to do the reading.

Twitter is the worst indicator of this: tweet after tweet after re-tweet after ad. Noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE! I know that I need to join the cacophony. I need to keep trying, shout louder or funnier, or woo the poor just-starting-out blogger because s/he actually pays attention to comments.

*Sigh*

I suppose I’m still attached to my writing. I put a lot into stories like What’s the Point? then send my babies off all teary-eyed, knowing no one will read them because they’re not at the top of the pile when I start getting people to investigate who is following them.

That, and I’m a bit frustrated at finding like-minded, like-themed sites. My WIP is about motherhood, and so many parenting blogs are clickbait. And if anyone knows about that sort of site, it’s someone like me who worked 8 months creating that kind of crap.

Makes sense, I suppose. I’m barely finding time to write because I’m too busy with actual life so others in the same sort of boat are only going to send up a flare or two if there’s a chance money will come raining down in the ashes.

I know, I know: get off my (extremely) sore coccyx and stop whining. Thanks for listening, anyway. Sometimes it’s just good to get things off my mind and out where millions of people can read my complaining.

I love you guys.

Mondays and Memories

The pictures people post of life are beautiful, artistic, happy, and well-framed. They are also less than a second of time, and 4×6 inches of a multi-perspective panorama. Better make them the best, right?

So, when you see this pile of mess I’ve included, you may wonder where the beauty is. Why would I post this?

For the story. For the reality.

This pile is what was left after my two youngest (ages 7 and 4) mixed and baked a chocolate cake completely by themselves. They did so after making grilled cheese sandwiches and (somewhat charred) tomato soup for dinner.

I’m not certain why the “cakes” boiled over into the oven since I was returning from martial arts at the time. My twelve-year-old suspects they severely over-measured the baking soda. My husband was with them and told me how excited the six-year-old was for me to come home to a surprise dinner and a whole cake!

If I were aiming for artistry, I could pose the bakers’ chocolate-stained faces in front of a symmetrically-messy counter. I could write that my darling, budding chefs made dinner and dessert. Then I could elaborate, saying we ended the evening singing songs of family unity and went to bed before sundown.

The problem is that the evening did not end with dessert and singing. The problem is that I tried to clean up the remains of amateur baking with the oven’s self-clean option. That method didn’t last long.

As I sit in our smoke-scented house and listen to the roaring fans downstairs, I can’t help but consider how much easier this day would have been if I’d not allowed them to create their dessert surprise.

Then, I remember what my husband said about our budding baker. “That was so sweet of you!” I tell my six-year-old as we tuck him in. “I am so impressed that you made dinner and a whole cake by yourself!” As he swells with self-pride I suggest gently, “Let’s make it together next time.”

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The Happiest Traffic Jam on Earth

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“When will we get dere?”

Sigh.

“It’s …uh, your turn to answer him, Dear.”

“Whe-e-e-e-en will we get de-e-e-e-ere?”

“I told you, Honey. We’ll be there soon.”

“Yeah. ‘Soon.’

“You said that a long time ago!”

“Alvy. Honey-”

“I wish you wouldn’t call him-”

“No! You said we go in duh car!”

“Yes, Sweetheart. Vroom! Vroom! Remember?”

“Not vrooming…”

“You said LITTLE ride in duh car!”

“Well, I meant-”

“You did tell him just a little ride-“

WAAAAAAAAAH!

“Dear, please. That’s not helping to side with him…”

“Are we picking sides?”

“WHEN WILL WE GET DERE?!”

“Your turn.”

Sigh.

 

Carrot Ranch Literary Society Prompt

A Spoonful of Limericks

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A lovely new faucet and sink
Decided to drip through a chink.
“Look, ma: a pool!”
Cried the poor mother’s fool.
The plumber charged $699.

 

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“Who did this?” Dad calls to the room.
The light’s on; he’s tripped on the broom.
His belts and neckties
Are knotted, mid-thigh.
Son says, “It’s The Fortress of Doom!”

 

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There once was a mother of four
Who never could sweep up her floor.
The clothes and the toys
Were stuck beneath boys.
Daddy wonders who taught them to swore.

Good Talk

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“Ya know, there’s just something I kind of think’s concerning about that boy, Honey…”

Gabi waited for her mother’s usual hedging manner. She pulled a fitted sheet from the laundry basket and wadded it into a fold, of sorts.

“That’s not to say I have anything against him. I think that shows real responsibility to buy a car the way he did and drive it.” Her mother absently pulled the lumpy sheet from Gabi’s side and re-folded it by its elastic corners. “Not to mention him driving you places like that. Shows a dedication and affection and such.”

Sighing, Gabi pulled a more-harmless pillowcase from the freshly laundered pile and flopped it into a square. It was passable. She decided she could chance another, and withdrew a green one. Then, a yellow.

“Mind you, boys and girls didn’t just climb into one another’s cars like that when I was your age,” her mother said. She pulled Gabi’s completed pile over to hers, straightening its wrinkles as she spoke. “Oh, sometimes a boy’s parents had a bit more to go around than others and he got his own vehicle.” She leaned forward conspiratorially to Gabi; added, “They often regretted it once there were accidents -which, accidents will happen, especially when parents encourage that sort of irresponsible behavior, spoiling a teenager like that…”

Amused, Gabi watched her mother’s train of thought derail slightly at the sight of her neatly finished laundry pile, ready for the cupboard. Gabi rose, scooping the bedding recklessly. She was rewarded with an audible cringe. Pretending ignorance, Gabi put them away and returned to the laundry, and lecture.

“Gabi,” her mother began, but left the name hanging without resolution. They started on the socks.

A blaring *HONK* sounded from outside. An entire second passed before another *HONK* *HONK* backed up the first.

Gabi dropped her unmatched socks. She scrambled to her feet and over to the entry table. Another impatient car noise called from the driveway as Gabi picked up her phone and house key.

“See, dear? That’s just the sort of problem I -”

“‘Bye, mom,” Gabi cut in, coming back and pecking her mother affectionately on the cheek. A few steps and a shuffle into sandals later, and she’d successfully gotten out the door.

“Hey, Babe,” Gabi’s boyfriend, Mike, said once Gabi was seated next to him. He put his arm around her seat to watch behind them as he backed the car down her long driveway. “What took so long?”

“Oh, nothing,” Gabi said. “Mom and I were just having a talk.”

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Depression, Anxiety and Lethargy.

I am officially breaking my “no re-blog” rule with the ever-hilarious Katie. Only a woman who names her depression Betty and her bicycle Claude could aptly refer to dealing with depressive lethargy as “wading through treacle whilst carrying a donkey on (her) back.”

Katie’s even gone the extra mile this time and given some sound, anti-donkey advice.