Saturday, January 21, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake!

Between more than a few social clashes, and Operation Stink Crackdown (breaking him of taking toys from Squeak or pushing her out of the way rather than using his words), it has been a rough week emotionally. I am talking lots of tears: from Stinker, to me wondering if I'm handling it right, to some worried calls to a preschool director, to some frantic emails to Rex, to more than a few cell phone minutes to trusted advisors.

After some good advice from friends and family I care deeply about, as well as random opinions I'd have rather avoided, it is becoming more and more apparent that it's time to step up to the plate and be a grown-up. In my case, a grown-up who looks around her car in parking lots for other drivers that may or may not want my space. To be more on top of my kids' general appearance (crumbs work for me - "they're kids... they're playing!" but apparently some people don't want their grubby hands all over their kids' toys, and though it was hard to hear - and embarrassing - I have two words for you: Wet Wipes.) I am learning that while criticism is rough, it can also be incredibly helpful and I thank the Lord for friends that love me, cherish me, then call me on my flaws. Like a trusted middle finger, however, there is always the flip side, and I'm slowly realizing that it's okay to not listen to everyone - and everything.

If I were a cook, I'd describe it as putting everyone and their thoughts, either asked for or not, in a big strainer and shaking it three times for good measure. The ones that remain I keep and use for essential life ingredients. (That includes even the ones that are flattened to the side of the bowl, half in, half out, like a ten year old kid on one of those spinny rides at the carnival that really wants to get off but it's going so fast they're too terrified to press that bell and risk jeering.) The ones that fall through the cracks? I turn on the disposal and don't look back.

Of course, my problem is, as Oprah is so fond of saying, my emotional eating. Translation: While I'm enjoying my fabulous cake, made from true salt of the earth ingredients, I am racked with guilt and self doubt... "what if that person, or opinion, that I chucked could have made it taste different? Was I too quick to throw the switch?" And yet, here's the deal.... it doesn't matter if it would have added a different flavor to my cake. If it makes me vomit, it's not working for me. Rather than fret, what I need to do is print off that recipe card, get a book deal, make a mil, and call it a day. Everyone will have a good ironic chuckle during my Oprah taping (or lack of, because I was so nervous I had a panic attack in the bathroom and even Gail couldn't talk me down. This would not only be a fabulous cocktail party story - not that I ever go to these sort of sexy events - but it would make the ones I threw down the sink feel ever so smug for being smart enough to call me on my faults in the first place).

Still, I'd have enough pride to throw a fiesta for my core ingredients. Instead of "Mama P's Big Oprah Moment!" I'd have a banner printed "Mama P's Big Faux Pas Moment". And you guessed it, I'd serve cake.

Side note: Why do even blunders sound so much classier in other languages? I bet if that guy in the post office had screamed at me in French, I'd be eating croissants and smiling at the good ol' days. (* Photo - taken when Stink was supposed to be on "time out" but Squeak was "helping" him. Like a good mother, I told him "You have one minute left, sir, and before you get up... smile so I can take this picture!" Squeak had an unfortunate encounter between a toy dump truck this morning. Maybe it didn't like what she was calling it - see post below.)

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