I thought I’d share a normal week in my life to see if other parents can relate. As you read this, make sure you factor in these additional things: my wife and I both work; we both drive our three kids to an insane number of after school sports and activities (something we bring on ourselves so not looking for too much sympathy here); our weekends are 90% filled with kids activities/sports, which are often out of town; I have sleep issues that are now related to age, not kids; and we lost one of our two cats for a whole day last week only to realize he’d been stuck in the front hall closet since early in the morning when someone had gotten out a jacket and closed the door.
My week started with a Dermatologist appointment. The nurse was reading my chart and said, “I see you had skin cancer”. I said, “No, I haven’t”. “Yes, you had it in 2020.” “What?”. “You had squamous cell skin cancer on your neck in June of 2020”. Me: “That sounds vaguely familiar but 2020 was a bit of a blur”. She looked at me both mortified that I forgotten it and that I was so casual about forgetting about it. I later remembered that appointment in June 2020 because we had been in COVID lockdowns for ~3 months and I was so excited to have somewhere to go that I thought of the going to the appointment (aka torture chamber) to see a doctor I like as a mini social outing. How sad is that?
Back to the appointment. The nurse leaves shaking her head and I proceed to take off most of my clothes and put on a flimsy robe that is open in the front and covers very little, least of which is my ego, and then the Dermatologist comes in. We have had kids at some of same schools over the years and I’ve been to her house for a school party so, although we are not quite friends, we are friendly. We usually spend 15-20 minutes talking about life and kids and then another 15-20 with the actual appointment. I suspect she makes my appointments a little longer than most because of the business/social time suck aspect.
Dematologists always love me because my relatives descended from Ireland so I have very pale skin that I spent too many years trying to get tan. In my teens in Texas, I sunbathed without sunscreen and went to tanning beds but never got tan so I ended up either white or really burned with all the lifelong effects of too much sun. One friend used to say that that all my freckles made me look tan. Needless to say, there is always something interesting for Dermatoligsts to see, remove or, I suspect, tell other Dermatologists about. Sometimes they are actually giddy as they inspect me and my case study worthy skin.
On this day, we are talking about life, kids, our mutual love for Tahoe, and she asks if she can freeze 10 or so spots off my neck and hands and I say, “Sure. Why not?”. As I’m trying to ignore the immense pain, I look at my feet and notice that my second toe on my left foot is black and blue so I say, “I know this is not your job but can you look at my toe? It’s all black and blue”. She looks at it, tries to move it (it really doesn’t move) and she says, “It’s probably sprained but may be broken. Did you kick something really hard recently? Must have been painful.” I reply in a tired voice, “I have no idea and I didn’t even notice it until I just looked at it”. She looks at me with understanding mom eyes and tells me there is nothing I can really do about it other than let it heal.
Fast forward two days later when the spots she froze off have become puffed up and look like boils (nice visual, I know). My 11-year-old, Ellie, looks at me with horror when I pick her up from school, “What is that on your neck? It’s puffy with a red spot in the middle.” She rushes me to the car as I’m sure she doesn’t want her friends to see her mom who looks like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and I explain that the dermatologist went a little crazy with her freezing canister while we were chatting and then I say, “Maybe I should wear a turtleneck for a few days.” Ellie starts cackling with laughter and, after she can finally breath again, says, “Or you could just wear a scarf”. “Much better idea”, I say.
So I wore a scarf for a few days mainly because I do a lot of Zoom calls for work and didn’t want them talking about the new girl who has a hideous boil on her neck. When the weekend came, I ditched the scarf as I was going to be at a three day volleyball tournament for our thirteen-year-old, Lucy, and I was going to be in my winter weekend uniform of jeans, black shirt, fleece pullover, puffy jacket, and running shoes.
Ellie went to the tournament with us one day and she graciously pointed out that I still had the digusting boil on my neck. At that point, I was worn down from a normal week of working, parenting, and adulting, and said I really didn’t care any more what people thought of me (which took me fifty odd years to figure out). If another volleyball parent couldn’t stand to look at me because I had a hideous boil on my neck (Think Phoebe Buffay in Friends screaming, “My eyes! My eyes!”), that wasn’t the kind of parent I wanted to talk to anyway. So there.
Someone who thankfully was not afraid to talk to me was the older sister of one of the volleyball players. She is in high school and LOVES Taylor Swift. I was equally scared and excited to come out of the music closet to tell her that I have recently become a Swiftie. Lucy has had me listen to Taylor Swift for three years pretty much non stop (with a little Harry Styles thrown in). I told my new teenage Swiftie BFF that at first I started with appreciating her song writing, then I started to like her songs and now, if I’m being totally honest with her (and anyone who reads this), I listen to her a lot when Lucy is not in the car. A few years ago if you said I’d become a Swiftie, I would have asked what that was, laughed at the ridiculousness of that, and bet $100 that I never would. And once again I would have been wrong. (Taylor, email me at email@example.com if you are reading this).
One of our big coups of 2022 was that my wife expertly worked the Ticketmaster site on the day it broke (and the internet almost broke) and got Taylor Swift tickets for Lucy for her 13th birthday. We had both offered to take her and then realized we both wanted to take her so my wife got enough tickets for all of us and we’ll be seeing Taylor live this summer once and, possibly, twice. Sorry to gloat but I’m gloating. Just like when we were trying to have kids and I told people with a straight face that we decided to invest in sperm instead of gold, we recently invested in Taylor Swift tickets instead of crypto. If you need any financial planning advice, feel free to email me. And thinking ahead, I have already scheduled my next dermatologist appointment after the concert(s) so I won’t have any hideous boils as I’ll already be embarrasing enough as an old, tired mom wearing my “I love Taylor” t-shirt singing the words to all of her songs.
Speaking of my Taylor Swift loving Lucy, we were driving with her from one of the days of the aforementioned three day Volleyball extravaganza and she mentioned that a medicine she’s taking for her eczema makes her “feel uncomfy”. It was one of the rare times that my wife and I were both in the car with just one kid and we both said at the same time, “You mean makes you feel uncomfortable?”. Lucy said, “No uncomfy. It’s a word. Everyone says it.”. My wife and I both decided to co-opt the word and try to use it soon since all the kids are saying it. I have a visual of me on one of my many work Zoom meetings saying with a straight face, “Susan what you said makes me feel uncomfy”.
Speaking of feeling uncomfy (and grateful at the same time), our sixteen year old, Jackson, got his drivers license last month. We need his help to make the logistics of our life work (which is why I’m grateful and I think the uncomfy part speaks for itself). To make a very long story short, a volleyball parent gave us the lead on a cheap temporary car that we can use until we get a more permanent car we are waiting for from a family member. We ended up co-buying it with our son last week.
The day we bought the car, I had to pick up Ellie from water polo practice and I was late. She informed me I was eight minutes late and she was not pleased with my tardiness. I responded in an exhausted voice, “Since I dropped you off for practice, we bought a car and I got everyone their own individual pizza for Friday night dinner. And I’m only late because they made one of the gluten free pizzas with gluten so I had to wait for them to remake it. I expect a little more gratitude, please.” The gratitude didn’t kick in right away so I thought it was appropriate to sing, the “You’re Welcome” song from Moana. Now, I’m no Dwayne Johnson but I thought I sounded pretty good. Ellie was not pleased with my singing or my choice of songs so we decided to agree to disagree about my parenting status (which to get in the last word since I’m so mature, I think I should get at least an A for effort).
And right when my bruised parenting ego was starting to heal, the next day Ellie said, “Mommy, you should get your hearing checked. I have called your name several times today and you didn’t answer”. Upon hearing that, I was less concerned in the moment about possibly losing my hearing and more concerned with how I was going to fit a doctor’s visit on my “to do” list.
That pretty much sums up a typical week for me. I’m a huge believer that life is like a game of Jenga and if you take one piece out, it may be fine but you take a chance that it could all come tumbling down. So I’ll take all of the times as a parent that I am humiliated, late, schooled on my ignorance of any multitude of subjects, embarrass my kids with hideous boils, am constantly tired and hangry, broke from us paying for their gazillion extracurricular activities, driving my kids non stop to East Bejesus and back, if it means that I still get to have all the laughs, Taylor Swift sing-a-longs, hearing about their days on the drives, doing the wave with other parents on the sideline when they finally win a Volleyball game (yes, that happened last weekend), and a million other small but meaningful moments with my kids.
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