The Mean Mommy

I will admit I was sometimes “mean” to my kids. Sometimes it was funny. Oh, I don’t mean I physically abused them, or even (I hope) mentally tortured them. But once in a while . . .

One morning when X-Chromo was about 6-years old, she asked me, “What does no Pablo espanol  mean?”

Without missing a beat, I answered her. Literally. “No Spanish Paul.”

She did not like that answer. At all.

I could have asked, “Do you mean no hablo espanol?”  and translated that for her. (I don’t speak Spanish.)  But I didn’t. Because Mean Mommy was alive and well that morning.

But the beautiful part was when my husband came downstairs to join us for breakfast, unaware of the ongoing drama.

“Daddy! Mommy won’t tell me what no Pablo espanol means. What does it mean?”

My husband, without missing a beat, replied: “No Spanish Paul.”





Music: Monday Songs

I love to make music mixes with themes. Right now, I’m putting together a list of songs about Monday.

Some titles are easy (for a woman of my generation):

  • Manic Monday (The Bangles)
  • Monday, Monday (The Mamas & the Papas)
  • Rainy Days & Mondays (The Carpenters)
  • Monday Morning (Fleetwood Mac)
  • Come Monday (Jimmy Buffet)

Others I had to dig for:

  • I Don’t Like Mondays (Tori Amos–yes, I know it’s a Boomtown Rats song, but I prefer the Tori Amos cover)
  • It Sure is Monday (Mark Chestnutt)
  • Stormy Monday (Allman Brothers or Cream, both versions are great)
  • I Don’t Have to Be Me’Til Monday (Steve Azar)
  • Monday Morning (Melanie Fiona)
  • Monday Morning (Death Cab for Cutie)
  • Long Monday (John Prine)
  • Blue Monday (the Flunk Version)
  • Memphis Monday Morning (Bobby Blue Bland)
  • Except for Monday (Lorrie Morgan)  (borderline made it)
  • It’s Got to be Monday (Doug & the Slugs)
  • Monday Morning Quarterback (Frank Sinatra)
  • Monday Mourning (Bolder Damn)

Songs I found that won’t make my mix:

  • New Moon on Monday (Duran Duran)
  • Monday (Wilco)
  • Monday Morning Church (Alan Jackson)
  • Can’t Get Blue Monday Out of My Head (Kylie Minogue)

Got a Monday song I’m missing?

A Thanksgiving Memory

My mother had a classic set of nesting Pyrex bowls.

Only the blue and yellow ones survived. She used the blue one for mixing up the gravy thickening. Nowadays, it usually contains Jell-O.  The yellow one had many purposes. Most often it was for popcorn. But Thanksgiving day it had an even more delicious duty.

Thanksgiving Eve we would, as a family, lay out slices of bread. We covered the kitchen table and all the counters with bread. Then early Thanksgiving morning, we sat around the and broke the now-stale slices into small pieces and put them in the big yellow bowl while Mom chopped celery and onions.  We had to prepare the dressing (some of you may know it as stuffing, but we called it dressing) so it could cook inside the turkey.

Thanksgiving dinner was a family project. From setting a festive table, to sprinkling the paprika on the cream-cheese stuffed celery, to literally breaking the bread, we all chipped in.

What are some of your Thanksgiving memories?


Mommy Files: Birthday Cake Fiasco

My husband and I grew up in different cultures. He’s from a high-rise in the Bronx. My roots are in rural upstate New York. His mother bought his birthday cakes at the corner bakery. My mom baked mine from scratch.

When our children were young, I decided it would be fun for the three of us to bake my husband a birthday cake ourselves. Y & X-Chromos enthusiastically agreed. From scratch! We had such fun, measuring, stirring, tiptoeing around so the cake wouldn’t fall in the oven.

But Mommy made two mistakes. It had been so long since I’d baked and frosted/decorated a cake, I forgot one important thing, and didn’t consider a second important thing.

  • We didn’t wait for the cake to completely cool before we frosted and decorated it. Oops.
  • Even worse, we needed a place to hide the cake so TV Stevie wouldn’t see it. So we put it in the oven. Which also hadn’t completely cooled. Double-oops.

The next day, TV’s birthday, I discovered those errors. Oh, the cake was edible. But the decorations had melted into the frosting, making a pastel tie-die effect.

I think that was the last time I attempted to bake cake. The Chromos and I settled for a future of baking quick breads and cookies. X-Chromo spent many hours in college perfecting the art of molasses cookies.

At least I didn’t traumatize the children.



Neighbor of My Youth

As previously mentioned, I grew up in a rural neighborhood. This could be a challenge when selling Girl Scout cookies, which we did door-to-door back then. In March. In Upstate NY, where it snows a lot. My cousin and I, the same age, next-door-neighbors, would sell together. She’d sell one house, I’d take the next. A team effort.

That’s how we knew people. Or of them. Like Bill Peavert. Mr. Peavert lived in a shack. He heated the shack with a wood stove. He had a note thumbtacked to his door: “If you hear music, I’m home.” Mr. Peavert didn’t drive, that I recall. He always bought cookies from us, carefully counting out his money from a change jar.

My mom and one of her friends up the valley used to joke about wearing their “backless frontless gowns” and going out with Bill Peavert.

When he passed, I think we were all surprised to learn he had a son.

I have two other memories of Mr. Peavert. One night, my step-grandfather, who lived next door to us, called because someone was trying to break into the house. Dad grabbed his twenty-two and went to take care of the matter. Turns out Mr. Peavert had gone on a bender and thought he was home and was upset he couldn’t get in. Dad loaded him into the car and drove him home.

Several years later, my folks had picked me up from a party one Friday night. As we were turning off the highway onto our road, we saw something flailing in the ditch.  Dad pulled over to investigate. Mr. Peavert was drunk again. I scrambled into the front seat with Mom. Peavert recognized my father. “Ain’t you the sum-bitch who tried to shoot me?” “Yes,” Dad replied, as he folded the man into the backseat. We drove Mr. Peavert home again.