Six Years Later, I Can Finally Smile Again

Six years ago, my mom passed away. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, since she had been disappearing into her illness for over a decade. But it was still a shock when I received the call. My greatest fear finally materialized.

Every year since then, I post something sad about missing her. It’s still true. I still have moments where the pain knocks me to my knees. And while time hasn’t healed all wounds for me, it has offered the gift of distance and clarity. I am grateful that I can look back on memories of her and smile.

One memory in particular made me smile this year. I was close to my son’s age, maybe six or seven years old. My mother, the brave soul, took my toddler sister and me to India without my father, who kept working.

I barely go shopping for one hour and keep it together with my two kids, so I can only imagine the horrors of managing two little kids, plus enough luggage for two months, in the airports and plane bathroom for what feels like a two-day flight. By the time we reached my grandmother’s house, my mother must have reached the limits of her large reservoir of patience.

The day after we arrived in the middle of the night, I remember her sitting in the foyer, with a tired smile plastered across  her face.  She spoke with the flood of guests who “dropped in” to see my grandmother’s “American” daughter. And of course, like any other little kid, I kept interrupting her conversations because I needed my mother’s attention RIGHT NOW.

She lost her shit. My poor mother, who was always kind and patient, grabbed the colorful folds of her sari, jumped up from her chair, and chased me through my grandmother’s house in sandals. I was shocked, but amused. I had the same arrogance as my 6-year old son. “Mom will never catch me. I’m too fast.” So I sprinted down the long hall and she followed me. I ran by the kitchen. So did she. I ran through the dining room. So did she. I ran into our guest bedroom. So did she. I thought I would lose her by running across the bed. So imagine my surprise when she jumped on the bed and kept coming after me. I scurried out the door, into the yard, where I left my mother. I can still picture her, standing in the doorway, holding up her fist and shaking it at me, telling me what she’d do if she caught me interrupting her with a guest again. I hid from her for the rest of the day.

And so today, I’m smiling. For the first time since she died, on the anniversary of her passing, I’m finally smiling when I think of her. I love you, Mom. Thank you for the gift of that memory.

The Five Reasons That I Love Starbucks

Clearly, I have addictive tendencies, because in addition to my Facebook “issue,” I have another problem.  Starbucks.

I spend way too much money at Starbucks.  It’s ridiculous.  Who pays $4-$5 for a cup of coffee?  What am I getting for the money?  Some steamed milk, espresso shots and flavored liquid sugar.  I mean, syrup.

So, what is it about that place that keeps luring me in?  Why don’t I take all of the money that I spend on caramel macchiatos and buy something to improve the “slobby chic” look that I sport each day?  Here are five reasons:

The Unlimited Supply of Caffeine

I’ll be honest.  I gave up coffee during pregnancy, so for a while, I functioned like a normal human being without it.  But after my daughter was born, I regained my dependency on caffeine.  Once again, I suffer from headaches without coffee.

So why don’t I just stay home and brew my own coffee?  You can’t see me, but I’m making a face.  I spend my days getting food and drinks for other people (a.k.a. the kiddos).  To me, it’s worth looking like a hobo to have someone bring me a drink for a change.

The Smell

I’m a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I do my best to keep the house clean and fresh.  But in the battle against stink, I’m losing.  Each day, I play two games:  “What’s that smell?” and “Where is it coming from?”  Is it food?  Is it old diapers?  Is it small animals?  I have no idea.  I think the kids are secretly stashing crap under the floor boards.  Why?  Either to get me to take them out of the house or to drive me crazy.

They’re successful on both fronts.  I can stay home with them and remain ensconced in the stench of decomposition.  Or I can go out in to the world, see real adults, and inhale the aroma of freshly ground coffee at Starbucks.  It’s no contest.  Coffee beats decomposition.

The Greeting

My children are adorable.  They really are.  But the way they greet me each morning leaves something to be desired.  My four-year old son growls at me.  I didn’t think I’d have to deal with this for another ten years, but yep.  He’s already a cranky nightmare when I have to wake him up for school.  My one-year old daughter smiles until I place her on the changing table.  Then she winds up to bite, slap or kick me in the face.  For some reason, she prefers to sit in her own filth.

When I go to Starbucks, no one growls at me.  Someone actually smiles without physically assaulting me.  It’s a refreshing change.

The Language

As a SAHM, I don’t get to travel much anymore.  I mean, my kids watch Barney and during the past season, that dopey purple dinosaur has been visiting different countries.  But he still speaks in English, so I don’t consider that foreign language immersion.  When I go to Starbucks, I get to pretend that I’m visiting a foreign country.  And not just any foreign country.  A really snooty foreign country where they treat you like garbage if you don’t speak their language.

For those of you who don’t know, Starbucks has its own language.  It’s called Bux-ese.  I’ve spent the past decade studying it, so I’m fairly fluent.  I can order a grande, nonfat, no foam, extra drizzle, caramel macchiato like a native.  So see, kids.  It pays to stay in school.

The “Crappy to Happy” Hour Shift

The social calendar at our house includes a daily event called “Crappy Hour.” Everyone is invited, but the only people who show up are my son, my daughter and me. It involves a lot of blatant defiance, yelling and tantrums. My husband manages to leave the house right before it starts. His excuse is work, but I have my doubts. I think he’s just going to Starbucks.

Once I manage to drop my son off at school without pulling the hair out of my head, I have thirty precious minutes before I have to rush my daughter back home for the morning nap.  Apparently, I’m not the only one with this window of opportunity. Sometime after nine in the morning, a herd of stroller-pushing SAHM’s descends on the local Starbucks. All of us have the same frazzled look.  We just survived Crappy Hour. It’s time for Happy Hour. Or Happy Half Hour. Whatever it is, we’ll take it.