"How to Teach Your Son to Shave"

"How to teach your son to shave"

Those are the words I typed into Google last week. I wanted to type in, "Help! I'm a single mom who rarely shaves her legs! How do I teach my boy to shave his beautiful round sweet baby face?" but opted for a more succinct question instead.

Henry is 15. I caught him clipping his mustache hairs using a pair of hot-pink kid size scissors we keep in our cluttery "school supplies" bin along with the hodgepodge collection of colored pencils, washable markers and other vestiges of elementary school. "Henry!" I exclaimed. "You know there are special tools made for removing whiskers from your face? We can get you a razor, silly!" I said, because woe is the mother who ignores an opportunity to be sarcastic.

He looked at me, backwards in the reflection of the mirror. "But I don't know how to use one" he said.

My reply was one of my standbys:

"How hard can it be?"

So we went to Walgreens and bought us a razor. It took me a few minutes to gather my wits about me, after seeing how expensive these contraptions are.  $35.00 for a pack of replacement blades? Seriously, Schick?

You may be wondering how it is that the world of shaving seems so foreign to me. Aren't I the proud parent of a facial-hair bearing 19 year old man? Yes. Yes I am. However, Charlie was blessed with the hirsuteness of his mama...meaning he has a very Shaggy Rogers like scruff on his chin and a few random hairs on his upper lip. Santa put a razor in his Christmas stocking one year and that was the last I heard (or saw) of Charlie's whiskers.  So I assumed that it was like an instinctual thing, you know? Give him the razor, and ages of man wisdom takes over. Like when a cat has kittens. They just know what to do.

Henry, however, is going to have a more Grizzly Adams-like beard. I should have been able to guess that, what with his bushy blond Groucho Marx eyebrows and all.  This boy was going to have more lawn to mow, if you know what I mean. The child scissors were definitely not going to cut it for long.

When we got home from Walgreens, Henry headed into the bathroom with his shiny new razor. A few minutes later he came out and said to me:

"I have no idea what I'm supposed to do, mom."

This was one of those times when the anger and frustration with my ex-husband come out of left field. They come out, and they do so with unexpected force.

"This is a father's job!" they whisper in my ear.
"What kind of man isn't around to teach his son how to shave! For shame!"

I imagine, for a second, my ex lovingly teaching his newest son, his Spawn, how to shave. Like a Norman Rockwell painting, they are. Standing in front of an old timey mirrored medicine chest, Big Daddy tall and with a face full of foam, a small towel draped over his shoulder as he beams at the shorter version of himself, standing in front of him with a smaller, foam-covered face.  The faint sounds of a barbershop quartet can be heard in the distance.....

Then I come back to reality. My reality. My son's reality.

"Mom, can you teach me how to do this?" he asks.

I have to inquire, though..."Why don't you ask your dad to help, next time you're at his house?"

Henry shrugs, looks down at the floor. "I'd just rather do it here. Not there."

I smile at him, trying to let him know that it's okay without letting him know that I think it's pretty damn sad. Okay, and sad.

That's when I found myself sitting in front of the computer, Googling "How to Teach Your Son to Shave".  I watched a couple of videos, read a few man-to-man directions, and actually found another single mom who, in desperation, consulted millions of strangers on Yahoo! Answers with the same question.

Turns out, in the end, it's not super difficult. It's just a matter of how to hold the razor, which way to pull, down or up. And trying to avoid shredding your face.

All of which my Henry has learned to do. With great aplomb.

And a little help from his mom.



It's been a while since I've done a Ten!  All of the planets are aligned tonight, however...I've made dinner, the kids are all getting along, I'm in that sweet slice of evening between not-tired-enough-to-relax and can't-keep-my-eyes-open. It's time for a Ten, people.

1. Blood, vomit or poop: what would you rather clean up? In my line of work it's not uncommon to deal with all three of these bio-hazards (sometimes all in the same day). My co-workers and I have all declared which one is "ours" to handle when it may come up (haha...get that pun? Come up?). Me? I can handle vomit. In fact, I could probably clean up puke with one hand while stuffing a sandwich into my mouth with the other. Seriously. And poop. I'd probably put the sandwich down while cleaning up the crap, but after a thorough hand-washing I'd be good to go.

But not blood. I cannot handle blood. If a child comes up to me, crying and bleeding, I have to compose myself enough to find one of the other teachers. It's not just the blood, it's the added insult of seeing one of the kids, ANY of the kids, hurt. That just makes my mommy senses tingle...and not in a good way.

2. Speaking of tingling senses....I've discovered an old/new show on Netflix: "Longmire". It's about a sad, sexy sheriff in Wyoming who reminds me of Harrison Ford without that goofy old-man earring. And Lou Diamond Phillips is on it too. I used to think his head was freakishly small but I have to say, he's aging well. So now I have to alternate between that show and doling out the last few episodes of "Psych". Which, if you haven't watched yet? You're missing out on some serious guffaws. If you liked Scrubs..you'll like Psych. Imagine J.D. and Turk as Psychic Investigators. There.

3. Fellow curly haired ladies? What's the best smoother product you've found? I got about 7" of hair cut off my Duggar mane and for some reason this shorter length does nothing but frizz out. It's like a grayish orangish version of this greatness right here:

My God, that woman was funny.  *sniff*

4. So you'd think that a little cup containing nothing but pink grapefruit slices would be a relatively guilt-free snack, right? I bought a big container of them at Costco last week. Didn't even bother using my Weight Watchers Points Plus calculator. The nutritional information is in really small print and I didn't have the right lighting. So after inhaling a container of them during my lunch, I took advantage of the good lighting and plugged in the info. 3 points! Usually fruits and veggies are zero points. I was so sad. I had visions of me eating these cups all day long. I wish they were packed in water, not juice (insert unhappy fat girl emoticon right here).

5. Aaaaand that was where my eyes shut last night. Hence the title of today's post. But I'm awake now and have an hour before work and I feel the blog mojo coursing through my veins so here we go.

6. Sometimes when I'm out walking, I think of baby names. If I had another boy, I'd name him Walter. Yes, after my dog. I am fully aware of the fact that my poor old ovaries are like two hideous maracas rattling in my pelvic region but this is where my mind wanders on walks. These are my imaginary babies so please, no judging. I'd name my pretend baby girl Marilyn.

7. Speaking of babies, I had a funny memory this morning. For a few years after Big Daddy left, Molly was hellbent on getting a sweet little baby sister from China. In fact, for a persuasive argument essay in elementary school, she wrote out the most earnest, most persuasive argument ever about why I should have adopted a baby girl from China (my favorite line, "Mom, wouldn't it be fun to have three girls in our house?"). Don't think my enabling ass didn't think about it for a nanosecond. But then I remembered that I had four kids who were already beginning to resemble the cast of South Park plus I was pretty sure you are required to not be a broke single mom in order to adopt.

But if my ship ever does come in? I'm totally going to figure out how to do it.

8.  You know those moments you have, when you're talking to someone and they say something so outrageously offensive or inappropriate that you cannot believe what you're hearing? And it's not until later that day, when you're alone in your car or in the bathroom, when you conjure up a really good response?  I was talking to someone a couple of weeks ago, and they said, "I still think it's funny how dysfunctional kids are drawn together at school. Like messed up moths to a flame." Yeah. They said that, to me. The responses I came up with later that day are far too numerous and bitchy to type out. I'm still not quite believing they said this to me.

9. I'm pretty much over the middle aged hipster thing. If I see one more graying, ironic beard or handlebar mustache I might have to get physical. Don't get me wrong...there's a place and a time and a face for facial hair. But dudes...we get it. You're still cool even though you're getting older. Relax. That Temple of the Dog t-shirt says it all.

10. And speaking of dogs..I'm reaching that creepy point in my dog-ownership where the realization that dogs don't live a long time is sinking in. A few of Walter's buddies have died over the past year, and it's hard to think about. I catch myself looking at him for signs of age.."Is he walking funny? Do his hips hurt? I bet his hips hurt. My God..he's dying." And I've started saying to the kids, "He's not going to be around forever, you guys...LOVE HIM." He's only 7. I need to get myself out of this mindset, so I've been forcing myself to just love him and to make sure he is happy. Which means many long walks, those awful bones he likes from the meat section of the grocery store (don't get me started on how sad cows make me, people) and enjoying special Jenny/Walter time on the Golden Girls Porch.

Dammit, now I'm all misty and it's time to go to work. Here's a funny that my friend Amanda shared the other day. She gets me. She really gets me.

Happy Hump Day!


"Husband Leaving, Need Hope and Strength"...Let's give her some.

Sometimes I forget the reason I started blogging. Some days I forget about that moment, a little over three years ago (!), when I sat down, logged onto Blogspot and created The Happy Hausfrau. My goal wasn't to become popular, it wasn't to seek revenge. My goal was simple:

I wanted other women going through a very particular kind of hell, the shitstorm of having your husband leave you, to know they weren't alone.

I wanted to tell my story, because I still remembered what it was like, those first few weeks and months after he left. How utterly alone I felt. I knew what it was like to sit down at the end of a long day, weary and sad and feeling the weight of the world and all of its unknowns settling down on my broken shoulders.

I knew what it was like to trudge, in a zombie-ish fashion, throughout the day wearing all sorts of masks:

The "Strong Lady" mask
The "Tough Chick" mask
The "Super Mom" mask

And I remember, oh-so-clearly, what I saw in the mirror when I took off those masks. I saw a woman who had been crushed. A woman who was surrounded by people all the live long day but had never felt so isolated. A woman who so desperately needed to know that she was going to be okay. That her kids were going to be okay. That everything was most certainly going to be okay.

I wrote a post called "What To Do When Your Husband Leaves You". And then a follow up to that post. As of today, the original one has had almost 100,000 views. With dozens more coming every day. Sometimes I look at the little application that tells me what search terms people have used to find this blog of mine. Sometimes they're amusing: "fat naked housefraw" "what does a pound of fat look like" and my personal all time favorite, "hairy hausfrau".

The ones that are always there, though, are the not so funny ones. "What do I do when husband leaves" "my daughter's husband left her with two little ones" "husband leaves after 25 years". And the one I read this morning that touched me so much:

"Husband leaving, need hope and strength"

I wanted to reach out to the woman who typed that one. I want to find out who she is, I want to sit down with her and hold out a box of tissues for her while she tells me her story. I want to hold her close and comfort her and tell her that everything is going to be okay.

I'm not a liar. I don't like to give false hope. I think the harsh reality of this life is, sometimes it sucks. Things happen that we aren't prepared for. Things happen that scare the crap out of us, threaten to ruin us. Things happen that leave us feeling depleted. Defeated.

The other reality of this life, the one that isn't so harsh? It's that life goes on. These things happen and they hurt and they almost kill us. But we get up, we assess the damage. Some of us look around, furtively, to make sure nobody saw us fall. And then we do something that amazes us.

We carry on. We get out of bed, sometimes we shower. We make lunches and balance checkbooks and answer emails. Some of us go to work, some of us stay home. We visit therapists and college admission offices and food shelves. We go on field trips with our kids, we take walks by ourselves just to hear the sound of our feet making contact with the road.

We go to church or synagogue or mosque or Macy's. We gather our friends around us, we find out which ones are in it for the long haul and which ones we need to set free. We comfort our babies. We get dogs.

We do what we need to do. What our kids need us to do. What the world expects us to do.

And then, one day...something miraculous happens. Yes, we shower, but something even better than that. One day we wake up and we realize that the hurt doesn't hurt so bad anymore. We look at our kids and realize that they are growing up and doing the things normal kids do. We realize that over the past few months, we've been the ones helping our friends out, instead of the other way around.

We realize that we are indeed okay.

Look at me, ladies. Look at this hot mess I am. I lost everything that was mine just a few short years ago: my husband. My house. My comfortable, predictable life.

My life now? It's not all wine and roses, people. I don't have a 401k or even a savings account. I don't own, I rent. I drive a used car that has a fair amount of duct tape holding one of the side mirrors together. I gain and lose the same 25 pounds every year. I have one kid who grapples with mental demons every day, one kid who has a slight anger management problem, one kid who will deal with daddy issues the rest of her life and a kid who is wrestling with puberty. I've dated a bunch but have yet to fall in love, and I'm beginning to think that it's my destiny to be the eccentric single lady for the rest of my days. I have a vibrator somewhere but due to panic over the kids finding it I have hidden it so well that the freaks on "Storage Wars" will unearth it before I do.

I work 3 part time jobs, pieced together like a patchwork quilt in order to make ends meet. Hell, I don't even have a guaranteed job for next fall. I'm worried about this summer and about the rest of my life.

But...I'm here. I'm alive. I'm relatively happy. I shower at least 4 times a week. I have made so many good friends, and hung onto so many of the old ones that I can't venture out my front door without running into one of them. A couple of weeks ago, I stood up in front of 500-plus people and read out loud. Read a story I wrote about a stupid pasta bowl that made me cry.

I have made huge progress since that day my husband left me. Am I success story? I don't know about that. But I do know I am an "okay story". And I want those ladies, those sweet and sad and lost ladies out there, to know that they will be okay stories too. They already are.

I don't ever ask you guys to share anything I've written. I loathe the thought of pimping out my blog, of begging for comments or likes or whatever. But I want you to do something for me, and more importantly, for the women who are just now asking for hope and strength:

Share this. And add YOUR story to it. Comment here with your own advice. Tell me, and our new sisters, what gave YOU hope and strength when you needed it the most. Here's your chance to chime in and describe how you felt then, and how you feel NOW. Tell us about the day YOU knew you were going to be okay.

I'm still tweaking my never-ending manuscript that will hopefully become a book. One thing that has been stumping me is the epilogue, the "happily ever after" ending.

I think a chapter written by ALL of us would be kind of kick ass.  Don't you?

A chapter called, tentatively, "Okay Ever After: Stories of Hope and Strength".

Get to typin', girls. We all want to hear your story.


Stuff I Think of on a Thunderstormy Saturday

I'm sitting on the Golden Girls Porch of Love, drinking some of my special homemade iced coffee (no, there isn't booze in, that's NOT what makes it special) and listening to a spectacular thunderstorm/downpour. This is the best spot to be on a stormy Saturday morning. I thought I'd share some of my musings with you while it rains.

1. Today is my William's birthday. I wrote a little birthday essay for him earlier this year in order to have a complete set for my manuscript. As of this moment, I have four teenagers. I didn't really think about that back in my breeding days, did I? They were all so cute and chubby and funny. I've been going through a little stress with William lately, the brain knows it's just hormone/teenager/puberty developmental stuff but the heart hurts more than a little. Like I told my friend in the teacher's lounge over lunch the other day, "Parenting is hard!". Understatement of the year. P.S. Thanks for listening to me, Joyce.

2.  Do you watch The Voice? I'll say I don't, but I really do. Rather, I eavesdrop on it when Molly has it on. Is it just me or does Blake Shelton always look like he smells something icky? And how awesome is it when one of the contestants speaks Spanish and Shakira starts gabbing with them in Espanol? I wish I knew another language. And Adam Levine. Is he hot, or is he not? I can't decide. He reminds me of every cool popular boy I ever had a crush on, who wouldn't give me the time of day. Unless they wanted some intel on one of my hot friends. Screw you, Adam. She may have great hair but she doesn't GET how funny Bill Murray is, like I do. Oops. Sorry. Got lost in thought there for a minute.

3.  Yesterday, as I was walking into school, a friend of mine stopped me and said, "There's a whole bunch of porn downloaded on my laptop." At first I was like, "Okay!" thinking she was telling me where to find it if I needed it. And then it dawned on me that she was telling me one of her kids had done it.  Refer to my understatement of the year above. Parenting really is hard. Also, my friend has no idea how to delete the files now. I told her I'd ask around. Meaning, I'll ask Charlie.

4. File this one under my oddball crushes: there is a State Farm commercial that depicts a married man whispering into the phone in the middle of the night. The wife busts him, and demands to speak to "Jake from State Farm" (complete with air quotes). I love that commercial, and I have a sick wanting of the husband in it. Imagine my delight when I saw that same couple in a new commercial for something else. I actually gasped and poor Henry, who happened to be in the room with me, had to listen to me joyfully recap how great I think it is that my boyfriend from the State Farm commercial is branching out. Henry left the room, but not before saying: "I think you may watch too much t.v., mom."

Henry may be right.

5. You know I'm always on the lookout for a great hand lotion. Whenever I have a little extra cash, I like to try a new brand. Oh yeah..I know some women buy new purses or jewelry when they have some change jingling in their pockets. I buy hand lotion. Because that's how my broke ass rolls, ladies. Anyhoo...I bought a bottle of this stuff:

Because, don't you think corn huskers would totally have chapped, dry hands? And if there's a lotion made just for them, surely it will rock.

But, it doesn't. In fact, putting it on my poor dry hands was a painful experience. It felt like hand sanitizer (which I can't stand, by the way). I checked the label and the third ingredient is: alcohol. Apparently corn huskers want their hands to be red and sting. So then my homie Danielle turned me on to this:

I could go on a tangent about udders and my years of breastfeeding, but I won't. I will say that I love this stuff. It smells a little like baby lotion, too, which every peri-menopausal mother of four teenagers loves. When I'm feeling stressed I smell my hands and it brings me back to the days of soft baby butts and shiny pink gummy smiles that melted my heart. Of course, then someone will yell "MOM! We're out of toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom!" and reality crashes back in but you know what? My hands are soft. It's all good.

6.  Did I tell you guys about my recent windfall? I got $3,000.00 as part of a nationwide settlement against some of the banks that were behind the spate of foreclosures over the past few years. Including mine. Of course, since the universe has a twisted sense of humor, the check went to Big Daddy. One night I was downstairs, doing laundry, when William came prancing down and announced, "Our dad is at the front door. He wants to see you." I thought he was kidding at first, but lo and behold..there he was, goatee on his face and a damp check in his hand (it was drizzling out). "Hey!" he said, like we were old friends who hadn't seen each other for a while. "Hey! I don't know if you've heard about this settlement thing, for people who lost their homes?". I looked at him. I wanted to say, "Oh you mean PEOPLE LIKE ME? Like your KIDS? YEAH I'VE HEARD A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT". But instead I just said, "Yeah, I have." He held the check up and said, "For some reason this came to my house, and it's made out to both of us." I squinted in the dim light of the front steps. Yep. There we were. The both of us. "I will sign it, but first I need you to sign this little note I drew up." He passed over a handwritten document that said something about how me, the undersigned, absolved he, the other guy, of any taxes or other fees that would come of this financial bounty. "You're going to have to pay taxes on this next year," he explained to me, slowly and carefully as if explaining  to a feeble old lady how she's going to be placed in a nursing home but not to worry.

So of course I signed it, knowing that this was all I was ever going to see as far as losing my house was concerned. Knowing full well that this $3,000.00 was going to cost me about $1,500.00 on my taxes next year, which left me with $1,500.00 of hush money to spend as I saw fit. Because I have a bunch of kids and money is money, you know? I guess in the end it means that in exchange for losing my home, going bankrupt and having my credit ruined I got $1,500.00.  Sounds like a deal to me!

I hated him at that moment. I hated the fact that he was holding this money over my head, like you hold a treat over a dog in order to get her to sit or roll over. I hated seeing his handwriting, hated seeing the "X" he drew, pointing out where I was supposed to sign. Hated myself because at that moment, one of the things I was thinking about was, "I look so fat".

So I took that cash money and put it in the bank. I spent $250 of it on a Samsung Chromebook. Because my laptop was dying.  I hate spending money, have I mentioned that? It kills me to do it. The whole time the guy at Best Buy was ringing me up (isn't that a quaint term now, 'ringing me up'?) I kept thinking "Oooh jeeze I shouldn't spend this. I shouldn't spend this." Going broke does a number on your mind. Makes you kind of kooky as far as money is concerned.

Now I have the Chromebook, and while it's lightyears better than my old dying Dell, it leaves a lot to be desired. But it's tiny and I can now sit in bed, watch old episodes of Psych on Netflix and get all writery. To quote the farmer in Babe:

That'll do, pig.  That'll do.  It will do for now.

And that WILL do it for me. It's stopped raining, and I have a birthday boy to love up..hormones and all.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.


Encyclopedia Brown and The Case of The Mysteriously Disappearing Dad Weekends

There are times I wish I was a bit more fastidious about record-keeping. Actually, at all fastidious would be nice. Time was, I uSersed to keep track of when the kids were with their father. I was, in all truthfulness, a wee bit fanatical about it. If he was 10 minutes early to pick them up, I'd jot it down. Late dropping them off by more than 10 minutes? That would be duly noted as well. Why? Well, why not? I was told by my attorney back then, to "keep records". And so records were kept.

For about a year or so, he was pretty good about taking the kids for "his" times.  The kids went without a fuss, at first. They'd hug me goodbye and I'd wave to them as they sped down the street and tried my hardest to not cry as the backs of their heads grew smaller and smaller and then, disappeared around the corner.

At first, those weekends were awful. As moms, we are so conditioned to chaos and noise and sheer BUSYNESS that to be faced with a silent house, and 48 hours of alone time is shocking, to say the least. But I am nothing if not adaptable, and soon I actually started looking forward to these little breaks twice a month.

I think things started disintegrating around the time Charlie had his troubles. He didn't go to his dad's house for a full year after that. And once he did start going again, it was sporadic. Molly followed suit, and over the past year or so, the two younger boys have been seeing less and less of their father.

I haven't had one of those chaos-free, kid-free weekends in so long. I can't remember the last time they were all over there, with their father, for more than a couple of hours. It's been at least three years.  

Do I miss those quiet, peaceful weekends? Those four days a month when I didn't have to schlep people around, didn't have to feed armies of children or fight for the remote?  

Yes. And, no.

Yes, because who wouldn't want just a few blessed hours of QUIET each week? I'm not a big enough martyr that I want to starve my soul that way. I need silence once in a while. Not long stretches of it, of course, because that's when I start talking to myself and my dog, but a few hours here and there are absolutely RECHARGING.  I remember those Me Weekends fondly. Catching up on my Netflix queue, sleeping alone (or sometimes, sleeping with someone other than two or three flailing kids). Ordering take-out and actually taking my time to eat it. Cleaning a bathroom and having it stay clean for HOURS. And the parties..oh I loved those first few hen parties. 

But...when the kids are here, I am whole. I may be crabby some of the time, may be harried, but I am complete when they are near.  When they're gone, I miss them. I miss laughing with Molly, debating with Charlie (because he's at that age where I am so utterly stupid-how I manage to breathe on my own, let alone get through a day without assistance is beyond him)...I miss hearing Henry and his friends and their ever-deepening voices as they whoop it up down in the mancave. I miss the Sunday morning donut-runs for the kids and whoever has slept over. I miss taking walks with William and Walter and discussing what he wants for his birthday this year (it's a toss up between a red eared slider turtle and a couple of XBOX games...I'm leaning towards the turtle).  

When they're gone, I miss being a mom.

For the past year, I haven't missed them much. They almost never go to their dad's house, not for the Tuesday/Thursday dinner nights, not for the every-other weekends. And it leaves me feeling uneasy. Confused.

I want them to see their dad. They NEED to see him, spend time with him. It's essential for them, and dare I say it's pretty darn essential for him, too. I encourage them to go. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, when I'm at work and the Dad Pick Up Time draws near, I'll start to feel my phone vibrating with texts from them. They don't want to go to dad's house. They start coming up with excuses. 

"I have too much homework"
"I'm hanging out with friends"
"I don't feel good"  and lately:

"I don't want to see him"

That last one always gets me. Hits me right in my gut. I'll admit here, that there is still some tiny shrewish part of me that gets a sick bolt of self-righteousness from this. Some vindictive bitchy Jenny who cackles "SEE, ASSHOLE? THIS IS WHAT I WARNED YOU ABOUT WHEN YOU FIRST LEFT!". But she is quickly silenced by the New And Improved Me. The Nice Me. The me who still remembers this man as the good dad he was, and maybe, still could be:  I see him mowing the front yard with a toddler several paces behind him pushing the Fisher Price Bubble Mower. I see him playing games with Charlie on the second-hand Nintendo GameCube. I see the kids running out to greet him as he pulled into the driveway after a day at work. 

I see these things and I start to hurt for him. Yes, I hurt for the man who hurt me so much. I cannot fathom what it must feel like to be him, to have these four kids out there in the universe and not have relationships with them. How awkward it must be when people find out he's the father to four older children, other kids besides his new one, and they start to ask him questions. Questions that he might not know how to answer. Names of teachers they've had, what his daughter got on her ACT, what days William has hockey this summer. What they like to do, what books they're reading. Who they hang out with.  Can you imagine not knowing these things about your kids?

There are other, less-generous reasons that I hurt, too. It hurts me, to my core, when I find myself handling crisis moments alone. When I check William's grades online and see that he's failing a class. When Charlie confesses to me that he's not feeling "right" and I'm so scared all over again.  That's when I wish they would spend more time with their father. Not so I wouldn't have to handle these and other issues that arise, but so I wouldn't have to handle them by myself. I'm not fantasizing here, either. I don't picture Big Daddy and me, huddled together, working out a plan to help our kids get through life's labyrinth. No. That's not going to happen in this lifetime.

But it would be nice if just once, or twice, or every other weekend, he was the one they went to when they needed to unload or confess or gripe.

I think he owes that to them. And to some degree, he owes that to me. We made these babies together, I was under the assumption that we'd both be in it for the long haul. To leave your wife, your marriage...that's one thing. To leave your kids? That's something entirely different.

This is when the confusion sets in, when I'm hurting for both of us, for ALL of us, and the hurt turns to anger and resentment. Do I remind him? Do I nudge him to take his kids, the way you nudge a slacker friend to take her turn in Words With Friends (yeah I KNOW...I'm in Ruzzle land though...I'm sorry!)...or do I just let him be, let this grown man make his own parenting choices while I trudge behind him with a broom and clean up whatever messes those choices make?  Part of me wants to demand that he take them, all of them. I want him to man up and get authoritative with these children. I want him to raise his voice with them, I want him to grow a set of big old brass balls and get with his kids. I want him to act like a dad.

But the other part of me sees that my kids don't want to go. They have their reasons, some of these have been shared with me, others are kept closer to their collective vests. The protective momma bear thinks, "They shouldn't have to go where they don't feel wanted, welcomed. Loved." That's when I suck it up, I put more gas in the car and get out my old-school giant paper calendar from OfficeMax to see who has to be where at what time.

I guess there really isn't a mystery here, is there? Children know more than we give them credit for knowing. Their feelings are just as big and just as real as ours.  They know where they want to be, they know where home is.

And as badly as I need or want that elusive, seductive tramp called "Alone Time", I know my kids need to feel at home even more.


A Mother's Day Thank You Note to Ann Imig

Dear Ann,

You don't know me, but I feel as though I owe you a thank you note. My real life friends are probably chuckling right now, because thank you notes from me are something of an enigma. "Many are written, few are sent" you might say. But today, on this chilly Minneapolis Mother's Day, I am sitting down and I am writing this very public thank you note, to you.

I'll admit it: prior to January of this year, I didn't know who you were. I didn't know a thing about Listen To Your Mother. I'm not a big blogger. I don't have a bajillion followers, I don't get a hundred comments per post and I am what some would call "twitter-phobic". BlogHer has never, ever even sniffed in my general direction, despite a few spastic attempts by yours truly to get their attention.

I'm small potatoes.

But somehow, I did hear about you, and about LTYM, in January. I read about you, and your mission, and about LTYM. I read blog posts about it, watched the videos and then, I took a breath and submitted a piece I had written. In true Jenny style, I then second-guessed myself and submitted another one.

Guess which one they chose?

From that moment on, I became someone new. And it was about damn time.

You see, Ms. Imig, my life has been kind of hard for the past few years. Oh, don't get me wrong...it hasn't been as hard as it could have been. My kids and I are healthy. There haven't been any natural disasters. The only disaster we faced has been the oh-so-unnatural one called Divorce.

My husband walked out on us. Not once, but twice (long story). I've been raising my four children solo for the past 6 years. Without much help from the former love of my life...financial or otherwise. We've struggled, a lot. Lost our home. Dealt with emotional wounds, and then the scars those wounds left. We went from living a pretty good, comfortable life, a life of new shoes when we needed them and kick ass health insurance to a life of food shelves and free lunches at school.

The mom my kids have known for this period of time hasn't always been the ideal: They've seen me at my worst, at my most despondent. My most desperate. I've tried so hard to keep things normal and happy and warm for them, tried with all of my might to make sure I deflected the blows, shielded them from the harsh realities of this new world we found ourselves residing in.

This is where you come in. You, and your wonderful creation, Listen To Your Mother.

Being chosen to speak at LTYM gave me a little boost. A boost I didn't know I needed. For the past few years I've been sitting here, on the sweet porch of our rented home, or in my living room sitting on dilapidated Ikea furniture, or in bed late at night, typing out my thoughts and musings. I was content knowing that my wonderful, loyal, small group of readers were out there, nodding their heads and sometimes weeping along with me. It was all I needed. Or so I thought.

The first time I sat at that big table with the other writers in the Twin Cities Listen To Your Mother cast, I felt something big and bright and amazing. I listened to their stories, I told mine and I wanted MORE. I wanted to hear more from them and I wanted to tell more of my own stories. I wanted to get on a plane or in my car or on a train and go to each and every LTYM show and hear MORE.

I thought these feelings were big and awesome.

And then we took the stage.

This past Thursday, my posse of new best friends and I put on some lipstick, brushed our hair, cleared our throats and then got up on a stage and poured our hearts out for approximately 650 people.  And those people? They loved it. They clapped. They cried. They roared with laughter. We got a standing ovation, me and my friends. We clasped hands and we took bows (or rather, we attempted to take a bow..damn that stage was tiny!).

There were three members of the audience that night who needed to be there more than anyone else. Three people who deserved to hear their mom talk, to see her gussied up and standing tall.

Those three people were my kids (the fourth, my eldest, had a hot date and couldn't be there. I will go all Daniel Day Lewis on his butt later.."There Will Be Guilt").  One of my best friends did the best friend thing and gathered them up, bought them treats and sat with them in the audience that night. I saw their faces, waved hello and waited for my turn at the mic.

My heart felt as though it had somehow climbed into my throat. I could feel the sweat threatening my upper lip, my hands, my lower back. When our producer Tracy announced my name, my feet went on auto-pilot and directed me onstage. For the first few lines of my essay, my voice sounded strained, almost choked (no doubt due to my giant fluttering heart that was still wedged up where it shouldn't have been).

And then...and then.

Then I looked up. I squinted a tiny bit and I saw the faces of my children. My babies. My neck relaxed, my hands released their death-grip on the podium. I let my words, the words I wrote as an ode to my sweet family...I let them flow. Flow out as they were meant to do.

As quickly as it happened, it was over. I will admit, I was sort of anticipating that magical moment you speak of, that time in the lobby after the show when audience members seek out members of the cast to touch them, to say "Me too!". And that did happen. A friend I hadn't seen in forever came up and we hugged. A young, very hip woman in her twenties touched my arm and thanked me for my story. A woman in her 70's, a tall and lovely woman, stopped me and put her hands on my shoulders and had tears on her cheeks as she told me that my words made her cry (but in a good way, she assured me).

My kids, and a throng of my beautiful friends, were waiting for me, too. There were flowers and hugs and a couple bottles of wine (my friends, they know me). We posed for pictures, laughed and soaked up the ambiance for a bit.

My daughter, Molly, sidled up to me. She is 17, and quiet. She's my only girl, and I love her so hard it hurts some days. She whispered to me, "Henry was crying when you told your story. He was crying pretty hard." I looked over at Henry, my strapping 15 year old. He is 6'2" and he still calls me "Mama" and he says "Thank you" to every single cashier and waiter he encounters. I gave him a hug and asked him how he liked the show.

"I loved it, Mom." he said. I asked him if he liked what I had read. He paused for a minute, and then he said:

"I've never heard one of your stories, Mom. I never read any of them. When you talked about us tonight, about Dad...it made me think about everything. It made me cry a little." His eyes were clear and bright, there were no tears as he spoke. He, like his mama, does his mourning in the dark. In private. He hugged me, and as our faces touched he whispered to me:

"Thank you, Mom."

And this is why I am offering up my thanks to you, Ms. Imig. It's long and wordy but it's heartfelt and it's genuine.

Thank you. Thank you for your passion, for your love of all things Mom and for giving Mothers a place to tell our stories. Because of YOU, I was able to give my kids a gift. The gift of seeing me as I want them to see me, as I want them to remember me: polished up a bit, hair de-frizzed...standing proudly in the spotlight for a moment, telling my story. Our story.

My kids listened to their mother. And it's all thanks to YOU.




The Day Before Listen To Your Mother

I can still feel my legs shaking, still feel the horde of butterflies in my belly. I got a tiny bit lost on my way there, even though I had the directions clutched in my sweaty hand, written in kelly green colored pencil on the back of a MinnesotaCare payment envelope.

When I finally found the warehouse, I pushed aside that tiny spark of hysteria that whispered in my head: "Maybe this isn't an audition at all! Maybe the whole thing was a ruse set up by a band of sadistic serial killers who have a taste for middle aged women who write!!". I sat there, in my car, for just a moment and collected myself. Gathered all my crazy around me and just breathed for a few seconds.  Breathe in. Breathe out. "You can do this, Jenny" I said to myself. Made eye contact with the terrified woman in my rear view mirror. That sweet, tired woman who had been through so much. She started to protest: "But I look like hell. What if they hate me? What if I screw this up?"

I said it again, "You can do this"and then I stepped out of my car and into a new journey.

I followed the signs that said in bright red and sharp black: LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER AUDITIONS THIS WAY! and found myself at a nondescript, battered metal door. The sign on the door said WAIT HERE: WE'LL COME FOR YOU or something like that. I used this waiting time to check in on the facebook. "I'm nervous" I typed. Nervous. Ha. Understatement of the year.

A tiny woman with a halo of gorgeous white hair appeared at the door. "Is this one of them?" I wondered. "One of the producers?" I tried to appear...what? More writery? More mothery? She smiled at me and then said, "I forgot something in my car, it's almost my turn to audition. Would you hold the door for me?"
Ahhh...this was one of my fellow auditioners. I'll admit it here: for a brief second I considered letting her out, but not holding the door. In fact, I considered barring the door and tearing down the signs. "If no one else shows up, they'd HAVE to choose me, wouldn't they?" Sanity and decency prevailed, thankfully, and I held the door for her.

We gathered in the hallway outside of the audition room. There were four of us: my new friend from the door, a slight, younger woman who had just finished her audition and was filling out some paperwork, and a feisty redhead.  We tittered and gabbed and made small talk. Asked each other where we wrote, what we wrote and "are you nervous?".

The younger woman, the one who had already done it, told us: "They have chocolate."

My door friend was next. The feisty redhead and I sat there, shuffling papers, trying to prepare for something we were both unsure exactly how to prepare for. She told me her name was Kelly and that she was a feminist blogger. Or something along those lines. I remember thinking, "She has a nice voice...I bet they'll love her." I was starting to sweat a little, under my grey burka/poncho sweater.

My door friend, who in real life is named Carol, came out. She is a poet, who has published a book. She was worried that her piece wasn't what they were looking for. "It's short" she said. I tried to reassure her, saying, "Well, maybe that's just what they need...in between the longer stories. Like a sorbet..a palate cleanser." She laughed and we wished each other good luck. "Hope I see you again" she said.

The feisty redhead, Kelly, was next and instead of going over my essay, I sat there and listened. I heard the producers introducing themselves and then I heard Kelly read. I felt like a Peeping Tom (Listening Tom?) and was a little surprised to find myself crying as she got to the end of her tale. The producers burst into applause and my feisty redheaded friend emerged from the room. In my awkward, Hagrid-like manner, I asked if I could hug her. She complied, we hugged, and that was that. "Good luck!" she said to me as she collected her things and made her way down the hall.

Good luck.

I had lots of things that day. I had fear. I had hope. I had second and third and fourth doubts. I had the sniffles. Turns out, I did have some luck.  Because I made it.

My door friend, Carol, the one with the short and sweet literary sorbet? She made it too. So did the recipient of my odd affection, Kelly. We didn't see the younger girl again, the one who told us of the chocolate.  For some reason, her face was the first thing that popped into my mind when I got the email telling me I had been chosen. She had been waiting, I know, just as I had been waiting. Waiting and wishing and hoping, just like me.

Our show happens tomorrow night. Me and my 13 new friends (16 new friends if you count our amazing producers). I've been trying to find the words to describe how this experience has felt. Tried, several times, to write down exactly how it's made me feel, how it's already left such a deep impression on the surface of my life. I'm finding that instead of being at a loss for words, there are too many. Humbled. Honored. Empowered. Accepted. Loved. Worthy.

Worthy. For someone like me, the opportunity to take part in something like this is almost life-affirming. I hate to go back to the Divorce thing, but I do find myself there now and again. Being left by your husband is such a huge blow. So devastating to your self-esteem. There is no other rejection like it. Even though years have passed, the pain still comes. Still peeks out from corners to startle me with a quiet little "Boo!".

I don't want to give my ex-husband any credit for this, but in a way, he's the reason I'm in Listen To Your Mother. In some weird, roundabout manner, he has been my strongest inspiration. Who knows where I'd be now, if he hadn't left? Would I have started writing? Maybe. But something tells me that a blog about golf lessons and my part time job at Chico's wouldn't be as compelling as the stories I share now. The stories about loss and despair and sadness. The stories about survival and strength and rebirth.

The stories like the one I'll be telling tomorrow night.

Local friends, if you have the chance, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to get your butt down to the Riverview Theater tomorrow night. The words that these women have prepared for you will make you howl with laughter, they will make you sob from your soul, they will make you nod like a damn bobblehead thinking, "Oh my GOD I know what she means!!!".

I could not be more proud to be a part of this amazing adventure. Listen, my period showed up three days early.  I guess even that wench didn't want to miss it.

Here is the link to buy tickets (CLICK HERE, PEOPLE)...buy them today (Wednesday May 8th) and 20% of the sales will go to the Jeremiah Program. A place that helps single moms succeed.


Blogging With Friends

I learned an important lesson yesterday.

Yesterday I wrote a post, a post I really liked. It stemmed from a conversation I'd had with a friend, a really close and good friend. What the conversation was about is not important anymore. But what is important is the fact that it made me think about a lot of things, things that weren't even remotely related to what we had discussed.

I pulled the post just a few hours after I published it. This is only the second time in three (3?? really??) years of blogging that I pulled something I wrote. I hesitated because there was already some really interesting, and varied, feedback on it. But I did it, for one reason, and one reason only: to protect a friend.

If you, like me, fancy yourself to be a writer, you see the world differently than most. We tend to see life in paragraphs.  Every conversation, every drive to Target, hell...every shower is narrated by that little observer in our brains. My mind is constantly writing, even if my hands are nowhere near a laptop or pen and paper.

It's only natural for us to want to write about everything we see or do or touch or feel. That's just how we're wired. And usually, that works out okay for everyone. I'm sure my ex-husband would like to insert an "AHEM" right here, but since this is my blog I have the right to tell him to stick that ahem where the sun don't shine.  My real life friends, and those I've had the pleasure to meet virtually through this page and other places I've written, have been really good about being part of this bizarre online world of mine. They've been generous with themselves, allowing me to describe them and things we've done and gone through together.

Yesterday I felt as if I had crossed a line. My feelings had been hurt, and I did what is the writer's equivalent to curling up in the fetal postion and licking your wounds: I wrote about it. I told my friend about the post, and assured her that it was written in good fatih, not in a vindictive or passive-aggressive manner. Nobody knows who I had the conversation with, all I divulged was the fact that it was one of my friends who has a child. The list of "who could it be" is looooooong and dare I say, rife with some pretty kick-ass women. But a few hours after I posted it...I felt icky. I felt that unsettled, all-is-not-right feeling. And while in the bathroom stall at work, I went on my phone and reverted my post to draft form.  After that, I apologized to my friend and the bad feelings went away.  All was right again.

Here's the deal: I cherish my friendships. The bond I have with my friends is incredibly strong, yet at the same time, it's vulnerable and fragile. I don't want to put a single one of my friendships at risk. I don't want my beautiful group of hens to ever feel as though they are being recorded when we gab, that every single thing they say is fair game for one of my random blog posts.

I don't want my friends to be wary around me. One of the things I love most about the women in my life is their ability to talk about anything and everything. We can begin a conversation discussing politics and end up crying on each other's shoulders because someone called us a bad name in kindergarten. From my friends I have learned things that will stick with me forever (for instance, fold the damn clothes as you take them out of the dryer...takes just a few minutes longer and BAM they're folded. Thank you, Leslie!) and I have felt a kinship and a love that actually takes my breath away at times.

I'm going to take another look at the post I wrote, and see if I can rework it so that nobody I love will feel exposed. Because I think it's a topic that pretty much everyone has an opinion about, and it's yet another one of my shout outs to that ever-expanding club, Single Mamas.

It may end up never seeing the light of internet again, and that's okay too. Because I don't ever want my friends to wonder:

Where does the friend end, and the blogger begin?

P.S. Don't ever play the game Ruzzle. Do you hear me? NEVER. But if you do, start a game with me. My name on there is happyhaus. I only play late at night during the week, though, so be patient.


Single Moms: Something's Gotta Give

This past weekend, I had a hen party. The good women who run our elementary school's annual fundraising Silent Auction had asked if they could offer up a hen party at the humble abode of yours truly. As in, offer it up for bidding. Of course I said yes (have you ever known me to utter the word No?) and much to my surprise it was bid up to capacity in short order.

Had I known people would actually fork over cash for the privilege of drinking under my roof, I would have started putting out a tip jar years ago.

Anyhoo. As I was saying, the party was this weekend. It wasn't the absolute best weekend in my life to be having a party, what with the Listen To Your Mother show coming up THIS THURSDAY and all, but as my most practical BFF Michelle replied when I started bitching about it: Every weekend is terrible for someone. And so I sucked it up and tried hard to not pout as my more fastidious friends gave my house the equivalent of a whore bath (you don't know what a whore bath is? It's when you're short on time so only the essentials get cleaned. Yeah I know the word whore is derogatory but come on...you know it applies here) a couple of hours before Party Time.

Needless to say, the party was awesome. They always are.  I'm not saying that in a boastful way, either.  They just are.  The food was amaze-balls, the wine flowed freely and the conversations were captivating. There was some fresh meat at this one, and it's always fun for me to kind of sit back and watch as they transform, magically, into a full-fledged Hen. It's a beautiful thing.

We were supposed to be having this party on the lovely Golden Girls Porch of Love, but since this is May in Minnesota, and we'd just had snow the day before, the good times went down in my warmer, if somewhat less charming, living room.

And that's where we last revelers were gathered as things started winding down. My hens, they are something else. These women will actually clean up before they go home. I'm talking: wine glasses washed, leftovers packed up, recycling bags filled and lined up to be put out. Candles snuffed, pillows fluffed and everything in between. I love these ladies.

As the remaining four or so ladies bustled about, tidying up, one of my favorite hens approached me, and my daughter Molly. Molly had been home for the party, and at this point in the evening she emerged from her room to see if there were any delicious morsels left for her to pick at.

Before I go any further, I need to clarify this: the friend I'm referencing here is a wonderful woman, a girl I love with all my heart and with at least one ovary. She has helped me out in so many ways I cannot even count them, but I remember each one with much gratitude.  She would never, ever, not-in-a-million-gazillion-years ever dream of saying something to hurt anyone. What transpired next is on me. I own it.  It's mine.

She approached me, and Molly, and in a most insouciant, "before I forget" sort of way, mentioned that the two of us should maybe be a bit more conscientious about picking up after ourselves. Baffled, I wondered exactly where she had been that evening..the hens had been very good about stuffing our messes behind closed doors, and in strategically placed garbage bags.  "Oh no.." she said, and told us about an emergency bathroom visit she had made a couple weeks prior. Her youngest was in dire need of a toilet, and since my house is in close proximity to everything, she popped in. Only Henry was home, and being the kind and respectful young man he is, welcomed my friend and her child into our home.  Which hadn't seen a whore bath, or any kind of bath, in a while.

Had I been there, I would have hauled ass into said bathroom and done a ten-second version of the whore bath: clothes off floor, hair wiped from vanity, toothpaste pried from the rim of the sink, etc.

I wasn't there, though, and so my unsuspecting friend, and her innocent child, stepped into the quagmire that is MY BATHROOM.

Now, if you know me for more than five minutes, you know this: I am a slob. I am the Oscar to every Felix. I bathe regularly, so I'm not PigPen, but me and cleaning...we don't see a lot of each other.  Molly and I share this particular bathroom, and unfortunately Molly is my Mini-Me in every conceivable way. Including the slob thing.

Our mornings are rushed, sometimes frantic blurs with showers and makeup and blowdrying. The long counter in the bathroom is more often than not littered with vestiges of girly-land: bottles of moisturizer, hair bands, cotton balls, tweezers, floss, hairbrushes (and oh the humanity...THE HAIR. Yeti is as Yeti does, mother and daughter style). The shiny vinyl floor is hidden under layers, like the Earth: only instead of crust, mantle and core you will find towels, pajamas and undergarments.  And yeah, probably some crust. Sorry.

I normally don't think twice about it. As I mentioned above, if someone is coming over, I will go in and make sure it isn't too crime-sceney, and will shove the piles of textiles into the neglected hamper. I do clean the bathroom, too, probably not to the standards of some OCD Martha types, but enough so that nobody is going to die from a staph infection they catch in MY latrine.

So when my friend said what she said, I was a little taken aback. I had broken my cocktail fast that evening (oh yes...I haven't mentioned this one yet, have I? All in due time), so the wine had slowed down the information highway just a bit.

At first I laughed. Because that's usually what I do. A giggle, a chuckle, a snort. Sometimes a guffaw. Standard response.  I'm sure I made a horrified face, and I know I asked if there were any ghastly underpants which of course had landed crotch-side up when they were tossed into the fray on the floor. My friend laughed too, and the process of getting out the door began.  All was good, right?

Wrong. I went to bed, and I was hurting. I felt really, really bad. Why? All that had transpired was a little ribbing from a friend, right? One mom-to-another kind of thing. It wasn't a big deal. It wasn't even a tiny deal.

Except for me, it was a deal. Not a huge one, but a deal nonetheless. I felt a little shamed, a little humiliated, and a little judged.  My mind went where it always does in these situations: in defensive mode. I wanted to call my friend and explain to her that I'd been working so many hours, and getting home so late, and trying to do everything it takes to keep things running in my world.

I pulled out my Single Mom card. Hey, shush now. I've got like, 3 cards. That one's my favorite.

We Single Moms..we don't have it easy. Day to day life is at best, busy. At worst, it's hellish. We are one person doing the jobs of two. We don't have the luxury of time, we don't have the ability to spread our priorities out like a blanket spread out on a lush green lawn for a picnic.  We divide, we conquer. Things get done as they need to be done, often quickly and without a whole lot of thought. We don't have partners, husbands or wives who can drive Thing One to work or take Thing Two out on a bike ride while we roll up our sleeves and get to scrubbin'. Our lives are not easy. They are crammed and busy and go at a breakneck pace. And oftentimes, they are messy.

Kids. Work. Laundry. Cooking. Cleaning. US.

Something's gotta give, ladies. And in my world, it's the cleaning.

When I leave my house in the morning, I have at least a hundred things running through my mind: William's band concert is tonight, where is the mother-effing bow tie and cummerbund?? When is Walter's vet appointment? Do we have milk? CRAP! I forgot to get gas! Note to self: call Comcast and cancel HBO. Did Charlie ever come home last night? When did I enter the nose-hair growing Olympics? And why can I only see them in the rear view mirror? I need to go to Costco. Are conferences this week? Dammit. They were last week. Am I subbing for Pat or for Erin tomorrow??  What time is it? AHGGGH! SQUIRREL, WATCH OUT!

You get the idea. Nowhere in that stream-of-crazy is this thought: Geeze I hope nobody stops by to use my bathroom. Because it's 10 shades of horrifying.

I could spend more time cleaning, that's for sure. A half hour here, an hour there...it could get done and situations like the one involving my friend and her child could be avoided.  But I guard my half hours, and my hours, and my minutes. I guard them closely and I use them carefully. I know that someday, all too soon, I will have plenty of time to clean my bathroom. To scrub the kitchen floor. To take care of the cobwebs and dust the picture frames. But for now, when I find myself with 30 free minutes, I have to choose: clean, or go find Charlie and chat? Get out the bleach, or sit on the deck with Henry and his friends? Pick up dirty clothes, or pick up the leash and take my dog out for a much-needed walk? Hint: I'm a sucker for kids and dogs.

When I was a fresh, young, blissfully-married mama taking Early Childhood Classes, I sat there in my Gap overalls and my wire-rim glasses and listened intently as the wise sages known as Parent Educators told us how life goes so fast, and how we should cherish the milky, diaper-butt moments we were mired in at that time. That young me had no idea what life would be like a dozen years down the road, but even then I knew I'd never win any House Beautiful contests...even then I knew that in MY world, whether or not you could see the bathroom floor took a backseat to getting the babies out to play in the sunshine.

One day, as our class came to a close, we were given a handout. And on this handout was a little poem, one that I'd read a hundred times before and I've read at least a hundred times since...but it's lovely. And the older my kids get, the more I get it:

Song for a Fifth Child

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

My lullaby and rocking days are long gone, but my babies are still within arm's reach. And my messy bathroom can wait.

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