Awkward Party Moment

Last night at a Labor Day picnic, I was chatting with a friend of a friend. Someone I’ve met a few times but don’t really know.

My teenage son, almost as tall as I am, appeared at my shoulder, clearing his throat and politely interrupting our conversation.

“Mom, I am now an official member of the Illuminati.” Very serious.

“Really?” I flash a smile at the friend of a friend.

“I signed up on their website.”

“They have a website?”

Seems strange, because the Illuminati was a secret society formed in Bavaria in the 1700s. Often compared to the Freemasons, they appear in fiction as an underground, powerful, almost magical group pulling strings at the highest levels of world government and religion. They have been blamed for many of history’s conspiracies, wars, and other cataclysmic events.

A Youtuber recently re-introduced the Illuminati into pop culture with a hilarious video, thus bringing us to this awkward party moment.

“Now, if they ever need me, they can contact me.” He leaned in, “And I’m on it.”

With a quick nod, he left me standing with the friend of a friend. “More wine?”

Their Personal Travel Profiles

We are working with a travel agent to plan next summer’s trip to Italy, and she requested that everyone in the family fill out a questionnaire. It includes things like favorite travel memories, things you like to do, your style, most important hotel amenity, and more.

“Mom, what’s an ‘amenity’?”

“Mom, what’s an ‘indulgence’?”

“Ohhhh…. Chocolate!” They simultaneously scribbled away.

My fourteen-year-old got to: “Check One: Flip-Flops and Beer? Or Sport Coat and Wine?”

“I’m definitely a sport-coat-and-wine guy.” Check. Meanwhile, his heels hung over the back edge of blue, too-small-by-the-end-of-summer flip-flops. And he was wearing a Green Bay Packers t-shirt for the second or third time this week. “Yeah, totally see myself in a sport coat with a glass of wine like this…”

He posed. Very sophisticated.

“I’m not answering that one,” said his thirteen-year-old brother. “I’m a non-alcoholic kind of guy.”

Then he got to “Is there anything else we should know in planning your trip to Italy?”

“I don’t like Italian food.” He grinned, “That’ll really throw her for a loop!”



In the Dursleys’ Wine Cellar

Our youngest is not a “bed” guy. For years, he slept on the floor in his brothers’ rooms, dragging sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and his book down the hall every night.

With the older two entering teen-dom, however, their patience eventually dried up. So, he set up camp on the floor in his own room right next to his bed. It took us a few months of cajoling to realize he is afraid of falling out of bed. So, we bought a queen-size mattress and put it on the floor (no bedsprings) with new super soft, red fleece sheets.

It worked. For months, he climbed into bed every night, then spent ten minutes methodically setting up shop. Large stuffed bear and pillows along the non-wall side. Seven foxes snuggled against Big Bear in order of whose night of the week it was to sleep closest to him. “Blue Blanky” as first blanket, because it’s his favorite, then the others on top.

But something snapped.

He realized that if he pulls the mattress away from the wall, he can set up a bed back there… on the floor.

The ten-minute bedtime process got moved.

Then two nights ago, when he was feeling sorry for himself, it moved again…

…to the closet.

“I want to hide from the world!”

Big Bear, Blue Blanky, pillow, foxes, flashlight, book all in the smallest possible place to sleep. Shirts hanging just above him.

“Like Harry Potter’s bed at the Dursleys’,” I said, thinking that would discourage him. But by Night #2, it was his happy place.

Harry had to sleep in the wine cellar. Remember? It was under the stairs.”

As if that made all the difference.

And in all my years of reading Harry Potter books, I never pictured the Durselys drinking wine.

Wine as Top Parenting Tool

Next time I get invited to a baby shower, I am going to bring the mother-to-be a case of red wine. If she’s nursing, she may not be able to drink it right away. But she will appreciate it later, when her soon-to-be sweet little angel just threw a temper tantrum at Target, bit her nipple off while breastfeeding, or took a black Sharpie to the living room couch at her in-laws’ house.

Knowing that one glass of wine awaits has helped me maintain my composure in the most harrowing of parenting moments. Just one more hour to five o’clock. Yes, my four year old just punched me in the face in front of the school principal. But it’s almost Happy Hour. I WILL BE OKAY.

As a good mother, I am not supposed to admit to anyone – not even my sisters or friends or husband – that yesterday, I made a poster that read “Deceptively Cute Kids for Free” and hung it on the stop sign on the corner of our property. Okay, I am not supposed to tell them I fantasized about it either. The point is, there are days…..

…and my glass of red wine gives me a moment to pause. All it takes is that pause to remind me of the hugs they give me before bed or as they run into school, the silly things that make them giggle, and even the look on the principal’s face when that little incident happened earlier in the day. That pause transforms me back from the Wicked Witch of the West to Glinda the Good Mom of the North. That lady in sparkly pink who makes them feel so good and safe, they just want to snuggle.

As parents, we often don’t give ourselves enough of those little treats. We hate to admit we are not perfect parents. That when we yelled so loud the other day that our throat still hurts, we actually did scare the crap out of our nearly innocent children. We want to do everything right, and sometimes feel like we must be doing it all wrong. We want to absorb it all calmly, but at least once a day or week, we lose it.

Still, when I talk to other moms, we eventually admit our failings, our worries, and the fact that we might not survive without that one glass of wine. Don’t fight it. Keep it in your toolkit. You may be a better parent because you did.