Shit hell damn fort piss. Today I am choosing Happiness.

choose to be happy

 “Shit, hell, damn, fort, piss!” A string of expletives handed down through generations.  Yeah, I was raised by a prim and proper mormon woman who was in turn raised by a very prim and proper mormon lady.  But we all have our weaknesses, and the occasional naughty word wormed it’s way into the household.  I grew up hearing my mother, in moments of great frustration or pain, utter this string of expletives.  This would shock and secretly delight me.

My young mind had worked through the secret, naughty meanings behind the words, with the exception of “fort.”  When I got the courage to ask for explanation as a teen, the answer was so much better than I could have imagined.  Apparently, my regal, uber-feminine, ultra-mormon grandmother had the bad habit of using this string of words at times.  The “fort” was actually “fart,” but that word was too unbecoming and unladylike, so she said “fort” in its place.


 The moment when this string of wicked words became a part of my own arsenal, slipping out as if it had always been there…it was a right of passage.  And sometimes, I have those days where they come much more readily than others. In our home lately, our mantra has been “Choose to be happy.”  Because it is a choice.  Every moment.  BUT.  There are days. Days where there is nothing to be done but hiss “shit, hell, damn, fort, piss!” between gritted teeth… and try to laugh, as my grandmother is most certainly laughing with me from above.

 Last week, I had one of those days.  A quick synopsis:

1.  Getting Cocky

2.  Digging Up the Dirty

3.  A Smoke Monster

4.  Great Balls of Fire

5.  $10,000 Sweaty beds

6. Blue paint and Wet toilet paper

7.  A Huge Load of Crap

 Let’s get started.

 #1.  Getting Cocky

I forgot that I am not 20 anymore.  Gone are the days I could juggle 18 credit hours, a job, a sports schedule, and a boyfriend without writing anything down. Fifteen years, a husband and three kids later,  if I don’t write my own name down, I may forget it.  Or the name of my kids.  Done that too.  On this fateful day, I got cocky.  I did not check my calendar.  At all.  I could handle the basics, I scoffed at the intuitive warning bells.

This cockiness led me to believe that I could allow my children an extra half hour of play on the school grounds before heading home and into the fray.  Big. Mistake.

 After the extra playtime,  I was pulling into the driveway, the were kids hungry and filthy, and I was rattling off the list of expectations.  “Practice the piano, put on your uniform, find a book and do your reading, finish your homework.  I will pack snacks and water for the game.”   I was already feeling the rising pressure of cramming too much into too little time.  My fault, my fault.

Before the car was in park, Carly reminded me of her neurofeedback appointment.  Today.  At 4:00.  Blast!  The essential calendar reminders on my phone went unnoticed, as my three year old was busy opening every app on my phone and dismissing the crucial ding!  reminders with an expert touch.  It was 4:03.  And thus,  the beginning of my “schooling.”

 I backed out of the driveway, amidst the cries of hunger and thirst.

 “Suck it up!  Mommy dropped the ball!   NO ONE eats!”  I wanted to yell over their whiney protests, my stress level instantly soaring.

But I took deep breaths instead. (And muttered “shit, hell, damn, fort, piss” under my breath, enjoying the release of stress it brings.  I was quiet about it.)  On the way, Lydia asked me if I was obeying all the speed limits, and could I please stop breathing so loudly, stop chewing my gum, and could I please not whisper? Her polite attempt at avoiding a misophonia meltdown  (like this and this)  made me want to claw my eyes out.

 I had to forgo walking Carly up to her appointment like the responsible mothers.  But instead, texted the therapist to watch for her and reminded her of which button to push in the elevator.


#2. Digging Up the Dirty

 I had to recover the day. I can do this. Back at home, I barked out orders to Lydia.  She ran inside, unearthed her filthy uniform from an epic pyramid of dirty clothes and puts it on.

 This felt acceptable because “playing softball” when you are in second grade means playing in the fine, powdery dirt, kicking up great clouds of it, tossing it in the air, rubbing your glove in it, innocently unaware of the large, hard ball that could smack you in your unsuspecting shins, or worse, your teeth.  Also, diving around in the grass by the dugout until it is your turn to bat.  She was going to be dirty in five seconds anyway…no one would know, right?   No big.


I grabbed four bottles of water from the basement emergency stash and we ran out the door to pick up Carly, and drive to the ballpark. I texted Rick, who would meet us at the field after work with snacks. Crisis over.  I rock.

 We arrived at the game with relief, ready to collapse on a blanket with Stella, get Carly started with her homework and watch Lydia play in the muggy 90 degree heat.   This is when Lydia’s softball coach ambled over to ask me why Carly is not playing today.  WHAT!?    I missed that Carly had a game too?  The damn calendar!  How could my “mind calendar” have gone so very wrong?

 In a pink dress, without hat or mit, I sent Carly sprinting across the field to her team, snatched Stel and drove all the way back home. At the house, I dug deep into the mountain of dirty laundry that Lydia had fished her uniform out of.   I found Carly’s balled up uniform and crammed it in a sack with a box of crackers, her hat and glove.

 Rick pulled in the driveway, I tossed him the goods and he was off to watch (both!) girls play softball.  Stella and I would make dinner.

 Whew!  All is well.

 At this point, I decided it was time to be more responsible.  Learn something from the mayhem of the day.  Be prepared.  Before grilling burgers and baking fries, I felt that doing a load of laundry would be…redeeming.

I was quite diligent and responsible as I overfilled the washer.  Shaking out gravel and mulch,  fishing gum wrappers and chewed up erasers out of their shorts pockets, pulling the balled up wad of crusty socks so they will get clean, and my favorite, seperating the dirty underwear from the pant legs.   But just as I was going for the detergent, I spotted a clump of Stella’s clothes hidden under a bath towel.  Hastily, I grabbed the lump, and shoved it in without inspection.  So it was a risk, but I felt better about myself. 

#3.  Smoke Monster

 Onward.  Here is where things get dangerous.  I could only find frozen fries, frozen burger patties, and two slightly shriveled zucchini for dinner.  I was still in the mood to compensate for the earlier catastrophes so I decided to go the extra mile and make baked zucchini fries to dress up dinner.   And, I was gonna let Stella “help” which will certainly boost me out of the disorganized, foul-mouthed hole I dug.  I turned on our oven, and let Stella wear a cute apron and dip the sticks in egg.  It was messy.  I was going with it.  Serenity, and good mom vibes abounded.  Until I opened the oven to bake up our zuchini.  My mascara melted together and I was completely blinded by a thick billow of black, acrid smoke.  The smoke detector began screaming, and in my quick thinking, I crammed the baking sheet into the smoke monster before slamming the oven shut.


I forgot that a few days ago, I had made this beauty:


A lemon pound cake. I do a lot of baking,  but I had been out of the Martha Stewart mode since we moved to Connecticut (obviously).   And, like I had never made a cake before in my life, I happily filled the bundt pan all the way to the tippy top, (seriously??)

I lovingly smoothed the batter with a spatula right to the edge,  and then licked it clean while half the cake baked and half the cake batter bubbled over into the oven.  Miraculously, we waited out the smoking mess, and it was delish.  I had decided to let the burned mess cool before cleaning up the oven…  Two (ok maybe three) slices of lemon cake later, we laid out with our sugar hangovers, and I forgot about the mess.

Until the zucchini, today.  And 425 is 100 degrees hotter than my cake baked in, so the result was much, much worse.

 Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have preheated the oven without opening it up first…which resulted in this happy moment a few years ago:

I couldn’t get the storm windows down on the kitchen windows, and the house filled full of nasty black smoke. The smoke detector, just doing it’s job, went off intermittently for the next hour despite my efforts to fan it into submission.  Frazzled and worried about permanent smoke damage to the house, I retreated into the muggy yard to light the grill.  The show must go on.  The Rick and the girls will be home and hungry soon.

 #4. Great Balls of Fire

The starter was not working so I turned the gas on, crouched down with a match to find the small hole to poke it in, as Rick had shown me.   I poked a lit match into the hole, and took a forceful ball of fire at point blank range to the face.  A GINORMOUS ball of fire.  It engulfed my face.  Picture the fireballs the wicked witch throws at scarecrow.  Like that, in my face.  I jumped back, immediately swatting at myself like a swarm of bees were on me, certain I was on fire.  I ran into the house and turned the faucet on my scorched face, frantically patted down and wetting my hair, then feeling for my eyebrows.  Singed, but in tact thank God.

 Rick came home with Carly and Lydia as I was running ice cold water over my scorched hand, wrist and arm, my hair slicked back and wet from dousing myself.  The smoke detector was going off again., it smelled like the zuchini was actually on fire in the oven.  He informed me that in fact, Carly did not have a softball game after all.  False alarm. For the love of humanity.

#5.  $10,000 Sweaty Beds

Defeated but determined to get through the night, we sent the girls up to shower and threw together a pathetic meal.  The zucchini and fries tasted like charcoal briquettes. During dinner, Stella kept asking me, “Mommy, are you choosing to be happy?”  Don’t you hate it when your kids decide to throw your “life lessons” in your face when you have burned your eyebrows off and smoke is still curling around all of your furniture?  “You choose to be happy.”  Uh. Huh.

I looked forward to getting the kids to bed.  It was hot and sickening and smokey in our main level, but upstairs held the promise of our new air conditioning.  We paid a cool ten grand to put the AC in the upstairs last year after we moved in and I almost went bat-shit crazy in the sticky heat of summer.  Nothing can make me angrier than sweating while brushing my teeth.

 But in today’s 93 degree heat, the AC would save the mood for sure. When we got upstairs, I was gleefully expecting a cool 71, and it was 83 degrees instead.  It was now  9:30 pm on a school night.  The AC Was. Not. Working.  I sent Carly and Lydia to bed with wet hair, fighting over which way the fan should point.

Shit.  Hell.  Damn.  Fort.  Piss.  I was so close to saying “fart” too.

 #6  Blue Paint and Wet Toilet Paper

Conquered,  I plopped down on the lid of the toilet seat to comb through Stella’s wet hair, only to discover that the blue paint she had been sporting since our art project that morning had not been washed out, merely re-wetted, and clung to her hair in blue gobs.  Too tired to find something other than toilet paper, I began to sponge the paint out of her wet hair while she cried with weariness.  I felt like I was trapped in some perverse version of “If You Give A Moose A Muffin.”  Little did I know.



#7 A Huge Load of Crap

“Meg?  You wanna hear the clincher?  Should I top it all off for you?”  Rick called up the stairs.   Feeling wreckless, I bravely called out “Hit me with it!  Bring it!”

 “There is shit!  In the washing machine!” .

 Now that was unexpected.

I almost fell off the toilet seat laughing.  He appeared in the doorway, observing my indelicate pile of wet toilet paper streaked with blue paint, and Stella, defiantly sporting a long sleeved fleece nightgown, cheeks blazing in the sticky heat.  I believe he was equally surprised to see my laughter,  which quickly turned into dry heaves.

“What the hell?  (Blaaaaaaughhhaww) (Bleaaughhaaw!)  In that big load of kids clothes?” (Blawwwwwuuugha!)

“Yup. It’s everywhere. All over,”  He wiped his brow and rolled his eyes at my deafening dry heaves.

“Stella had an accident and didn’t tell me?… but I went through all of the clothes….”  I heaved again, remembering the pile at the end I hastily crammed in.  Sending Stella to her room, I started digging into my cleaning supplies.

I handed Rick a cylinder of lysol wipes and an empty laundry basket…

Moral of the story: check the calendar before giving the kids that extra half hour of play,  look in the oven before turning it on, open the grill before lighting a match,  and always shake out every piece of dirty laundry before you toss it in…you never know the hidden pile of crap you may find there.

You’ll want to deal with that NOW, not later.  It will not all come out in the wash.