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Learning a Lesson From Long-Ago Saturday Morning Cartoons

Posted Jun 14 2013 12:00am

In the words of the inimitable Popeye : I yam what I yam, and that's all that I yam....

(tell me I'm not the only one who used to watch those old Popeye cartoons, the ones that are now called "vintage")

So, this happened:

Graduation1

Yeah. She did it. She graduated - and one of those cords means that she graduated with honors. So, so proud and happy. And, ahem, relieved. Two down, four to go...

So my kids have been invited to various graduation parties, this being the season. And we had one of our own. I took one of my kids to one of these parties, and for a brief minute or two, I felt like total and complete shit about myself. The family was super, super wealthy. The house could have held two of mine. The garage was double the size of mine, and decorated in a manner that was both ostentatious and impressive. When I met the mother, she was friendly and warm - and completely relaxed about having an enormous party. The house was quiet and clean and very, very calm.

I don't know about you, but when we have a party everyone is on edge, being that we are a family of 8 Type A personalities with two Alpha leaders (and I will let you try to fathom a guess at who those Alphas might be...), I cook a ton of food, and it's super loud and chaotic, frentic and nuts - and we love it. I'm usually sweating through my clothes, I forget to eat but I drink too much - which, hello, I talk a lot even when I'm sober -

and I generally, you know, throw a good party. No one goes home hungry, and people often tell me that they had a great time. But this mom, well, she was cool and calm - because she had a staff. And it was catered, and cleaned beforehand by a staff, and she could just relax.

And for about a minute - I was envious. Because, really, I thought that *I* might want to have a fully catered party, one where a uniformed staff served the guests, a cook prepared extra foods, and a cleaning crew came later. And all I would have to do it lay in the pool and enjoy myself.

And (I know, I start a LOT of sentences with AND, I break all of the rules) I know that parties at my house are loud. There are usually a lot of people, we play pool and let the little people run amok, I will probably have a couple of drinks and gesture with my hands even more than usual - I might sing, and that is a true sign of the Apocalypse - little people get overheated and overwhelmed and cry like they've been tasered, big sisters critique the younger sisters clothing choices, older kids get embarrassed because the party just doesn't look like the parties of their imagination -

and, you know what? I'm A-OK with that, now that I think on it.

Someone critiqued me this weekend, really, our entire family - that we weren't like another family, one that this person held to a high standard. We were too much, this person said - too loud, too chaotic, too just - crazy.

I'mma lay it out, right here, right now.

  • I'm not quiet. If I've had a drink or two, I get a bit louder.
  • I love to cook. So I'm going to spend an awful lot of time preparing for a party - but that's how I show my love, by creating good foods. And, also, I'm a food snob and I like foods MY way - and I am too cheap to pay for foods for someone else to cook. And did I say that I love to cook? It's fun for me.
  • I'm a singer and a dancer and a gesturer. If I disagree, I'm going to tell you. Probably to your face, and we may have a disagreement about it. In the end, I'm probably going to give you a cupcake (homemade) and tell you you're nuts.
  • Our house isn't a model. We don't have a pool/hot tub/steam room/guest house/cleaning lady - but we have all of our utilities on, haven't had the house condemned, are able to pay our bills, don't have rats running through the house, have a roof over our heads and a few niceties. Yes, it's lived in - but it's clean and serviceable, and, I like to think - welcoming and attractive. Most of our house is decorated in canvas prints of the family, art work done by the kids and sarcastic sayings - no huge artistic endeavors by well known artists - but there is always something intriguing to read on the walls.

I'm the person who had blue and green streaks in her hair for a long while there. I have four tattoos. I am pretty free with my language. I like to wear clothes that don't necessarily hide the fact that I have curves and areas of generosity. If you come to my house, I will ply you with food, shove a beverage in your hand, and expect you to mingle and have conversation. There will be music playing - definitely - and people will be singing - some of them very well, and some of them not so well. I will go from conversation to conversation. Someone will certainly get their feelings hurt and cry, and I'll have to whisk a kid upstairs for a few minutes of decompression - and said kid may end up staying upstairs in the quiet of her room. I will return downstairs and talk your ear off, argue some bit of trivia to absolute death with my husband, engage many of those around me in the discussion, laugh probably inappropriately and much too loudly. There will probably be a game of pool going on, possibly a soccer match, kids will be climbing all over the play structure and jumping off swings with abandon, and if it's dark, we will be making s'mores in the fire pit. There will not be one area of quiet, one segment of peace - even if there's not a party going, there's no quiet and peace to be found here.

We aren't like any other family. I'm not like many of the moms out there, but I'm finally happy with who I am, I love who my family is, I love how we have parties (crying and gesturing and all) and there's not one thing I'd change.

For anyone.

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