My Evening in the Parenting Twilight Zone

I spent this afternoon and evening in the “Parenting Twilight Zone.”  Ever been there? It. Is. FAB. 

Let me explain.

It started when I had to borrow my teenagers car after they got home from school. 

“Sure mom. Anything for you! ” they chirped.  Twilight Zone stop #1. 

I open the door and of course it is full of empty soda cans, gum wrappers and general crap all over. And it stinks like armpit. Like AXX  sprayed on sweaty armpit.  No surprise there. I start the car and the radio, left on from when they just drove home, is tuned to NPR. N. Freakin' P. R.  When I am in the car driving, sure, I tune it to that, but on their own? You mean they just drove 30 minutes home from school jamming out to “All Things Considered?” Twilight Zone stop #2

I left to take one of the boys to piano. I had already sort of prepped dinner. Still had to boil pasta, pop chicken parm in the oven, and heat up the sauce, but I could do it when I got back home.

I walk in after piano, and I smell it. The chicken is DONE. The pasta is DONE. And the sauce is simmering on stove.  What the ever living Mario Batali happened to my children? 
“Thank you for starting all this before you left mom.  Dinner is so good!” Twilight Zone stop #3

Everybody eats EVERYTHING. Did my children not breakfast or lunch today? Zone stop #4.

After dinner one of the teens takes the two little ones to play golf. He does this on his own, without being asked, without whining “Do I have to take them with me?” They leave without a peep. They have on collared shirts.  I. am. speechless.  Zone stop #5

My oldest heads out to chess club. He didn’t need to be reminded he had it tonight. He left early. He was dressed nicely. He said he was excited to play that 80 year old guy again tonight.  Hold up, I think the  almost 17 year old has turned 57 years old today.  Zone stop #5. 

I am sitting all alone on the couch at 7 p.m. wondering what spaceship came down and kidnapped my sons,  leaving me four Stepford children.   I am alone, eating ice cream, at a time of day when the crap is just really ramping up ready to hit the fan. But the house is currently crap free.  #6. 

They all return home. There is no fighting. No late attempts at trying to finish homework. Nope. It’s all done. They pack their bags, shower, and head to bed. Zone number SEVEN! 

What. The. Heck. Is. Happening. Here? 

You know when your kids go spend the night at another family’s house and when they get back the parents tell you your kids made the bed, brought their dishes to the sink, said please and thank you, and was polite,  respectful and a delight to have over? 

Well I have a theory. The “Twilight Zone Kids” theory.  

Last night my kids thought they were spending the night at  their buddies house. The nagging mom in the kitchen? Nope. Wasn’t me. It was Mrs. So and So from down the street. Basically they came home from school and walked into another dimension. The “It’s not my house so I am gonna be really awesome dimension.” 

I’ll take it. I don’t care how it happened, but this dimension of the sight of my kids cooking dinner and the sound of nobody fighting,  this journey into a wondrous land of me not imagining them being great young men but them ACTUALLY being great young men? Holy Rod Serling I’ll TAKE IT!!  

My kids, your kids, everybody’s kids…. listen, we’re doing OK moms. We really are. We are raising great people. Sometimes we choose to only see the weaknesses, the failures, the annoyances. But then an evening spent in another dimension, spent watching the lessons we have preached ad nauseam for weeks, months, years,  finally reveal themselves in ways we have prayed about? Well, it is pretty FAB.U. LOUS! 

Tomorrow morning will come, and there will be devious boy antics and impatience, grumpy-ness, short tempers, and  smart mouths. But tonight? Nope. Tonight was just me in the ZONE. Maybe we should rename it the “Mom Is Kicking Ass Zone.”

Perspective Moms Need

When I get home today I will wrap my arms around your rosy cheeked face, sweet smelling hair,  and strong body, squeezing you tight until you giggle into my ear. 

Because it could be worse.

When the alarm screams Monday morning and I dread the frenzied rush, the breakfast making, the lost sneaker finding, the lunch packing, I will not lose my patience. 

Because it could be worse.

When my day is filled walking through bedrooms littered with wet towels, dirty clothes, and empty cups, I will pick them up gratefully, letting go of my burdening annoyance. 

Because it could be worse.

When the afternoon sports taxi service consumes my day,  and the errands and rushing pecks away at my patience, I will grasp the steering wheel with happy hands. 

Because it could be worse.

When the witching hour hovers over the house, and homework nags,  dinner calls, and baths sit poured waiting for grumpy, dirty little boys to take a dip, I will hush my hollering. 

Because it could be worse. 

When I slide into bed at night, exhausted and spent from the unending, thankless, and heedless job that motherhood can sometimes be, I will close my eyes and count my blessings. 

Because it would be worse.

It could be me kissing sallow, sunken cheeks, caressing a bald head where there was once sweet smelling hair, and squeezing a frail body ravaged by cancer and the chemo killing it. 


It could be an alarm beeping not to encourage me out of bed, but to tell me your meds needs to be administered, a lunch you can't stomach to eat doesn't need to be packed, and legs that can longer skip or jump do not require lost sneakers.


It could be an afternoon where the only car ride we take is the one to place a where you will be poked, prodded, scanned, and screened. 


It could be a witching hour where I am simply trying to keep a normal routine for your sibings, as we adjust to living in a strange place and in a strange town, just to be near the only beacon of hope we have left to grasp on to. Your only homework assignment is to get well.


It could be me sliding into bed at night,  exhausted not physically but mentally, trying to shut my eyes and black out the somber images, possibly inevitable horrific outcomes, and forever sorrowful future we may be given tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. 


But it is not worse. 

It is better.

It is "How did I get SO. DARN. LUCKY?" better. 

It is the kind of better that continues to move me to try and make a difference in the lives of mothers who are living in the  "it could be worse"  life. 

And you should to.

For information on how you can help bring hope to mother's  living the "it could be worse life" and make it into a "better" one, please visit          St.Jude Children's Research Hospital.