Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors!
- Louisa May Alcott
It’s been four years since my wife, a housewife for 22 years at the time, started school. She started with the same tenacity and unguided-ballistic-missile strategy that she exhibits when she starts everything else, and we knew she’d be making final choices where to head with her education during year one. On time, as usual, she did: Invasive Cardiovascular Technology.
These are the ones who put stents and balloons and plugs and parts into people who are sometimes dying of heart disease before their eyes on the table. Life saving stuff. Occasionally, as she explained on several memorable occasions when she’s come home from her clinical tour, too little or too late to be life saving. Part of the job, she copes and moves on. She just does that.
Yesterday was her last day of school.
Sigh. When a wife, mother of five, decides it’s time to start a career and heads down to the local university, it does not happen without sacrifices from everyone, including her husband and the kids. She’s been gone a lot. She’d lock herself away in the bedroom while the kids and I eat whatever I made for dinner. Weekends, she’d remain locked away while the kids and I scoured the path to Costco, EarthFare, Harris Teeter, Target, Trader Joe’s, and wherever else we needed to go to keep the family fed, clothed, and comfortable.
I have seen every newly released children’s film the last two years, typically a Sunday Matinee, while folks here in the Bible Belt are in church and she, yes indeedy, is locked away studying.
It was a lot like being a single dad sometimes. No more.
Today, she is at the spa. We’re thin on cash, so it’s only for 3 hours. It is a time for her to relax, breathe deeply, and say “shit, that was hard.”
Mind you, this fifty-plus year old housewife-mother of five-never-had-a-career woman just got her GPA posted: 3.98. Inhuman. I am speechless and trying to find the words to say “damn, but I obviously married the right woman…” Maybe those are the words, after all.
Congratulations, Honey. Now, all you need is a job.
Update – she just texted me. She has an interview next Wednesday. And so it begins.
Onward – originals here.
My mother's manners are atrocious. I have two sons, ages 4 and 6. They see her a couple of times a month, and they've started to bring her rude language home with them. I asked her to dial it down around the children, and her response was: "What are you trying to turn them into? Mr. Manners?" For now, my husband and I simply remind them of the manners we use in our house, but I can see this getting tougher as they get older. How do I deal with Nana?
—Sometimes I Wanna Kill Her
I had a teenager who adored Meth, so being a good parent I said “gee whiz, I sure hope you don’t get in trouble” then turned the other cheek.
No. Not really. But my point is this: are you so fucking stupid that you think there is nothing you can do about this? Amazing.
Let’s commence on a little philosophical road trip through Realityland and take in the sights, soak up the atmosphere, learn a little about the locals:
1.) If you stick your finger up your ass, it will smell bad.
2.) If you don’t stick your finger up your ass it might still small bad, but it won’t smell like ass.
3.) Metaphorically speaking, your mom might be made of ass
So pick your battles and put your goddamn foot down. Or surrender the kids to someone with a goddamn brain.
The rest of us have endured conversations with our parents and informed them “these kids are mine. They are not yours. You want to see them, shut the fuck up. Get it?”
My daughter seems to be drifting away. She is in her early 30s, has a demanding job, and is completing her doctorate. We are both broke. I have called her twice at work to ask her if I had done something to hurt or offend her. She said no, she was just busy and would call me that weekend. I never heard from her. I'm feeling abandoned, but I don't think communicating this is going to make our increasingly distant relationship any better. Any advice?
—Sad in the Mountains
Dear Jim Croce Song Made Human,
My son walked in just the other day.
He said “Thanks for the ball, dad! Come on, let’s play. Can you teach me to throw?”
I said “not today, I’ve got a lot to do.”
He said “That’s okay.”
And as he walked away he said “what a fucking jerk. I hope he dies.”
I love that song.
Your daughter may hate you. Then again, she may not. And you wonder if talking about this might make things worse?
Then it’s already over. Nice work!
The rest of us juuuuust might bring it up with her. Really.
Several years ago, I started a relationship. She got pregnant, and we married. We have a 2-year-old. But my wife hates my mother for no good reason. My mother is a nice, friendly woman, and from the beginning she was welcoming and respectful toward my wife. In return, my wife has been suspicious and nasty. My wife makes accusations that my mother insulted her. My mother has continued to be almost entirely nice and patient throughout. My wife refuses to acknowledge her role in any of this and won't consider family therapy. What do I do?
Dear Junior Baggage Handler,
You had me at “she got pregnant, and we married.” I’m a sucker for romance stories like that. Not meaning to throw a bad pun at your troubles (actually, yeah, I DO mean to), but you’re both screwed. As my dad told me once: this is the fucking you get for the fucking you got. My dad was a romantic, too. Can you tell?
It doesn’t help that you sound like a mamma’s boy, I might add.
Know what else doesn’t help? Your Darling Wifey sounds like a cast-iron twat and a half.
And the icing on your dysfunctional little cupcake? You have produced a bouncing happy 2 year old to carry your legacy of idiocy to the next generation.
The rest of us have been through stuff kinda like this at one time or another. I know I have. Note that this is why I lay claim to an ex wife. The club awaits, junior; plenty of room for another victim. Yippie for you!
Is it appropriate for me to get my dad's girlfriend something for Mother's Day? I want to let her know I appreciate everything she does for me, so should I just wait for her birthday, months from now?
—Wish She Was My Mom
Dear…um…well, shit. I can’t think of anything snide to name you.
You lucky duck. This is like a happy little story that should be made into a Lifetime movie or something. The only negative I have is this: why are you asking this question? If her bloodline doesn’t share your DNA, this means squat – get her a fucking present and tell her you appreciate her.
Was that hard?
They are protesting outside – Duke Energy, the South’s biggest utility, is being picketed to stop promoting the use of coal and “new-kyoo-ler” energy, and their CEO is being asked to step down. The end result of this protest, of course, is they will continue to use – and expand the use of – coal and newkyooler energy, and the CEO will get a bonus. Singing Peter, Paul, and Mary songs never amounted to much, you know.
I wandered by to see what the fuss was while on my morning constitutional. A remarkably severe-looking woman with a name tag that read GERT asked what I was doing there, which seemed a little counterproductive: protests live and die by attendance numbers. Ask Glenn Beck, Gert. He’ll tell you.
I said “just here to see if I can help.” I wasn’t, actually – I just wanted to read the signs.
“You work for Duke?” she barked.
“No,” I said. “I work for **** Bank.” I flashed my ID badge at her. “My executive board is WAY more evil than Duke’s.”
She started to smile, looked puzzled, frowned instead, glared at me and wandered away. Take THAT you goddamn hippie, from one hippie to another.
They didn’t sing Peter, Paul, and Mary, by the way. There was some opera chick there who sang some Puccini. The protesters wore suits and sport coats. It was like being at a really loud, outdoor board meeting, with bullhorns and canapés. Surreal.
And nobody was smoking weed. Shameful. Protests have sure changed over the years.
I need to get to work, and get home and rub my wife’s feet, and have a martini with her. Then we’ll bundle the kids into bed, right after American Idol, and wonder aloud, I suppose, and what a normal life is. We’ve never really known.