What Your Birthday Gifts Say About You

My birthday was last week, and I had a few highlights in the gift department I wanted to share with you all.

First, my daughter gave me this:

garden frog
Is it just me, or does this frog have an unsettling “come hither” look about him?

I know. Or rather, I don’t know. I’m not sure what I’ve been putting out there that would lead my daughter to see a seductively lounging garden frog and decide it is the perfect gift for her mother. At first, I immediately thought, Well, I guess this is my version of the “If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy” plaque. See, back in the day, my sister and I were at a Continue reading “What Your Birthday Gifts Say About You”

Star of Video and Print, But Still Just an Acceptably Mediocre Mom

Whew!

It has been something else around here. Thanks to my minivan music video, this blog received more hits in a few days than probably the last two years combined. Next, the Life Sherpa of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch devoted his entire column to my post “Apparently All-Inclusive Attitudes Aren’t Part of the Resort Package,” where I took issue with an earlier piece he had written chiding parents of young children. And then he went and briefly mentioned me again in this Sunday’s column. It appears that a younger woman offering to buy an older man a beer is newsworthy. I will take it, especially considering the fact that when my version of “Texaco, Texaco over the hills to Mexico” differed from my daughter’s, she told me that now they sing it different from how we did in “the olden days.”

I feel a little like a celebrity. I mean, the video has caught on like virtual wildfire. My daughter said  that her friend told her that her older brother told her that practically the entire 6th grade class has seen it because a boy in their 2nd grade class showed it to HIS older brother who then showed it to all his friends when they came over. Um, did you follow that? Basically, I’m the Justin Bieber of the elementary school. Not quite Taylor Swift yet, but give it time. All I know is that I’m kind of a big deal in the parking lot at pick up time. And my daughter has been dubbed “famous” for her starring role in the video. Part of me hopes this doesn’t make her too popular though, as I have decided it is better for my kids to be nerds. Not tortured outcasts, mind you. I simply want them to have just enough social clout that people find them likable, but not enough that I will have to spend my Friday nights waiting up for them…because they will be at home watching 80’s movie classics and eating cheese balls with their nerd friends.

mary catherine gallagher
SUPERSTAR!

But these past weeks have also taught me that I am semi-uncomfortable with semi-fame. Compliments are like a funky little form of sadomasochism. They make me feel good, but at the same time, a part of me feels very uncomfortable. My immediate way of dealing with compliments is to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal: Oh, the video wasn’t really that hard to make. They have programs that any dummy can use. OR I’m just weird like that. I don’t know why I spend my time doing this stuff. OR Thanks, but it was just a fun little family project. The kids were just happy to be hams in front of the camera. In reality, I do spend a lot of time and effort on most things dealing with this blog. And I am over-Saturn’s-moon-slap-me-jazzed-do-a-high-kick-yell-SUPERSTAR-like-Mary-Catherine-Gallagher-happy when people respond to it in a positive way.

Then I got an email from a friend I went to high school with. This is what she said:

I just have to tell you that the reason I had been thinking about you is because in between all the mom stuff, house stuff, grocery shopping, etc (YOU KNOW!), I feel like I can get extremely short and cranky with my family and when I read your blogs and posts, I am truly inspired by your zest (decided to use a good word like that, with your love for words and all) for life and how much fun you seem to have.  I seriously think of you and think of how lucky your kids are and your husband is and how much fun you have, while still being a great mom and teaching your kids what is right and wrong.

First off, that email made my day, more than the excitement of all the hub-bub that had been surrounding my blog at the time. To know that something I enjoy doing somehow helps other people navigate through their lives in even the smallest way is the gold medal of compliments. But here comes that flip side of accepting something nice said about you. She painted such a glowing reflection of me, a reflection I feel on most days I can’t claim to be mine. I joked with her that while reading my blog might help her stop being cranky and short with her children, I am usually JUST THAT with my own children while WRITING THE VERY BLOG she feels inspired by. Wow. I felt a little like a fraud. I stumble through motherhood just like everyone else; I just usually choose to only write about the more lighthearted moments of it. I don’t like to complain too much in public, mostly because I have little patience for others who do. But in doing this, am I unintentionally portraying a false image of my life? Am I somehow making other mothers say things to themselves like, “Why can’t I be more like THAT kind of parent?” Trust me, I am no model mother…nor do I want to be.

But I had to realize that wasn’t the point of her compliment. And you know what? My kids ARE lucky to have me: an imperfect mother who loves them like no one else can and who lets them star in music videos. And every mom who reads this has children who are lucky to have her: another imperfect mother who loves them like no one else can and who sometimes needs to read about the funny, heart-warming moments of my life to remind her that she has moments just like that in hers.

Needless to say, it has been nice that things have settled down a little around here, at least on the blog front…because my darned life won’t take a break long enough to let me ogle my site stats to find out exactly how many people have been reading my posts or let me plot my next strategy for taking over the viral world. In the meantime, here is a link to a post by Rage Against the Minivan that will make all parents feel better about striving for acceptable mediocrity most of the time. Happy Easter!

The Slacker Mom’s Guide to Dying Easter Eggs with Small Children

dyed eggs
Um yeah, ours don’t look anything like this.

My Minivan Isn’t Cool, But My Music Video Is

It has been a long time coming, but the deed is done. I told my husband to just look at it like ripping off a band-aid. He still wants to throw up a little in his mouth every time he sees it, but I am not going to pretend I feel anything but that a destiny in my life has been fulfilled.

We got a minivan.

minivans are cool
image from http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/the-booth-babe-chronicles-can-a-minivan-be-cool/

For some reason, society likes to brand this parental milestone as the epitome of being un-hip, or that it is the final nail in the coffin containing a person’s sense of individual self. But I think that is just plain ridiculous. What WOULD be ridiculous is trying to deny the fact that I AM a parent who needs to take my children into consideration with every single decision I make, including what car I drive. Not that I am saying a minivan is necessarily always the best choice, but it was for our family. I like having the extra room to cart around toys, groceries, Girl Scout supplies, projects, and every other random thing that might need to be transported. I like that we will be more comfortable on road trips, and the kids can sit in separate rows if they start getting on each other’s nerves. I like that I now have enough seating to carpool or let my kids spontaneously bring a friend home to play after school without it involving a scheduling chart to see who can drop off and pick up when. And I like that I now drive a big, sturdy car that gives me a snowball’s chance in hell should I mingle steel with some birdbrain who is texting behind the wheel of an SUV.

I am also not the kind of person who determines how cool she is by the kind of car she drives. But I am the kind of person who has probably never really been cool anyway. So with that said, I will say loud and proud: I LOVE MY MINIVAN!

In fact, I love my minivan so much that a regular old blog post didn’t seem enough to announce its advent into my life. As I searched for inspiration, the same line kept popping into my head…I like minivans and I can not lie…

So without further ado, I give you the very first “Are You Finished Yet?” Music Video!

A big thank you goes out to my husband and kids for spending pretty much an entire Saturday shooting the video and dealing with this first-time actor/director. Now I know how Tom Hanks feels. Thanks also to Sir Mix-a-Lot for introducing a song into our cultural fabric that is always ripe for a good “Weird Al-esque” parody. And thanks to Weird Al for just being Weird Al.

 

*the picture of the river barge in the video was from                       http://www.boldts.net/album/D-RiverBarge.shtml

 

 

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