The Wrong Salami

imageIt had been a particulary grueling Wednesday workday, standing for eight hours on my chubby, aching feet and racing about in well worn Sketchers as I filled prescriptions for cranky seniors in wool coats.  I had an hour before I needed to retrieve my children from their dreaded After Care program at school; the one in which they refered to as Hell with teacher aides, consequently adding to my single working mommy guilt, and usually prompting me to arrive bearing various consolation prizes, such as French fries, Wendy’s chocolate frosties, or when really desperate, the latest Marvel figure.

“Hey kids, I wish I only worked part-time and  could pick you up from school everyday so that you wouldn’t have to sit for two hours in a cafeteria making sock puppets, eating stale goldfish, and getting yelled at for not participating in elbow tag by wide bottomed day care workers in ill fitting yoga pants, but look! Ant-Man!!

The past month had been a bit prickly with money, being after Christmas I had a stack of bills from Amazon, Kohl’s, and JC Penney. My  hours at the pharmacy had been cut and I had resorted to paying the electric bill with a credit card.  It was only early January, but already I  was patiently awaiting for the trickle of tax refund documents in the mail to begin. If I could make it to February we’d be home free, and possibly go back to buying the good Q-tips and two-ply toilet paper again.

All day at work I had been missing my children. As I counted out suboxone for barren eyed junkies and labeled packs of birth control for 17 year olds in Northface jackets, my periphial thoughts revolved around my sons.  Their impossibly smooth foreheads. The length of their lashes. Their constantly smelly feet.

I was driving home that evening with The Edge of Seventeen blaring in my winter filthy car and a bag of hot French fries in the passenger seat when it dawned on me. The school would be serving breakfast for lunch tomorrow. Crap! This posed a huge problem for my older son, who not only found the concept of eating pancakes at 12:17  completly absurd, but also vehemently insisted the school’s sausage patties tasted like farts.  Without even a lone slice of luncheon meat in the fridge this left me with little choice. A trip to ShopRite was happening.

Remember the first episode of The Walking Dead where Rick Grimes gets trapped in a tank surrounded by walkers? ShopRite is worse. And the walkers have grocery carts. And coupons. It’s the Apolypse with Can-Can specials. The plan was simple. Run in, grab salami, run the hell out.

The processed luncheon meat gods must have been with me as I discovered much to my delight, there was a section of pre sliced cold cuts sitting conveniently by the pickled olives. Not having to stand at the deli counter with an angry mob of  ticket wavers put me a grand mood and I decided to spring for some provolone cheese too. My son would be thrilled. Mommy guilt would be averted. It was a win win.

Or so I thought.

I sped out of the parking lot, not having to give the finger once, and headed over to after care pickup to retrieve my little heathens. After an explosion of Mommy! Mommy! We missed you, the hugs tapered off and the conversation took a serious turn.

“Mommy, they are serving breakfast for lunch tomorrow and I hate that,” he said in a pissy tone.

I assured him I had it covered, and would be making him a delicious salami sandwich on white bread with the crusts cut off – A side of Doritos and part skim chocolate pudding on the side. The boy was happy. Until we got home and he asked for a slice.

In my quest to sprint out of that clogged grocery store playing a Musak version of Sweet Child O’ Mine I had inadvertently grabbed the hard salami. As an Italian, and lover of antipasto, I was shocked I committed such a faux pas. Surely I grabbed the Genoa. No? Where was that tangy familiar bite? That garlicy aroma? Instead I had a hunk of course sausage and a cranky son on my hands. Wails ensued.

As my son carried on as if he was on fire, I began to unravel. The strain of the day had finally caught up with me, and my feelings of failure became too overwhelming. I was a single working mother wracked with guilt, everyday wondering if I was good enough. I retreated upstairs, undressed for bed, and let the hot tears spill down my cheeks, smearing my inky black mascara. Pretty soon I was sobbing louder than my child. It had nothing to do with the salami.

There I was, in oversized pajama bottoms, a stretched out turquoise bra, my face a mess. A soft knock at the door. My two children entered, one holding a spoon, the other holding a towering mass of ice cream, whipped topping and sprinkles. There was even a cherry. They made this for me? I started smiling, then laughing. Then hugs ensued. Then more laughing.

It had nothing to do with the ice cream.



Five Things I Should Have Warned My Ex About

A few years back I became engaged to a man I had been seeing for quite some time. Giddy with the prospect or remarriage, we moved in together with my children, and began planning our rustic chic fete, as well as our new life together. Within a year he went running for the hills leaving me with a $1700 raw silk strapless gown, and a wound in my heart so deep no amount of Cherry Garcia and Bethaney Getting Married re-runs could heal. (It took a trip to Costa Rica, time, and a profile on Plenty of Fish to even make a dent in the recovery process.)

Was he a complete asshole? Well yes. But completely human? Absolutely. Looking back I realize there were certain things I probably should have warned the poor bastard about BEFORE he decided to shack up with a mother.

1.) It’s Going To Be Loud- I have boys. I am Italian. These two statements should not require anymore explanation, but for shits and giggles I’ll elaborate. My kids make too much noise, I get pissed, I have Roman blood, thus I start yelling, they yell louder, I yell louder, pretty soon it sounds like an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, and then we hug. Like I said, I’m Italian. It sucks, yes, but I can make up for it by cooking a mean frittata.

2.) You Really Should Not Expect Frequent Sex- I know this seems awful, but it’s not like I don’t want to rip off your mechanic uniform and make you happy. I just happen to have Frick and Frack up my ass most days and can’t be as liberal as I want to be. But what about at night? you may whine. Ah yes, at night, while our bedroom is right next to the people I gave birth to. Remember that one time you heard your parents moaning? Or even worse, walked in on them! Didn’t you want to gouge your eyes out? I just feel so weird performing any sort of sexy moves with my kids within earshot, so sex is relegated to the weekends they are with their Dad. Again, it sucks, but again I do a mean…oh never mind.

3.) I Don’t Give a Rat’s Prickly Ass About How Your Ex Wife Did Things- This is a big one for me. That’s great that Deidra never screamed, and Deidra never cried in front of the kids, and Deidra never lost her shit. That’s because Deidra was always lit. Give me a fifth of vodka and some good hash, and I won’t scream either. Please do not compare me to your ex or else remember those weekend when the kids are with their Dad? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen anymore either. I am my own person, and although I understand you spent a lot of years with someone else and may have gotten used to how they do things, don’t assume I will do it the same. As the song goes, I gotta be me.

4.) You May Feel Left Out- Listen, those two loud, sometimes obnoxious, always adorable creatures over there-they came out of my body. I would die for them. It has nothing to do with me not loving you. I’m crazy about you, but there are different kinds of love. The love for your children is so different from the love you have for a spouse. It does not equal less love though. I know sometimes you feel like the third wheel, but please know my number one job is to raise decent human beings. That may take time away from you, but please don’t label yourself as number 3, or last on the list. It’s hard work being a single working mother who is trying to navigate a new relationship. Be patient with me.

5.) You Were Pretty Freaking Special- Dating when you have children is a whole different animal versus dating before kids. I’m way more picky. Not only am I looking for someone decent for myself, but for my little people as well. Gone are the days of dating the bad boys, or being with someone because they are thrilling, or sexy, but not much else. If I was with you, then you have to know you were pretty amazing. Like my mother used to say, “God forbid something happened to your father and I remarried, I would have to look up his ass to make sure his hat was on straight.” This is true. You are no longer dating just for yourself. I would never bring some bozo into their lives without thinking they had some decent human qualities. Remember these people came out of my body! So yes, as much as you were an arse, you were a pretty special one.