The terms and conditions of marriage.

You know how when you sign up for an online service or activate a new phone or credit card, or basically any time you buy anything ever, you have to sign an endless, detailed, coma-inducing document known as the terms and conditions? No one ever reads it, but next thing you know, you’ve agreed to plant 100 trees, karate chop the elderly, and let Apple/Verizon/Walmart tattoo its logo on your face.

Marriage is kind of like that.

The basic agreement covers the general stuff:

to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

But here’s the fine print.

#1) You are now your spouse’s primary physician.
You are now required to analyze your spouse’s intimate health concerns with them. When your spouse comes home and confesses to you that they haven’t had a normal bowel movement in 3 weeks (usually it’s the husband,  amiright ladies?)  or they’ve discovered a mole/lump/growth in a deep crevice somewhere on their body, your first reaction may be, “Why are you telling me this? I’m not a doctor!”. But there you are 20 minutes later, flashlight in hand, squinting as you google pictures of cancerous moles or asking questions about color and consistency. Word of advice: stay away from WebMD.

webmdgood

#2) Bodily functions happen and you must deal with them.
Your alarm goes off at 6:30 AM. You hit snooze and roll over to snuggle your still sleeping spouse, stealing some peaceful moments while the world is quiet and the sun has just started to peek through the blinds. Your spouse snuggles a little closer to you, lets out a quiet, contented sigh and then…farts on your leg. Now, I’m not saying this scenario happened in my marriage last week, and I’m not saying that the guilty party texted her best friend and sister-in-law to tell them all about it later that day, all while stifling giggles in an effort not to wake the sleeping baby in her arms, but I’m not NOT saying any of that happened, if you know what I mean. Look, bodily functions are a normal part of life and you can’t spend the rest of your marriage sneaking into the bathroom to pass some gas or shifting in your seat to let out a silent one. And your husband is living in a fool’s paradise if he thinks you don’t fart.

 

#3) The silent stand off over the dishes (or some other, equally unpleasant chore).
I hate doing the dishes. So does Christopher. The first house we lived in after we got married did not have a dishwasher. Which meant every few days, the dishes would pile up in the sink and we would begin our own Cold War. We’ve never admitted this officially, but we both knew we were just waiting until the other one cracked. More often than not, I was the one to give in, because I would need a certain dish to cook and there were too many dishes in the sink to wash just one. Christopher had the upper hand however, having lived with roommates for a year and a a half before we got married.

#4) The struggle of the snacks.
One of the simple pleasures of life is having a special snack that only you enjoy. That way, you can keep it in the house and not worry about coming home to an empty bag or box one day. But that dream is shattered when your spouse decides to try it, after months of saying how gross it is, and discovers what they’ve been missing out on. Then, you feel guilty for over-indulging, especially if you eat the last of your tasty treats. Until your spouse shamelessly admits to taking more than their fair share. Then the gloves are off.

These are just a few of things about marriage that you didn’t (knowingly) sign up for. What are the terms and conditions of your marriage?

 

The baby accidentally chewed the dog toy.

So, the other night, our son Solomon chewed on the dog toy. I know it sounds disgusting, and it was. We have a siberian husky named Luna and she is in the height of shedding (also known as “blowing” her coat), so her hair is EVERYWHERE.

2014-07-06 15.04.11

Luna lounging on a bedspread that she has now chewed two holes in. Husky owners cannot have nice things.

And when I say everywhere, I mean absolutely everywhere. Her hair especially likes to congregate on our stairs, under the couch, and on our clothes. I’m convinced that one day the hairs will become self aware and come together to form a phantom Luna. But I digress.

On the evening that Solomon snacked on Luna’s toy, we were somewhat mortified. It may be one of our biggest parenting blunders in our short, 6 month career.

But you know what? He didn’t get sick. He didn’t choke. He didn’t have a sudden allergic reaction. He is fine.

As I reflect on that incident, I realize that there are some moms out there who would seriously, hard core judge me for that. And I think there’s something wrong with that. Any mom with even the slightest iota of experience knows that you cannot prevent every possible disaster from happening. Lots of things are preventable using some simple common sense, but you could bust your butt all day trying to keep your kid safe, nourished, napped, clean, and happy, only to discover him playing in the toilet the minute you take your eyes off of him. But so many moms are hesitant to share those experiences because there’s always the mom who makes some snide remark or facial expression that somehow degrades mom points.

Why do we do that to each other?

I have some theories, which I will discuss in a later post, but for now I think we can all agree on one thing.

No matter how you decide to parent your kid- cloth diapers or disposable diapers, breast feeding or formula feeding, sleep training or co-sleeping, spanking or timeouts, homemade baby food or store bought jars, homeschool, private school, public school, or whatever- the most important thing you child needs is total and unconditional love.

I have a friend who is getting ready to welcome her baby girl into the world. At her baby shower, everyone shared some advice or a thought as to why she was going to make a good mom. I shared some advice about not being afraid to put your baby down (one of my rookie mistakes) but what I wish I would have said was this:

“Jaimee, there are a lot of hurdles that you are going to face throughout this child’s life, and a lot of different way you and your husband can handle them. But I know your capacity to love is so great already, and it is going to grow leaps and bounds the moment you set eyes on her, and if you just keep that at the forefront of your mind, she’s going to be just fine.”

So maybe my son got a taste of some doggy drool. But he is incredibly loved by so many people.

 

Dear Menards Guest

I work at Menards.

Dear Menards Guest,

No, I cannot do an exchange at my register just because you have the item you wish the exchange with you. Please go to the giant customer service type area labeled “CUSTOMER SERVICE”.

I don’t know why your credit card was declined, but it may have something to do with your iPhone, designer bag, and the 8 pounds of candy you are trying to purchase.

I’m sorry you thought that $150 patio umbrella was on clearance for $10. Anyone could have mistook that $10 price tag that was 20 feet away from the product.

No, my register is not open. I just like standing at the end of the lane with the light on. I don’t even work here, I just really like wearing this apron.

I’m sorry I don’t know you by name, sir. It might have something to do with how you’re dressed like every other contractor here. I’ll still need to see some I.D.

Go ahead and put those 60 pound bags of concrete on the conveyor belt. Even though you had to use a cart to bring them to the register, it’s no problem for a little girl like me to lift each one.

While you’re at it, finish your phone conversation before you sign off on the 96 cent pack of gum that you put on your credit card. The other guests can wait.  That mom with two toddlers screaming for candy or the potty doesn’t have anywhere she needs to be.

You know what would make my day? Just cram all of your purchases on the belt with no separation between your items and the next guest’s. I will magically know which items are your’s and which are not. They give us special training for that.

Oh, and let your kids run willy nilly up and down the lane. I don’t mind their constant requests to push buttons and play with my stapler. Their shrieking is such a refreshing sound. And keep adding candy to your cart, they need all the sugar they can get to ensure they go into a pre-diabetic coma later.

I don’t care about the sordid details of how you came to discover that these door hinges do not fit. I just need to know if they’re damaged or not. I’m sure it’s a thrilling tale, but I really must get back to staring hopelessly into the dense abyss that is my future.

Thanks and have a great day!

Your friendly Menards cashier

When your wedding is more popular than you are.

I have been a wordpress blogger since September of 2011. Since then, I have had a total of 722 views. It’s safe to assume that at least 100 of these views have been from my mom.

On April 29th of this year, I told a certain young man that I would marry him. I was telling the truth. Several days later I built a wedding website, courtesy of theknot.com.

As of today, that website has had 825 views.

The conclusion? My upcoming wedding is more popular than I am.

As an aspiring writer, I am enormously offended. Just because a handsome and talented young man puts a gloriously radiant ring on my finger, suddenly I am interesting, witty, and charming.

I have always been interesting, witty, and charming.

Perhaps not. More like snarky, biting, and abrasive. In my defense, people seem to like that. That’s why the reanimated corpse of Joan Rivers has her own show on the E! Channel.

So why this sudden surge of popularity? There are several possibilities.

1) People are assuming it will be outrageously tacky and they are pumped to have a good laugh over it. If that is the case, I’m uninviting everyone ever.

2) People think it is a joke and that any day we’ll pull a great big “SIKE!” If this is the case….I’m indignant.

3) People have heard me talk about my “Beyonce sang at my wedding” dream so much that they think it’s real. Well, as of yet, Beyonce has yet to respond to any of my letters, facebook messages, emails, telegrams, tweets, carrier pigeons, or smoke signals. But if anything changes, I’ll let you guys know.

But really, the only obvious answer is that I am marrying the coolest person on earth.

Seriously, the guy that I get to marry (I’m purposely not using his name to appear more mysterious, though I’m pretty sure most of my readership knows him in real life) is the nicest person ever. People love him. He can talk to anyone, and they feel like he really cares about what they have to say, because he does. There’s no phoniness about him at all.

He loves helping people. Helping them move things, helping them do yard work, helping them find jobs.

He makes people and his relationships with them a priority.

He is easy going, kind, funny, fun loving. He is eternally optimistic, one of the things I love most about him.

He is wildly creative and he loves sharing that with people.

He’s the coolest person ever and I couldn’t be happier with anyone on earth, not even Zac Efron. (I can’t believe I said that but it’s true!!)

So if I’m cooler by association because I’m with the most over-the-moon incredible guy, I am perfectly fine with that.

But I would like for all of you to subscribe to my blog. Just sayin’.

PS: Here’s the link to the wedding website. http://SmolenParker.ourwedding.com

PPS: I realize this is a little more sappy than my usual stuff. Cut me some slack! I’m in love!

The Temple of Mac

My dad has an iPad. An original iPad. So it’s basically a stone tablet, not unlike the ones on which Moses carved the Ten Commandments. The only difference between my dad’s iPad and Moses’ Ten Commandments iPad is that when my dad smote his upon the earth, it was an accident, not a rage.

And since we are in the midst of Wedding Prep 2012 (Congrats to Paul and Morgan!), it was tasked to me to see to its mending.

I had to make the pilgrimage to the Apple Store. Or as I now call it, The Temple of Mac.

There is only one Apple Store in the Omaha Metro area and naturally it resides on the snooty patootie side of town. Last Monday afternoon I hopped into my 1990 Honda Accord and made the trek out there. Village Pointe is a fairly high end outdoor shopping mall overpopulated by Red Hat Society ladies, unnaturally tanned teenagers, and moms with strollers as big as smart cars. Needless to say, I was a bit out of place.

Having only ever been to the Apple Store to browse, I entered the temple gates clutching my damaged iPad in my arms, looking disheveled and aimless. A charming young lady with a face peppered in adorable freckles called out to me. I hurried to her like a lost puppy.

The following may or may not be dramatized, embellished, or slightly distorted.

Freckled Mac Store Employee: “Hi! Welcome to the Temple of Mac! How have you come to worship today?”

Me: (holding up the iPad)”……This is broken.”

Freckled Mac Store Employee: “How unusual! Our products are so fabulous that they never break for inexplicable reasons! You’re in luck though, we have excellent customer service that should fix that in a jiffy! Do you have an appointment?”

Me: “………No…..I just wanted to see if someone could look at it really quickly and see if it’s even fixable.”

Freckled Mac Store Employee: “Well you betcha! Unfortunately our Genius drones are all booked up, so YOU’LL NEED AN APPOINTMENT.” (Those last four words were spoken in the same voice that giant eye on Mount Doom uses when he’s trying to scare Frodo in his dreams.)

Me: “…..so….there’s no one who can check this out really quick?”

Now the Freckled Mac Store Employee is giving me an appraising once-over. She not-so-discreetly sniffs the air. Immediately, I am filled with feelings of insecurity and shame. What witchcraft is this?

Freckled Mac Store Employee: “We’ll just set you up with an appointment and then you can busy yourself on one of our beautiful, fully-functioning Macs. The newest upgrades read your mind and clean your teeth while you surf the web.”

Me: “Oh, I’m a PC user.”

Freckled Mac Store Employee begins slowly stepping away from me as if I have the black plague.

Freckled Mac Store Employee: (now somewhat uneasy) “We have a special lounge for PC losers…users, excuse me. Armando will escort you there.” And then she disappeared in a puff of smoke.

At the same time, “Armando” appear at my side. Armando was about the size of a baby elephant, if that baby elephant had served time in the State Pen and could clean a machine gun hanging upside down and blindfolded. He grunted in the direction of the “PC loser lounge”.

Which is where I spent the remainder of my time at the Apple Store. The PC loser “lounge” was a dingy corner of the stock room, with a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Something was constantly dripping, but neither I nor the other PC losers could find the source. The Mac Employees kindly laid out a dish of water and some kibble for us, along with some newspapers from 1976 in case we needed to relieve ourselves. After a few hours of confinement, in which I had traded some chocolate that I found in my purse for a harmonica and subsequently learned to play the blues, a Mac Employee, amidst boos and hisses from the rest of us, extracted the iPad using an extendable arm. He returned shortly, declaring the battery to have died, and offered to replace the iPad for $100 and a promise that I would never return to the store again. I was then escorted out of the store by Armando, but I had to wear a burlap bag over my head and endure the jests and taunts of the happy, clean, Mac using customers.

I’ll be in therapy for about 6 years. Just in time for the iPad 87 to come out.