Friday, November 19, 2010

I Thought I Could....

Since I blogged this morning about my intention to have a good day today, my husband’s birthday, I felt like it was only fair to bookend it with how the day actually went.

I’ll give you a hint...I’m sitting here with a vodka/orange juice in my hand because on top of what happened today...I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. 

This beverage is the only way I can figure out how to combat both my day and my cold at the same time.

The morning started out okay.  We left the house full of hope and optimism, setting out for the grocery store to buy balloons before we headed up to the mountains.  All the kids decided to get the same color balloon (which was a miracle in itself) and having this decision made would save me at least an hour in the Helium Section.  

As we walked to the floral department, I decided at the last minute to buy my husband one single yellow rose (like he used to give to me) as a birthday present if they had one.  I looked up at the “single” bouquets and there it was...a single yellow rose right smack in the middle of a bunch of white ones.  It was the only one they had.

All good signs, right?

We left the store, all holding a Starbucks cup (hot cocoa for them, caffeine for me) ready to conquer the day!

Apparently that was when Good Karma decided to leave early for Thanksgiving to beat the holiday rush.

We were about 30 minutes out of town, driving in the old minivan, when my oldest suddenly screamed out, “MOM!!!!!  She drew on the seat with marker!!!” 

Sure enough, I would find out 4 year old had decided to make her own permanent seat covers by doing some sort of abstract drawing of a “zebra playing catch with a fish while driving a semi” creation on the third row seat of my car.

Now...what I was expected to do about it while going 75 miles an hour on the highway...I still do not know.

The most interesting thing about this was that it sent my son into a frenzy of reprimanding her.  Never mind that he had actually stamped his own name (in permanent marker) on the back seat last year.

Anyway.  Still determined that this would not get me down, I took a deep breath and just decided to get over it then and there.  I could wash it off, right?  In the grand scheme of things...what’s a little marker (or mural) in a minivan anyhow?  That child could be famous some day!  She probably just raised the value of this car by thousands.

Yeah!  That’s it!

As we started getting closer to the “last stop” before we really got to the middle of nowhere, I thought I should be proactive and stop for a potty/lunch break, even though my son had assured me that if he had to go to the bathroom, he could find an obliging tree.  Feeling like peeing in the middle of a cemetery might be frowned upon, I pulled off the highway and spotted the only restaurant in town that didn’t involve fries (Qdoba).

Once inside, my 9 year old daughter very politely asked if she could sit next to me in the booth and I (not seeing the shit storm ahead) said yes.

At that moment, for some reason, my 6 year old son suddenly decided that sitting next to my 4 year old daughter was akin to sitting next to 50 pounds of plutonium and proceeded to throw a complete fit.  And I mean...a fit.

I learned a very valuable lesson today.  My desire and determination to “make it a good day” is no match for the temper of my 6 year old boy. 

I gave him “the look.”  I gave him that scary mommy-angry-under-the-breath voice.  Finally I dragged his 6 year old butt over to the check out where I was standing, just trying to buy quesadillas in peace.

The very sweet people working there asked if they could help me to my table and I calmly replied, “No, thank you.  He can carry his lunch and I’ve got the rest.”

At which point my son stomped his feet and his lunch slid to the floor.

Seeing what I’m sure looked like my eyes spinning around and smoke coming out of my ears, the wonderful woman at the cash register looked at me and said cheerfully, “We can clean this up!  Here’s a free quesadilla!  And here...chips and guacamole!  It’s okay...I have children!”

It was like she was trying to convince me that, with enough greasy Mexican food, I would have the strength to raise this child to adulthood.  I was about ready to hug her and take her home with me.

I sat at the table, a lump in my throat so big I couldn’t even eat.  What was I doing???  Were the “powers that be” trying to tell me that I couldn’t do this alone???  Why didn’t I pick a restaurant that served wine??????

Once back in the car, tears rolling down my face (and my kids blissfully unaware of my nervous breakdown thanks to Scooby Doo on DVD), we finally made it up to my husband’s final resting place.  I placed the rose on his headstone.  The kids and I sang “Happy Birthday,” made a wish, and let the balloons go.  We were having such a nice time, we decided to scrap our original plan for the second half of the day...wandering around the Museum of Nature and Science.  We thought we’d just catch the IMAX on the Hubble Telescope so that we could hang out by the creek a little longer.

For about 30 minutes...everyone was happy.

I finally called the 5 minute warning so that we could get to the movie downtown on time.  I had left us plenty of time and even worried about what I would do to keep them occupied when we got there too early.  As some of you may know...the IMAX doesn’t let people in early.  And, at the appointed time, the doors close and NO ONE can get in.

We were 2 minutes late.

Still determined that I could beat this day into submission, I checked my phone for other movie listings.  And...what’s this????  Another IMAX that’s showing the Hubble movie???  And it’s closer to my house????

Choosing to ignore the fact that I was dumb enough to not check this in the first place, I rushed the kids into the car and went as fast as I could (in rush hour traffic) to get to the theater.  For the first time, I felt like Fate was offering me her hand and saying, “Here.  Let me help you.  I’ll even get you there early.  And you can grab some pizza with the kids before the movie starts.  In fact...let me buy you a Bud Light for your trouble.”

As we waited for our pizza, the man at the next table leaned over and asked, “Excuse me?  Do you know where the IMAX is?”

And I said, “Yes!  It’s right across the street!  We’re headed there ourselves to see the movie on the Hubble Telescope.  Is that what you’re seeing?”

He said, “No.  There’s a movie about migration.  Gosh...I didn’t know they had so many theaters.”

Now wait...I couldn’t have this wrong could I???  I dug out my phone and checked trusty old Yahoo! movies and sure enough...Hubble Telescope.  November 19th.  Six PM.

We finished our pizza and made it there right on time.  I parked the car in front, flipped on the hazards, and told the kids, “Wait here.  I’m going to double check and make sure it’s playing.”

Sure enough.  I walk into the theater and what do I see?


I plop myself back into the car, ram the gear shift into drive, and yell, “HOME!  Pay Per View Movie!” 

This declaration was met with noisy applause from the backseat.

I almost make it home when it hits.  Complete hysteria.  I’m laughing.  I’m crying.  I’m laughing so hard I’m crying.  I’m afraid I may have snorted a couple of times.

The kids are suddenly very quiet in the backseat.  Finally, my oldest says quietly, “Mom?  What’s so funny?”

Still laughing uncontrollably, I answer, “Oh sweetie.  This was just a bad day.  I mean, not all parts of it were bad.  We did some fun things.  But sometimes things get so bad they’re funny.  Remember how I always tell you if you’re getting bullied the best thing you can do is laugh right in their face?  Well, today bullied me.”


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© Catherine Tidd 2010


  1. Wish I had something wise and profound to say to you. I don't. Would hug you if I could and you wanted. Will say I cry and laugh and cry and laugh reading your words. And when that pendulum of emotions comes to a rest after reading your words, its usually about mid body by the heart.

  2. Beverly Borgatti BarthelNovember 19, 2010 at 8:47 PM

    And you know what? Your husband probably had a good laugh too! He watched his family with enough distraction in the day to make it not so somber. You were altogether and had your celebration.. with miracle balloons of the same color and one single yellow rose. The rest was a "Family Circus" providing a bit of comic relief. Now you can relax and have that drink.

  3. Julie Richards DiBeneNovember 19, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    Have I told you lately...That YOU ROCK!!! No kid beatings,no jail,no tickets, all home safe and half sound. You are my Hero Catherine :-)

  4. You did real good today, both of your children survived to misbehave another day (they will, I promise,) and you made it home before hitting the orange juice and vodka!
    Mini-van seat = Mr. Clean Eraser and Goo Gone Extreme. then steam clean or carpet cleaner to get the chemical smell out :~))

  5. Not that this is profound or helpful in anyway, but can I just say... I love your writing.

  6. I am in awe of you (and your writing). You've left me in tears, too. You are wonderful ♥

  7. Your children will love to read this when they are older--a testament to a memory filled day of pathos, laughter and unforgettable moments. Another gift to them.

  8. Thank you all for your kind words and, most tips. If nothing was a blog-worthy day, right???

    Hugs to you all,

  9. I imagine your strength for being a mom widow. I am a widow alone. No children. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself... how do you manage? But after reading your blog, you seem to being a FANTASTIC job. Whether you believe it or not... you are one to be admired.
    Now, let me just tell you. That Hubble IMAX movie is AMAZING. It might me cry when i saw it. Because it showed me how insignificant I was... I left the movie in a haze. I think my brain was smoking or something. PLEASE GO SEE IT. For some reason it gave me a bit of ease when I thought about John. I can't explain why but perhaps it might have the same affect on you. It just gives you a different perspective on life.
    see it. now. :)

  10. Hi Catherine – I’m Andrea from the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation ( We are interested in adding your blog to the blog roll on the resource page of our website. Please email me at to let me know the best way to contact you so we can discuss the possibility of adding your blog. Thank you so much!