Please be a Bad Mother

Gabbie missing

On August 18th of this year, a 15-year old girl went missing from her home in Elgin, SC.  Gabbie Swainson was last seen by her mother.  She was safe in her own bed with her cell phone in her hand when her mother left to go to work at approximately 4:00 am.  When Gabbie’s mother came home from work, her daughter was gone.

Gabbie Swainson

She was a good girl, a cheerleader, an honor student and not the type of 15-year old girl who might run away from home and not answer repeated calls to her cell phone.  It was quickly determined that she was abducted.  As the story was broadcast on local news stations, all mothers of young teenage girls held them a little closer and prayed for Gabbie’s safe return.  I remember becoming physically ill one morning on my way to the airport because I had just left my own daughter at home at 6:30 am.  From that moment on, I didn’t leave Tink alone.

Young teenage girls were scared.  I remember trying to reassure Tink by telling her that in most of these situations the abductor is someone who knows the family and has access to the home.  I explained to her that we didn’t have that situation in our family and we talked through all the people who had keys to our home and what to do if adult friends show up unannounced at her school or at home.

Very quickly a “friend of the family” was labeled as a person of interest and then as a suspect.  The local sheriff gave multiple news conferences and each time he was asked if there was any relationship between the suspect and Gabbie’s mother, the answer was always “he’s just a family friend.”  I felt somewhat relieved and pointed out to Tink that my prediction was correct.

Groups gathered to show support and people assisted the police in searching for Gabbie.  Tink even attended a cheerleader rally to “Bring Gabbie Home” because Gabbie was a cheerleader at her high school.  I prayed for Gabbie’s safe return but I also fervently prayed for her mother.  I couldn’t imagine her horror.  After 3 weeks, my prayers changed.  If Gabbie couldn’t come home, could she please not be suffering anymore.

Gabbie – an outgoing 15-year old cheerleader

When the news finally broke that the main suspect, Freddie Grant, was a person with whom Gabbie’s mother had once had a romantic relationship, that he had spent the night in the home on more than one occasion, and that he possessed a key to the home, many people were outraged.

I remember a conversation with the mother of one of Tink’s friends:  “I knew something was off with that woman at the memorial service.  There weren’t nearly enough tears for me!  And now she says that man had a key to her home and spent the night there?  No, there’s something wrong with that woman and she did something to her daughter!”

Now the lack of tears did not spark suspicion in me.  When Tink was 9 years old, she wandered off during our vacation at Disney World.  I had methodically searched every stall in the bathroom before I went to the front desk and reported my daughter missing.  I’ll never forget that young man’s words on the phone, “I have an actual missing child”.  My husband was frantic and panicked.  My outward appearance was eerily calm as I described what Tink was wearing and retrieved a picture from my wallet.  I was in the process of spelling out her name and ours when she came wheeling around the corner in her heelies.  (shoes with wheels that were extremely popular at the time)  I ran, grabbed Tink and made sure she was safe and unharmed.  Then I promptly fell apart.  I didn’t have to be strong anymore because I’d found my daughter.  So I don’t blame Gabbie’s mom for not crying enough at the Memorial Service.  She was trying to be strong.

I said that people were outraged.  Really, we were relieved.  Because now we could point our self-righteous fingers at Gabbie’s mother and say, “You are a bad mother.  You did things I would never do and that is why this happened to you.”  But the entire time we are also secretly thinking, “Therefore, it can’t happen to me.”

As of today, Gabbie is still missing.  Duct tape with her blood on it was found in the home of the suspect, Freddie Grant.  Most of us assume that Gabbie is deceased.  Almost everyone except, of course, Gabbie’s mother.  I don’t believe Gabbie’s mother did anything wrong.  I believe she was a single woman who had a relationship with a man whom she thought was safe to have around her daughter.  I think she would give her life and soul to go back in time and never allow Freddie Grant on her property much less near her family.  I believe she is a good mother.  And that’s extremely hard to do.  Not because she wasn’t a good mother to Gabbie, but because if something this horrific can happen to a good mother and her family, then it can happen to me and my family.

Please say a prayer to bring Gabbie home.  We all need Gabbie to come home.  Her mother needs her to come home.

(Click here for an interview with Gabbie’s Mother)

The Foggy, Breaking Dawn

An apple a day keeps the vampires away, wait, that’s not how it goes.

The final installment of the Twilight saga will be released on screen this week and it reminded me of something I rediscovered about a year ago.  It turns out Stephanie Myers wasn’t the only person dreaming of vampires.  When I was in high school, I was always writing something.  Short stories mostly because I didn’t have the discipline to write anything longer.  I started a lot of short stories that I never managed to finish.

I have a Unicorn Notebook from those high school days containing a half a dozen stories, or more precisely half a dozen half-stories.  One of them is about a female vampire heroine named Nikki who finds out that she’s a vampire at age 16.  She can go out in the daylight without bursting into flame (sound familiar?) and she reads minds (again, Edward anyone?).  Oh, and get this, she gets married on the night of the New Moon!  Of course the real horror of this story is that Nikki is getting married at 16.  That’s more terror inducing than Stephanie Myers version where Bella gets married at 18.  My working title for this story was “The Fog”.  I have to admit that Twilight has a better ring to it.

Oh good, an original beginning for my next story.

The only problem with my story (besides lack of entertaining plot, sexy werewolves, compelling drama or engaging characters) was that before I could complete 498 pages about my vampires, I switched gears to write about a 16-year-old girl named Dana on her way to a party. (you’ve probably noticed a theme to my writing back then or at least the heroines) And I have no idea why the heck I was writing about vampires in a Unicorn Notebook.

A lovely book in which to jot down a few horror stories….

I wonder what would have happened if I had kept working on The Fog?  I can all have great ideas all day long, but without hard work and effort put into those ideas they are worthless.  For instance, I’m sure there are bloggers who sit down and pound out a post in just a few moments and publish it without another thought and it’s awesome. Even though it doesn’t always show, I put a little more effort into my writing. (by a little I mean tons of blood, sweat and tears – hey that’s a group . . .) I love writing and the ideas come quickly but the substance takes time to construct and evolve. Mark Twain said, “The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.”  I certainly didn’t understand this when I was 16.

Write, rinse, repeat

Some of you know that I gave up on blogging pretty quickly too about 10 months back.  It became overwhelming.  I felt the need to post something every day and trying to keep up that demanding pace, a 55 hour a week job, being a wife. and a mother  . . .  well something had to go.  I also felt very intimidated by all the wonderful writers out there with amazing blogs.  I forgot that blogging is supposed to be fun.  I didn’t start blogging because I thought I would get discovered and become rich overnight, I started blogging so I could write, because I felt driven to write.  So I’ve finally returned because giving up on writing was what I did when I was 16, but now that I’m . . .  um, older, I understand it takes perseverance.  And lots and lots of practice.

So you may never see dazzling posts and you will not see posts every day.  My goal is to post something at least mildly amusing 2-3 times a week.  Most importantly I want to enjoy writing again.  Because it is fun, right after you mop up all the blood, sweat and tears.  Oh, and don’t judge me for following the Twilight saga.  Us Angry Middle Age Women have to have some guilty pleasures!

Sleeping Beauty

Any new parent knows that the phrase “sleeping like a baby” is an oxymoron.

I spend a lot of my time being tired.  Maybe it’s all the anger.  That takes a toll you know.  But working 50+ hours a week, driving a teenager back and forth to cheerleading practice, figuring out what to make for dinner (okay, figuring out what to order at the drive-thru), doing the laundry and keeping track of everyone’s schedule is exhausting.  So you would think that come bedtime I would fall into my comfy bed and drift off to a peaceful, albeit all too short, night’s sleep.  Nope!

My friend Missy and I were discussing sleep issues the day after Daylight Savings Time ended.  She was complaining that she didn’t get to take advantage of her extra hour of sleep.  Missy has been flirting with menopause for some time and it appears they now have a full-fledged relationship.  So she’s awakened every night to drenched sheets and pajamas.  Fun.

I don’t usually have a problem sleeping through the night, but I have difficulty falling asleep.  As soon as I lie down and my body tries to rest, my mind sparks to life.  It’s as if my brain thinks that now is the perfect time to run through everything I might not have had a chance to think about all day.

So when I get into bed, my brain does something like this:  “Did I send that email to George about the new sign package?  No, I need to do that tomorrow.  I need to call Mom.  When’s the last time I talked to Mom?  I miss Mom’s fried chicken.  What are we going to have for supper tomorrow night?  Is there some chicken in the freezer?  You know what I haven’t seen in a while?  That episode of Friends where Monica had the really big hair and played ping-pong like a ninja…..” and on, and on and on.

Could you sleep with this in your head?

So I need something to help me sleep but I don’t like to take “sleeping pills”.  Just the name of them conjures up images of overweight, has-been movie stars with droopy eyelids in a movie on Lifetime.  I go for the “natural” remedy of melatonin.  If you think of sleep like a child’s slide, once I get a gentle shove at the top I glide effortlessly down to the bottom until time to get up.  So Missy was asking if I had a “natural” suggestion for her issues.  As it turns out I did.  I told her, “Get thee to a doctor!”  Sometimes real prescription meds are warranted and to me some of those reasons are sinus infection, labor and delivery and menopause!  I doubt Elvis’s problem originated from the meds he took to prevent night sweats.

Wheeeeee!!!!

One of the reasons I take a natural remedy is to avoid getting addicted.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be so opposed to “sleeping well on the wings” of something.  So imagine my surprise when I visited my local GNC to purchase another bottle of my natural melatonin and the guy at the counter told me to be careful because if I took it too often I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep without it.  Um, isn’t that the definition of addicted?  Of course this same unemployed fitness trainer expert told me that taking three “Zap it Fat” pills a day would solve my overeating issues so I’ll take his advice with a grain of salt.

Does anybody else out there have trouble sleeping?  Are you like me and can’t fall asleep or are you like Missy and wake up and can’t get back to sleep?  What do you do?

Mr. Congeniality?

A correlation between Nascar, the Presidential Election and Miss America!

As I sit in my hotel room tonight, awaiting the results of this election, I suddenly find myself feeling bad.  Because one of these guys is going to lose.  “Well Angry, isn’t that the point?”  Yes, I suppose.  But I can’t help but feel the same way I did last November when I watched the final Sprint Cup Nascar race of the season.  The battle was between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards and I told many of my redneck Nascar friends that no matter who won, I couldn’t be disappointed because these were my two favorite drivers!  I forgot that if one of my two favorite drivers won, then one of them also lost.

Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards ….
they couldn’t share?

Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t my two favorite Presidential candidates.  I don’t think that either President Obama or Governor Romney are evil, but I also don’t think that either one is a savior.  I guess that puts me in the minority.  I truly believe that each one of them is convinced that he can do a better job than the other and that he is “right”.  I have no disillusions that any politician is altruistic, but I believe that they all begin with good intentions in mind.  It’s up to us to make sure they stay focused once they get into office.

He could wear the sash, get some flowers, it would be nice ….

Anyway, when we find out the winner of this election, even if  it is the candidate I voted for, I’ll be feeling a little bit sad for the “Other Guy”.  Instead of calling him the loser, I say we give the non-winner the title of Mr. Congeniality!  It works for the Miss America pageant.  With this title, the candidate who doesn’t win will understand that he’s less attractive than the other guy but with some really good talents that can be used elsewhere.  Hmm . . . I guess it’s too late to suggest that maybe we should have two Mr. Congenialities?

The results from Dixville Notch, N.H., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. After 43 seconds of voting, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney were tied.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/obama-romney-tie-new-hampshire-village-dixville-notch-article-1.1197360#ixzz2BUbgvCwf

This is the kind of poppycock I come up with when I’m in a hotel room with no episode of NCIS on TV.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Vote

Thank goodness.  Tomorrow is the day we’ve all been waiting for:  Election Day.  You may think I’m eager to exercise my right to vote and play my role in shaping our future or anxious to know who will be the Leader of the Free Will for the next 4 years.  Nope!  I’m excited about Election Day because afterwards, I get my Facebook back!

“Where did your Facebook go?” you may be wondering.  I’m glad you asked.  Facebook is still there, but for the last several months it’s been taken over by Left Wing Radicals . . . and Right Wing Extremists.  My politically charged up friends have been busy posting  insane clips from strange websites in misguided attempts to persuade others of their beliefs.  It’s kind of like they joined opposing cults.  Or gangs.

You’ve heard of the Crips? These are the ‘Crats.

I have a handful of level-headed friends who, like me, have decided that Facebook is not the place to begin a political debate.  These folks stick to posting pictures of their kids, of their summer vacation or their lunch.  Earlier this summer the climate on Facebook became so political that I posted this on my Facebook Wall:

I thought it was funny

A friend I will call “Gertrude” didn’t find this post funny.  Gertrude is a person I haven’t seen since the day I graduated from High School.  The very next day after I posted that cartoon on my wall, she began to send out a series of posts with such phrases as, “Well if this offends any of my NON political friends I apologize!”  “I’m SORRY if my right to discuss politics offends you!” and much, much more.  Gertrude normally posts 5-10 times a day so that wasn’t unusual, but it began to be pretty obvious that these posts were aimed at me.  Me?  The person who had purposely avoided making any reference to either political party or any remotely political statements for months?  I sat there stunned for a moment.  Then I got a little . . . Angry.

“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”

Gert was a person I didn’t even like in High School!  Why the heck would she be so offended by my frivolity that she felt the need to attack me?  Why would she care?  She was the one who sent me a friend request and now she was calling out my post?  Oh no sister, I exercised that right of passive-aggressive middle age women everywhere:  I hit the “unfriend” button!

I don’t get the radicals.  Being against something doesn’t make you for something.  I’m not talking about the politically passionate.  There’s a difference between radical and passionate.  I would actually enjoy a good long discussion with someone with opposite views than mine.  I would like to hear your reasoning and I would like you to listen to mine.  I think the worst thing that could happen is that one or both of us might learn something.  But just slinging mud and name-calling?  Well, I had my fill of that in high school.

A comic from the other gang, er . . . Party.

So anyway, after today everything will settle down and people will get back to normal.  (As normal as anyone is on Facebook)  To me Facebook has never been a place to discuss politics or religion.  It should be lighthearted, fun, almost a modern-day gossip column if you will.  I want to know who’s going to the big game, who’s going to the movie and how was it, and who sticking to their diet.  That’s about as radical as I get.

By the way, some bloggers, Life with the Top Down and Peg-o-leg, (who are much more talented than I am!) have some very humorous and entertaining views about the upcoming election.  Check out No Room For Lame Excuses for some very interesting election day trivia and All in the Political Family: When Mom and Dad Play Favorites for a look at what it’s like not to be a swing state.

And don’t forget to exercise your right to vote tomorrow!  Remember, if you don’t, you can’t bitch complain on Facebook or your blog for four more years!

I Was Once an Expert At Parenting

It’s true!  You may not believe it, but I was once an expert at parenting and imparting valuable advice to poor, befuddled parents.  I had all the answers and knew just what to do in every situation.  So what happened?  Where did all this knowledge go?  Well the answer to that is simple:  I had a child of my own.  And suddenly I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was.

Before Tink was born, there was Connor.  Really, when I think back, it’s a miracle there is a Tink considering her cousin Connor came first.  Connor was my Sister-in-Law, Jenn, and her second husband’s first child.  Go ahead and re-read that sentence if you need to.  By the time Connor was 2, he was an expert too.  An expert at throwing tantrums.  Good heavens he was a willful child!  You couldn’t be in the same room with him for more than an hour without him throwing a tantrum about something.  It was so bad, invitations to family gatherings went something like this, “Oh, we’re all getting together for dinner tomorrow?  Jenn coming?  Bringing Connor?  Yes, I suppose he is part of the family too.  No, no there’s no problem, it’s just that I was going to wash my hair tomorrow and I don’t know if I can make it.”

The family as a group never spoke of Connor’s … um …. wilfulness, but whenever two of us were alone together we inevitably compared our thoughts as to what would be best for him.  I was certain that if Jenn and her husband would just be more firm, refuse to give in to his whinny tactics, and maybe paddle his behind more often, he would be a much more pleasant child.

“I don’t know any parents that look into the eyes of a newborn baby and say, ‘How can we screw this kid up?’” – Russell Bishop

One Thanksgiving, when Connor was 2 and half, I was watching him as he played outside while other, more talented cooks prepared the feast.  I thought I had the “easy” job, playing with the “baby”.  HA!  The house Jenn and her husband were renting wasn’t really child-friendly and it was also located perilously close to a major roadway.  I had forbidden Connor from playing near the steps that led up to the sidewalk and into the road.  I will never, in my whole life, forget the twinkle in his eye as Connor looked at me, then turned and ran up those steps.  He was 2 and a half, but he flew up those steps, reached the sidewalk and was headed straight for the 4-lane highway in 2 seconds flat!  Luckily, I ran too and I lifted him by the back of his shirt and in my memory I see his foot dangling over the street but I’m told I had him firmly in my grasp several steps earlier.  Oh.  My.  God.  I think this moment is less about Connor’s wilfulness than about the fact that this was my first clue that I might not be an expert on children and how to parent them after all.

Expert? Spock wasn’t even from Earth what did he know about babies?

Anyway, I continued to list to anyone who would listen, all of Connor’s parents’ shortcomings and what they must do differently.  I expressed these opinions through all 9 months of my pregnancy and right up until Tink’s first tantrum.  Yep, after that I was officially no longer an expert.

What made me think of all of this was a picture Connor’s sister posted of him on Facebook the other day.  It was a picture from the local newspaper.  Today, Connor is the 6’3″ starting Quarterback of his High School football team and he will graduate in May in the top 10% of his class.  And he is the most pleasant, polite and wonderfully brilliant young man.  So, what conclusions can we draw from this story?  Well, there are several, but here’s what I think is most important:  Thank goodness I was there to give Connor’s parents all that great advice!

I knew he’d be athletic when he ran up those steps!

Were you ever an expert about something until you found out you weren’t?

Talking Dolls and Chain Saws, No Thank You!

"I see stupid people!"

The Obligatory Halloween Post

“I see stupid people….”

When I was a teenager, the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises were in their prime.  If you’ve never seen one of those movies, don’t fret because you didn’t miss much.  If there was any plot or storyline from either, it wasn’t strong enough to stick with me.  What I do remember are a lot of gory scenes which now-a-days a good Grey’s Anatomy surgery episode can probably beat.

Yes, the special effects back then were terrible!

Another thing I remember about these movies are that my friends and I would gather at someone’s home with the freshly minted VHS tape of the latest installment, pop some popcorn, grab some soda, turn out the lights and watch.  We would each pick a character to represent us and see who was the “winner”.  The “winner”, of course, was the one person who survived.  Usually it was the smart, slightly shy, brunette, female co-lead.  I suppose the moral of these movies was that if you weren’t the slutty blonde cheerleader you might one day survive a homicidal maniac trying to kill you at the cabin you and your friends snuck off to in order to engage in lots of premarital sex and drinking.  Huh, I guess I learned something from these movies after all.

Last week I watched the Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars with my daughter and I noticed that teen fright flicks haven’t changed much over the years.  This one was a little different because it took place on a train and it was PG because it was on TV, but teens in horror movies (or TV shows) are still acting like imbeciles and some things never change, like:

1.  The person who knows the secret that could save everyone will be the first to die.

2.  At some point, in order to get away from the villan, someone will run UP the stairs.

3.  Someone, not a very smart someone, will volunteer to go down into the basement to check out the spooky noise….by themselves.  ‘Cause that always turns out well.

4.  Here’s my favorite:  At some point the group will split up to find the killer so that at least 1 person is all alone.  Really?  I never, EVER, understood that one.

5.  When the doomed teen finally realizes he or she needs to escape, the battery in whatever vehicle they jump into will be dead.  OR they will drop the keys to said vehicle while running from the villan.

6.  Mistaking the werewolf, vampire, monster, zombie, killer, villan, the whatever for their best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or whatever.  Huh, you think you know someone right?

You can’t tell me this isn’t terrifying!

I don’t watch a lot of scary movies anymore.  I think the last one I saw was The 6th Sense and I’m still afraid to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I’m also afraid of dolls.  At any moment I expect their little plastic heads to turn and then they’ll start talking….  Nope, never did care for that!  So, this Halloween the scariest thing at my house will be me eating all the candy I bought before the kids ring my doorbell.  And I can promise you that if I hear a scary noise in the basement I will NOT check it out!  Now, where’d I put my crucifix…..