Wednesday, May 22, 2013
So it seems like it’s time to talk about Target.
Target is my therapist. Out of network, of course, like many good therapists are, but it has a sliding scale. Some visits tug hard at my wallet, going well above $100, and some are a bargain at $22.95. Yet each visit yields results, tough discoveries, and occasional surprising revelations which always alter the outcome of my day.
Sometimes I go into a session knowing exactly what I want. I am focused, look carefully at my options, and make clear decisions about how to move forward based on common sense, gut reaction and ultimate value. These occasions usually result in a practical sense of accomplishment as well as an affordable yet effective Aveeno facial moisturizer.
Sometimes I go into a session thinking I know what I want and, unexpectedly, leaving with what I didn’t know I needed. So often these discoveries can only be made when your therapist reveals what’s right in front of you, yet you spend life too busy or too much in a rush to notice. These sessions always leave me with a newfound sense of clarity and wonder as well as a Millennium Falcon t-shirt.
Sometimes I go into a session not knowing why I am there. I try to discover my purpose. I explore everything in detail. There are moments when I glimpse what I think I need or want only to have it fade away seeming superfluous or insignificant. I linger too long, in hopes of an epiphany, and leave unsatisfied, unenlightened and usually with a Diet Coke and a bag of Lays potato chips, which only leave me feeling guilty and unsatisfied.
No matter what the outcome I know I can always count on Target to be there in a way that my friends and family cannot be. Target does not judge. Target does not need me to be in a good mood. Target does not ask anything of me, except a benign request to open a charge account every now and then. Target is open, bright, respects my privacy, and yet offers help and advice when it thinks I need it.
This is not to say that Target should ever replace actual human therapists, but it should be used in conjunction with conventional therapy. Just as there is room for homeopathic and spiritual forms of therapy, there should always be room for retail therapy. Because nothing demonstrates a healthy balanced psyche more than leaving Target with sensibly priced dog food, a Bazinga t-shirt and finding the Bourne Identity for only $5.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Me vs. Little Plastic Strip
I almost burst into tears in the Target parking lot today trying to open an Advil bottle. It was one of those little travel tubes sealed with that little strip of plastic to ward off all potential toxins and tamperers. A little strip of plastic with no helpful perforation, it was an un-collaborative protective seal. I used my fingernails, my keys, and I eventually conquered this formidable foe. It seems like a small obstacle and insignificant victory in the scheme of things, yet in that moment it proved to be a vital accomplishment in a day full of daunting antagonists:
A reluctant young prince who refused to stir from his slumber to partake in the customs of formal education
A relentless teacher revealing the Achilles heel of aforementioned prince in the death-defying deeds of test-taking and reading comprehension
A ruthless merchant discontinuing the sweet sustenance of the Jumble cookie meant for an indulgent meal
All these dragons blocking my way in the enchanted forest that was my day, they seemed to be in cahoots to vanquish optimism. And then the most fearsome one of all…the little plastic protective strip. Smallest in size, yet mightiest of all since it shrewdly waited to challenge me last. My defenses were down from the strip’s brethren of dragons. How could the mettle of my emotional psyche take one more blow, fend off one more blast of fiery breath, wield one more broadsword of perseverance?
The urge to flee, arms flailing, screams piercing, tail resolutely between my legs was overwhelming, and I flirted with it’s siren call by momentarily giving my tears permission to well. Yet in that moment, in an instant I found a crumb of courage, which held the dam of salty disappointment at bay. I stared down the little plastic strip, pulled my tiny sword, which bore a striking resemblance to a Honda Civic key, and sliced my foe in twain. I freed the Advil, and gladly welcomed its healing magic to break the spell cast by my own brain, bewitched to believe that chaos could be controlled. The Dragon Brethren of dashed hopes would have to slink away to their lair unsatisfied today.
It was an epic battle waged by foes so seemingly small they could be dismissed as harmless, or the products of an over reactive mind. Yet when they join forces, they have the power to bring down days and alter the course of a struggling self-esteem. The seduction of surrender is so hard to resist, and some days the dragons win. But not today my friends, no, not today.
Your 15 Minutes Are Up
So I wrote this thing for Mother’s Day, I don’t know if you’ve heard about it. And, well, some people liked it, and What the what?!! It went viral. Cool. Wow. Awesome. Totally unexpected. And all these messages and emails start coming in.
“This is perfect”
“Thank you Mary”
“You should start a blog.”
“Your son needs to serve a detention for not turning in his History homework.”
“Congratulations, you’re the queen of all things.”
“When are you starting that blog?”
Wait. What? Detention?
Well that’s inconvenient. Didn’t my son know that my life was going well there for a second? That I was actually enjoying an unexpected turn in the road of my life; a turn that had beautiful views, surprising sites and the promise of a future full of self-fulfillment and inner peace? Sorry, road closed due to adolescence, please follow detour on this bumpy, pot-holed dirt path in the pouring rain in the middle of the night and by the way, don’t feed the Yeti.
That’s right, get over yourself Mary. Teenager #1 still hates to do his homework and has turned lying about it into an art-form. Teenager #2 also hates to do his homework yet has no problem memorizing the dwarf line of succession from The Hobbit. Time to get back to being a mediocre mother who has no clue what she’s doing, and is desperately trying to remain afloat until the end of adolescence. Who am I kidding, like it’s going to end there? As Jason Robards said in Parenthood “It’s never over, you never spike the ball.”
So, go ahead, start your blog, remember this moment. Hang onto it and pull it out on the truly bleak days. But it’s time to get back to work honey. Your 15 minutes are up.
What I Want for Mother’s Day
After a particularly challenging homework battle with Teenager #1, I promptly finished dinner and then left the house to go to the movies. I picked what I thought to be a benign romantic comedy-Admission with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Turns out, not so benign; actually about mother’s and sons and getting into college, and parenting. Salt, meet wound. After the movie I came home and wrote the following. Yes I wrote it for my kids, but, I think I actually wrote it for me.
What I Want for Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is coming up, and I thought I should tell you what I want. This way there’s no guilty panic or last minute purchasing of flowers at the closest gas station. So, this is what I want, this year and every year after; it’s pretty simple really.
I want you to be a decent human being.
I want you to be who you are, but don’t be an asshole.
I want you to work hard at everything you do, because life is too short not to give it everything you’ve got.
I want you to ask for help when you need it.
I want you to help others when they need it.
I want you to learn how to cook, do your own laundry, pay your bills and know how to clean a bathroom.
When you screw up, and you will, more than once, I want you to own it, because it’s the screw-ups that make the victories sweeter.
I want you to travel, because the world is huge and you are one part of it.
I want you to know that even when we hate each other, I will never stop loving you.
I want you to play nicely with others.
I want you to feed your curiosity.
I want you to find a way to do what you love, and realize that that might look different than you originally thought.
I want you to respect every human being’s right to be who they are.
I want you to sometimes be more interested in someone else than in yourself.
I want you to know that you are flawed and you are extraordinary. There is no one else like you.
I want you to know that I would lay down my life for you in Lily Potter fashion any day of the week.
I want you to realize how lucky you are every once in awhile even if only for an instant.
I want you to know love, even if it means getting hurt.
I want you to relax and not feel guilty about it.
I want you to know life can be brutally hard sometimes.
I want you to know that you can choose happiness even when the dark side offers you cookies.
And I wouldn’t mind breakfast in bed.