Sunday, August 14, 2011


The move actually continues with what I would describe as miracle ease.  The boys are relatively well-behaved even though we have no food in the house, no television and no toys.  Our only saving grace to occupy our busy-body boys are our two iPads.  The iPads would become invaluable in our move, travels, and obstacles that lay ahead.

They sit patiently, even politely, for the opportunity to play Angry Birds and watch their favorite shows on this amazing device.  Thank you, Mr. Jobs.  I realize that you are making a ka-jillion dollars and don't need a lowly stay-at-home mother's appreciation, but this thing is worth it's weight in gold.  It really can keep kiddos quiet for a duration of time that would permit any lunatic mother to gain her composure.  I am steadfast in my belief and determination that my boys will play with real wood blocks, run outside playing sports, dig in the dirt to plant a garden (with gloves of course), and have shelves stocked with books with REAL paper pages in their bedrooms.  I want my kids to have all the tools for them to learn and be creative.  I want them to have everything they could need to explore the world around them and sharpen their senses to see and feel more in their lives.  I don't want them to form into little rigid robots that stare at a tablet screen their entire lives.  As a result, I often have felt a disdain for all these unnecessary devices that our kids laze around with these days.

However, it is now clear, Mr. Jobs that I am indebted to you for this marvel of technology.  It would keep me sane for the coming days, but ironically would also be my demise.

In our home, we generally are more liberal with television than I would like and now the boys spend more time on our iPads because of the TWO HOURS a day they spend doing breathing treatments and airway clearance.  I nearly feel a shock of guilt through me if I say no.  It is time they are forced to sit and be hooked up to machines beyond their will... every... single... day... to keep their lungs healthy.  And they have no say in the matter.  If I can at the very least provide some joy, entertainment, interest, education...  whatever can shed light on this sedentary time is, well, a blessing.

And while Michael now understands that we spend this time and do these treatments to get "the glue out of his lungs" and try to get rid of the "germies", he is happy to do his treatments time playing games he enjoys or watching shows on TV that are "special".  It is a reward to do this time with the iPad.  Same goes with Dylan.

These tools also transcend our home.  They have become a necessity when trying to sit through a 4-hour clinic visit with two little boys bouncing off the walls.  Or a distraction in a hospital ER.  Or sitting in a restaurant with the desperation to just finish a hot meal.  Mr. Jobs, let's be honest.  You own us.  And you know it.

The movers continue to usher boxes out on their backs with straps.  Hulking over-sized boxes that I could crawl into they could simply load me on the truck.  The crew is hard-working and diligent.  One dolly filled with boxes after another.  My husband arrives back from his office (yes, to repair a technical problem with his computer) with some support.  He is pleasantly surprised at the temperament and relaxed nature of the boys sitting on the couch in the family room as they swipe their little fingers across the glowing screens.  Again, no sarcasm here.  Thank you, Mr. Jobs.

I joke with one of the movers from the crew.  "Hey, have you ever had a family or someone freak out on you during a move?  You know, since you are moving their lives onto a truck?"  As he hefts a box out the door and down the front walk he responds with a laugh, "Yeah, some people freak out.  But you really feel for the old people when they have spent their whole lives in the house they are leaving."  I linger on this thought for a minute.  Yeah, I can imagine that would be difficult.  I am sure these guys have seen it all...

Michael stays entranced with the iPad with Transformers shows, and I watch the progression of the move.  Towers of boxes that stood in my dining room and study are slowly disappearing.  We stay at our base camp on the couch to avoid being in the way of the crew.  Dylan falls asleep while the iPad is still propped in front of him.  I am grateful for him to be getting a nap in on such a stressful and bustling day.  He has the comfort of the linens from his bed as he sweetly smacks on his pacifier.

Now that hours have passed, Dylan is now awake and the boys are starting to get restless.  My husband makes astute decision to take the Dyl-man on a walk around the neighborhood to get some energy out.  A walk would do him good.  I hang back with Michael since he doesn't want to leave his magic screen.  The moving crew continues pacing in and out of our open front door with more cardboard monotony.

I decide since Daddy has gotten Dylan out of the house, that I would do the same for Michael.  I suggest to Michael that we head next door to our neighbor's to visit one last time before the moving van pulls away.  We are blessed to have the most wonderful next door neighbors.  They are a couple with three grown kids and who are always there to help out in a pinch and are always busy around their home and yard.  The wife has been tremendously helpful the past year with watching the boys weekly so I can go to a Pilates class.  They are all around good people and good friends.  The boys have grown to love toddling over into their yard and playing in all seasons of Chicago weather.  We have grown close to  them over the years.  And the kind of people you want right next door.  I am saddened that we are leaving them and this neighborhood for two years.

As I make the suggestion for a visit next door, Haley perks her ears and hurriedly pops up.  I neglect to remember that she loves the neighbors' dog, a sweet-natured standard poodle.  I had not planned for her to come along, but I suppose I can't leave her behind.  As a result, the unexpected becomes the expected.  She bolts out the front door that is open for the movers and starts to head next door.  This is when I stroll over while Michael steps behind me.  I greet my sweet neighbor as she sits on her front stoop as Haley runs up.  I glance behind me and see that Michael is running through the grass with my iPad.  He is nearing a patch that is slushy, muddy and I suggest he walk over to the sidewalk (a poor decision in retrospect).

As Michael begins to redirect his path, he walks two strides on the sidewalk.  Then my senses shift to slow motion as I see him start to start to fumble with the iPad.  It slips from his small fingers and he continues to grasp and re-grasp at it.  He is starting to loose grip and the device.  Naked without a cover or any type of protection, it falls from his little hands.  It is nearly suspended in air as I watch it with each nanosecond it falls closer and closer to earth.  It hits the cement sidewalk.  I cringe as I see one of the four corners take the impact and then the path of destruction hits two more corners of the iPad as it bounces on the sidewalk.  It lands there and is still.  Ever so quickly Michael grabs it off the pavement turns his stride around and starts briskly walking in a diagonal path toward the street.  I see everything with my own eyes so I know with fact it has happened, but his swift recovery and nonchalant fleeing of the scene leads me to wonder if it did in fact happen.

The gray sky looms overhead.  I can hear the movers' voices over at my house, dull in my head.  I yell for Michael to stop walking.   I call his name but he doesn't respond.  I yell again and he continues toward the street where the moving van is parked.  I have a moment of adrenalin and complete freak out.  I can't tell if I am angry that he is ignoring me or if I am concerned that he is walking into the street.  I burst from my standing position and start running.  I grab Michael when he is not quite even a couple steps from the curb.  I begin reprimanding him, not even for the accident, but for not listening as I called for him and as he dangerously approached the street.  His face is sad and confused, but he clearly he doesn't understand the gravity of his actions.  Upon inspection of the iPad, the screen is shattered on three of the four corners.  The spidery, cracking patterns on the screen are almost more aggravating than if the whole entire thing was shattered.  I am exasperated and speechless, other than my directions to Michael that he is never to ignore me and walk towards a street.  The broken iPad, after all, was an accident.

Then I hear the unmistakable roar of the infamous brown truck turning onto our street.  I see our dog's nemesis pull up right next to the moving van.  The UPS Guy, Raul.    I am praying he is going to another house or turning around.  This is the first time in the years we have lived here that the dog has the chance to run right up to him and bark her fury at him instead of through the picture window of our dining room.  I try to greet him verbally as she charges at him.  This can only end in nightmare.  However, it is immediately apparent that Raul is a good guy and knows how to handle himself around dogs.  He doesn't react and acknowledges that his delivery is for me and he needs a signature.  Finally, Haley realizes that he is a friend and she trots around him smelling him and deciding her next move in this adventure of a day.  I sign the electronic pad while we make small talk while the dog sniffs around.  He jokes that he is going to miss stopping at our house on his route and the dog barking every time through the window...  he stops at our house regularly with brown boxes of medication or online purchases I have made.  Raul is a good guy.  He climbs in his truck and I am holding this small package that I don't have a thought to figure out what is in it.

I try to gather myself to figure out what has even transpired.  Michael is sitting with our neighbor on their stoop examining the iPad.  My head is swirling.  Where is my husband?  And Dylan?  And where is the dog for that matter.  I glance around and realize that she has continued along her path of destruction.  I witness her pooping on the one unpleasant neighbor's lawn in the neighborhood.  Leaving Michael with my neighbor and the remnants of the iPad, I run over to grab the dog's collar to usher her home.  Great, now ANOTHER literal mess to clean up.  As I approach Haley, the neighbor storms out her front door and begins shouting at me, "Your dog pooped!  Your dog pooped on my lawn."  She points and wags her finger in the direction of the mess.

I have hit the brink of madness as I retort, "We're moving.  We have a few things going on here.  SERIOUSLY?!  Do you think I am going to leave it?!  CAN'T YOU SEE WE'RE MOVING!"  I am furious.  She didn't even give me a CHANCE to clean up after the dog.  I wish this witch would get a clue.  These are the neighbors with their doors shut tight and their unhappy aura emanating from their home.  They don't answer their door on Halloween and they garden in their backyard while wearing hats with large brims to hide their expressions and lurking views of the rest of the neighborhood.  It is beyond me how they can find any joy in life.  Maybe their joy comes from making others unhappy.

The only interaction I have ever had with this woman otherwise was when she was driving away from her home with her gardening gloves on the roof of her car.  I happened to be pulling away at the same time behind her and scooped up the gloves.  I pulled up behind her at the stop sign as we both leaving the neighborhood.  I remember shoving the gearshift of my car into park and running up to her driver's side window to return her gloves to her.  I can vividly recall her stunned expression and thankless response.  I believe Karma will come full circle for people like this. 

I turn my back on this lady so there is no question about my feelings.  I huff loudly at her as I grab the dog's collar to walk away.  The collar slips off and I curse under my breath as I scramble to get it back on.  I storm off clutching the dog's collar.  I head home passing my next door neighbor who is still thoughtfully sitting with Michael on her front stoop.  She says very clearly, "Don't worry about it, hon.  I will clean it up for you."  Tears well in my eyes and my skin feels hot.  "It's okay, I got it," I reassure her.  She knows how inappropriate and infuriating this whole scene was.

I feel my face contort as I try to stave off the crying.  I shove the dog in the house and tell her firmly to stay, even though the door is open.  Where is a damn doggie bag???  I find a random one in the car hatch and with my head held up I double back to clean up the poop.  I mutter under my breath the entire time.  The witch has gone back to her wicked house.  I feel eyes on me so I am sure she is peering out of one of her windows to make sure I cleaned it up.

I stomp home along the sidewalk.  My husband, who has witnessed everything from afar at a friend's house down the street, has no idea what happened as he calls after me.  So does our friend still watching Michael.  I answer with my auto-pilot response, "It's okay.  It's okay.  It's okay..."  I trail off as I hold the swinging bag of poop in my right hand.  I realize I am shaking I am so upset.

I plunk down the bag in some now unknown location because I am starting to black out with anger.  I storm into my house and with movers all around, I realize I have no privacy.  I walk into the laundry room.  I crumple into a heap in a corner between the dryer and the laundry tub and start hysterically bawling.  I am crying so hard, I can't breathe.  The burning tears streak my face.  I am fully cracking.

Oh no.  Here it comes...

The verbal manifestation is just emerging as my husband hurries into the laundry room and tries to calm me.  I am screaming incoherent fragments he can't piece together based on the train wreck he just witnessed.

"Nothing of mine stays nice...  EVER!"...          "NOTHING!"...          "We're moving for you!  And your career.  I have nothing!"...          "That lady... She is CLUELESS.  We have never left poop ANYWHERE after our dog.  How dare she?!"...          "And brilliant timing.  Some neighbor."...         "It would have been nice for her to give me a minute, A MINUTE!, at least to clean it up.  She didn't have to yell at me!"...         "Why do we have to be THOSE people?  ALL THE TIME??!"...          "Can't we just be NORMAL?!"

He hugs me as I shout and violently shake.  He tries to quiet my rant.  I pull away and continue yelling in tongues.  I am close to an out of body experience.  I want the whole world to hear me, naughty words and all.

And in the aftermath, I am left with a broken spirit and a shattered iPad that quite appropriately had been my Mother's Day gift.  Why can't anything of mine stay nice???  Why can't I ever enjoy anything or EVER RELAX?!  I answer these in my head.  Simply, I have two small, active children and a busy family.  That's why.  There is little satisfaction in my self-answered interrogation.

My eyes are now swollen and my face is red when the tears have stopped.  I feel broken and exhausted.  I am angry and overwhelmed.  My husband leaves me to check on the boys with our trusty next door neighbor.  I try to gather myself and a lightening bolt thought enters my brain.  I am now that person who is a mess through a move...  I am THAT PERSON I had joked about with the mover only hours before.  I sneer, then break it with a snicker.  I walk out my front door to see how the boys are doing.  One of the movers walking by stops, he puts his hand on my shoulder and says, "Moving is's alright."  He smiles and continues on.  The gray clouds are starting to leave and the sky is slowly beginning to brighten.

When I arrive next door, everyone assures me that the iPad screen isn't shattered that badly.  It is still fully operable, they assure me.  But I am sick with frustration.  We walk inside and my neighbor pours me a cup of coffee.  I sit in the comfort of her kitchen with the boys as we had many times before.  My head hurts, but I feel as though we have gotten through the worst.  I feel the tears start again and I choke them back.  Soon the last boxes will be loaded on the truck.

The move will continue.  Our lives will go on.  It is but a blip in the bigger moment.  With all the insanity that day, I would later learn some pretty invaluable lessons.

Days later, we sit in the car for an extended duration to our new home on the East Coast, I know it is behind us.  I know how special our next door neighbors are and how lucky we are to call them friends.  I know how wretched and unhappy other people can be and I will pluck those folks out of my life as I can.  I know how wonderful my husband is as he always fixes what is broken.  I am in awe that he was able to replace my iPad with a shiny new one, within a day, just before we leave from Chicago.  I know how our family can endure, even in the wake of a crazy amount of drama.

I look back at the boys during our voyage, both enthralled with the iPads.  They watch shows, play games, and are completely smitten with the activities on the devices.

The irony is that while the move was a nightmare, the 14 hour drive with two small kids and a dog is almost too easy.  It's laughable all because of this amazing technology.  I turn back around and look directly out the windshield to view what seems to be an endless Interstate 80 ahead.  And anytime my life can be a little smoother, even a fraction easier, well, these days...  I'll take it.  Thank you, Mr. Jobs, thank you.