Sarah R. Callender


In General on July 24, 2011 at 8:22 am

I do, on the rare occasion, experience fleeting moments of greatness.

Just the other day, for example, I was mid-recipe when I realized I needed a six-ounce can of tomato paste. “Carp!” I said, and scuttled down to the garage pantry, breathing, please let there be tomato paste, please let there be tomato paste, where, lo and behold, there was tomato paste! SIX cans of tomato paste!

In the bare-bulb light of the garage, I did a little fist pump, then scurried upstairs to show Husbandio.

He gave a wink. “Just add that to the list,” he said.

Yes. The list. He means the list (that I have created) titled “Sometimes it’s actually GOOD to be Sarah Callender.”

There have been a few other moments that have made the list: that time the kids and I went to the pool (via my parents’ club membership) and I remembered the kids’ swimsuits AND goggles AND sunscreen. True, I forgot their towels, but that’s why God made air. As I reminded my chilly children, kids in other countries don’t have towels. “Just pretend you’re in another country for a few minutes. By the time you’re dry, you’ll be right back in America.”

Another brief moment of greatness took place that time I remembered to wash Buddy’s boy-stinky sheets before bedtime. Usually I don’t notice a bare mattress (or realize I have forgotten to start the wash) until right at bedtime.

Oh yes, and there was the time I went to Safeway (the one with the well-voiced checker), and I remembered everything on my list–the list that was at home on the kitchen counter.

Of course, not one of these examples of list-making awesomeness may seem noteworthy to those of you with fully-functioning brains. Furthermore, reminding oneself of one’s awesomeness, especially with things that aren’t overly awesome, might seem the act of someone with overly high self-esteem, but make no mistake, I think myself the opposite of awesome with far greater frequency.

I, for example, wish I were a faster email responder.

I wish I were more able to love thy neighbor (my neighbors are fabulous; they are easy to love; it’s loving Thy neighbors that’s tricky for me.)

I wish I had enjoyed playing the game Sweetie created last weekend: Hakey vs Snakey, a game that involves a wooden snake, a hula hoop, lots of jumping over little pieces of paper that say M O M M Y. And one of our very patient cats. I did not love that game. That game, in fact, made me want to scream, “I’m centimeters from Crazyville, and you want me to play Hakey Vs. Snakey?!?!?!” Not even Buddy, who’s usually up for anything with rules, was into it.

Let’s see, what else . . . I have been eating too much of that Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee.

I rarely clean my house, yet I also refuse to hire a house cleaner.

And yes, there was that moment where I had that mean thought about that lady in the ice cream line.

On that subject, I think mean thoughts about my kids who, as it turns out, generate a lot of noise and a lot of crumbs in the summertime. I’m not kidding, it is very loud and very crumby at our house. Did I mention how loud and crumb-generating they are?

Oh, and just the other night, I got mad at Husbandio for folding his own laundry (I KNOW!) when of course, the issue wasn’t him folding his own laundry. The issue was me and Summer Funkapalooza 2011, July apparently being the month where I get mad at people I love when they do nice things. Which of course, does nothing to improve one’s self esteem.

But as my attempts to stave off the summer funk have, it seems, come too little and too late, I am trying to remind myself that I am OK even when I feel totally sub-OK. That in spite of what my lemon-brain is telling me about who and how I am as a wife, mom, friend, writer, human, I still manage small successes in my day. Small successes are better than a sharp stick in the eye. I think Yogi Berra said that. Either Yogi or my dear Dad.

SO along these lines of celebrating the mundane in order to boost swampy spirits, my dear friend, Schmidtie, and I are going to make ourselves capes. Glittery, gauzy capes. With badges (iron on).

Imagine a mash-up of Superman and a Girl Scout, and that’s basically the gist of our cape design. It’s something she and I have been plotting for years now, ever since we became moms who, upon occasion, feel that no one really notices we are, in fact, not unlike superheroes. It was Schmidtie’s idea, and I’m telling you, she’s not even 1% crazy. Schmidtie has the absolute best ideas, all of which come at the absolute best time.

Schmidtie and I like to imagine ourselves making school lunches in The Cape. Perhaps grocery shopping in The Cape. She’d wear her Cape while training for triathlons;  I’d wear mine while writing at a coffee shop. Certainly while chaperoning the kids’ field trip to the tide pools on a day when it’s 52 degrees and raining, The Cape wrapped around our chilly bodies.

We will not, however, wear The Cape to the pool or the beach, as a cape, in general, suggests we have the ability to rescue a floundering child. And that’s not really what The Cape is for. The Cape is NOT for saving people. The Cape is merely a gentle reminder that we all sometimes need and deserve to feel like a superhero just for getting out of bed and tromping through the day with a smile and cute shoes. Or, as the day may dictate, a grimace and cute shoes. Always cute shoes. For the love of Pete, do not forget the cute shoes.

What, Sweetie? Your birthday is tomorrow and you need 28 cupcakes that look like rainbow horses, some with blond manes and others with brown manes? Yes, just get me The Cape, and I’ll whip those right up for you.

Really Buddy? You want me to purchase a Yoda mask from EBay, and do Jedi Training at your 6th birthday party? Say no more! In this Cape, anything’s possible!

Trust me. That is I in the Yoda mask. Sweating profusely.

As for the badge part, one badge on my cape would be a picture of a silver bowl, the Throw-up Bowl, representative of the one I needed for me and for Buddy when Husbandio was traveling. That was in 2005, when Sweetie was just a pea, and Buddy was a slightly bigger pea, and as you know, a pea cannot announce when he is about to puke. For four days, Buddy and I were like the synchronized swimmers of the puking world, perfectly-timed, simultaneous pukers.

In case you’ve never tried it, it’s hard to be throwing up and to have a two-year old who’s also throwing up and a baby who is not throwing up but still wants to nurse because she refuses to drink from a bottle. Sure, a lot of people have it about a billion times harder (Libyans come to mind), but in my world that was hard. I want a badge for that.

I also wouldn’t mind a badge for surviving Sweetie’s Helen Keller phase. The phase where, just a few months ago, she apparently lost all verbal capacity and instead, resorted to grunting and fervent pointing and tantruming. “What, Sweetie? You want this for breakfast? No, this? THIS?? THIIISSSS??? I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WANT FOR BREAKFAST WHEN YOU ARE JUST SAYING ‘MEH MEH’ AND POINTING AT YOUR SOCK!”

I need a badge for that. The Annie Sullivan badge.

And, once I am safely on the other side of her Sweetie’s Baby Talk phase, I’ll need a badge for that too. But not until I have earned it.

I’d also like an I Inadvertently Enraged 50% of the Parents on Buddy’s Baseball Team with that Trophies are Detrimental and Unnecessary Email. And Yet, I Survived badge.

A Chief Cat Barf/Cat Pee Cleaner badge.

An I Did Ten Full-Body Triceps Push-Ups badge. (Don’t laugh. Those are hard, and if you don’t think so, then get down on the floor and try it, but do NOT cheat–your elbows have to rub your waist as you lower your planked self down to the place, where if you have bosoms, your bosoms nearly touch the floor. See? Very hard. Now imagine TEN of those!).

And yes, the Stockpiled Tomato Paste badge. The Stockpiled Peanut Butter badge. The Stockpiled Mustard badge.

Maybe you could use a cape too, one with your own personalized set of badges. Some of you would get a Take THAT, Cancer! badge. A Rockin’ Single Mom badge.  An I Was Kind to a Stranger Today badge. Or how about the I Have Squirreled Away ONE Extra Roll of TP, So No, We’re Actually NOT Out of TP! badge. An I Loved My AND Thy Neighbors Today badge.

My friend Elissa is waiting to hear back from her agent as he shops her memoir around to publishers. She needs the Patience of a Saint badge.

My sister-in-law gets all kinds of cool badges (she knows what they are).

My friend, Kasey, gets a Triple Hip Replacement badge. I’m thinking that badge should show a woman doing a really awesome salsa with lots of shimmy in the hip region.

My grandmother deserves a badge that says Gracefully Living Through Alzheimer’s. Because she is.

Whether you’re someone (and I know there are at least three or four someones out there) who has unknowingly tripped and stumbled into a bit of a depression and subsequently, is working really hard to find the good in yourself, OR, whether you’re just a normal-brained person who’s doing the best you can every day, you need a cape.

With lots of badges.

In fact, unless you are someone who hurts bunnies or kidnaps children, unless you’re a fan of Hitler or Gaddafi or sex trafficking, unless you are someone who enjoys watching others suffer, you deserve a cape. A cape and a list of Reasons Why It’s Actually Good to be YOU today.

Even if you don’t really feel faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, what cape badge do you deserve today? What act of greatness (or even apparent mediocrity) should be emblazoned on your cape as it flutters behind you?

Come on, let’s hear ’em.

Or if you don’t care to share, just join me and Schmidtie for a little Caping Bee. You bring the sense of humor, we’ll supply the sewing machine and the iron-on badges.

  1. I love the cape idea. You deserve many more badges, including the “Selfless Friend” badge. And thank you for naming my daughter’s current phase. I’ll take an Annie Sullivan badge IF I make it through this.

    • Thanks, Jodi. I will help you make your very own Annie Sullivan badge . . . since L is so precocious, I’m sure she’ll move in and out of her Helen Keller stage long before Sweetie did. Thanks, friend, for reading and commenting.

  2. I’ll take that Triple Hip Replacement badge Sarah, I have certainly earned it! And to you my friend, I give you “the fiercest red head I know” badge. I picture it looking a little like the Heat Miser, just to remind others not to mess with you!

  3. I’m making myself an “I have two teenagers and a kid in elementary school and I’m still sane” badge for my cape! And a “my dog has cancer and it’s so sad” one too. I also have the best friends anyone could ever hope for which makes getting through ANYTHING a breeze. So my lining would be a friendship one. 🙂

    • Amen to that. Anyone who has more than two kids (i.e. more kids than I could handle) and maintain her sanity certainly deserves a huge badge. Maybe even one for each kid. As for dogs dealing with cancer . . . I am so sorry. Nothing worse than a sick family member. And, I LOVE the lining idea . . . I hadn’t even thought of that. You can be the Chief Designer. Thanks, Pamela, for reading. 🙂

  4. Such a completely hysterical post!!! Can I have a badge for getting all three girls bathed in record time after the world’s most fabulous and filthy camping trip while cleaning slug slime off our van seat and finishing my memo for work this morning? 🙂 I am seeing the beginning of a merchandise web site!! I love it!

    • Jeannie, you get at least three badges for that. I think the Slug Slime badge would be particularly fun to create. Maybe just a shimmery trail of slugness? Thanks so much. Love your comment!

  5. You have a basement pantry? That’s awesome. I wish I had a basement pantry. Maybe there would be an unopened bag of coffee down there. Or perhaps a fully cooked dinner just cooling on a rack. Maybe even a tin of freshly baked cookies. A girl can dream. And if I did have a basement pantry that might actually have that one, single ingredient that I so desperately needed in order to not have to admit defeat, I would do a little dance. I would give myself a badge for living in a house that had a basement pantry for just such things.

  6. I think you need another cape – first one is getting a little full. Also I’m sure there should be some warnings around how not to use the Yoda mask.

  7. I think you need to add an I-Am-An-Awesome-Writer-Who-Makes-Other-People’s-Days badge to your cape. Yes, I’m sure of it. It should be large and go right on the front.

  8. Hey Sarah, I popped over from WU. After we were talking about blogging hiatus, etc. 🙂 Enjoyed your post. I have a 14-month-old. I tried to make him a cape out of a towel he refused to quit pulling out of a safety-not-working-so-well drawer. Next time, I’ll try it on myself. Happy Writing.

  9. Sarah, you get a badge for Blogger With Best Grammar and Competence with the English Language In General. Plus Being Funny. Funny With No Typos Badge. I think I get no badges because I have neglected the Cute Shoes Clause. In fact I may have neglected the Cut Your Toenails and Shave Your Legs Clause. Come winter I can collect badges in my boots.

    • Ha! If only I could be as funny as you, Ms. JD. Thanks for all of the affirmation. I’ll promote you to Chief of Badges. Badass Badge Lady. Thanks, as always, for reading.

  10. I’m really more of a Badger than a Badge Lady. Just ask my husband.

  11. I want to come to your caping party! See? I even made a verb for the occasion. My badge would be the “I let my husband sleep even though our newborn is up at 2:00 a.m., STARING at me” badge. Or the more frequent “I have finally stopped telling water that it disgusts me and will even drink a little every day” badge.

  12. Great post, of course.

    Hmmm. Maybe an I Survived The Year of Kindness, Dammit badge.

  13. Laughing so hard I have tears!! Meet you at the fabric store- I already have designs in mind for the “Synchronized Puking Badge” & “The Annie Sullivan badge”! Plus a few more…

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