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Before One Direction (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 17)

As I was looking at a website about One Direction kicking off their concerts at O2 Arena this week, I found a link that caught my eye.  As I mentioned in the past, as a child, I was a big Bay City Rollers fan.  Well guess what…After 40 years of being apart, The Bay City Rollers are reuniting at Glasgow’s Barrowland on December 20th.  The link below has a comical quote by Woody Stuart, who said that The Bay City Rollers “were bigger than One Direction”.

Bay City Rollers Comeback (<– Click link to read the article)

As soon as I read about the comeback, I had to tell my big sister.  If it wasn’t for her hard work, we wouldn’t have ever had a chance to go to their concert all those years ago.  My sister said she thinks we should give ourselves a special Christmas present and fly to Glasgow to see them perform again.  LOL  Although I was thinking the same thing, I know that isn’t going to happen.   However, there has been so much interest in their comeback concert that now a world tour is being discussed.  Hmmm, do you think they will be performing anywhere near us, Sis?

As my sister and I were chatting back and forth online about The Bay City Rollers, she brought up a good question.  She wonders how many moms that are One Direction fans use to be Bay City Rollers fans as teenagers.  That is a good question, so I am going to see if I can get some feedback from my blog followers about this question.  So if you are an adult fan of One Direction, please answer my poll question.  I want to see if I have other amigos in the blog world that share the same love for The Bay City Rollers songs like Bye Bye Baby and Shang-a-Lang.

Young One Direction Fans (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 16)

I have a very scary observation I need to share with you.  As I had mentioned before, I had placed a comment on the One Direction Facebook page to get some idea of how much time the opening act and intermission would be at the OTRA concert.  I got a handful of replies back with some very valuable information and I am forever in their debt.  However, I received something else that I had not planned on receiving.

In the two weeks since I posted my comment on the One Direction Facebook page I have received at least 6 friend requests from younger One Direction fans that I do not know.  This concerns me a great deal.  Yes, I am a mother of four and obviously a very cool mother for taking my kids to a One Direction concert.  That fact, I will not deny.  🙂  But these young people who sent me a friend request don’t know me from Adam.

I’m a mother so I must be safe…Or am I?  These kids don’t know if I really have four kids or if I’m even a woman.  I could be some sort of stalker, looking for my next victim.  Heck, even though I really am a mother of four, these young people don’t know if I have some secret life where I’m the leader of some child trafficking ring or something.  You should know me well enough to know that I’m too darn tired to even attempt to have some ulterior motive.  But these strangers on Facebook don’t know me like you do.

This scares me a great deal, because I know that if my kids were on Facebook they most likely would do the same thing.  They would send out a friend request to a stranger, just because the person is a One Direction fan.  That is why my kids don’t have a Facebook account.  I’m not ready for that next step of responsibilities.  Ok, truthfully, I’m too tired to have to supervise their Facebook posts.  🙂

Because I’m a bit paranoid when it comes to who I share my Facebook pictures with, I deleted the friend requests from my Facebook page.  As sweet and lovely as any of those kids might be, I don’t feel comfortable adding them to my friend list.  However, how many people who are looking to acquire more friends on their Facebook account say yes?  How many adults that friend these young strangers post inappropriate pictures or jokes on their Facebook account and don’t question the audience that will read them?

With the technology we have today, it is so easy to reach out to someone you have never met or spoke to.  I have some friends on Facebook that are spouses or friends of a friend.  I have never met them before or even spoke to them on the phone.  Yet, we are both adults and we were connected by a mutual friend.  And as much as I would like to think that One Direction is a friend of mine, they are a music group that doesn’t really know me.  So using One Direction as a mutual friend to meet new friends is not a wise decision.

The point I am trying to get across is that parents need to discuss with their kids the importance of ‘Stranger Danger’, even on Facebook.  They need to question who their kids are being friends with on Facebook.  They need to keep their kids safe and in this day and age, that does not mean to lock the doors.  Because these days, intruders can reach kids through Facebook in the comfort of your own home.  So please, please, please, be attentive to who your kids are speaking to online and what they are reading and watching on the web.  If we don’t watch out for our kids, who will?

Survival Guide Review (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 15)

If you recall, I had created a Concert Survival Guide for our 1D Adventure.  Now that we have attended the One Direction concert, I thought it would be nice to go back and review the survival guide and comment on what worked and what did not work.  That way, mother’s of little kids can have something to reference if they take their kids to a music concert.  Oh heck, who am I kidding?  I am writing this so I can remember what worked best, because I see myself taking my kids to other music concerts in the future.  In fact, ever since the One Direction concert, my 4-year-old son Christopher keeps asking when we will go see ‘One Ection’ again.  He doesn’t seem to understand that the concert was for one night only.  So if you see me blogging about packing up and following One Direction around the world, it will be for the sake of my little boy.  (That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.)

On to the review of my Survival Guide for our 1D Adventure:

  • Skip opening act – Because of Icona Pop’s “R” rated lyrics and because the kids will not see this as a fun build up to the main event.  They will see this as torture, because they came for one band and one band only.        This was a great call on my part.  Even if the opening act is a “G” rated band, it’s not a good idea to make little ones seat through an additional hour at a concert.  Thanks to some replies back from a comment I made on One Direction’s Facebook page, I was able to estimate our arrival time so we arrived when the opening act was completely over and there was an intermission before 1D arrived on stage.  Kudos for Mom!!
  • Watch California concert video before-hand – This way they will have an idea of what it is going to be like.  I would hope that it will be scary enough to my little ones that they will want to stay at home with their aunt.  I doubt it, but a mother could always dream.     After we surprised the kids with the news about the One Direction concert, I showed the kids the California concert video.  The theory that it would scare my little ones out of going was wrong.  But I think it helped to prepare them a little bit for what to expect.  What I didn’t expect was all the questions that Marie and Patrick would have after watching it.  They were wanting to know if our view would be better than that and didn’t understand why I didn’t buy tickets for floor seating.  (Um, cause I’m not rich!  That’s why.)  So I sort of wish I hadn’t shown the two older ones the California video.
  • Get earplugs – This way the kids will not be as overwhelmed by the shrill screams of the fans.  I don’t know if they will want to wear them, but I hope they will be willing to wear them after they watch the concert footage.     Earplugs…good.  My children…stupid.  LOL  I had bought a box of soft earplugs that you put in your ears.  This should be a simple thing that I can get my kids to do.  Wrong, they were not going for the earplug thing.  I was smart enough to bring two headphones that had been broken.  So I cut off the cord and since the headphones had belonged to the kids, they were willing to wear them.  So don’t throw those broken headphones away, reuse them for events like this.  Patrick and Ann ended up wearing the headphones.  Marie refused any type of device that would block out the band, so she will probably have hearing problems in the future.  I wore earplugs and was able to get some to fit in the outer area of Christopher’s ears.  I even gave some earplugs to another fan’s mother that was sitting by us.  With all the screaming around you, I’m glad we had them.
  • Glow-in-the-dark shirts are a must – My thought is that if we all have glow-in-the-dark shirts on, then the kids will not be as afraid in the dark.  So I went to a craft store and bought some glow-in-the-dark iron-on material that you can print a decal on and attach it to a shirt.  I also got some glow-in-the-dark fabric paint.     I am sad to report that my glow-in-the-dark iron-ons didn’t glow in the dark.  I’m not sure if I did something wrong in the creativity process or what, but we did have some good-looking shirts when the lights were on.  I never tried the fabric paint, so I guess that is something we can try on a rainy day.  I still believe the glow-in-the-dark shirts is a great idea though.
  • Glow-in-the-dark necklaces – Another item that we can wear, to help counteract the dark arena.     The glow stick necklaces and bracelets worked great.  In fact, they acted as entertainment to my little ones while they were waiting for the concert to start.  I would highly recommend them.
  • Pre-paid parking spot – I purchased a parking spot to one of the Gold level parking garages on-line.  This way we know we have a close parking spot and can arrive at the concert later than the other fans.  Plus, like my sister pointed out, we might be carrying a few sleepy kids on the way back to the van.     This was the best idea ever.  In fact, we saw what it would have been like if we didn’t get a pre-paid spot.  We had to make a U-turn in a Denny’s parking lot on the other side of the interstate in order to get into the concert traffic.  While there, we noticed a sign for $2 concert parking in the Denny’s parking lot and many girls and chaperones walking the 2 or 3 block trek to the stadium.  Marie asked me why we couldn’t do the same.  She just wanted to get to the concert as soon as possible.  I told her that I didn’t want to walk that far with all the kids.  I am usually the one that will go for the best price, even if I have to walk a little more.  But I am so glad I went the expensive way this time.  The price I paid for the Gold level parking was worth it’s weight in gold.  We got a parking spot right next to the venue.  I’m talking, the equivalent of a close parking spot at Walmart.  So we had a very short distance to walk.  This was a great thing to have when you had stood for two hours, holding little kids, in the heat.  So around 11:30 pm when we were driving out of the venue’s parking lot, we were watching the people who had parked in the Denny’s parking lot start their trek back over the interstate bridge.  Sometimes cheaper is not always better.  
  • Enough Adult Supervision – I have learned over the summer that I can’t be in two places at once.  That is why my sister and my niece are coming with us.  So if/when some of the kids can’t handle the noise of the concert, I will be able to have an adult walk with them in the corridors.  While another adult (hopefully me) can be with the ones that want to watch the concert.     This is definitely a must.  It was so helpful to have my sister and niece there to help with the little ones.  They took Ann and Patrick out to the corridor when the screaming was too much before the concert.  They helped me hold the two little ones up during the concert.  They helped keep track of all the kids in the crowds.  Without their attendance, that concert experience would have ended a lot less enjoyable.  So bring plenty of back up.
  • Last but not least, No High Expectations –  Not on the concert itself, but on our experience.  I live my life WITHOUT rose-colored glasses.  I know that all four of my kids are not going to act the same way towards this event.  I know that one might be excited and another one might be scared to death.  So if I don’t have high hopes that we will all have the best experience ever at this concert, then I won’t be heartbroken over the outcome.     I was so right on this one.  Not all the kids enjoyed the concert the same.  I believe in my heart that each one of them had a good experience, no matter how brief, during the concert.  However, some of them were ready to leave half-way through the concert.  While some of them, like me, wanted to stay until the last song was sang.  In fact, as we were waiting for the concert to begin, the girls in the crowd were getting so excited that they would scream over any movement they saw on the stage.  That was when Patrick and Ann was asking to go home.  I didn’t want them to be miserable, but at the same time, I didn’t want to disappoint Marie by leaving before the concert even started.  Thankfully, with my sister and niece’s help and some popcorn, Patrick and Ann stayed for the concert and had fun.  Like I said, they wanted to leave before the concert was over, but they did have moments where they let the music get in them.  So I have photos of them smiling and some photos of them sad.  The thing is, I know that if I suggest going to another concert down the road, they are going to remember the good parts of the 1D concert and forget about the things they didn’t enjoy.  Because that’s what humans tend to do, block out the bad stuff.  Going into the concert with No High Expectations helped me enjoy the experience for what it was.  My joy was not crushed by my kid’s actions.  I enjoyed it to the fullest and brought home many great memories of our 1D adventure.

I’m not a good planner but, for this situation, I am glad I planned ahead.  It made the experience much better than I could have imagined.  So if you are as crazy as me and decide to take your little kids to a music concert, go prepared.  You can do anything as long as you have a desire, a plan and good support to back you up.  This is probably the craziest thing I will ever do in my life…or is it?  LOL  By now, you should know that this sort of thing will become the norm for my family.  We will most likely attend many, many more concerts in our future.  Because life is too short to sit around in the comfort of your own home.  Sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone and let your hair down.  As long as you have a plan, anything is possible.

The True Concert Experience (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 14)

I will admit that during the first song of the One Direction concert, I was thinking that I could get the same enjoyment from watching a One Direction presentation on my TV, in the comfort of my air-conditioned home.  Yes, that is a sign that I truly am middle-aged.  HOWEVER, that thought changed later into the concert.

I was not like some of the adult women that were sitting in the stands, waiting for the concert to get over so they could go home.  I was on my feet, singing and dance like I just didn’t care.  As I have mentioned before, I am not a thin woman.  I was making my sleeveless shirt blossom more than it probably ever wanted to.  But I didn’t care.  Because in my mind, I looked like all the other woman and girls in the crowd.  I was beautiful the way I was, because the songs that One Direction were singing to me told me so.

I was also singing and screaming at the top of my voice and I didn’t care if anyone liked it or not.  It was mid-way into the concert that I figured out what was so magically about going to a concert.  It’s not the fact that you can see your favorite band in person, because although our seats were good, you couldn’t see them up close and personal.  Although my sister and Marie are pretty sure that Harry and Niall both looked right at them some time during the concert.  Heck, maybe they did.

Thankfully, with modern-day technology, you could see the band members clearly on the big screens they had on the stage.  So in a sense, it was like going to see them at a movie theater, because you spent the most part watching the big screen instead of following the moving bodies on the stage.  However, there is something special about attending a concert that you can’t get from the comfort of your own house.

You get to hear them talk to the fans and make little impromptu jokes that may or may not change at every concert.  You get to hear them tell you that this group of fans is the loudest group they have preformed for yet.  Even though that may or may not be true, they make you feel special for that short time you are spending with them.

But the real mystery behind the concert experience is giving back to the band.  No, I’m not talking about physically throwing a bra or something onto the stage.  (I am happy to inform that no one from our party lost any clothing during the concert.  Heck, we were so sweaty that our clothes were stuck to our bodies.)  I’m talking about showing the band how much they are appreciated through a number of vocal ways.

Yes, the first form of appreciation is the screaming.  It’s the first and most common thing you think to do when you are in a venue that big.  You want your voice to be heard above the rest.  But as the concert heats up and you get most of your screaming out, you start to sing.  You sing with the band, like you are part of the band.

It’s like the sign that Marie was holding up during the whole concert, you start to feel like you need to sing with them so they won’t leave.  You don’t just sing with words, you sing with feelings.  One song might not be as well-known or as well liked as some, but you sing it because it’s part of who One Direction is.  Then that special song comes on that you have waited for and you sing, at the top of your lungs, like you are alone in your car.  You do it as a way to give back to the guys that have given you so much joy.

You sing with all your heart, as if the band members of One Direction were your Music Teacher and you were trying to get an A on a music test.  You take the memories, the emotions, the experiences that the song gives you and you bundle it up and give it back to the band through a song.  Your voice may not be as great as them, but you sing it with all the emotions that run through you, all the emotions you need to let go of.  You give back to the band the one thing they have already given to you…memories.

By singing with all your heart and soul, you show the group that they have made a difference in your life.  That you have connected with them on a level they never knew existed.  It was so awesome when this revelation hit me.  When I realized why we needed to travel so many miles and stand in a hot arena to see our favorite band.  It was so we can give back to them the same joy they have given us.

Yes, I’m sure that One Direction would probably not be willing to go perform a concert like they did Tuesday night for free.  I know that the fact that we purchased concert tickets is why they had agreed to perform.  I know that they are hoping through their performance that they will be able to sell more merchandise.  But I know that no amount of money could make those guys get up there and perform the way they did.  I truly believe they do it, for the most part, for their fans.  To show their fans their appreciation for helping them get to where they are now.  To feel like their music made a difference to someone’s life.  To be appreciated for the musical gift that God gave them.

From what I witnessed Tuesday night, I believe that One Direction felt the love that their fans showed them at the concert.  I believe they (or I hope they) could see how many people found joy in the music they created and that they felt as loved as they made all their fans feel that night.  So you see, going to the concert isn’t about seeing your favorite group sing their songs flawlessly and expect to see them as clearly as you do on a TV.  The true concert experience is giving back to the group the same love and joy that they have given you.  It’s a way for fans to say, ‘Thank you!”, “Well Done!” or “Your music matters to us.”  It’s an experience that I am glad I got to witness with my four kids, my older sister and my niece.  I was ‘Dancing All Night To the Best Song Ever’ and I was happy and smiling and ALIVE!

Best Concert Ever (Confession of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 13)

I have to make a public announcement to One Direction and tell them Thank You for the best concert ever.  I attended the OTRA tour at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO last night.

As I stood in the stands, sweating from the heat, I realized that those four boys really love what they do.  (I call them boys, but they are really men.  I guess if I call them boys it keeps the age difference in check for me.)  Because if I was hot and sweaty just standing in the crowd, then they had to be 10 times hotter and sweatier under all of those lights and smoke.

I was sporting a sleeveless shirt and shorts and those guys were up on stage in nice looking outfits.  Liam started the show in a button-down, long sleeved shirt.  Thankfully, he changed not long into the show or he would have passed out from heat stroke, because there was a heat advisory in effect.  Thankfully, the arena was on the ball and had allowed the fans to bring in one bottle of water to the concert.  They had also put up some misting tents in the upper levels.  I would like to say KUDOS to Arrowhead stadium for putting their spectators health first.

As I said, these guys love what they do, because they performed like there wasn’t a heat advisory.  They sang their hearts out and you could tell.  They had smiles on their faces, they thanked the fans over and over again for making them the sensation that they are today.  They were up on that stage having fun.  And in case you were wondering, the absence of Zayn was not an issue.  The remaining band members took over his parts of the songs and did it beautifully.  Which shows that they are some true professionals.

I could go on and on about how great the band was last night, but I won’t.  However, I have to point out that these boys (there I go calling them boys again), these boys know who pays their paychecks.  Because towards the end of the concert, Niall advised the fans to thank their mother, father, sister, brother, grandparent or whomever helped the fans get to that concert.  Yes, they even said a special thank you to the parents that provided their ENTIRE family with concert tickets.  I was more than willing to take a bow at that moment.  Because yes, I was the one that made this happen for my kids.  (Frank too, if he would have been able to get off work.)

One Direction knows their job and they do it well.  I could tell during the end of the concert that they were hot, sweaty and tired.  Yet they preformed their last song with the same enthusiasm as their first song.  They had played for about two hours and still came back for an encore.  They performed all of the songs on the FOUR album plus some of their older songs.  It was a good mix of new and old and it was simply awesome.  So from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Louis, Harry, Liam and Niall for making last night the best concert ever.wpid-wp-1438201690535.jpeg

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Some girls that was standing behind us with some signs.

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Awesome Support Group (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 12)

I did it…I took my four kids to a One Direction concert and lived to tell about it.  (The kids all survived too, by the way)  🙂  The reason I know I’m alive is because my body feels like all the One Direction tour buses ran over me…several times.  I have a headache, a neck ache and pains in my body that I have never felt before, but oh, how it was worth it!

What did the kids think?  Marie enjoyed it more than any of them, which is a true sign that my baby isn’t a baby anymore.  All though I hate to admit it, I do have a teenager in my household now.  Marie proved that last night when she rocked it right along with thousands of other screaming teenagers.  She was on her feet through the whole show and (bless her heart) held up the sign that I had created for the photo shoot throughout the concert.  It was as if that sign was what made One Direction be there on stage and if she put it down, they would leave.

Patrick had a problem with the crowd and the screaming.  We had been there for maybe 45 minutes when he was asking to go home.  I don’t blame him, the screaming was loud and it was hot.  But I couldn’t turn around and take all the kids back home when we hadn’t even experienced a second of the true concert.  All we had seen at that moment was videos from other artists.  Not long after Patrick was wanting to leave, Ann was starting to cry and wanted to leave too.  So I told her that her aunt would take her out to the corridor, where it’s not as loud.  Ann really wanted me, not her Aunt, but I told her that I couldn’t leave Marie.

Yes, I did a very non-Mom thing at that moment.  I chose to do something that I wanted to do over something my kids wanted me to do.  I had brought my oldest daughter to see this concert and I wanted to experience it with her.  Call it my last chance to bond with her before our relationship is strained from her teenage hormones.  I wanted to be there with her, enjoying a band that we both loved.  It sounds pretty simple and I shouldn’t feel guilty by telling Ann no…but I did.  Ever since I have become a mother, I have put my kid’s wishes first and my wishes second.  I have done that freely for 13 years, without complaining.  However, when you have four kids and they all have their own agenda at hand, it gets a little hard pleasing everyone and still be able to make yourself happy.

Thankfully, my sister came to the rescue and convinced Patrick and Ann to go with her to the corridors.  It was a weight off of my shoulders and I will never be able to thank her enough for doing that.  But yes, even though the problem was solved, I still hated the fact that two of my children would miss out on this experience.  As for Christopher, he was willing to go to the corridors too, but only if I went with him.  He wasn’t crying like Ann was, he was more curious about where they were going.  When I told him he could go with them, but I was staying, he decided to stay too.

My niece Louise was my go-between for my kids.  A little bit after my sister had taken the two kids out of the venue, my niece went to see if everything was okay.  She came back to report that my sister had bought them some popcorn and she was going to bring them their water bottles.  She stayed out in the corridor with them and helped my sister get them hydrated and feed.  Believe it or not, those two amazing women convinced my two children to come back to the concert right before One Direction went on stage and they had fun right along with their big sister.  God bless my sister and my niece!  They gave me the best gift in the world, the gift of no worries.  They removed the burden of feeling divided by my kid’s wishes and let me just enjoy the moment.  And that’s exactly what I did…I enjoyed LIFE with my kids.

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My Niece Louise (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 11)

I’ve mentioned to you before that my sister and niece are going with the kids and I to the One Direction concert. Since I’ve told you about my concert experiences with my cool sister, let me tell you about my cool niece. My niece is 23-years-old and has an adventurous spirit in her.
My niece told my sister and I to watch this show called Bob’s Burger. Specifically the episode called Boys 4 Now. It’s a very funny video about these two sisters going to a Boys 4 Now concert. After watching it, we determined my niece must be Louise, because Louise didn’t like the band, UNTIL she sees the band. LOL. That is why I decided to name my niece, Louise.
You see, my niece is not a One Direction fan, but she’s willing to go with us since her ticket is free. My sister said that Louise has been to enough concerts that she can be our translator. She can speak the concert lingo.
I mainly needed my sister and niece to come with me to man the stations, so to speak. I have four kids and they will not all be willing to go to the restroom together. I have to have additional adults with me to supervise everyone.
When one of my niece’s co-workers found out she was going to this concert, he wanted to know if she was going to be partying out of control. She told him that she couldn’t, because her little cousins would be with her. Louise told him that she was basically in control of her cousins, her mom and her aunt. LOL. I guess she figures my sister and I are going to have some sort of flashback and end up screaming like the rest of the teenage girls.
Last night my sister and I reminisced about our past crushes on boy bands. We even pulled up photos and clips on the computer to show the kids what our heartthrobs looked like. It was a very fun time, thinking back to our younger years. So maybe it’s a good thing if my niece Louise is in control. It’s been 14 years since I’ve been able to be out of control. So watch out guys, this is going to be my version of Mother’s Night Out and I’m ready to have fun!

Road Trip Baby! (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 10)

It’s here, it’s finally here.. the day we leave for our trip.  As my kids slept in, I finished packing all the last minute things.  Okay, I actually packed the majority of the things on Monday morning.  Did I mention I hate packing???  The kids woke up on their own and by the time they all were dressed I was ready to go.  I had done some last minute cleaning before we left.  I didn’t want Frank to arrive home to a messy place.  It wasn’t spotless, but at least he wouldn’t trip over anything.  I also made a few notes from the kids and placed them around the house for him.  Things like, “Don’t forget to feed the dog.  (Please don’t kill my dog.)  xoxoxo  Marie” and “Make sure you eat (But not too much)  xoxoxo  JoAnn.”

We left the house around 10AM, but we had to make two stops before heading out-of-town.  First to a store to get some necessities.  Things like soap, sunglasses and headphones.  Then a stop to Frank’s work, so the kids could tell him good-bye.  Then we were on the road baby!

The trip went better than I expected.  There were a few attitudes that needed to be adjusted at first, but for the most part it was good.  We had to stop about every hour to find a restroom, which was fine, because I needed the break from driving.  The pit stops went relatively well.  There was some moments when I had to threaten Christopher with his life, but it all worked out good.

We got to my sister’s house before sundown.  The kids were excited to see their cousins and go swimming.  I was just thankful to be out of the driver’s seat and wanted water.  The cousins took a bit to bond, but before you knew it, they were playing with each other.  It was a good day spent with family and all in all, I was happy we made the trip.

The Determination Is Back! (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 9)

Sunday was the day of packing for our big trip to see my sister and go to the One Direction concert.  So what was I doing around the middle of the day instead of packing?  I was mowing the front and back lawn.  My husband was telling me I was stupid for doing it in the heat of the day and my reply back was, “I thought we already determined that I was stupid.”  🙂  Was the lawn so out of control that I just HAD to mow it today?  No.  Then why would I do this particular task on this specific day?  My only answer is to give me a chance to regroup and prepare for the journey ahead.

You see, I needed to get away from my kids and all their questions.  With their many levels of excitement over their recent news and the realization that in less than 24 hours I was going to be taking a long journey, ALONE, with my four kids, I needed to get into the zone, so to speak.  So I went to mow the lawn.  I find great tranquility in mowing the lawn.  The roar of the mower makes all the outside noise disappear.  I can forget about being mom for a few minutes and just think about everything going on.  Plus, mowing makes me feel like I have accomplished something.  I can look at the grass that has been cast aside and feel like I have done a good job.  In the house, I can clean a room and it will be disrupted before I leave the room.  That gives me no sense of accomplishment.

Then there’s the ‘Me-Time’ that I get with mowing.  I can think about what is going on and come up with philosophical theories of what my family has experienced.  Yes, I have some pretty deep thoughts every once in a while.  So as I was mowing I was thinking over the feelings I was having.  I  was excited about the concert, yet didn’t look forward to driving the long distance without Frank.  I understood why Frank couldn’t go with us, but I also hated that he wasn’t going with us.  As I said, we have never traveled alone before.  So leaving Frank behind was worrying me.  Not that he’s not old enough to care for himself, but I had worries that some unusual thing might happen while I was gone.  Because I am Super Mom after all and I need to be there for any disasters.  So as I was mowing, I noticed a very long branch that is hovering over the power line that leads from our house to the power pole.  So I said a prayer to God and asked him to keep that branch from falling while I was gone.  Not that the situation would be any different if I was there when it happened, but we would at least face the situation together, as a team.

As you can see, I was finding out that I had as much nervousness about leaving the house as I did about the journey itself.  So after mowing the lawn and getting cleaned up, I went in and faced the inevitable…packing.  By evening, it was time to pick up the rental car.  That should be simple enough?  Boy was I wrong.  We got to the rental place to find out that the rental company wouldn’t rent the car to me without a credit card.  Frank and I haven’t had a credit card since we filed bankruptcy years ago.  So what now?  They had taken my money out of my checking account already, yet, they wouldn’t give me a car to drive.  So back home we went.

Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.  Frank was beside himself and the kids were all freaking out.  I called the reservation center about the problem and found out that they can reimburse me for it, but I would have to shell out more money for a new rental car from another company that WOULD accept debit cards.  Of course, I also had to put down a $100 deposit, since I didn’t have an official credit card.  This was not happy news to me, but thankfully we had enough money in our bank account to make it work.  This little glitch did not make me happy, but it did serve a good purpose.  It gave me the extra push I needed to go on this trip.  It also gave me the emotional meltdown that I needed.

You see, I had held in a lot of emotions from the past couple of days.  So when we discovered the credit card issue, we came home and I sat in the kitchen and cried.  Why?  Because I was tired and felt like the world was really making this more difficult than it needed to be.  Here I was, trying to do this unbelievable thing for my kids.  The same kids that were currently screaming and fighting with each other.  I needed to get everything packed for the trip, but as I looked around I realized I didn’t want to leave our house in such disarray.  I needed to get a rental car, but didn’t want to put us in any sort of financial situation.  I wanted to go see my family, but I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my house.  So that is why I sat down and cried.  I needed to let all these emotions out.

After my little meltdown, my attitude kicked into overdrive.  I went from doubting and wondering why I was taking this journey, to feeling determined to overcome anything that was put in my way.  Yes, I am a very stubborn woman and if you tell me I can’t do something, I will work even harder to accomplish it.  Even if I’m really not very interested in doing it.  If you tell me I can’t, I’ll prove to you I can.

The Secret Revealed (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 8)

Yesterday was the big day I had waited for.  Time to go bowling, time to get our photo session done and time to tell the kids about the One Direction concert.  It was a day full of emotions.  Not just for the kids, but for me too.  The day started out like every big day does.  The kid’s excitement was overflowing to the point that I wanted to kill them.  I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about what would take place at the bowling alley.  Plus I was doing my best not to stress out over the photo shoot.

As I said, I had butterflies in my stomach.  The kind that make you want to vomit.  (Sorry for that graphic image)  It was from a combination of excitement and fear.  I wanted to share the surprise with the kids, but at the same time I was afraid their reaction wouldn’t be what I was expecting.  It was like waiting for Christmas day to arrive to see if the kids liked their gifts, but multiply those emotions times 10.  Believe it or not, I actually told Marie that if she played one more One Direction song on her tablet that morning, I was going to kill her.  Here I was, getting ready to break the news to the kids that we were going to see One Direction in concert and I was telling Marie that I couldn’t handle hearing one more of their songs.  Man, nerves really do funny things to people.

I feel like I did a pretty good job of not stressing out over the photo shoot.  Or should I say, getting prepared for the photo shoot.  I had purchased some sleeveless shirts for the kids and I to wear at the concert.  My plan was to attach some glow-in-the-dark iron-ons to them for the concert.  But first, I was going to use them as our outfits for our photo shoot.  The shirts are all different colors and Frank has a sleeveless shirt that he wears to work that matched.  So sleeveless shirts and shorts were our choice of clothing for the family pictures.

Did I freak out when Ann picked a pair of shorts to wear that had a little stain on it?  No.  Did I freak out when I noticed Frank’s work shirt looked a little faded in the back?  No.  Did I freak out that Patrick was still sporting an overgrown  mo-hawk, that I was in need of a trim and that Marie’s hair had decided to tangle?  No.  I decided that these family photos weren’t about the clothes we wore or the style of our hair.  It was about our family documenting a fun, once-in-a-lifetime event together.

I decided that we should look the way we normally do.  My hair might be a bit unruly, but that’s the way I usually look.  The stains and fading on the clothes probably wouldn’t be noticed by anyone but me and even if it did get noticed by someone, who cares?  These are the clothes that we normally wear.  Even the fact that my shirt was a little snugger than I would have liked didn’t bother me.  This is the shirt I bought and this is the way I look right now.  I want these pictures to show what my family is like.  If that means showing off my WHOLE imperfect self, so be it.  I want the kids to look back at these pictures down the road and be able to remember this day like it was yesterday.  Even if that means Mom’s body takes up more of the pictures than I would like.

So we made it to the bowling alley and the photographer was waiting for us.  The kids did very well, getting along with each other and with the photographer.  We bowled like we normally do, we ordered and ate food like we normally do, we even stopped at the game room afterwards like we normally do.  There might have been a few extra smiles than normal, but I believe they were genuine smiles, not fake ones.  Along with the smiles, there were some moments I had the traditional stressed out look on my face, but that’s okay.  That will give the kids a chance to remember the many faces of Mom.

By the time the little kids and I bowled one game, the others had finished bowling their second game.  Then it was time for the unveiling of the secret.  I had made a sign that the photographer printed out for me to use as a photo prop.  So we gathered the kids together and shot a few posed photos and then we announced to the kids that we were going to the One Direction concert.  Marie was the most animated, however she did not scream or cry like I thought she might.  Patrick was acting like a typical boy, not wanting to show his enthusiasm.  Ann was all smiles and Christopher was jumping around with the sign…once he figured out what it meant.  🙂  I was pretty pleased with their reactions and I think I’ll be very pleased with the pictures the photographer took.

After getting home and answering five million questions from the kids, Frank took Christopher and Marie to watch a local baseball game.  Patrick and Ann stayed at home with me and we worked on getting the glow-in-the-dark iron-ons attached to the shirts.  I realized, during that evening, that after I had told the kids the secret I had been hiding for a month, my feelings had changed.  I was still excited, but I also had this feeling of remorse or relief or something.  My excitement had decreased a bit after I shared it with the kids.  Like I was giving them part of my excitement when I told them the secret.  So now I was only carrying around 1/5 of the excitement level than I had before.  It was weird to feel like it, but it did.

So now that the kids know and tomorrow is Monday, I guess I need to get busy and get things packed up.  The kids are excited and want to help.  I just hate packing, because I know that I will forget something before it’s done.  As long as I don’t forget the tickets to the concert, I’ll be okay.  🙂