That Time Gum Ruined Everything

Dear Future Stella,

The only thing that really matters in life happened this past week- the Broncos won the Super Bowl. This is baby book material because this is the first time they have won in Current Stella’s life. I can’t remember what her first words were or how old she was when she rolled over front to back but I will always remember this.

OK, wait, I have to interrupt this to bring you a live play-by-play of what is happening right now with Current Stella. She is going ballistic because I threw away her gum (it was an empty package). She is just beside herself. Currently she is in her room, crying, and going on and on about how that gum is the only kind she likes and how she actually, really needs gum. She keeps saying I am lying at her (not sure how you lie AT someone but whatever). This is a direct quote heard from behind her closed door, “I am always allowed to have gum and now anytime anyone talks about gum it makes me sad. I really need my gum. I want to have my gum back. She was being so nice today and now she’s being mean. I just want one piece of gum because its so good. I know I had a piece left. She threw it away on purpose.”

Now there is silence except for occasional straining sounds and angry grunts. Anyway, here’s the thing. I can’t be certain there wasn’t one piece left in that package when I threw it away. If there was, I didn’t see it. Gauging by Current Stella’s rage she is probably right that there was a single piece left that she was hoarding for today’s ration after school. That is how her brain works. At the store yesterday she begged for gum in the checkout line because she was running dangerously low. I declined to purchase a new pack however, mainly because our cart was filled with an embarrassing amount of sugar as it was (Super Bowl food) and I knew I was going to get hit up hard by the Girl Scout Troup outside so I ultimately said no. I am regretting this decision now because she is just hysterical in there.

I had to take a break from this to go deal with Hurricane Current Stella. Here is a follow up to the rest of our evening. I will hopefully eventually circle back around to my original thoughts but I just thought you would want to know how that whole thing ended up.

After a 15 minute tantrum, she calmed down and I thought we would finish the night strong. Monday nights are always so special because it’s just the two of us. WRONG. When she came out of her institution, AKA her bedroom, and joined me in the kitchen I decided to tread lightly. I mentioned to Current Stella that I ordered her hot lunch for tomorrow. I thought this would make her so happy. Ever since my parents got her this amazing lunch box for Christmas I have been packing her lunch every day. Well, she mentioned that sometimes she still wants hot lunch. Ask and you shall receive- I can be that kind of bad ass mom on occasion. I really thought this was going to excite her. Boy, was I mistaken. She spiraled into all kinds of crazy almost immediately. She doesn’t want hot lunch, she wants a REAL lunch, whatever the hell that means. I was the lunch lady today at her school so I also ordered her hot lunch today so that she would have to come through the line and see me. She loved seeing me at school and ate the crap out of her food so on my way home I decided to order it for her again tomorrow. I am also on lunch duty tomorrow so I thought all of this made sense. I had no idea she has a very strict policy about not eating hot lunch two days in a row. Tears were streaming down her face and she looked at me with such disgust. How could I fuck this up so bad? She couldn’t believe my incompetence about getting her lunch wrong.

While I prepared her dinner I wondered if sending your kids to bed without supper is still considered a thing and if it is, how I could pull it off. Then I remembered she hadn’t had a bath in days so I had to power through two situations before I could reclaim sanity.

When I was filling up her bath water I remembered I had some little vials of bubble bath designed to improve one’s emotional well being. There are a bunch of different potions depending on what you are going through. I was planning on using these for myself but it was clear that Current Stella needed these more than me. It was a tough call to determine what kind of remedy she needed because she was so wound up at this point she needed everything so I just threw a bunch of different stuff in there, kind of like an emotional Hail Mary.

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That stuff is crap and didn’t make a dent in her overall mood. She still looked at me with the glare of death and complained about every. Single. Thing.

At this point, my evening was only going to improve once she went to bed and I could curl up on the couch with my lap top and a glass of wine, writing to the future kid who hates me so much right now. So here we are. She’s in bed, I am inhaling the scent of the most wonderful candle and reflecting on what the hell just happened tonight. If I did throw away her gum, and the more I marinate on the scenario it appears likely that’s what happened, then I feel pretty bad. She’s just so organized and methodical that I could see how she would have saved that last piece for the right time. The injustice of someone throwing away something so special is definitely frustrating. However, she’s the most empathetic and understanding little girl to everyone about everything, why is she so harsh and angry when it comes to my mistakes? I can’t help but think that this is the beginning of the tumultuous relationship that is a mother and her daughter. Of course when your Daddy (do you still call him that?) got home from work she was all smiles and affection. Not one mention of the gum, or the lunch, just hugs and gratitude for her unicorn pillow that is all clean (because I washed it).

Anyway, what was I even talking about? Oh yeah, The BRONCOS!!!! The Super Bowl was in our backyard and we didn’t go, which might be something I regret forever. However, if I could go back in time and change one thing in the past 24 hours I would probably use that power to unthrow away Current Stella’s gum instead of attending the Super Bowl. If that doesn’t show you how much I love you and how sorry I am for mindlessly tossing something that was so coveted by you then I give up. Are you still mad at me?

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Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, if this matters at all, hypothetically speaking if that piece of gum was still in its package on our counter I still wouldn’t have let you have it tonight. You had a few Girl Scout Cookies and begged for a marshmallow so there was no way on God’s green earth that I would have said yes to a piece of gum on top of all that. Hopefully that makes you feel a little better. So really, I saved you from what would have been an even bigger meltdown. You’re welcome.

Love,

Mom

I Have Been Waiting 20 Years to Tell You This

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Dear Future Stella,

One of the reasons I started writing these letters to you was so that I could open up and tell you things that would not necessarily be appropriate to tell Current Stella. I was afraid that if I waited until she was mature enough to hear certain things then I would have forgotten and she would never know how I was feeling or the details of things that happened during her childhood. This is one of those letters where I need to get something off of my chest and it’s probably been killing me your whole life. Are you ready? Sit down or maybe float up in the air, whatever it is you guys do these days. It’s about your Dad.

I work on Saturdays. All things kids and boring always happen on Saturdays. I used to think it was great to work that day because I got out of most bridal and baby showers, and taking Current Stella to every birthday party was officially your Dad’s job. I loved that the concept of a “soccer mom” could never happen to me because you had to actually go to the games to be seen with a van full of orange slices, unflattering jeans and a baseball cap. Then I found out that most birthday parties serve booze to the adults and that soccer moms usually have a little extra zing in their Starbucks cups and I started to regret my schedule. Then Current Stella actually started playing sports and the other parents and your dad would send me snap shots of her playing and looking sporty. They would gush about how great she was doing. That’s when I started to really resent my Saturdays. Your dad would tell me about every poor kid that lacked athletic ability and I would beam with pride and relief that you were omitted from these stories of unfortunate genetics. When basketball started and your dad volunteered to help coach I seriously began to loathe Saturdays. I hated missing these moments of what could only be the dream team exuding dominance against their pint size opponents. I pictured your dad down on his knees, holding Current Stella by the shoulders and encouraging her to own that court and take that ball from whatever obnoxious brat was on the other team. “It’s yours” he would say. Current Stella would bare her teeth, grunt a couple of Neanderthal sounds and get out there and bulldoze the kid with the ball and return it for a 3 point shot. This is seriously what I pictured based on how your dad talks to his teams on television and how much he praised her skills. I would come home from work on Saturdays and he would tell me how she almost scored and that she did such a great job. I kept thinking how hard that basket must be to make because if he’s celebrating an “almost score” then it must really be tough. Then Current Stella would tell me how much fun she had and I just would fill up with sadness and deep regret. I would go to bed thinking about jobs I could get that didn’t require work on Saturdays. However, I knew if I couldn’t switch careers it would be a heartwarming tribute when Current Stella finally got inducted into some sort of athletic hall of fame. She won those games for me, she would say, because I could never be there.

Then I got shingles and I couldn’t go to work for a full week. Not really because I was contagious but it was really painful and it affected my dominant arm (which you kind of need to color hair). When Saturday rolled around I was healed enough to finally get to go to your game. I was so excited.

I have to tell you Sweetie, I don’t know which was more painful- my shingles or Current Stella’s attempt to play basketball. She is terrible. I mean, just horrendous. It pained me to tell her “good job” and “way to go, Kiddo” after watching her just flail around the court with her mind in a completely different universe. She keeps her hands up, I suppose to be ready to block the ball, at all times- even on offense. She’s always where the ball isn’t and it’s unclear if she even knows that half the kids out there are not on her team. Here’s the really painful part- because she’s only 5, they make it almost impossible to mess up and she still blows. The basket is basically her height, they are allowed to double dribble, travel, and they cant get the ball taken from them. They wear wristbands in different colors that match the color of the opponent they are supposed to defend. When you tell Current Stella to find her person she searches her own team frantically for the matching wristband- which she obviously never finds because that person is a)on the other team and b) on the other side of the court shooting point after point.
Every person on her team scored multiple times except for Current Stella. I am not sure if anything she did out there fit under your dad’s description of “almost scoring” but I hope not. The worst part was, her team technically won and so she left feeling proud and elated and because it’s frowned upon to tell a kindergartner how absolutely shitty they are, I had no choice but to congratulate her.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t really think you were going to be a professional basketball player, or any pro athlete for that matter. I just assumed that based on your Dad’s freakishly amazing coordination and his extreme high standards when it comes to honing one’s skills that despite all of it you would at least be like the Little Engine That Could. I also assumed that if for any reason your performance was sub par that he would be brutally honest about it and have you outside on the courts until your fingers were bleeding. I actually worried that his need to dominate and win would be too much pressure on you. Our team is about to play in the Super Bowl this Sunday and if Peyton Manning played like Current Stella did even for 5 seconds your Dad would physically go down to the stadium and swing punches at children and scream obscenities at elderly Bronco Fans. Gushing about how Peyton almost scored a touchdown would never cross his mind. He sees something in Current Stella worth praising even when the rest of the spectators are looking away in embarrassment and wondering if maybe Current Stella just got out of a major surgery and the anesthesia hadn’t fully worn off yet. Seriously, she’s that bad.

He just proved to me this last Saturday that he must either love you way more than I thought possible or he’s a sick liar. I just thought you should know that he’s capable of such unconditional loving support. He might have been telling you a bunch of exaggerated nonsense about how wonderful you are at everything your whole entire life. Stings a little bit I bet. I know, I just thought you should know.

God, that felt so good to just type that. I feel lighter, and more available for Current Stella emotionally now that I have said my peace.

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, you (like most kids your age) are obsessed with balloons. I personally don’t get it, but whatever. Your teacher had 100 balloons in the classroom for the 100th day of school. Each kid got to take home 3 and it was kind of weird how happy this made you. On the way home you lost 2 of them so that last one was a big deal. I really can’t stand the balloon hoarding that is trending big time in your life because you feel the need to keep them until they are prune-like. I find this creepy. In an attempt to speed the process up I suggested you give it to our neighbor upstairs because it was his birthday. I told you this would make his day. You were skeptical but ultimately ended up writing “Happy Birthday Mike” on it with a sharpie and marching it upstairs to give him while he was in the middle of playing poker with his buddies and most likely waiting for the strippers to arrive. Almost instantly you regretted this decision. You needed that balloon back in your life and until you got another one your body would feel like it was missing an appendage. Your G-ma and Grandpa were visiting and they cannot stand for you to want for anything so promises of bigger and better balloons the next day came flying your way. The next day, your Grandpa took you into the grocery store to pick out a balloon and this is the one you came out with.

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Way to be awkward Pumpkin.

Love,

Mom

P.S.- Enjoy some photos from our past week

Here we were checking out Super Bowl City.
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I would like to leave you with this picture of you pretending to be a dog with Gail the Puppy, which is my absolute favorite idea on this whole planet.

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This is a Test. Future Stella, Can You Read This?

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Dear Future Stella,

How are you doing kiddo? Having a good day? I bet you are not. I went ahead and checked this date (January 26th) in 2025 and it falls on a Sunday. Specifically, the last Sunday of the month of January. You know, the Sunday before the Super Bowl, which means no football. See, I knew it would suck. I am sure you are aware of my deep obsession with the Denver Broncos. In fact, if we win the Super Bowl this year then I am going to get a tattoo of Peyton Manning on your lower back so hopefully you are a fan too. If the Broncos were lucky enough to make it to the Super Bowl in 2025 (like they did in 2016) then that Sunday is going to be a very anxiety ridden day for me. Future Stella, this year the Broncos not only made it into the 50th Super Bowl but the game is being played here in San Francisco. I will probably be on my death bed and regretting not getting tickets to the game but they are thousands of dollars. I don’t even think I could sell Current Stella for enough money to get your Dad and I there and she’s probably the most valuable thing that I have, besides Gail the Puppy of course. Not that I checked the going rate for a toothless five-and-a-half-year-old girl with golden hair and unique eyes who can almost read. If for some reason I did end up selling you and you are reading this from your new life, don’t be mad, let this be inspiration to follow your dreams no matter the sacrifice. Also, it probably means you didn’t have to get that tattoo so thats nice. As I am typing this I am having a major epiphany. The chances of the Denver Broncos playing again in the Super Bowl here in San Francisco in my lifetime is zero. However, I could have another kid tomorrow if I wanted to so really, I would be foolish not to try and sell Current Stella. I have not looked into it much, but maybe I could pawn her and then one day buy her back? I could also yank her from private school and stick her in public just for one year and that would save me enough cash to not only buy 2 tickets to the big game but also parking and maybe even a hot dog. I am only teasing you, I couldn’t sell Current Stella, mainly because its illegal. Wouldn’t it be cool if the Denver Broncos were headed to the Super Bowl again in 2025? If they are I bet you have a bunch of bandwagon friends that all of a sudden are sporting vintage Manning jerseys. If anyone questions your authenticity you just show them these pictures.

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Your first Broncos game.
Your first Broncos game.
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We made it to the Super Bowl one other time in Current Stella's life.  We lost to the Seahawks.
We made it to the Super Bowl one other time in Current Stella’s life. We lost to the Seahawks.

I have been so stressed out about the Broncos that I gave myself shingles. Seriously, a doctor today told me I have shingles. I have a virus that old people usually get because their immune systems are not as strong and so any amount of unneeded stress will cause their childhood chicken pox virus that has been living dormant in their bodies to erupt into a nasty rash that is so goddamn painful that they start to look forward to their own deaths. Except I am not old and I don’t want to die. If it wasn’t the Broncos that stressed me out it had to have been hosting a family the size of a Major League Baseball team’s active roster for Christmas followed by some psycho super flu that slowly sucked the life out of me for the next two weeks. I was so behaved once 2016 came because I knew I had overdone it. I gave up coffee. I quit drinking wine (during the week) and I started giving myself relaxing facials twice a week. I drank a ton of water and slept for at least 8 hours a night. I started using hand cream religiously. Instead of losing 8 pounds and looking 10 years younger like I had anticipated, my body decided to give me shingles. As I type this I want to gnaw my left arm off because if something so much as a tissue touches the skin surrounding my armpit I might cry. Future Stella, you won’t have to worry about ever getting shingles because you were vaccinated for Chicken Pox. Lucky bitch.

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, you are learning how to read and every time you sound out words like “ka-ka-aa-aa-nnnn- can!” I almost forget that my arm feels like someone removed all the layers of my epidermis and all of my nerves are just sitting exposed, radiating shooting pain anytime so much as a breath touches them. Its so amazing to watch you figure it out. I don’t think you are like genius material or anything like that, but I do think you are going to be smarter than me (which isn’t saying much) and that’s really cool. I am so delighted that you are learning how to read. Reading is my medicine, my escape, and my number one source of independent enjoyment. This is the most excited I have ever been as a mother for you to acquire a new skill. Don’t get me wrong, walking was kind of magical, as was the first time you said “my little pink puss” in reference to your purse- but reading is heart swelling to the point of bursting material. The only thing that will ever top it is when you finally learn to wipe your ass. Anyway, I like to picture the two of us cozy on a couch, each with a book in our hands and a dog at our feet. You are maybe 15 and I am still 32 and I don’t have shingles. We are in one of those luxurious houses that don’t really have walls but flowy white material swaying softly in the breeze. We are not talking and we are both lost in what we are reading. Maybe there is a naked underwear model there serving us food and drink or perhaps a Native American woman named Eyota is sitting in the corner behind a giant loom making me a rug- the details are not that important. What is important is that we are both just devouring our books and we can pass the time just fine with no sounds or forced conversation. That would be such a perfect day.

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Love,

Mom