Monday, April 28, 2014


It had been four months since we’d seen College Girl, so of course everyone wanted maximum face time with the family VIP when she came to Napa for Easter.
Let’s go shopping together for an Easter outfit, said mom.
Check out my cactus garden, said Grandpa.
Come with me to my boyfriend’s track meet, said one sister.
Watch me breed my rabbits, said the other sister.
After a few suspicious sniffs, even the dog wanted to hang out with her.
I was in a good mood all weekend. College Girl’s sisters were probably wondering what had come over mom. I said yes to almost everything. I took the girls to the mall and out to dinner almost every night. At Target, I let them talk me into buying both the new Hobbit movie and “Frozen.”
At Starbucks, instead of our usual $2 rule, my husband turned into Daddy Warbucks and told everyone to get whatever they wanted.
College kids, if you haven’t visited home lately, you should definitely reconsider. Us mom and dads miss you and want to buy you all the Frappuccinos and hot panini sandwiches you can eat.
The teenager who comes home from college is really something.
They’ve got swagger. Attitude. Chutzpah. They’ve lived away from mom and dad long enough to appreciate in-house laundry service, free food and a full tank of gas, but they’ve also got that new almost-20-something confidence.
They have been thrust out into the wilderness and survived. Kind of like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”: “I have made fire. I. Have made fire.”
College Girl even surprised mom a couple of times over the weekend.
When one Huffman daughter complained about not having any spending money, College Girl laid it out for her.
You need to get a job, she told her sister.
When another Huffman daughter warned her sister about saying anything that might make for good column material, College Girl shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “So what?”
That’s not to say the oldest Huffman is all that. Mom had to put the kibosh on the swearing.
I don’t care how old you are, your mother doesn’t want to hear four-letter words coming out of your mouth.
By the time we sat down to Easter dinner, I started getting sad feelings.
College Girl had to go back to college. Mom and Dad had to go back to work. There would be no more spoiling. No more shopping.
She left early on Monday morning to catch a 6:30 a.m. flight.
I looked inside her room after she left. I’d gotten used to seeing her in there again, sitting on her bed with her laptop, clothes spilling out of her suitcase on the floor, blankets and pillows thrown around.
But that morning, the room was empty. Her pile of clothes and the suitcase were gone. She had even made her bed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mom, the review

Does anyone actually enjoy doing an employee “self-evaluation”?
Not me.
Talk about what I could have done better? Improved on? Actually did well?
Do I have to? I have a deadline and an interview and I really need to go to the bathroom. Plus I am very busy with a bunch of other very important random stuff.
It doesn’t matter. About once a year, my computer tells me it’s time to do my so-called “review.”
As I was answering the questions last week I wondered what it’d be like to do a mom review instead of a work review.
Of course we moms don’t actually get reviewed, except by our teenagers and usually starting with the words “You’re so mean …”
Reviews are typically tied to rewards, the best being a raise of actual money. But we moms definitely don’t get yearly raises or bonuses.
Heck, if I get two loads of laundry washed and folded and put away in less than 24 hours, that’s a bonus. If I can finish all my daily chores before 8 p.m., bonus!
My main goal each night is to get some form of dinner on the table and make sure no one is flunking any subjects required to graduate from high school.
I don’t worry about “contributing skills that complement other team members” while I’m simultaneously cooking dinner, sorting the mail, feeding the cat and emptying the dishwasher.
Employee self-evaluation talk includes a lot of phrases such as: “Fulfills commitments to team members,” “Demonstrates genuine value of others” and “Communicates effectively.”
It’s so much easier to concentrate on these at work, where I am being paid to do so. The “work” is spread among many at work. And boy we are on it at work. We’re focused. We’re determined. We’re caffeinated.
At home, it’s just me and my husband. We are also very focused and determined — usually about figuring out who’s taking whom to school tomorrow, why the rain is leaking into my car and if anyone scooped the dog poop lately.
At work I’m supposed to “persist in overcoming obstacles.”
As moms, we’ve got that covered. We parents do an awful lot of persisting. Teenagers do an awful lot of resisting. If they would just stop all the resisting we’d all get along so much better and peace and harmony would reign in the family and the world. Everyone make a circle now and let’s sing a folk song. Come on teenagers, hold hands with your mom and dad. We don’t have cooties.
My review also included a bunch of examples of “STOPetencies” or “Contrary Behaviors” to beware of.
According to the review form, contrary behaviors are things like relying on others to decide what to do, resisting change and using words like “That’s not my job.”
Hello teenagers? My employee self-review is calling and it wants you to stop resisting and persisting and being all contrary all the time.
Also could you please scoop the dog poop?