The Concussion Diaries

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mother of three, recovering from a brain injury, then I’m your gal.

What’s that? It’s never crossed your mind?

WELL. Maybe it’s time your eyes were opened, my friend, because it’s dangerous out there.

On January 4, 2016, the day before school was scheduled to resume after the longest holiday break ever, I was standing in the living room with my back to the couch. My oldest child, age 7, leaped onto my back in a crazy ninja move normally reserved for daddies. I fell and hit the back of my head, and the rest has been … let’s see, how can I put this? FUCKING TERRIBLE.

*I won’t allow myself to wallow in despair and whine about the struggle of not being able to drive for almost 3 weeks, or go on and on about how embarrassing it is to wear sunglasses in the grocery store because the lights are too bright. I’ll skip the part where Target mailed me a new Red Card and I lost it (in my own home), ordered a new one, then found the old one, and couldn’t figure out which one to activate.

These are not real problems. These are First World Problems. I try not to feel too sorry for myself, even though I totally feel sorry for myself. My life — and my freelancing career — were finally sort of on track. I had plans. Goals. Things happening. The holidays were finally over, my kids were going back to school, and I had projects to work on.

I don’t know if you know this, but Type A people typically struggle in the role of stay-at-home mom. I can’t just cuddle with my kids all day, as nice as it may sound. I have too much shit to do. Not that I don’t love to cuddle, I guess, it’s just … it’s hard for me. My personality doesn’t mesh with all-day cuddling. I AM NOT A LAID BACK PERSON.

It felt good to see my “hobby” turn into an actual part-time job. I need to work to feel sane. And then I got concussed, and all of that stopped. In addition, I’ve had to scale back to zero on everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Watching my life grind to a halt has been a lesson in patience that I have absolutely zero interest in learning, which likely means that I will continue floundering like a fish out of water until I learn it.

Since the accident almost two months ago, so many things have happened. Just this week, I forgot my oldest was getting out of school early. When he arrived home, no one was there to greet him. He was alone and afraid AND a candle was burning, because I lit it and totally forgot about it BECAUSE I WAS TOO BUSY FORGETTING ABOUT MY SON.

Concusser

My concusser and I.

On a different day, a Saturday, I took a shower and emerged to find a very quiet house. The kids were wandering the neighborhood, shoeless. We’re those people now. The ones with barefoot, aimless children and a not-quite-right mother who yells a lot. A lot.

I waxed off half an eyebrow with a Sally Hansen at-home waxing kit.

I saw a neurologist, lost the paperwork from the visit, and had to ask a friend who my neurologist is, because I certainly could not remember. This is the same friend (Audrey Hayworth, say hello) who was getting extensions put in her hair when she got a call from my husband asking her please to take me to the Emergency Room for yet another brain scan, because something was wrong with me.

She literally got out of the extension-installer’s chair and hauled my ass to the hospital, and now apparently she’s the person I have to call when I can’t remember my doctor’s name.

Everyone needs an Audrey. People with concussions really need one.

We have a pet cat now. Her name is Magnolia. I have no idea when she showed up or when she became ours.

Cat

I’m afraid if I don’t write these things down, they’ll be lost forever … kind of like the last 2 months of my life. I’ve been living, of course, but nothing is right. The edges are still blurry. My emotions aren’t the same.

Also, I know I’m still healing because I have begun to rely on my husband, the man who loses everything, to help me find things. My, how the tide has turned. I now take back everything I’ve ever said about Robbie misplacing things, because just the other day I spent 30 minutes looking for a receipt in my purse. I was nearly in tears by the time I handed him my purse, because I knew he would be able to find it.

He produced the missing receipt within seconds.

I’m sure there are plenty of life lessons to be learned in all of this, but there one thing I know for certain: many years from now, after I have fully healed and life is normal again, I’ll look back on this time and think to myself, “Huh … I don’t remember any of that.”

*I definitely allow myself to whine about everything. I have been absolutely horrid to live with lately and my family deserves a medal but WAIT A MINUTE, THEY DON’T, BECAUSE I AM THE ONE WHO WAS NEARLY KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY SO GIMME MY MEDAL AND 15 POUNDS OF CHOCOLATE.

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The Female’s Guide To Living With A Hairy Man

I’m married to a very hairy man.

When we first met, the first thing I noticed was his impressive height.

Nice.

Next, I took note of his ass.

Hot.

The third thing I noticed was that it looked like he was a hairy guy, which I find endearing, but his arms were strangely devoid of hair.

Interesting.

As I continued to study him, it became apparent that he was shaving his forearm hair—but not every day—so there was always perma-stubble. Apparently before we met, some stupid girl told him that his hairy arms were gross and that he should shave them, and he actually listened to her. My first act as his girlfriend was to put a stop to that.

I don’t mind hairiness; I think it’s masculine. I particularly enjoy the Neanderthal-like experience of being picked up and hauled down the hall by a hairy beast who is grunting under the strain of carrying me. I like how he’s always warm, and grazing his fur relaxes me. Shut up. It does.

However, living with a hairy man also involves dealing with the care and maintenance of his allover fur. I’ve learned that belly button lint really is a thing. My husband tends to collect large amounts of lint in his belly button, which he eventually pulls out and…tosses to the floor. The balls of hair and lint roll around the house like tumbleweeds.

Our children shriek “WHAT IS THAT THING?!” and cling to me as I calmly stroke their heads and murmur, “Shhh, it’s okay. It’s just another wad of Daddy’s belly button lint.”

I find chest and arm hair stuck to babies who have been sleeping on Daddy’s chest. I silently pick it from their faces as these thoughts race through my head: It’s not his fault that he’s hairy. He doesn’t mean to shed on the children. Maybe it was a full moon last night. I shed all over the house, too—long, blonde hairs. Maybe I leave hair stuck to the baby, and I just don’t realize it. Does anyone else have this problem?! *&%$#%^&&^%!!!!!

Sometimes I find hair stuck to me after snuggling with him. There is always a lot of lint in the lint trap, and hair all over the bathroom sink and in the bathtub. These things are to be expected.

What I did not expect were the periodic manscaping mishaps. They’ve been rare, thankfully—but when they happen…they happen.

Recently, I was in our home office writing. I looked up to see him leaning around the doorway. I noticed he was shirtless, but didn’t give it any thought.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

We chatted for awhile before he sort of coughed and stepped all the way into view. “I need your help with something,” he said. I looked up and gave him my full attention.

“I was shaving my head, you know, like I normally do, and I was shaving my neck like this,” I watched as he mimicked the act, “and then, the razor got away from me, and well…this happened.” He turned around to show me his back.

I gasped.

It looked like he was wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt made of hair.

“The razor slipped, so I tried to even it out. Can you fix it?”

I sat in my chair, frozen with amazement and horror. I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t look away. There was absolutely no fixing this, unless he was willing to shave his entire body and just start over. I stared at the hair puffing from his upper arms like furry shoulder pads.

If I were to write a book titled The Female’s Guide to Living With A Hairy Man, it would be the shortest book known to man, comprising exactly one paragraph, which would state as follows:

Do not negotiate. Shave him down immediately. The end.

BEARD

© 2015 Harmony Hobbs, as first published on Scary Mommy.

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Travis.

Remember the chimp named Travis that attacked a woman in 2009 and basically ripped her face off? My friend Audrey and I have decided to make “Travis” our new verb to describe sudden, irrational, ape-like rage.

Some examples:

“I’m about to go Travis on you. Start running now, mother f*cker.”

“I am Travin’ SO bad today because I drank too much coffee with my sinus medication.”

“If you don’t pull into that drive-thru RIGHT NOW, I’m going to pull a Travis. Yes, that’s right — I will eat your face.”

Last night was rough. Robbie kept pulling his CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask off and either leaving it on the bed to whoosh air into my face, or turning it off completely. And snoring.

Untitled

If only he would wear it.

I can’t tell if he’s doing it in his sleep without realizing it or if it’s a purposeful attempt to push me over the edge, but when it happens I experience pronounced rage. Combine that with the fact that our oldest has a stomach bug and needed my help from 3:00 – 4:00 a.m., and I was up for most of the night.

At 6:00, I woke up my husband and proceeded to bitch about my lack of sleep — which he was partially responsible for — because that is how I process emotions and move past them. I bitch.

Me: “I am so tired.”

Robbie: (Unmoving, from the bed) “Me, too.”

Me: (STIFLING THE DESIRE TO RIP HIS FACE OFF) “You have been in the exact same position all night.”

Robbie: (Silence.)

Me: “Do you realize I physically got out of bed 5 times last night?”

Robbie: “AM I NOT ALLOWED TO BE TIRED TOO?”

Me: “YES, YOU ARE ALLOWED BUT I WILL GO TRAVIS ON YOUR ASS IF YOU COMPARE MY TIRED TO YOUR TIRED EVER AGAIN.”

Rational? Not so much. And the sad truth is, I was much too tired to go Travis on anyone at all.

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Taking One For The Team

My husband is a die-hard football fan.

I did not grow up watching football, which is unusual in the Deep South. Truth be told, my dad was more of a Wrestle Mania fan. I have fond memories of watching Hulk Hogan throw folding chairs at King Kong Bundy.

Then I met Robbie Hobbs, and he had to explain football to me like I was a very small child. I still don’t really understand it, but I’ve finally grasped the basics. I think.

To help illustrate exactly what kind of football fan he is, here is a picture of him waiting for a subway in New York City on game day. He walked all over NYC like that, and if he noticed someone staring at his pants, he would point to another person nearby and say, “Check out that dude’s pants.”

It doesn't get much better than this right here.

It doesn’t get much better than this right here.

Then there is the LSU Santa hat that he pulls out every year, pictured below.

Tis the season

These hilarious quirks are pretty much why I married him.

I believe I’ve done a decent job of embracing the football fan life. I have purple and gold clothing that I wear when the occasion calls for it. I like to tailgate, as long as kids aren’t involved, mostly because I love an excuse to day drink. We are now the people who plan our lives around the football schedule. When an LSU game is happening, I understand that we will be watching it — if not in person, then on TV.

I know when to yell, I know when to head to the fridge for another beer, and I know when to send Robbie outside to watch the game through the window.

See?

See? I totally know how to look the part of a football fan.

This weekend was the most important weekend of this season so far, because it was the game against our biggest rival — Alabama. That’s pretty much all I know. I was going to attempt to regurgitate the stats and rankings that he kept talking about in the days leading up to the game, but the truth is I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. All I know is that we HATE losing to Alabama, and Robbie gets really depressed — like lying on the living room floor face down in sadness — every time it happens.

On Saturday afternoon, I left the house for a few hours to visit my parents. When I came home, he had done something to his face.

“HOW DO YOU LIKE MY LSU BEARD?!” he asked excitedly.

I stood in the kitchen and stared at him for a few seconds, trying to make sense of what was happening, but before I could figure it out our three children did what three children do and both of us sprang into action cleaning up spills, wiping noses, and refilling plates.

Two hours later, after our kids were tucked snugly in their beds, we sat down to watch the game. This is when he again looked at me and said, “HOW DO YOU LIKE MY LSU BEARD?!”

I studied him for a long time. He was grinning from ear to ear, beaming with pride. It was clear that he had spent a lot of time and energy carefully trimming his facial hair to spell out “L S U.” The “S” was around his mouth in particular looked like it was a painstaking process.

He waited for my reaction.

“It’s backwards,” I deadpanned.

He didn’t believe me and jumped up to look in the mirror, which of course proved that I was incorrect and his beard clearly said LSU. He’s a very intelligent man — let me be clear — he just didn’t want to accept the truth. So I took my phone out and showed him that his face definitely spelled out U S L.

Also, the “S” was backwards.

I was still giggling about it several hours later, when we lost the game against Alabama and the sadness began. I think that Robbie felt personally responsible for the loss this time.

It can really hurt to take one for the team.

Note the perfectly-executed "L."

Note the perfectly-executed “L.”

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How Adults Prank Each Other

My mom and I swap furniture and home decor back and forth all the time. We’ve done this since I was in college.

It’s awesome for me because my mom has excellent taste and it saves me from having to break the bank buying things to hang on the walls. It’s awesome for her because she can let me “borrow” stuff and then when we swap again, it’s like she just went shopping.

A win/win.

So, my parents just moved and needed us to give back a GIGANTIC mirror they’d loaned us last year that was hanging above our living room sofa (which also belongs to them … although I’m not sure we’ll be able to return it in the same condition it was in when we first obtained it). After my dad left with the mirror, I mentioned to Robbie that I would need to find something big to put on that wall now that it was empty.

I fretted aloud for the remainder of the day, talking half to myself and half to him, about how I need to save up some money so I will have the funds available when I find the right picture.

“Whatever we get, it needs to be really big,” I said to him.

He stared back wordlessly.

I am a relatively laid-back person except when it comes to a few things. My home is one of those things. We have never lived in super-nice places — they’ve always been “fine” and/or “decent,” within our price range, and passable for warm and cozy after I finish decorating.

I TAKE PRIDE IN MY ABILITY TO COZIFY.

I went grocery shopping and came home to this.

Mean tricks to play on your wife

THIS. This totally sent my OCD tendencies through the roof.

No, David!

He mocks me.

If you have ever wondered how to really get under the skin of a woman who takes pride in her home, hang a very small picture in the middle of a massive wall, out of her reach without a ladder, and hide the ladder.

Proceed to leave it there for a week and counting.

This is how adults prank each other.

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Terrible Choices In Footwear.

Robbie and I just got back from a 5-night trip to New York City. It was amazing and hilarious and he almost stepped on a rat in Times Square, but I’m going to save all of those stories for later. Right now I want to talk about my terrible choices in footwear.

Here are the shoes I brought with me.

Packing Light

Now, don’t hate. I don’t get out much, especially without children, and I love an excuse to dress up.

I’m one of those girls who does not wear tennis shoes unless she is also wearing workout wear.

It’s totally fine if you just eye rolled me. I get it.

My family thinks I’m crazy, but it’s just how I’ve always been and I’m not sure how to be any different. It’s like a compulsion. When I think about things from a logical standpoint, I know that it doesn’t make sense to choose discomfort over comfort simply because it looks better, but isn’t that the very same line of thinking that would require me to also stop wearing Spanx under my dresses?!? 

You know how sometimes a thought is so horrible that you have to actively choose to un-think it and never visit it again? That’s where I am with that. Because I REQUIRE Spanx.

So back to packing, I was feeling very smug about how smart and impressively pragmatic it was to bring tennis shoes with me for a days-long tour of a metropolitan area.

Look at how well I adult. Check out my skilled adulting. I am so adult-like that I packed my New Balance because that is the SENSIBLE thing to do. Adults make good choices. I am clearly making good choices. See my good choice?!

I DAZZLE ME.

But then, we arrived in New York. And even though I had comfortable options, my new black booties called to me. I chose to answer the day we visited The American Museum of Natural History …

Which was followed by a walk through Central Park …

Which was followed by a lengthy trek through the subway system.

Bad choices in footwearI WAS IN SO MUCH PAIN. At the time that this photo was taken, I was begging Robbie to get us a cab so we could just stop walking.

He pretended not to hear. He calls that “tough love.”

I’ll let you imagine what I called it.

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That’s Marriage.

 …. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Almost 10 years ago, Robbie and I said those words to each other. I don’t remember any of it.

We had no idea what we were doing. I was 25, the last of my friends to get married (except for my friend who was in medical school — she married at 30). We said the words. We started our journey.

Ten years later …

Husband: “Where are my white dress shirt and suit pants?”

Me: “I have no idea.”

(Silence.)

Me: “When did you last see or wear them?”

Husband: “Last year.”

Flabbergasted, I proceeded to ridicule him like the proper wife that I am.

I am not the Keeper of All The Things, I am only one person! YOU should know where your pants are! How is it that you haven’t worn your nice pants in 10 whole months? OMG, we need to find a church and start attending, it’s good for the kids. It doesn’t matter which church, let’s just pick one. They need to learn Bible stories because I keep forgetting to teach them because I’m too busy keeping everyone alive and the only ones I can remember accurately are about Adam and Eve and the Christmas Story. WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?!

My husband is a very patient man, and he listened to my entire tirade before asking me to check the dry cleaner’s to make sure I hadn’t forgotten to pick them up nearly a year ago.

“Well … okay,” I said. “But I am usually really good about keeping up with that stuff.”

Karma is a bitch, friends. After spending 3 days searching for Robbie’s suit pants and dress shirt, I swung through our old dry cleaner’s — the one I don’t use anymore because it’s so far away — on a whim.

The guy started laughing as soon as he saw me pull in. My face started to redden and I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I can only describe as bewildered mortification.

“Hi, Mrs. Hobbs. I knew you’d come back! I kept telling my boss not to give your stuff away!” This is what he said as I picked up everything the entire family — yes, all 5 of us — wore for Christmas pictures nearly a year ago.

Apparently I didn’t notice that I’ve been missing clothes, either.

That’s marriage.

Marriage.

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13 Surefire Ways To Make Life Difficult For Your Family

After writing this post yesterday, several people have emailed or commented asking to see my list.

You know … the list. The one I pull out when I have heard too much needless whining. The one I refer to when I have picked up other people’s dirty clothes for too many days in a row or spent time cooking a meal and breaking up fights and keeping a toddler from touching the stove, AND NO ONE EATS IT.

That.

This list strikes fear in the hearts of those who have to live with me. Want to compare notes? OF COURSE YOU DO!

13 Surefire Ways To Make Life Difficult For Your Family:

  1. Omit items from the grocery list that everyone else likes, and buy what I like instead. Example: instead of Honey Nut Cheerios, I will buy fat-free granola with dried berries. Instead of whole milk, I will get almond milk. Instead of sweet tea, you will drink PLAIN WATER.
  2. If the situation in #1 grows dire enough, someone will eventually suggest going to the store. I will then produce a lengthy and complicated list of hard-to-find items. Can’t find the fresh coriander? LOOK HARDER.
  3. Fail to charge all of the iThings.
  4. Lose the chargers.
  5. Insist that we listen to the “Sunday Jazz Brunch” Pandora station all. weekend. long. It’s good for brain growth.
  6. Assign additional chores to anyone who talks to me. “Oh, hi! I was about to ask you to fold these towels!” or, “Hello, child! You have so much energy. Here’s the Windex — you’re 4 now. You can totally clean windows.” Pro tip: this one is my favorite.
  7. Go on a health kick. The mere idea of throwing away all of the Pop Tarts makes them gasp in unified horror.
  8. Suggest a bike ride and then say, “Daddy will take you! Have fun!” Disappear.
  9. Enforce educational-only books and TV shows for as long as it takes for them to become sufficiently educated.
  10. Sing in the car.
  11. Stop washing clothes. Hint: no one will notice or care until they start running out of underwear. Prepare to look confused when they ask where all of their underwear went.
  12. Consider military-style consequences for unwanted behavior, i.e. push-ups, digging holes, and running laps.
  13. Leave the house.

Adios

Bonus points: hang this banner in a common area.

I found this on Pinterest, and it is amazing. I have no idea where it originated from, but I WANT ONE.

I found this on Pinterest, and it is amazing. I have no idea where it originated from, but I WANT ONE.

There you have it! My list is ever-changing and ever-growing. What’s on yours?! I’m always looking for new ideas.

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Trans Fats.

Trans fats ... mmmm.I don’t really know what happened.

When Robbie and I met 12 years ago, I was eating a very clean, almost-vegan diet. I guess because I couldn’t get a date and I was bored, I figured it would be a good idea to snack on raw almonds and green tea. I also did a lot of Pilates.

Those days are over.

Anyway, after weeks of flirting he finally walked up to the Customer Service desk in the Albertson’s grocery store where we worked and said, “I want to take you to lunch.”

He had this charisma and confidence that stopped me in my tracks. Not the gross kind of charisma that televangelists have, and not the overinflated kind of confidence that makes me want to punch someone in the face. This was different. He had pizzazz, and YES, I WANTED TO GO TO LUNCH.

I gathered my purse and he drove me across the street to Applebee’s, where I ordered a vegetable plate because that’s the kind of shit that I ate back then, not because I was trying to impress him with my birdlike eating habits. I remember him staring at me incredulously and me feeling confused as to why he was reacting this way.

It’s just vegetables, I said, as he visibly shuddered.

I eventually learned that Robbie only ate the following vegetables:

  1. Iceberg lettuce
  2. Bell peppers
  3. Onions
  4. Potatoes in the form of french fries

The remainder of his diet was comprised of hamburgers, powdered doughnuts, chips, and beer. I was appalled.

Over time, my eating habits changed tremendously as Robbie introduced me to pepperoni pizza, real hamburgers, crab cakes and fudge-flavored Pop-Tarts. I traded steamed vegetables for the gross kind of stuff that you crave when you’re hung over, like tater tots smothered in gravy.

And while I have introduced him to a whole slew of delicacies like pan-fried tofu, veggie dogs, and hummus with pita, nothing I like to eat is quite as fun as Lucky Charms cereal … which really is magically delicious, by the way.

Sometimes I get frustrated because I know I would lose weight if I could just be happy eating a kale salad while the rest of my family dined on pizza, but to me, an extra 10 pounds is worth being able to eat trans fats and unhealthy carbs whenever I please. And also? I cannot believe I lived for 23 years without pepperoni in my life.

WHAT ELSE AM I MISSING OUT ON?!

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Reality Isn’t So Bad.

Somehow I made it through another summer.

I know this because Maverick starts school tomorrow. And I know that because I filled out a bunch of forms today while a toddler pulled on my arm.

2nd grade! How did that happen? And also, isn’t it time for college? They’re all so big and so small and they need so much from me but not quite as much as they used to. So it’s just weird right now. We are all transitioning, I’m sleeping through the night, but there’s still poop all over the toilet seat. So clearly we aren’t out of the woods just yet.

I used to write about everything that happened, and now it all happens so fast that I don’t have time to write it down, because before I have a chance to form the words on paper another thing happens, followed by another. Days and weeks of hard things and hilarity and the monotonous joy of being a mother to three tiny humans who all know the words to Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance have blended together into a chapter that I’ll just call 2015.

SummerToday I was looking at each of my children, thinking about what makes them special and how I don’t have enough time to dwell on their good qualities because I’m too busy keeping them from blowing up the house, and I realized that my job isn’t to document everything for them to review at a later date. My job is to keep them alive.

Keeping them alive is a full time job.

I wish I had more time to soak up the good things, and I wish the bad things would just stop happening, but that’s what they call denial. I live in reality.

So today, after a very long day of the last day of summer, after I split the boys up because they wouldn’t stop fighting, as I was half-heartedly stirring a pot of Tuna Mac with toddler wedged firmly underneath me, Robbie walked into the house and gave me the kind of kiss where you get dipped backwards.

Right there in the kitchen.

Reality isn’t so bad, you guys.

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