Spring is here and so is my uncontrollable need to move things around my house. Like most people, I’ve spent the last few weeks pulling clothes out of my “summer bin” creating a mish-mosh of winter and summer outfits that look ridiculous but help me survive the 80-degree days that have occurred the last few weeks. Spring is also when I move all the furniture in my house while mumbling things like, “I can literally build another dog with this dog hair. Does anyone vacuum?” “I found all the socks” or “Someone get me some wine!”
After writing last month’s article, about how my house is basically a ticking time bomb, I realized it was time to make some changes to my kitchen, specifically my kitchen island. I don’t really have an island; it’s more like an Ikea table on bed risers. When we moved into our house three years ago, we ran out of money and so the kitchen simply got a good scrubbing and our table was placed on a set of $13 bed risers from Bed, Bath & Beyond. I didn’t think about it much until last month’s article and I figured since I’ve watched 1,400 hours of Tiny House Hunters and Love It or List It, I could come up with an amazing inexpensive idea on my own. And, because I’m a nutjob, I thought the best time to do this was now. Otherwise, it was a perfect plan.
Between traveling with my show around the country, launching a board game and driving my three kids all over God’s creation, it’s been a bit busy to say the least. Lots of people ask me, “How do you do it?” The honest answer is, “Not that well sometimes.” That’s at least how I was feeling the night before we started the renovation. I was just back home from a five-day trip to St. Louis and was eager to see my kids and reconnect. On the plane ride home, I envisioned my kids gathered around the living room table—with popcorn—anxiously awaiting a good snuggle and yearning to hear all about my travels. Instead, they were all at Chipotle bothered by the phone call that I had arrived home safely. I spent the next day wondering if my vocal cords were functioning. Apparently, five days away makes your voice inaudible to the naked teenage ear. I was essentially asking myself, “If I had done my homework” or “If I had took a shower.” I was particularly angry at my son, who during my time away had broken about seven rules of our house and the state of New Jersey and no one (mostly my husband) seemed to care. I was done!
I got in my car and headed to Home Depot in Delran to pick out the base cabinets I needed for the island the next day, all the while contemplating how my kids didn’t see my experience and advice as the obvious gift from the gods that it was. I was sad and planned to deal with my emotions by “angry shopping.” This is when moms have so much to do but are exhausted, so they simply wait until someone pisses them off enough that they go “angry shopping.” There is no perusing or “looking around” during angry shopping, you just go in, buy something and leave. That was my plan until I met Ben from the cabinet department. Our conversation began about cabinets but as we sat at the Home Depot desk chatting, I mentioned that I was shopping to “get away from my kids who ignore me.” He asked me, “How many kids do you have?” and “How old are they?” I was surprised how interested he was in my motherly plight.
With the calming tone of someone well beyond his 24 years, Ben went on to explain that he had come to America six years ago from Nigeria, alone, at the age of 18. Sadly, his father passed shortly thereafter and his mom and brothers joined him here. He spoke with pride about all the opportunities America had to offer, about how his mom instilled such a sense of respect in him and how their relationship has grown in the last few years after experiencing many of the same problems my son and I were having seeing eye to eye. I was mesmerized by him and his story. I listened to him, while exhaling slowly and thinking, “This is where I’ll learn my lesson today? Home Depot’s cabinet department?” I have my close circle of friends and family that I rely on for advice but, as we all know, their helpful advice isn’t always available the minute you need it. But Ben was. I am a big believer that the world tells us things all the time and all we have to do is listen. Sometimes, that advice isn’t what we want to hear, but if we listen, the advice—good or bad—is just what we need to put us back on our path or create a new path we hadn’t even considered.
We don’t often have the chance to thank those people who wander into our lives with the exact kind words we need to hear. I want to thank you, Ben, and your mom. The world needs great young men like you, providing great knowledge on cabinets and much-needed respite and advice for moms of teenage boys everywhere. Thank you, Home Depot, for hiring men like Ben, interested in connecting with customers (and moms) renovating not just their homes but working constantly to stay connected with their kids, all while being known as the “mean mom.” If you’re looking for cabinets or just some great motherly advice, check out Delran’s Home Depot. If you see Ben, be sure to tell him Dena said, “Hi.”
Comedian Dena Blizzard is a married mother of three, a former Miss New Jersey and the writer, producer and star of the Off Broadway hit show “One Funny Mother.” In her free time she folds laundry, is a carpool mom and has created a dirty board game called “Chardonnay Go, For Wine Lovers, Moms and Other Shameless People.” Find Dena at Facebook.com/DenaBlizzard or at The Cheesecake Factory.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 2 (May, 2017).
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