Actual Things: Embarrassed Car Singer

Yesterday I was invited to a networking event at a fun little restaurant where I met a group of women (and few men) to talk about projects and upcoming fundraisers in KC. It was quite an anomaly to be somewhere on a school night meeting cool new people and talking about actual work projects. As I was driving home around 7:30, I was really feeling like a cool grownup writer and blogger, instead of a frumpy mom who’s been basically a shut in for the better part of two years. Like any cool grownup would do, I stopped right before my street (so my husband and kids wouldn’t know I was home yet) and played my cool grownup music (Ben Folds Five) while I just kind of bobbed my head, passionately singing along and mindlessly looking at my phone, coolly. Next thing I know, this lady comes out of her house and is (rightly) like, “What are you doing?!” and “Can you not?!” and “I just got my baby to bed!” First of all, do you realize HOW LOUD AND FOR HOW LONG I had to have been blaring Ben Folds to elicit this poor young mom to come out of her house in the dark and confront me? Needless to say, I’m mortified. My first instinct was to just move to a different neighborhood, but this morning I opted to drop off an apology note and a couple Starbucks gift cards. Honestly though, if some dummy woke up my new baby with unnecessarily loud acoustic music on a random Wednesday, I don’t know if there would be enough Starbucks in the world to make up for it. In my note, I assured them that I would be doing my car singing outside my own house from now on, and I almost added that I’m still available for birthday parties, but I didn’t know how well that would go over. So in conclusion, I absolve Ben Folds (and the other 4) from any blame associated with my behavior. I, alone, was Rockin’ The Suburbs. I was doing it of my own accord and I hereby formally apologize to any other families who may have been affected by my actions last night.

Sincerely,

Embarrassed Car Singer

#ActualThings

Spare me, Liar. (Alternate title: I Whistle A Happy Tune.)

When one of my daughters was 9, as I was tucking her into bed she asked me, “How come you’re not afraid of anything?

I said, “What do you mean?”

She said, “Like, how come you’re not afraid of spiders?”

I told her that I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that as a child my best friend (and step-aunt – yes we have a weird family tree -) Marisa was really afraid of spiders and she was littler than me so I pretended not to be afraid, just to make her feel better when she had bad dreams. So I concluded that maybe I just tricked myself into not being afraid? Whether the fact that I’m not afraid of spiders is a result of that or just a coincidence, I guess I’ll never really be sure.

Coming full circle, this technique totally backfired when I tried not to pass along my lifelong phobia of snakes to my young daughters by going out of my way to say how “cute” and “fascinating” reptiles are when they were toddlers. This led to them shoving library books in my face and innocently exclaiming things like, “Look, Mommy! A picture of a snake! Your favorite!” Cut to me breaking out in the full meat sweats covered in hives. Just a simple picture in a children’s book would send me reeling, literally feeling the saliva drain from my mouth and the blood drain from my face as my entire back wet through my shirt and I started doing some weird panic version of heavy lamaze breathing. (Is lamaze breathing redundant? Would you still get the point if I had just said lamaze? Also remind me to someday publish my 600 page book of essays entitled, “Why I Can’t Go Back To That Library.” Spoiler alert: there’s more than one library.)

When the girls were older, we once got invited to a friend’s uncle’s farm in the country and it was like that horror scene from the National Lampoon’s Vacation movie where I looked over and saw my children playing with a F*CKING BUCKET of baby black snakes. You know…black snakes…the “harmless ones.” Harmless, that is, if you don’t have an automatic vomit trigger from fear and anxiety. I was too paralyzed to scream before I felt my knees start to waiver and my innards upheave, but I’m here to tell you ladies and gentleman, that I did not yell, puke, or faint, BECAUSE I’d been training for so long in case such a moment should arise. Poise-wise, it was my Jackie Kennedy at the funeral procession moment. Methinks I shall never summon a more courageous portrayal of “normal person doing fine” again; it was truly the performance (and bowel retention) of a lifetime.

That whole “fake it til you make it” thing is really misleading because it implies that if you fake it long enough you’ll eventually make it. In my experience this hasn’t always been the case. Marisa is still afraid of spiders, and yet I’m not, but I’m still afraid of snakes. (If you’re wondering how much appreciation she has for my sacrifices on her behalf, a couple of years ago she bought my kids souvenir cups at the Sedgwick Zoo in the shape of Boa Constrictors. She “swears” she thought they were “elephants.” OKAY, MARISA.)

Honest question: how many of you have intentionally lied to your kids about something you intensely fear/dislike to spare them the bad feelings you had to overcome?

Maybe the “making it” part of the old adage is that even if we couldn’t truly overcome our inner fears, at least we tried and hopefully didn’t pass our burdens onto our children unnecessarily. Then again, what if I’m just teaching my kids to be liars and telling myself it’s a means to an end of not having them absorb my fears? Also, how bad will I feel if one of them gets bitten by a snake?

 

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I’ve Been Poisoned.

 

Hello you,

Thanks for being so patient with me as I upended my entire life. Quick recap: I got remarried last year and am the proud bonus mommy to two extra daughters, bringing my total to 4. My husband and I refer to them as The Blondetourage. They are so close in age that they will all someday be in high school at the same time. Please start praying for us now.

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I’m honored that you’re checking back in with me after all this time. I have journals filled with topics I’ve wanted to talk about with you. Whenever I’ve thought about sitting down to write to you, my brain swirls with words that evoke very deep emotions within me and I get caught in a rip tide of memories that can never fully reach the surface; words like divorce, one-bedroom apartment, going back to work, making ends meet, child support, coparenting, betrayal, lawyers, courtrooms, humility, disappointment, and abandonment by friends I thought would stand by me through anything. I pride myself on the fact that what I share with you is real, so trying to sugarcoat anything just for the sake of explaining it seems like a boring waste of time for all of us.

But today I feel inspired because I have something important to declare…

Happily, I’ve been poisoned.

With Botox.

These past few months trudging through the trenches of blending a family of 6 during the unprecedented restrictions of life in quarantine, I’ve often lamented, ‘when, oh when will this deadly virus be over so I can safely leave my home to go pay someone an exorbitant amount of money to inject poison directly into my face?’

And today was finally that day. Vain and frivolous? Obviously. A sign of return to normalcy? Also yes.

I’m telling you this because writing makes me really happy. Your feedback makes me feel seen and understood. Your comments make me laugh out loud. I’ve missed you so much. Let’s get back to sharing and laughing. And in the words of one Mr. James Buffett, “If we weren’t all crazy, we’d all go insane.” (Source: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes)

Expressive and expressionless,

Emily

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Remember How It Feels

Stigma is a word we don’t talk about much these days when it comes to divorce. It’s completely glossed over on TV or movies. Divorced women are always portrayed by a middle aged lady who was the perfect wife crying in a bathrobe over her husband who left her for his secretary but then wins a five star vacation on a radio contest and transforms into an empowered, red lipstick-clad world traveler. OR it’s an empowered, red lipstick-clad business woman who was the perfect wife but her husband never appreciated her dedication to her career and also he cheated on her with his secretary because he’s intimidated by her wild success and she reclaims herself with a five star vacation.

But hear me out…

Some of us are regular moms. We don’t get to embark on three month long jungle trips to find ourselves. We are struggling to find socks before school in the morning (don’t even think about asking for matching) and we are making pasta for dinner (again) before soccer practice. And we don’t all have sassy gay friends to give us makeovers. And we don’t have a crew of girlfriends to take us out dancing every weekend and do yoga in the park. Because our crew of girlfriends are still regular moms too and sitters are hard to come by.

I CHIME IN with a haven’t you people ever heard of…a normal suburban divorced lady with two kids just doing her goddamned best? (Did you sing it?)

There were things I had to deal with in the wake of our divorce that I didn’t expect.

For example, if you’re not dating, you’re constantly encouraged to get on a dating app (I didn’t.) If you are dating, you’re questioned about whether it’s going too fast.

Other moms that you thought were your friends “report” back to your ex-husband when you’re in the late line for school pick up, which is a lot because guess what, you have to work now. (Also, joke’s on you because I was frequently in the late line when I was still married, thank you very much.)

Some people just stop talking to you all together. And to them I politely say, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. (I believe that is Psalms.)

Perhaps my favorite anecdote of all happened a couple of weeks ago when I was at a Women’s dinner at my church. A mom friend of mine gave me a big hug and said to me in front of a group of people, “Hey! I’ve been following your Instagram and you seem happy, but are you really?”

Excuse me, Brenda?

Is my non-shared life just cocktail party fodder now because I’m single? Do I ask you if you and your husband are as happy as you seem on Instagram? Honestly. The audacity. “Hey, I saw that you guys went to Disney, but between you, me, and these other dressed up ladies sipping white wine at this church dinner, how is Bud’s porn addiction, did you guys get a handle on that yet?”

My point is this…whether you’ve been through the process of coming out of hibernation after a divorce and all the social awkwardness that comes with it or not, remember  how it feels when you’re vulnerable. Remember how it feels when you’re fragile. Remember how it feels when someone has embarrassed you and you have no idea what to say. Remember how it feels to have something in your life implode publicly. Remember how it feels when people you thought were your best friends don’t call you for months. Remember how it feels to be humbled, to look back and realize you weren’t perfect and you’re not a victim and you’re just a normal person like everyone else.

And use those memories to recognize and help other people get through those times.

And no matter what -if you possibly can -take a five star vacation. And post all that ish up on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Pie and Bravery

Thankful For Pie

I remember my first crush in Kindergarten. I also remember the first and last names of each boy I had crush on in subsequent grades up until middle school when I had THE BIG crush on one boy for like four years. He was the Winnie Cooper of my Wonder Years. I’ve had countless crushes in my life, most of whom never even knew. I suppose that is the gift of the combination of a big imagination and intermittent shots of anxiety to keep you practical.

I know some parents balk at the idea of little grade schoolers having crushes, raising eyebrows and saying how they are way too young for that, etc. But to these parents I ask, do you show your kids Disney movies? Continue reading

How many years are there?

The other morning my newly-turned-five-year-old and I were sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating Doritos while the other half of our family went on a bike ride.

Savvy was singing the Days of the Week song, which is where you just start with Sunday and sing the days of the week to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine. Try it, it’s catchy.

Savvy: “I know how many days there are. Seven.” Continue reading

KC Live: The COOLEST Bath Toys for Toddlers (And gerbils?)

“So there I was, alone in a Ritz Carlton, crying into my used/hotel-issued ‘luxury’ bathrobe”….is a way I could start more than one story. But for now,  I’ll stick to Monday night. It was my own fault, in that I drank a bunch of white wine and turned on Mamma Mia on Netflix. If you have a little girl and think you could watch Meryl Streep sing this song without drunk-crying, fight me. Continue reading

Lessons In Broken Toys: Just Go With It.

Today we came home from school to discover that Savannah’s (weird, trashy, but favorite) My Little Pony “Barbie” had been severely mauled by Mr. Biffles. Savannah was understandably horrified. (Bif lacked any signs of remorse.)

Hearing Savvy’s cries of shock and grief, Avery and I made quick work of a rescue mission. Avery got the silver duct tape while I performed CPR. I patched up the arms and leg while Avery applied the defibrillator (a Shopkin), as Savvy hesitantly looked on. Soon the doll was stabilized and the wailing subsided. Avery declared the doll “still beautiful.” I offered that her name could be “Ilene,” as she was now missing one foot. Savvy was unpersuaded. Continue reading

The Hootie Diaries: A #MomFail

My daughter’s preschool periodically sends home the class owl named “Hootie.” He comes with a notebook and instructions to please add photos and a journal entry about all of the fun he has with your family. Since my daughter is 4 and cannot read, write, or pick up pictures from Walgreens, Hootie, while a fun concept, is largely just a homework assignment for me and pressure to look like we are “having fun” and “doing things.”

The first time Savannah brought Hootie home, we lost him. For like a week. I eventually found him hidden under the couch with several dog toys. I was just grateful that he still had eyes. Most of Hootie’s journal entries are lovingly crafted recaps of family leisure time with pictures of smiling children taking Hootie to church or posing with a fishing pole at their grandpa’s pond. ‘Here we are sharing an organic banana milkshake after a long day of helping the homeless!’

Savannah ended up with this:

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