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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Actual Things: Unmarried Dot Com

Dear friends,

I’ve had a cold so long I can barely remember what it’s like to not have a cold. As I was lying in bed last night still hacking after a second dose of Nyquil and some good old fashioned night soup*, I started to get really fed up. (*Night soup is that thing where you are so desperate to stop coughing you get up at 1am, make soup to eat in bed, spill some of it on yourself and then pray you don’t die of an accidental cold med overdose leaving your children to find your puffy-faced body in a bed full of used tissues in the morning.) I decided to refocus on tranquility by saying all my thank you prayers. Since I’ve been Catholic most of my life I have a habit of ending my prayers with the sign of the cross, only last night instead of the traditional “Amen” I realized I accidentally ended my prayer with, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit, Dot Com.”

So there I was, wheeze-laughing in the dark in m’soup-stained tank top…

This brings me to my second actual thing. I overslept. Which means my kids overslept. Which means we had approximately 9 minutes for a 12 minute drive. By some miracle of traffic patterns, we coasted up to the door with about 15 seconds to spare as I tossed backpacks into the backseat like they were life jackets on a sinking ship. As I watched my sweet blonde cherubs head for the front door I rolled down the window and started shouting things like, “LET’S MOVE! LOOK ALIVE! I WANNA SEE KNEES TO CHEST!” It really put a pep in their step and I’m thinking that maybe I should start wearing a coach whistle to drop off.

It’s a good thing I’m such a natural motivator because kids can be so inconsiderate, am I right? Like, I didn’t leave the house bra-less in a soup-stained tank top and accelerate through four yellow lights for you to mosey in 20 seconds after the bell and make me look like a bad mom.

Thirdly, and this is a biggie: I got unmarried a while ago. For months now I’ve mulled over when and how to share this information publicly, but the more I thought about it, the more all of your comments over the past years came flooding back and reminded me that I should just keep it real. It wasn’t in the plan for the original fairy tale ending, but I still got a lot of fairy tale moments over the years that can never be undone.

So I’m back to writing. As a single mom, I assure you I have a backlog of material to share with you. If you’re reading this, please know that I appreciate you. I hope you’ll forgive my absence and come back with all of your hilarious feedback I treasure so much.

And those are the actual things.

Love, Emily

 

Alternate Titles:

Working On My Night Soup

Accelerating Through Yellow Lights: A Philosophy For Life

Unmarried With Children

Fairy Tale Middles

I want to sneak in a HUGE thank you shout out to the many, many supportive women friends who have been true bright spots through this cloudy, unpredictable season of my life. Here are a few of them:

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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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