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Slow Down The Merry-Go-Round

ok, this isn’t a picture of a merry-go-round. But it IS a picture of my beautiful daughter riding in a contraption that kinda looks like one… Remember the feeling as a kid of being on a merry-go-round that’s going faster and faster, much faster than you ever thought it could go and you’re scared and want it to stop but that super strong kid named Gus- who you know there’s no way in hell is 8 years old- keeps pushing it to spin like it’s about to shoot off into space and now everything is a blur and you’re sure you’re gonna puke up the Frosted Flakes you had for breakfast and you just hope that Jesus answers your prayer of survival so you can make it to art class after this traumatic recess experience because it’s puff paint day and you’ve got jeans to jazz up? Ugh. Gus is such a diq.

I didn’t realize that the proverbial merry-go-round scenario would play out again in my adulthood. And yet, here I am. Holding on for dear life, praying to the Lord Almighty for any help He’ll throw my way. I’ve puked up my grown up breakfast of bland oatmeal, water, and 3 grapes. (Ok, if I’m being honest, it’s a chocolate croissant from Starbucks). Now what?

What do we do when it’s not a merry-go-round that is threatening our survival (or at least our breakfast)? What do we do when it’s life? What do we do when it’s not Gus pushing us faster and faster but all the weight of responsibilities and obligations? Work and deadlines and self loathing because we have debt and field trip money and vacations to pay for and braces and new clothes (because kids grow at an alarming rate when you properly feed and water them) and a new car (because my husband’s car apparently lost it’s street-legal status when the driver’s seat fell out). What do we do when it all piles up on top of us like a bunch of stupid 13 year old boys at a house party yelling “DOG PILE!” just before they jump on the nearest girl minding her own business (yes, I was that girl). How do we get out from under the weight without it crushing us?

What do we do when the house that was once our dream becomes a financial prison? When the education we thought would save us from the cycle of poverty turns out to be the very thing financially chaining us to the ground? Do we throw up our hands and surrender to the mainstream Negative Nancys saying that we can’t have it all, and it’s time to grow up and give up our dreams? Or do we continue to fight for it all until we have no fight left? Is there a chance, if we continue to fight, that we’ll win? Is it worth the risk to find out?

There’s gotta be an answer, right? I’ve heard that there exists a magical people who really do get to live their dream. They love their job. They live the life they want. How? How do they get off the merry-go-round without losing an arm? Did they even ever get on it? How do they take control and slow it down? When you’ve built a life and financial stability over decades of hard work only to realize that what you thought was attainable is just a mirage, what are the options? Do you uproot your kids’ lives and the stability they’ve come to expect only to downgrade everything? Or do you wait it out until life makes that decision for you? Or do you try to hold on and get it all?

I’m asking all of these questions because I want to know the answers. Not rhetorically. I want off of this stupid merry-go-round. I mean, I don’t wanna die or anything. Quite the opposite. That merry-go-round bi-atch is a death trap and I want off because I want to LIVE. Now all I gotta do is figure out what I’m good at, what I love doing, and how to make money with it. I mean, ma kids gotta eat! Simple, right? Dolly Parton did it. Betty White did it. Richard Simmons did it. Maybe I can, too. Step 1: Google ‘how to be Betty White’. Who’s comin’ with me?

You’re a Badass, Dolly Parton

Female is not synonymous with helpless. If you listen to the noise, you might think so. But the truth is, women have been using stilettos to kick out the glass ceiling since Cleopatra reigned supreme.

Kicking down glass in torturous shoes to change the world, prove our value, and realize our dreams isn’t easy. Easy would be to throw up our hands and scream about how unfair we have it and demand that everyone just give us stuff cuz we have boobies and can’t get paid. Easy would be to not even try. But that’s not the example I want for my daughter. And that’s not the opinion I want my son to have of women.

Yes, we have to work harder.  Yes, we have to have a curfew and can’t join anyone on business dinners because we can’t be out past dusk because we might be sexual prey.  Yes, we have to overcome adversity that only we can understand. And, yes, that can be frustrating and overwhelming to the point of questioning whether or not it’s worth even trying to get ahead. But luckily, we have examples; strong, inspirational women who have paved a way for us so that we can pave further for those who come after us. I don’t want the blood, sweat, and tears of those women to be for naught. If they can make the world a better place, we all can improve it a little more. I want to follow their example. So I figured what better way to start than to study the directions left by those great, inspirational females. And here, with this post, the journey of exploration and learning begins.

I’ve spent weeks pouring over Wikipedia and other parts of the internets to learn more about a woman that has been one of my idols since I first heard the song Jolene and saw The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at an age when I didn’t even know whorehouses had competitions. Yes, I’m highlighting the badassery of the one- the only- Mrs. Dolly Rebecca Parton. So, without further ado: I present to you a mostly thorough list of all the ways that Dolly Parton is a badass.

Dolly’s done it the “right” way

All of us Dolly- hards (that’s the name I’ve decided to give us Dolly fans) already know the origin story: she was born in a one-room cabin, deep in the Tennessee country. By all accounts no one outside of Pittman Center, TN should know her name. That in and of itself places her high on my list of awesomeness.

But she didn’t have a “win at all costs” mentality, clawing her way to the top while stepping over anyone she could to get what she wanted.  Dolly knew her end game. She was hyper-focused on becoming a country singer since the age of 6 and she did just that in a way that elevated the lives of those around her and she’s never lost sight of who she is and where she came from.

Dolly’s taken advantage of the opportunities that came her way

When Porter Wagoner invited Dolly to be his sidekick on The Porter Wagoner Show, she knew that this wasn’t the end game for her career.  She was still focused on becoming a solo artist.  But that didn’t keep her from seeing the advantage of taking the job.  While it would curve her path to solo success, what it DID afford her was a weekly audience.  She gave herself a timeline.  Dolly promised herself that she would give it five years.  She ended up giving that show seven years of her career.  It made her a household name and Dolly left the Porter Wagoner Show with connections in both music and TV.  While it wasn’t exactly what she wanted, she saw the end game.  

In addition to being on The Porter Wagoner Show, Dolly proved her business savvy when she partnered with her uncle Bill Owens to form Owe-Par Publishing.  Dolly knew that she needed to protect her songs if she was going to have any type of say in her work.   

Dolly Parton remembered where she came from

When Dolly’s solo career took off in the 70’s and 80’s, she knew that she wanted to give back to the community that helped raised her.  To do so, she used her new resources and the business savvy she inherited from her dad to buy a share of an old amusement park and start Dollywood, bringing thousands of jobs to the people of her Tennessee hometown and the surrounding areas.  Not only that, she’s also started a book gifting program called Imagination Library that mails free books to children.

So, what are you trying to tell me?

Hard work pays off.  Not sure if you realized this or not, but Dolly Parton has written over THREE THOUSAND songs!  I can’t even write 25 Thank You notes after my daughter’s birthday party!  This is the work ethic and drive that sets success apart from mediocrity. 

Dolly rose to the top because of the positive support of her family, her intuition, her drive, her work ethic, and a little luck.  She’s a role model because of her kind spirit and selflessness.  If Dolly’s taught us “Dolly-Hards” anything, it’s that success is possible and you don’t have to walk over everyone to get it.  So stop making excuses and go get the life you want!!!

 

Someone Ate My Kid’s Waffle

Parents know all too well that the world is full of threats and dangers to our most precious little gifts. Dingos, wells, white vans with no windows… all dangerous. We know this. But sometimes… usually just when you think you’re getting the hang of this parenting thing, you find yourself in a situation that you realize, after it’s too late, that you aren’t prepared for. Panic sets in. You’ve found a new danger zone.

That’s what happened when someone took a bite of my son’s waffle at a restaurant. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Someone (I like to think it was a ghost because I don’t think ghosts have spit or diseases) put their mouth on food that wasn’t even on their table.

Before that moment, my greatest fear while dining out alone with my potty-trained kids was that one of them would have to “go potty”, the server would think we left, and throw our food away before we had a chance to eat it. But I now know that’s not the worst thing that can happen.

I was so proud to get my kids potty trained. It’s a milestone lauded by smart people who write books and stuff as evidence of a child’s advancement toward becoming a successful member of society and I taught my kids how to do that. I think the logic is infant, potty-trained child, Harvard attendant, cardio thoracic surgeon, successful at life. However, no one talks about the cons.

For example: once my kids are officially potty training, it’s super inconvenient for me. There’s no safety net. If they have an “accident”, that means dirty poop pants. That means that I get to put clean clothes on them and wash the dirty pee or poop clothes. Sometimes this could happen more than 4 times a day. It’s expensive and time consuming. And frustrating.

Also, my kids learned that if they said the magic words, “I need to go potty”, I would drop EVERYTHING and take them to the nearest restroom. They were in complete control. The moment we walked into a store or restaurant, guess what they said… I once asked my daughter, “do you really need to go potty or do you just want to check out the restroom?” She replied, “I just want to check out the restroom.” At least she was honest.

Then, this one day… it was a Saturday. My hubs was on call so he was spending his morning at the hospital. I decided to take the kiddos to get breakfast at a fancy sit-down restaurant. We ordered. Kids were coloring. The world was at peace. Then it happened. “Mommy, I gotta go potty.” Ok. I got this. I found our server and told him that we were going to the restroom. We’re safe.

After what felt like 5 years, my son did his bid-naz and we made our way back to our table where our food was already waiting. We sat down and my son said, “Mommy, who bit my waffle?” Um… what? I looked over. There it was. As clear as day. A bite mark. I surveyed the room. What fuq’n weirdo took a bite of my son’s waffle? Everyone’s a suspect. What do I do? Call the FBI? No. I’m too conflict adverse.

I packed up my children, declared I would NOT pay for that waffle, and we left. Because WHAT THA FUQ.

So, to all my friends out there about to be parents for the first time or about to embark on potty training for the first time, beware of venturing out to restaurants without backup. Not saying don’t do it. Just saying keep your guard up. And maybe ask the server to keep your food safe in the kitchen until you return?

I Moved the Cone

Ice Cream is Life

Taboo

Y’all, I did something taboo at my kids’ school. Don’t worry- I didn’t punch another mom in the face or bump a kid with my car. Not that day, at least. I did something better. Shhh… don’t tell anyone… I moved an orange cone.

The Cone

You know the cone: tall, orange, rubber, yells “stay away!” without saying anything at all. They are inanimate traffic cops, directing people without a voice or whistle or night stick or handcuffs or a taser. I don’t know how these cones achieved the level of respect that they have, such that no one ever challenges their authority. But in my mind, someone was made an example of with the use of magic and explosives and everyone who saw it was scared shatless and then they told everyone they could to do WHATEVER the orange cone wanted them to do.

The Situation

So there I was- sitting in carpool to pick up my babies. It was a very special day. Most days my kids are shuffled from school to aftercare where they do everything but homework until around 5:30 or 6 when either my husband or I are finally able to pick them up. Not this day. On THIS day they were car riders. And we had PLANS. We were going to get the Lord’s ice cream at Chick-Fil-A. But first I had to wait on my kids and get the eff outta Dodge.

I waited for about 5 minutes once I inched my way through the line and finally found myself in front of the school. Finally my precious cargo was loaded up. But there was a problem. The car in front of me wasn’t moving. It had to! I didn’t have any other way out! To my left: a school. To my rear: cars. To my front: the stupid car that wouldn’t move… but… to my riiiight: an orange cone… I had a thought. What if I were to open my car door, step out of said car, and move this cone ever so slightly so that I could get around the car that had now been holding me hostage for 10 minutes? What would happen? Would I get yelled at? Arrested? Would armed guerrillas jump out from the woods behind the school and cart me away? I don’t think anyone really knows what would happen! But I was so tired of waiting. I didn’t take the day off so I could hang with my kids in the carpool lane! It was time to take matters into my own hands.

The Act

I put my car in park. I opened my car door juuuust enough to slip out and I moved the cone ever so slightly. Then I quickly got back in my car and escaped. I felt like I was in the final scene of Texas Chainsaw Massacre where the lone survivor is maniacally laughing in the car while getting away. I fully expected at any moment the road would open up and take us all. It didn’t. Y’all! I MOVED AN ORANGE CONE AND SURVIVED! Not only did I survive, I got away scott-free!

So in Conclusion

You can move the cone! Look, I know that people put cones out for reasons. But sometimes those reasons are stupid and get in my way. I am very grateful for the cones at my kids’ school because they keep kids safe and they keep people straight who make bad decisions with their car. But that day… that day I was desperate and without anyone to tell the driver of the dumb car in front of me to GET OUT THA WAY, I took matters into my own hands. I moved the cone.

How to Cleanse Like a Pro

My panic face. Keep this in mind. You’ll need it for the visual.

It’s Just a Cleanse

Y’all, I just tried my first cleanse. Being a middle-aged woman (O.M.G. I can’t believe I just put that out into the universe… I feel sick… sick from old age & honesty), I can no longer simultaneously eat like a sumo wrestler AND have the waist of a Kardashian. As a matter of fact, it’s doubtful that I could eat like a breatharian and have the waist of a Kardashian. But, that’s ok. Looking like a ghetto barbie who won the lottery isn’t my thing. I do, however, want to be healthy.

When I’m not taking care of myself, my whole being feels “off”. I’ve been in peak physical shape before. Like, waaaay before. So, when I’ve had one too many cheat days my body yells at me like a drunk momma in Walmart. After listening to the yelling for a while, I finally decided that my body needed a reset.

I heard a lot about detoxes and cleanses and from what I could tell with the extensive googling I did, there didn’t seem to be much difference between the two. You just drink the drinks or swallow the pills and your body expels the bad like that kid in my high school that stabbed the principal with a fork. I couldn’t find much explanation on HOW the bad stuff gets eliminated but I figured I’d prolly have to pee a lot. It couldn’t be too bad… seems pretty popular. Popular things are never bad.

As luck would have it, my medically knowledgeable hubs heard me talk about my desire to clean out my body so he bought us both a 14-day supply of cleanse tablets, the men’s version for himself, the women’s version for me. I started right away. On a Sunday evening. AKA, the night before my daughter’s first overnight field trip. It was a big night for both of us. She was experiencing a rite of passage. And so was I.

What Had Happened Was…

I made sure to take the gender appropriate tablets cuz I really don’t wanna grow a penis at this age. Full disclosure, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t immediately have to pee. But I reminded myself to be patient… Rome wasn’t built in a day or whatever. So I got ready for bed, set my alarm for 5:30 am, and drifted off to sleep eager to wake up ten pounds lighter, svelt, and flat bellied. Bella had to be at school with all of her stuff by 7:40 am the next morning so I wanted to make sure I was giving myself time to drive the kids to school and help her carry her stuff in. Little did I know, I would not need the aforementioned alarm. (foreshadowing!!!)

Around 5 am I woke up with a mean case of the bubble guts. In my semi-lucid state, I figured the best course of action would be to ignore it and try to go back to sleep. I’m a southern woman- it’s what we do. If we wake up to a problem, we go back to sleep until it goes away. Just kidding… or am I? Anyway, I hate mornings. I mean I HAAAAAAYYYYYTE them. If I were to rank them among the things I hate the most it would go Hitler, my 4th grade teacher, mornings. So if I can get 15 more minutes of sleep, this classy lady is gonna power through the bubble guts.

I fell asleep for a minute and then abruptly woke up to sharp abdominal pains. Like the kind you get after eating questionable meat nachos at a gas station. I was afraid to move. What was the cause of this pain? Was my bladder THAT full? Once the pain subsided enough I shuffled to the bathroom. I mean, I did need to pee so that must be it. And pee I did. But not out of THAT hole. What was happening??? After what felt like 5 years I composed myself enough to get dressed and get the kids up. I was, at this point, about 10 minutes off schedule. No problem. I could make that time up with a little dry shampoo for myself and motivation for the kids. Like a drill sergeant I was shouting motivational phrases at my darling children like, “HURRY! You don’t need matching socks! Just grab 2 from the top of your hamper!” And it worked! At 6:50 am we were all downstairs with the kids eating a delicious homemade breakfast of frozen waffles.

Down But Not Out

And then… proving lightening sometimes DOES strike twice… it hit me again. There was nothing I could do except sit on the porcelain throne of horror and pee what should have been solid out of the other hole… again. You know when your kid brings you their toothpaste tube saying there’s no more but you know the trick of rolling the tube to get the last out and it just keeps coming out and then you can’t get it to stop? Yep. At 7:02 I started to panic. My baby girl was going to miss the field trip she’d looked forward to for 3 months because I couldn’t stop shatting. How do I sign my kids into the school office? In the “reason” block do I put “cleanse gone wrong”? How do I tell Bella that she got left behind because I couldn’t stop the toxins from flowing out of my body like liquid hot magma? I could’t let that happen.

I dug deep, y’all. I couldn’t let shat defeat me or disappoint my baby girl. I started channeling my drill sergeant again. From behind the bathroom door I yelled, “Bella! Roman! Get your stuff together! Put your shoes on! Do you have your snacks? Get in the car! I’ll be right there!” I said a prayer, made a few promises to Jesus that I fully expect to keep, and took care of business in every way. Somehow I managed to get my kids to school in time. Bella had 10 minutes to spare. And I worked from home that day because I couldn’t risk being the girl who lost bowel control at the office.

Moral of the Story:

A cleanse means that you will poo until your innards liquify and fall out of your body. Also, I’m still a contender for Mom of the Year and have a great story for the awards video montage, although it’s kinda gross. So, I guess you could say my chances are pretty good. I’m excited about it.

Take A Step

Surprise!

When I became a mom I was surprised by quite a few things. For instance, I was surprised that I could still function enough to walk down the aisles of Target on just 30 minutes of sleep. Of course, I didn’t remember why I was there or how I got there, but I was there, nonetheless. Another surprise: how much poop could come out of a tiny, adorable baby body. You know the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral? Yeah… it’s like that. But with poo. Exploding poo. However, nothing surprised me as much as waking up from a years’ long parenting-induced fog, realizing that my whole identity had to be rediscovered and redefined.

My Name Is…

I didn’t lose myself over night. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, my sense of identity died a slow, sneaky death. I used to know exactly who I was and what I wanted out of life. I mean… I was ERICA! Short in stature, tall in sarcasm, with the misplaced attack instincts of a chihuahua. I was the same Erica who did exactly what was expected of me until my first abnormally large tramp stamp tattoo at the age of 21. The same Erica who moved to Italy by myself for the summer after I graduated from college because the idea of going back to my hometown made me feel like I was suffocating. The same Erica wanted nothing more out of life than to make everyone laugh.

Who Am I?

Yet, there I was, holding my new baby boy, my three-year-old little girlie by my side, a supportive husband, and I had no idea who I was anymore. My confidence was gone. I felt like an empty shell. Nothing that I used to enjoy made me happy anymore. One day I stopped singing in the car at the top of my lungs. One day I stopped watching Napoleon Dynamite on loop. Don’t get me wrong: I adored being a mom and still do. But in my mind, I was not good enough at it. Good moms spend every waking moment with their babies. I had to leave my babies every day. I had to pay my bills. I had obligations. I had to go to work. The career I used to be so proud of now made me cringe like the creepy guy in high school who followed me around trying to smell my hair. The career I worked so hard to build was now making me deeply and painfully resentful and I didn’t know how to fix it.

A switch flipped. The demands of my new family construct AND trying to excel in my career were suddenly overwhelming. I was no longer the person who I used to know so assuredly that I was. I couldn’t manage the simplest tasks without crushing exhaustion. I just wanted to close myself in a room with my babies and lock out the world.

Who was I? A mom? A wife? I was a person without a first name. I was no longer Erica. I was Roman’s mom. I was Bella’s mom. I was Rick’s wife. Erica was invisible. If I happened to have five minutes to myself, what would I do? Scrap book? NO! Cry in my closet. That’s what. I had no hobbies. Outside of my daily routine I was lost. How long had I been like this? I felt like I’d been in a time-warping fog and now the fog was lifting and I had to reorient myself to my surroundings like an alien abductee dropped in a crop circle naked and afraid.

Now What?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was at a crossroads. I could have stayed in my fog, accepted it as my new life, and moved on without my sparkle. I could have wanted to change but done nothing about it and become bitter and mad. Or I could have done what I DID. I took a step. Then another. Over the next seven years I just took steps. From the outside looking in I’m sure I looked like I was grasping at straws. I wasn’t. I was on a quest.

I opened an Etsy shop making jewelry. Had I ever had any jewelry training? NO! Was I terrible at it? YES! But it taught me elementary business ownership skills. It taught me how to market online. It taught me social media networking. It occupied my curiosity for a year or two until I decided one day on a whim to start my first blog.

I knew nothing about blogging. But I knew I had a message and I knew I wanted to give other women a quick escape of funny and happiness. I wanted to give other parents a place to mentally go to for 10 minutes while they’re hiding in the bathroom and laugh and relate and not feel so alone. And I started to learn to write. And writing led to my passion.

After two years of writing and posting and joining groups of other writers I discovered what I should have been doing all along. Comedy. One day I realized that nothing was standing between the dream I’d always had in the back of my mind and my reality. I always idolized comedians. But people didn’t do that in real life! People graduate from high school then go to college then become accountants or engineers or whatever pays the bills. Not COMEDY. But… if my idols could do it, maybe I can, too.

Erica. Erica Benefield.

So, at the age of 36 I started a new career. Me. Erica. Wife, mom, comedian. It’s not easy. I work my day job, take my kids to practice, have dinner with my family, put my kids to bed, kiss my husband and go to my shows. There are a lot of nights when my anxiety sets in and I try to talk myself out of performing because the safe thing to do would be to stay at home with my family and be normal. But when I get out on the stage, I remember why I do it. When I hear my kids tell their friends that their mom is a comedian, I tear up. My kids have no idea what I do for my day job but they know what comedy is! I get to help other grown ups forget the demands of their life for a few minutes a night and it’s the best job in the world.

If you’re still reading this painfully long, rambling post, here’s what I want you to take away: Life has a way of throwing off your plans. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re failing. It could be your greatest success. You don’t have to give up your dreams because you’re a parent. Being a mom or a dad doesn’t mean YOUR life is over. If you feel stuck, do SOMETHING, anything to get “unstuck”. Take a different path home. Go to a new restaurant. Make a bucket list of things you’ve always wanted to explore and cross each one off the list. Kids need to see their parents happy and healthy with their own joys. Just take a step. It’ll lead to another step. And don’t use your family as an excuse. Take them on the journey with you. It’ll make the ride so much more fun.

What’s your step gonna be?

Why We Wine

Adults Know All

When I was a kid dreaming of becoming the famous person that I am, all the grown ups around me seemed to have life figured out. They had it together. Bills paid, scheduled car maintenance, starched clothes that looked professional and well-planned, mortgages, taxes, family organizational skills… all the adults were killin it as far as I could tell. All of them. {Except the guy that owned the store that we all knew was a cover for his weed business. But that guy served a different purpose.} I always assumed that there was some magical age where I would start wearing matching socks and get regular oil changes. I’ve since learned that there is no magical age. Turns out, grown ups in the ‘90’s were just really good at faking it (wink, wink).

Reality Bites

Based on my juvenile observations, adulthood wasn’t supposed to be chaotic and overwhelming. Finding love was never supposed to lead to heartache. Parenthood isn’t supposed to feel impossible. BUT IT IS, IT DID, AND IT DOES! Let me tell you a little secret if you haven’t discovered it for yourself already: the grown up world is rotten with the stench of reality. A reality that would be much more palatable if it weren’t falsely presented as perfection to us as kids through TV and movies, leaving songs such as “Purple Rain”, “You Outta Know”, and “Here I Go Again” my only hint as to the truth of reality. [And, I don’t know about you, but I thought “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers was really a song about a secret Asian man, and that’s just ONE example, so you can understand the messages of song were lost on me.]

For example: Walt Disney is a lying arsehole. I’ve never met a guy who would attempt to slay a dragon for my honor. I HAVE, however, met a few guys who would named their man hose “Dragon”. If Sleeping Beauty (AKA, the princess I most identify with) met a guy that her family warned her against, who lied and manipulated his way into her heart, knocked her up, then left her for someone younger and more ethnically diverse, I’d say he was describing my first marriage. It would be a warning to all little girls to look out for liars. And it would be useful. But that’s not what he did. So I thought all guys were protective and chivalrous… turns out, some of them are… noooooot.

Also, whoever wrote the Brady Bunch is a lying arsehole. Families don’t resolve their differences in 30 minutes or less. I didn’t know that and didn’t understand why my sister and I were still arguing after 31 minutes. I have one family member who has been holding a grudge against me for YEARS. But, then again, we don’t have Alice with her quick quips to help us see the light of reason.

Additionally, the guy who started Pinterest: AN ABSOLUTE ARSEHOLE. Pinterest is the sole reason women everywhere feel inadequate upon seeing our results after trying to bake from scratch the impossible candy-filled unicorn mirror glazed cake. And don’t get me started on the homemade charcoal mask that takes the top 6 layers of your face off. Could we get a social media platform that bakes the cake for us? Cuz that would be great. Oh, wait. Hey, Uber Eats! How you doin’?

The last example provided in this super-impactful, news-worthy, and vividly-made point: the male creator of Wonder Woman is a lying arsehole. When I run around in the same outfit as Wonder Woman, no cool music plays, I don’t gain any super human fighting skills, and people threaten to call the police. Also, I’m still waiting on my magic lasso, which, by the way, has yet to even SHIP! I bet it doesn’t even work.

All these realizations have culminated into a big let down. You know how you felt when you learned that Santa, the Easter Bunny, AND the Tooth Fairy were all made up? Yeah, like that. I feel like that every. single. day.

It’s Fine

Because reality has been a bit different than I imagined, I’ve found ways to cope with the misalignment of expectations. For example: “It’s fine.” I say that a lot. It’s such a versatile phrase! Shat goes south but I’m trying to convince myself that it’s survivable- “it’s fine”. My husband picks a restaurant I don’t really want to go to because he’s super healthy and I just want fried chicken bathed in honey mustard and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert but I don’t want to disagree because I’m a hopeless co-dependent AND I want to pretend like PMS isn’t ruling my life right now- “it’s fine”. My son strings gum out of his mouth and then wraps it around his neck before I can stop him- “it’s fine”. My daughter makes muffins and dumps half of the batter on the floor and now the dogs are “cleaning up the chocolate chips”- “it’s fine”. My dog gets scared by a passing dump truck and poo’s on the floor minutes before our house warming party… you guessed it! But sometimes “it’s fine” doesn’t work.

Now What?

We don’t have to go very far to hear what we’re doing wrong. We don’t exercise enough. We exercise too much. We shouldn’t dress like a school marm. We should really dress more conservatively. Have a career. Don’t work so much. Let your kids sleep in your bed. Don’t. You’ll kill them with your fat rolls. Don’t hug your kids too much… they’ll spoil. Discipline your kids, but not THAT way. Count calories, count fat grams, count carbs, eat carbs, don’t eat carbs, kale is all you should eat, and cauliflower is pizza now. Take meds to manage the stress, don’t take meds to manage the stress. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE! Who does? Who can tell me what to do cuz I have no fuq’n clue.

We are doing our best some days just to keep everything going. Relationships, careers, parenthood, expectations pile up like the unfolded laundry mountain and it’s easy to find yourself crying in a closet firmly grasping a bottle of champagne (hey, at least I keep it classy). But what if we were all more honest and forgiving with each other? What if we stopped hiding behind the fake perfection of staged social media pictures and smiles and showed what it’s REALLY like to be a grownup so that maybe it’ll be a little easier for those who will go through this stage of life after us? What if by sharing the hardships we all learn how normal it is to cry in the closet, go on mini-vacations to Target, or hide from our kids in the bathroom for just one moment of peace so that the next new mommy who comes along doesn’t think she’s doing EVERYTHING wrong?

You’re Enough

What’s rare to hear is what we’re doing RIGHT. Have you ever received a genuine and sincere compliment that has stuck with you all day, maybe for years? How great is that feeling?! What if we did more of that instead of breaking each other down so that we could feel superior for one second? We are more prepared for any journey when someone who’s already traveled that path tells us what to look out for. What if we did that for each other more often?

Yes, life is hard. Some good, some bad, some stupid… But there’s so much humor and beauty and good in the imperfect. If you ask me, that’s where the stories are. So, grab a glass of wine and accept the chaos. And maybe snap of picture of it. #whywomenwine We’ll swap war stories.

The Stress of Summer Break

My kids are officially out for summer but I refuse to call it a “break”.  My husband and I both work so any time school is out we are scrambling to find reliable, safe, fun child care for our 2 kids.

The childcare options that working parents have are limited and expensive.  Remember that time Twinkies were discontinued and everyone was going crazy trying to stock up?  Yeah, it’s like that.  And trying to navigate all of the options to find the one that’s right for your family is no less stressful than trying to find a life partner.  All you need is one bad date to realize that you didn’t REALLY mean you were “up for anything”.

You can choose from day camps, overnight camps, baby sitters.  Do you need full day coverage?  Good luck!  My favorites are the “full day” camps that start at 9 am and end at 4 pm.  It’s cool… my boss likes paying me for an 8-hour workday when I can only really work for 6. (Please read that with the level of sarcasm with a tinge of anger that would make George Carlin proud).

It was easy when they just went to daycare.  No decisions to make, no change in routine.  But then it happened.  My daughter said the magic words, “I’m too old for this”.  We knew we needed to find an option that she would be excited about.  All kids deserve to have the type of summer they look forward to!  So we saved up, talked to friends who had gone through the same thing, and planned ahead (something I never do).

Last year we were so excited.  We got ourselves a NANNY (ok, really a babysitter but I feel fancier when I say NANNY!)!  Finally, our rising first grader and rising fourth grader could stay up late, sleep in, go swimming whenever they wanted, have play dates with friends, HAVE A REAL SUMMER BREAK!

But our hopes for the type of summer that my husband and I grew up experiencing were crushed in the most wretched way when I discovered just a few weeks into summer that the babysitter physically assaulted my son!  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  We VETTED HER!  She seemed nice, had references, was just graduating from high school and going to college.  She was supposed to be FUN!  Not SATAN!

Ugh… there goes us EVER trusting a nanny/babysitter.  Back to square one.  The promise of a fun summer was replaced with waking the kids up before Jesus wakes up (you know, the “unGodly hour”), to get them dressed and ready so my hubs and I could take turns dropping them off at the local YMCA.  It was the only place that checked all of the boxes: close by, fun activities, won’t beat my kids, extended hours (that’s what “they” call “true” full day camps).

It turned out ok.  A few lice outbreaks but nothing that couldn’t be remedied.  We decided to stick with what works so that’s where we went back to this year.  And to my surprise, the kids were actually EXCITED!  They had friends that they already knew, they had fun, they were exhausted… #yay!

All of this to say, if you see a working parent out and about and it’s summer, buy them a coffee and give them a hug.  They’re prolly a little defeated.  And broke.

Buying Underwear (and other things that lead to anger)

I remember when I discovered Victoria’s Secret. I felt as though a veil was lifted and a whole new world of delicate, lacy, beautiful unmentionables were waiting to bridge the gap between my clothes and my lady parts.

From that day forward I swore off the multi-pack of Haynes from Walmart that never fit quite right and went unashamedly with arms wide open to the store men dare not enter. I joined the secret club of women who could dress like a train jumping dumpster diver on the outside knowing that underneath the slouch was a feminine tiger ready to pounce.

Back in the early days of my discovery the process was simple: walk in, sift through the drawers to find my size, make sure no lady juice is on them from someone gross trying them on, take my purchase to the counter, pay for said purchase, get my receipt, walk out. Simple. Straightforward. Anonymous. Now, however, the game has changed.

These days I’m already frustrated by the time I walk in from dodging the super-aggressive (albeit very flattering) mall kiosk guy with the long, greasy black ponytail, black slim-fitted shirt unbuttoned to showcase his nipples asking if I flat iron my hair and the guys demo-ing the bouncy balls that my kids HAVE TO HAVE! I make my way to what I need, get to the counter and then it happens: “What’s your email for rewards?” The lady behind the counter stares at me while I contemplate the consequence of not answering her question. I finally decide it’ll probably be quicker to just give it to her.

Me: “Erica”

Lady behind the counter: “Is that with a ‘c’ or a ‘k’?

Me: “‘c’ And then a ‘d’

Lady: “Did you say ‘v’ or ‘b’?”

Me: “‘d’. As in ‘delta’ and then my last name. From my card. Just copy that.

Lady: “Please verify from the screen.”

Me: “Nope. It’s Erica with an ‘E’ not an ‘A’. That’s not really a thing. And you didn’t get the middle initial.”

Lady: “You can just type it in.”

Me: “So I could have saved the last 10 painful minutes of my life and typed it in all along?”

Lady: “I like to help my guests out. You’re total today is $150.”

Me: “What? I only got 5 pair of underwear. Isn’t it 5 for $25?”

Lady: “You have premium panties that aren’t a part of that. Also, it’s now 5 for $35.”

Me: defeated, walks out. “Kids, let’s go get ice cream. Mommy needs sprinkles.”

So now I hate shopping for underwear. And soaps. Thanks, Bath & Body Works. Can we all agree that stores need to STOP ASKING FOR EMAILS?????????? Listen, if you want my info, put out an app and scan it like Starbucks. Or Chick Fil A. Cuz my mental well-being can’t take it. And I don’t want to kill people. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

I Didn’t Clean the House Today… but I’m still tired.

Today I woke up 30 minutes later than I should have. I woke my kids up 15 minutes later than I should have. I sat in traffic for an hour and a half in just one leg of my commute. I sat in meetings for most of my day listening to mind-numbing discussions about “innovative” wellness programs for employees. Then I drove home. I worked a little longer. I didn’t even cook dinner. My family had left overs. I drove my daughter to ballet. Sat around waiting on her. We got home, I got the kids to bed, I got myself clean and went to bed myself.

My home is not clean. I’m pretty sure Bella didn’t bathe before bed. Roman’s sheets don’t match. I didn’t wash dishes. My trash cans are full. The only reason there’s no dog hair downstairs is thanks to my husband. I didn’t touch laundry. The only clean pair of socks Roman has are on his feet.

Guess what?! I’m ok with all of this. The sun still rises, my kids still love me, I’m pretty sure my husband still loves me wink, my doggies definitely adore me. It’s all gonna be ok.

My only question: WHY AM I STILL SO TIRED???

Oh well. At least I’m pretty.