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?

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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!!!

 

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Is Butt-Ebola a Thing?

Today was a fun day. I arrived to work on time for a 9 am meeting. Gross. Could we all agree as one nation under God that meetings should only take place between the hours of 10 am and 11:30 am or 2 pm and 4:30 pm? Can we make that a thing? Ugh. I’m just sayin’ I need time. In the morning I need time to understand where I am and in the afternoon I need time to digest what all just happened. So… just sayin’.

Anyway. Meeting at 9. Blah, blah, blah. It was over around 10. By then I’d finished off a venti vanilla iced coffee and I had to pee. Bad. No problem! My new office has very lovely bathrooms. Coming from a company with shatty bathrooms (literally), I welcome the upgrade in lavatory quality.

As with most restrooms these days (I suspect to keep at bay the mysterious “toilet-seat-to-ass-STD” epidemic that we’ve all been warned of even though I’ve never met anyone who said, “Hi, I’m Gary, I got the clap from a toilet”) my office offers free paper toilet seat covers. I’m positive they’re only free cuz men need them, too. If they didn’t, we’d have to pay a quarter like we do for tampons. “Sorry, Sharon. I can’t give you a tampon for free. Shouldn’t you know your body by now? I mean, you’re 37- What? I don’t know what fibroids are. My dad has hemorrhoids. Same-sies? No? Look, sorry, but we gotta reduce overhead. Can’t you just shove some TP up there or something?”

Now, what you might not know is that I’m at war with these wood-based bastards. (Just to be clear, I’m at war with seat covers, not frugal men who refuse us free feminine hygiene products). Can these covers not stay in place? Is it too much to ask? They have ONE JOB! Just one! By the time I put it down and unlatch my trousers the seat cover has fallen in the toilet, thus not having held up its end of the bargain, and now I have to repeat the process. Time. Wasted. But I have a new process. And today I tried it out for the first time.

Today… wait for it… I unhooked my pants FIRST! Did I just blow your mind? Cuz this was about to revolutionize my bathroom experience. So with my pants around my shins, holding them with one hand so as to keep them from hitting the floor, I used my other hand to carefully yank the paper ass-barrier and awkwardly lay it over the seat, using my elbow to unfold the part that inconveniently overlapped at the very last minute.

And as I turned to blindly back that ass up and simultaneously sit down, the automatic flush sucked the seat cover into the abyss. That’s right. I sat down just as the seat cover said, “bitch, bye” and left me to my own devices. Of which I had none.

You know when you ask for a sweet tea at a restaurant and you get a coke but both liquids are dark and look the same in that red cup and you take a sip and life no longer makes sense? That’s what happened to my ass. It expected paper warmth and protection. It received the cold angst of exposure. So I have Ebola of the Butt now. I’m pretty sure it’s a thing. And I’m pretty sure it’s on my butt. Believe you me, if my organs liquify and fall out of my body holes, someone will receive a very strongly-worded letter.

Anyway. Kinda killed my vibe today. I was sure I won the war. And the toilet said, “Not today, biatch!” I feel so defeated. I was sure to be the victor. Now I know how Hillary Clinton felt on election night. Ugh. At least I’m not wearing that gross pants suit.

On a high note, I ate a turkey burger today.

Stay pretty, my friends.

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What it’s Like to Work from Home… with Kids

When you have kids, it can be tough to juggle life. Especially when both you and your spouse work outside the home and daycare (aka school) is closed. Today was one of those days. One of those long, long days.

I just started a new job. I’m on week 4. So I’m still trying to gain trust and establish myself. It used to be so easy. I was focused. I was ambitious. I wanted to learn and do my best and shine like a star powered by the strong glow of fluorescent office lighting. Climb that corporate ladder like the yodeler character in that Price is Right game.

That all changed when I had my son. Now a mom of 2, all corporate ambition vanished. I realized that with 2 kids, “Outstanding” performance reviews are a thing of the past. Work no longer came first. Or even second. It couldn’t.  For some reason, I was able to manage the juggle better with one kid. Probably because I’m not one of those Super Woman Moms. I’m a real person. Some might say it’s more specifically because I’m not “organized” and I don’t “plan ahead”. But at least I’m pretty, right? That’s a positive that can get me ahead in the “juggling work and family and friends and dreams and working out and meal prep and not forgetting my prepped meals and selecting the correct number of tax deductions on my pre-employment forms” game for sure. Did I just let $200 worth of veggies go bad? Yes. But my smokey eye is on point today so that totally makes up for it.

Anyway, today was not a productive work day. Today was a day that consisted of just trying to keep up with emails and not much else. My daughter is great at letting me do my thing. If she has a tv, she’s good to go. Unless she sees me on my personal computer.  Then she wants to use said computer to “check her status”, which means she wants to take the quiz to see if she’s still in House of Slitherin.  #Priorities.  My son, on the other hand, would totally crawl back into my uterus and live happily ever after if it were at all possible. He wants me with him AT ALL TIMES. If he can’t see me, he finds me. If he can’t find me, he yells for me. That’s very problematic when I need to get things done for work.

For example, today he decided to be a member of the band Ratt. Remember them? He just met their music thanks to Sirius XM’s hairband station. And he loves them. So he wanted me to find their music videos on YouTube. That way, he could sing and play guitar with them. While dressed in his Brock Lesnar costume. Meanwhile, my daughter watched 4 episodes of Scooby Doo and 9 episodes of Monk. So when the doctor asks how much screen time she gets at her next appointment, please know I will lie. I will straight up lie. She gets 30 minutes of screen time and that’s all the doc needs to know. And all the moms who actually REMEMBER to cook the asparagus BEFORE it liquifies in the fridge can judge all they want. I welcome it. Cuz I judge them while peering from the top of my wine glass at the next PTA meeting.

At some point today the kids asked if they could go to Toys R Us and spend the $30 my grandmother gave them for Christmas. Seemed like a great way to get them out of the house for a bit. The visit was a success. Both walked out with goodies and stayed within budget so #blessed.

The trip to the grocery store, however, not so great. I only needed items for dinner (b.t.dubs, I made an AMAZING steak salad tonight. It was so good). Anyway, the kids were going crazy. Running all over the place. Bella putting Roman up to shenanigans. Shenanigans all over Fresh Market. And, yes, I yelled. And threatened to leave them. A few times. All the while, I was not getting any work done. I left with flank steak, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro-lime dressing, and the 2 kids I walked in with so… yay!

When I got home I did some work. And then it was time to cook dinner.

Ever feel like life is flying by and you’re holding on, white-knuckled, barely buckled in, and you know that if it would just slow down a little bit you could see what’s passing you. And maybe not fall off the roller coaster? Ugh.

Also, since we’re on a slight tangent, at what age do you start to gain weight by NOT eating? When did this start? I used to be able to skip a meal and lose 5 pounds! Now I skip a meal and gain 15. Son of a bitch. And don’t tell me it happens to everyone. If it did, I wouldn’t have skinny friends. Beautiful, skinny friends who “bounced back” 3 weeks after baby #4.  At least I’m pretty.  Starving, with 10 pounds to lose, but pretty.

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Back to School Advice for Parents

Well my Pretties, school has officially begun for us here in lovely Atlanta, Georgia. So many emotions flood my brain this time of year: pride, nostalgia, confusion…

‘How are my babies old enough to go to school… alone… without mommy to make sure they’re ok? Maybe I should just shadow them’.

Then my husband reminds me that I’m being creepy and says he will not bail me out of jail this time if I get arrested again for public weirdness. Fair enough.  He wins… for now.

If we’re being honest, from one Pretty to another, there is one more emotion that tries to find its way into my brain during this time of year.  That would be the feeling of… wait for it… inadequacy. 

Schools give us parents plenty of opportunities to compare ourselves to other parents or just adults in general: Open House, Parent-Teacher conferences, class parties, Wednesdays… You get the picture.

The next time you’re in a PTA meeting or at a school picnic, just sit back and observe for a minute. You’ll notice a hoard of parents who know they’re being watched by other parents and by school administrators. They are members of the hoard doing their best to be at their best.(Isn’t that what a group of parents is called? A hoard? Not sure, maybe I watch too much The Walking Dead but I’m going with it).

And then there is me, dazed and standing in a corner, remembering the full day I lived in the hour it took me to get my kids up and ready for school as I question whether or not I remembered to brush my teeth before I left the house and wonder how this mystery stain appeared on my shirt while I was in the car.  It certainly wasn’t on my shirt when I left the house.  Impossible.  I think. 

At first I was very intimidated by the hoard. Everyone seemed to have it together.  I started to psych myself out.  Just to pain a picture, here are things that would go through my head while at my kids’ school:

  1. “That woman has deodorant stains on her shirt. How did she have time to put on deodorant?”
  2. “That mom is so patient with her kid. I would have lost my shat by now. Seriously, how many times is she going to let her kid smack her in the fupa?”
  3. “Wait, that kid has a fully cooked meal packed in his lunch box. You can do that? Is his mom an alien? Probably. Oh well. Bella seems to like her Lunchables. And all the sodium is drying out her skin quite nicely.”

I always try to look for the positive.

But as I went to more and more events at the school and started forming my posse of “pretty” moms (and by “pretty”, I mean ‘my kid threw a 15 minute tantrum this morning because the sun was shining in the window so she went to school without her teeth brushed and shorts from yesterday.  Sometimes I have sucky mom-skills… but at least I’m pretty!’) I started to see that some of the parents who seemed to have it together the most, really were just barely hanging on. The more I opened up, the more I was joined in a chorus of desperation, self-doubt, exhaustion, and alcohol.

So, to the moms of kids starting school for the first time this year, I have a message for you and some advice. 

First the message: you’re doing just fine. Better than that- if you’re not on drugs, your kids are bathed semi-regularly, fed almost every day, and not serial killers, I’d say you’re better than just fine. Breathe, smile, and go. It’s going to be ok.

Now for the advice: I’ve been a mom of school-aged kids for 4 years. I’d like to bestow upon you some lessons-learned. Let me help you by sharing what not to say out loud at a PTA meeting, or really any school function. Don’t think that these things aren’t happening around you. Just know that it’s not OK to say them out loud. Kind of like Fight Club. Don’t talk about it. Anyway, here we go:

The Top 10 Things You Don’t Say at PTA Meetings:

  1. Dang, I spilled my drink. Does anyone have some Chardonnay they can spare? I’m not picky about the brand.
  2. My daughter says you treat her like everyone else in the class. Is there a specific reason you hate her?
  3. I would appreciate it if you could dumb-down the homework. I’m having to Google way too much and I’m losing what little credibility I had left with my kids.
  4. Could you please point me to the bathroom? I need a quick smoke.
  5. I don’t do name tags.
  6. Is there a VIP section?
  7. Ewe, gross! This Thanksgiving food is nasty. Is this what you guys normally eat? Honey, I’m packing your lunch from now on. Is your lunchbox big enough for Lunchables?
  8. Don’t you know who I am?
  9. I would volunteer to help but I don’t like other people’s kids.
  10. Can I bum a Xanax from the school nurse?

This is just a starter list. I’m sure I’ll have a follow up list soon. Let me get a few school visits under my belt this year. Best of luck to all of the precious littles starting school this year. And Mommies, hold your head high. You got this. Daddies, buy lots of wine. Trust me. #happywifehappylife  Stay Pretty, ma friends.

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