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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Selfie Instructions for Guys

Ever seen someone who looks like something else? Maybe a person looks like a shark or a meerkat or an owl… Well, I recently had one of those encounters. Kind of.

The other day I saw a guy whose head & neck looked like a penis. An uncircumcised penis. Normally I wouldn’t embellish upon something that a person can’t help, but this guy’s hair cut emphasized the similarity so I feel like he’s embracing it. Which means it’s fair game for me. And I haven’t been able to forget it since. He was like a walking dick pic and who would I be if I kept that information to myself???

I feel like I should take this opportunity to share with men how we, women, feel about dick pics. Well, at least how I would feel if I received one. I’ve had too many friends tell me that this is an epidemic for those dating online and I think there needs to be some guidance on the topic. Luckily, I’m happily married and he doesn’t feel the need to remind me what it looks like when we aren’t physically in the same room together. But if he is quietly contemplating it, here’s the deal:

Guys, it’s not a compliment for someone to tell you that you look like a penis. I feel like that needs to be made clear. Boys are always trying to get anyone and everyone to look at their penises! I’ve had the chance to watch how this plays out with Roman and learned that it essentially begins at birth. He’s constantly saying, “Look at my penis!” as he runs butt-ass naked through our living room which, by the way, has 8 floor to ceiling windows. #werethebestneighbors.  I had to resort to telling him that the dog might think it’s a worm and bite it if he doesn’t put underwear on…

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a good penis as much as any hetero woman or gay man. But, let’s be honest, they were built for function. Like a furnace. A furnace is essential to the comfort of a home. It should be well built, in the typical furnace shape, placed in an inconspicuous location, and big enough to do the job. But if everything is “normal”, no one needs to know about it before inspection time and it stays behind a closet door in the basement and everyone is happy.

Guys- don’t lead with your furnace!

Let me put it into perspective. Imagine you’re looking for a house. A “forever home”. You go to the real estate app, you put in your requirements. And there it is. The perfect house. You scroll through the pictures. Outside of the house, front porch, furnace… WTF! That’s odd and out of place. Or maybe you see an online listing with just one picture. You love the outside of that house. Below the picture is the number for the listing agent and the promise of more information. You call the number. You have a lovely conversation and arrange a showing. Five minutes later you get a text. It’s the agent! And he’s sent you a picture of the furnace. Uh…

But that’s what you guys do!

Now, if you have an unfortunate micro-penie or it’s shaped like a teardrop, maybe list that in your disclosure. That way, potential buyers know upfront what they’re getting into. If not, we’re good.

Slight tangent alert: is there any type of penis disclosures for people who “court”? Like the Duggars? Cuz if I’ve saved myself for marriage, which I totally did (shut up), and I chose a husband with a teardrop-shaped micropenie, which I discover on my wedding night when it’s too late… I’d be pissed.

I can’t think of any instance when I was dating that I thought to myself “I’m gonna pop my foot up here on the counter and take a pic of my vag and send it to this guy. That’ll hook him for sure.” Because God knew what he was doing when he put lady and man parts where he did. Obviously, it was the 11th hour on the 6th day and he was tired and over this thing so he just clopped some leftover clay together and stuck it on.

I don’t think God intended for us to put our faces down there & stare at it when he settled on the design. Eve said, “Hey, Adam, sorry about that whole tree/snake thing. How can I make it up to you?” And Adam said, “Weeeeeeell….” And God said, “facepalm””. Guys don’t care how weird their penises look. They just like them because they do cool things with it and think that women should be just as intrigued.

But they look like something my kids bring home from art class. Like the clay sculpture of a narwhal my daughter brought home when she was in kindergarten. By the time I saw it the horn was missing, it was kinda wonky, but she yelled, “LOOK! Look at my masterpiece!” She was so proud so I bragged on it. Then she said, “Take a picture!” So I did. And I posted it to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat cuz it looked like a penis. And everyone hit the “wow” emoji because they were hilariously appalled by it.

You guys are so proud of your penises. “Honey! Come here! Look at my dick! It looks like a narwhal when I flex it! Look! It’s dancing! Take a picture!” Why? Women don’t do that. Women don’t say, “Hey, babe, look! My vag looks like that clam we saw on Nat Geo. Look. And when I flex it looks like it’s trying to close its shell. Look! Take a picture.” No! Women don’t do that! Because, for the most part, we don’t wanna take a picture to commemorate something that isn’t beautiful. And to qualify as beautiful, it almost always involves sparkle either literally or figuratively. Does it sparkle guys? No? Then chances are, it isn’t attractive. Functionality isn’t enough!

It’s why we have the bedazzler- to beautify the functional things in the world. Trucker hats- bedazzle ’em. Blue jeans- more rhinestones please. Our vages… That’s right, guys. It’s called a Vajazzle in honor of the marriage between the bedazzle and the vagina. Like all great unions, Kimye to commemorate Kim & Kanye, TomKat to commemorate Tom Cruise and Katie- never mind. Not a good example. Brangelina to- ok, this isn’t working out the way I meant it to. Anyway, it’s a thing.

For those of you who don’t know, the Vajazzle is another way for us women to pamper ourselves under the guise of doing it for you when you complain about another $50 spent at the salon. If a man manipulates a situation to his benefit, he’s a sociopath. If a woman does it, she’s just good at being a woman. We’re pros at this. We will swear it’s for you. “How DARE you suggest that I WANT to spend $50 to lay on a table for an hour while I get GLUE poured on my lady parts with sparkly rhinestones meticulously placed in gorgeous, intricate designs. How DARE you! I do this for YOU.” No we don’t. This is totally for us. Because guys don’t understand the beauty that is the sparkle.

Is $50 too much to spend to put some party in our pants? Absolutely. Will that stop us? No. You had us at “-azzle”. Women love to sparkle. Then we come home, go to the bathroom to check out the results and yell, “Honey! Come here! Look at my vag, it sparkles! Look! If I flex, look! It looks like a disco ball! Take a picture.”

Just kidding. That never happens.

 

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Rompers are Assholes

Rompers. I love them. They’re super cute, super comfy. It’s a one-&-done fashion choice, much like a dress. If I could wear rompers to work, I would wear them every day. Every. Single. Day.

They do, however, have one design flaw.

Saturday my hunky hubs and I went to dinner with some good friends. One of those rare kids-free nights. I was so excited because I bought a new romper a few weeks ago that I hadn’t had a chance to wear yet. It’s beautiful. White with navy blue embroidery, flowy, and ethereal with a plunging neckline. I knew that plunging necklines and alcohol sometimes equal a peek-a-boo boob so I was extra cautious by covering the nips with some band-aids. Prollem solved!

We Ubered to the restaurant.

Side Bar: if you are EVER in Atlanta and hungry, go to Nuevo Laredo. Order chorizo.  Doesn’t even matter how you deliver it into your belly. Just a side of it- delicious. Chorizo quesadilla- delicious. Cheese dip with chorizo dumped in it- delicious. You get the idea. If you’re thirsty, get the Cadillac margarita. Bam. Mexican food heaven. Ok, back to the night in question.

It was a Saturday evening, around 7pm so there was a fairly lengthy wait. We ordered Cadillacs, grabbed some chips and salsa, and waited patiently for our name to be called. Interesting tid-bit of info: it was unexpectedly windy. Given that I hadn’t accounted for weather behaving like a pissed off two-year-old, I kept having to ensure adequate coverage up top. No worries. After the first almost-exposure of indecency I was aware of the need to brace my chesticles each time the wind blew. Preparedness. Boom.

Eventually our name was called and we sat down, continuing our fun like civilized people, at a table. However, soon enough, nature came a-callin’. I excused myself from the group and naively ventured to the bathroom, unaware of the battle I was about to endure.

As I entered the stall, I remembered that I would have to completely disrobe. Not a problem. It’s a thing with rompers. You can’t just pull your pants down like you can when you’re wearing… well, pants. You can’t just pull your dress up like you can when you’re wearing… you guessed it! A dress. You have to reverse your dressed state from the top. Usually a non-issue for the other, less fancy rompers that I have. However, have you ever tried to take off a shirt by shoving your arm through the neck hole? It’s like trying to dance with an octopus. Or trying to break the embrace of a python. All the while trying to be as graceful as possible because a) I’m in a bathroom stall where, at any time, someone can come in and see my plight through the unusually large cracks in the bathroom door.

Slight tangent alert: Really? Why even have doors on the stalls if I can see right through the cracks? God and everybody know I’m in there. Not just because they know it’s occupied, but because they can see me. ME. Like wave at me and say, “Hi, E! How’s your mom n them doing?” FIX THE CRACKS!!!!!!!!

Ok, back to it. B) I’m trying not to rip my romper with my elbow. ALSO, there are long, decorative ties on my sleeves that I’m trying to keep from getting dirty on the floor AND trying to keep from landing in toilet water. As you can tell, I was a mess.

I eventually wrangled that python, did my business, and made it back to the table after what felt like a few hours. But we learn the best lessons in our darkest hours so here’s what I took away:

ROMPERS NEED A BETTER EXIT STRATEGY!

Could we please have a trap door? Or maybe the buttons that baby onesies have? Is that too much to ask? Maybe there’s a better option, I don’t know. But I can’t be the only person to experience this unfortunate event while just tryin to look supes cute in a romper!

Suggestions anyone?

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