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?

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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.

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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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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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The Funniest Journey Ever

I’m not a sentimental person. I don’t like to feel feelings that might make me cry, even happy cry. So I keep myself too busy to reflect. But right now, as I hide in the bathroom from my kids, I have nothing else to do… unless I want to referee another bout of “which kid offended the other first”. Which I do not.

When I think about it, 2017 has been a milestone year. It didn’t happen on purpose. I didn’t set out to do something impactful for myself. I just took a step. And that step led to another step. And before I knew it, I was in it to win it. Fulfilling a dream.

As long as I can remember I’ve loved to make people laugh. My biggest idols have been comedians. But I never ever never ever ever thought I could make people I don’t know laugh on purpose on a stage. It was just a dream. Something I admired other people for doing.

Some of you may not know… I don’t often mention it (I think I’ve only mentioned it 60 times today to my family), but about 6-and-a-half years ago I decided that I hate my job. Then I discovered Etsy and decided that if other people can quit their day job and sell random shat on a website, I can, too. And I can stay home with my babies and never have to wear dress pants again. But after 2 years and only making $36 I realized that I’m not good at making jewelry. Cuz I have absolutely no jewelry-making skills. But one thing it DID do was awaken my need for a creative outlet. And it was like an addiction. I had to have that release.

In 2015 I started blogging. When I looked back at all the things I’d gone through with my first marriage and raising a baby by myself while working full time and paying off debt that wasn’t mine, I thought maybe I had something to say. Maybe by writing about my situation with laughter and sarcasm I could give hope to a single mom or, even better, let women everywhere know that they don’t have to stay in a bad situation out of fear of failure. Whether it’s a job or a marriage or even a friendship, if it’s bad, get out. I promise it’ll be better than ok.

But after about a year it wasn’t enough. I wanted more of a connection to the people I was reaching out to. I didn’t want to STOP blogging. I wanted MORE. Then one day someone randomly asked me about my blog and why I started it. After going through the story I blurted out, “my next goal is stand up. By the end of the year”. What? It was DECEMBER! I didn’t consult ME about that. Well, now that I’ve said it I gotta do it. I didn’t make my goal by the end of that year… but it started the series of events that would lead me there.

I thought about it. The more I thought about it the more I wanted it. It was starting to move from dream to possible. Then I started writing. I researched the science of a joke. What makes people laugh. How to establish a setup and a punchline. The more I wrote the more it became my calling.

Eventually I searched for open mics. There was one right by my house. I reached out to the owner of the bar and he gave me the time/date. The following Tuesday I bathed my kids, put them to bed, kissed my hubs and I showed up. To a bar. I’d never been to before. By myself.

So here I was… a married woman, in a bar alone. I’d never been to a bar alone before. It was awkward. I was glued to my phone waiting for start time: 8 pm. I sent my friend, MC, a text, “I’m at a bar. By myself. WTF.” Next thing I know she’s on her way to hang with me so I wasn’t alone. She drove an hour so I wouldn’t be by myself. And I will love her forever for that.

Eventually 8:15 came and went. No comedy show… 8:30… no show… I was afraid I got the date wrong. Or maybe it was cancelled and I didn’t know. First rule of open mic club: The start time is a soft suggestion. MC showed up and shortly after the comedians started. Once I saw that they were all “normal” people, my dream became real. It was attainable. We all have to start somewhere.

I did the same thing 4 weeks in a row. I showed up and watched. And then, on April 25th, 2017 I did it.

Have you ever had a moment in life that seemed so surreal it felt like you floated through it? It was beyond words. I didn’t bomb. I wasn’t great but I held my own. Honestly, if I had bombed it wouldn’t have swayed me. I knew the moment I held the mic that I was where I was supposed to be.

Laughter has always been my escape. Life can be pretty shitty. It just can. But then something funny happens and for a moment, it’s all forgotten. If I can give that gift to just one person, I’ve done what I came to do.

2018 can be your year. It can be epic. It can start a journey that lasts the rest of your life. All you have to do is take a step toward something wonderfully terrifying and unreachable. What will your step be?

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What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Marriage

Y’all, Sunday was a special day. It marked the sixth anniversary of the day I said “I do!” to my husband (and he said it back). We had a “unique” start to our marriage. We both came into the marriage with a failed one under our belts, little 3-year-old Bella along for the ride, and I was pregnant with the unsuspecting man-sized baby Roman. The odds haven’t always been in our favor and there have been moments for both of us when we questioned what we’re doing. We don’t always get along. There are some fundamental differences we will always have. But I know I have a loyal partner and devoted dad. He is my best friend and my greatest supporter. Hopefully he feels the same way about me. I’ve learned a lot along the way. Most of the things I’ve learned would have made my marriage easier had I learned them sooner. So, if you’re contemplating marriage, even if you’ve done it before, read these lessons as a heads-up for what might be coming your way. For those veterans out there, let me know what I’ve missed.

Here are the four biggest things I’ve learned throughout my six years of marriage:

  1. Marriage is work. And one person can’t do it all. It takes both people fully committed to the marriage at all times. Even when you’re mad or sad or deflated or exhausted or sleeping or trying to sleep but you can’t cuz “someone” snores like a garbage disposal swallowing a metal spoon so you’re mad, sad, frustrated, and exhausted all at once and you start replaying that episode of Snapped where the woman got away with it, unless you fully expect to tell your kids “I left because I couldn’t take the snoring”, you still have to be committed… all the way to the sleep apnea doctor. I don’t think I really understood this and accepted it until well into our marriage. I was quick to say, “I think you should go.” Unfortunately I didn’t complete that sentence with “to the shooting range” or “buy yourself a TV”. He would have appreciated that more.  Know your boundaries and communicate them. Part of being committed 100% is communication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t have to say it mean but sometimes that helps 😉 Knowing your boundaries allows you to know when to give in and when to dig in your spiked stiletto heels.
  2. Marriage with babies is exhausting. Know this going in. Now, there’s no way for you to fully comprehend the level of exhaustion that you’ll experience until you are already in it. But know that it’s exhaustion like you can’t fathom. And in that state of exhaustion you have to take care of a little human being who doesn’t give a shat how exhausted you are. Or how sick you are. Or how busy you are. Or what your deadlines are for work. So now we have exhaustion, a demanding little person who can’t communicated in any other way than with super-sonic boom cries at 2:00 am, 2:15 am, 3 am, 3:12 am, 3:30 am, 3:31 am, 3:33 am, 4 am, 5 am… ALARM CLOCK!!! Time to get ready for work! Are you ready? Who’s ready? Oh, and after you work a full day, pick your baby up from daycare, feed the baby, bathe the baby, feed the baby again, put the baby to bed for the 1 hour you’ll get before the next crying sesh, you need to make purposeful time to spend with your partner. Um… what? All I want to do is watch reality TV to make me feel better about myself, drink a glass of wine, and kill some dark chocolate before I fall asleep on the couch in the middle of chewing my food. The trick is to keep it fun. Find a show to binge watch together and have a standing date on the couch. And let him be your face’s pillow when you pass out.
  3. Marriage with toddlers is war. Every minute is a battle. If you aren’t fighting your little person with newly found independence, you’re probably fighting with your spouse over something to do with parenting. Or something to do with how your routine has unexpectedly changed. “Why has the same load of laundry been drying for 3 days?” Well, maybe it’s because I keep forgetting the clothes are there and I have to wash them over again. Six times. Believe me, it’s not optimal for either of us. Know that it’s ok to fight. It’s healthy. And (this one was very important for me to learn) every fight doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. In fact, it can mean the strength of your relationship increases.
  4. Marriage with kids is a rollercoaster. Your kids are finally old enough to communicate when they’re sick, sad, hungry, thirsty, heartbroken, mad at you.  But when your kids crawl into your lap without warning and hug you and tell you how much they love you or when you take them somewhere fun and you hear them say, “THIS IS THE BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!” that’s your reward for passing stages one and two, grabbing the flagpole at the VERY TOP and saving the princess twice without losing any lives. This is the stage when you are probably more aligned strategically with your spouse. It’s probably more often a “parents vs. kids” situation where kids frequently say, “you’re mean! No one here even likes me!” If you hear this at least once a day, you’re probably doing this parenting thing perfectly and should consider writing a book. Also, date nights for us have happened more frequently at this stage than before because 1) it’s much easier to leave them when they’re yelling at you because you said ‘no’ to 3 brownies and 2) they’re vocal enough that you can trust them to tell you anything you may need to know, i.e. a bad babysitter. Marriage, parenting, life can all be scary. And that’s ok.

So I still don’t have it all figured out. Life is uncharted waters. But it’s nice to know I have a sailing partner. Hopefully we’ll still be just as committed to each other and our marriage in 50 years as we are right now. That’s right, I have him til he’s 91. What’s your best marriage advice?

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How Homework Made Me Stupid

Homework. That eight-letter compound word has become synonymous with Hell for me. Growing up I always thought that once I was out of school I’d be done with it. Homework was but a temporary evil to get through so that I could get my degree and move on with my life. Oh how wrong was I.

When I was in school, I don’t remember having homework until maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Maybe I did, I don’t know. But kindergarten for me was half-days. Your parents could sign you up for morning or afternoon. Sprinkled into the strenuous 4 hour day was also naptime and recess. {And we wondered why Japanese students were so much smarter.}

So, you could imagine my confusion when we registered Bella for kindergarten and she was EVALUATED for sight words, math skills, and reading… uh… isn’t this where she learns her alphabet? Cuz that’s what we’ve killed. Test her on that.

Then the HOMEWORK. WHAT??? I naïvely assumed that the homework was something she should be able to complete on her own. I would be there to make sure she was focused (by the way, not my strong point either) but the work was something she could work through. I was wrong. That’s when I came to the realization that homework isn’t for the kids. It’s for the parents. Like some covert CIA program to ensure parents don’t get stupid.

Bella: “Mommy, I don’t know how to do this problem. It’s for math.”

Me: “Oh, heck yes. Math I can do! ‘Deconstruct the number 10’. Deconstruct? What’s that mean, Bella? Did your teacher show you how to do this?

Bella: “Yes, but I don’t really understand. You can help me, right, Mommy?”

Me: “Uh, sure! Yes! I can help you, baby girl. Let me just find my computer.” (As I quickly pull up Google and define ‘deconstruction’ as it relates to math.)

Obviously, homework is created to provide validation to my children that, no, Mommy DOESN’T know everything and should, as a result, be constantly questioned anytime she states anything as fact.

Bella (or Roman at this point): “Can I have a root beer?”

Me: “No, you’ve already had one. You’ve also had a cupcake, rice krispy treat, and 5 Girl Scout cookies. You don’t need that much sugar. It’s bad for you.”

My kid: “Well… you couldn’t even help me deconstruct the number 10 last night so… maybe we should ask Google about the sugar thing, just to be sure.”

Fuq you, homework. Fuq you.

Another thing I want to point out is the strain that homework puts on my marriage. I would love to know how many divorces are attributed to disputes that began related to homework.

Nothing will start a marital spat in my home quicker than either my husband or me incorrectly instructing one of the kids in an effort to help and the other spouse catching the mistake.

“No, that’s not the correct conjugation of the verb.”

“Um, YOU asked me to help.”

And so it begins. Next thing you know it’s World War III in our kitchen. Fuq you, homework. Fuq you. I didn’t know I was supposed to add, “through incorrect homework instruction and correct” to my wedding vows.

By now, Bella’s got the homework thing down for the most part. The biggest issue we have with her is getting her to turn it in. Roman, however, is just getting in the swing. Most days look like this:

 

Hopefully these are growing pains that will get better. All I know is that I didn’t sign up for this shat. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

Anyone have any tricks to make homework easier?

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Absurd Things I Think About When Getting a Massage

Things I Think About When Getting a Massage

A few days ago, a co-worker won one of those “drop your business card in the fishbowl and you could win lunch for your whole office” things (I know, I thought the same thing! People DO actually win those, I guess!). She was so generous and made sure that all of us had to opportunity to enjoy the delicious pizza along with TWENTY-MINUTE CHAIR MASSAGES!!!! What?! Sign. Me. Up.

When it was my turn I walked into the same conference room that normally houses mundane and verbose meetings. However, for my twenty-minute chair massage it was a heavenly oasis in the middle of the desert where no relaxation is found. Quiet music, dimmed lights… if not for the meeting table, white board, and executive meeting chairs I would have never known it was the same room. I walked around all of those horrible reminders to find my massage chair, said hello to my new favorite best friend masseuse and sat down. For the next twenty minutes I had an internal dialogue with myself that I realize in hindsight may not be normal, but then again, I can’t be the only one. So if you find yourself with the following thoughts during your next massage, know you aren’t alone:

  1. “Oh, that’s nice… wait, did I just make a porn noise?”
  2. “OUCH! IT HURTS SO GOOD!!!! That’s what she said.”
  3. “OMG I think she’s crushing my larynx. Is that what that is? I don’t really know where my larynx is. I’m gonna die not knowing how. What do I tell Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse when they ask me why I’m dead? Can’t. Breathe. Boutta pass out.”
  4. “She’s close to pushing my face through this face hole! Can that happen? I think we’re about to find out! What would she do?! OMG that would be hil-arious. Could I get workers’ comp? I wonder if I could get a free week off of work. Kind of like in college if you got hit by a bus you get an auto 4.0 GPA. Would I get a free one of these in the future for my trouble? I could deal with that. Would the fire department have to come? I bet that’s happened before.”
  5. “That music. I wonder if my kids would immediately go to sleep if I played it at home. I need to ask what music that is so I cannnnn zzzzzz”
  6. {Wakes up abruptly} “Did I just fart or was that the chair?? OMG please tell me it was the chair. Ugh, not the chair.”
  7. “HOW WAS THAT 20 MINUTES?! I WANT A RECOUNT!”
  8. Really, how am I supposed to be productive after that? I can’t work under these conditions.

Getting a massage is so relaxing for me. But obviously not so relaxing that my crazy mind shuts off for me. How bout you? Any absurdities run through your mind during a massage? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

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